The Dark Empires
The world of the dead is divided into four great Dark Empires. The Kingdom of Jade in the east houses the dead of Asia. The Kingdom of Ivory in the south, houses the dead of southern Africa and India. In the yet undiscovered kingdom of Obsidian dwells the dead of North America. Europe and northern Africa are the territory of the Dark Kingdom of Iron. With travel through the tempest being much more dangerous but far more quick than in the material world, these Dark Kingdoms have all (save the kingdom of Obsidian) had contact with each other, however brief. The Dark Kingdom of Iron is ruled by a wraith named Charon, and is known as the Stygian empire, named after its capital city. Stygia is built on a perpetual island of calm within the Tempest which is built below the shadowlands version of Rome.
Charon rules over the realm of the dead as emperor for two main purposes: To help ferry souls across the sunless sea to a far off place known as 'The Far Shores' where it is said a wraith may find peace and hopefully Transcend. And secondly he built a city and a wall to protect all wraiths from the dangers that the shadowlands is fraught with.
The Stygian empire is built from the Idealized version of Rome (being run by many from that era), as well as the best parts of Feudalism echoed from the lands of the living. As such it is headed by Charon as Emperor, followed by his Deathlords. All levels of knights, lords and commanders work below them with nobility and power being granted more on merit, skill, or political savvy rather than divine right or heritage. It is quite possible for anyone, from any status in the mortal realm, male or female to acquire any position or rank within Stygian society with the exception of emperor. This freedom of advancement is both highly encouraging, but also more time consuming to progress, as your superiors will never retire or die of old age.
Not everyone sees eye to eye with Charon and his empire. Some fought their entire lives for freedom from oppression and empires and will be damned if they'll spend the afterlife toiling under another one. These rebels, deserters or just individualists, are collectively known as Renegades. The empire takes a dim view of those who stand against it, and often times the zealous revolutionary who wants to tear down the whole system is lumped in the same boat as the idealist who simply can't morally condone or support an empire that turns it's own into paving stones. Renegades are usually hunted and arrested given the opportunity, though many soldiers will turn a blind eye against those who simply want nothing to do with the empire.
Bring Out Your Dead: Making the Cut in The Shadowlands
Some cross without any sentience at all, and simply relive the last moments of their life over and over again in a constant macabre loop. These unfortunate souls are called Drones. They are collected for the forges usually to keep them from slipping into Oblivion. Some Wraiths cross over with sentience, but no real will to fight Oblivion or their shadows. These wraiths often don’t have any fetters or very strong attachments to the mortal world and many wraiths question how they became a wraith in the first place. Those too weak of will are ripe for becoming Specters. Wraiths determined to be such are classified as Thralls and sold into slavery. Thralls are kept from oblivion by fetishes or relics that anchor them and suppress free will and shadow alike.
Oblivion hungers. Wraiths discovered early on that the only way to slow Oblivion was to work together to ensure that as few souls as possible fall in.
Every Wraith is born into the shadowlands covered in an ectoplasm coating known as a Caul. It prohibits a wraith from thinking clearly, defending themselves or doing much of anything but wandering around the site of their crossing. The Caul is easy enough to remove but doing so can only be done by another wraith or a specter. Every wraith has someone who removed their Caul and brought them into their new existence in the Shadowlands. A freshly de-Cauled wraith is known as an Enfant, and this title will stay with the wraith until they have proven that they know enough about their new existence to be left on their own. Because new wraiths are quite vulnerable in their Cauled state they are easy prey for Specters, slavers, or others who would take advantage of their helplessness. Because of this some wraiths take it upon themselves to become Reapers, and seek out new wraiths with the specific intent of removing their Caul, and welcoming them into their new existence. While anyone can remove a Caul, to call yourself a Reaper carries certain expectations. Traditionally a Reaper is both teacher and parent to the wraiths they reap. Reapers are accountable for their Enfants actions but also "own" the new wraith to the extent that the Enfant can be bought or sold. Reapers are charged with the task of not only preparing a wraith for life amongst the dead, but also ensuring, by any means necessary, that they do not become Specter or otherwise fall to oblivion.