Characters and Rules
Characters are officers and crew aboard a small naval vessel, in the service of Her Majesty Queen Brianna of Avendyne, weeks or months away from home. It is the dawn of the Age of Reason, and you are charged with spreading and upholding civilization in the wilderness. Your tasks can include exploring unknown territories, fighting pirates and savages, dealing with local rulers, supplying outposts, escorting agents and officials, undertaking military missions, and keeping an eye on the other great powers of the Aequeteran continent (Grande Cherneive, the Hemmerstadt League, the Aretzan cities) and the more mysterious powers of the far reaches of the world.
This age is seeing the rise of Science, displacing base superstition. Stalwart champions of Science have gone to great lengths to debunk folk myths and superstitions, disproving one claim after another of "magic powers." For their part, magical practitioners claim that the presence of skeptics interferes with their magic.
In ancient days, the whole of the globe was ruled by proud Aretzo, gem of the world. The empire of that city stretched to the furthest ends of of the world-surrounding ocean, and their cities, roads, armies, and temples could be found everywhere. The Aretzans boasted immortal poets, bold kings, and a tremendous store of mysterious knowledge. Alas, at the height of their power, they were struck down by the Great Quake. With a tremendous shaking, the very ground gave way beneath the very feet of the nobles and armies of Aretzo sinking them beneath the sea, and new plains and mountains arose where once there was only water. The marble towers were cast down and civilization everywhere was laid waste.
For many hundreds of years, the state of Man was reduced to one barely above that of the animals. Peasants, hardly distinguishable from their livestock, worked the land, while petty lords in crude castles bashed one another over the head with rough weapons to steal their patches of dirt away from each other. Eventually, some few marginally brighter or stronger than their peers would parlay their prowess into the security necessary to found a dynasty. Here and there, a lord would become a count, a count a baron, and a baron a duke. At important river confluences and crossroads of the remnants of Aretzan roads, villages became towns and even cities, and throughout the years of darkness the monks of the twin gods stoked a feeble flame of learning.
Eventually, two rude kingdoms rose on the continent of Aequeter. Grande Chernieve occupied the broad plains at the continent's center, and it still derives great riches from the fertile fields. Avendyne came to occupy the hillier lands to the west, and its brave cavaliers were able both to stave off Grande Chernieve's armies and subdue the mountain clans of Cullinclyde. The cities of the east coast, long independent, have formed a league led by the city of Hemmerstadt, and the islanders off the south coast of Aequeter have rebuilt their crumbled monuments of marble to claim direct descent from the fallen empire.
Only in the past century have the men of Aequeter turned their attention to the outside world, and what a changed world they have found! A great portion of the lands remaining above the water have been conquered by the Uttuk, once a fierce warrior people who swept out of the east on horses, but now a race of bloated rulers swaggering astride the world as though it were their sumptuous throne. Tales of other empires farther away have reached Avendyne, each stranger than the last, but her intrepid sailors will travel to the ends of the earth for gain and the glory of queen and country.