Monday, May 30, 2011


The Demonsword Universe canon has a number of places in the timeline that should be filled in with books eventually. These detail characters and events that are canonical to the setting. The lists below are not final or official, and represent only currently underway or planned stories.

Canon stories:
* Immortal Dawn (The book of Deus Exterra) - 1st Transition (1st to 2nd Age). A man from Terra, who takes on the alias Deus, meets up with his past. As hints start to surface that Terra is looking for a way to reach him, he goes around warning them that the world he left is one not likely to be friendly. But when the gates between the worlds open, what he sees is not at all familiar, and more hostile than he was expecting...
* Spendthrift of Chaos (The book of Domino Effect) - 1st Age/Terra. At the dawn of industrial holography, a technology poised to change the world, a man fed up with politics decides to start his own holography-based nation in the sky. But when legislation the world over threatens to put control over the most powerful of all technologies, against which there is no defense, in the hands of only a chosen few, he makes the riskiest gamble in human history, before or since: he releases it to everyone, everywhere, no matter their purpose.

Non-canon stories (Worldbuilding):
* Lady Void (Short Story) - 1st Age/Draco. A voidling makes a brief stop in an odd town...
* On the Shoulders of giants - 1st Age/Terra. A new breed of Archon meets the world. (Forge Archon)
* Dojo - 4th age? [post hoc categorization]
* There Are No Demons - 3rd Transition? [post hoc categorization]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Setting: Terra (First Age)

The First Age setting is centered on what's known as the Pan-Terranic Wars. Technically, there was a long period leading up to the wars that is considered First Age chronologically, but setting information will be principally centered on this era. Note: if the name didn't give it away, the Terra setting is a modified version of Earth, presumably at some unspecified point in our future. It contains various modifications to the landscape (due to wars either in First Age or Zero Age), and none of the familiar faces are around, but the names and places can be kept.

The Pan-Terranic Wars were kicked off by Domino Effect; he provided power, in the form of holographic tokens, to anyone in the world, at random. Because these often ended up in the hands of the destitute, the desperate, and the criminal, there was once again a struggle for power; government forces the world over were no longer the top of the food chain. Terrorists, anarchists, and legitimate revolutionaries all fought, across millions of familiar locations.

Unfortunately, this also kicked off many invasions, secessions, and other military ambitions. Charismatic people the world over tried to gather force, and many were swatted down either by each other or existing Government forces. Similarly, some places folded these empowered individuals into the police or military, although they could, in general, not be forced, except through fear.

The power that Domino's tokens bestowed was "One holographic device of any kind." It became quickly known, however, that a holographic implant which provided superpowers was considered "one device." It did not match up to the power that Domino Effect had (many tried, none came close to success), and in fact it usually only conferred one type of special ability. People with these implants were referred to by Domino himself as Archons, although they went by many common names (Supers, freaks, heroes, demons, monsters, angels, Tim, whatever).

Archons have a number of characteristics in common; they all are granted a limited visual enhancement (notably, this allows archons to write sigils only visible to other archons), are somewhat resistant to damage, and are capable of flight (although many aren't good enough to land without killing themselves, and not all are aware of the capability in the first place).

Additionally, Archons choose a special ability, usually some form of kinesis (pyro, cryo, etc). These powers are not related to the elemental abilities of the other setting (Draco, or the Terra-Draco settings later on); instead, they are increasingly sophisticated programs that evolve with the user's psyche. The better the character understands their ability, the more powerful their abilities become, and the more complex the abilities they can use are.

Archons are not invincible to small weapons fire, much less to stronger military holography. They are generally faster, and their ability to destroy is far higher. For those with certain powers, their ability to create or repair is also far higher; some use this to restore cities, heal people, and so on.

(Although it's assumed that Domino could bring back the dead if he really wanted, it's generally assumed that people past a certain point are gone for all intents and purposes. There are those who try to worship Domino, but nothing comes of it, and he makes an effort to dissuade them.)

It's iconic of this time period that food and shelter are no longer primary concerns of anyone, anywhere--there is enough holographic technology the world over to produce food and potable water from mud and fusion power, and given that sort of power, a roof over your head is nothing. This brought huge swaths of the planet out of poverty, while at the same time enabling psychos in the first and third world nations. Those who had previously had all that they needed to survive became feral, while those who had been feral with hunger and disease were content just to survive without fighting tooth and nail for it. (This is not entirely true in either case, but even partially true as it was, the irony was lost on nobody)

It is to be said that psychos with power were the exception, not the rule. The tokens that Domino spread around the world (dubbed "Pandora Keys" by the enigmatic Mr. Stage) were spread with a literal, mathematical randomness. Some people who received them discarded them; others hoarded or sold them; others used them to create machinery in some literal sense (usually production facilities, but also more transient things, like cars, spaceships, giant mecha, or bad approximations of androids. Unfortunately, Domino did not have the methods necessary for artificial intelligence, and so attempts at such failed in this period).

