You are not the hero. There are no heroes anymore on the continent of Etvena. There is no need for heroes on Etvena. The Dragon Cult were subjugated. The Mortuary Circle drive into hiding. The Jotun torn from their mountains and reduced to brutes. Many would define these as a great kindness to the world. The first and second Iron Queen called it reducing the competition. Over the process of three centuries The Empire has expanded, her grip tightening around the continent, consuming countries and states like a gluttonous beast. Now, the last hold of those who consider themselves good are about to fall. The walls of Guardam are now under siege, and The Queen had come to see an end to this personally. To deal with any rebellions, The Steel Hand was formed. Inquisitors, enforcers, spies and assassins. When a land has been conquered they move in, suppressing any plans of descent through whatever means necessary. Be they intimidation, deception or outright murder. Your character is a member of The Hand, invited to take part in the battle and secure the city till a more permanent garrison can be formed. Etvena (Useful but not necessary Lore) Spoiler: Geography Etvena was thought to be the sole continent of world eight years ago. A fact that brought great ire from the family that was close to claiming dominion over all. Now though, two others have been discovered, though neither have a formal name, nor does The Queen eye them for conquest, yet. Instead, her dominion stretches from The Long Beach in the north, to the frozen islands of the south, where giant mammoths and other strange creatures still roam. The centre of the continent varies massively, switching between great plains, thick forest, and rolling hills. The eastern shore of the continent is dominated almost entirely by mountains, formerly dominated by the Jotun. The only break in the chain contain a series of ruins with unknown architecture, and inhabited by strange masses of flesh that hunted any that came within or skirted the borders. The area was cleansed when the Jotun were brought low, allowing exploration across the sea and the discovery of the two new continents. The western coast is much more tame, ranging between sandy beaches and stony cliffs, holding a great many ports that are used to move goods along the continent, and is where Guardam rests, lying on a small peninsula of the same name slightly north of the centre. Spoiler: The Empire “You ask why there is no qualifier? Why we aren’t The Empire of The Venar? Or The Iron Empire? Why would we need one? There is no other worth remembering that came before, nor will there be another that succeeds us.” Reynius I at The Battle of Davham. As a land Etvena was never unified. Over eight centuries ago it was split into a score of kingdoms, republics and tribes. The Empire came from the latter that overcame the second, and became the first on the land they took. For the longest time they were unextraordinary, expanding, contracting, waxing and waning. Eight hundred and fifty years ago, that changed when Tyberius of Lymonte, a prominent philosopher and minor noble, presented his manifesto to the crown. 1.Security may only be achieved through strength. 2.All must have their place. 3.People are their history. The Queen, Reyna I, took this to heart, and reformed her nation fit the ideology, while her descendants successfully expanded upon the code, and the lands owned by the family. Two hundred years after this, the kingdom officially renamed themselves to The Empire, and continued their expansion. Due to it’s large size and massively varying climates, there is little consistent culture, though the the three tenets remain universal. As such, warriors are often revered, however the actual intent is on all levels. Financial security can only be financial strength. As such, most people have a strong work ethic, something which has been infused in the population by state funded artists. This focus on culture is also seen after the empire conquers an area. Sculptures, paintings and play that display the ideals of the former rulers are destroyed and replaced, though it is impossible to remove aural traditions, some vestiges still remain. Spoiler: The Iron Queen The current Iron Queen, Reyna II, see’s herself as the fulfilment of eight centuries of planning, despite the fact she was not intended to rule. The third child of Reynius I. She was born with magic, as such she was sent to one of the various academies, and showed great talent for Fulgurmancy and Terramancy. Her eldest sibling, Parcius, lacked talent in anything however, and was regarded by most as incompetent in all aspects. The middle child of the three, Darius, was significantly more competent than his brother, though not in line to inherit. This was not something that he was pleased with, and a large amount of tension brewed between the pair for several years till one unfortunate event. During a war with a southern state, their king was killed. However, the letter sent back to the capital by one of the generals participating in the campaign simply said “The king is dead, the natives have claimed his body”. Believing there to be little time before his brother was crowned, Darius acted without his blade and without thought. When Reynius returned to the capital, finding one son slain and the other upon his throne, he was overcome with anger, and commanded the boy be burnt alive, along with the general who sent the message in the first place. With Reyna left as an only child, and inheritor of the crown, her education was quickly changed to reflect what was now expected of her. Though she seemed a talented politician and governor, she believes herself to be a poor tactician, something which others agree upon, so she often leaves individual battles to more competent generals, though still takes part as a potent mage. Spoiler: Imperial Castes The philosophy of Tyberius, renamed The Imperial Code, is embedded deeply within society, the second tenet being most prominent. To ensure that everyone is within the place most suited to them, a strict caste system is embedded into the day to day life, though based on ability and not on blood, until the royal family is reached. The lowest caste are the Unwilling. Criminals, dissidents, or outright separatists. While many other nations simply killed those who were uncooperative, The Empire considers that a waste of resources. Instead, they are used for jobs with a high risk of death, such deep mining, or cleansing certain areas. Though most die within a short period of being given their labour, those that succeed are given the chance to reintegrate into society. The most famous group, known informally as Kimbolt’s Mountaineers, were Jotun hunters, and earned their freedom after killing forty seven and capturing five of their quarry. The next caste are labourers, normally spread throughout small villages scattered across the land. Farmers, quarriers, merchants and anything else that needs little skill. That is not to say that the people lack wits. Often times it is due to either lack of motivation, or even a desire for a simple, peaceful life. However, in times of war, they may be drafted to form the bulk of the imperial army, acting as an anvil to the warrior caste’s hammer. Afterwards are the craftsman, those that are responsible