Dark

From Brass Goggles

Dark is a small planet, which was colonized during a brief period by the British Empire and a collection of other nations using new Aetherportal technology. Due to the mystical nature of Dark, the portal systems eventually shut down, cutting Dark off from Earth, leaving it to develop independently.

Follow this link to read personal accounts and collected stories on the nature of Dark.

http://themoonshinejunker.blogspot.com/

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] The Portal

With the development of the Portal, the Empires began to take for colonies not only the lands of Earth, but the open spaces of planets uninhabited since the beginning of time. The small planetoid known only as “Dark” was one of these places. Dark always had a tenuous pact with reality – it was a place of mist and fantasy, of fleeting glimpses in the forests and monstrous ideas beneath the waves. Even when the first settlers came and built the mighty Steam-Cities, the in-between places are still filled with things that should not be.

When the first human inhabitants arrived on Dark is a matter of debate. The Colonies are considered to be the first lands settled, but exploration reveals that certain groups may have arrived even earlier. The Marklanders, to the North and West, have a history that has been shown to go long past since the Portal was activated. What is even stranger, the Peoples of Lagua are mentioned in these histories to have been on Dark already! Both groups have shown remarkable similarities to certain Earth races. How people managed to slip through the void before Portal Technology is a mystery to even the most intelligent scientists.

Nevertheless, common history begins when the first Britons, as they were known, arrived via a star-traveling orb and constructed the portal. The first, largest and grandest city they built near the portal was named Portal Whitesmith. They brought immigrants in from various areas and settled cities around the nearby lake-filled, forested country and expanded to the east, soon claiming most of the southern half of the small planet of Dark. This large piece of land became known simply as the Colonies.

[edit] The War of the Colonies and the Confederation

The parts of the Colonies on the other side of Dark from the center of power in Portal Whitesmith began to grow weary of being ruled by a power not even present in full on the planet. Through the ages the hatred simmered, slowly divided southern Dark. This eventually led to the Revolution, a bitter war between the Colonies and the newly declared Confederation of Un-Bound States. The war lasted for long brutal years. In the final days, the Colonies attempted to outmaneuver their rivals by risking an Air Fleet over the western mountains, effectively striking their opponents from behind. The Confederation panicked and drained troops to this new Eastern Front. At the height of the bloodshed, both nations risked using dangerous and untested scientific “super weapons”. The result was an annihilation of the majority of the forces of both nations in the shadows of the mountains, and the turning of the forest around them to a blasted heath. Both nations stood terrified and in awe and stepped back from the war and into a truce. The Confederation had won independence, but at a price.

[edit] The Kogai-Confederation Conflict

The Confederation grew, though not to the size of the Colonies. To the North-East of the Confederation, (North-West of the Colonies) laid the Frontier – the least inhabited and most wild section of Dark. The Confederation eventually sent pioneers to test this most misted and mysterious area, but came into conflict with another power which lay North-East of the Frontier – the Kogai Empire. This Empire was formed originally by citizens of the nation of the Rising Sun, who had managed to negotiate with the Colonies to gain access to the new and strange world of Dark. Not fully trusting what they saw as foreigners, they travelled north, over the highlands north of the colonies and settling in the lowland, swampy area beyond. Taking a capital on an Island in the middle of the lake, they created a feudal society, which lacked much of the technology of the other nations, but lacked for nothing in courage and honour. Their backwards ways would eventually doom them, however, when they began to come into conflicts over land in the Frontier. The Men of the Confederation are renowned for their learning in the ways of the gun. They mowed down the Kogai at every battle, the brave Sun Warriors’ armour and blades accomplishing little. Finally, the Kogai managed to choose a fight they believed they could win. Trapping the majority of the Confederation forces on a hill, they attacked on mass. By the end of the day, the Confederation force was broken – but nearly all of the Kogai had been slain. The Confederation ended up with control of the Frontier, but after the battle never put much effort into developing it – to this day it is still the deepest wilderness.

The Kogai who were left were despondent. Their old ways had failed them and their civilization looked like it was to wither and die. The believed only by sweeping away their failed beliefs could any chance for survival be attained. Technological development began to increase and the people became more learned. The old ways of fighting were abandoned. The art of the Shadows was adopted, of cunning and invisibility, of deception and silent killings. The worship of the sun was seen as unfit for this darker world. The worship of the Moon overtook the old religion and the old, honourable warriors were replaced by the new, practical soldiers of the shadows. A wall was built along their southern frontier and the kingdom began to develop in isolation.

