E6 -- Setting Overview (7 posts)

thread created on 11/9/15 at 19:02

Setting Overview - The Church of Kel - A Brief History of the Commonwealth - The Five Vigilants - The Seven Scions of Chaos - The Old Colonies - The New Colonies

E6 DM, 11/9/15 19:02
Setting Overview

Antequethera, the City of Gears, Engine of the Commonwealth; aka the Hub, aka the Maw, aka the Grinder. Between the depths of the First Ward slums and the spires of the Axis a mile above, one million people occupy the thriving capital of the Altorian Commonwealth. All the resources of the world flow into it, from the prized pelts of frozen Ingol to the exotic "spices" of gloomy Qurta. Built upon a massive spiraling ramp, it is divided into 13 wards, with the wealth, standard of living, and societal status of its inhabitants increasing the higher up they live. Running vertically through the center of the city is the Axis, a thousand-foot diameter and one mile high cylindrical tower atop which King Byron Altmoth Altorian I holds court and resides.

Beneath the city is a massive array of clockwork mechanisms which continually turn the vast number of gears that can be found worked into its architecture. This ready source of kinetic energy has made clockwork technology the dominant, if not sole, scientific endeavor of the Commonwealth. While this has led to marvels only dreamed of outside of the capital, scant few of them are actually applied to serve the public at large, instead being reserved for the betterment, luxury, and protection of the aristocracy and moneyed classes.

The Altorian Commonwealth is an inherited divine monarchy supported by the monotheistic Church of Kel, the Threefold King. The god Kel is seen as the creator of the universe and all things within it, and presents himself in one of three guises so as to be comprehensible to mortals, as detailed below. He also has several divine servants which assist him and carry out his will.

The Aspects of Kel:

Kymates the Architect. Lawful Neutral. Portfolio includes Intellect, Mathematics, Engineering, Foresight, Civilization.
Erasmus the Judge. Lawful Good. Portfolio includes Laws, Order, Prosperity, Fairness, Compassion.
Laertes the Commander. Lawful Evil. Portfolio includes Protection, War, Command, Discipline, Strength, Skill.

The church is organized into four branches - the Trine, the largest branch, trains all acolytes and administers the faith to the masses; the other three branches, known as Aspects, are each devoted to one of the three aspects of Kel above. The Aspects are directly involved in the governance of the Commonwealth.

There are four main branches of government, three being the Aspects of the church, and the fourth a secular organization, as detailed below:

The Judiciary. Headed by the Keeper of the Accordancies, the highest-ranking official of the Aspect of Erasmus. Responsible for drafting and interpreting the laws of the Commonwealth, including the judgement and sentencing of criminals.
The Institution. Headed by the current Architect of Antequethera, the highest-ranking official of the Aspect of Kymates. Responsible for the design and construction of all official structures of the Commonwealth, and all permanent structures within Antequethera.
The Military. Headed by the current General of the Commonwealth, the highest-ranking official of the Aspect of Lariad. Responsible for the defense of the Commonwealth.
The Bureaucracy. Headed by the Chief Assessor. Responsible for all things fiscal, mainly the taxation and census of the citizens of the Commonwealth, including the management of estate and fiscal records.

The ancillaries generated by the greatest city in the world sprawl out around it, including the large warehouses and huddled tenements of the Sprawl which cling to the skirts of the city proper and line the miles and miles of roads which lead up to it with storeyards and inns, servicing the thousands of travelers who come and go every day. Most of these travelers will only glimpse the city from afar, conducting their business entirely within the Sprawl with intermediaries and satellite locations of the noble houses and corporations.

Other locations of note technically outside of the city proper are the Reservoir, which feeds water into Antequethera, the Floatyards of the great dirigibles, and the Hollow Mountains to the north, from which most of the original materials for the city's construction were mined.

More to come this week, including more on the church of Kel, the guilds and organizations operating within the city, and the various peoples and colonies of the Commonwealth.

Edited by: E6 DM on 11/17/15

E6 DM, 11/10/15 20:55
The Church of Kel


The Trine
The main body of the church, it is responsible for keeping the faith with the citizens of the Commonwealth. All clergy start out in the Trine, and while some eventually choose (or are chosen) to serve one of the Aspects, most remain in more direct service to the people as Trinals.

It is these fine clergy who minister to the spiritual needs of the Commonwealth, whether they be the High Ecclesiarchs who minister to the Thirteenth Ward, the doughty missionaries who bring the light of Kel to the far colonies, or the humblest of parsons who minister to the wretched of the First Ward. Maintaining a vast network of cathedrals, chapels, and shrines throughout the Commonwealth, they are the front line of the faith.

