Ask and ye shall receive!
I've had a lot of requests in the past weeks for additional information about the world of Quantum itself (as opposed to the rules themselves). This post contains a general overview of the Twelve Nations, the Progenancy, Akyrema City, and the Wilds. Also, you'll find the incredibly rough map we sent out to the authors of the nations as reference. The final world map will, of course, look much cooler. Enjoy!
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The Twelve Nations
Ackarian Confederacy (Nation #7)
Spires at War
Government: Confederate Oligarchy
Most Ackarians today believe their nation was founded by refugees of tyranny and persecution in a foreign land, most likely Thuleizan. Over time, the Ackarian cities and townships that sprang up all across the lowlands and mountainous regions west of Malsurvia, bonded together in a single Confederacy of free people typically ruled at the local level by oligarchs. The region flourished for many centuries with hundreds of thousands of azi, automaton, and human settlers streaming in to escape war, poverty, or famine by establishing new townships with new ideas about governance. Twenty years ago, a mysterious device from the Time Before was discovered on the then border between the Ackarian Confederacy and Malsurvia. Both nations spent a great deal of time trying to uncover its purpose before the Progenancy could swoop in and remove it. They hoped, naively, that it might be some new power source or a weapon to overthrow the Progenancy's world control. Whatever it was, will never be known, however, as the device exploded after a few weeks of study killing thousands and wiping several Ackarian and Malsurvian towns off the map. Both nations began fighting to alter their borders to encompass as much of the blast area as possible—hoping to discern the device's purpose from the wreckage—and today there exists a partial wasteland between both called the Disputed Lands where few make their homes, but where two nations have made 20 years of war.
Subjugated Vassal State
Government: Consular Republican Vassalage
Arachosia is laden with natural resources and technological ruins from the Time Before. It's a human-controlled state well-connected by Spark train running from the main continent down the peninsula to Akyrema City. It's "ruled" by a seven-member council that can only make decisions on a 4-3 or better majority. There's also a Public Assembly filled with random citizens randomly selected for a one year term. Neither the ruling council nor the PA have any real power as the Progenancy rules Arachosia. Arachosia is peaceful, the next most "modern" state on Quantum outside of Akyrema City (though it's still rather medieval by today's standards), and it stays out of the world's political affairs unless the Progenancy says otherwise.
Damavand was once a mighty technocracy, ruled by a scientific elite and standing in constant opposition to the Progenancy's assertion of dominance over all of the technologies of Quantum. The might of Damavand crested in 830 when the nation formally demanded the Progenancy release every word of it's technological secrets to every government of the world. When the Progenancy refused, Damavand built a multi-nation army and marched on Akyrema City, only to be nearly annihilated by the city's ultra-modern defenses. This silenced Damavand for a time, but in the spring of 834, the willful technocracy once again demanded the Progenancy's secrets—this time, however, they claimed to have possession of a Time Before super weapon that they'd use to "erase Akyrema City from existence" if their demands weren't met. That summer, the Progenancy proved it's authority when it disconnected the entire nation of Damavand from the Prime Source, plunging the once mighty technocracy into darkness and chaos. Today, Damavand is a mystery. The things that live there occasionally scream forth into The Shrieking Wilds, a no man's land patrolled by Malsurvia. The Malsurvians who speak of their encounters with the denizens of Damavand (and there are very few of those) describe pitiful, violent, half-human terrors that beg for death while screaming for human flesh. No one who enters Damavand is ever seen again.
Free Cities of Kadjar (Nation #12)
United Against Tyranny
Government: Assembled Council of City States
On a map, the Free Cities of Kadjar seem distant from the other civilized nations, cut off by land mass or ocean. In reality, they are just below (or above) Akyrema City, a nearly straight line up and away from the Free Cities, past Suria, and back down to Quantum's Core. The Free Cities are four allied city states—Anchor's Landing, Avesta, Diamond Springs, and Fort Barricade—and their associated vassal cities, towns, and farming communities founded by an azi named Quintus I in the year 14 by uniting once warring city states into a single front against barbarism and piracy. Each city state sends one representative to a council in Avesta and the ruler of the council—called the Kadjar—rotates between each state every five years. For nearly a thousand years this system has allowed the Free Cities to grow, prosper, and remain largely peaceful. An interesting feature within the borders of the Free Cities is a region that borders with the Venom Strand. Called the Razi Tar Pits, it's a swampy, vegetation-thick wasteland filled with thousands of bubbling tar pools. The tar itself is tinged blue and the chemical smell it gives off causes breathing trouble and even death for those not prepared. Before the Progenancy asserted its complete control of the region, scientists, explorers, and archaeologists from the Free Cities found hundreds of technological secrets from the time before throughout the Razi Tar Pits and today it remains an enticing target for the brave and foolhardy willing to risk the Progenancy's security to sneak into the region and search for dangerously buried treasure.