[edit] The Wars of Science

One last conflict was to take place in Dark which would define the current situation. After the Colonies were established, many other immigrants from the Mother World were allowed to settle on Dark. Most felt affinity with the style of the Colonies from their lives before and settled around the main nexus at Portal-Whitesmith. The island of Coever, off the North-East coast of the Colonies became a home to a group of people who felt they were just a little too different from the Colony folk. This island eventually became a neutral, merchant state.

A large group of foreigners within the Colonies began to place their trust in a man known only as the Scientist-King. These people lived peacefully in the Colonies under the care of this father figure, until the Revolution and the war between the Confederation and the Colonies. For it was the Scientist-King that helped developed the “super weapons” that gave the war its brutal and abrupt ending. After this event, the Scientist-King and the races associated with him were shunned. To prevent another revolution, the Governors of the Colonies “allowed” these peoples their own land – The land north of the river that makes up the northern borders of the colonies, south of the swampland of Kogai, east of the High Mountains and west of the Ocean. The “exiles” were actually in favour of this move – it gave them a place to live outside the borders of the Colonies, where they would be free to govern themselves. The territory they received was roughly rectangular, the west being high and mountainous, with the east filled with darker low forests, ending at the sea.

The peaceful nation had a small age of prosperity, marked by many new scientific developments, all under the watchful eye of the Scientist-King. However, he began to grow old, as men do and had no children to speak of. He declared that the next symbolic head to replace him would be the one that could create the greatest achievement of science and present it to him. Two scientists and their workers began working on two projects. The Scientist-King died before their works could be completed. One team created a small, growing organism in a jar – they had mastered life. The other created an automaton that was capable of movement and basic logic – they had created reason. Neither side, divided in some ways by a difference of race, could decide which the greater achievement was. Thus the schism happened, and a bitter feud was started. The high mountainous west of the territory became the nation of Smiljan-Lika. Its people mastered the use of electricity more than any other nation and were proud of their calculating logic. The people of the lower forests formed the Eckhart Barony. They became known for their strange experiments, fueled by researches into the nature of anatomy and biology, a nation of alchemists and geneticists. Some whisper that the elite of this Barony modify their bodies to become more powerful – they are whispered about, named Vampyrs. Another rumour says that they can create life from death – the walking dead. These two nations are even today locked in constant border skirmishes among their hilly border, making attempts at superiority.

[edit] Today

These brief stories of these nations make up the larger part of the history of Dark. Recent history is counted as the times after the Portal ceased to function. Their struggles define the planet – But they all know unity may be necessary if something darker emerges out of the hollows of the woods, or the deep caves at the Ocean’s bottom. The five powers are in an unsteady truce.

The current culture and technology is similar to that of an advanced Victorian age. Almost everything is powered by Steam, with a few applications for electricity. Even the more graceful or primitive cultures make use of the power of industry and steam in some way. Firearms are a common weapon among most people. The Steam Cities are mighty edifices of Gothic Architecture, Industrial force and fantastical design. The only unforested land found outside of the deserts is almost always the land just around the steam cities. The population of Dark densifies themselves into these metropolisis due to a want for safety. There are many religions (and cults) on Dark, but the most widely accepted one is the theology of The Books. There are generally chapels in most cities, The Study of The Books usually taken by small groups lead by theologists. In some areas, however, large cathedrals are becoming popular, though some worry these edifices put more power in the hands of their owners than in the hands of God.

[edit] Natural Geography

[edit] Flora and Climate

As a planet, Dark is much smaller than most. However, its gravity is about consistent with that of Earths. The phenomenon has not been fully explored, but is often linked to the fact that Dark rotates much quicker on its axis.

This faster spinning does create shorter days and nights, but this is not very noticeable as there is no true “day” to speak of on Dark. When the main moon, known as “The Daymoon” is in the sky, it is considered to be waking hours. This moon is similar to ours, but much larger and more reflective. At “night” this large moon disappears from the sky, replaced by smaller, less luminous ones, which are not always present. The stars show all the time, but clearer during the “night”. The sun never makes an appearance, partially due to rotation but mostly due to the atmosphere, which diffuses the rays of light – it is close enough to heat Dark, however.

The makeup of Dark’s fauna is similar across the planet. Almost the entire part of the planet not covered by the Ocean is forested. These forests only change slightly on latitude. They are comprised of darker coloured pine trees, often shrouded in mists in the mornings or evenings. Comparisons on Earth could be drawn to the deep wooded areas of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, or the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. The only areas not fully covered are the south and north poles. (These are not much noticeably colder than the other areas – Dark has a similar climate across it – temperate and moist, with warmer summers and often snowy winters, more so in northern and southern areas). The North Pole area has sparser vegetation and usually sees the most snow. There are craggy cliffs and outcrops across it – generally it is empty and is not visited often. The South Pole is slightly warmer, but less moist. It could be called Dark’s only desert. Neither the Confederation nor the Colonies build cities there. It is marked by strange rock formations and an eerie stillness. Most disturbingly, there have been reports of strange, Cyclopean cities. Although they have no activity, these places are usually considered to be ill fated and are avoided. The Ocean covers roughly half of the northern part of Dark.

