The Steal Realms (or "Realms") is a world in constant turmoil. Often times, things are not as they seem, the line between good and evil is blurred in the name of survival and/or conquest. Light battles darkness, death battles life, old struggles with new for the hearts and minds of all. In the midst of all this there are those just wishing to live peacefully. Politics, languages, cultural differences and vast distances and economics drive a wedge between races and nations (mostly on the continent of Ustermaya), despite the common foe they face night and day. It is an age where heroes are made overnight and die in countless battles. Any kind of character can find “adventure” in such a world, as before long it is just as likely to seek them out. The encounters to settle these clashes are mostly unsung, though there are all too many an epic battle for the annals to record.
The Steel Realms have been at war for thousands of years. Dundaria in the north is controlled by the Lich Kings, where winter covers the land perpetually and only the dead walk there. Synedcia in the south was overrun long ago by hell-spawn, the land blasted and its inhabitants butchered or scattered. In their blind drive for conquest, the lords of darkness made a series of impassible barriers where their allies cannot pass. It is mostly held by nomadic bandit lords. Some small nations near the coast have managed to stabilize and grow in the last millenia, some lead by the remnants of the old nobility but mostly by those hearty and adventurous souls wishing to carve out their own stake. The fallen east is dominated by the Dark Lands. This is a land covered in dark clouds and rain, where the sun is not allowed to shine. Nature is twisted and sentient creatures that once fell upon the followers of light are exiled to under pain of death. The lords of darkness shelter their own, banned from the light of the sun under the sun-bane (All Orrish races are under the ban of the sun-bane – for them, and the trolls of the Dukat and even some cursed humans and others, the light of the sun will burn them alive). It is a land in which only the strongest survive and every day brings sorrow, death and despair. The Orrish – goblins, orks, half-bloods of all manner of twisted natures – compete in a culture rampant with murder, rape, cannibalism and all manner of horrible religious and social practices. These creatures are lead by the priests of darkness to make forays into the lands of light, and fight against the hated light-dwellers. Vicious and without scruples (for the most part), they plot the triumph of the darkness over the light, and scheme to move the Curtain of Night westward over the mountains, submerging all life into the twisted ways of the Dark Lands.
Through lore and knowledge, the peoples of the realms and the world refer to the planet they are on as Helca, generally understand it is a sphere, that it revolves around a sun, has a native pair of moons and an unnatural, broken moon, called “The Interloper”; All this and that there are others like it in a larger cosmos and in the solar system; At least 2 other planets are visible in the night sky understood to revolve around the same sun, with the ‘solar system’ sometimes referred to as “Ostus”. Beyond this, most PC races (and many NPC) have a basic understanding of tidal and wind currents, navigation, vulcanism, basic helio-centric cosmology, and weather are understood (to a degree), by learned people – though it is couched in mysticism, religion, and myth.
In the sky, visible even in the day is “The Sultry Maiden” – a light that appears to ‘dance’ as it flickers and wobbles. This is one of the points most often used for navigation.
Most inhabitants of the realms do not travel far from their local area. Certain cultures and places are an exception to this, as well as higher social classes in general. Movement rates represent comfortable rates. In most cases this means the character and/or their mounts will not be fatigued or injured, and have opportunity to rest, relax, and stay healthy as they go. Jeopardizing this could result in malaise, fatigue, or Exhaustion, putting characters at risk if attacked.
Movement by Mount: A character without skill can increase their movement by riding, but they will suffer a Fatigue or Exhaustion for a number of days per day of riding if the pace is anything but 50% more of their walking rate.
Relations between species is mostly strained. Human are the most aggressive and expansionist, and inadvertently or not manage to antagonize the other races. The faerie races are all perceived as one, even though there are distinct differences – most get stigmatized as elves of Ynth. They are mostly viewed with suspicion, especially by the Ducateon who cannot abide the vast space of the outdoors and lack of walls or boundaries this race lives with. Dwarves are an acknowledged mistake by their Ducateon parent and tolerated at best; Humans see them as an offshoot of their other parent, not acknowledging their own contribution to the race. The Ducateon are a mystery to all, and not trusted – they seek no collaboration and interact as little as possible with other races. Half elves are treated the worst of all. They are despised by elves as inferiors, and hated by humans as mongrels. Their appearance is pleasing to neither race. The Skraelings are but a small portion of the population of the realms – stable, but small. Their folk are loved everywhere for their pleasant disposition and inoffensive, child-like appearance, not to mention to bountiful crops they seem to inspire. Halflings enjoy their association with the Skraeling race… The Grollen have the worst time of it in most places. Their lands are slowly vanishing – other races take more and more. The Grollen lack the sophistication, the planning, and the unity to preserve themselves for long against a combined incursion and competition. As such, they view all other races with suspicion, especially because their natural talents at warfare make them an over-exploited commodity. There are small pockets of races that were once in greater numbers, but are diminished with time. War is everywhere, and the threat of the darkness and infighting of politics wears away at alliances and threatens that progress stability brings.