Foreigners are people that are not part of the Empire, that the Empire is not currently at war with. The Empire trades with many of these foreign powers, and may host delegations from them. Foreigners have no ability to directly influence the future of the Empire, but may have political agendas that guide their interaction with the players. The ritual Call Winged Messenger is often used to communicate with representatives of foreign nations, and Imperial ambassadors may be appointed to represent the Empire in negotiations with them.
Nations that are not part of the Empire but which are not barbarian are sometimes called 'local foreigners'. They are smaller than the Empire, and possess a level of influence and military power roughly on par with one or more Imperial nations. They tend to share borders with the Empire, and many are threatened by the same barbarians that threaten their Imperial neighbours.
They speak the same tongue as the Empire, and engage in limited amounts of trade. This trade does not usually involve fleets; rather it could be represented with a business, or role-played. Larger scale trades may be entered into but these would be the result of politics with non-player characters from the neighbouring nations.
The primary foreign neighbours of the Empire are:
- Axos, a magocratic nation that closed its borders some time ago and is only now beginning to emerge from self-imposed isolation. It lies to the east of Urizen.
- Faraden, a hilly nation of traders with a long history of cooperation with the Freeborn that lies to the west of the Empire.
- The Iron Confederacy, a nation of feudalistic warlords who worship false gods, lying to the south of the Brass Coast.
- Skoura, a mountainous nation with rich mines and introspective citizens that lies to the south of Urizen.
- The Thule are dominated by their magicians, and engage in merciless asset-stripping of any lands they invade. They are found across the mountains to the north of Varushka in an area called Otkodov.
Distant foreigners primarily exist in downtime, although their representatives may attend events or enter correspondence with Imperial citizens. They represent nations that are on par with the Empire in terms of influence and capability - and in interest in worldwide events. They are all physically within four or five weeks of hard-sailing of the Empire (meaning a fleet can reach them and return in a single downtime period; this also means it is largely unfeasible to try and invade them or for them to invade the Empire).
These nations do not speak Imperial as their primary-language (although many citizens there will be familiar with the language). A number of other real-world language families are assigned to represent the languages of these foreign nations, and to the smaller independent nations that surround them.
The four primary foreign nations active on the world stage as peers of the Empire are:
- The Sarcophan Delves, a ruthless mercantile nation built in the ruins of a fallen civilisation.
- The Principalities of Jarm, a fractious magocracy known for exotic wonders and cut-throat politics.
- The Commonwealth, a comparatively young society founded on the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
- The Sumaah Republic, a secretive nation that shares the faith of the Empire but rejects the Synod
The list is not exhaustive - there may be other foreign nations out there but they are neither important nor active enough to be trading partners for the Empire. There are also extensive nations beyond the "known world" of the Empire campaign - too far away for regular trade to exist with them.