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Aereon: History of the Ages (Part 1)

Today we examine Part 1 of the History of Eternity, from the beginnings of civilization  up until the Age of Nations, where the Steel and Steam Campaign Setting takes place.

Age of Enlightenment (3500 BC to 0 AD)

Civilisation began when the first humans, led by ‘gods’ possessing abilities far beyond an ordinary man, shaped out the foundations of the first city, Giselias, the Land of Light. This place would later become the heart of the Golden Empire of Man, led by the Golden God-Emperor. It would be a time of great peace and prosperity for the Empire and her allies. It is during this time that the Cult of the Seven is also formed, a splinter religion that did not see the God-Emperor as the one true god.

Age of Strife (0 AD to 600 AD)

At the dawn of 0 AD, during the climax of a solar eclipse, all the ‘gods’ lost their powers, including the God-Emperor himself. The land was thrown into turmoil as people tried to adjust to these changes. It was not long before a barbarian warlord known as Iron King Storkriger of the Isenbjorn united the barbarian tribes of the north (both Human and the wolf-like Fenrir), ransacked Giselias and slew the God-Emperor. But, driven mad by the things he saw within the city walls, the Iron King marched his army into the sea, killing all but a few. And so began the collapse of the world into an era of strife.

Age of Elements (600 AD to 800 AD)

Still reeling from the events of the Age of Strife, the world is unprepared when sudden and unexpected geological activity tears the world apart. Volcanos erupt without reason, earthquakes shake the land, and tsunamis crash upon the shores as whole continents shift and change.

Most of mainland Hyperia, and the remanent of the Golden Empire, are swallowed by the seas, whilst the land itself begins to take to the skies in the form of floating islands of earth. It is later discovered that a strange crystalline formation dubbed volacite (derived from the Latin word for flying) is responsible, causing an effect not unlike magnetic levitation.

In addition, due to the large number of volcanic eruptions, large amounts of sulphates and similar particles were ejected into the air, blocking solar radiation and reducing the amount of heat passing through the atmosphere. This reduced global temperatures by up to five degrees.
This sudden change in the environment spurred on the migrations of two other species of humanoid: the stoned-skinned giants, the Fjellnir (fell-near), or Goliaths, emerged from within the World Crown Mountains; and the mysterious, amphibious reptilian-like Nagazi (nah-gah-zi) revealed themselves to the surface world, surfacing near the trade city of Rhodes, in a mass exodus from the depths, their motivations unknown.

Age of Darkness (800 AD to 1350 AD)

These massive changes in the environment push humanoids back into small, isolated settlements, save for a few large cities, such as the great city of Steinhjem (of Goliath-make) in the World Crown Mountains. Technology advances slowly, as time is spent focused on survival. Furthermore, there was a relative scarcity of literary and cultural output, particularly from the nations of Hyperia.

It is during this period that the first recorded sightings of what would later be known as the Mists are made in the Frozen Wastes to the far north.

Age of Flight (1350 AD to 1500 AD)

The world moves forwards from the Age of Darkness, with technology advancing at a breakneck speed as the importance of science and innovation moves to the forefront of society. The notions of secularized civic politics, the nation-state, and capitalist economics also begin to take hold. This time also sees the decline of the feudal societies that characterised the Age of Darkness, along with serfdom and the power of the Church of the Seven.

This age sees the development of the first Skyship technologies, and whilst they are relatively primitive to later models, they are effective. This allows the first settlements to be established on the floating islands of earth, away from the harsh surface below. This technology also leads to the rise of sky piracy, and in response, the creation of corsairs – mercenaries equipped with fast, light-weight vessels tasked with the protection of larger merchant skyships.

This age also saw the exploration of the World Crown Mountains and the lands to the south across the Straits of Despair, so called due to their treacherous conditions, both on the water and in the air. This lead to the first meeting between the people of the Thule and the Aslani (as-larn-ni) Empire. Here the land was ruled by the great Imperial Emperor, a mighty noble-blooded felinoid of House Leonin that ruled over his combined Kingdoms, stretching across Kalrae and its islands, with an iron fist. Whilst communication pointed at first as the Thulian tried the understand the strange, and somewhat bloodthirsty religion of the Aslani, trade soon grew steadily between the two lands. However, the route was treacherous and held many dangers, but was also very lucrative for those daring enough to tempt their fate.

