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Give me knowledge to know what to do,

The wisdom to know when to do it,

And the courage to change the world.

The Urizen live in the mountainous region in the south. These majestic peaks have shaped their society – while they are defensible, they have also restricted their ability to build and farm. Urizen is probably the smallest nation in terms of population, although its numbers have been steadily increasing since it joined the Empire.

Critics might claim that the mountains have also given the Urizen an undeserved sense of superiority – they literally look down on everyone else, and their small population gives each of them an inflated sense of their own importance.

They live a little apart from the Empire, but they do so to gain perspective, not to isolate themselves. The folk of Urizen are not hermits – they are Imperial citizens who have a long history of working to make the Empire a “better” place – although they do not all necessarily agree on the precise meaning of “better.”

The archetypal Urizen is an educated person who applies their learning to every part of their life. An individual Urizen might easily be an implacable blade-master, oratorical reformer, dedicated natural philosopher, wise theologian or powerful magician. Wherever possible they seek to expand their understanding of the world and their role within it, and apply that understanding to achieve their goals. While learning for its own sake is laudable, the Urizen value much more highly knowledge that is used to create tangible benefit – to change the world, even in a small way. Pure mathematics is fascinating area of study, but to use ones knowledge to bridge a mountain pass or create a wonder such as the heliopticon is much more important.

People live longer in Urizen. Partly this is a consequence of the pace of life and partly it is because of magical rituals specifically used to extend life, but there is also “something in the air.” It is not rare for an Urizen to live to be 100 years old, and to maintain their faculties and vitality until the end of life. It is not uncommon for older individuals from other Nations to “retire” to Urizen to live out their last years in peaceful study, perhaps with an eye towards ensuring they gain more years.

The Urizen live in settlements called Spires, clusters of buildings, halls, galleries and balconies carved into the side of the mountain peaks. Spires tend to cluster around usable farmland, and sources of water and wood, supported and enhanced through the use of magic.

Most of this information on Spires could be an appendix.

Between Spires are large stretches of barely populated countryside, much of it inhospitable. Urizen Spires tend to be small – a combination of living space and food make this a necessity. Their Spires tend to be airy and large, however – a typical Urizen is used to having plenty of space to move around in, and plenty of privacy to get on with the things that interest them.

Most of Urizen’s terrain is hilly or mountainous. Fertile soil is precious, and very much in demand. The farmers of Urizen are adept at teasing as much food as possible from comparatively little arable land. The natural philosophers have made great advances in irrigation, crop rotation and step farming. In many cases the application of magic is used to ensure that harvests are sufficient to feed everyone who depends on them, but there is rarely much in the way of surplus.

An Urizen Spire is formed when a “parent” Spire begins to become too populous. When this happens the Spire begins work on a new Spire a short distance away – usually on a nearby mountain peak. When the new Spire is largely complete, a proportion of the original population moves to the new Spire. The two Spires maintain a relationship a little like that of a parent and child until the “child” Spire is “mature” enough to be self-sustaining, at which point a formal ceremony is held in which the two Spires become independent groups. Political ties often remain close between the two Spires.

The older Spires of Urizen have ultimately spawned dozens of daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter Spires. These larger settlements are called Citadels, and they represent the original settlements from which all other Urizen settlements are “descended.” Because they occupy the best locations in the Nation, they are able to support the largest populations and are the equivalent of small cities, wheras most Spires are the equivalent of small towns.

Sometimes a new Spire is formed because a group within an existing Spire disagrees with the way things are run, and occasionally just because a group wants to try something new. These Spires are less planned, and more prone to failure.

Occasionally two (or even three or four) Spires will co-operate to create a third Spire, mingling their populations in doing so. The newly created Spire is often created as a means to exploit a specific resource, or as part of a political agreement between the participants. Regardless of the reason for forming the Spire, the assumption is that eventualy it will become independent of the parents as soon as it is self sufficient.

The idea of one group directly controlling more than one Spire in Urizen is generally considered laughable. A combination of the problems caused by the mountainous terrain, coupled with the resentment that grows within a few generations of someone else telling them what to do, is seen as leading inevitably to bloody revolt, which is the last thing any Urizen wants to see.