for mass production of goods. Food, toos, arms and armour for the two lower castes, and everything else the populace needs to keep moving. Strangely, entertainers are often placed into this area, there being a great debate on whether they should even have a caste, their being little material use for them, though their cultural value being prized. Afterwards are warriors. To keep a large scale army is highly impractical, requiring food, armour and training, while giving nothing in return unless fighting. As such, a small core of professional, highly trained, heavily armed soldiers are kept. Small is a relative term however, and in its last few wars, The Empire’s elite often outnumbered the enemy’s rank and file, resulting in their being no need to draft the lower castes. Each warrior trained in as many weapons as possible so that they might fit whatever role is needed, though they receive further development in whatever area they are most effective at. In war, some would be spread amongst the drafted members of the army, maintaining morale and coordinating troops, while the rest will form the vanguard. Afterwards are the artisans. Masters at their work who train the craftsman, produce the tools of the warriors, and even serve the royals. These are the artisans who truly receive fame and fortune, be it the masons who built The Imperial Palace, or the range of master swordsmiths. Overseeing all of this, are the bureaucrats, a fact which annoys many. Scheduling deliveries, collecting taxes, and many, many other jobs that people consider unnecessary, but the empire would collapse without. They are also responsible for assigning people’s castes, giving them a great degree of power. Finally, are the Judges. For the law to be enforced, no one can be above it. As such, no one apart from the royalty is above their eye, sometimes not even then. Imperial Justice is collective. Everyone who knew of a crime, and either endorsed, or did not attempt to stop it despite knowing of it, are guilty. They often receive a reduced sentence than the perpetrator, often massively reduced, such as a small financial penalty, or placement in one of the less lethal tasks, though there is still danger of death. The Steel Hand also falls into this caste, though created to deal with armed and organised dissent, instead of crimes with non-political motivations. Spoiler: The Dragon Cult Throughout the years, dragons have always been a symbol of power. Though their existence is doubted by many, that has not stopped them from being idolised and envied. The Dragon Cult was one such group, though they took their admiration further than most. For they aspired to become dragons. Alchemy, metallurgy and magic were are all used. From the first, came black power, from the second, armour and arms beyond most, from the final, abominations.The Empire had just renamed itself when it came into conflict with The Cult, and it took over sixty years for there to be any resolution. Their land, while technically part of the empire, receives certain preferential treatments, such as appointing their own governors, not requiring the caste system, and still being permitted to practice Animancy. However, they must abide by the empire’s other laws, and provide arms and armour. This partnership, while strained in recent years, is seen as preferential to war, doubly so by the cult, who now lack any real perceived advantage over the empire. Spoiler: The Mortuary Circle Death and taxes are the only certainties in the world. The former is something that has always fascinated many, and most would like to escape it. The Mortuary Circle, through means they are unwilling to share, seem to have found a way to escape old age. While still capable of being killed by traditional means, they are more resistant to them, requiring the destruction of vital organs. However, their bodies have been proven flammable, and they tend to avoid fire at all costs. The mere act of stabbing them is as easy as it is for any human. The problem is getting close enough. The most accomplished mage might master two types of magic. Members of the circle tend to have mastery of all of them, though they avoid Carnamancy and Manamancy. The reason for the first is unknown, perhaps they wish to preserve their forms, or see no need to it. Their view on the latter is of great interest to those that hunt them, however. When a member of The Circle enters an area with little magic, or a Manamancer deprives them, they physically slow down. Why is unknown, though this suggests they are dependant on magic as whole. Whether a person must discover the means of immortality to enter the group, or are made eternal upon joining is unknown. Their motives are just as unclear, and members seem to have conflicted in the past, suggesting a loose coalition over any formal group. Why The Empire is hostile to The Circle is not apparent at first, however, it relates to their first and third tenet. When a being can master almost all magic, little else can be stronger, as such, there is no security. Secondly, if people are there history, then The Mortuary Circle are more than most and near unknowable, and seem to refuse Imperial Culture whenever it is presented to them. Setting: Fantasy with mid-renaissance technology, further empowered by magic. Character sheet (must be checked with GM before being posted in discussion) Name: Appearance: Equipment: Magic: (Can be left blank.) History/Personality: Spoiler: How The Magic Works Deep within the earth, invisible currents of energy drift. Most are irregular, though still usable. There are more regular sorts, either predictable flows named leylines, or even the sources in some points called nodes. These are much more easily accessed, and allow a greater strengths of spells, and more predictable casting. Those born with the gift of magic are placed within special education centres that ensure their loyalty to the nobility, and that their power is not wasted on frivolous tasks. Many are placed in the military, though Aquamancers are often aid in farming and Terramancers in construction. However, there are certain types of magic judged too dangerous to be used, even by those with imperial training, however, certain individuals who prove their loyalty may retrieve a permit. Most will learn one or two types before leaving their academy, expected to refine their craft out in the world. Legal Magic: Pyromancy - Control and creation of fire. Fulgurmancy-Control and creation of electricity. Terramancy - Control of the earth. Aquamancy - Control of water Itermancy- Allows the mage to teleport themselves and any item they’re holding short distances. Kinamancy- Allows for creation of short, violent burst of raw force. Illegal Magic Animancy - A strange magic that brings inanimate objects to life, and imprints them a purpose given by their master. Called necromancy when used on the dead, however, it has a much wider range of use. Carnamancy - Allows the user to manipulate life into other shapes, normally shambling monstrosities thanks to lack of knowledge, though even the most skilled master can do little better. Manamancy - Those who cast this sort of magic control the ebb and flow of magic itself and claim to see what lies beyond the ebb and tides of magic beneath the world, and are driven mad because of it.