Set on the great plain at the center of the known world, Ilimbera is the grandest of all the empires of the world, and the largest. Its people survive on what they can find in the dry places, between gorges and small deserts, in the ruins of lost cities and forgotten temples. Dried riverbeds house small populations of people. Most of the population concentrates into the grand cities, which are nearly beyond count on the vast, arid plain. Water is brought up from deep beneath the ground by magic orchestrated centuries ago by great mages. Each city is surrounded by irrigation systems and rough farmlands which allow them to support their large populations. The empire runs on slaves from around the world, bought and sold and bought again, from all walks of life, be they adventurers, or villagers, or prisoners. The empire needs them all.
Beyond the cities lie great areas, now unknown and unexplored, with untold riches in them. Mines that once churned out gold, mithril and gems now lie empty. The architectural brilliance of generations gone by now stand alone, crumbling slowly, the riches they once housed now guarded by the many creatures that settle in such places. The further from cities, the more dangerous the land becomes.
Out on the planes, the nomadic peoples wander endlessly, surviving by way of secrets handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter. Those they come across are as likely to be welcomed as guests as they are to be captured and sold to a township that the nomads come across. The human nomads are not the only ones to walk the wilds – the tribes of dust goblins wander too, sacking settlements and attacking caravans. Only patrols of imperial soldiers, corrupt and ill mannered, can deal with the clans of up to hundreds, as they plunder and loot.
The imperial family, sequestered for centuries in the Hundredfold palace in the capital city of Aghlabas, no longer hold any true power. Instead, the empire is ruled by the Grand Vizier, and individual who can maintain his post only for as long as he can kill any who challenge his authority. Instead of a central rule, the empire is more of a collective that stands against anything that would attack it. The rule of each city is in the hands of one individual with absolute power, each of whom mirrors the struggle of the Vizier on a smaller scale, smiting petty rebellions, crushing all opposition and indulging their every desire and depravity. So it goes, down the chain, so that every merchant, every artisan, even every beggar only has what he or she can claim and protect. There is no law, only the will of those who are in power.