Daren Hegemony

The Daren Hegemony (/'dɑːren/listen) is a major, human dominated sorafaring empire. Known for its military strength and colonial policy, the Hegemony is perhaps the strongest of the major empires apart from the Dranomyr Archive, and has been active in the Sora longer than any empire beside the Archive. This has left it on uneasy footing with most of the other empires, though few are outright antagonistic toward it.  

Social Structure

Hegemony society can only be described in the most general terms, as its allows the many conquered and annexed territories to maintain their own cultural identity, only enforcing overlordship upon them. This has led to an empire where the social conventions can vary greatly from tributary to tributary, with not even a common language to tie them together.   Most tributaries have an individualist nature, holding the self to be of the utmost importance. While this places the rights of the individual in high regard, it also emphasizes self reliance. People are expected to compete with one another for limited resources, theoretically allowing those who work hard and utilize their gods-given talents to rise to the top. The Hegemony prides itself on thus being a meritocracy, claiming that those in power have earned their positions through merit. Though this does result in many being left poor or in poverty, anyone in the Hegemony can hope to rise to the top through enough effort.   Many outside the Hegemony criticize it, however, pointing to the existence of the hereditary nobility which rule the Hegemony. These nobles inherit their positions and wealth rather than having to earn it with many families having ruled in opulence for hundreds if not thousands of years. Daren advocates respond that there is a long history of commoners becoming nobles in the Hegemony, as newly conquered territories require fresh governors to oversee. Outside of the nobility, there are numerous opportunities for commoners to amass wealth as entrepreneurs, entertainers, gladiators, and even as government ministers. Some of the richest individuals in the Hegemony, outside of the king, are commoners.   One of the most common ways to rise through the social ranks of the Hegemony is through military service. The Hegemony frequently seeks new territory and, even when not through outright conquest, heavily relies on its military to achieve these ends. Long and distinguished service is one way to gain the respect and social capital to be raised to noble status or appointed to lucrative positions such as royal auditor. Military service also pays well, though in-and-of itself is not a path to wealth. The military promotes itself extensively through parades, exhibitions, and even martial demonstrations. Former military are often shown preferential treatment in their post-military careers and many are able to leverage it into lucrative careers in entertainment, sports, shipping, and mercenary work.  



The Hegemony originated roughly 800 years ago on the realm of Daré on the large island of Umbria. The island had long been divided between three kingdoms — Dercia, Wexeter, and Utferd — but King Faldric II of Utferd died without an heir and no brothers, leaving the title to his nephew Aulfred, the son of his sister and King Witstan IV of Wexeter. Eventually, the King of Wexeter died, leaving both kingdoms in the hands of Aulfred. Shortly after, a large number of the earls of Dercia rebelled against the King Saelric I. Aulfred took the opportunity to invade Dercia under the pretense of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. As his army captured the rebellious lords, Aulfred had them executed and gave their titles and lands to his loyalists.   When the war ended, Aulfred nominally ceded the lands back to Saelric, though the many earls he had appointed remained loyal to him. Through this arrangement, Aulfred was able to pressure the Dercian king to marrying his daughter, Ybelote, to him. Ybelote bore Aulfred a son several years later, naming him Hewerald. Within a few months, the Dercian king fell ill and died, leaving the throne to his young son. During his coronation ride, this son was thrown from his struthi and struck his head, sending him into a stupor from which he would never recover. The earls of Dercia, most of them still loyal to Aulfred, named him regent. Within a few years, Aulfred had his own son named the heir to the throne of Dercia. When the comatose boy died, Hewerald assumed the throne. Aulfred remained regent until Hewerald came of age, then stepped aside to allow his son to reign. When Aulfred eventually died, Hewerald ascended to the thrones of the remaining two Umbrian kingdoms, the first ruler of a unified island.  