[edit] Physical Geography

The planet is almost neatly divided in half by three mountain ranges – the dangerous Golgotha mountains in the south, which block the Confederation from the Frontier to the north and the Colonies to the east, the misty High Mountains between the Frontier and Smiljan-Lika, and the Snowy Aesir Mountains in the north, which curve to isolate Markland from the Frontier to the south and Kogai to the east. The Kogai Wall stretches from the intersection of the High and Aesir mountains straight east to the Ocean. In between the Golgotha and the High Mountains is the Colony of Albionoria, the most north-west of the colonies. This province is bordered by the mighty Ciren River to the south and the Nokken River to the north, which eventually flows into the Ciren. The Ciren flows out of Maiden’s Lake, a long north-south lake near the Golgotha Mountains. The Ciren flows almost due east, forming the majority of the northern border of the Colonies. It empties into the sea near the northern end of Coever. To the north of Coever is the Archipelago, a collection of islands of various sizes. The most northern and largest island, Lagua, is the seat of power of the Lagua Nation. East of Lagua is the coast of Markland. To the west are the swampy shores of Kogai.

[edit] Other Worlds

Dark is, by itself quite small - thus the nations rarely have colonies. As space-travel is researched, this may change in the near future, as sceintists believe they have discovered "empty" worlds nearby. As well, there are, surprisingly, areas still left unexplored in dark - certain islands, areas of the upper atmosphere, the nearby moons, the poles and the areas below the surface of the earth and below the waves.

The most interesting rumour is that of the "Concave World" - this being a world found inside Dark that is the opposite of the surface one, with steamy jungles and an eternal day.

[edit] Fauna

Dark has a variety of creatures similar to those on Earth that would live in the climate present upon Dark, some appearing to be there originally, some, mostly herd animals, introduced by colonists. However, certain animals have not been classified by Earth zoologists, or are beyond classification. Below is a sample of certain species.

Air Kraken

The airkraken roughly resembles the giant squid of Earth, whith special gas-bladders that allow it to float high above the surface of the earth. Air-krakens tend to stay at the seclusion of higher altitudes. Their diet is mainly birds and the gas-floaters. Air Kraken hunting is a vital part of the life of the Northern Nomads. The hunt has a more ceremonial aspect in Zethio, and all members of the community help catch the elusive beasts.

Sea Kraken

A giant, octopus-like creature that inhabits the very deepest oceans of Dark. Consumes a variety of large deepwater fish. Is rarely a danger to sailors, but has been known to come to the surface in bad storms, or when lost among islands.

Gas Floaters

Pale, translucent beings that hang like wraiths in the air above Dark. The adult Gas Floaters can get quite large and often become the prey of Air Krakens. The smaller young are usually left to drift. Gas Floaters seem not to require much nutrients, taking in low levels of reflected sunlight.

Salamanders

A long subterranean lizard, that slips through the caves below dark. A white, blind version is used by the Belesian military as a versitile mount. Wild salamanders are the dominant lifeform in the shallower, closer to ground caves (beside humans). They enjoy a diet of cave fish.

Lizard Worms

A long legless reptile that is easily mistaken as a worm. Can spit a corrosive substance. They can grow rather large and are often a nuisance and slight danger to travellers, or even to farmers if they break the proximity of the Steamcities. There are stories, however, of much larger worms inhabiting the southern desert - so large as to be a serious danger to people.

Blackthorn

While technically a plant, the vicsiousness of this tree makes it more dangerous than most animals. It resembles a short tree, with many twisted and bare branches, all bearing sharp thorns. It whips these at any creatures that comes too close, attempting to kill it and then pull it into the branches, where it is left to bleed, the blood nourishing the Blackthorn. This fearsome creature embodies the reason many citizens of Dark are not comfortable outside their fortress cities.

Chalicothere

A creature with the size and features of a horse, but with long front limbs and short back limbs, as well as frontal hands good for grasping. Thus it appears as a larger horse, with a shorter face and the limbs of a gorilla. Is a peaceful herbivore and uses it's long front arms to strip bark and vegetation to consume.

King Fish

The King fish is important to many cultures on dark. Quite as large as any submersible, it floats in a noble fasion through the seas of dark. It has a wide mouth for eating plankton and many shimmering scales. Despite their size and apparent lack of aggression, Krakens do not seem to consider the King Fish prey. Some fishermen say this is because the kraken can't stand the pattern of light that reflects from the King Fishs' scales.

