Bol Dargoon

The World of Steam and Magic

Tales By Bob

The setting for my steampunk writings, it is a fantastical reimagining of the Victorian world. More fantasy influenced than most steampunk, it is a world populated by elves and machina, dragons and airships. It is a world where the greatest powers seek to spread their influence through colonization of distant lands, while engaging in secretive shadow wars.


The dominant feature are the massive Dargoon stones. Massive floating rocks ranging in size from barely big enough to hold a single hut, to large enough to hold cities of over a million people, it is from these holds that the great powers have spread their might from. To most of the people of the world though what matters most is whether you were born on one, or on the ground below. That above all else determines your lot in life. Those born in the cloudholds, or Cloudborn as they are known, are held above those on the ground, known as Landens. It trumps race, gender, religion, or anything else of the sort. All Landens are required to swear fealty to the cloudholds that literally lord over them, generating the raw materials that feed the cities above, who then refine such resources into the finished products used by all.


It is because of these stones that the world is much more peaceful than it might have been. The stones, by their nature almost impossible to capture, yet so fragile and easy to damage, have caused the various nations of the world to agree to never directly assault each others cloudholds, in the Treaty of Uralia, which has stood unbroken for over two hundred years. And with Landen villages being generally viewed as beneath notice, it has led to a sort of covert warfare as the order of the day. Here, piracy of the sky is the preferred method of battle, with pirates and privateers, mercenaries and navys battling for control of lucrative trading routes in the sky lanes. Each cloudhold has numerous skyships to protect their interests, and usually a pirate lord or two under sway to turn loose upon their enemy’s under the cover of the crimson flag of piracy.


It is a world in tumult at the moment.


Magic is slowly losing its dominance to the rise of mechanical sciences, the firebolt giving way to the steam engine, or in some places combining the two in new and exciting ways. While the Landen rarely have access to most of the new and exciting technological advances that have come, the cloudholds have begun to experiment with the wonders of gaslights and rudimentary electrical systems. It is a world where you might have a skyship powered by a steam engine, that uses fire and water elementals to generate its steam. It is a world where currently magic and science are in balance, but unlikely to stay that way. In some places they mix to form newer and even stranger devices, while in others the proponents of both seek to attack and discredit each other at every turn.


In the Landen towns, once complacent in their lot, anger and revolution are being openly spoken of. In the dwarf holds of Rus in the north, trade guilds and mining compacts are slipping in power to unions and ideologies that call for the redistribution of wealth. In Elvish Gaulia, where the mad Sun King has ruled for millennia, the non-magical are beginning to ferment revolt against the divine right of wizard rule. In proud Rodania, advocates for social change are gaining more and more power in parliament while anarchists bomb factories to try to bring relief to the plight of the working man.


And most of all, the last hundred years of relative peace caused by Pax Rodania is slipping, as old rivalries bubble back to the surface as the race to claim the resources of newly discovered lands in the far south.


It is a world on the cusp of massive change, a powder keg waiting for a spark. A world where sky pirates battle privateers in secret wars between the great powers. Where ancient ruins are being discovered, and marvelous wonders are being found. It is a time of adventure.


The Great Powers


These are the greatest powers of the world


Rodania


Human dominated, it is the most powerful of the Great Powers thanks to its massive navy and numerous colonies. No realm has better merged magic and science, and its large number of factories power its economy.


Rus


This Dwarven land tends to ignore the distinction between Cloudborn and Landen to a greater degree than most realms, due to most of its population living within the mountains that make up its lands. No realm produces more in the way of minerals and ores than Rus.


Dorstlund


Homeland of the Gnomes this realm has given itself over completely to science. Many of the worlds technological advances, such as the steam engine and electricity were invented here.


Gaulia


Hated rival to Rodania, and the homeland of the Elves. In this land magic trumps all, with wizardry equating to nobility. It has been ruled by the Sun King for its entirety, though he has slowly degenerated into madness.


Hibernia


The realm of the Orcs it less a solidified country than a collection of wealthy landowners who rule by council.



The Early History of the World, an excerpt


What do you know about the history of the world?”


“Not much ta be honest sir. Didn't get any schoolin' ya know.”


“Well what about the Dragon Mothers, the First Dragons, He Who Is Void, and Aurandal, do you know about them?”


“Not really sir. My da, he always would say for us to give thanks to Zevar-Null when we had a good year on the farm, but that was about it. My gram had some religion, but she died when I was real young. For us landen out on the edge farms, if you got a moment you spend it tryin' to survive, not pray if you catch my drift.”


“Well, to understand what happened here we need to go back a long long time. Far longer than you can imagine. You see this world predates even Aurandal, the God of All. Before Aurandal there was another god, a god so old that his name has long been forgotten, and it is thought that he created this planet. For untold ages his creations ruled this world in his name, doing...well whatever it is they did. We know almost nothing about them, save that they were very, very powerful. This is known as the First Age, the Age of the God Before.”


“One day something happened though. No one knows for sure, but scholars speculate that the God Before died. And in his passing, all that he created died with him, scouring this planet of all life. The planet itself was almost destroyed, and in fact would have been, except Aurandal swooped in and claimed it as his own.”


“We do not know where it is he came from. It is likely there are other planes of existence, other worlds that he also lords over. But it doesn't really matter, because he is sort of an absent landlord as near as we can divine. He came here, reformed the shattering world and then left. Before he traveled off though he created the Godson, He Who Is Void to be its caretaker and to rule it in his name. This act starts what scholars call the Second Age, the Age of the Worlds Seed.