Establishment of the Hegemony

The Union of Umbrian Kingdoms, as the new united polity was called, grew in power over the coming centuries, expanding its kingdom with colonies and protectorates across Daré. Roughly 600 years ago, the Umbrian Empire (as it was now known) was the first Daren nation to achieve soraflight. This gave them great influence over Daré, particularly when Umbrian explorers began settling uninhabited realms. Umbria led the formation of a Daren conclave, composed of all the major powers on the realm. This proved fortuitous when settlers from a smaller Daren nation encountered the Canus Confederacy, a belligerent, minor sorafaring power. The Confederacy attacked the colony, wiping it out, leaving only a few survivors.   The Umbrian Empire led the counter assault, overrunning the Canus Confederacy's core realms within a matter of months. These conquered realms were made the first principality. This display of power by Umbria resulted in several of Daré's smaller nations to petition the Empire for military protection for their colonies. Over the course of the next century, the Umbrian navy became responsible for the protection of all other nations on Daré. This was accelerated by two major events. The first was contact with the Dranomyr Archive, whose superior might frightened many. The second was the invasion of an Umbrian colony by the Koganusân Kingdom in 125 PC. The Umbrians successfully repelled the invasion and soon after the Kingdom agreed to stay away from Umbrian worlds. The Umbrian Empire became seen as a capable and willing protector of Daren lives. By a century later, approximately 400 years ago, the Umbrian Empire had effectively annexed the entirety of their home realm. The Umbrian King took on the title of the Hegemon and officially named the empire the Daren Hegemony.  

War with the Octoi

Fifty years after its official founding, the Daren Hegemony encountered the Kingdom of Octoi. The kingdom had been active in the Sora for nearly 800 years, but was experiencing a period of long decline. While it had somewhat more advanced soraships than the Hegemony, it was politically unstable, rife with infighting between its nobles. The Hegemon saw an opportunity and invaded the Kingdom. The fractured Kingdom nobles along the border were overrun and the Hegemony made large gains in the first few months.   Faced with an existential threat, the nobles of the Kingdom managed to put aside their differences and rally their forces. The Hegemony's advance was slowed, then stalled, then gradually pushed back a small degree. The war fell into a stalemate, with both sides pouring resources into the fight. The Octoid navy was more advanced and individually powerful, while the Daren navy was more numerous and had greater discipline. Losses were thus relatively even on both sides, which favored the larger Hegemony. This situation continued for three years.   A major turning point came at the Battle of Sameus. The realm had changed hands between the two sides multiple times over the course of the war, most recently being in the hands of the Hegemony. The Kingdom planned a major assault to retake the realm, which sat in a chokepoint between the two sides. However, two of the nobles involved in planning the assault, Margrave Bakos and Viscount Orosz, long had bad blood between them. During one planning session, the two came to blows and the Margrave, who was deemed to be the instigator, was ejected from the meeting. Insulted, the Margrave surrendered to the Hegemony in secret and warned them of the coming assault.   The Hegemony was fully prepared for the attack and ambushed them as they arrived near the realm's air pocket. The Kingdom forced were routed, with only 10 of the 100 soraships which had been in the assault surviving. Off the back of this crushing defeat, the command structure of the Kingdom collapsed, nobles withdrew their forces to protect their own territories, and the king lost all authority. The Hegemony quickly overran the remaining Kingdom territories, fully annexing it as the Archduchy of Octoi. Bakos was given the territory to rule over.  


Political divisions in the Hegemony tend to be fluid and often changing, with little in the way of permanent loyalty to grander causes. This is due, in a major part, to the disjointed nature of the Hegemony as a whole. The interests of one tributary rarely perfectly align, and often conflict, with the interests of another. Rivalry between tributaries is even encouraged to a degree, an expansion of the individualistic morality ingrained into Hegemony society. Much as the individual is expected to compete and rise to the top, so too must the tributaries meet their own needs through whatever means they see fit. All politics is a zero sum game and there must be winners and losers.   This causes groups who might otherwise be aligned to remain fractured. Nobles who want to reduce restrictions to trade attempt to one up each other with favorable deals with foreign parties. Those pushing for military conquests want them to be carried out near to their borders so that they will have the most opportunities for glory and enrichment. This competitive nature influences even internal politics, with nobles trying to produce the most impressive (and profitable) art, the most awe-inspiring temples and cathedrals, and so forth. As such, the tributaries rarely work together toward any unified political goal except when they find a common enemy... which often is another group of tributaries.   Even commonfolk get drawn into these rivalries, with citizens of different tributaries being competitive with those from other tributaries. While not violent and often treated at least partly as good fun for all involved, these rivalries do tend to make people hold unflattering stereotypes about those from other tributaries. In turn, these ingrained rivalries cause the citizens of tributaries to care primarily if their tributary is well off even if it comes at the expense of another.   Thus it falls to the King of Daré to set the political stance of the Hegemony writ large. Even when united in a singular purpose, the tributaries continue to seek their own victories heedless of the consequences of the others. It is only when those rivalries cause outsized losses that the King will step in and enforce cooperation, though it usually ends as soon as they are out of sight.  