Sook Fish

A large fish, at least the size of a human and often greater. They swim in schools around dark and resemble the salmon of earth, being predatory in nature. They are a favourite food of Krakens - while the sensible fisherman knows that a kraken sighting means the waters are to be avoided, a brave (or foolish) fisherman knows there is good sook fish hunting nearby. A good sized sook fish can feed a village for a day.

[edit] Recorded Sentient Species

While humans are by far the most dominant species upon Dark, there are rumours and occaisonal encounters with other beings that appear to be sentient and live within the forests, away from the civilization of the Steamcities. Often a human will go their whole life without seeing anything but other humans. But the brave rangers who are drawn away from the Steamcities by the dark forests often come into contact with some form of intelligent life.

Dragonkind

Perhaps the most mysterious, yet most feared and hated creature on dark. Dragons have a bizarre and complicated lifecycle, that seems to be influenced by magic, or forces not understood by humans. A new theory by scientists has hypthosized that the first "stage" of dragons could actually be a viral form.

What is know, is that dragons are created when a human is infected by an existing dragon. Most dragons kill any humans they find, so this is a rare occourance. However, disturbing reports have been heard of people searching out dragon's teeth to purposely infect themselves. Soon the person will exhibit reptilian features and undergo a mental barrage of temptation. When the person succumbs to the imagined power, they turn to a drakeman. (Scientists are unsure what happens if a man resists the virus for a prolonged period of time.)

The drakeman exhibits common dragon tendencies. It is taller than a human and more muscular, with reptilian features and a lizard-like snout. Prey includes a variety of female, warm-blood mammals, which are swallowed whole, including sheep, pigs and humans. Drakemen drink the blood of male mammals, but will also murder men for sheer amusement.

After a long enough period in this stage, drakemen turn into what is recognizable as the classic dragon. It continues to exhibit the same tendencies. However, while much more powerful, dragons have a lower survival rate then drakemen. While drakemen can hide in the forests, dragons are larger and have a greater appetite. This will cause probable conflict with humans and likely a swift slaying.

If a dragon survives for a long enough period, it begins to grow longer and lose it's limbs, while the wings grow longer and the scales begin to molt. The final result is the hiddeous wyrm, which resembles a flying leech, with bloodsucking tentacles around the mouth. What humanity was left is eradicated. The wyrm has the curious ability to be able to survive in the vacuum of space. Thankfully for the human settlers of Dark, this seems to be their intended destination. Where they go, noone can say, but the sight of a wyrm racing skywards will haunt an airship captain forever.

Deep Ones

The nature of these slimy fishmen is unknown as are their habits and customs. Their appearances seem to be totally random. A stretch of peaceful beach, or riverbank, will suddenly be flooded with a gibbering horde, wielding crude and archaic weapons, which will race to the nearest human settlement and attempt to claim it. These risings are one of the few things that the nations will unite against, to save them all from becoming slaves to these hiddeous beings. Their appearance appears to vary across Dark.

The Deep Ones are sometimes lead by what is known as the Caste. These are Deep Ones that almost resemble humans, except for pale slimy skin, black eyes and generally strange features. They are vastly more intelligent than regular Deep Ones and have an immense hatred for humans, who they believe are inferior. However, they are known to attempt on occaisons to be reasonable and negotiate with humans - this almost always ends badly for the humans. The Caste works in subtle ways but all have evil minds.

The Fae

Explorers in the more remote forests of Dark have reported tall, fair and beautious people, with gossamer wings. These visions are often fleeting. These are normally referred to as The Fae, alternatively called fairies or elves. Almost all men have heard stories of them - few have seen one. The travelling Central Nomads have many tales relating to this race, suggesting some form of connection. It is rumoured there were many more sentient beings on Dark, a variety of mystic races that went into hiding when humans arrived and that The Fae now guard and safekeep them. It is in fact rumoured that some of these creatures used to visit Earth, giving start to various fables and myths, before in the modern era they slowly began to return to Dark.

Trolls

"Troll" is a term for two distinct, but related sentinent species that are sometimes encountered in the forests of Dark. The smaller huldrefolk are short, stout and hairy, with distinctive cowtails. They live in burrow communities and avoid the Steamcities, only being seen by smaller groups of humans. Friendly, but mostly isolationist. The Jotun are mounstrous beasts. They are said to be created when a huldrefolk dies in insidious circumstances, or when there is a piece of land with the bodies of many huldrefolk. They are slowly built from the surrounding landscapes, before rising up and walking above the treetops. While large, they can be hard to find if they want to be and have a low and sneaking cunning. A sight of a Jotun walking above the pines at night is both haunting and terrifying.