He Who Is Void took this dead rock and brought forth life on its barren surface. We do not know how long this took, but ages passed as he carefully created all the living things of the world. But he grew lonely, being the only thinking being on the planet. So out of his own essence he created the First Dragons, four dragons of immense power, each representing an aspect of his being. To each of these he granted them the power to create life as well, and tasked them with populating the world with sentient races to give worship to him, and his father Aurandal. As the four entered the world this starts the Third Age, the Age of the Primals. We do not know for sure exactly how long it lasted, but scholars believe it lasted 17,000 years.


The first four are known as the Primal Dragons. Once they had spawned the lesser dragons, those dragons that roam the skys to this day, they set about to make the lizardkin, who were to be their most trusted servants, and serve all dragon kind. That done each then set about creating their own races, races that would owe thanks to them alone.


Zevar-Null, The Earth Dragon Father, the first born, he created the forest folk: the treemen, dryads, and all manner of woodland fey. Later he created the Taur races: the Minotaur and Centaur, and their lesser cousins, the various beastfolk.

Fazran-Null, the Water Dragon Father and second born created the Mers, the water folk. Their sunken empires dot the sea floors to this day it is said, though they are a dark and secretive race.

Hulan-Null, the Air Dragon Father and third born created the Val'ur'ord, the winged folk, who are now all but gone from the world.

Unzar-Null, the Fire Dragon Father and last born created the Giants of the northlands, and their little brothers, the stonekin and yhettee.


Each of these races grew to cover the broad swathes of the world, establishing mighty empires. However most are but pale shadows of themselves today, save for a few, such as the lizardfolk kingdom of Javara in the southern lands which is still a force to be reckoned with. And it because of this decline of the primal races that the Godson created the Dragon Mothers, to usher in a new age, the Age of the Sky which has lasted for three thousand years so far.


The Dragon Mothers set about creating their races, but seeing the already established lands of the primal races asked that He Who Is Void would grant them a boon, and allow their races to grow in peace for awhile. And thus the great Cloudholds were created, the massive floating islands that are our races homelands.


Wahal-Kres, the Mother of Life came first, creating the Orcs and, soon after, the Goblinkin.

Usal-Kres, the Mother of Order came next, creating the Dwarves, and then later with the help of her sister Wahal, the Gnomes and the Halflings.

Ihear-Kres, the Mother of Death, next born created the Humans.

Asill-Kres, the Mother of Chaos and last born created the Elves, and later, with her sister Ihear, the fell Dark Elves.


Most of the Primal Dragons and Dragon Mothers have since recused themselves from the world, save for the occasional appearance of Unzar-Null and Usal-Kres. And occasionally a new race will be birthed, a tiny number of a new people, created in some experiment of the life givers. But by and large, we are all left to make our own way in the world, free from the machinations of Gods and Dragons.


The Age of the Sky is the time of the Cloudborn races. We expand across the globe from our safe havens, the floating Cloudholds, and are conquering the world. Thanks to the peace brought on by the Pax Rodania, and the Treaty of Uralia we are reaching unthought of heights in the fields of Magic and Science, though who is to say how long that might last.


In all the world there is but one threat to the supremacy of the Cloudborn.

Gol Rhuin, the land of the biomancers.

Gol Rhuin, the poisonland, the twistforest.

Gol Rhuin, home of the harvestmen.

Gol Rhuin, the place we must now go to."



The Rodania Blade and Barrel Club


Purpose.


The Rodania Blade and Barrel Club is the oldest and most prestigious club of its type on the continent, predating all others by at least twenty years. It's stated purpose is to “Advance the art of Hunting, and bring Honour and Glory to Famed Rodania and its People.” In short, its members seek out and hunt the fiercest, most dangerous creatures it can, and bring back trophies to their clubhouse in Harkin.



History


It has been in continual operation for 450 years. Over the years very little has changed.



Structure.


There is little structure so to speak. Members pay their dues, which allows them access to the opulent Clubhouse in Harkin. The dues are quite steep, which limits membership to the upper crust of rodian society. Membership is also only open to Rodians and Roodlandians. Only very rarely does it allow women to join. Very, very rarely. As in only four times in its history. They also basically bar landens from joining, no matter how wealthy. As long as your dues are paid up, the club does not ask anything of you. And for many that is all it is, a social club.


There are three officers. The Judge, The Host, and The Huntmaster. These three run the club. Each has their own area of influence over club business, but each works to keep each other in check. Each has a second and a third who share their title as lesser officers, to handle disputes in the clubs two other chapterhouses.


The Judge handles affronts the Art of the Hunt. Members who accuse others of cheating or such take their case before him and he resolves the issue. Punishments usually are expulsion form the club. In cases where they case is not clear one way or the other, the Judge can sentence both parties to a Hunt, in which the person to bring back the better trophy of the type stated is declared the winner of the trial.


The Host handles the social events of the club. This mostly entails the actual day to day running of the club, managing the servants, planning its many cocktail parties and feasts.


The Huntmaster organizes hunts for especially fearsome beasts, especially revenge hunts, which are hunts in order to kill the beast that killed a member.


It has roughly 300 members, most of whom live in Harkin. They also maintain two smaller chapterhouses. One is mostly a hospital building on the Southern Continent. The other is a small mansion in South Roodland that acts as a sort of midway point, it being a good place to travel to the southern continent from. Each of these are run by an officer called a Lesser Host, who answers directly to The Host.


Very rarely the club offers 'scholarships.' These are honorary memberships awarded to truly great hunters, and they are exempt from dues for life. Roughly 50 of these have been handed out of the years. More have been offered, but many are refused. This is the only way a Landen can gain admittance.