The Hegemony is a decentralized feudal monarchy composed of a number of tributary principalities, duchies, counties, free realms, and suzerainties. These divisions are poorly organized, often having disjointed territories, and vary greatly in size and influence. They are mostly ruled by a number of noble houses who are only loosely held together by oaths of fealty to the King of Daré. A byzantine network of loyalties and vassalage lies beneath these nobles, often carrying down to small nobles overseeing territories realmside.  

King of Daré

The sovereign of the Daren Hegemony is most commonly known as the King of Daré (which is used regardless of the holder's gender), though the official title is the Most High Hegemon of Daré and the Tributary Realms. Nominally, the king has direct sovereignty only over the realm of Daré and a few minor realms owned by the dynasty itself. In reality, the king wields absolute power throughout the Hegemony, as the Daren Navy owes allegiance to them and them alone. While collectively the tributary nobles could oppose the king, this does not happen in practice due to the sheer number and fractured nature of the nobility. Within the Hegemony, the king's word is law and none dare contradict it. Thankfully for most nobles, the various duties the king must attend to mean tyranny is rare.   The monarchy is a hereditary title, with the King able to appoint whomever they please from the royal family as heir. Often times, the designated heir changes multiple times within the life of the King as their favor shifts from relation to relation. This has created numerous succession crises in the past as the will of a deceased King is disputed by two or more family members who had previously been named heir. At times, this has resulted in civil war within the Hegemony, sometimes resulting in the collapse of the royal families entirely. There have always been powerful noble houses with distant claims to the throne to stand up and claim power, however.   The current ruling family, the House of Sprasōis, has ruled for the past 400 years, the longest in Hegemony history. Their longevity has been attributed to a tradition started by the third Sprasōis king, Lēcliu III, who abdicated on her 80th birthday citing deteriorating health. Her grandson and heir, Nērādy II, assumed the throne with no controversy and subsequently abdicated after thirty years of rule, roughly six months before his own death. The following kings all followed the lead of their predecessors and abdicated once advanced age or poor health came upon them, allowing their chosen heir to be unambiguous with their clear support. Since, only two kings have not abdicated, both because they died unexpectedly young. In both cases, however, their designated heirs were able to assume the throne without issue.  


Over 250 individual tributaries make up the Daren Hegemony. These tributaries are, officially, independent polities who merely pay tribute to the Hegemon. In reality, they are all vassals tied down by strict oaths of fealty and have limited autonomy to decide their own politics. Most of these tributaries were conquered by the Hegemony and vassalized in one of its many wars, though a large portion willingly submitted and a few are the result of the Hegemony colonizing previously uninhabited realms.   Many different types of tributaries exist. The most common are principalities, duchies, counties, and free realms. Principalities are the largest and most individually powerful, usually consisting of several dozen realms organized as a demesne of a single noble house. The largest of these is the Archduchy of Octoi, the realms which formerly composed the Kingdom of Octoi. Duchies are smaller than principalities, typically consisting only of a few realms, often a small cluster of them. Counties are smaller still, usually being a single realm which is unified and overseen by a single noble. Finally, free realms consist of realms which maintain their own form of governance not beneath a Hegemony-appointed noble. In some cases, the realm may not be politically unified and some of the realmside nations may not recognize the authority of the Hegemony. Typically, those who possess soraports have submitted to the Hegemony, while the holdouts are those disconnected from the Sora.   The tributaries are allowed to set their own internal laws, but they must pay a large tribute to the king every year based on their size and income. They are forbidden from making war, refusing passage to any lawful citizen of the Hegemony, or making agreements with any foreign power. These few restrictions have meant a large variety of locales and governments exist within the Hegemony.  

