Modern Exalted: Bring back the Light
The Union of Eastern States (UES) has risen from the ashes of the Guild Coalition. It remains one of the largest nations in the world, forming a triangle stretching from Deheleshen to Chaing-Dav to Greyfalls. It’s also among the most powerful, with a vast military and a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons and Dragon-Blooded. But old animosities with other countries persist, as do memories of the former excesses of the Guild.
The history of the UES begins with the Guild. Three centuries ago, the Guild—then an association of merchants and traders—began absorbing other craft guilds under the enlightened guidance of the economic philosopher Marsk, who believed the working classes should wrest control of their destinies from the aristocracy by taking ownership of wealth and the means of production. What began as a reformist movement exploded into civic strife, wherein the monarchy of the industrialized nation of Hollow was supplanted by an aggressive, fractious, radicalized republic.The Republic of Hollow lasted only a few years before Jochim, a minor noble of Cheraki ancestry, staged a coup d’état. As dictator, he proved a brilliant general and politician—first extending Hollow’s empire over much of the Scavenger Lands, then building an alliance to oppose efforts by Sijan’s necromancer-lords to conquer the East—and perhaps the world—with legions of black-clad soldiers and waves of walking dead. Jochim eventually crushed Sijan, razing the city and sowing its lands with salt. Hollow’s forces continued to occupy their erstwhile allies, establishing military garrisons and installing puppet governments.
But Jochim’s dynasty didn’t last. Under his short-lived successors’ autocratic rule, military and economic failures led to a bloody revolution and the resurgence of Guild rule throughout the empire.
The resulting federated state, the Guild Coalition, endured for almost two centuries before it unraveled beneath the strain of a failing centrally-planned economy, cultural conflicts and proxy wars with Meruvia. When the Guild Directorate voted to dissolve the federation, fringe states declared independence, while those with stronger economic and cultural ties to Hollow and the Guild reaffirmed their union, forming the UES.
Reacting to patrician excesses, the old Directorate suppressed ‘decadent’ expressions of wealth, art and culture. Now dull, blocky architecture and utilitarian clothing are being supplanted by vivid foreign styles and revivals of colorful old costumes and customs. Similarly, while censorship of art, correspondence and media resulted in drab government-sponsored art and heavily slanted coverage from government-run news-papers and radio stations, a vibrant underground media scene has surged into public view.
The UES is relatively irreligious. The Guild Coalition strongly discouraged religious belief, as spiritual patronage—whether the Immaculate God or the trickster-spirits which often pass for deities—was deemed as oppressive as any temporal aristocracy. While worship wasn’t banned outright, the government cracked down on clergy whose preaching didn’t adhere to the party line. Now, while atheism and agnosticism predominate, older religious beliefs—largely Immaculate denominations—undergo a small revival.
The UES comprises a cat’s cradle of republics, autonomous cities, administrative districts and border territories. Envoys from UES member states meet in Marita to pass legislation and set policy for the federation as a whole. But the various UES-wide councils, parliaments and courts have little real power. It’s primarily the bullying force of Hollow—the most populous and powerful state—and the threat of falling under Meruvian hegemony that keeps member nations pulling in the same direction.
With the dissolution of the Guild Directorate a generation ago, each UES member state’s Guild party functions independently. While some Guild parties are in decline, others hold great power—even acting as single-party governments—and most collaborate across national boundaries, forming the strongest power bloc in the entire East.
While the UES’s Trans-Union Security Committee (TUSC) has supplanted the old Guild Coalition’s Wardens, the organization is thought to retain ties to intelligence agencies in ex-Coalition states outside the UES like Calin and Marukan. Corruption is widespread; many officers abuse their authority for wealth and power. Member states maintain independent intelligence ministries which guard their jurisdictions jealously against TUSC intrusion.
The dissolution of the Guild Coalition has reduced the UES military’s manpower significantly; it is now the third largest in the world after An-Teng and Meruvia. Its reserve forces vastly outnumber both, however, as mandatory service leaves much of the population ready for war.
Like the other great powers, the UES maintains both a nuclear arsenal—which is being cut back due to maintenance costs—and a Dragon-Blooded cadre. Most UES Dragon-Blooded belong to the Hollow and Deheleshen militaries, though a few can be found in the militaries of other member states.
The UES also breeds ata-beasts and san-beasts for a variety of martial and logistical purposes. Though valued for their abilities and loved by their handlers, these creatures have no more rights than mundane animals.
While the UES military’s equipment is largely behind the curve technologically, recent administrations have spent heavily to modernize the military. Much of this funding has gone to the federation’s feared special forces, such as TIGR—an elite black ops division fitted with cutting-edge AEGIS bionic implants that supercharge strength, speed and endurance at the cost of accelerated aging.