Over this period the Mists continued its expansion, growing across most of the Frozen Wastes and beginning to move into civilized land as the Age drew to a close. At first people were simply confused by the strange, grey-white fog, but that confusion soon turned to terror as people and animals begin to change into what are now known as Mistspawn – misshapen creatures changed by the Mists into savage beasts that seem to have no other goal but the destruction of all other life.
Even plants were affected, changing it to dark, twisted mockeries of their previous forms. Only a few isolated outposts and the floating volacite-imbued earth nodes remained free of the foul mist.
It was not long before the lands engulfed by the Mists became frozen, silent graveyards devoid of any colour, with the only movements were those of foul mistspawn, skittering about like ghosts in the mist, just beyond the range of visibility.

Age of Frozen Skies (1500 AD to 1700 AD)

As the world scrambles to adapt to this sudden assault by a foe they cannot fight, it is identified that the Mist works through a mutative mechanism linked to the degradation of both body and soul of those exposed to the mists. Those of strong will and body seemed to resist the degenerate effects of the mists more than others, with the Aslani (most notably those of noble blood) and Goliaths particularly resistant, although they too eventually succumbed.

In response to this, the development of protective suits and air-tight structures originally developed for underwater exploration is accelerated and adapted to provide safe haven from the Mists.

In addition, migration from the lowlands to the highlands and the floating earth nodes began in mass as people attempted to reach safe havens away from the Mists. As time went on, smaller nodes were tethered to larger ones to accommodate an every increasing higher population in the skies. However, without a secure food supply living was difficult on the nodes, and so arrangements are made to construct greenhouses on the surface in the areas where the Mists were least lethal. These ‘factories’ were staffed with lower-class workers while the upper-class lived their lives out of danger on the earth nodes above, the two worlds connected by large mechanical lifts that both tethered the nodes to the ground, and provided an easy way to transfer goods.

For a time things stabilized albeit at a level that made things difficult for even the most wealthy of individuals. This all changed when the creature known as a Titan appeared. Spawned from somewhere in the depths of the Mists, it was a massive, unholy monstrosity that was part reptile, part… something else. It stood easily five stories tall on its four massive legs, and constantly leaked Mist from its pores. It possessed a pair of massive wings on its back, tentacles covering body, and its mouth was a huge gaping maw. On its underside it had another mouth-like opening lined with thousands of teeth that opened into its chest cavity, wherein even more tentacles waited. If that was not enough, it was a living factory for Mistspawn, birthing them out as it needed them, tailoring their design to its own needs.

A great war is fought by the nations of the world against this creature, and they are eventually successful, but at a great cost: in its death throes the Titan exploded, and from its remains burst forth the seven Dragons of Sin, each one the embodiment of a deadly sin. These dragons spread out across the in separate directions before vanishing into the Mist.

Age of Nations (1700 AD to 1900 AD)

With the Titan threat now defeated, for now at least, the world began to rebuild. As political power is consolidated in the skies, many smaller nations consolidate their power by forming large empires. Two such examples are the United Kingdoms of Britannia, formed over the ruins of the Golden Empire, and the Thulian Technocracy, built with the great city of Steinhjem at its heart. The iron fisted leadership and vicious expansion policy of King Henry X of the United Kingdoms, soon caused it to come to blows with the Technocracy, and in doing so pull the entire world into what was known as the Great World War that would last many years.

The war resulted in an eventual stalemate and ceasefire with the death of King Henry X, with the vast armadas of the United Kingdoms and her allies (powered by large reserves of volacite) unable to decisively defeat the Technocracy and their superior technology. Queen Victoria took the throne following her father’s death, and brokered an uneasy peace between the two nations.

Meanwhile, over in Kalrae, the untimely death of the current Aslani king causes civil war to break out between the noble houses of Leonin and Raksha over the legitimacy of the former’s claim to the throne. Each house has since established its own empire, supported by their vassals.

This age also sees the peak of the industrial revolution as new manufacturing process are developed, and machines begin to take up a greater role in society, as steam powered inventions from humanoid automations, to steam powered weaponry and more. Skyship technology is also refined, using new technology based around volacite-powered generators that allow flight without the aid of balloons. This allows further exploration of the globe, and the discovery of the distant continents of Aerin and Syrenis.

The industrial revolution also leads to an increasing disparity between the upper- and lower-class citizens. Enforced rules of etiquette by some nations only increase tensions further, and soon rebel groups of lower-class works, such as the Crimson Sons, begin to instigate acts of sabotage and other malicious activities.

During this time, it is not uncommon for adventurous (others prefer to say insane) individuals to seek dangerous, yet profitable work as reclamation and salvage crews. Their job was to venture down into the mists to the surface below and recover valuable relics and materials from the remains of crashed skyships, ruined cities, and whatever else they could find. This was only possible with suitable forms of protection, and even then, the salvage teams had to deal with the mistspawn and worse.

The Steel and Steam Campaign Setting is set during this time, ten years after the uneasy peace was made between the nations of the United Kingdom and the Thulian Technocracy.