- "Here is the truth of our dreadful crown: to claim it a declaration of war on banality, on mediocrity. The banner of the enemy is apathy, the slow grind of the inevitable. Victor or ruin, every Tyrant that ever lived bet their madness against the bridle of the Heavens."
- ―Dread Empress Regalia II
Dread Emperor or Dread Empress is the Name claimed by the ruler of the Dread Empire of Praes. Tyrant is used as a gender-neutral shorthand and also as a ceremonial title. It should not to be confused with the Tyrant of Helike, which fills a similar Role for the City of Helike. It is one of the oldest Names in Calernia, being in use for over a thousand years.
As one of the older Names it carries with itself a huge cultural heft. This is compounded by its place in Praesi society - to be a Dread Emperor or Empress is to be the pinnacle of their society. Nonetheless, the method through which the Name's power manifests depends almost entirely on the holder. For example, we have seen Tyrants focused on:
- Magic and scholarship, such as Sorcerous
- Overwhelming might, such as Triumphant
- Military strategy in Teribillis I and II
- Statecraft, in Malificent I
- Court intrigue, in Malicia
It's clear that rather than being constrained to a particular skillset, the Name instead enhances the abilities of that allowed its holder to claim it in the first place.
The Role of a Dread Emperor or Empress is to lead the people of Praes. It's rarely held by someone who isn't accepted as the most powerful political figure in the Empire. It changes hands frequently, with the longest reigning Tyrant being Malicia. It is generally claimed following the death of the previous leader, frequently by someone involved in their death or in a succession war, when more than one Claimant appears.
Led by various Emperors and Empresses, the Dread Empire has had a long and storied history. It has been noted that about nine in ten leaders are comical and harmless villains whose plans frequently backfire spectacularly without even needing much heroic intervention, but that the last one in ten are terrifyingly competent enough to make up for the lost time. These sorts have included Terribilis, Triumphant, Sorcerous and Malicia.
It would be tempting to believe that the Name is restricted to Praesi nobility by the virtue of its societal status, however this is not the case. It's true that the High Seats got it more often than commoners but there were many instances where a man or a woman with strong powers or a stronger vision had butchered their way to power.
There has never been an Imperial dynasty, the longest a family had ever managed to claim the Tower was three generations in a row. In turn the Yeboah of Nok were exterminated to the last and the Sesay were installed to rule the city. However, despite its meritocratic veneer there is a heavy cultural bias at play. Neither goblins, orcs nor ogres ever claimed the Name and neither did the Duni.
There exists a tradition where the same reigning names (Maleficent I and II, for example) aren't taken up unless the last holder has been dead for a solid century.
|Dread Emperor||Abominable, the Thrice-Struck||-||Was struck down by the Heavens three times.|
|Dread Empress||Atrocious||After Sorcerous||Instituted comprehensive tax reform.
Was eaten by man-eating tapirs
|Dread Emperor||Benevolent I||> 710 AD||-|
|Dread Emperor||Bilius, the Beast||-||Tried to turn all the Praesi into undead but he was killed before his plan came to fruition.|
|Dread Emperor||Callous||Prior to Sorcerous||-|
|Dread Emperor||Foul I, the Frugal||< 290 AD||Used rebels as orc rations.|
|Dread Empress||Foul II, the Forthright||< 390 AD||Wrote a philosophical text 'The Covenant of Iron'.|
|Dread Emperor||Foul III, the Linguist||< 493 AD,
Predecessor of Vile I
|Invaded Kingdom of Daoine and personally duelled the Commander of the Watch.
His host was crushed and he was killed.
|Dread Emperor||Heinous||~ 735 AD||Declared one of the Secret Wars against the Dead King.|
|Dread Emperor||Imperious||-||Using a ritual to compel an entire army to suicide.
Mind controlled the High Lords.
|Dread Emperor||Inimical, the Miser||-||Used a flying fortress to kill his Warlock.|
|Dread Emperor||Iniquitous||-||First of the 'Mayfly Emperors'.|
|Dread Emperor||Irritant I, the Oddly Successful||-||Fought and lost a war against Callow.
Offered unconditional surrender to Ashur.
Abdicated 3 times and embroiled the High Lords in a pyramid scheme.
|Dread Empress||Maledicta I||~ 125 AD||One of the most successful Tyrants.|
|Dread Empress||Maledicta II||~ 660 AD,
Succeeded Regalia II
|Ripped out the tongues of the entire Imperial court.|
|Dread Empress||Maleficent I||0 - 10 AD||Great stateswoman and unifier.
Founded the Dread Empire.
|Dread Empress||Maleficent II||760 - 780 AD||Avoided losing the Secret Wars by using an Absence Demon.
Commissioned the building of Thalassina's defences.
Conquered 3 of the Free Cities for 20 years.
|Dread Emperor||Malevolent I, the Unhallowed||-||Offered refreshments to the abyss.|
|Dread Emperor||Malevolent II||Potentially predecessor to Sorcerous||Invaded Callow three times, once with an invisible army.|
|Dread Emperor||Malevolent III, the Pithy||-||Ruled for ten years.
Put down a goblin rebellion (number unknown).
Tried to make the Empire into a naval power.
|Dread Empress||Malicia||Current holder||The longest reigning tyrant.
Under her, the Callow was conquered and subjugated for 20 years.
|Dread Empress||Malignant I||-||-|
|Dread Emperor||Malignant II, the Particularly Petty||-||Reigned for 15 years.|
|Dread Emperor||Malignant III||-||Used a ritual to rise again as an undead and dethroned his successor.
