|“||The Aedyr Empire is currently the largest and most powerful force in this part of the world. It is centered around the Equator and has a tropical climate. Though the empire has colonies in numerous areas of the world, Greater Aedyr is at its heart and houses the majority of its human and elven nations.||”|
The Aedyr Empire is an expansive nation, a monarchy ruled by a fercönyng (first king, emperor) and mecwyn (illustriuous queen). People from the Aedyr Empire are known as the Aedyr. The Free Palatinate of Dyrwood and the Penitential Regency of Readceras are its former colonies in the Eastern Reach.
The Empire's history dates back centuries, to Aedyr, or "People of the Deer," a tribe of chieftain-led nomads who settled their continent in the West around 300 AI. Over the course of two thousand years, the Aedyr developed at a slow pace, fighting skirmishes with other cultures as often as forming mutually beneficial unions. Progress moved at such a pace that the Aedyr might have continued on that path for another thousand years, but a chance encounter with the elves of Kulklin changed everything for the modest kingdom. Inclined toward maintaining a stable settlement, the kingdom of elves imparted their teachings of agriculture, architecture, and domestication to the folk in exchange for military protection. 
However, coexistence was frequently difficult and the Kingdom of Kuklin warred intermittently with the human tribes for the next two centuries. In approximately 2200 AI, The People of the Deer unified into a new civilization called the Aedyr Kingdom. The tribes, small and widespread over the land, knew it would be better for their continued existence to unify. The leaders of each tribe became advisors to the king, chosen by the group. Each advisor would still be lord over his people, but each lord would answer to the fercönyng (FAYR-cö-ning, "first king"). This decision turned out to be exactly what was needed and the Aedyran Kingdom thrived, spreading out over the land, establishing strong trade routes, and became known to be fair - but shrewd - businessmen. While the country thrived and internally there was little strife, the skirmishes with the neighboring elven kingdom of Kulklin continued.
Many of the fiercest conflicts flared up along the edge of the Cythwood, where the two powers shared a border. The Kulklin of the Cythwood were swift and improvised attacks quickly, owing in part to their use of everyday tools – axes, knives, and bows – as weapons of war.
The Cythwood elves used the jungle terrain to their advantage and quickly became infamous for their cunning and brutal tactics. Skirmishers would fell trees behind invading Aedyran forces while druids made more to grow in their path, confusing and stalling their foes. They would often pair these maneuvers with devastating, lightning-fast attacks, surrounding lost platoons and dragging stragglers into the forest. Most notoriously, they would hang their victims from the trees to warn off further attacks. 
The two forces couldn't be more different. Whereas the elves could raise troops as needed thanks to their pragmatism, the Aedyrans relied on cadres of professional soldiers led by generals - sometimes rulers who were pledged to the first king. One notable example is Bronlar. He led an elite detachment of pikemen known as the Thorned Wall. Unlike the fercönyg's personal guard unit, the Tall Grass, Bronlar's soldiers had little use for the trappings of ceremony. When conflict with the Kulklin bloomed into war, Bronlar marched with his single phalanx to hold the crossing at Skerbaen ahead of reinforcements. There his force was met by a horde of hostile warriors on the opposite bank. Outnumbered at least five-to-one, the Thorned Wall never gave an inch even as they began to fall. Casualties mounting, Bronlar knew his shield wall could not hold forever, so he ordered his men to withdraw and burn the bridge. The warrior king was last seen holding off the advancing enemy force singlehandedly, even as the flames enveloped him. His shield, blackened but unbroken, was later recovered and became a symbol of Aedyran courage and commitment to duty.
Not long after the kingdom was formed, the Aedyran people began studying animancy. Still largely unknown at that time, it was an exciting, terrifying new realm that Aedyran scholars saw great potential in. This potential came to bear fruit in in 2260 AI, when a group of animancers - working together - transferred the soul of a recently departed man into another body, creating the first of what would later come to be known as the "undead." The reaction to this discovery was swift and decisive. Both the king of Aedyr and the church of Woedica condemned this event and the study or practice of animancy was outlawed. It would never again be practiced openly on Aedyran soil.
Conflicts with Kulklin continued, escalating into a minor war in 2398 AI. Negotiations to end the constant warring began as a result. The negotiations were beset by numerous setbacks. The most notable of these included an unprovoked attack on Elcga, Kuklin's emissary during one round of negotiations. After the ensuing battle ended, Elcga renewed her attempt, protected by three elven knights carrying shields to protect her from harm. The treaty was finalized thanks to her efforts, with the knights founding the paladin order of Shieldbearers of St. Elcga, which would become bodyguards and diplomats of the Empire. The treaty was signed in 2399 AI and the Kingdom of Aedyr merged with Kulklin to form the Aedyr Empire. With the political and military strife now settled, the Aedyr Empire would become an economic powerhouse. Able to provide resources that were hard to find in other parts of the world, their trade routes became some of the most lucrative in the world. Steady expansion continued over the next two centuries, culminating in the colonization of the Eastern Reach.
