The Shattering is 71 years past.
But the world of Steel has not forgotten. It bears the scars.
But we have not forgotten. We still hide in fear.
– Rakis, Historian in the service of Baron Arhaive
By the time of the shattering, Kallas (“higher”) and Lower Kallas were experiencing significant friction and differences. The Sedolla Bastions had nearly destroyed themselves in a bloody civil war over the last half century before the end, and the ravaged remains of their city states were hanging on.
The kingdoms of men fell hard when the shattering occurred and the forces of dark rose up under the consolidated leadership of the Dark Four. Only those survivors who fled into the underdeep at the guidance of the Druids survived. Those who stayed behind to defend their kingdoms died as the dynasties were laid low.
The fallen kingdoms have left a mark on the world and the people who are left. They were mighty places, with their own wealth of secrets, magic, troubles, and legacies. When they were split open by the darker powers, the end was bloody, messy, and without any control. Many of the remaining vestiges of the military of these nations went underground to form the first settlements post-shattering.
Civil and Military Authorities
The authorities and driving powers of the fallen world are few, but focused around the town or city unit. The backbone of any city is its military organization, a strong requirement for security. Individuals in smaller or border towns have a level of civil and economic autonomy as long as they do not threaten the town’s security or others within it. Larger towns or those areas under the control of a Baron often have a more strict organization and driving force. A town under external threat falls into a state of martial law quickly and will feel very strained.
The Barons are military centers of power, all having built a stronghold overlooking a large town in the region. The strength of their armies, and the patrols and guards that assist in trade and resource gathering, have allowed these cities to grow to economic centers within the remaining towns.
The Barons lend assistance and levied soldiers to smaller towns within their direct radius of control and appoint a Sworn Reeve to each town to lead in its protection and governance. A Reeve plays the part of an old town sheriff and town judge as well, having the final say in legal disputes. In the even smaller towns outside of a Baron’s region, a Reeve is picked by the townspeople or claims the right by experience and skill.
Within the structure of a town, a Knight is a military captain who works under a Reeve and faces the danger of leading expeditions into the underdeep. As the town commander, a Reeve is unlikely to take personal risk unless the need is great.
Within a town unit, there are power players who make their voices heard, drive the economy, resource gather, and trading. These are usually the Merchants, Shop Keepers and Smiths of each city. They are interested in the trade of resources, the protection of their economic interests, and of keeping the roadways between cities open and operable.
In one part of the underdeep, the Braeys family runs the town and city centers. The family is extensive in numbers and led by the Patriarch Elias Braeys and the rest of his family and sons help to govern the individual towns as , called “lodges” in the Braeys lingo. They work over a larger area of territory and coordinate the activities of their towns closely. Within this structure, there is less room for independent thinking merchants and smiths. To the eyes of some, the Braeys are simple another Baron.
Individual Citizens are concerned with their economy, where the town is getting enough food to survive (farm halls, hunting, gathering, mushroom fields), the work they are required to do for and by the merchants, the dangers of traveling, and the ever present threats to their security. They are often questioning the actions and ideas of their Reeves and Knights, often thinking they know better.
Those who break the law (murder, steal, endanger the city) are considered Outlaws and either branded or executed. As judge and enforcer, many Reeves rule by an individual code of what is law, and decide sometimes on a case-by-case basis on how to proceed. One killing may be a murder and require an execution, while another may be a justified murder and only require a branding. Outlanders are those who chosen to live outside of a city, outside of the law or on the edge of a society and are usually loners. Often, Outlanders have been branded for a crime which drives them to the edges.
While Dhrogas, or the Druids, played a major role in leading the first survivors into the underdeep, they took no leadership roles in the next steps that followed in the establishing the new order of civilization. As druids, the Dhrogas stayed away from the towns that were springing up and retreated into the wilderness places of the underdeep (springs, lakes, cisterns). Different people and leaders from within the towns will seek the Dhrogas out for counsel and advice, but the druids will not come into the cities and have settled back into the same disassociation they had for humanity before the shattering.
Where military forces are needed, small bands of Mercenaries are sure to appear. No Mercenary group has access to enough manpower to be a large force.. Some towns hire mercenaries to help with protection, but most often they are employed by Merchants, Smiths, and Shop Keepers who need protection for caravans, mining outposts, and other things that are not technically within the requirement of a Reeve to protect. Barons rarely hire Mercenaries unless in an emergency situation as they prefer to have standing forces. Mercenaries have a reputation for being trouble if they are around long enough and become restless in their work. The famous Vrotta Mercenaries were rumored to be lost in the shattering, but rumors occasionally circulate about their existence.
Some towns have small shrines established where Clerics, Priests and Priestesses of the Faithful operate. These holy folk are independent and without an organize order, each worshipping the Faithful as they see fit. The only religious order to survive the shattering were the Paladins of Kallas. The Paladins are a military-religious order that is dedicated to increasing securing, recruiting into its ranks, and stamping out evil as it sees fit. The High Templars of the order rule with a notoriously heavy-handed style. Often, Paladins are known to go “wandering” away from the demands of the order to help those in need.