Even those who did accept the archon package did not tend to fall into the psychotic category as a rule. In particular, people who had any interest in fantasy, sci-fi, and role-playing would often request such things without considering the consequences, and while some of them would go mad or make horrific mistakes, most of them were not psychotic. Additionally, police and military the world over would often take such powers without debate, in order to improve their ability to defend and keep peace (or, in some cases, attack and destroy).

One thing missing from this setting is any sense of genetic or bodily manipulation. Although Domino allowed cyborg implants in some cases (generally, when an existing Archon gets another wish), he would not be party to anything related to chemical or biological weapons, genetic manipulation, mutations, etc. He was also not typically willing to grant mind-altering powers, and when he did, they only affected other Archons, not non-augmented humans.

In speaking of Domino, it would be remiss to mention his occasional interference. Typically, if any particular situation got out of hand (defined as thousands of casualties, or the threat of such), he or his Blackhats would intervene. He was also very quick to intervene when any post-nuclear-grade weapons were deployed, even if they were not based on his technology; these weapons could level cities or worse, and he did not suffer their use under any circumstances. (Although some had speculated that they were the sort of weapons his floating sanctuary, Blackhat City, was vulnerable to, this has been shown false more than once.)

Aside from that, most of the world saw little of Domino. When he did interfere, he made headlines the world over, but the rest of the time, there was more than enough going on locally to occupy any and every journalist. In particular, although he and his city were attacked a great many times by individuals, groups, and even militaries, few such events occurred in populated areas, and even fewer were recorded or reported.

Towards the end of the Pan-Terranic Wars, governments began being populated by increasingly militaristic Archons, and rebellions started getting put down with more severity. Given that what Domino was trying to achieved was in principle equality, he failed miserably.

And if it weren't for what happened next, ushering in the Second Age, that might have been the end of it...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Profile: Blackhat City

Blackhat City is an enormous flying city in Terra during its first age, and continuing into the Terra-Draco wars. Built on top of a 2 mile radius plate of black iron, it has a wide 'brim' around its circumference, and a number of uniformly tall, black buildings in the center; designed, it is assumed, explicitly to look like a black stove pipe hat. It contained what was both the largest and most advanced power source of its era, a large fusion generator contained in a pocket dimension. Its fall marked, and indeed was a part of the apocalypse that spawned the Third Age. It is related to, but not the same as, the Blackhats, an organization of combat-specialist holographists stationed in the city under the direct command of Domino Effect himself.

Formed by Domino Effect using advanced holography, Blackhat City was envisioned to be a worldwide, independent sanctuary for holography researchers, largely as a reaction to fearmongoring and sweeping legislation that was making all forms of such research criminal. Following its revelation, hostilities between him and nations worldwide threatened this ideal, at which point he created the Spare Change project and seeded holographic programs worldwide. These programs were used for both good and evil, but Domino, this city, and his enigmatic band of elites known as the Blackhats made every effort to maintain peace and punish misuse of the technology.

For many months following its inception, the city was empty, and often kept in storage (it maintains a pocket dimension as part of the function of its "engine"; this helps it hover and is used to warp around the planet). During this time, Domino did not have any political following and was widely regarded as an untrustworthy loose cannon at best, and a megalomaniacal terrorist at worst. However, following a sharp change in the political clime, Domino among others felt that many governments worldwide were threatening, kidnapping, torturing, or killing holography researchers, and stepped in repeatedly to save them and offer sanctuary. From that time, the city never sat in storage, preferring instead to warp over unpopulated areas or oceans if it had no legitimate destination. As time went on, it became clear both to refugees and outsiders that Domino had no ambitions of conquest or other malicious ends, and many joined either his city or his direct service of their own accord. The highest known count of the citizens of Blackhat City at any time was somewhere over 90,000.

The principle technologies of the city are its engine and power source, but they are by far not the most important or advanced. The city itself had the most powerful shielding capabilities ever known, and concealed many holographic weapons that made full use of the power source, though they were used but rarely, and only in self-defense. Additionally, it has holographic inhibitor arrays capable of shutting down unshielded holography within a radius of about a mile. It also had top-rate atomic-level fabrication, analysis, testing, and research facilities, along with large materials stockpiles largely acquired by disassembling garbage dumps. Its medical facilities, while added late, also would become top of their class. For the citizens living in it, food and water are unending and waste is completely handled, and various gardens and other places exist in extradimensional spaces.

