FIRMAMENT is a setting idea, based entirely off the wild sheet of A4 paper shown below. I made it while feeling ill at some point last year. Just rediscovered it, and thought I should… clarify it, I suppose.
So what is FIRMAMENT?
It’s the name of the setting, hope that clears it up.
THE WORLD ABOVE
A disk, ringed by mountains, in the centre of which stands a very big and very holy mountain. Five rivers originate from the central mountain, each of which travel to the edge of the disk and plummet off in vast waterfalls.
Each river, and each Fall, is significant to the myth of one the Five Knights, heroic figures of some six centuries ago, who served, and then rebelled. They each received various mythologised fates, usually linked to the ancient structures at each Fall.
Upon the crown of the central mountain stands the holy city of Irgavio Sol, wherein sits the immortal and extremely magical SUN KING, who rules the World Above with a fiery golden hand. He is whom the Knights rebelled against.
His laws are draconian, ever-changing and enforced by violence. Life in the World Above has become a life of constant terror. Literacy is suppressed, worship of the Sun King is expected. His soldiers and seekers and signatories are omnipresent where his rule is strong.
He has, for 1557 years, been the uncontested master of the world. He keeps his power through three primary mechanisms:
One, constant propaganda produced by the Solar Chantry, his political apparatus based in Irgavio Sol.
Two, complete control over the Five Rivers - he can cut their flow as he desires, and bring the suffering of thirst to those in the Outer Kingdom.
Three, his Charters, contracts of terrible import written in gold, which convey rights and powers to his subjects. The most infamous are the Charter of the Eye (which gives your sight to the Sun King), and the Charter of the Hand (which surrenders your free will to him), but many hundreds of Minor Charters exist.
Of course, rebellion and insurrection against the Sun King have been a constant feature of history - but there has never been a rebellion of serious magnitude.
Well, until recently, anyway.
There are seven Provinces of the Outer Kingdom, and three are in rebellion. They call this the War of Hubris, or perhaps the War of Regicide.
THE OUTER KINGDOM
The parts of the World Above which aren’t the Sun King’s direct domain. The technology here is 1600s-ish: black-powder, sail-ships, and so on. Printing presses exist but are either strictly controlled or banned.
On the King’s side of the ongoing War, the Loyalists:
The Barony of Zzargod, a dictatorship under a line of “Sacred Arcanists”, who claim direct descent from Viradon, the Knight. They aren’t actually Sacred anythings - their magic is Scribe magic, which is banned everywhere, but they can use it because they’re collaborators. They control the Fall at which stands Viradon’s False Tower, the Knight’s fatal work of magical hubris.
The Grand Duchy of Draad, a massive plutocracy best known for soldiers and violence. The real powerhouse of the loyalist side. From border to border, it’s all fields. The forests were cleared long ago. The Grand Duke is elected by those with property - and property is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. Their capital lies by the foot of Sar Isad, the Pale Tower, a sealed structure of apparent but unknown significance to Sun King.
The Heptarchy of Magnos, where normally illegal spellcasters can find sanctuary, so long as they submit to the rule of the Heptarchs, seven callous, long-lived scholars who are, allegedly, human. Magnos itself is a wild and forested land, mostly made up of walled cities around the inland "Sea" of Vir.
The Duchy of Saral Sar, front line of the War. A land of blasted rocky wastes and narrow green valleys. Their Duke is a frothing militarist, increasingly unstable and megalomaniacal. Their lands are covered in bizarre and gigantic ruins.
And, against the King, the Regicides:
The Republic of Arumell. Previously the Viceroyalty of Arumell, which drew prestige and power from controlling Sar Arum, the Onyx Tower. A callous law passed, a poet sent to hang, and a spark of sudden violence - and after that, the Viceroy went under the Guillotine, the Republic was established, and the War began. They have torn open the seals on Sar Arum, and waste blood and lives exploring it.
The Duchy of Defiance, until recently the Duchy of Serias. The old Duke was preparing for war against Arumell, so his daughter threw a Coup, had him killed, and renamed the Duchy to Defiance, joining the war on Arumell’s side. Share the Serian Sea with Draad, where piracy and naval combat are increasingly rampant.
The Kelkora Remnant - last fragment of the ancient Kelkoran Empire, who warred in opposition to the Sun King a millennium ago. Always ungovernable, their land is mountainous and wild. Their support in the war was a certainty.
