Solid Roc Security
“Welcome to Haven.”
“This isn’t a place for heroes. I mean sure – you can probably a find an old tavern here or there with the traditional gleamrat infested basement that needs
expendable experienced hands to help clean out, make a few jeeps on the side to stash away, but make no mistake – your longevity is tied directly to your usefulness to those who employ you. And you never know – someone else might have put those gleamrats there for a reason, and be none too happy with you for your charity work.”
“In this business, it’s best to keep your head down, do your job, and not make waves. Go home, kiss your wife, eat your food allotment, watch the brain-melting drivel the Guilds have programmed onto the ’minator for this week, and pray to whatever gods you want you have the chance to do it all over again tomorrow. Leave the world-saving and the gleamwar to those eggheads at Paragon Macrothaumaturgy.”
Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” in this world, things are slightly different, and it might be more appropriate to say that “Any sufficiently mundane magic is indistinguishable from technology”. Magic is everywhere. Power – as in the power wielded by “adventurers” – is relatively common. You’re not special.
Magic has been analyzed and studied by the brightest and most powerful minds the world has to offer, and generations of breakthroughs have yielded enormous changes relative to traditional fantasy worlds. Many “technological” breakthroughs of today’s modern world are roughly paralleled in this one, using magic. Portable arcane “links” allow a user to communicate at potentially great distances with other, attuned links. Vehicles propelled by magical forces can move through parts of the world too hostile for normal beasts of burden to travel. Enchanted crystal “Illuminators” allow viewers to watch elaborate, prerecorded illusions as a form of entertainment. Think approximately circa 1940’s level technology, with some exceptions (especially when it comes to the more powerful Guilds)
While advances in magic undoubtedly changed the face of the world, nothing has had a bigger effect on cultural and political landscape than the rise of the Guilds. Prior to the advent of rapid communication, many small and specialized guilds existed across the various kingdoms and empires. The Armorer’s Guild of Bagpie, for instance, had very clear and obvious jurisdiction over the profession and business of armorcrafting, localized to the region of Bagpie. They probably also had relationships (good or bad) with other guilds within Bagpie, and very likely had at least loose connections with Armorer’s guilds (or their equivalent) in neighboring cities and even kingdoms. Magical advancement, even something as simple as the common “link” opened the door for much greater communication and cooperation between these smaller guilds. Organizations that were particularly successful found themselves easily able to spread their influence vastly farther distances than ever before. Soon, the Armorer’s Guild of Bagpie not only wielded power in Bagpie, across an entire region. They expanded into the weapons business. Bagpie Arms & Armors became so successful, in fact, that they began require a more reliable stream of raw materials than was generally produced by the local miners guilds. In no time at all, it became clear that to ensure the continued success of Bagpie Armors, they’d have to grow not just laterally, but vertically up and down the supply chain. And so on. Eventually, Bagpie Arms & Armors was in turn “acquired” by an even larger Guild, which eventually became Apex Armaments. And so it goes.
Anyway, I’m rambling. Bagpie Armors is just one story among many. A similar story could be told of any number of guilds, acquiring and being acquired, until the resulting entities became the Guilds known today. Sometimes the acquisitions happened peacefully and with economic benefits for all… and sometimes not. With so much at stake, the hostile takeovers could be extremely hostile.
Today, the Guilds pretty much run things. Oh, local governments are still around, and kingdoms and empires still exist (many with similar political boundaries), but only a few of those have any real power at all. The Guilds have reach just about everywhere, and the only thing that keeps them from totally taking over is the fact that they still have to contend with each other. Endless machinations between political and economic powerhouses, all vying for a shrinking slice of the pie. And then of course, there is the Gleaming.
The Gleaming is a blight. A curse upon the land. A warping of the very fabric of reality. It is so named because of the peculiar way gleamed lands have of bending the light. Things appear to take on an otherworldly shine about them. Delve too far into the Gleaming, and the shine can quickly blind someone who isn’t wearing proper eye protection. Stay too long in the Gleaming, and it will drive even the hardest veteran insane. The one thing the Gleaming doesn’t do, unfortunately, is kill. Instead, it warps. Gleamed creatures are fierce, vicious, and are so suffused with the Gleam that they can actually carry an aura of it with them when the move beyond its borders. Some even claim that the Gleaming itself is a product of a vast concentration of gleamed creatures, and not the other way around. Merely holding back the Gleaming is a difficult task, and repelling it requires the coordinated application of military might and magical prowess.
Thus, the gleamwar. Many civilized lands have already been already devoured by the Gleaming, and only recently has enough progress been made in understanding the Gleam for the major Guilds – lead predominantly by Paragon Macrothaumaturgy – to even halt the growth of the blight.