On Location:
Society of Sumdall and Izmer
By Dave Arneson

Within the society of the Empire, everything depends on class. And let there be no doubts about it -- the mages are the ones that define the social classes. If you’re not a mage, you are nothing.

The Upper Class

These are the strongest and most talented mages. Lawmakers, administrators, and other officials are drawn from among high-ranking mages. Neither birth nor wealth allows one any significant position within the social structure unless its accompanied by magical power. Only the ability to use magic will guarantee one a position of influence.

Wealth or fame will not allow one entrance to the Upper Strata of society. Only those with magical abilities are admitted into the inner circle of policy makers. There are rumors that some have acquired high status by using magical devices rather than having any talent of their own. This is, of course, strictly forbidden by the council.

[Ha! What a bunch of hooey. That’s why these guys are always looking for magical goodies. That way little Johnny no-talent can keep up appearances and sit on the Mages’ Council like daddy! Face it. If you got a staff that will blow up half the neighborhood, no one is gonna call you a ‘no-talent.’ At least not to your face! --Charile ‘The Cutpurse’]

Most of these members of the Upper Class (or Mage Class) look upon mere adventurers as dangerous threats to Society’s safety, as well as their personal safety.

[La de dah! They know that a knife in the back can kill them just as dead as another mage’s lightening bolt can. --C.]

The Middle Class

The Middle Class consists of less powerful mages as well as a handful of skilled artisans and professionals who deal with magical items, and master artisans who make items of high enough quality to carry enchantments.

More than a few such positions are determined by which family of mages you were born into rather than personal magical power.

Outside Sumdall and Izmer, educated professionals and important guild members who may not have a lot of magic also fall into this category. In Sumdall, having magic is all that counts.

Most lesser officials outside the Empire are drawn from this class. Their positions often determined by the person’s occupation, education, and experience as much as their inherent magical abilities

[These are the twits that you usually cut the deals with. They got connections with the powerful mage families and act as the middle men for them. Some are marks, and some are OK. You just have to ask around to make sure of who you’re dealing with. —C.]

The Lower Class

Trade folk, apprentices, common servants, laborers, free holders, and farmers make up the Lower Class. The Mages’ Council and the Emperor take great pains, publicly, to watch over and safeguard these individuals.

[Yeah that’s just about everyone else. The mages don’t care about most folks. We pretty much stay to ourselves. They only notice the vermin when they get out of hand and make a big mess. We just stay in the shadows and let them think that they are the be all and end all of everything that matters. --C.]

The Slaves

There is no slavery allowed within the Empire of Izmer.

[Yeah, ain’t no one in Izmer that isn’t a happy, free-spirited person who can come and go as they please. Of course if a mage notices you, then you’re a pile of cinders or worse. At least most of us live better than the livestock. --C.]

The Nonhuman Races

Whatever an individual’s status within his or her own culture, Izmer’s society usually grants him or her the same status. Admittedly there is a bias against the non-human races. It is also recognized that anyone who cannot use magic, no matter what their social rank, is looked down upon.

For the members of the lesser races with no recognized social organization, such as barbarian tribes, the individual is judged on their perceived individual merits. Still, all of them are looked down upon by Izmer’s society. If they have no magical abilities, they’re considered lower than the lowest member of the Empire’s society.

The mages remind us that one has only to look upon what remains of the once-magnificent Antius to see the non-human races in their true light. The dwarves, driven by their greed, destroyed the city of Antius by mining under the entire area. Rather than take proper precautions in their many tunnels, the very earth was honeycombed and weakened in their quest for magical ore. Only then when it was too late the city was warned.

A few mages in their towers were able to reinforce their foundations enough to prevent themselves from being drawn into the sinkhole that was once Antius. Many of the citizens were thus saved by the foresight and benevolence of those ancient mages.

With the ore gone the dwarves moved on, leaving proud Antius to become one of the most disreputable places within the Empire.