Kadru (Nation #8)
Cradle of the Azi
Government: Loosely Affiliated Democracy
Kadru is a nation built on gathering, sharing, and trading information with the rest of Quantum. It's culture has long been steeped in traditions of scholarship and discipline and its known the world over as a land of vast libraries, prosperous trade and agriculture, safe trade routes, and immaculately clean cities. Nearly 40% of the nation's population are azi and most azi on Quantum believe their species began at a location in Kadru called Ora Mountain. Kadru is mostly comprised of small communities run by locally elected volunteers. Kadru's capital, Astikua, is the home to Oracular Council—an assembly comprised of local representatives from across the nation—and to the vast forested campuses of the Jongleur—an academy of colleges devoted to training Quantum's best Troubadours. While rumors abound that the Jongleur is nothing more than a front for an army of trained spies, the Jongleur's First Chair Aiden Skroding laughs that off as the delusional imaginings of talentless former students.
Malsurvia (Nation #9)
Beset by Battle
Malsurvia is a nation surrounded by violent struggle. To the east are the Shrieking Wilds, filled with all manner of terrors that continue to spring forth from doomed Damavand. To the west, Malsurvia is at war with the Ackarian Confederacy, a war they were once clearly winning but with their military resources split between the two conflicts, Malsurvia may have to admit soon that they are slowly losing. Malsurvia's original capital, Roembek, now lies abandoned in the Disputed Lands, partially reduced to rubble by the explosion that started the war and then emptied by constant warfare along its once broad and beautiful paved streets. Though the fighting stays mainly to semi-permanent lines at both fronts, the interior villages and towns of Malsurvia feel the pressures of warfare as they must work to provide the nation and its soldiers with weapons, armor, food, salt, wagons, and so on. With most of the strong and hardy men and women fighting at the front, the young and old are usually the only ones left in the interior towns and this has made them frequent targets of banditry. Years of such attacks, though, have made it common practice for weapon training to begin at a very young age for all of the children of Malsurvia and the elderly never balk at the idea of grabbing a shield and spear and spilling raider blood in the dirt.
Republic of Aranam (Nation #5)
Ruled by Amnesia
Government: Republican Meritocracy
The Republic of Aranam is the youngest nation on Quantum, formed just over a century ago when feuding city states finally set aside their century's old differences and united under a single political, economic, and military ideology. The people of Aranam are fiercely proud of their young nation and, indeed, it's economic power on the world stage has grown every year since its founding. The leaders of Aranam credit the people with this growth—the people credit the Veil. The Veil is a bizarre piece of Time Before technology that possesses the ability to remove specific memories and knowledge from the mind. Housed inside a Progenancy Outpost on Mt. Veratha (where it was discovered), the room-sized Veil created a national government free of bias and self-interest. Once chosen for office by the bureaucracy, a citizen soon-to-be Governor of the Council is taken to the Progenancy Outpost where the bureaucracy subjects him to the Veil's power and turns him into the perfect politician. Thereafter, he spends his days of service building only the nation's political, economic, and military might and not lining his pockets with graft. Not everything's perfect in Aranam, however. The bureaucracy grows increasingly paranoid as of late that rival nations are planting spies throughout the country set on bringing down Aranam's growing power. A violent, fledgling secret police took hold in the last decade and they search the country from border to border constantly, finding and removing anyone suspected of spying. The citizens of the republic grumble quietly about these developments, but so long as their amnestic government continues to make life better for everyone not in the custody of the secret police, they don't grumble too loud or too often.
Rudriya (Nation #11)
Rudriya is a human-centric, highly-xenophobic society. Non citizens are allowed in only with an official government guide called a Shepherd. Being caught illegally in Rudriya results swiftly in punishments ranging from permanent expulsion to death. Rumors abound that Rudriya's xenophobia comes from the nation's secretive ruling authority called Control, who are—the rumors say—conducting genetic experiments on the citizenry, holding on to a secret cache of weapons from the Time Before, building an army to challenge the Progenancy, or a nation of slaves ruled by the Void. Even among the citizens of Rudriya, these rumors are known, but none dare utter them publicly should any Shepherds hear it and report the rumormongering to Control.
