I. ERA. It is the 1800s, the Dawn of a New Age. Control of the globe is split between naval empires and private colonial companies. Ancient monarchies share uneasy borders with boisterous young republics. Most people live in rural homesteads working their farms, but the residents of rapidly growing cities strut about sporting frock coats, top hats, and distinguished manners. The most significant change in these times has been the recent decline of the Spohledian Protectorate, a colonial empire, and the rise of its ambitious descendant, the Brasian Republic. The world is changing; a new era has just begun.

II. GEOGRAPHY. The known world is called the Disc. Scholars say that the Disc is actually a spherical planet, but no one has successfully circumnavigated it so far. The Disc is divided into the Old World in the west and the New World in the east. The Old World consists of the continents Adriano and Al-Avid (similar to Europe and the Near East, respectively). The New World consists of the continents of Salmandia and Graaldo (similar to Africa and the Americas, respectively). The Old World’s politics and culture are intricate and venerable, while the New World is full of uncharted territories and undiscovered wonders.

III. TECHNOLOGY. An industrial revolution is just beginning, and the first factories generally use manual labor. The steam boiler has already made an appearance, though it is still primitive and of limited use. Serious labor relies on the muscle of working animals and people, and many are suspicious of newer technology. Gunpowder dominates the battlefield, but firearms are single-shot, unreliable, and time-consuming to reload. Scientists achieve unparalleled breakthroughs in medicine, chemistry, and other sciences every day; still, their works seldom become well-known. The leading colonial companies and military corps, however, already possess prototypes of repeating firearms, airships, and telegraphs.

IV. THE OCCULT. This world has its secrets; many talk about them, but few take them seriously. Still, spirits from the beyond roam forlorn and silent places. Ancient manuscripts hold truths that drive unprepared readers to madness. An ordinary citizen might carry a family curse, possess a paranormal ability without knowing it, or simply ignore the odd things happening all around them. Occultists spend weeks engaged in rituals, trying to achieve enlightenment or alter the movement of stars. Nevertheless, true mysticism is obscured by countless charlatans, pseudo-scientists, and flat-out madmen. Proper society considers even discussing such dubious and silly topics to be taboo. Thus, even after coming face-to-face with the Unearthly, most people subconsciously choose to forget the encounter as if it were a bad dream.

V. DIABLICA. Occultists refer to objects of mysterious origin, unknown purpose, and paranormal potency as diablica. These artifacts are often brought home from New World expeditions, or created in fits of mystical insanity. Diablica can be ritualistic or occult objects such as shamanic masks or temple statues; or they may be as-yet undiscovered technologies, such as impossibly complex mechanisms or miraculously repeating rifles. Diablica spark great interest among researchers and collectors, but they are banned by many nations’ religious institutions and governments. Many believe Diablica to be a dangerous to those who study or wield them, sources of spiritual corruption and even downfall.

VI. SECRET SOCIETIES. Since interest in mysticism and diablica is frowned upon, enthusiasts of such esoterica often unite into secret brotherhoods. These cabals hunt for and study artifacts, try to contact the worlds beyond, and strive to achieve enlightenment. Most of these societies never advance past the level of local paranormal club, but some manage to unravel unbelievable mysteries and gain terrifying power. Besides occult brotherhoods, there are many criminal and political societies working in secret. They often exist in complex hierarchies — and fierce competition with each other. The wise become suspicious when secret societies are at work, and the yellow press write dozens of sensationalistic articles about them—yet nobody truly knows what goes on in the Penumbra Theater.


Archeterica Imago

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