When the city begins the process of warping, a disclike portal appears to one side of the city, and it begins to move into it using strictly horizontal slide. Depending on Domino's wishes, it may also rotate around the center of the city; this is usually the case when he, or the Blackhats, are at a place on the brim not facing the portal. The appearance of the portal on the other end is concurrent with a distinctive, low echoing boom and a number of electric pops and fizzles. (Domino has stated that the electric noises are a quality control issue originally, but that he likes the noise enough to not fix it.) The disappearance of the portal comes with similar electic spatter, but the noise is more implosive. The portal does not tend to give off much light of its own accord, although it is visible on dark nights, assuming that the other side of the portal is also dark. When warping to space, a modified form of the portal can be used to prevent air from bleeding around the corners of the city.

The city was also, on occasion, used to perform live concerts. Although Domino was not himself a musical performer, in conjunction with Mr. Stage, he became enthralled with the idea of communicating with and manipulating people by means of music. The latter was principally used only in combat conditions, but on occasion, Domino would simply park the city over a city, suburb, or other crowded region, play a selection of music (whatever entertained him at the time; usually inspirational music in genres like rock, metal, pop, etc), and he and his Stage magicians would choreograph their actions to it on the fly. Typically, this included a lot of lights, flying people, holographic graphics, etc. Although these events were impromptu and never announced in advance, and despite the imposing figure of Blackhat city, it is rumored (but never officially proclaimed) that these events never caused serious traffic accidents, fires, deaths, or other calamities.

The city is capable of travelling in hard vaccuum and surviving without outside resources or power, but it never did so for long periods. When it is in space, a crystalline dome covers the entire city, from the brim to the highest buildings. At Domino's whim, it has visited various places in the solar system, but (in offical canon) he never took it interstellar distances. Domino also maintained a few limited, manned research, mining, and storage facilities across the system, which helped recovery during the third age; however, he did not trust them enough to grant the occupants access to superior technology. While many of these facilities were only connected to Blackhat City by portal, some also had their own ships for emergency use.

The destruction of Blackhat City came at the end of the Terra-Draco Wars, during a time known as the Reign of Fire. One criminal, having in their hands the full codebase Domino Effect had been using to perform all of his effects, started a campaign to wipe out all people from Draco on both worlds in an effort to purify them; his weapons were post-nuclear grade, meaning that their expected yields exceeded the capabilities of nuclear weapons. An assault team led by Deus Exterra located the criminal, but were unable to make enough progress to kill him; against all advice, Domino Effect brought Blackhat City in to assist, and by doing so turned the tide of the battle. However, the city's shields were no longer impenetrable, given the weapons the criminal was using, and the city was destroyed. As part of that, the reactor overloaded and destroyed a 50-mile wide spherical crater; as an unfortunate consequence, the blast destroyed a large part of the Dragon System that is the source of power for the people of Draco. Between these two events, dimensional effects appeared worldwide that interfered with the minds of all living things, causing insanity in virtually all cases. This led to the Third Age, and very nearly caused an extinction of all life on both planets. Additionally, Domino Effect, Deus Exterra, Erika Exterra, and many others perished.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Profile: Aelon College

The Yunian Society of Masters (Draco, first age) maintains an exclusive university in the mountains to the southeast of the port city of Aelon in Daeyul. It is a peculiar institution in that there are no requirements of merit, either as a condition of entry or as a condition of graduation; it is maintained as a public service. However, admittance is extremely limited, and students are only allowed to stay a maximum of five years.

All members of the Yunian Order are given one credit per year (at most one credit outstanding), which can be given to any human, humanoid, or other intelligent being the member desires, from esteemed warriors and craftsmen to orphans and common laborers. There is no explicit forbidding of criminals; however, there are Voidlings who oversee the admittance process and screen out applicants deemed to be dangerous.

It is not required that applicants arrive immediately, and indeed many do not; however, understandably, there are only so many slots for the incoming class. Since the total number of Yunians on the continent is quite low, and since the university has two active semesters, this is usually not a problem, but there have been times when some confluence of events caused a larger number of students to apply for entrance than the school than it could support. Where possible, students that cannot be accepted are turned back; the rest may apply for temporary housing--and temporary work to pay it off--until the next semester. The same deal is offered for students that arrive out of season, either too late in the semester to join an existing class or during the down periods without classes.

Classes at the college run the gamut of the Order's knowledge; notably, the school is authorized to teach things that might otherwise be restricted to particular nations, including access to nation-specific Dragons. Only the nation of Tiyoma refuses to give priveledged access, in accordance with their policy of protectionism. Because class sizes are small, it's generally the case that a particular class will have a lot of similar characteristics; for instance, they may have all trained in Demon weapons, or N-weapons, or Void mentalism, or the use of some more specific ability. In many cases, this is because one or a small number of exceptional students changes the normal classes to advanced ones, and others come along for the ride. They are not all equivalent in skill, nor will they all have the same set of skills, but certain similarities within a class will definitely appear.