Shifters

Shifters are the least understood race and least documented. They are only described as "shadows" that can take the forms of many animals. Where they originated from is unknown. Travellers have various stories of being harmed or helped by Shifters. In popular folklore, they are the souls of the lost.

Wenders

A malicious race said to inhabit cold areas. Reports indicate something akin to a "humanoid spider", tall and black, with eight limbs. Apparently has a craving for raw flesh and are exceedingly brutal and aggressive. Their territory can be marked by various "trophies" taken from kills.

Werewolfs

There are reports of wolf-like humanoids seen in the forests. Once assumed to be another project of the Barony, it now seems the alchemists of that nation have as little information as the rest of the planet. The wolf-men do not appear to be aggressive and flee on sighting humans.

Constructs

Constructs have developed enough to be considered a sentient species. Originally designed by the scientists of Smiljan-Lika as workers and weapons of war, various designs are found all over Dark, whether it be the robotic servents in the wealthy houses of the Colonies or the delicate clockwork courtesans in the Kogai Empire.

Dj'kor

A reclusive race, the Dj'kor are sometimes called the ravenmen. They have bird-like faces, with long beaks and dark eyes. They have bony hands and cover themselves with long billowing robes and occaisonally with wide hats and coloured spectacles. Often it is only the beak that gives them away as less than human. The Dj'kor are a guardian race of dark and are entirely male. It is said that a raven will turn to a Dj'kor when one is needed. While declared protecters, and steadfast in their job, the Dj'kor can be frusteratingly vague and mysterious.

Ulthras

The Ulthras are the second guardian race on Dark. They resemble beautiful women. However, they are distincted by their pointed and cat-like ears and the cat-tails they hide beneath their robes, as well as sharper than normal nails and some teeth as well. While they are elusive, they are upfront in their dealings, even when they are being fickle or capricious. It is said they are made from cats, in the same way Dj'kor are said to be made from ravens.

[edit] Nations

[edit] The Colonies

The first and largest area established on Dark, the Colonies take up almost a quarter of the planet. To its north is the Ciren river and beyond that the nation of Smiljan-Lika and the Eckhart Barony. To the west are the Golgotha Mountains. To the north-west is the province of Albionoria and beyond that the Nokken river. Beyond these barriers are lands held by the Confederation. The Confederation can also be reached through the more active border in the east. To the North-East is the Ocean shore of the Colonies. Off this coast is the Island of Coever. To the far south are the inhospitable lands near the pole.

The Main city of the Colonies is Portal-Whitesmith; the area around it is known as the Royal Colony. Various cities are distributed throughout the surrounding area – each one and the surrounding area is known as “a colony”. The terrain and climate of the Colonies is similar to most of Dark (see above), a noticeable feature being an abundance of lakes and interconnecting rivers. The ruler of the Colonies is an elected Governor. In the days when the Portal was still active, the Governor would be selected by the Empire – today there are elections held in Portal-Whitesmith, with representatives from each individual colony casting votes.

Militarily, the main force in the Colonies is, without a doubt, the Navy. This Navy is unique in that it encompasses the roles of Aerial and Seaborne navies – the airships are all equipped to land in water and deflate their airbags, making them versatile hybrids, a technology unique to the Colonies. The elite force is a centralized “Royal Fleet”. However, in the past it has not been enough to protect such a wide expanse of land. Thus, each colony usually provides its own smaller fleet, manned by volunteers. While these “Common Fleets” lack the shiny uniforms or discipline of their Royal counterparts, it is known that they make up the first line of defense – their courage and daring are never brought into question. There is no regular ground force to speak of, as the foot soldiers all double as sailors and airmen. As a ground force they tend to be enthusiastic, but with less staying power than the ground armies of other nations. There are exceptions however – the Royal Rifles and Heavy Calvary of Portal-Whitesmith are very well trained soldiers. As well, the feared Storm Soldiers of Albionoria, the north-west province, are widely regarded as the most feared and powerful warriors on all of Dark, comparable in bravery and strength to the wild Marklanders. Only their smaller numbers prevent them from comprising the main part of the Colonies’ armies. Often the airships of the Colonies also carry smaller steam-driven war vehicles, such as Steam Tanks.

Inspirations – 18th and 19th century Britain and its various outlying components (e.g. – Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa), Pirates of both the Seafaring and Airborne variety,

[edit] Important Individual Colonies

Albionoria

Boleskine

Gauteng

Gwynned

Macha

Silverton

Stateroa

Whitesmith

[edit] The Confederation

The Confederation is comprised of states on the other side of Dark from the Colonies. Feeling that they were uncared for and forced to face the dangers of the far-side forests alone, they rebelled and formed their own state. The main part of the Confederation is both east and west of the Colonies, with the Golgotha Mountains making up the eastern border. The South Pole makes up the southern limit and there is a large northern coastline. To the north-east of this core is the Frontier, a wilder land under the Confederation’s control. It is situated with the ocean and Archipelago to the west and Albionoria to the south-east. To the east are the High mountains – beyond that the nation of Smiljan-Lika. To the north are the Aesir Mountains – beyond that lies Markland. To the North east is the connection of the High and Aesir mountains – beyond that lies the Empire of Kogai. To the north-west of the Frontier, in the Ocean, is the island of Lagua.

