Wiki Update: Meta-setting
I didn’t always run campaigns in Temir. Graceterre is one of the western kingdoms, which are a little more of the generic fantasy type, though I’ve worked to add some depth to them over the years. I ran campaigns here for about six years, and it exists in the same world as Temir, though half a continent away. News of these places travels over, and things still happen as years march on in the campaign world, to give a suggestion of a wider world than the northern end of the Lankaeran Sea. Also, Graceterre, like many things in my D&D campaign, has a secret joke in it. I you find it, don’t tell. Permit me my little jokes.
Graceterre, the short version:
At first glance, Graceterre is a sublimely boring nation. It’s not the last bastion of a fallen empire, it’s not united by a single faith or overarching spirituality. There are no mysterious prophecies, no tribal elders, no mystical forests, and no savage monsters. It’s just a bunch of people in one place, getting by. They make their own legends on their own terms, without even knowing it. They have their own heroes, their own villains, their own dramas, but ultimately are free from the burden of the past. They don’t have a thousand or two thousand years of history and tradition weighing them down, and it leaves them free to look to the future, to decide what matters for themselves, rather than have it decided for them.
Graceterre is currently a monarchy with a figurehead king. He makes decisions from time to time, but he’s essentially a wastrel. The country runs smoothly because of the generals and grand dukes, along with the support of the rest of the nobility. An elaborate scheme of interdependence keeps the nobles from warring with each other and breaking up the kingdom. The kingdom’s policies are weaselly and diplomatic for the most part. They prefer to avoid war. It’s bad for business, and business is what they’re about…In a way.
The kingdom of Graceterre orbits around maintaining the status quo. They have a novel way of doing this, usually involving keeping the people happy and distracted, making sure they can provide hot meals and housing for themselves, with a bit of money left over. Most people have jobs, and those that don’t are beggars or adventurers, and are generally looked down upon by the large middle class of farmers, merchants, and soldiers. After all, everyone can find some sort of job, right?
Unlike its neighboring nations, Graceterre doesn’t bind people together through some central ideology. Their history is relatively short and unremarkable, one robber baron conquering a dozen others five or six hundred years ago. No great empires, no thousands of years of tradition, no one central faith, just order out of chaos. Instead, people are bound by that desire and the carefully created interdependence of everything. The army only fights in defense, because there’s no real initiative for conquest. They have what they need right here, and if they don’t, someone will bring it to them. The other nations need them for trade and production, even the normally standoffish Arkonia.
Graceterran religion is…Eclectic. Lacking the central national identity that Reme and Mordheim have, their gods are numerous. Several pantheons occupy the small space of Graceterre ideologically fighting it out. Towns will have their own gods sometimes, usually saints of such and such, and there are small monasteries in the hills, usually in old castles, each with their own orders, traditions, and gods. The exception to this rule is, of course, Aratun. Forty years ago, after the Reman Legions marched into southern Graceterre, they made a simple ultimatum: proclaim allegiance to Aratun or die. The easy agreement of the Graceterran government was unexpected, really. The kingdom helped them find a plot of land for a church in every village, provided those churches abide by the laws of the nation, including paying taxes. When the Reman delegations are there, prayers are offered to Aratun, and his feast days are observed (Though so are many others). When they’re not…The faithful do what they do, and those of a less theological persuasion are left to their own devices.
Approximately four hundred and fifty years ago, the Baron Francis Tillman decided that the easiest way to defeat his neighbors was to offer their armies more money than they were making, giving them a share in his conquests, hoping to keep them on as villeins afterward. It worked, and his neighbors’ armies turned on them in the midst of battle, under the command of Colonel Thomas Parker. Parker went on to become a Field Marshal as his armies conquered more alliances of self-proclaimed nobles in Tillman’s name, as well as constantly battling the native orcish tribes. Soon, the wars began to falter as they began to run out of room to expand. The orcs were a broken people, and the nation was hemmed in by the ruins of Siegfried’s empire to the east, the aggressive Remans to the south, the Vedderans to the north and the mysterious elven kingdoms to the west. It was then that Field Marshal Parker turned on Tillman, using his command of the army to take control of what was the beginning of Graceterre. Parker’s line continues unbroken to this day, each of his heirs ruling in their own fashion.
More recent history sees the taming of their lands, including the elimination of the tribes of Hill Giants, the formation of the tradesman guilds, the orcish rebellion three centuries ago and the somewhat abortive one a few months ago, and border clashes with both the Vedderans and the Remans.
Graceterre at War:
The Graceterran army typically only fights wars of defense, and maintains constant vigilance against the Vedderans and the Remans. Often, regiments of the army will be contracted out to Mordheim nobles as mercenaries, with the government taking some of the proceeds. It makes for good on the job training, they find. When Graceterre does find a need to go to war, they do so as a nation, each part functioning as a piece of a machine, the formidable organizational skills creating an engine of destruction…Ideally. Graft and morale problems are usually rife, and gearing up the whole nation only works for a very short time, making it an unsuitable technique for conquest.
Magic in Graceterre:
The Wizard’s Guild is the strongest guild in Graceterre, given that it controls licensing for all arcane magic, and keeps the peace for all magic. Ideally, for them, magic is something you learn from a book. Bards go to bardic college, but they never quite get into the larger magicks that wizards do. There are other kinds of arcanists, sorcerers and warlocks, who are quietly persecuted by the Guild, not because their magic is evil but, quite simply, because it cannot be regulated. They represent a danger to the status quo. Divine magic is nearly impossible to regulate, but it’s also carefully disciplined. Outbursts of destructive magic are not tolerated, and many Guild members serve with the army or the Watch to make sure that such things are investigated properly.