Although I still have a huge amount to do in terms of translating the rules for The Aether Throne from my head into clear, concise words, I am frequently turning my mind to the worldbuilding of the setting.
Now, this is a pulp hi-octane style of game. I don’t need (nor do I want) to focus on the intricate details of the economy and stuff that doesn’t interest me.
I do however need to focus on the broad building blocks. The stuff that both interests me and gives the world some of its colour and flavour. Things that can be built out from, to whatever level of detail I feel makes sense, whether it’s to emphasise an aspect of the setting that fascinates me (hello, Aether Court), or to answer the questions that players and GM’s are likely to ask.
So here’s the first building block. It’s a pretty big one…it’s
The world of The Aether Throne is our world. Sort of. An alt-history version of earth where science advanced to an almost miraculous level in the mid 19th century, and where the world is now reaping the benefits fifty or so years later.
Dropping in altitude a little, the main location, or at least the starting location, is England. London to be precise. Capital of The Empire to be exact.
Ah, the Empire (a short digression)
There is no United Kingdom. England is all-powerful. Wales has seceded, but Ireland and Scotland are independent allies (albeit somewhat uneasy ones.)
But the Empire has spread far beyond its shores nevertheless. Swathes of northern Europe, northern Africa and South Asia have sworn allegiance to Queen Valentina II, the English Queen. Pockets of principalities, city states and regions across the globe have fallen suit, eager to take advantage of the scientific advances and economic gains from recognising the Empire as their ruling power.
Other global powers exist of course, much to Valentina’s displeasure. Foremost amongst them is The Republic, a confederation of countries in western and southern Europe that are represented by a council of rulers, nominally led by Emperor Lesang of France.
Across the Atlantic ocean, the Free States of the Americas, once subjugated by the Empire, are now fiercely independent of Valentina’s rule, though their own decades-long civil war stops them from being anything other than a mild distraction to the Empire’s concerns.
The Russo-Siberian Vast is isolationist, secretive and fiercely protective of its borders, whilst East Asia sits relatively peacefully, pursuing its own scientific wonders from the Halls of Heaven’s Wisdom in Xian and sharing the spoils with neighbouring countries and allies.
Those allies include the independent states and countries of South East Asia, and the islands of Australia and New Zealand, despite those once being part of The Empire (and allegedly home to a claimant to Valentina’s throne.)
Meanwhile, in London
Seat of the Empire, centre of science, hive of industry. Birthplace of kings, pinnacle of power.
Hotbed of crime, intrigue and danger. A place where the shadows hide secrets, scandals and the frequent flash of knives in the darkness.
And it’s where things begin for adventurers in The Aether Throne.
Pressed into service of The Ministry, a hierarchical organisation that enforces Valentina’s edicts and lays the laws, policies and rules that her subjects have little choice but to follow.
And in The Ministry, behind one otherwise unremarkable door, lies one of the Empire’s closest guarded secrets of all.
The group of mercenaries, misfits, convicted criminals and ne’er-do-wells that carry out the sort of missions that The Empire cannot be seen to be responsible for.
They go by a name that only a few are aware of.
And it’s the name that the players give their group when they begin their first session of The Aether Throne…