THE WORLD BELOW
Below the disk, there’s an infinite world of hellish wilderness, wind demons, eyeless giants, demonic brain-eating hounds, and other horrid shit.
Here, there’s the ruins of unblessed civilizations, terrific and awe-inspiring dangers of an older, more horrendous world. Here, star-things and beasts cavort and plot to eat the vulnerable, innocent souls of all the blessed subjects of the Sun King.
Or at least, that’s what the Solar Chantry say. They’re probably exaggerating. But it mustn’t be paradise, because if it was, they wouldn’t send exiles there.
The Sun King is “merciful”, you see. There’s a death sentence, but it’s never carried out. It is always commuted to EXILE.
This is where you come in: You’re playing exiles.
Maybe you fought in the War of Regicide, maybe you used illegal magic, maybe you learned how to read (a very serious crime). Maybe you were involved in a seditious cabal, made immoral art after a warning, practiced the wrong religion, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Whatever the case, you begin the game, chained in a row at The Gates of Amphiteir, with the flaming gaze of the Chartered Eyes on you.
You were brought to the island which lies before the Gates by ship, from somewhere in Draad, or from Irgavio Sol itself. You’re not the first to follow this path to doom, not by a longshot, and unless the Sun King falls, you shan’t be the last.
You’re then flung from the waterfall, to plummet to the Lake of the Banished far below. If by chance you do survive (which you do, since you’re about to be playing in an RPG campaign), you’ll have washed up in the World Below.
What are you to do? Survive, first, but perhaps, later - you will explore, grow in power, and return above.
I hear you, voices which eternally torment me - who gives a shit about all this setting garbage, what are the CLASSES?
These are all gonna be classis, i.e. a Class with x number of relatively light Archetypes pinned on. The main name is the Class, the sub-names are the Archetypes.
Astrologer - They open their thoughts to the sublime powers of the Firmament - the mortal form is a minor price to pay for absolute cosmic power.
Star - The Princes of Creation.
Moon - Work with Lies.
Sun - And Stolen Fires.
Void - In Darkness Absolute.
Signatory - Each of the Solar Guilds benefits from a Minor Charter, which are not personally signed (like the Eye and Hand), but provide members of that organisation with magic. The Charters can never be revoked, which means Exile is the only way to deal with a rebellious Signatory.
Hammer Charter - Magically empowered Artisans.
Stone Charter - Builders with great but unreliable strength.
Gut Charter - Versatile alchemists of multifarious Processes.
Hound Charter - Once explorers of the World Below, but now turned to finding the rebellious. To be an exiled Seeker is to have received a taste of your own medicine.
Lots of other Minor Charters - They number in the hundreds, after all.
Knight - Would-be heroes recently outlawed by the Sun King - each Order was founded by (or claims to be founded by) one of the Five Knights of old.
Of Coins - Founded by Kind Vassari. Mercenaries with gold-powered magic. Enjoy a mixed reputation.
Of Flames - Founded by Sunblind Amphiteir. Knights-errant who wield flaming blades and destroy evil.
Of Winds - Founded by Saeraath the Exile. Benefit from her greatest work, the Taming of the Winds. Set others free.
Of the Tower - Founded by Viradon the Scribe-Knight. Utilise his hubristic arcana, derived from the False Tower he built. Seek secrets.
Of Masks - Founded by the Nameless Knight. Distrusted by their fellows for their unsettling powers. Seek potential.
Scribe - Their magic, which uses esoteric languages and strange symbols, is of varying levels of illegality under the reign of the Sun King. Each kind of Scribe is successively more illegal - their crimes are described:
Iron Scribe - Blades and Armour. Not outlawed, but literacy makes most criminals.
Dream Scribe - Fog and Sleep. Influence insensate minds.
Skull Scribe - Pain and Bones. Perform Necromancy.
Law Scribe - Steles and Boundaries. Usurp Royal Authority.
Tome Scribe - Books and Alchemy. Teach literacy.
Outcast - Many have suffered under the Sun King, and found themselves driven quite literally to the Edge. The only fools brave enough to use no MD at all.
You can’t play Chartered Hands or Chartered Eyes, because they’re fascists.
Incidentally, in this setting, there’s no Dragons, or Undead, because they feel overused.
That A4 sheet really is wild isn’t it.
This was my immediate reaction, despite making the damn thing.