Beyond the Walls
Outside of the town center, humans still organize and thrive. These groups fall into two major categories — Tribes and Raiders. Raiders emulate the lives of the urban zone, but live outside of the law and raid, steal, intimidate, or slave to make a living. Often they operate rogue mines or attack trading routes for profit. Tribes are nomads, hillmen, or savages who live their own way, worshipping forgotten gods or new ways formed after the shattering. Tribes contend with monstrous races for space and dominion, but also prey upon civilized humans just as monsters do. Many of the tribes are the same wildmen and hillmen who existed before the shattering who managed to survive into the underdeep.
Magic in the World
In the second age, magic was abundant within the power centers of the world. It had been honed and accepted among the great kingdoms as a mighty tool to empower their people and to create great weapons of war. The fate of the Sedolla Bastions was insured by enthroning of magic; in the midst of an already brutal civil war the Seer Lords unleashed their own magical might against the rival cities. The escalating conflict left scars that have yet to heal, a broken nation Sedolla, and not a single surviving Seer Lord.
The collapse of the kingdoms saw the almost complete loss of accumulated and recorded magical knowledge. All powerful and populous magical orders were all lodged deeply within the great cities and were by and large decimated by the shattering and in the war that followed. Those few survivors who fled into the underdeep brought whatever knowledge they had in their head, but no more. All the grimoires and high magical libraries were lost in the fall, and their keepers died trying to protect them..
While the magical knowledge and capabilities was gutted by the shattering, the populous maintains the opinion that magic can be a powerful force to help protect the underdeep communities. While those skilled in the arts are rare, the ability to wield the powers of invocation and sorcery earn the wizard or cleric a welcome place in cities and towns.
Such knowledge is scarce and valuable now, and those who hold it are wary of those who might try to exploit or control them. Those who do not have it regard the sorcerers and clerics as powers that can help, but they have also seen or heard of how that same power can be — and has been in the past — turned to evil and destruction.
Most magical training is done in one to one relationships of apprentices, a single individual passing on their lore to another. In a few of the biggest cities, a talent individual might gather a flock of students to his or her school, but such larger schooling is only beginning.
Ages of the World
First Age – the All Father and the 13
Second Age – humanity thrives, ends with the rising of the Dark-Born
Third Age – world is cast into chaos under the Dark-Born. Heroes of Steel starts about 70 years after the dusk of the Third Age.
Fourth Age – Legends of Steel starts here (yes, this is a teaser)
The Thirteen Children
The All-Father and the Thirteen Children are the deities to which humanity has looked for inspiration, in faith, and in prayer through the ages. While they do not cover the entire spectrum, the Thirteen do, in many forms, represent the emotions, ideas, and wishes for which humans strive, or believe in, dread, or dream. All men and women are associated with one of the Thirteen children by their birth date and its relation to the Thirteen months of the lunar year.
The Thirtreen are known in mythology, legend and folklore — from stories about their own interactions and squabbles to how they have assisted, saved, inspired, or manipulated men and women throughout the ages. In some stories they were said to have even assumed human or animal form. Some of the Thirteen have more interest in humans (Cortias, Hagathrun, Evesse) than others (Tuelavo, Logar) but all of the deities had followers in different forms before the shattering.
After the shattering, worship of the Thirteen is strained. Worship of any of the Dark-Born would be a crime worthy of death, and the organized groups and religions that had praised the “Nine Faithful” (those who remain) were all but destroyed by the shattering and the following war. Most towns and villages have one or two holy folk — a Brother of Hagatrhun, a Myshana Healer, or a smith who follows the precepts of Vurnak. The Dhrogas, or druids, who follow Tuelavo may now be the most populous of religious orders, though they chose isolation in the deep places of the world rather than casting in their lot with urban folk.
1st Son – Wiegarn – pride, power, leadership, perseverance First-Born (Dark-Born)
2nd Daughter – Ellista – thoughtful, meditative, self-righteous, Seer-born
3rd Daughter – Tevensa – wild, green, flighty, Season Rider, Spring-Tide
4th Son – Vurnak – builder, forger, greedy, The Horde Master, Smith-Lord
5th Daughter – Cassandra – bravery, strength, sacrifice, Battle Mistress
6th Daughter – Evesse – beauty, scheming, seduction, desire, true love, Night Mistress (Dark-Born)
7th Son – Rabiel – whispers, lies, chance, chaos, riddles, The Trickster (Dark-Born)
8th Son – Cortias – family, defender, warrior, Shield-Bearer, Home-Guard
9th Son – Hagathrun – city, stability, order, rigid, Stern Judge, Law-Maker
10th Daughter – Ryethin – gatherer, guide, end-bringer, merciless (no one escapes death), precedes Death, Soul-Taker, Death’s Consort
11th Son – Logar – lost, forsaken, explorer, hermit The Wanderer, Lord of Sorrow
12th Daughter – Myshana – healer, care-giver, lover, The Saint, White-Mother
13th Daughter – Ravenna – loyalty, protector rage, violence, Wolf-Daughter, the Hateful One (Dark-Born)
The Lunar Calendar
There are 52 weeks in a year. The year is broken into 13 cycles of moons. A full moon rises (on the surface) every 2 weeks. In a 52 week year, each two full moon cycles is dedicated to one of the Children. The first full moon is known as the waxing moon and the second as the waning moon. Therefore, Cassandra-Waning / Cassandra-Waxing refers to the two moon phases for Cassandra (moons 9 and 10 in the year).
All children are born under the waning or waxing Sign of one of the All-Father’s Children and this is considered to predict some of your destiny, personality traits, or life path.