While classes are not always taught by the absolute masters of any given skill, the teachers are expected to be knowledgeable, and are given first-class access to other Yunians when it comes to asking questions. Yunians are also encouraged to assist, for pay, whenever classes relevant to their expertise are ongoing.

Class selection is something of a haphazard arrangement; certain classes are always ongoing even if no students attend, because those classes are folded into the logistics of college life (farming, cooking, crafts, maintenance, cleaning, etc); students may work alongside the faculty and learn from them, or not, at their discretion. Basic martial and magical skills are likewise always offered; this encompasses wellness, self-defense, and general education in those areas. Other basic classes, like basic education (writing, math, logistics, etc) will be offered if even one student requests or requires it, but the instructors may not be on-call the whole semester if nobody does. Beyond that, more specialty classes tend to require a minimum number of students; only exceptional students can get advanced education without community interest. Classes are grouped by skill level, not student year; it is rare, but possible that a student in his final year will be learning alongside new students, and this effect can occasionally inflate the size of a few rare classes, some of which may only be taught every few years.

Classes with expensive tools or components--such as demon weapon use or various crafts--will usually have class-issue equipment that is rented to the students gratis for the duration. Students are encouraged to bring, buy, or craft their own equipment if they are studying seriously, and students with personal equipment may receive preferential treatment. However, in general, the classes are taught to prevent anyone from being left behind even if others are treated preferentially.

Military- and combat-oriented classes occasionally have outings, in an official capacity, either to deal with minor situations around the continent or to observe significant battles that are predicted or ongoing. Although there are frequently surprises during this trip, and students have sometimes died, it is by all accounts well looked forward to by most students as a practical application of their teachings.

Graduates from Aelon College may be sought after by militaries, or may go back to civilian life. Some, previously destitute, return to being homeless and jobless out of comfort, but only rarely do graduates fail to make good on their education at some point. Some end up becoming members of the Yunians themselves, although it isn't all that frequent of an occurance. Aelon College maintains a list of alums who became Yunians in a magic-resistant wall on the premesis; although it has been damaged and altered, as far as anyone can tell it has been rebuilt without loss or error.

All graduates of the college can entitle themselves Collegiates for the rest of their lives. It is not as prestigious a title as Yunian, but it is well respected most places.

Profile: Azael

Azael is a nation on the planet Draco during its first age. Located in the northeast of Contel, it contains a lot of low, tropical coastlines, which fade into higher grasslands, then hills before finally reaching the high mountains separating it from Daeyul. The territory, though recognized as a nation, is in a stablized form of anarchy containing no governments greater than a township. Due to this, it is a favorite location for smugglers and others who breach minor laws in other nations; however, the people do not tend to accept violent criminals, which is largely enforced by the informal, bipartite militia.

The militia is generally understood to contain two castes, Azaca and Azule. Each caste has their own military traditions, philosohies, and place in society. Although most attempts to sum up their beliefs fail, most outsiders agree that 'liberal' and 'conservative' are about as much as they need to know unless they plan to live with them. Azuleans prefer to keep the peace and maintain order, while Azacans prefer to reform, experiment, and argue. They all agree, however, that so long as all or most people there respect the rest, there is little to no need for government.

Their shared creed, the Azalean Code, insists that citizens be earnest, honest, and forthright, and most citizens are more than happy to oblige. Outsiders often have a lot of bad things to say about Azael, but they all tend to agree it's a very cheerful place compared to most others.

Because of the lack of government, social services and sanitation vary widely, although most places have a community-oriented mindset that encourages cooperation. Little enough (excepting Azacan projects) is ever really planned or thought through; the only true exception is the vast network of roadways funded by foreign traders, without which many otherwise large townships might never have been found. Because of these roads, and because of the large number of traders from Seyona, the nation to the southeast, Azael is not a terribly backwards place, unlike some places in Alyon.

Azael also contains the closest ports to the continent of Anstra, and is frequently used as the last port before and first port after the trip between them. Because most other nations prefer the Evoloid-descendant races to stay out of their own borders, they tend to only settle on that continent; the people of Azael do not typically care, however, and so many settle there or travel between the two freely. The major exception are Laras, winged creatures that are rarely seen at low altitudes, who prefer the mountains of Ooria and Daeyul.

Azael contains the Fire Dragon Temple, and their magical traditions usually involve fire magic. However, they are better known for their militia, who are trained in martial arts only lightly enhanced by magic. The traditional design for elementalist dojos,two-story huts in which the instructor lives above the training space (where it will be endangered if they do not teach proper control) originated in Azael, and is most widely used by the Azulean order.

Because of the proximity to the Fire Dragon, the nation also contains many mana fountains. If a fire-user drinks from these fountains, they are able to manifest a small amount of more destructive fire energy than normal. Although these fountains pop up in other nations as well, they only really seem to affect the use of fire magic.