[Now nobody likes those smelly, dirty dwarves less than I do. All that they’re good for is digging holes for outhouses. But I heard that they got a bum rap on the Antius deal. It’s said that they had no choice but to get that ore out. Whoever was in charge around there a thousand years ago said to get it all out right away. Rumor has it that if dwarves didn’t do what they were told, then they dwarves would have been turned into rocks themselves. --C.]

The dwarves hid in their underground fortresses to avoid fighting in the Great War. Even abandoning their fellows in their haste to make themselves safe.

[Tough to figure. Them dwarves are always getting into fights. And it usually doesn’t matter what the odds are -- they’re just stupid that way. Can’t hardly imagine what sort of threat would have made them hide away like that. --C.]

In the wake of the Great War, dwarves were recruited to fight the hordes of orcs and other humanoids that sought to destroy what was left of civilization. Fighting in small groups, the dwarves proved to be quite useful as the Empire sought to return peace to the land.

Today only a few of these creatures remain to wander about outside the mining camps. Some of these creatures are rumored to posses inherent magical abilities, although they seem to show no inclination to use them. It is not known what the dwarves, if indeed any still exist, do beneath the mountains.

[Magical abilities? Nah. The only magic I ever seen a dwarf do was eat more food than ten grown men! --C.]

All know that the dwarves are a contentious and aggressive folk. The amount of damage that dwarves have done within the city of Sumdall from their frequent fights in the local taverns is quite high.

It is fortunate for the remaining dwarves, and society in general, that they were gathered together in camps to work the Empire’s mines. Only the benevolent rule of the Empire has kept them in check, else they would be in a constant conflict with some portion of the Empire.

Somewhat more ambiguous is the race known as elves.

Here we find mysterious and, frankly, self-centered race with significant magical powers. Divided by the Great War, little is know of them as they hide in their forest fastness avoiding humans. The two main groups are the high elves and the hunter elves.

Hunter elves are never seen and keep apart even from other elves. Undisciplined, they seem roam the forests in packs. Hunting wild creatures and keeping out anyone from the Empire. Over the centuries there have been efforts to chastise these fellows, but the great forest seems to swallow them without a trace when true men are about.

Rumors of elvish depravity and callousness abound. Yet there are elves that are close to the Emperor and regarded as useful by most members of royal family itself. The reputation of the royal tracker called Norda defies any non-magical explanation.

Yet these creatures, with no regard for the formal use of magic, cannot help but be dangerous. Any time that there are magical forces in use by undisciplined and rapacious creatures such as these cannot help but result in disaster.

Between the Empire and the elves there is a wary peace. It is good that the elves keep to themselves or the Mages’ Council would surely have to destroy them for the safety of all the Empire’s citizens.

[The mages ain’t too keen on having them around. I hear it is the elves that tolerate us humans and simply don’t care. --C.]

The other notable group of non-humans within the Empire is the orcs. Like the dwarves and elves they keep to themselves. They’re as contentious as dwarves, and as territorial as the elves. They are tolerated within the Empire because of their numbers and because they inhabit only remote regions.

Although known to have several disreputable habits, the orcs are an important check on the aggressive dwarves and haughty elves, and in the wisdom of the Mages’ Council, they are a force for balance and stability. The few orc raids and outbreaks are a mere nuisance to the Empire, and they have been easily dealt with by soldiers and mercenary dwarves.

[The big lummoxes are dumber than rocks! Give them some food and pretties, and they would kill and eat their own mothers. The mages just can’t get rid of them. They seem to breed like flies whenever they want too! --C.]

In summation, the Empire, and Society of Izmir is the greatest that has been known in this world for the last thousand years. The Great Council of has made this possible. There may be some petty states in far off lands that proper to be as large, but that idea is simply ludicrous. Certainly there is no state that has had the influence upon our world today as does our beloved, and noble, Empire of Izmir.

NOTE: In fact illegal use of magic by humans usually results in summary trial and execution.

For more great information from the world of Dungeons & Dragons: the Movie, check out Dave Arneson’s first installment of "On Location".

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