The Garden of Forlorn Hope
In a Nutshell
Main Page \\ In a Nutshell
The opening background features a human-dominated kingdom called the Central Empire. Although the PC’s may choose to play non-human characters the majority of NPC’s they meet will be human. The game will focus on the development of human regional relations touching briefly on other non-human civilization that may exist on this world. Most NPCs that the PC’s have daily interaction with will be human. The appearance of non-human NPC’s in priority of probability of the standard races are: Dwarf (StoneFolk), Halflings (Yutani), Half elf (iKKosi), Half-orcs (Ogrun), and, with extreme rarity, Elves (Ayes). Elves are so rare that most humans will regularly confuse any half elf seen as an elf. An actual elf will presumed to be one of the mythical Fae. Those who know better may find True Elves to be supremely disappointing as most of them are unrepentant hedonists, trying their damnedest to escape mental anguish through physical pleasure.
PC’s which play non-human races may be subject to a host of mental issues [like isolation] as well as large helping of racial intolerance. Please note that I am not attempting to discourage anyone from playing a non-human. I’m merely ‘setting the stage’ for normal interactions in the world. If, and or when, the characters leave major urban areas for less human-centric ones – they may be subject to an entirely different sort of normative behavior but its unlikely to be true egalitarian tolerance common in the worlds of D&D.
Despite the dominance of humanity, a large number of non-humans are implied to exist, inside the known atlas but outside of Imperial Arch. Strictly speaking the Blood Covenant is a agreement of peace between the Border Kingdoms , the Provinces, and the Key Nations. The Keys are the ruling factions of the central hub of the the largest nations of the Central Empire’s known atlas, and have declared themselves the “the civilized world”. But this is hardly the largest part of Arkos, it merely the scope of hubris of humanity declaring themselves the center of the known world. Across the Keys an Aristocrat of Arkos holds specific powers granted by the Covenant of Kings recognized, by treaty, across the Empire. And they may try to claim exception to a host of laws that are applicable to commoners.
Once the Imperial Arch is far behind; and the ‘frontier’ is closer than the horizon the only expectation to define what is yours is by the strength of your arm and the speed of your wit.. The Central Empire for all of its failings IS a centralized embodiment of law and order. A set of laws and codes held as sacrosanct by the Reverent Legion, what the common men call the Twelve Tables.
Like most fantasy societies there is a real disparity in the have and the have-nots. The fact is 30% of the population of the Central Empire are an agrarian workforce producing consumable resources in an ultra harsh, yet seemingly lush jungle. Another 20% may take the refined resources have it shipped to them and include the craftsmen and merchant classes. Four percent are consistently moving to maintain growth over the survival of their neighboring nations – the nobility. The one percent are the rule classes and behave as the one percent have always behaved.
Trade, Craft, Professions, and Knowledge are just beginning to bridge the gap to an industrial world from the agrarian one but many of the modern conveniences have yet to be attained. Gunpowder being the most obvious one.
The largest percentage is the 40 percent of the remaining population are the urban poor. A pool of desperation with few prospects – proof, if some was needed, that the world DID collapse. The cataclysm of major socio-economic and mechanical systems still affect a huge portion of society. These are the people who cling tightly to their fears; of the dark, of life beyond the walls of the city, of the terrible unknown. Caught between dreading the monsters beyond the wall and hoping that every danger they have ever heard of is true so the can justify their lack of courage to reconquer the world the forebears once had mastery over.
The fastest and most luxurious method of travel to exist in this age is limited, to an age of sail type ships. While some towns may be within protected walking distance to each other; most major cities are weeks if not months of travel apart. Although most townships are recognized to belong to the same Kingdom, the accordance of law is maintained by roaming marshals and road judges where the town is to small to have an official court of justice.
The restraint on the speed of travel between towns has led to the assignment of power in the hands of local officials. This isolation means that all kinds of agents, from merchants to generals, must show initiative and be may reasonably independent from their political superiors. Since local rulers cannot be directly controlled by central authority, assume that daily affairs are managed by a the local nobility.