Sovereign Principality of Deska (Nation #3)
Chivalry and Honor
Government: Feudal Monarchy
Named after Deska, known to all in the sovereign realm as the First Knight, this nation is a land of chivalry and honor with the precepts of the First Knight followed unquestioningly. Knights are taught from birth that to befoul one's honor brings shame on the knight, the knight's family, all of Deska, and on the memory of the First Knight herself. Since the First Knight, though, the definition of honor has changed and with each barony fielding its own knightly order, the precepts have as many interpretations as there are barons. Deska is ruled by a Crown Prince who sits on the throne in Haryma. There are five baronies, each of whom have sworn fealty to the Prince, and each of whom teaches a radically different view of the precepts. These radically different views have resulted in radically different ideas of what "fealty" means as several of the baronies actively work against their sovereign and at least one has tried to kill him.
Sulstan (Nation #6)
Founded by Order
Government: Consular Plutocracy
Sulstan was founded by one of the first known awakened automatons less than 20 years after the incident that ended the Time Before. The automaton's name is lost to history, but many believe it was likely something similar to the nation's current name, since morphed into "Sulstan" over a millennia. The Founder's greatest legacy was not his name, however, it was his legendary rebuilding and reactivation of the Grand Vats, a Time Before technology that produces massive quantities of protein-rich fungus (known today as "slab") that kept the first citizens of Sulstan from starving to death and is the nation's primary food export today. Though the Progenancy now manages and guards the Grand Vats, they've never attempted to halt its operations. The public believes this is because the Progenancy would have instantaneous world-wide resistance on their hands were the Progenancy to cut off a massive source of food, but some believe it to be a more sinister reason: Sulstan's ruling party, the Prime Order, is a puppet of the Progenancy. Whether or not it's true that the Progenancy secretly controls Sulstan via the Prime Order is of no consequence to most Sulstanites, but those who believe this idea to be true are among the leaders of the resistance movement quietly but actively pushing back against the Progenancy's stranglehold on Time Before technology worldwide.
Thuleizan (Nation #10)
Demonym: Thule or Imperial
The Imperium was built within the ruins of a great nation from the Time Before that the Thules call the Ancients. The Thules rebuilt the roads, rediscovered the Spark Trains, rediscovered and advanced electric lighting, and adopted methods from the Time Before to handle water supplies and waste disposal. Their population centers are rigid and ordered with monolithic architecture and a firm foundation of nationalistic (some would say xenophobic) pride. Thules tend to be among the most racist humans on Quantum—they despise and murder mutants, distrust azi, claim the allegiance of all of humanity, and mockingly refuse to admit that automatons are alive in any sense (frequently calling them pejoratives like toy and robot). The nation is ruled by one party, called Red Hand, and their iconography is everywhere—draped from the sides of government buildings, hanging as shields from pillars and posts, emblazoned on the front of military and police uniforms, and even stamped on every export. It's taboo in the Imperium to participate in any anti-government activities and though not strictly illegal, Red Hand ignores public shaming of such organizations all the way up to outright murder, most of which is carried out by Red Hand's loosely affiliated gang of nationalistic thugs known simply as Crimson. The nation is broken into several regional territories each ruled by a Red Hand appointed Regent who in turn appoints district, county, municipal, and neighborhood leaders in order to maintain Red Hand's strict authority. Corruption is rampant but conducted in secret—publicly-discovered corruption is punished by swift execution lest the people come to believe Red Hand is morally bankrupt and attempt to subvert their authority.
