The Court of the Jade Crown has a murky history. In brief, however, the story goes that a group of dragons spent centuries smuggling half-elven children out of the Celestial Empire before they could be strangled or drowned, as the Celestials considered such half-breeds to be abominations. These children were taken to a misty chain of islands on Ra'niah, away from the fledgling human nations there, where they could grow and live unmolested. The dragons called the half-elves Lhao.
As time went on, the population of the Lhao Islands grew into self-sufficiency, and the dragons, sensing that their charges would be able to support themselves, slowly withdrew their direct support. The Lhao revere the dragons, adding their draconic saviors to the elemental spirit-worship taught to them by the dragons themselves. Once on their own, the Lhao slowly created themselves a society of clan-like Houses, led by the good and wise (or in some instances, the wily and scheming). As the heads of these Houses died, they were in turn worshipped as honoured ancestors, implored for aid and guidance in times of trial by their descendants.
The Houses came together under the leadership of a single Senshuken, who wore a crown fashioned of jade, a wondrous artifact left to the Lhao by the dragons long before. This ruler, known in history only as The First Senshuken, laid down the initial laws of the Court of the Jade Crown. The Court as an institution of government survives to this day, as do most of the original Houses, and many newer ones.
The Court of the Jade Crown is a strange study in contrast. The Court practices near-total racial equality within itself. Nearly any creature can swear fealty to a House, take on house colors and trappings, and become a member of the Jade Crown nation. While most Great Houses are led by the descendants of the original half-elven stock taken from Liunonda, there are notable houses that are not. For instance, the House of Twice-Gold Dragons is entirely elven, comprised mostly of more recent Celestial Empire expatriates. The House of Tiger and the House of Three Cranes are almost entirely human, and led by humans who call themselves Sennyo to differentiate themselves from the Tzu Pan, who they closely resemble.
In spite of this seemingly open society in terms of fealty, members of the Court of the Jade Crown see themselves as superior to all other societies they encounter. They believe that their ways, which they feel are dragon-taught and ancestor-directed, are the true ways of doing things. Others are to be pitied for their ignorance.
Generally, names follow a single consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel pattern, second, every letter is pronounced, and third, names end with a vowel. Sample Lhao names include Adahe, Dovera, Jiro, Katako, Korekeda, Muramase, Totane, Yuki, and Zimatu.
The Seated Court and the Senshuken
Houses in the Jade Crown are political entities unto themselves, including in some cases the ability to rule over their own lands. To become a Great House, a charter must be filed to the Senshuken, a boon paid and then approved. House charters define how the houses run internally, including who manages the house vs members of the house (inheritance, etc). This can vary from house to house (while most ruling positions are inherited, a few are more democratic).
The Jade Isles are ruled from the Court of the Jade Crown. The Court is a physical place--a beautifully minimalist chamber in the Senshuken's Palace in Liaul. There are thirteen seats in the Court of the Jade Crown. Twelve are held by Great Houses, while the thirteenth is set aside for any of the founding dragons or their descendants. The Court does not even pretend to place any restrictions on the coming and going of dragons, however, and so in practice this seat is rarely used; the last recorded instance was over 150 years ago. A Great House which holds a seat in the council is called a Seated House. Other houses exist which do not hold seats in the Court, and these are usually aligned in one form or another with a Seated house. A Seat may be reassigned to a new house with a vote of 10 and approval of the Senshuken.
Land within the Court of the Jade Crown is owned by either a Great House, or the office of the Senshuken (the latter is passed from Senshuken to Senshuken). Liaul, capital of the Court of the Jade Crown, is owned and managed by the Senshuken. All other lands owned by the office of the Senshuken are managed in regency by other houses.
The office of Senshuken and the Jade Crown is granted by the Court of the Jade Crown. The Senshuken is selected from one of the Seated Houses--usually as the head of the house (though this is not a requirement). The Senshuken is similar to a Prime Minister. He can be granted increased temporary powers during times of crisis. One is not allowed to be a Seated Member of the Court and a Senshuken, if a Seated Member is selected for Senshuken he must step aside and let another in his House take the Seat. The office of Senshuken is held for life, or until the Court removes the crown (which requires 11 votes).
The Senshuken does not vote in the Court's decisions, but he can preside (although this is not a requirement). The Senshuken casts a vote only to break a tie.
Houses can fight in open war on their own territories, but war must be declared in Court before the Senshuken.
Citizenship in the Jade Crown can be had by swearing fealty to any of the Great Houses. The requirements for this vary by House.
There are many Great Houses of all sizes. The twelve currently Seated Houses are:
- House of Tiger
- House of Rising Suns
- House of Twice-Gold Dragons
- House of Cresting Waves
- House of Silver Herons
- House of the Onyx Lotus
- House of Distant Mountains
- House of Stone
- House of Plum Blossoms
- House of Silk
- House of Eighty Storms
- House of Ruby Sky
Other Great Houses include:
- House of Three Cranes
- House of Clouds
Each Great House has its own ethos revering ancestors, ancient dragons and the elements. These are managed by the priests of the house. More details can be found in the Deities Apocrypha
The Court of the Jade Crown claims land running from the eastern side of the content shared with the Luskani Dominion, in a broad swath through the islands just to the east, and into the western third of Anaan.
They have had many skirmishes with the Luskani, who are expansionistic, and there are lands to the north and west which have changed hands several times, currently under the rule of the Luskani.
Major Towns: Sai