The Judges of Tehom
This is a Setting in progress by RPGnet user Nick the Nevermet.
An Introduction to the World of Tehom
Full Article: Judges of Tehom: Thematic Essays
Think of the legends and myths from Ancient Greece. In these stories, great cities were rules by greater leaders, leaders who were capable of feats beyond that of normal men and women. These were heroes in the sense that they pinnacles of excellence, though their actual moral standing was highly variable. Now imagine what a world would be like if those ancient Greek cities had a technological level just beyond our own. Hector defending the industrial power Troy against Agamemnon’s battleships and aircraft. A live news feed documents Bellerophon killing Chimera. Fans of Hercules argue in chat rooms about which feat was the best. A documentary claims to expose who really killed the Calydonian boar. This is Tehom. As a setting, it is primarily "epic": a sweeping tale of heroism (by at least the Greek definition), against a backdrop of great historical events.
In the Judges of Tehom, superhuman aristocrat-celebrities use their power and fame for public and personal benefit. These superhumans are called the Few, a generic term for people with superhuman abilities, and they rule independent, neo-feudal city states. The Many, or baseline humanity, are the vast majority of the population, and they simply go about their lives until they experience awe, wonder, and terror from the actions of the Few.
History & Geographic Description
Full Article: History & Geography of Tehom
Tehom is a planet hospitable to human life with an average temperature slightly colder than Earth that is dominated by large oceans (roughly 87% of the surface is covered by water). It is roughly the size of Mars, though its gravity is slightly greater. The majority of dry land can be found in a large equatorial archipelago called the Set Islands. Within the Set, one finds more or less earth-like conditions. However, the farther one goes from the Set, the more strange and alien the flora and fauna of the planet become. The Course is the name of the most populated, and prosperous region of the Set. Human society on Tehom is highly industrialized and developed, and a vast information network links the cosmopoli together, ensuring a highly integrated culture. Even the Duidainian Anarchy is easily identified as Tehomin in style and culture. The technology level of Tehom is comparable to contemporary Earth, with the occasional superscience creation from one of the Few.
The humans living on Tehom (the Tehomin) are descendants of planetary colonists from The Garden, an interstellar empire that came to Tehom to terraform it. The Garden failed in its efforts: The climate of the planet destabilized, undetected alien life awoke, and disease engulfed the human population. The Garden quarantined the entire star system, abandoning the colony to its fate. Death and ruin were commonplace. Then a miracle happened. There is no record of superhuman traits within the Garden, but soon after Tehom was abandoned a small segment of the population began to exhibit abilities and powers beyond what humanity was capable of. These powers were highly variable in their form and seeming origin, and these superhumans became known as The Few. The greatest of them created the Stormward Council. A handful of colony centers survived thanks to luminaries such William Goodguide, Sunbringer, and Dimday Dragoon. Over the next several generations, human society stabilized, exalting their heroic saviors, the Few.
Recently, humanity has faced new challenges. Lord General Risha Thaime is building a military that rivals that old Hazor. The oceans is spawning alien monsters bent on attacking anything related to humanity. And most disturbingly, a new revolutionary government called the Dundainian Anarchy has emerged that denounced the rule of the superhuman Few over the Many.
The Few of Tehom
Full Article: Judges of Tehom: The Superhuman Few
The powers of the Few are incredibly diverse, both in their capabilities (super strength, flying, casting spells, etc.) and their origin (some of the Few are born with their traits, some train, some are altered, etc.). Some do not even have inherent powers, but rather wield items of power that are somehow connected them. The unifying characteristic of being of the Few is that fate twists around them in improbable and implausible ways. Coincidence seems to constantly conspire in the lives of the Few. They survive the impossible, meet one another by random accident, etc. These coincidences are not always beneficial, and they are not necessarily harmful. Happenstance conspires to ensure the Few have glory or “kleos,” actions & experiences that inspire awe in others.
The Tehomin are aware of these metaphysical oddities, and have tried to study the nature of the Few as best they can. This phenomenon of non-random events has been the core concern for the philosophies and religions of Tehom since the Abandonment. While consensus is extremely limited, people are aware of this mysterious force they refer to as the Tide's Eye influencing humanity. Many view it as a benevolent force, while many others worry that it does not have humanity's well-being as its primary interest.
The Tehomin have a developed a typology to describe different types among the few. Legacies are part of a hereditary bloodline of power. The Endowed are born a member of the Few, despite having no ancestry of superpowers. There are other ways to have superpowers, including being transformed by some mystical or superscientific process ("the Formed"), wielding an item of power ("Keepers"), or even in rare circumstances diligent training ("the Works"). Interestingly, the children of any member of the Few are often born as legacies, regardless of whether their parent's powers were innate or not. Any member of the Few who begins a new line of legacies is called a Founder.
Though there are several roles the Few can play in society, they are most closely associated with being Archons, the leaders of Tehomin society. Archons may be attached to business ventures, government agencies, or even organized religions (the lines between these categories are less distinct on Tehom than in our society). The majority of the population use the terms "Archon" and "the Few" interchangeably, as there is an assumption that the Few are in leadership positions. The Few who are not Archons could have other roles to play, such as becoming mercenaries, criminals, madmen, or technical experts.
Tehomin Society and Kleocracy
Full Article: Judges of Tehom: Tehomin Society and Kleocracy
The human population of Tehom is heavily concentrated in large mega-cities called cosmopoli, the largest of which measure several million people (Pinnacle, the largest cosmopolis, has an urban population of roughly 8 million). Generally, each cosmopolis is an autonomous political entity that controls several less populated nearby islands that are used for agricultural production and other natural resources. Human society on Tehom is highly industrialized and developed, and a vast information network links the cosmopoli together, ensuring a highly integrated culture.
