Shin-Ah is a vast empire in the east of the known world. With sea to the east, mountains to the west, arid steppe to the north, and dense jungle to the south, the people there remained largely isolated for much of history. In modern day, they are a trade power, having a multitude of natural resources unique to their landscape. The most famous is the pineapple fruit, which grows on their tropical islands, and is a delicacy in much of the world. They are also known for their peacefulness and neutrality, helped by their isolation. When told in tales in other parts of the world, this is often said of the land of Shin-Ah: "Few men guard her gates, but all inside go to sleep with a stomach full of good bread."
The Shintens were unified very quickly under the Godon-Dia dynasty. They soon stylized themselves kings, and began expanding from Situ-Dia, their capital city in the foothills, and their massive Hall of the Brass Gongs sitting atop the tallest hill. Due their reverence of water, they expanded to the coast and eventually most of modern Shin-ah. They made massive gains by incorporating Chisini territory to the south, gaining access to Jara and the Jacteri islands, which boosted their trade power. They ruled with a rather light fist, and many lesser kings governed in their empire. During their reign, they spread their religion and ideals of peace throughout the rest of their culture. However, they eventually halted their expansion, and settled down to handle domestic affairs.
One of the client kingdoms from the east, the Katsusaki, developed a unique tradition. Their religion placed their king within the gods, and believed him to be holy and immortal in spirit. When he died, they believed his spirit remained on Earth, to be imbibed in the body of the heir, and this cycle would go on for eternity. As such, when a king died, his heir would undergo a secretive and very intense ritual to adopt the spirit of the God-King. As the Godon-Dia kings expanded territory less and less, and homogenized the empire more and more, the Katsusaki began to question whether their God-King would not do better directing all of Shin-ah. In 1760, they gathered their supporters and declared their king the new high king of Shin-ah. By then the Godon-Dia had become too passive and comfortable to resist, and were soon overtaken. The Katsusaki moved the capital from Situ-Dia to Hoshi, a city nearer to their homeland, and vastly reformed the government. Bureaucrats were replaced with generals, and instead of gardens they built barracks. The Chisini, who had declined in political unity under the Godon-Dia, were quick to join them, and soon made up much of their ranks. They quickly revitalized the military and set out to expand the empire once more, past the traditional boundaries. The official invasion of Barsa by the Shintens was announced by the God-King in 1783 on New Year's Day to a cheering population, convinced that they would spread the glory of their civilization across the entire Earth.
The Barsan invasion went well for the first decade, with their panda cavalry carving through Chojjen-Kam, the eastern plains of Barsa. The Chojjen people were caught far too unawares and didn't stand a chance. However, due to this many fled west, to Lake Narrkham and beyond, where they spread the word to the other Barsans. Soon many feared the complete subjugation of their people, and the various Barsan tribes agreed to form the Khanate of Akhduun, literally the "Kingdom of Our Brotherhood" in 1794. This new empire, using all of the might of the Barsan people, pushed back against Shin-ah, and after another 32 years of struggle, in 1826, the Shintens were pushed out of Barsa.
During the war, there was unrest in Hoshi as well. While there was an initial national fervor for the God-King subjugating "the northern barbarians", as time wore on the nobility, used to the lavish routine of the Godon-Dia, began to dislike the militaristic fervor of the Katsusaki. Much of the population, across all social standings, disliked such a rapid change in the government's ideology, from peaceful to aggressively imperialistic. The cracks grew when the current manifestation of the God-King, supposedly the 28th one, died, and the throne (and spirit of the king) passed to his adolescent son. After undergoing the ritual that was meant to imbibe him with the spirit, his mother, widow of the previous king, claimed that his personality had not changed as she was told it would, and raised doubts about the truth of the claims. As the Barsans pushed their armies back, the queen announced to a shocked population that she did not believe in the God-King, and that there was no spirit passing from heir to heir at all. Rather, she claimed, the ritual simply involved consuming a strange and powerful drug that caused the heir to feel possessed. The other Katsusaki promptly arrested her, but the priesthood, who had always disliked the idea of a human god, and much of the nobility, who had already turned against the Katsusaki, joined her, and in a bloodless coup dethroned the new king and released the queen, declaring her Matriarch until a new government could be established. As discussions commenced, the queen rallied much of the female nobility and proposed a matriarchal monarchy, with a queen ruling rather than king and bloodline passing through the female side. There was considerable uproar, but she had gained enough prestige and influence that eventually she won out, and the modern Matriarchy of Shin-ah was born, under the newly-established Gōshiki dynasty. They promptly drew their soldiers out of Baras and declared universal peace in the style of the Godon-Dia before.