Arkos has suffered a global apocalypse.
All current civilizations have been cobbled together from the pieces of a once a pervasive Arcane Superpower. Over centuries since the Fall, man has dealt with harsh battles with the elements, internal wars over land and control, and all of the ‘monsters’ just outside of the meager circle of firelight provided by civilized behavior. Unifying nations called Keys were originally formed by Nine legendary heroes which pulled the world from the brink of extinction. Recently the Covenant of Kings was forged to establish peace between the Nine, regulating power between the nations.
Their vision may not have been the Feudal Dystopia which exists today but that’s impossible to know and possibly treasonous to consider.
The citizens within the central empire battle for political dominance among their own and for resources outside of the Imperial Arch – as well as defend against the horrors outside In The Dark. Each Nation trades with other nation-states by sail; as few land routes may be safely traveled. What ever the motivations are of specific rulers who govern in Arkos , overall the Rule of Law declares that each monarchy its no longer its own feudal totalitarian regime although proving that might be difficult. Each of the Nine Keys deal in good faith with the others. Each Nation, governs its own provinces and borders kingdoms although an duly recognized external noble may be recognized as a representative of a lesser kingdoms within the House of Lords
There is a pervasive feeling of loss to have fallen from the legendary to normal and while many people continue to show courage, wisdom, honesty, and pursue the ideals of justice – there are also those who lie, cheat, steal and complain about anything ‘bad’ that happens to them …succumbing to despair. Many people may be hoping for a Heroic Savior but most are trying not to be the scapegoat when comes time to dole out blame when those in positions of authority are around… which is what Aristocratic Justice has become..
Among the peasantry, formal Arcane trappings are looked at between the range of mild distrust to deep suspicion. After all it is the use of magic which is blamed for a host of ills:
For the Cataclysm; For the disasters which followed it; For the horrors of the Days of Rage; For why one city-state is at war with another; For the pervasiveness of the savage wild; For basically anything that is or has happened which may be considered unfortunate by one group or the next… is usually blamed on some application of apparent sorcery.
Inconstant People blame magic but they don’t actually stop using it.
Not that they are too common but works of Divine Grace are as much at risk to this kind of mindless branding. Incongruous to the strength of the Imperial Church there is a persistent rumor that Gods left man to his fate during the End of the Age of Dreams. Some priests claim that it was the direct connection to the celestial mysteries which were weakened and this provided as explanation to the lack of Priestly divine power.
Those people who are capable of true wonders often hide their ability in those publicly accepted forms of knowledge (alchemy, herbalism, artificery, occult mystery, and mentalism), minimally suspicious fringe practitioners (spiritualist, hedge shamans, and chirurgons) or align themselves with divine providence the Church Triumphant. All others risk being branded in league with Pagan Deviltry. Despite the connection to such pagan faiths most people attribute the constant physical reality of nature [the tides, the sunrise, the moon, the starts, the cycle of growth] to a set of iconic and amoral elemental forces known as the Protogenoi.
It is a common tale where ecumenical leaders attempt to acquire power however they can, over whomever they can… by intimidation, diplomacy, or righteousness. These charlatans often purport divine acceptance while seeking taboo power. This label doesn’t just apply to common cultists but also to the apparent excesses of the Aristocracy of Arkos or the petty tyrannies of the Border Barons. While it may be true that It is beyond the Edge of the Frontier that real evil lays …few have known that distinction.
Hope Springs Eternal
At the bosom of this Dystopia the people tenaciously hold to the mystery of the enigmatic urban legends in hiding. Dogtowns full of Legends and Ancient Heroes who seek to better the world. According to common tale, this distant utopia is an Akashic stronghold of hidden knowledge where near transcendent beings are still protected by the full faith of the Elder Gods and the Arcane Arts are still firmly benevolent. Furthermore, Agents of Dogtown are in this world working to bring True Justice concerned with the greater good to all. What ever the truth may be, Dogtown is peasant fantasy that the rulers of the Arkos have been unable to entirely squash.