In 2602 AI, Aedyran explorers returned from over the ocean, telling tales of the ruins and treasures there and of expansive fields that were perfect for growing vorlas. The explorers warned the fercönyng that the locals were not friendly to outsiders, but the fercönyng, seeing this as an opportunity to extend his empire and secure trade on another continent, sent more explorers. Over the next twenty years, the area that would become the Dyrwood was investigated, mapped, and colonized. In 2623, the first permanent Aedyran colonial settlements were established.
Vorlas fields were set up north of the forests in the Dyrwood, but between the conflicts with the Glanfathans and the War of the Broken Stone, it floundered. It wasn’t until 2643 that the opportunity presented itself again. Some Eothasian pilgrims, wanting to escape persecution, established colonies and vorlas farming operations in the territory of Readceras. With Grand Vailia on the verge of collapse, the fercönyng wanted to ensure his hold on the purple dye trade would be established. He encouraged the settlement and even paid to have the pilgrims set up in the new world.
Because the fercönyng was still trying to secure his name in the purple dye trade, he was unable to properly respond to Admeth Hadret when he issued his ultimatum. To avoid a rebellion and leave himself time to oversee the vorlas farms in Readceras, the fercönyng relented and made Admeth a gréf palatine. In return for this concession, Admeth spent time and resources on the Dyrwood's trade and shipping routes, benefitting the fercönyng with increased income.
For seven years, the Dyrwood provided Aedyr with a steady income, leaving the fercönyng time to ensure his trade system in Readceras was strong. With the fercönyng's attention elsewhere, Admeth instituted the ‘Ten Years’ treaties, ending slavery in the Dyrwood and permanently removing one of the revenue sources provided by the Dyrwoodan explorers - the artifacts from the ruins scattered throughout the Dyrwood. At this point, the fercönyng's word meant almost nothing to the citizens of the Dyrwood. Admeth Hadret had replaced him as their true leader. In order to undermine Admeth's standing, the fercönyng found allies willing to explore the ruins (against the treaty conditions) and plunder them. Soon, Aedyr again had a supply of artifacts to sell. When his agents were eventually caught, the fercönyng distanced himself from the operation, certain there was no way to link him to the proceedings.
But the gréf, using means provided to him by his Glanfathan allies, discovered the evidence needed to prove the fercönyng was behind the plunderers. The conflict that arose from this revelation led to Admeth declaring independence for the Dyrwood in 2668 AI. After a bloody four-year-long war that resulted in the death of Admeth, the fercönyng relented. Trying to keep control of the Dyrwood had become too costly. He signed treaties with the new duc of the Dyrwood and returned his attention to Readceras, redoubling efforts on the vorlas trade.
However, when an economic downturn affected Readceras again, St. Waidwen appeared. After the Miracle of the Verdant Vorlas, Waidwen quickly gathered followers, drawn to the stories of Eothas's miraculous prophet. His power grew. Eventually, Waidwen had gained enough support that he confronted the imperial governor. Assisted by a collection knights and nobles who had been swayed to his cause, he marched on the capital city. The governor was allowed to live, but was forced to abdicate power and leave the colony. This was not from any understanding or easy acquiescence from the governor, but because of what happened when Waidwen entered the governor's palace. As Waidwen approached the governor, according to accounts, his body turned into something that was no longer human. His flesh became luminescent and his head transformed into pure, blinding light. The governor, knowing there was no way he could oppose an avatar of Eothas, relinquished his power. The people then asked Waidwen to lead the colony. He accepted, earning him the name ‘Divine King’ of Readceras and forever depriving the Empire of its other colonial territory in the Eastern Reach.
The Aedyr Empire is centered around the equator on the Aedyr continent and has a predominantly tropical hot/humid climate. The nation at its heart houses the majority of its human and elven populace, with settled frontiers in all directions.
The southern reaches of the Empire rest against the Magmear Mountains and together form the Maghanon province. For five generations the march was ruled by House Adalwan, who successfully defended the empire's then-southernmost territory from foreign tribes and rival families, before being extinguished in the War of the Black Trees.
