Shimmering Kingdoms FATE
Welcome to the Shimmering Kingdoms
This is a fantasy campaign that has been played intermittently for over 15 years, sometimes in stretches that lasted over 4 years at a time. I started it under the D&D 3.0 rules, and converted it to 3.5 then Pathfinder.
Now, I have a wonderful opportunity to present to my players, and whoever else might take interest, a broader and more detailed world than I had ever thought possible. FATE CORE is an extremely flexible engine, that will allow me to create the world in my own, unique way – the system adapts to the campaign world, as opposed to the other way around.
Tour around. Discover the world. It is a very fun place (even if it is a bit scary to live here – but that is part of the fun)
What are the Shimmering Kingdoms?
The civilization is in what we would call High Middle Ages, in our history. The ruling class are the Noblesse, human conquerors from a distant and lost continent. They brought with them a pantheon of gods, whose church’s grip over the lives and souls of the people is stronger than ever. Magic thrives here, but is in general, publicly controlled and regulated. Many wielders of magic are considered criminal, and are hunted by the Church’s dreaded Inquisition.
The Nine Kingdoms are spread across a huge island continent. The island is surrounded by the Shimmering Seas, waters which are considered cursed. None who have ventured out of sight of the continent have ever returned, their fate unknown. Not even powerful magic or holy divinations can discern their whereabouts, or tell if they are living or dead. There is no escape, and only the very rich and foolhardy ever attempt such folly.
Likewise, no soul has arrived on the continent for generations. Not since the Conquering of the Isle by the Noblesse race of humans, some 2500 years ago, have outsiders stepped foot on the soil of the continent, and it is still unknown just why and how the great fleet of King Harleman was able to pass through the Shimmering Seas to conquer the indigenous peoples of the Isle: The Seitsmen Humans, the Barbarian Hordes, and also the demi-human races that populate the lands. Bringing unheard-of technology, in the form of heavy armor, crossbows that even children could fire with amazing accuracy, and steel weapons of incomprehensible craftsmanship – along with the skill of mounted combat – the Noblesse easily hewed their way to the top of the social environment, becoming the ruling class in less than 20 bloody years after landing on the stony headland of what was then called Vidhøy (now part of Southern Norlund). To that date, only the Dwarves of Tulmadin could manufacture such fine weaponry, but their reclusive nature, inherent greed and stinginess over their artifice kept such technology out of the reach of the indigenous humans.
The Noblesse humans, a very different stock from those already on the isle, originally hailed from many distinct sub-racial cultures, and over the centuries have migrated back to their former prejudices and cultural ways, diving themselves into distinct kingdoms, each a representation of their former countries. Blood ties, vows and fealty are important to the race, and wars over culture and boundaries rise up every so often. The Noblesse were born of war, and they cannot remain at peace (as a race) for long, it seems.
The Noblesse have imposed their way of life on the rest of humanity, and created pacts and treatises with the Dwarves of Tulmadin and the Fillendri Elves. The rest of the races were subjugated, and some are still at war with this race, 2500 years later. These conflicts sometime serve to keep the Noblesse from warring against each other. Today, the old ways are still at odds againt the new, and the current rulership of Noblesse have the ever-present edge. The old believers and races scramble to find ways to keep alive, ever plotting to overthrow the usurpers of their ancestor’s freedoms, while the conquerors strive to expand their power base, subsume and oppress all others.
Of the non-humans, the most intriguing peoples are the elves. Legend tells that the world was once devoid of magic. Elves had ever been present in the world, but before the great starfall, the only powers were tightly controlled by priests and shaman – using gifts granted them by the old gods. But then everything changed, according to ancient tales, when the great meteor burned through the skies, impacting beyond the horizon in the far west. The resulting cataclysm brought about a new world, and the Third Age of Mankind – a world filled with magic. The surviving ancients believed a new god of magic had joined with the Gods of Dawn from the Second Age, and a new era was born. Elves seemed to benefit most from the coming of magic, for the Fillendri (the aloof and withdrawn race of noble elves) suddenly developed the knack of innate magic. The Woodling Elves, superstitious and steeped in the ways of their Goddess Gaea, were reticent to accept this new gift, and sacrifice any of their kind who showed even the slightest talents for magic.
But it was the discovery of a new species of elf, the Starlings, that most impacted the magical world. These beings were said to have fallen from the heavens along with the great falling star that brought magic to the world. It is said that these Starlings are made of the stuff of magic itself, and command powers no mortal spell-caster can comprehend.
Lakeland is a Kingdom without a King.
- High King Mark was murdered a while back, slain by The Usurper (Hugo Finsdale). This villain was later backed by the leadership of the Pantheist League of Churches – and eventually ratified as legitimate (the Church has the power to do this, but it can be contested. It is rare, however, for any noble to willing speak out against the Church’s ruling).
- The Kingdom of Lakeland is broken down into smaller principalities, the rulers of most of these states objected to the Church’s decision and ruling which granted the Usurper sovereignty. This further divided the kingdom, with barons, counts and knights vying for power and taking sides, all the while striving to avoid any repercussions from the League of Pantheist Churches.
- The Dwarves of Tulmadin, ever boon friends of Old King Mark (and his line – dating back to the first King Harleman the Conqueror), marched on the capital city of Glimmerdam, besieging it with the aid of several of the Laklander Princes, Earls and Barons. The Usurper, in full arrogant hubris (and with the belief that the gods were on his side), marched on the southern border and met the dwarven host in battle. The Usurper, Hugo Finsdale was slain in the conflict (after being ratified, but before actually being crowned – the pompous fool).
- High King Mark lived into his nineties, and would have lived a decade longer, had he not been murdered. The old king had three known wives, but few legitimate sons. One of his legitimate sons was banished for the crime of slaying his noble uncle, disqualifying him from succession. The other son was killed by the Usurper. Now that the Usurper is gone, candidates are coming out of the woodwork to grasp at the power of the Throne of Lakeland.
- There is a body of electors known as the Lakeland Succession Council who convene whenever a ruler passes or is slain. There are strict rules as to who can sit on the council. The Usurper, however, did not allow the council to vote on his legitimacy, instead invoking his right to ascendency by ratification of the Church. This council, after the Usurper’s demise, have sent missives for its members to convene, and for the petitioners to make their rightful claims (stating their grounds for consideration and any applicable proof – such as patent letters of birth, marriage records, etc). It is the LSC who will weigh the legitimacy of each applicant, and vote on the next liege. Of course, there are many ways to sway the votes of the council members.
This is the political background under which the characters find themselves. Obviously with world events looming so heavily around them, it will take dedication to avoid becoming embroiled in the theatre of politics surrounding the succession. But still, the characters are relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, perhaps they can live out their lives without getting caught up in the kingdom’s plight. But what fun would there be in that?