Royal Auditors

Outside of the king, the most powerful individuals in the Hegemony are often considered to be the royal auditors. Answering to none but the Hegemon, the royal auditors are tasked with assaying the wealth of tributaries, determining how much they owe in tribute, and collecting the tributes on behalf of the Hegemony. The post is considered one of prestige, as an auditor is allowed to keep 10% of every tribute for themselves as a fee for their service. Royal auditors rotate which tributary they assay each year, never auditing the same one twice. More senior auditors are typically assigned to larger, wealthier tributaries.   While this tempts some to attempt to wring extra tribute from a tributary, excess complaints to the Hegemon are rarely tolerated and the punishment for purposefully misrepresenting an official audit is death. As such, most royal auditors are incredibly precise and meticulous individuals, with a reputation for being stiff and uptight. The position of royal auditor is not hereditary. In fact, the wealth earned by an auditor is forfeit upon their death, with all returning to the Hegemon but a small stipend for each of their inheritors. This has prevented the auditors from gaining too much power over the centuries and has allowed the nobility to retain their primacy.  

Laws and Criminal Justice

Much as with nearly everything else in the Hegemony, criminal justice varies greatly between tributaries. The most common judicial system is an adversarial trial system, where a jury hears arguments from the accuser and the accused, then passes judgement. This is the system used on Daré and many of the principalities which have descended from Daren explorers. Many other tributaries have adopted similar systems, though many have mild differences. In the Duchy of Maru, for instance, trials are overseen and decided on solely by judges with no juries involved. The County of Haskerana, on the other hand, requires both defendant and accuser to advocate on their own behalf as long as they are physically and mentally able.   Myriad other systems exist. Several, most notably the Grand Duchy of Yan, utilize an inquisitorial system, where the magistrate assigned to the case conducts a public investigation and then rules on the case without the intervention of any advocates. The March of Eguzkia features a conciliatory system where the judge acts as an arbitrator rather than attempting to gauge guilt or innocence, though severe crimes are typically treated as a negotiation between the defendant and the March over the extent of the punishment. Such a system presumes guilt in some senses, though innocence can be declared by the arbitrator refusing to call for any punishment.   Laws between tributaries are more uniform, mainly because the Hegemony tends to grant territories which differ too significantly to strict nobles. Notable within the Hegemony is the criminalization of discrimination based on species, ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, sexuality, and a number of other "inherent characteristics" which are considered inborn aspects of a person which are impossible (at least without powerful magic) to change. Several schools of magic are also considered illegal within the Hegemony, particularly necromancy, heamoturgy, illusion, and evocation of sapient creatures.  


The Daren Hegemony has no great political goals or objectives beyond increasing its own power and wealth, particularly those of its Hegemon. It pursues this through many means, including conquest, annexing realms, trade, and political alliances. When they make contact with new realms that have achieved soraflight, they typically make an offer to vassalize them and, if refused, usually invades and conquers them. It closely monitors all primitive realms within and near its sphere of influence, especially those which appear close to achieving soraflight. For those who join willingly, it will appoint a local ruler or leader as a noble overseeing the realm. Those it conquers will typically be placed under the rule of a loyal servant of the Hegemon elevated to nobility.   The Hegemony maintains only loose official relationships with its neighbors. It tends to be very pragmatic toward them, looking to take advantage of any weakness and placate them during times of strength. Previously, it was much more belligerent, but as other strong empires have emerged and gained strength, they've reigned in their aggression. Several of its principalities and duchies are the remnants of conquered empires, which has led many to take a wary approach to the Hegemony. This pragmatic view has led the Hegemony to deal with many empires that others do not, such as the Confederation of Doflein Realms.  


The Hegemony is the largest of all known sorafaring empires, having dominion over 322 major realms and 586 minor realms. These realms are split into 253 separate tributaries, ranging in size from the Archduchy of Octoi which contains 18 major realms and 12 minor realms, to nearly a hundred tributaries that consist of a single realm or minor realm. The territory of each tributary tends to be contiguous, usually with multiple eddies running between each, allowing for swift deployment of military forces, quick communications, and easy trade.   These tributaries are spread far and wide across the Sora, broken across thirteen regions. Compared to the structure of the tributaries, these regions are largely isolated from one another, directly connected by only one or two major eddies. Travel from one end of the Hegemony to the other can take well over a year due to the great distances involved.  