Zurvan Protectorates (Nation #4)
The Zurvan Protectorates lie atop the dry and hellishly hot Daivam Plateau at the heart of a trade network that spans seven of Quantum's nations. Easily the largest economic power outside of Akyrema City, Zurvan trade envoys can be found in every major city on Quantum. The envoys make sure all Zurvan trade goods coming into and out of their assigned city are accurately monitored and on schedule and each envoy employs hundreds of Zurvan mercenaries—collectively called Gorra—who travel with Zurvan merchant caravans and trade envoys, making Zurvan trade routes among the hardest on Quantum to pillage. The average citizen of the Zurvan Protectorates lives a life of relative comfort compared to the average citizen of the other nations. Education is free, water is abundant thanks to borrowed technologies of the Progenancy and despite the desert heat, crime is rare, and work is plentiful and well-payed. There's a trade-off for this comfort however—Zurvan is comprised of a strict caste system and citizens are considered the highest tier. Beneath citizens are two more castes: soldiers and slaves. Neither of the lower castes can ever hope to reach the citizen caste (though slaves can become soldiers) and they possess very little of the rights and benefits of Zuran citizens. Soldiers have some freedoms, but are indebted to a life of service either as a Gorra or as a Zurvan military soldier or officer. Slaves handle all of the manual labor, live a harsh and often short life, and generally exist invisible in Zuran society, neither interacting with citizens nor being acknowledged by them. Among citizens, it's taboo to even discuss the life of a slave or to admit to owning any—it's something the citizens would rather pretend doesn't exist. As of late, ancient rumors of Zurvans controlling a Time Before technology that accurately predicts trade models and is thus the secret to their economic success have reached another apex with dozens of teams of Progenitors scouring the country to find such a device. Should such a device exist, it would likely put the nation of tradespeople on a bad footing with the Progenancy, but after years of searching with no results, it's likely just a rumor started by a rival trade nation.
The 13th Nation
Government: Technocratic Hegemony
The Progenancy is a tightly controlled, rigid organization of scientists and scholars who believe that controlling all of the technologies from the Time Before is the only way to prevent another world-spanning catastrophe. Founded in the remnants of Akyrema City immediately following the events that ended the Time Before, the humans and azi who banded together beneath this protectionist ideology did so knowing the greedy expansion of knowledge and power from the Time Before could not be suffered to live again on Quantum. Over the years they built Akyrema City back into and beyond the shining city it was in the Time Before, and through clever political manipulation and the outright destruction of Damavand, now sit as the de facto heads of every world government. No technology may be kept from the roaming Progenitors, no remnants of the Time Before hidden away as secrets. The Progenitors know more about the Time Before and the technology it birthed than anyone else on Quantum, but even they will admit they know a small percentage of what once was. So they adventure frequently from their base at the heart of Akyrema City and from the hundreds of Progenancy Outposts all across the nations of Quantum, ranks of Progenitors—adventuring scholars and archaeologists—collecting tech in any way possible to fulfill the mandate of their hegemony: no tech left behind.
Akyrema City is all that's left from the Time Before, the world of Quantum as it was before the terrible apocalypse a millennium ago. It's a shining city crammed full of ultra modern, sleek, futuristic design and technology. It's not out of place to see a medieval knight in full plate armor atop an armored steed pushing through the well-dressed crowds on a concrete lane, a dozen floating video screens floating above screaming the latest news and advertising.
Akyrema City is the core of Quantum; the beating heart of an entire world struggling to rebuild. It's also the base of the Progenancy, the world-spanning, highly regimented organization self-tasked with gathering and controlling all remnants of Spark, the future technologies from the Time Before. Akyrema City is the source of Quantum's commerce, government, and technology—and the base from which a thousand adventures a year are launched, sending Quantum's Heroes into The Wilds in search of fame and fortune.
Everything beyond the Twelve Nations and Akyrema City is known as The Wilds. What these places actually are, though, varies dramatically. There are regions—such as Ten Harbors, the Free People of the Kopernik Protocol, the Domain of the Hirovuti Clans, and the Holdfasts of the Dahaka Reavers—that are actually well-populated, but not bound together in what civilized Quantum would call nations. There are other places—like Azrikam, The Venom Strands, Solvay Char, and The Remnants of Old Padirac—that are essentially enormous ruined monuments to the nations that once existed there, now overgrown and crumbling but still capable of revealing wonders from the Time Before. Finally, there are regions—such as The Savage Plains, The Shrieking Wilds, the Disputed Lands, Lake Boyle, the Pygmy Deep, and the Apollyon Deep—where danger and savagery lie around every corner. There you might find armies battling for dominance, tribes of insane warriors pillaging all in their path, unnamed horrors from the Void roaming free and unchecked, or ruinous landscapes incapable of supporting any life at all. The Wilds are avoided by the Twelve Nations for a reasons—all of the wild places of Quantum share a common disregard for the well-being of those who would call themselves civilized.
Joshua J. Frost
Infinite X Studio, LLC