The Aedyr Empire is a hereditary monarchy ruling by the divine sanction of Woedica. The ruling couple is based a haemneg (union or marriage) of a reigning Aedyran human emperor fercönyng (FAYR-cö-ning, "first king") and the elven queen mecwyn (MAY-queen, shortened from héamecwyn, HAY-ahmay-queen, "illustrious queen"), their concubinage represents the union between folk and elves. Both the ferscönyng and mecwyn have same-race spouses and offspring to maintaining the imperial lines. The Ine Gyrd (IH-nah geerd, "pearl scepter"), symbolizes the power of the Aedyran emperor. It is a 500-year-old scepter topped by an ancient adra (Glanfathan shell material) ovoid believed to hold the souls of many early Aedyran chieftains.
The territory of the Empire is divided into regions governed by officials appointed by the emperor. Provinces are administered in their name by gréfs (grayvs, "dukes") and are divided into individual erldoms, governed by erls. Erldoms are further divided into smaller domains governed by landed nobles called thayns.
- Gréfram: Governed by a gréf, corresponds to a duchy. The Dyrwood was founded as one. Gréframs are subordinated to the empire and as such the erls within imperial territories can oppose their gréfs if they have enough political strength or imperial support.
- Palatinate: An autonomous province governed by a gréf palatine, with severe restrictions placed on imperial rule. Erls are subordinated to the gréf palatine directly, instead of to them and the emperor.
The Aedyr Empire maintains a feudal social structure, allow slavery in most areas, and believes in/enforces a divine right monarchy (through Woedica). They're also pretty closed-minded about animancy, ciphers, and a lot of the new breakthroughs in understanding mortal souls that have been discovered in Dyrwood and Vailian Republics. Some Aedyre nobles also believe that they have a divine right to portions/all of Eir Glanfath.
Ethnic Aedyr population is overwhelmingly human and elven. They have fair skin and a variety of hair and eye colors, with blue and green being common. Among other cultures, Aedyr clothing is known for being relatively simple in construction and often using large, colorful striped or checkered patterns for accents. 
- Aedyran virtues: duty, efficiency, loyalty, modesty (not of dress, but of character), purity.
- Aedyran vices: inconstancy, sloth, sloppiness, impunctuality, mixing work/leisure.
|Duty||Aedyrans believe that a sense of purpose and duty gives their society strength. In their heavily feudal structure, every citizen has a role to play in service to the citizens around them. Though stratified and hierarchical, their beliefs also at least pay lip service to the idea that it works "both ways," i.e., commoners owe the fruits of their labor to their lords, and their lords owe them physical protection and security. Knowing one's place and fulfilling one's duties are of great importance.|
|Efficiency||Something done well is worth little if it is done inefficiently. Aedyrans strive to do everything as efficiently as possible, from household tasks to maintaining the provisions of a marching army to carrying out executions.|
|Loyalty||Loyalty has high value to Aedyrans and is strongly tied to duty. Loyalty extends to country, family, comrades-in-arms, and even to long-term business partners. In some cases, loyalty may conflict with duty. In such cases, duty typically carries the heavier weight of influence.|
|Modesty||It is uncommon for Aedyrans to celebrate their personal accomplishments. When others champion their success, Aedyrans commonly play it down, discourage continued aggrandizing of their reputation, or counter by elevating the accomplishments of others.|
|Purity||Broadly speaking, Aedyrans value purity: pure hearts, pure action, pure materials, and pure intentions. Virginity has value among Aedyrans (it is not viewed with much importance by other cultures), as does a pure reputation. In the Vailian Republics, success can wash away all sins, but that isn't how it works among the Aedyrans. Redemption is hard to come by in Aedyre society, which is one of the reasons why the Eothasian faith became popular among Readceran immigrants.|
|Inconstancy||Aedyrans do not look fondly on people who waver in their support of others, vacillate between opinions and stances, or generally show themselves to be of a mercurial nature. This applies to relationships and stances of all kinds. The Aedyran respect for duty and hatred of inconstancy, combined with common infidelity, eventually resulted in the creation of haemneg (ceremonial marriages) between humans and elves.|
|Sloth||Laziness is deplorable at all stations in life. Even the young and the old are expected to occupy their time with productive activity unless infirmity prevents it. The "idle rich" are viewed with contempt by Aedyrans.|
|Sloppiness||It is not enough to do a job well and quickly. It must also be done in a clean, tidy fashion— figuratively or literally. Aedyrans do not like loose ends, waste, or unfinished elements. Their artwork, food, clothing, and homes reflect a preoccupation with order and attention to detail.|
|Impunctuality||Punctuality is not, in itself, admirable, but it is behavior that everyone is expected to exhibit. A lack of punctuality, to an Aedyran, indicates a lack of respect for other parties, a lack of seriousness, and general unreliability. Aedyrans believe that if you can't even keep an appointment, you have little hope of following through on anything else.|
|Mixing Work and Leisure||Aedyrans have a peculiar cultural insistence on separating work time from leisure time. Discussing personal matters or being leisurely at work is viewed with contempt. Conversely, discussing work when at home or in the company of others is generally not welcome. Obviously, this sort of overlap commonly arises, so Aedyrans have a variety of cultural mores and special times that allow people to find permission or circumstances that allow them to bridge the gap. People who don't follow those courtesies (typically foreigners) are considered rude or thoughtless.|
The cultures of elves and humans have become so intermingled in the Aedyr Empire that they led to the emergence of several unique institutions designed to normalize relations between the races. The most important of those is the haemneg, a ceremonial marriage between folk and elf. In many cases, a haemneg allows two households to pool resources. Among the aristocracy, haemnegs consolidate power. Sometimes, it is a means for a noble to add another administrator to his or her household. Consorts are received with almost the same level of respect as their noble counterparts, which can be extremely useful. Technically, they are supposed to be for purely practical/political/financial reasons but they are often driven by emotions and desire. Haemnegs cannot be performed unless both parties are already married. If someone who is in a haemneg becomes a widow or widower, they are often pressured to re-marry unless they are past typical parenting ages.
