Steel Realms Characters

Steel Realms

Most common folk have little knowledge of the larger world and history (other than what is taught to keep them in awe), go no further than a few miles from where they are born, and rely on larger institutions and groups for guidance. PC’s have, at the very least, something which makes them open to a larger perspective. This leads to a Character Concept, and Character Stories which will allow a character to move beyond the common perspective. There is no formal education system in the realms; A few places (mostly in the heartlands) still carry the ancient traditions of the fallen eastern lands of providing supplemental cultural if not academic primary education.

The Occult: The average folk are aware of and fear the occult. It takes a brave soul to command such forces, and they are to be feared.
The Divine: The gods take an active role, and are the bastion against the Unholy Trio. It is the most accessible means of transcending the fears and pressures of the dangerous world.
The Psychogenic: Ancient legends and rumors exist of such. Witches and Warlocks are the name of such, Seers, and truth-tellers. Those capable of thought-magic were long ago run to the ground.
The Kinesthetic: The rigors of health and mind-over-body are too far from the survival concerns of every day folk; These are often seen as supernatural in themselves when demonstrated.

Race/Species Options for Characters: Most characters come from one of the Primary Races of the Steel Realms. With the right back story and GM approval, anything may be possible – though PCs are still subject to the stigmas and racial prejudices defined in the usual species relations.

The role of PC’s

PC’s are not inherently exceptional; they rise above through their actions to become that. PC types are common in the sense that many from every place in the realms, in every walk of life seek to make a fortune for themselves – leaving friends, family, home and hearth… and most die. Most common folk will see them as the source of trouble and potential concern. Items of power, adventure, perilous travel, and violent encounters of the kind of thing most adventurers seek out are something commoners wish to avoid. In some places, ‘adventurers’ (PCs) are overcharged, under-served, and even ushered out of town by angry citizens hoping to prevent the delicate local balance of power from being upset. Some PC’s may have a Patron (a Lady or Lord, or Institution; see Factions of Power) which give them authority and respect to avoid such local animosity.

Gender Roles of the Civilized Lands: In general, females are physically weaker than the normal male of the same species, and in places where survival is a daily concern it limits them to fewer societal roles. Males hold most of the dominant positions of power, and in general the cultures are patriarchal (less so in the past). Key exceptions to this are some Pine Tribes clans, Skraelings (and many Halfling enclaves), Ducateons (caste, not gender is the main factor), Wyld Aelf clans, the Duchy of Dunstrand and the Duchy of Aelmir (wherein lies Oerdney – the seat of the High King); here females are treated as equals – legal standing, property, marriage, and business. The binary of female and male conform to definitions brought on by appearance and sexual characteristics. “Krasals” are a form of hermaphrodite that is common (2% of humans) in the southern heartlands and are typically androgynous in appearance; they are accepted there and in the central heartlands without issue. The Pine Tribes accept without issue the “Wind Wending” – those among them with atypical sexual and gender preferences (homosexuals, hermaphrodite, cross dressers and others) both in appearance and sexual characteristics. Those of the Wyld Faith are much more accepting of sexual and gender fluidity than either the regimented Light Bringers or Unholy Trio of Darkness.

Key Historical Events

Education: Most folk are not taught the events of the Full Campaign Reference… a few famous and local events are all most people know.
  • The Return of the Rosewood Vase
  • The Gwinnish Invasion of Tarmysia
  • The Sundering (ancient times) – 5000 CY (Common Year): Fall of the southern lands and Sea King empire. To stop the tide of demonic creatures of the Lords of Darkness, the powers of the realms causes a great chasm to open from the sea to the mountains in the south. The coasts of the realms are shaken and many of the Sea Kings cities and settlements fall into the sea, bringing death and ruin to their empire in a day.
  • Storm Times
  • The North Restored
  • The Fall of the East [CY 6200]
  • The Fall of Dundaria [CY 5600] – The Winter Host of the Lich Lords steals the power of Djerduth the god of death and conquer the northern kingdom.

Laws of the Land

Education: Most folk know the basics of the spirit of the law through word of mouth and a few formal proceedings they may have witnessed. Only in places with formal education is it specifically taught.

PC’s may not be familiar with the specifics, but there are some universal laws and observances that most denizens are familiar with and abide by. While the realms rely on peerage for ruling hierarchy, the heartlands are also governed by “Hindsmuth” (old word for “Common Law”); the heartlands in particular have a court system in the major towns and cities, with magistrates and law officers. Peerage titles offer the ability to call for a retrial with a new judge, or to declare a mistrial in the event of a travesty of justice but do not pass judgement themselves. In rural and country places, Bards are often sought to pass judgement using their knowledge of the law and insight. Outside the heartlands, sheriffs enforce titled nobles direct wills. Many PC’s must follow a code of conduct or set of laws or tenets dictated by their Patron (see Factions of Power).

Factions of Power

  • Life is not fair; beings will do whatever it takes to advance their own cause at the expense of others and commoners are caught in between.
  • The average person just wants to live and has no agenda – they leave such to their liege/ruler and faith.
  • The common person is superstitious, untraveled, illiterate, and uninformed – and kept that way by forces conspiring to control or conquer them.

PC’s may not be familiar with all of the factions, but some are known across the entire breadth of the realms well, while others are known only to those of related class or backgrounds.


Most PC’s must find the protection and enter into the service of a Patron. Patrons take an active role in the direction of the actions and development of characters. A patron WILL (its a question of when, not if) demand service and an accounting of their servants/bannermen/followers/brethren.

  • Secular: Secular patrons cannot take away any powers or knowledge once given.
  • Mystic:
    • Arcane: Characters learning magic from a source other than the divine have a debt to be paid typically; the knowledge was given or taught because the character believed in common goals and directions the patron pursued. They were given their powers to further these.
    • Religious: All divine powers take a direct interest in followers and their actions, in as much as they have the ability to affect the prominence and power of the faith. Followers will be expected to actively work against enemies of the faith and usually be vocal in local affairs representing the faith.

These are unique and specialized character options.

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