The Aspect of Kymates

The Institution serves Kel in his guise of Kymates. The order is headed by the Architect of Antequethera, under whom serve the Master of Designs and Master of Constructions. Known generically as Architects, the servants of this Aspect are responsible for overseeing the construction and maintenance of all official Commonwealth structures, such as churches, forts, roads, aqueducts, courthouses, bureaucratic offices, etc. They are also responsible for approving the design and construction of all permanent structures within Antequethera.

The Aspect of Erasmus

The Judiciary serves Kel in his guise of Erasmus. The order is headed by the Keeper of the Accordancies, under whom serve the High Legislator and High Judge. Known as Concordants, these priests are responsible for drafting and interpreting the laws of the Commonwealth, as well as judging and sentencing criminals. Old Colony magistrates, who effectively rule their designated regions, are most often noble-born Concordants.

The Aspect of Laertes

The Military serves Kel in his guise of Laertes. The order is headed by the General of the Commonwealth, under whom serve the Grand Marshall of Civil Defense and the Grand Marshall of Foreign Defense. This Aspect is responsible for the enforcement of Commonwealth law and the defense of the Commonwealth as a whole. Unlike the other two Aspects, the vast majority of the Military is not composed of trained clergymen; unsurprising, given the force necessary to assure the safety and prosperity of the Commonwealth. Instead the clergy serve as Commanders, while the rest of its forces are given a stern but rudimentary parochial education. (The unofficial term for a soldier in service to Civil Defense is a Common, while a soldier of Foreign Defense is a Wealthy.) New Colony magistrates, who effectively rule their designated regions, are most often noble-born Commanders.

King Byron Altmoth Altorian

His Royal Majesty Byron Altmoth Altorian, King of the Commonwealth, is the highest authority of the Church of Kel, and the various church heads serve him directly, taking four out of the five seats on his Common Council (the fifth belonging to the Bureaucracy's Chief Assessor). His will and commands for the state of the Commonwealth are made real by the efforts of these worthies.

Edited by: E6 DM on 11/10/15

E6 DM, 11/11/15 23:20
A Brief History of the Commonwealth


"The light of the Commonwealth now shines from the highest peak to the darkest depths; we have become the world." - Antony Maldrake, 87th General of the Commonwealth, upon the successful pacification of the Qurtaan Peninsula, 1011 CW.

The Altorian Commonwealth was founded 1013 years ago by King Alto the Divine, Chosen of Kel, First Architect of Antequethera, Author of the First Accordancies, and the First General of the Commonwealth. It was he who envisioned and inscribed the Grand Design of Antequethera, the original architectural plans for the entire city which all subsequent Architects have followed; he who wrote the original set of laws for the Commonwealth, which remain the core of all other legislations; and he who conquered the lands around the site of the city, allying a group of small, bickering clans and would-be kingdoms through his commanding presence and force of arms.

Alto lived well over a hundred years, overseeing the complete construction of Antequethera's foundations: the Subterranea, the Axis, the Turns, and the Towers. It was only through his genius and his command of the divine powers of Kel that such a feat was possible in such a short time.

Over the first 1,000 years of its history the Commonwealth spread slowly but surely, engulfing neighboring states most commonly through a strategy of indebting the bordering state to themselves, then waiting for an economic downturn or natural disaster to befall them; they would then call in their debts, and use their failure to pay as grounds for annexing the state through force. There were, of course, some instances where this method was infeasible, usually due to a region having either a significantly strong economy and developed government in place, such as the case of Harrid or the Kingdom of Nine Isles, or a region being particularly undeveloped and uncivilized, such as the Frostlands of Ingol and the Forests of Unheim.

After a particularly long and difficult war, the Commonwealth conquered the Kingdom of Nine Isles in the year 931 CW. It then turned its eyes to the northeast of the continent, where the mountain city of Matreciel stared down from its misty peak, and from the amazing skyships it flew, hidden above the clouds. The people of Matreciel and their ability to fly had long been thought a myth by most of the Commonwealth, but the newly conquered peoples of the Nine Isles knew better, and it was with keen interest and no small worry that an ambassadorial retinue was sent to open official relations between the two states.

What that retinue saw when they arrived will never be known, as shortly after their arrival the city was destroyed by a series of massive explosions and subsequent avalanches. Only a scant thousand or so citizens survived the destruction due to sheer luck at being abroad at the time, some of them in skyships. King Frederick Altmoth Altorian I decreed that all refugees from Matreciel would be received at Antequethera with open arms, and that a new tower would be constructed outside the city to house them. Most took him up on the offer, and thus the Commonwealth acquired the gratitude, and technology, of the Cielians.

