The Erathian Empire is a loose federation of several fairly autonomous provinces and Imperial Free Cities. It is also divided into two larger wholes called the Northern Domain and the Southern Domain. The Imperial capital of Providence is the birthplace of the Empire and the seat of its ruler. However, despite its name, the Empire is not a dictatorship: the title of Emperor is elective, chosen by the Council of Electors. These electors include members of the nobility, as well as representatives of the seven Wizard's Colleges (not necromancy, which is banned) and the leader of the Order of the Hammer, an order of Paladins of Moradin who were instrumental in the earliest wars of the Empire but aren't actually part of the Erathian church, which is barred from directly taking part in the politics of the Empire. In government, the Empire is more of a federation than anything else, with a large degree of autonomy granted to each province and its leader.
Numerous smaller kingdoms and other nations / city-states have been swallowed by the Empire during its 500- year expansion. Some of these were exclusively human and some exclusively halfling states, but by now the two populations have mingled and pretty much every corner of the Empire has a significant population of both species living side by side. There is no clear Empire-spanning division of social standing for humans or halflings either, though more locally there may be areas where one or the other is considered slightly less desirable.
The church of Erathia, the goddess of civilization and invention, is the largest and most influential faith in the Empire. It is led by the Archbishop of Erathia. Many other faiths are also accepted, and other important gods include Pelor, Moradin the Raven Queen, Melora and Corellon. Though the Erathian church is officially removed from politics, it still wields a great deal of influence over mundane matters throughout the Empire. It also has its own army, known as the Temple Guard. In some parts of the Empire, the church is actually the supreme power, and in those places distrust of magic tends to run deeper than elsewhere in the federation.
The Northern Domain Edit
The Northern domain is younger than the Southern: its capital of Newport itself is only about 200 years old, and the domain was officially recognised as separate from the "Old Empire" only 70 years ago, when the wave of border expansion towards the west that is still ongoing now was undertaken in earnest. The leader of the Northern domain is the High Chancellor of Newport, and the domain has its own elector council to choose this leader. For decades the northern electors have been pushing for one of their own as Emperor, but given there are almost twice as many electors from the southern provinces than the northern, this has not happened.
The Rean Province is the newest and westernmost province of the Northern Domain. It lies around the Rean river after which it was named, and borders Newport in the south and west. For over a hundred years after the founding of Newport the river was essentially the western border of the Empire. During a time of prosperity and stability across the other borders of the Empire, a campaign of expansion was undertaken through a combination of battle and diplomacy. The Province was officially established by the Council of Electors in the same decree that saw the creation of the Northern Domain.
Mainly humans and halflings, though there is a small society of dwarves living in the hills bordering the Plains of the Bloodied Claw. Elves and gnomes have also sometimes been known to live in Imperial cities. Tieflings, usually of Remean ancestry, are present but uncommon and not welcomed with much enthusiasm. Dragonborn are an extremely rare sight. Half-Elves, while not common, are not unknown and usually fairly well received in Imperial society. Half-Orcs are a rarity even in the north and essentially unheard of elsewhere, and are likely to face extreme prejudice unless their orcish ancestry is very inconspicuous.
Everything is possible, although warlocks may find a lot of what they do illegal or at least socially unacceptable. Arcane magic is banned in "townships and cities" from anyone who is not a licensed magic user, in other words anyone who has not studied at one of the Imperial Colleges of magic or visited them to prove their ability after studies with some other reputable master or institution. Other classes that have organisations that specialise in training them are Fighters (military, Imperial or local), Rogues (Thieves' Guilds in cities), Bards (Bards' College in Providence), Rangers (the Imperial Scout Regiment), Clerics (the churches of a variety of gods) and Paladins (the Order of the Hammer, some of the Temple Guard, and possibly orders of other gods). This does not mean that an Imperial character of one of these classes must be affiliated with these organisations in any way, they're just here for inspiration. Feel free to come up with your own organisations or places within the Empire as well, and let me know so we can figure out the details together!