The capital of the Confederation is Weston – it is located not far east from the Confederation’s western border. The Confederation has a directly elected President, who serves for a set term. Any number of people can run for President, but usually the main parties get their man in. The President selects who is in charge of various states within the Confederation.

Militarily, the Confederation makes up its armies with its tough citizens. Being less developed overall than The Colonies, even young citizens in the Confederacy must learn how to shoot to protect them self. The study of the Gun is one of the principal parts of Confederation culture. Their ground forces are comprised of groups of superior marksmen, who operate best at a range. Using rifles, pistols and the new Crank Guns, the Confederation stratagem is to unload as much lead into the opponent before they can begin to charge. A new, deadly invention is the War-Coach. Modified from the trains that the Confederacy uses to connect its cities, the steel behemoth provides cover for troops in combat, while laying down its own hail of fire. The Confederation does employ an air-force, but their balloons and blimps are much slower than the sleek airships and zeppelins of the Colonies. Their main purpose in to provide an elevated firing platform and to scout.

Inspirations – 19th century America, the Weird and Wild West, Gunslingers and Cowboys.

[edit] Important Individual States

Aurington

Bellington

Favon

The Frontier

The Southlands

[edit] The Kogai Empire

In the lowland, swampy forests to the north lies the mysterious Kogai Empire. It is sealed off from the nation of Smiljan-Lika and the Eckhart Barony to the south by the Kogai Wall. To the west are the Aesir Mountains – where the Aesir Mountains and the Kogai wall meet is also the northern end of the High Mountains. To the north is the rocky and inhospitable area around the North Pole. To the east is the Ocean – further travel east would result in arrival in Lagua.

The Capital of the Kogai Empire is the city of Ryugu-jo. It is located on an island in a saltwater lake, which is not far from the Ocean. The Kogai Empire is ruled by the emperor, known as the Tsukuyomi Avatar. The emperor is chosen in a secret ceremony held after the death of the old emperor – the details of this ceremony remain unknown. All householders in the Empire swear fealty to him.

The warriors of Kogai are masters at deception and concealment. Using the thick terrain of Dark to their advantage, they strike from seemingly nowhere, fighting with short-range muskets, crossbows, or even in hand to hand combat. Their favoured method of air travel is by glider or elaborate clockwork ornithopter. Many devices in the military operate by clockwork, as steam-technology could give the position of the shadow-hidden warriors away. Much of these devices are amazingly handcrafted, works of art as well as weapons of war. A unique military section is the Warriors of the Anticipated Dawn. These are people who embrace the old warrior ways of direct combat, using katana. They are viewed as insane by their pragmatic compatriots, but are not denied their final glory. Often, their last frenzied charge is used as a distraction, while their shadow brothers prepare for the final strike.

Inspiration – Feudal and Industrial Japan, Ninjas, Samurai, Inventions of da Vinci,

[edit] Smiljan-Lika

The wooded hills of Smiljan-Lika are the birthplace of electricity and the stronghold of scientists who wield almost godlike powers. To the east are their hated enemy, the Eckhart Barony. To the south, across the Ciren river lie the Colonies. To the south-west, across the Ciren tributary, the Nokken, lies the colony of Albionoria. To the west are the High Mountains – beyond is the Frontier, land controlled by the Confederation. To the north is the Kogai Empire, sealed off by the Kogai Wall. To the north-west, across mountains is the small nation of Markland.

The capital of Smiljan-Lika is the metropolis of Strujagrad. The leader of the nation is the Chief Partisan, who leads whichever of the many parties are in power at that time.

The military of Smiljan-Lika reflects the technology being developed within the nation. The basic troops are Partisans, the working class. These are the men who work for the higher class of scientists. They fight with basic rifles from a distance. While stout and hardy, they are not the most professional of soldiers. The true face of the military is the Grom Brigades. These are the trained soldiers that wield the deadly arc-weapons. These “guns” can create an electrical stream, which can be sprayed over an area, destroying all in its path. While this weapon is impressive, it is hindered by limited range. The most prized part of the military are the scientists’ own creations – the fearsome “automatons”. Men of metal, standing taller than any real person, the steel warriors have simply logic functions built in to them, enough to lead them to the enemy, where they crush the foe with their mighty fists. There are many varieties of automaton, each filling a special role in the armed forces. Many high ranking scientists often create a large suit of powered armour, in which they lead and fight with their creations.