The first Tyrant to rule as an undead.
Initiated a civil war knows as the First War of the Dead.
|Dread Empress||Massacre I||-||Fought a civil war during which she burned down the city of Okoro.|
|Dread Emperor||Nefarious||1265 - 1285 AD||The worst Tyrant in recent history.
Turned his Seraglio into a sordid sex dungeon.
Orc clans stopped paying tributes.
An Eight Goblin Rebellion almost broke out.
Invented flesh simulacrums.
|Dread Emperor||Nihilis I, the Tanner||700 - 710 AD||Retreated to Blessed Isle and concluded the Sixty Years War.
Defeated the Fourth Goblin Rebellion.
Tried but failed to rebuild Praes.
Banned the Tyranny of the Sun.
|Dread Emperor||Pernicious, the Imperilled||~ (725 - 735) AD
(before Secret Wars)
|Attempted and failed to raise a capital outside of Ater.
Raised taxes to extremely high level.
Launched three sieges on the Blessed Isle, all of which failed.
Couldn't keep his Chancellor loyal for more than a few months.
|Dread Empress||Prudence I, the Frequently Vanquished||-||Was frequently vanquished.|
|Dread Empress||Sanguinia I, the Gourmet||Prior to Malignant III||Frequently engaged in cannibalism.
Instituted death by hanging for eating subpar food.
After death, returned either as undead or as a wraith and became even more vicious in court.
|Dread Empress||Sanguinia II||-||Outlawed cats and being taller than her.|
|Dread Empress||Sanguinara||-||Made any and all law-breaking a capital offense.|
|Dread Empress||Regalia I||~ (120 - 493) AD,
Contemporary of Elizabeth Alban
|Invaded Callow using a flying fortress.|
|Dread Empress||Regalia II||~ 650 AD||Also invaded Callow using a flying fortress.
It was also brought down on Laure.
Initiated the Sixty Years War.
|Dread Emperor||Reprobate I||-||-|
|Dread Emperor||Sinister||10 AD||Second Tyrant of Praes.
Killed Maleficent I.
Potentially coined 'iron sharpens iron'.
|Dread Empress||Sinistra I||120 AD||Attempted to steal Callow's weather.
The ritual failed, creating the Wasteland.
|Dread Empress||Sinistra II, the Coy||> 220 AD||Invaded Callow at least once.|
|Dread Empress||Sinistra III||> 330AD||Outlawed shadows.|
|Dread Empress||Sinistra IV, the Erroneous||> 430 AD,
|Fought against a Shining Prince.|
|Dread Emperor||Sorcerous||Oversaw a golden age of Praesi scholarship.
Launched an Empire-wide adoption of Trismegistan Sorcery.
Created a sentient tiger army, which defected.
|Dread Empress||Sulphurous, the Technically Correct||< 490 AD||Put down goblin rebellion known as the Long War.
Invaded Callow and was killed by the first Shining Prince.
|Dread Emperor||Tenebrous||-||Oversaw the construction of Imperial Road from the Blessed Isle to Ater.
Eventually turned into a giant spider, occupying Ater's sewers where he continues to spawn them.
|Dread Empress||Terribilia I||< 490 AD||Allowed women to enrol into the Imperial War Collage.|
|Dread Emperor||Terribilis I, the Lawgiver, also the Thorough||~ (10 - 282) AD||One of the best Tyrants to claim the Dread Crown.
Accomplished general and lawmaker.
Penned a famous military treatise known as 'Ars Tactica'.
Strengthened Imperial Bureaucracy.
|Dread Emperor||Terribilis II||560 - 590 AD||Broke the Crusader Kingdoms.
Tried to introduce magical sterilization and strict familial laws, was assassinated before they were implemented.
|Dread Emperor||Traitorous||~ (120 - 490) AD,
Contemporary of Shining Prince Harry Alban
After the War of Thirteen Tyrants and One
|Betrayed a villain called "The Betrayer".
Passed for his own Chancellor through a cunning use of a wig and a pair of cantaloupes.
Started several secret Cabals whose main goal was to overthrow himself, succeeded at least once.
Successfully harmed an angelic Choir, slaying an Angel of Contrition.
|Dread Empress||Triumphant||495 - 510 AD||Conquered the entirety of Calernia.
Ended the Alban dynasty of Callow.
Broke the Titanomachy, exhausting centuries of their accumulated power.
Received tribute from the Kingdom Under.
Allied with the Dead King.
Her downfall led to the Founding of Principate and the establishment of the Fairfax dynasty in Callow.
Afterwards, Praes was occupied for 40 years.
|Dread Emperor||Vile I||< 490 AD,
Succeeded Foul III
|Triggered the War of Thirteen Tyrants and One.
Made a law where the fingers of Deoraithe bowmen could be exchanged for gold coin.
Tried to release a magical plague that would kill two in ten Praesi.
|Dread Emperor||Vindictive I||Successor or predecessor to Nihilis I||-|
|Dread Emperor||Vindictive II||-||-|
|Dread Empress||Vindictive III||-||Her face is on Imperial coinage, particularly the silver denarii.|
|Dread Emperor||Baneful||War of Thirteen Tyrants and One|
|Dread Empress||Desolate||War of Thirteen Tyrants and One|
|Dread Emperor||Baleful||~ 1285 AD|
|Dread Empress||Sepulchral||Current claimant|