The known regions of Tékumel occupy the northern continent of the world. Many minor states and tribal areas are scattered throughout the continent, but the Five Empires dominate the political map. These empires consist of vast bureaucracies, rather similar to Imperial China or Rome, or the powerful Aztecs.
Traditionally, games have begun in Tsolyánu, the Empire of the Petal Throne
after which the original TSR game was named. It is situated in the middle
of the continent, extending from the coast of the southern ocean to the
Kráa Hills in the north, and from the Cháka forests to the west to the
mountains of the Chaigári protectorate in the east. The Tsolyáni emperor
lives his entire life within the palace-fortress of Avanthár, served by the
Omnipotent Azure Legion, his eyes, ears and legs in the empire.
Southeast of Tsolyánu, along 5,000 miles of the south coast, lies Salarvyá, a feudal monarchy ruled by seven hereditary families, one of which, the King's family, is only slightly more powerful than the others. The current king is insane and rules by whim. Luckily for the Salarvyáni, his son wields most of the power of the throne.
To the north of Tsolyánu is Yán Kór, which stretches from the mountains and desert north of Tsolyánu to the sub-polar tundra. Once a fractured collection of petty lords, they were united in a war against Tsolyánu by Baron Áld, who, as a high-ranking mercenary in Tsolyánu, was betrayed in the innumerable intrigues of Tsolyáni politics. He fled to Yán Kór, where he is plotting his revenge on his former Tsolyáni masters.
Livyánu to the southwest of Tsolyánu occupies all but the southern tip of a 1,300-mile-wide subcontinent extending into the southern ocean. It is ruled by the temples of their Shadow Gods, deities worshipped nowhere else.
Beyond the Cháka forests to the west of Tsolyánu is Mu'ugalavyá, situated between the Chákas to the east, N'lüssa to the north (where a race of very tall barbarians live), the Great Desert of Galái and the jungle of Nmarásha to the west, and the Tláshte Heights of Livyánu to the south. Mu'ugalavyá is ruled by the four Palaces, a quadrumvirate of equal lords in charge of roughly equal land areas.