This page exists to provide a basic primer for the world. When creating your character, make sure he or she conforms to this history.
You live in the country of Varang, a country that floats on a gigantic landmass in the sky. All countries are located on large floating landmasses floating over a planet surface entirely submerged in water, thus fostering steam technology and downplaying the inefficient internal combustion engine. These landmasses float on their own, by some unknown force, but of course as the population grows and other smaller floating islands are mined out to build buildings on the main landmasses, the landmasses become heavier and heavier. Consequently a large portion of steam technology goes to producing massive steam turbines that help keep the countries aloft. This has the additional effect of creating a sort of sea of clouds, under which the surface of the ocean is cold and violently tempestuous.
Varang is the largest landmass known to man, a source of national pride. A previous ruler, in fact, was so ambitious in his construction of magnificent buildings, ships, military forces, etc., that he neglected to listen to the warnings of the nation’s scientists, causing the landmass to slip beneath cloud cover and into the dark, stormy depths beneath. To make matters worse, the other countries’ landmasses then floated into the airspace above, making it impossible for the country to reenter its previous airspace. Consequently, the country has fallen from a position of grandeur to a position of poverty and humiliation. Due to the decreased amount of sun, massive amounts of resources must be committed to agriculture, resulting in a large serf class. Additionally, large amounts of resources must be poured into the production of more efficient engines and the maintenance of these engines, if the nation hopes to one day reenter its space above the clouds.
The folly of this ambitious ruler, the name of whom no citizen will speak without hatred, led to the nation’s downfall, a time of chaos, and a bloody succession war after he committed suicide by burning down the Imperial Palace with the entire royal family still inside. He was succeeded by a series of weak rulers, the latest of which died a mere decade ago, in what was widely rumored to be a political machination, seeing as his only remaining heir was his 12 year old daughter, Katarina, who was poised to be manipulated by numerous “advisers.” Fortunately, her uncle, a folk hero who had vanished to wander the wilderness with his loyal compatriots after his own family was killed, returned in the nick of time, though unfortunately after she had already accepted the throne. Under his guidance and tutelage a new, vital, patriotic, and ambitious ruler was born. The time was ripe.
Around the same time, a new science emerged in another nation, namely, the science of magic, magic derived from another, parallel world where magic, elves, and dragons roamed free. When they arrived, they discovered that, to their astonishment, magic flowed through their veins, and that they changed forms to reflect their souls, into dwarves, or elves, or halflings, though when they returned, they were human once more. The nation lost no time in engaging in cross-dimensional colonialism, establishing colonies, exploiting the land for resources, and creating a roaring slave trade. Needless to say, the nation soon become immensely wealthy; spies from other countries brought the science of magic to their own countries, and soon every nation was getting in on the colonialism act. Due to its isolation, Varang was the last to gain this technology and has only recently created its own colony. Though the common people are suspicious of foreigners of all sorts, some of the nobility, the young empress included, seems to entertain the idea of working with the “natives” as allies, seeing an opportunity to strike a blow at the country’s enemies.
There have been several strange side-effects. First of all, after the opening of the portals, it become possible to use magic in this world. Second of all, a new phenomenon, the undead, have risen in your world, though only in other countries, not yours, so far. This is of great interest to The Order of the Redeemed, which has been the victim of numerous ideological schisms; this event has been the source of another, with members of the religion claiming that the rise of undead is obviously because of the increasingly widespread practice of “black magic.” Third, the nation has established an official mage college; mages are rare, scarce, and highly valued resources. Though honored in public, they are also feared and derided in private. And finally, there has been turmoil in Varang.
The empress wanted to foster pride in her nation. Consequently, much of the nation’s resources have been spent in improving the arts and sciences, including the establishment of the nation’s first college. An unexpected side-effect is the rise of rebellious sentiments among the serfs, spurred on by idealistic college students, intellectuals, and nobles. Many refuse to enter the new world due to the inherent danger; rumors spread of the country’s weight being decreased by mass deportation or even extermination of the serfs. Consequently the government has begun paying handsomely for those who are willing to start their lives anew in the new world, which has somewhat but not completely dispelled the rumors.
You are one of those people.
You might be a serf, escaping horrific poverty in hopes of finding something better for your family. You might be an ambitious child of a serf, hoping to carve out your fortune in this new land where risk-taking entrepreneurship and boldness seem to be all it takes. You might be a noble, hoping to carve out a new empire for yourself in this land. You might be an intellectual, drawn by the prospects of exploring a new world. You might be a patriot, hoping to be a part of establishing your nation’s glory in this new world. You might be a spy from another country, hoping to bring down this fledgling new colony from within. At any rate, you have left the trappings of the old behind, and entered a new world of swords and magic.