Pyromancer: The Shining Domain

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Pyromancer: Main Page -> Pyromancer: The Shining Domain

The Known World[edit]

The Shining Domain isn't the whole world - even the Church of the Holy Flame will concede that much. What it is, however, is the only part of the world that is inhabited by human society, and has any degree of civilisation as we might recognise it.

The Domain itself covers around 4 million square miles - an area of land slightly larger than the modern day USA - and has a human population of some 450 million, with the majority centred for the most part in sixteen major cities, each with ten to twenty million souls.

The North and West borders of the domain are patrolled and fortified, with the blistering cold of the wasteland beyond the Perimeter deemed to be the Frozen Wastes, where human, plant and animal life (or at least natural life) cannot survive.

To the South is The Black - an ocean of unknowably vast dimensions that may as well be infinite, for all the failed attempts of Domain navigators to cross it.

To the East is the mountain range known as the Devil's Teeth, which are sparsely inhabited by men and women who have fled society, and which provides a buffer against the neighbouring land of Skar: a demon-ruled dominion, populated by beastmen and orcs, which has no tolerance for their human neighbours and never communicates with the Domain save through open warfare and periodic raiding parties.

Within these four borders, the Domain itself is a varied land, stretching from jungles and swamplands to open plains, prairies, deserts and cultivated land.

Unlike our own world, the Sun is not the source of life in this world. Indeed, were it left to the sun, the Domain would be a cold and empty place indeed. The sky is constantly blanketed by thick clouds of ash and smoke which blot out the sun's light almost entirely, so it can be seen only as a dull red orb that stains and colours the sky rather than illuminates it.

Instead, the source of life is Pyros, the magical fire which is channelled out of the Flamespace and into physical reality by the Guilds and the Church via their arcane technologies and secret magics. Atop stone pyramids and glass towers across the Domain, everburning fireballs are suspended between vast claws of obsidian, black steel and crystal. While these Pyros-Orbs continually add to the smoke that blots out the sun, they also replace the sun's function, casting an approximation of sunlight that is sufficient to provide light and heat, and to allow sluggish photosynthesis. The best light comes from the pure white Orbs maintained by the Church atop their Cathedrals of the Holy Flame, and near beneath this light one might see as well as one might at noon on a more conventional world. However, the Cathedrals are few and far between, and most Orbs are maintained by the industries of the Guilds, burning cheaper and dirtier pyros, and casting out sickly glows of orange, green or yellow. The quality of light determines the price of real estate, and the poorest have gotten used to living in virtual darkness.

Beyond the Domain, the light of Pyros is absent. It is well established that the North and West are entirely frozen and in perpetual darkness a mere hundred miles out from the Domain. The Black ocean somehow remains unfrozen for several hundred miles out, but this is from the pollutants of industry rather than the warmth of the water. The Skar is a different matter altogether, with the sources of warmth and light being the Demonic rulers themselves, each blazing with inner fire that reveals their supernatural nature and forces their orc and beastman servants to stay close to them.

The Sixteen Cities[edit]

The sixteen cities of the Domain are the strongholds of human civilisation, literally points of light in the darkness. They are scattered across the Domain, but the majority of them (ten out of sixteen) are on the Southern Coast, where industry can dispose of its waste into the Black, and where the cities' Guild-run processing plants can reclaim water for survival. Each city has a single Cathedral acting simultaneously as the seat of Holy Government and source of light for the city, and by law limiting the height of the surrounding city to two thirds of its own height. Habitation towers cluster around the Cathedral, stretching towards it as growing plants might stretch towards sunshine, and the highest levels of any given tower will always house only the wealthiest and highest in status. For the majority, of course, these same towers cast their shadow over the lower levels, forcing most to live in relative darkness, paying exorbitant bills for the privelege of "dirty light" from smaller Guild Pyros orbs.

The Guilds themselves are national organisations, each with a presence across the majority of cities, and also maintaining smaller working settlements outside of the cities. There are literally hundreds of Guilds, but a mere half dozen of them have a controlling interest over 99% of industry, while the rest scrape by on their leavings. Historically, the Guilds were once associated with certain industries (from which they still retain their names) but for as long as any can remember every major Guild has diversified its portfolio to cover every aspect of industry and commerce - the Weavers Guild, for example, has no more interest in cloth-making than any other Guild, and is as involved in Pyros-channelling, heavy manufacture, retail and commerce as any other Guild.

Of the sixteen cities, the greatest three are undoubtedly Port Ashfall, The Highspire and Fortress Dominion. These are detailed below:

How Things Came To Be[edit]

The Church controls the recording of history, and has been in power for many centuries, so records of how things were before they created the Domain must be learnt from their versions of the truth.

The way they tell things, almost a millenium ago humans came to The Domain in ocean-faring Arks that travelled across The Black from another land, fleeing a natural disaster that had destroyed their island homeland. They say that they found the Domain and recognised it as their new homeland, but that it was inhabited at that time by the demonic forces of Skar.

The Templars led a great crusade, using the power of Holy Pyros, and driven by righteous zeal and determination, and over the course of a century carved out the land we now call The Domain. The Church of the Holy Flame swore they would govern and protect this land, and under their proud leadership, the Shining Domain has flourished to its current position of strength.

This cosy and sanitised version of history is, however, almost certainly false.

Archaeologists frequently find evidence that human civilisation has existed in the Domain for thousands of years, long before the ascent of the Church. Biologists looking at fossil records show that the land was once, in the distant past, teeming with life. Academics examining the evidence have found that things just don't add up.

Of course, the general population is unaware of even these small signs of the truth breaking through. The Church and the Guilds are interested in preserving the status quo, and have no interest in allowing the established mythology to be challenged. Any who question history are liable to be arrested and secretly eliminated, and their works destroyed by the painstakingly thorough Templars of Truth.

This, of course, is just one aspect of the oppression of the Domain's people: denial of information.

The Way We Are Now[edit]

For those at the top of society, the status quo is pretty good. There may not be much in the way of civil liberties, but the wealthy and influential make their own rules and enjoy the luxuries created by industry and society. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last year, and a combination of tailored narcotics, pyros-engineered foodstuffs and cheap servant labour means that those that live in the clean white light of the upper spires can enjoy a life of privilege and luxury.

For everyone else, life is grim. The wealth divide between the richest and poorest is extreme, and there is no concept of social justice or equality. Healthcare, education and legal protection are privelges to be paid for. If you want light, heat and the necessities of survival you have little choice but to work for the Guilds, and as the Guilds are regulated by no-one but themselves (so long as they pay taxes to the heriditary nobility of the Church) they have little interest in worker wellbeing. An average wage-slave can expect to work a sixteen hour day six days a week, then have eighty percent of his income confiscated to pay for the living costs of being in a Guild-controlled habitation. He'll have barely enough to spend on the smallest of luxuries, and even then those luxuries will have to be bought from Guild Traders from his own guild or an affiliated one. The Guilds aren't so much about the creation of wealth for society as they are about control and maintaining the status quo. With control over light, heat, food and water, the Guilds effectively hold a knife to the throat of the average man. Work, or die. Obey, or die.

To rebel, one must become a criminal, and the Guild has resources aplenty to combat crime. The organised crime syndicates of the Hadar have strong links to the authorities themselves, so working with them is little better than working for the Guilds themselves. Any free agent needs either extreme luck or especial talent to survive on his own...