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, 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, the basic understanding of tidal and wind currents, navigation, vulcanism, and weather are understood (to a degree), by learned people.
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.
Accolades: These are honorifics given as a result of direct action.
Specific Titles or Address: These are used when addressing someone, or assessing social rank.
Misser & Misses – An honorary/formal reference; when one wants to be socially graceful or acknowledge seniority, quality, and/or experience.
Sira/Siress – Used as an acknowledgement of leadership or significance; a proprietor or head of the family or group.
– There are merited Honorific titles/medals given to those of exemplary accomplishment that are leaders and significant positions.
Peer of the Realm: Titular rank that indicates that the family or individual is recognized as having contributed significantly to the ongoing stability, welfare, and safety of the realms and/or High King. The title can pass to the eldest of a family and revoked at any time by the High King.
Sir/Dame – (Non-Peerage) A knighted individual; they are given the right to bear arms and mete justice by enforcing the law (of which they must have knowledge of, or maintain in their retinue one who does) of the lord on the land they own (“hedge” knight = unlanded; title only) in the pursuit of the protection of the inhabitants of a designated area.
A knight cannot contradict any decree and cannot conduct a formal legal trial – though can call for one by combat.
There are usually a series of merit titles; a passage-at-arms, to achieve knighthood: Sergeant Brother/Sergeant-at-Arms, Squire, and Page
Warden – (Non-Peerage; knighted); They are granted a tract of land upon which they must live for which they are required to enforce the law upon and allowed to collect the rents (but not taxes) and get a % of the profits – but they do not own the land themselves and their title is not, by default, hereditary.
Curator (religious warden); Upon the lands the religious institution owns.
Sheriff – (Non-Peerage; knighted); They are required to enforce law over large specific area; supply troops to their lord’s army in time of war, build defenses, collect tariffs and taxes over as well as handling the landlord duties (using wardens under them). They are required to protect all those under their charge, and can actually execute a legal trial. Their title is not, by default, hereditary.
There are usually a series of titles; a passage-at-arms, to achieve Sheriff.
Viscount – (Non-titular Peer; knighted, appointed) Can actually try and execute criminals; Viscount is a spokesperson for the lord directly – a delegated authority. they are usually a trusted aide – a current or one-time Bannerman. Their title is not, by default, hereditary.
– Watcher = Traveling Viscount; ex: “Viscount Onely, Watcher of the West”
– Guardian = Stationary; where they live
> “Marquis” (out of favor – used only in the south) Equivalent of Viscount
Baron [knighted] Pledged to Count, Earl, Duke, and/or King
Count [knighted] Pledged to a Duke and/or King; rules a full county of land.
Earl [knighted] Used more in the north; Pledged to a Duke and/or King. Typically fief is smaller than a full county – but they are equivalent in peerage.
Duke [knighted] Pledged to a King
King: There is only one kingdom, other than Gladnor, and that is Umbak.
High King [knighted] – “King of the Realms”. King of Galdnor.
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.