Ten years later Frederick had a fleet of skyships twenty-two strong at his command, and over the next 68 years he, his son, and his grandson used them to conquer the rest of the world by military might. Able to move supplies, men, and engines of war great distances with speed, as well as acquire near flawless reconnaissance of the open field, the remaining regions of the Sunlands, ???, and now the Qurta Peninsula have fallen under the control of the Commonwealth, leaving no known inhabited land bereft of the protection and enlightenment of the Altorian Commonwealth.

Edited by: E6 DM on 12/1/15

E6 DM, 11/11/15 23:22
The Five Vigilants

Each of Kel's aspects has at least one divine servant, or Vigilant, which aids him in his endeavors. These Vigilants are often prayed to in their own right, even having some smaller shrines and churches dedicated to them.

Alto the Divine, Right Hand of Kel. Lawful Neutral. Rather than dying, King Alto I was taken into the heavens by Kel after completing the foundations of Antequethera, there to serve him as an intermediary for communicating Kel's designs to mortals. He is the sole Vigilant who serves Kymates, and is ranked highest amongst his peers. Alto has a dedicated place of worship in each of the 13 wards, and is the patron saint of the royal line, who are descended from him.

? the Accordant. Lawful Neutral. Serves Erasmus, focusing on the accurate application of laws.

Serfa the Judged. Lawful Good. This servant of Erasmus is depicted bound in chains at the wrists, and inspires humble submission to law.

Goram the Strict. Lawful Neutral. Lieutenant to Laertes, this Vigilant embodies the execution of duties and adherence to the chain of command.

Yamet the Shriever. Lawful Evil. Depicted wielding a cat o' nine tails, he is responsible for the punishment of dereliction and capturing deserters.

Edited by: E6 DM on 11/11/15

E6 DM, 11/12/15 20:13
The Seven Scions of Chaos

When Kel first laid the plans for the cosmos, he had but a single servant, Odmet. When Kel explained to him his Grand Design, Odmet went mad and attempted to slay his creator. Kel struck Odmet with his sword with such force that he was split into seven parts; these newly separate entities then fled in fear from Kel into the Void. It was then that Kel devised his Aspects, so that none of his future servants would be forced to endure witnessing his undiluted majesty.

Odmet's seven parts persist to this day, attempting to sabotage the Grand Design by plaguing the servants of Kel with doubt and harm. Below are listed these seven scions of chaos, roughly in order from most reviled to least:

Zdrada. Chaotic Evil. Betrayal, deception, corruption, envy
Rewki. Chaotic Neutral. Rebellion, dereliction, irresponsibility
Pozar. Chaotic Evil. Wanton rage, fire, destruction
Mursz. Chaotic Evil. Decay, rot, disease
Slone. Chaotic Neutral. Madness, illusion, fantasy
Ronik. Chaotic Good. Wanton curiosity, recklessness, zealotry
Zadza. Chaotic Good. Love, wanton desires and appetites

E6 DM, 11/17/15 19:44
The Old Colonies

The Old Colonies

These are the colonies founded prior to the Commonwealth's acceptance of the Cielian refugees. Not only have they been under Commonwealth rule for longer, but also took much more time and effort to conquer than the so-called New Colonies; as such, they have been integrated into Altorian culture and society over generations, and largely remain colonies in name only.

Inspiration: Eskimo & Native American

The oldest of the Old Colonies, Ingol was originally organized in loose tribal nations across the northern 'Frostlands', and was annexed relatively quickly and peacefully compared to the rest of the Commonwealth (except perhaps for the recent pacification of Qurtaa). When the Commonwealth moved to conquer the Frostlands they met very little resistance, the native Ingols seemingly more than happy to serve under their command; indeed, it is said that the Commonwealth's invading armies only survived the extreme temperatures and weather of the Frostlands due to the assistance of those they were there to conquer. The natives original religion involved bartering with animal and elemental spirits, and remains largely unchanged but for their acknowledgement that Kel is the supreme being and creator who holds dominion over all. This region includes the northwestern coast and many archipelagos which stretch north off the maps, and is dominated by bitter cold even in summer, as well as spending entire seasons of the year in either day or night.

The colonial seat of Ingol is the town of Frostward; originally a massive fort meant to intimidate the locals, the original battlements have largely fallen to the elements, the cost of repairs and lack of any signs of revolt amongst the population enough to convince the Commonwealth to leave it well enough alone. It now serves as the main trading hub of the region, with many small two-room buildings built from the masonry of the decrepit keep housing any wayfarers who pass through. It is here that the fine and sometimes exotic pelts of the Frostlands are bought and sold to make their way to markets throughout the Commonwealth.