Trade and Economy

The Hegemony has a very generalist economy, with very little focus on specific industries. The disconnected nature of the tributaries means that the economy is highly decentralized as well, with little in the way of major industrial or commercial centers. This has left it rather economically backward compared to most of its neighbors, though its sheer size means it remains one of the most important economies throughout the Sora. The major exceptions are realms which sit near two or more major trade routes. These realms serve as major trade hubs for the Hegemony and even newcomers to the Sora can find their soraports quickly blossoming into metropolises.   The majority of the Hegemony's populace are engaged in agriculture, though individual realms and tributaries may have their own specialties. Because of its great size, nearly every resource, good, and luxury can be found and produced in some form or another within the Hegemony. On the whole, however, the Hegemony is not known for any specific good.  


Approximately 700 billion people live within the Hegemony. The majority (75%) are humans. The remaining 25% are distributed among many different species, including elves, dwarves, goblins, varanids, and numerous minor species. None make up more than 2% of the Hegemony's populace.   The Hegemony's population is widely distributed throughout its tributaries, with few having a larger population density than others. Within the tributaries there can be a great variation in urban versus rural populations. Typically, the longer a tributary has been in the Hegemony, the more urbanized it is. Within the king's direct territories, for instance, nearly 80% of the population live in urban areas. Some of the smaller, less developed tributaries have the exact opposite, with upwards of 90% of the population living in rural areas. Overall, roughly 40% of the Hegemony's population lives in urban areas.  


Citizens of the Hegemony speak hundreds of languages natively and bilingualism is common. The majority language is Daren, the native tongue of Daré, is spoken as a first language by just over 40% of the population, with only 55% of the entire population speaking it at all. Octish is the majority language in the Archduchy of Octoi and is the second most spoken language overall in the Hegemony, at 10% of the population having fluency. Other notable languages include Läknoian, at 8% fluency, Kenlákpian, at 5% fluency, and Yuneb’ian, also at 5%. Dozens of other languages sit between 1% and 5% fluency, with hundreds at less than 1% fluency.   While the royal court of the Hegemony uses Daren for daily operations, they do not enforce it as an official language and readily accept communications and issue proclamations in dozens of others.  


The Hegemony contains a number of different religions and pantheons within its borders. Traditionally, the Daren pantheon is considered the most important, particularly on any realms colonized by Daren natives. However, the Hegemony enforces no primary religion and allows followers of any deity to worship freely within its borders. On the aggregate, the Hegemony is mildly religious, with worship running the gamut from complete devotion to only lip service. Most citizens fall somewhere in the middle, giving praise to the gods in general and respecting their power, but giving most thought to more worldly concerns.  


As with most everything in the Hegemony, there is no standard for education. Quality and availability of education can run the gamut from nonexistent to quite advanced. It varies widely from tributary to tributary and realm to realm, even sometimes differing greatly between cities on a realm. The largest divide comes between rural and urban areas, with more developed areas having access to greater levels of education.   The average rural Hegemony citizen can be expected to read, write, do basic arithmetic, and have a good knowledge of local history, laws, and geography, but little beyond that. Most possess one or two core skills, mostly learned from family, with more general skills picked up from school. Rural children usually don't attend school much past the onset of puberty, when they can begin helping their families with work. These schools are most often provided by local religious organizations, typically with as much focus on religious teachings as other subjects combined. A small portion of rural adolescents will apprentice themselves to skilled tradespeople outside of their families, but this tends to be far less common than in developed areas.   Urban dwellers often possess far more developed educations. They possess the same basic knowledge as their rural counterparts, though they tend to be more advanced in areas such as science, magery, or law, while having a much more basic understanding of life skills. Schools in these areas tend to have attendance for older students, some even continuing to offer education up to adulthood. This offers them the opportunity to learn more in depth language and mathematics. While some children help adopt family trades early in life, it's more common that they wait until they become adults to take up a profession. Many become apprentices in professions different from those of their parents, learning new trades entirely. This waiting until adulthood to learn specific skills can cause them to lag behind their rural counterparts, as they gain a broader base of knowledge early without truly pursuing anything in depth until later.   Higher education in the Hegemony is rare. Few universities exist outside of the most prosperous and major realms. The major exception is military academies, which are promoted by the King of Daré. These academies actively recruit particularly gifted children, training them as officers for the Hegemony military. These academies teach a variety of advanced skills such as history, magery, algebra, architecture, engineering, logic, rhetoric, and languages.  