Inspirations – Eastern/South Eastern Europe (e.g. Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia), Robots, Mad Scientists, Nikolas Tesla's inventions

[edit] The Eckhart Barony

The black forests of the Barony are home to proud and powerful aristocrats and the strange, unhallowed creatures that their alchemists have created. The Barony lies to the east of their rival nation, Smiljan-Lika. To their north is the Kogai Empire, separated by the Kogai Wall. To the south, across the Ciren river lies the Colonies. To the east is the Ocean, the island of Coever lying to the south-east.

The Capital of the Barony is Rilleberg. Their leader is a Baron or Baroness, a hereditary position – however most decisions are made with the help of a Parliament. Nobles take the name of their city as their last name, their original name becoming a middle name. Thus, all Barons and Baronesses have the last name Rilleberg. They are also expected to insert the name Eckhart into their name, in respect to the first and founding Baron. For example, the current Baroness is Marice Rungsten Eckhart-Rilleburg.

The mainstay of the Barony military is unique in its inhumanity. The Baronies alchemists have created a way for the Barony to minimize casualties, an important fact due to the lower population. Their macabre project is literally the “Walking Dead”. Using resurrected or fabricated corpses, the alchemists have created a force that requires no sleep or food and that feels no pain. When these soldiers “die”, they can be reconstructed if their parts are recovered after the battle. While defiantly the worst individual soldiers, they can bog down enemy armies or even crush them under their weight. The main living part of the army is the Black Riders, the Barony being one of the few nations to retain the use of horses in the military. These riders, who go on smaller black horses, adept at traversing the forests, are made up of the citizenry amd fire pistols from horseback, or dismount to use their rifles if the terrain is too rough. The aristocracy of the Barony, larger than any other nation’s, often use various alchemical or genetic means to improve their strength and fighting capability. Known to their foes as “Vampires”, these proud nobles often engage their foe in close combat, eliminating the valuable portions of their enemy’s army. They may come into battle with their “pets”, whatever patchwork or created creatures their household’s alchemist was able to produce . The alchemists themselves often take to the field of battle, operating the siege-weaponry and devices of the Barony.

Inspirations – Germany, Austria, Prussia, their aristocracies, Zombies, Vampires, Frankenstein, alchemists,

[edit] Other, Smaller, Nations of Importance

Coever- An island nation, Coever can be found of the east coasts of the Barony and the Colonies and off the north coast of the Confederation. A neutral nation, its citizens make their living as tinkerers, engineers and most importantly merchants. The main city is also referred to as Coever and is a place of freethinkers, where tinkerers and artists work on their wares. They are lead by their Prime Minister. The north part of the island is mountainous, while the south is low-lying and marshy. The city of Coever is in fact criss-crossed with a series of canals, which are the main way to traverse the city.

Inspirations – Holland, Italy and their cities, especially Amsterdam and Venice, some other parts of Europe

Lagua – A wild, undeveloped island nation, Lagua is west of the Markland, north west of the Frontier, east of Kogai, north-east of Coever and north of the Confederation. The Laguan people live off the land, making their houses and canoes from the cedar-pines on their islands. Their Raven-Chief is their leader, maintaining his proud people, who are not afraid to show their skills as warriors to any who would invade their land. They have a firm alliance with the Marklanders.

Inspirations – Tribes of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the Haida and Nootka

Markland – A small crescent shaped kingdom, hemmed in by the curving Aesir Mountains and the sea to their west. Over the mountains to the east is Kogai, to the south-east Smiljan-Lika and to the south, the Frontier. Across the sea to the west are their allies, the Laguan people. They are a proud, warrior culture, and believe death in battle means honour. Their long ships are simple, but are among the best seafaring craft. Their elected Raven-King presides over them. The Tresklanders are a related group that actually live within the Aesir mountains, in halls and round towers hewn into the rock and are ruled by the Mountain Duke, who pays homage to the Raven King.

Inspirations – Vikings, Norse mythology, "Fantasy Dwarf Tech", (Tresklanders based more on Normans)

Nomad Tribes - While not nations in a true sense, they power of the Nomads of the South and North areas cannot be denied. They had adapted to these harsh climates in unique ways. In the south, with it's flat deserts, the prefered mode of travel is in large wheeled auto-caravans, guarded by warwagons and steam tanks. Traveling across the desert, the nomads of the south scavenge and trade for a living in their sparesly populated environment. In the North, floating airships hold whole clans of Northern Nomads. These airships hunt the airkrakens of the north and skip between good hunting spots in the mountainous North. There is also a less organized band known as "Central Nomads" - gypsies who roam the forests of dark, trading between the Steam-Cities. They are said to have a connection to the mystic beings of Dark.