The people are generally characterized as pragmatic and resilient, and are known as the finest outdoorsmen in all the Commonwealth. In the conquest of every new region, it has been the Ingols who first scouted the land and mapped routes for the advancement of goods and materials, even after the creation of the Skyfleet; indeed, the Ingols are just as adept at navigating the skies, having proven themselves the equals of the Cielians in their pronounced lack of fear at the prospect of flight. It is not entirely rare for an Ingol to show strong signs of non-human heritage, though those that do are most often undines or sylphs.

Inspirations: India & Middle East

Once a small empire itself, the land of Harrid has been part of the Commonwealth for over 300 years. Its religions originally centered around the worship of various holy animals and elemental spirits, and they still idolize the Aspects and the Scions in animal forms. This region has the greatest variety in climate and geography of all the Commonwealth, with snow-topped mountains, lush jungle, dusty deserts, and a prosperous river delta, all within relatively close proximity.

The colonial seat is Aldenwell, a city second in size only to Antequethera itself; originally known as the City of Pearl, it has many impressive pieces of marble architecture dating from its pre-Commonwealth era, now repurposed as temples to Kel and residences or offices for the local government authorities.

The people are generally characterized as thoughtful and spiritual, with many great philosophers and theologians having hailed from the region. The region is still home to a variety of elemental spirits; while mistakenly worshipped as deities in ages past, they are now bound and commanded by the priests of Kel to serve his chosen people. Unsurprisingly, those of Harridian descent are most likely to show signs of "mixed breeding" in their lineage, most commonly as either ifrit or oreads.

Inspirations: Gaul & Scandinavia

Originally a collection of warring clans and petty kingdoms spread out across a large expanse of hilly forests and rugged coastline, the land of Unheim was slowly annexed over several centuries; the region was officially declared conquered in the year 860 CW with the defeat of King Ulfvik's armies at the Battle of Witchmount. The native barbarous peoples originally worshipped the seasons and cycles of weather, and also had a strong history of using foul witchcraft against their enemies. They now heavily favor the worship of Alto the Divine and Goram the Strict; indeed, their faith in Alto is such that many even say prayers to the current royal family. This region is dominated by deep, thick forests which hide ore-rich hills, while the fjords of the northern coast afford safe harbor and quick transport of resources.

The colonial seat is Steelhearth; built up and expanded from a frontier fort over several centuries, it is a town-sized maze of fortifications with the imposing Fort Steel rising from its center. It is here that all the region's recruits into the service of Laertes are put through their initial training, and also historically where the Commonwealth's best warsmiths have kept their forges.

The people are generally characterized as grim and hard-working, with many great soldiers and craftsmen having hailed from the region. Due to the size and density of the forests, as well as the number of waterways, the region remains a haven for smugglers, outlaws, and criminals of all varieties, including heretics. While the number of people native to the region who show signs of inhuman heritage are very few, those that do are almost exclusively aasimars and tieflings.

The New Goram Isles
Inspiration: Japan

Originally the Kingdom of the Nine Isles, it took a brutal decades-long war for the Commonwealth to subdue and absorb this region, which decimated its naval forces and left it weakened throughout its eastern regions. Spread throughout an archipelago, the native culture was even stricter and more caste-driven than the Commonwealth itself, with an advanced navy and highly disciplined fighting men; in the end, it was only through sheer numbers and resources that the Commonwealth was victorious. The old monarchy promoted the worship of serpents and divine "dragons", claiming a divine right to rule through descendance from the latter; indeed, their naval forces were accompanied by monstrously large eel-beasts, though no further evidence of the objects of their fanciful worship were discovered beyond common adders and constrictor-snakes. The people there now split their worship between the Aspects Laertes and Erasmus, with the Vigilant Goram being especially popular. The eponymous islands of this region tend towards rough, mountainous terrain with steep, fertile valleys and high altitude forests of tall, straight trees.

The colonial seat is the port of New Machina, built on the site of the old kingdom's razed capital. Built in an attempt to emulate the workings of Antequethera itself, the architects of Kymates devised methods to harness the nearby waterfalls to provide torque for a town-wide system of clockwork; though nowhere near as complicated and ubiquitous as that of the City of Gears, it's said that the wealthy there enjoy many of the same amenities as their counterparts in the capital.