Along with having the largest territory, the Hegemony also maintains the largest navy among known empires, consisting of approximately 3000 soraships of various classes and sizes. The navy owes its direct allegiance to the King of Daré, who serves as the commander in chief of the Hegemony's armed forces. While the king delegates day-to-day operations to subordinates, they are expected to set the overall strategy and objectives of the armed forces during any large-scale operations. Directly beneath the king are the 21 grand admirals, one assigned to each of the navy's 20 fleets as well as one operational grand admiral who manages the non-combat side of naval operations. Below each grand admiral are a number of admirals who command squadrons, facilitate communications, and otherwise assist with the management of such a large fleet. Each fleet contains dozens of admirals, all nominally equivalent in rank, though seniority and prestige of posting tends to play a large role in internal fleet politics. The larger ships in the fleet, typically ships of the line and frigates, are commanded by captains, while the smaller corvettes and logistical barges are commanded by subcaptains. Occasionally, due to a shortage of officers, a larger ship will be commanded by a subcaptain, though this typically happens only in times of war. More common is the opposite issue, where all larger ships have established commanding officers, blocking a promotion-worthy subcaptain from being promoted. In such cases, they may be given the rank of captain while being left in command of their corvette.   Thirteen of the Navy's fleets are considered standard fleets, each assigned to one region. These standard fleets each consist of 10 ships of the line, 40 frigates, and 100 corvettes, which are divided into a number of different operational squadrons. Four other fleets are the defense fleets, one each that patrols the borders between the Hegemony and its neighbors. These fleets are heavier and contain 30 ships of the line, 50 frigates, and 70 corvettes. The last three fleets are more variable, having more flexible roles. The first, consisting of 120 corvettes and 30 frigates, is the rapid response fleet and is designed for quickly responding across the empire as needed. The second, the exploratory fleet, is responsible for scouring the Sora for new eddies and investigating new realms. It consists of 20 ships of the line, 50 frigates, and 80 corvettes. The final fleet is the logistics fleet, which consists of 30 ships of the line, 30 freighters, 30 barges, and 60 frigates. This fleet primarily supplies the rest of the navy and military installations throughout Hegemony territory.   In addition to these Hegemony-wide forces, most tributaries maintains their own defense forces. These forces are considered adjacent to the Hegemony navy, typically carrying far less prestige and importance. They may consist of only a few ships for a smaller tributary up to several dozen for the largest and most important tributaries. There is a perception that people who serve in the tributary defense forces are those who weren't good enough to make it in the navy proper. The training, structure, and makeup of each defense force is left up to the tributary itself. A few of the smaller, more central tributaries do not even maintain a defense force, as it is not required.

Commit to Glory


The Kingdom and Hegemony appreciate each other, sharing similar attitudes toward the world.

Reluctant trade partners

The Daren Hegemony conducts limited trade with the Confederacy, though neither side is truly happy about the arrangement. The Hegemony would rather the Confederacy cease its slaving ways, while the Doflein would gladly conquer the Hegemony if they could.


Both parties have little dealings with one another. The few interactions they've had have not had lasting impact on their relations.

Wary neutrality

Neighbors, the Syndicate and Hegemony vacillate between trade partners and rivals. Those on the borders tend to have grudging respect for one another, while those within the core realms hold deeper distrust.

Mild distrust

The Hegemony sees the Archive as unimportant and annoying at best. The Archive warily watches the Hegemony, ready to take action should they involve themselves in primitive realms.


Both sides consider the core values of the other to be anathema. The Hegemony considers the Mandate weak and conciliatory, while the Mandate finds the Hegemony violent and tyrannical.


The Hegemony sees the Suzerainty as weak and passive, while the Suzerainty hates the Hegemony's imperialistic ways.


The Álfuríki despises the Hegemony as brutes and conquerors. The Hegemony has only refrained from making true on those fears due to their distance.

Articles under Daren Hegemony

Cover image: by Denis Khusainov
Character flag image: by J. Kastronis


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