Inspirations - (Northern Nomads - Inuit) (Southern Nomads - Mongols, Seljuk Turks) (Central Nomads - Roma)

[edit] Non-Surface Powers

Belesium - The Belesians live in a series of caverns located below the south pole. They often come into contact and war with the Southern Nomads. The Belesium appears to be the last remnants of a greater civilization, the only remains of which are ruins scattered around the south. Belesium warriors go to battle on the blind white salamanders, who are adept at navigating both above and below ground. The Belesium cities are all underground, powered by steam generators run by thermal vents and filled with beautiful and exotic tapestries, mosaics and sculptures.

Inspiration - Byzantine Empire in Komnenian period.


Zethio - Zethio is the name of a moving flying island that travels aboves the clouds of Dark. It's people were once used as slaves by a variety of races. However, a man called the Sky Lion, developed the technology to remove a piece of land from near the Southern Desert and cast it into the sky, to give the people a place to live. To this day it tracks a looping pattern across the desert, twice a year moving over the south pole. Zethio has many beautiful rock carved buildings and often the sounds of celebration echo in the skies of Dark. However, the Zethians will fight hard to protect their haven, with the ferocity of lions.

- Inspiration - Medieval Ethiopia, Jamaica

[edit] Figures of Importance

As with any world, there are certain individuals who have become famous, or infamous, through their actions or standing. On such a small planet as Dark, a cunning statesman or a determined adventurer can have a large impact on the entire world.

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"Rattlesnake" Abraham - A well know mercenary, rogue and soldier, Rattlesnake is one of the toughest men that the Confederation has produced. Even in his old age he is still as quick as his nickname. During his youth, he fought in the Confederation-Colony war, as an operative working behind enemy lines. He mainly operated alone, in the desert areas south of the colonies, making raids against Silverton mining outposts. His actions led him to be top of the wanted list - even though the war is long over, he continued to view the Colonies as a place where the law was made to be broken, ending up with a few bounties on his head in that part of the world.

Count Kahlenberg - A mysterious figure, believed by some to be nothing more than a fabrication among the many fantastical stories one hears. Rumours of the "Black Count" have swept through the cities. Apparently he lives in and through the sea in an advanced submersible, raiding along the Barony coast. However, he has shown up in other parts of the world and has left wreck and ruin in his wake. Though the killings seem random, some whisper that it is part of a grand scheme of revenge. It is said is is larger than a normal man and is near impossible to kill, wielding a massive two handed sword that cleaves through all.

Baroness Marice Rungsten Eckhart-Rilleburg - The Baroness of Eckhart is a beauteous sight to behold, skin and hair perfect pale and her gaze imperious. Though she is one of the youngest rulers to step to the position after the death of her father, she silenced her critics early on, dealing with all matters with grace and poise. However, there are whispers of discontent and corruption within the Barony and of plots darker than that. The Baroness is finding that she is slowly losing her allies. Soon she will be forced to make the grim decisions a true ruler must

Friedrich Zansus - Zansus is the Alchemist to the Baroness and thus the highest ranking Alchemist in the land. He did not earn this position through idle luck - he was determined to be the best at his craft. Biology and chemistry hold no mystery for him at all. He is also the right hand of the Baroness, dealing with unpleasantries it would be unbefitting of a Royal to partake in. It has become well known that those who cross the Baroness will deal with Zansus soon enough. Though he is stoic and professional, there are rumours that there is some "secret relationship" between he and the Baroness - for the noble Baroness to involve herself with one below her would be disastrous.

Ellis Elrau - An elderly gentleman, Mr. Elrau heads the Bureau for the Studies of the Unkown, a Colonial organization based in Portal-Whitesmith and dedicated to plumbing the mysteries of the forests, mountains and seas, to better understand the magical parts of Dark and help humanity adapt to it. Mr. Elrau has headed the Bureau since it's very inception and was remarkably young when placed in charge. He excels at this position because he has traveled the length and breadth of Dark, daring the forests. He now oversees a new generation of explorers.

Maline and Jeb Seller - A sibling pair of outlaws known to plague the iron trains that connect the cities in the Confederation. To the government, they are a dangerous nuisance. To the average population, they are objects of interest. In Bellington they have become something of folk heroes - they have been known to share their wealth with the lower class farmers of that area. Any attempt to apprehend them has failed. Maline seems to be the leader of the two and is fiery, proud and stubborn. Jeb apparently does not talk, wearing a bandana over his mouth - Maline speaks for him. However, he is deadly efficient in a fight. Maline is just as adapt, especially since reports indication she has control over some form of magic.

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