The people are generally characterized as arrogant and law-abiding to a fault, producing many successful members of the Bureaucracy and Judiciary, as well as fine mid-level Military commanders; the old prejudices against them are just now falling away entirely, and it is assumed that over the coming years these organizations will see several high-level positions filled by dedicated New Goramites. New Goram itself now has the best naval forces of the Commonwealth, though they have been overshadowed by the Skyfleet in importance. The few people possessing mixed heritage in this region tend to be undines and sylphs.

Edited by: E6 DM on 12/1/15

E6 DM, 12/7/15 20:03
The New Colonies

The New Colonies

These regions have all been annexed within the past 70 years and conquered by means of the Skyfleet, excepting the inclusion of the Cielian refugees. These regions are still considered to be "wild", and those natives who have made their way into farther regions of the Commonwealth are often met with a degree of intolerance and suspicion.

The Floatyards
Inspirations: France & Italy

Technically known as New Matreciel Tower, the upper levels of this massive structure are home to the manufacture and storage of the Commonwealth's Skyfleet, earning it its more common soubriquet. Famously built in just five years under the direction of King Frederick Altmoth Altorian I to house the Cielian refugees, the Floatyards comes close to matching the Axis itself in height. Since its construction, the Cielians themselves have made a wide array of additions and modifications to their new home, somewhat to the chagrin of the Aspect of Kymates.

The Floatyards is not a colony per se, but more of an upscale ghetto, though certainly the Cielians division from the rest of the Commonwealth is largely self-imposed. Many refuse to fully admit that they have become part of the Commonwealth, an attitude and opinion not safely held in the Commonwealth at large, while others carry and use technologies considered illegal outside the Floatyards. Outside of formal visits by high-ranking members of Cielian society, or the occasional field researcher out to gather data, the only exposure most have to them is if one is fortunate enough to travel by skyship, which are predominantly crewed by Cielians.

Cielians are generally characterized as reckless and insular, the former due to the circumstances of their homeland's destruction and their continued pursuit of experiments and technologies widely regarded as dangerously unpredictable. Most outsiders regard their construction and maintenance of the Skyfleet as the price they pay for being a part of the Commonwealth, no greater than the service given by any other assimilated peoples. The tower itself is not technically off-limits to anyone, though the Cielians certainly tend to give the cold shoulder to any visitors, and the Floatyards themselves are considered a Military installation, with visitors restricted to designated observational areas.

The Sunlands
Inspiration: Africa

An island continent of roughly 1/10th the size of the Commonwealth mainland, the Sunlands were originally a collection of warring tribes. It took two decades to effectively conquer the entirety of the continent, a process which refined the Skyfleet into its current efficiency, and the region was officially declared a part of the Commonwealth in 962 CW. The region saw a revolt, however, in 969 CW; known as the Utulu Insurrection, it was led by a highly organized tribe of a distinct ethnic group which the other natives viewed with an almost holy terror, and while they appeared to possess no greater technological sophistication than the rest of the natives (indeed, perhaps even less so), they proved to have a surprising tactical acumen and ferocious martial discipline and skill. The southwestern region of the isle was disputed until the insurrectionists' defeat at the Battle of Ruined Peak in 973 CW, so known due to the destruction by avalanche of their mountain stronghold at the hands of the Skyfleet, though not until after a months-long failed siege. Originally the natives practiced ancestor worship, and while they still hold familial ties as holy, by and large they have taken to worshipping the Aspects Erasmus and Laertes, specifically their Vigilants ? and Yamet. The island is dominated by thick jungle in the northeast, mountains and deserts in the southwest, and rolling plains in between.

The colonial seat is the port of Greenwater, a sprawling town which hugs a large bay in the northeast, occupying the stretch of land between the water and the jungle it's slowly eating its way into. The town's hot, humid clime has kept away most potential settlers from the rest of the Commonwealth, who find the port too uncomfortable to occupy and the more inland regions too far removed from civilization.

The people are generally characterized as competitive and proud, constantly jockeying amongst themselves to be regarded as the best at whatever skills they value. They also keep an oral history of their lineage that in some rare cases goes back nearly two thousand years, putting the genealogical records of even the royal family to shame; this tradition of memorization has seen a new niche market in recent years for Sunlanders as messengers as heralds. Currently home to the largest standing deployment of Commonwealth troops in the world, the king wishes the Sunlanders to grow accustomed to the peace and predictability that the Commonwealth offers without further revolt; as such, skyships are in constant circulation between the island continent and the mainland.

Edited by: E6 DM on 12/9/15

Setting Overview - The Church of Kel - A Brief History of the Commonwealth - The Five Vigilants - The Seven Scions of Chaos - The Old Colonies - The New Colonies