|The Feast of Feasts (First week of Deep Summer)||
The biggest and most important of all Aedyran customs is the Feast of Feasts. This weeklong celebration happens the first week of Fonestu (Deep Summer) and is dedicated to honoring the life of the First Fercönyng. Each day of the week is devoted to some aspect of the fercönyng's life and there are very specific dishes to be served at each meal.
The Feast of Feasts originally began as a festival celebrating the birth of the fercönyng's first son and soon became a yearly occurrence during the week of his birthday. Currently, Aedyrans simply use it as an excuse for a party and pull out all the stops in an effort to outdo the previous year. As to which fercönyng is honored during The Feast of Feasts - it is always the current fercönyng. For each fercönyng is the First and Only fercönyng.
A special custom that arose at some point during The Feast of Feasts, Sweet Treat started as a way to keep children occupied so the parents could dine in peace. While it is still used for that today, significance has been added to it. Each treat is placed in a container (usually small metal boxes) and hidden somewhere on the property. After everything has been hidden, the children are sent out to find the "treasures." It is said now that the hidden treats represent Glanfathan artifacts and the children are the explorers, bringing the riches back to their new -and rightful - owners.
|Carnival of the Mask (???)||When the original colonists for Aedyr traveled to the new land to found the Dyrwood in the name of the Aedyran fercönyng, they encountered the Glanfathan people. The Carnival of the Mask celebrates this meeting. Originally, it was merely a formal reenactment - as a play - of the tensions between the Glanfathans and Aedyran settlers, but it has since evolved into much more than that. Participants choose "sides" and come dressed in elaborate outfits depicting which group they have decided to align themselves with - Aedyrans or Glanfathans. Everyone attends a masquerade ball and this party replaces any semblance of the play that was presented.|
|Winter's End (Winter Dusk)||
Winter's End was never anything more than an excuse for a celebration and it hasn't changed in all the years it has existed in Aedyr. It takes place during Winter Dusk and lasts all three days. People use the time to reflect on the year, celebrate their lives, and remember the dead - especially those who have passed in the recent year.
The Empire has one of the most powerful militaries in the world.
Several elite formations exist in the Empire, including:
- The fercönyng's elite palace guard. These gallant warriors have protected members of the royal court since before the time of empire. In their earliest incarnation, the Raektänki carried spear and shield while the modern guards now wield shining great swords. They can be recognized by their famous heraldric half-capes and gleaming winged helms.
- Tall Grass
- Nicknamed after their spears, the Tall Grass are a disciplined unit of pikemen selected for the emperor's own retinue after he took notice of their ability in battle. The Tall Grass were given the place of honor at the head of his procession, demonstrating perfect coordination and synchronized movement, becoming a public favorite.
- The Aedyr Empire, Part 1: Origin
- Bronlar's Phalanx
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire tooltip for the Shieldbearers
- The Aedyr Empire, Part 2: Expanding Borders
- The Saint's War, Part 1: Overthrow
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire cyclopedia
- Obsidian forums
- Pillars of Eternity encyclopedia
- The Lady's Hand
- Gamebanshee Social Round-up 08.5.2013
- Forum Post by Josh Sawyer
- Forum Post by Josh Sawyer
- Josh Sawyer on formspring
- Structure as derived from The Dyrwood books and other sources.
- spring.me post by Josh Sawyer
- Update #20: Lore Tidbits, Campaign Almanac
- Obsidian forum post by Josh Sawyer
- Pillars of Eternity Guidebook, Volume One (pg. 55, People and Cultures)
- Helm of the Falcon
- Tall Grass