The cosmopoli of Tehom are dominated by the Few – superhumans with powers and abilities fantastic in their scope. These powers may be something they were born with, developed later in life during a stressful event, the product of scientific experiments, or based on super-scientific items in the individual’s possession. Powers are exceedingly diverse, and many seem to defy the laws of science as understood by mortal humans. When one of the Few has a leadership position, he or she is known as an Archon, though many use the terms "Archon" and "the Few" interchangeable. Adoring fans follow the every move of the Archons, and this fixation is woven into the political structure of the cities as well.
This social order grounded in fascination in the Few is called kleocracy, the rule of the glorious. A form of neo-feudalism, Kleocracy emphasizes the celebrity of the Few, noblesse oblige of the Few toward the many, and large scale monumentality to demonstrate the glory of the city state. Additionally, kleocracy is built on the idea of Archonic War, or the idea that it is better to have superheroic champions defend a city-state and its interests rather than full-scale military actions. Equal parts diplomacy, spectator sport, and ritualized duel, archonic war is part of life in Tehom. The smallest settlements will have at least one defender, while larger city states will have a large group of champions. Some cosmopoli, such as Pinnacle, have a specialized class of warriors, while other city states, such as Patience, expect anyone with power will have the ability to fight.
The primary exception to the rule of kleocracy is the Dundainian Anarchy, which is an island run without superhuman rulers. While they are culturally still quite similar to the cosmopoli of Tehom, their government and revolutionary ideals terrify many throughout the Set.
Things to do on Tehom when you're Glorious
For campaign ideas, please visit the page Judges of Tehom: Things to do when you're Glorious
Specific Setting Pages
- Eiren Bay is moderately sized cosmopolis known for being a culturally diverse location due to its location as the headquarters for the Kairos Covenant. It is also one of the less "alien" cities on Tehom, allowing it to be a potential start place for a campaign.
- The Dundainian Anarchy is a description of the Dundainian Anarchy, the political boogeyman of Tehom where the Many rule themselves without the Guidance of the Few, who were ousted from power in a revolution years ago.
- Defenders of Eiren is a campaign set in the democratic free city of Eiren Bay and follows the exploits of the city's heroes.
- Campaign ended.
A Brief Glossary
Full Glossary Here: Full Glossary for the Judges of Tehom
- Archonic War. The preferred form of violent conflict between Tehomin city states. Rather than having a conflict between militaries, the city states of Tehom often will have a duel between champions to determine the outcome.
- Archon. An Archon is one of the superhuman Few who has a position of authority within a cosmopolis. The type of power or authority is not defined by the term Archon: one could be a military position, a governmental role, a magnate of a particular industry, or anything else. Many use the terms Archon and the Few interchangeably, though this is not technically correct.
- Cosmopolis. A Tehomin city-state. An independent political entity, a cosmopolis is a sprawling sustained by international trade, the powers of Archons, and the hinterland territories under its control. Cosmopoli, save for some key exceptions, are ruled by Archons.
- The Course. The Course is a channel in the middle of the Set Islands that collectively form the most developed, prosperous, and populated area of the planet. From space, the Course looks like nothing but cities and sea.
- The Few. In-setting term for superheroes, individuals who have some degree of power that goes beyond normal humanity. The Few may be magical in nature, users of super-science like powered armors, altered on a biological level by science (intentionally or accidentally), or they could be a heredity mutant and therefore part of a Lineage. Some members of the view do not even truly have super powers as such, but are rather exceptionally trained individuals. Different city-states think about the Few differently and organize their societies and legal codes accordingly.
- Founders. Members of the few who are not members of established bloodlines of power (in other words, they are not legacies).
- The Kairos Covenant. An alliance between Srimec City, Pinnacle, Saltmerche Citadel, and a dozen smaller cosmopoli.
- Kleocracy. The neo-feudal form of government that dominates Tehomin society. It is the rule of the glorious, the rule of the superhuman Few over the Many, combining temporal power with celebrity.
- Legacy. A legacy is a hereditary bloodline within the Few. In short, they are mutants who exhibit superhuman powers. Some cosmopoli, like Pinnacle, are actively run by lineages, while in others they are distrusted as being detached from the Many. Some forms of cryptotechnology exist that can identify lineages, and sometimes even suppress lineage-based powers.
- The Many. Baseline humanity. The Many are the vast majority of the population, and they are "normal" humans. Due to the history of Tehom as a lost colony, the range of physical variation associated with different races is present, though society is not as explicitly organized around race and ethnicity as many societies on Earth. The main question is which cosmopolis is home.
- The Set. The Set is gigantic archipelago near the equator of Tehom. The vast majority of habitable land is found among the Set Islands, and as a consequence, it is home to the vast majority of Tehom’s human population. The Set’s ecology is almost completely Terran in its character, though some precursor life remains around the edges. The deep oceans far from the shallow waters of the Set are a source of mystery and dread for much of the population, and its dark abysses are havens for pre-terraform Tehomin life.
- The Tide's Eye. A unique phenomena to the planet Tehom which alters probability and imbues some people and objects with powers. Little is known how it functions.
- Ventures. Organizations lead by Archons. They may be oriented toward business, governmental responsibilities, or something else. The key trait is they are a formal organization recognized by a cosmopolis.