Update 5 - Kingdom of Glass
Hi Kickstarters and welcome to update 5!
First a bit of news: I'll be taking part in a Q&A on #rpgnet this Tuesday the 29th, at 7pm Central (that's Wednesday 30th, 10am AEST for those in Australia), so stop by and ask me any questions you have about the game! Here's the channel: http://tinyurl.com/rpgnetchat
Thousands of years ago, Eharia was known as the Kingdom of Tides; a great city on the oceans floor, woven from glass and protected by a magical dome. When the Fall shattered the land, the earth shook and the oceans shifted. The waves withdrew and the sandy ocean floor became a desert with the city in its center. The dome protected the city from much of the chaos of that time and the glass towers still stand, untouched by the Fall.
Eharia is perhaps the greatest wonder left in the world, the dome now keeps out the heat of the desert and shields the city from the sand storms that sweep through the area. Inside the dome the weather is temperate, condensation on the inside of the dome causes occasional rain fall and plants grow providing food, while beyond the dome there is only a wasteland.
While the city remained intact, the population was not unaffected. The city had long survived on the food supplied by the ocean and now the population faced starvation. Trade routes with the other kingdoms had been cut off and riots began in the city. The ruling class were overthrown and although new forms of agriculture were soon established, it took years for the chaos to fully subside.
The city has gone through many changes in leadership since the Fall; kings and queens have come to power and been deposed, dictators have risen and fallen and now the wealthy rule. Those who can afford armies have the power and in a city where the greatest and scarcest resources are food and water, the merchants have all the money.
The Council of Six are the ruling body of Eharia, comprised of representatives from the six wealthiest families in the city. Each made their fortunes from trading with the other kingdoms and each of these families specializes in a particular area of trade which they ruthlessly protect. They have the largest armies within the kingdom, ensuring they stay in power, and although there has never been open war between them, sabotage on each others trade routes is common.
Unlike the Kingdom of Rust, magic is widely accepted within Eharia and those that use it are viewed as useful tools. So much so that when someone is discovered to possess magical talent of any kind, they are arrested and taken away to serve as slaves; the Herinha, the chained arcane. To become one they undergo training that is both harsh and long, it is equal parts magical training and indoctrination. It is not enough to simply keep them in chains, they must want to be in chains, to desire to serve and no more.
The Herinha are commonly found in service to the merchant families that make up the Council of Six, although anyone with enough wealth can buy them from one of the many slave markets. Some serve the wealthy as personal assistants or body guards while others serve in armies as weapons.
Because of their strict training, they are amongst the most skilled magic users in Altais, and one might think they would use this magic to secure their own freedom, but they have been indoctrinated for so long to accept their slavery that few do. Those that escape are hunted for the rest of their lives, and when caught, they are executed. Although they are powerful, the armies of the noble families outnumber them thousands to one and many Herinha are taught to believe that it is better to serve and survive than to be hunted and die.
One of the more respected guilds within Eharia, the Arcanists dedicate themselves to the study of ancient history and the recovery of relics, which are often dissected to better understand the magic of the past.
New uses for magic are frequently being discovered by the Arcanists Guild and they keep many Herinha in their service, almost as many as the Council of Six. Those members of the guild who go out searching for the relics are called Ravahana, although they also employ mercenaries and soldiers to investigate ruins and will pay anyone who brings them interesting objects from the past.
The Seruhin guard the borders and keep the horrors of the desert at bay. They are renowned for never being seen unless they want to be seen. Some have suggested that this must be magical and that they should be arrested and made part of the Herinha, but this is never suggested very loudly, after all you never know if the Seruhin are listening. They are an ancient order that has protected the Kingdom since before the Fall, they are feared and respected and still retain considerable influence within the city. More than enough for them to keep their independence regardless of whether they really use magic or not.
The people in Eharia believe (as do most of the Kingdoms) that the three brightest stars, known as the Celestials, are divine beings watching over the world. While most in the other kingdoms give this little further thought, in Eharia they have codified this idea into organized religious beliefs.
According to legend, the Celestials are three sisters that came to Altais thousands of years before the Fall and brought the people with them from a far away place. Each of these sisters has a temple dedicated to them, and these temples act as a sort of guild that overseas certain aspects of daily life. People donate to them for the Celestial's favour and come to them for omens and blessings.
The oldest of the sisters is Hypashia, the first to arrive, she who is as a mother to the people. It was she who first brought the Ancients to Altais and she that watches over their descendents still.
The second sister is Persephany, the fallen one. She who fell from the sky and brought about the Fall. She is the slain Goddess and is associated with death and endings.
The third sister is Arora, the invader. The youngest sister, she who brought new people to the world, and with them she brought war and chaos. The bringer or strife and Goddess of battle.
There are many throughout the land who seek adventure or fortune, some are lucky enough to find it. Those who manage to uncover a relic from before the Fall receive an invitation from the Arcanists Guild to join the Ravahana, on the condition that they donate the relic to the guild for study.
The Ravahana are viewed with a great deal of respect and are often given the freedom to come and go throughout the Kingdom of Glass as they see fit. They search the land and explore ancient ruins for any remnants of the past: ancient magical items, old books and manuscripts, even art from before the Fall. When they find such items, they are expected to turn them over to the Arcanists Guild for study, in exchange they are payed well and those that are particularly successful may advance in rank within the guild.
High ranking Ravahana may be permitted to keep a relic or two on hand to aid them (although these are technically "loans", the Guild would never give a relic away permanently.)
The Ravahana are usually adept at exploration and stealth, most are also well trained in a weapon of some sort since ancient ruins are often dangerous places. They are a close knit society and can often call on each other for aid when in tight situations.
Some of these chained spell caster serve mercenary guilds or the Arcanists Guild and may be found assisting adventurers, others have escaped and are seeking freedom. In either case they can make interesting PCs and the attempt to escape to freedom can drive an entire campaign.
They come from all backgrounds, regardless of whether they were once a peasant or a noble, as soon as their magical talents were discovered they were arrested and brought into the Herinha.
Due to their strict training, they can learn to manipulate all the realms equally and have even learned to control the chaotic effects of a Wild Surge. This not only allows them to create them but also to influence what form the Surge takes, turning them to their advantage.
I want to give a shout out to my friends over at League of Geeks who are currently working on their new project Armello! Check out their Kickstarter and back their awesome project!