Pendleton Fic: A Brief Introduction to Pendleton
Some people have said that it's hard to follow the Pendleton Fics since they haven't always read the preceding ones, and therefore do not know what to make of it. To help them I've decided to write a brief introduction to Pendleton and it's world, followed by the more complete write-up for those that want more detailed information.
For those that want to read the previous fics I have presented a list here Norseman's Fics
they are organised so that it will be quite easy to find the one you want
This write up is not very poetic I'm afraid, if you want wonderful descriptions of the landscape; how the fog rests above the green pastures of Pendleton, the ancient moss covered stone fences separating the plots of land, or the the rays of the morning sun spreading across the dew covered meadows... well you'll have to read the stories. This information is however enough to understand the stories.
First I should tell you that Pendleton is set in the Lords of Ether Universe, which is not of my making, I am just using it as a setting for my stories. It is a place where the rules of physics are rather different from our universe, so therefore with apologies a Quote from the Beta Thread
(the well read fantasy enthusiast will likely know many of the works from which the premises here are borrowed – treat as a homage if you will)
In 1680, Sir Isaac Newton delved into alchemy and discovered the Ether, a universal energy on the boundaries of science and the doorway to magic that offered great powers and promised vast potential. Unfortunately, its use was soon turned to war, and in 1700 the world was consumed by magic and new science gone wild.
With the aid of godlike beings awakened or drawn by this new power, humanity fled its dying world and scattered across the heavens.
There on a thousand worlds the cycle of history continued; new civilizations rose, linked by mystical winds through space, these "Star Ways" that traders sailed over as they had the Trade Winds of Earth. However, in time some of these civilizations grew powerful and arrogant, and some challenged the gods that had brought them to this new heaven, bringing about a terrible war that broke the power of both.
The backlash of the terrible weapons used created great storms through the Ether that ravaged whole worlds, and made most of the Star Ways fatally inaccessible for almost a millennia.
It is now 3982 AE (After Exodus), though to most it is 1000 NE (New Era) measured since the end of the war between Gods and men. The terrible storms through the heavens have subsided over the past two centuries, and those who dare may now venture forth again to build their fame, fortunes. . . or Empires.
Lords of the Ether is a story based SD, whose concept is based on the merging of science and magic. The basic element of power in the gameworld is Ether, which is used not just in all magical spells, but also for most high technology devices (super dense Etheric matter replaces uranium for instance). This makes it very valuable, and controlling it the surest route to power, hence the name of the SD. Players choose a group, be it nation; world; trans-stellar non-governmental organization; or even powerful individual (God, hero, arch-mage. . .) and, well, do whatever you want in the game world.
But what exactly is Ether. Well, it’s a magical substance of low density but with great conductive properties, and when properly used can generate large amounts of energy. It permeates the universe, but most often takes physical form inside large, dense objects.
On planets it tends to gather underground in concentrated areas called Nodes, from which it emerges as a greenish gas, or, more rarely an ultra-dense hardened solid like a glowing emerald (an Ether Geode - very valuable). In its gaseous state it can also be occasionally found in small quantities on the surface layers of large planets like gas giants or even stars (if you’re daring). It can also be found in very rich pockets within nebulas, though the danger of passing through a nebula tends to prevent making harvesting operations there routine affairs. The most powerful mages can also tap hidden “Ley Lines” that run across the universe and draw Ether out of, what appears to the uninitiated, to be thin air. Advanced sciences have also managed to redirect the flows of Ether into waiting Etheric battery cells.
Over the past few thousand years, such procedures and magics have tended to pool Ether in a system around those worlds inhabited by Ether using societies. Usually the Ether in the rest of the solar system is thin, dispersed and irregular, and harvesting it more work than is profitable. Some systems and worlds however retain untapped reserves, but most will have to seek new, fallow ground to acquire more.
Untapped reserves of Ether can be found in systems not so ravaged by continual harvesting processes, in the lair of magical creatures (who attract it), and in the occasional as yet undiscovered ley line or Node (which can appear in the strangest places).
In its useable forms Ether takes many guises. Most technological Powers use it mixed with a liquid compound as the flammable Ethernol to fuel internal combustion engines, on in a more teporary state in charged batteries. Also Ether Geodes are used to power fission reactors. Magical societies tend to keep Ether stored in various receptacles and then temporarily infuse it using transmogrification or certain magical creatures or devices into various magical "reagents" when they need to move it (Wagon loads of caskets filled with Etheric gas are fine, but a bit bulky for a wizard to take adventuring with him).
Within the rules, flexibility and imagination is not just encouraged – it’s a must, but there are some key points and then a lot of minor ones. Firstly, keep in mind that the point of (severe) divergence with our Earth was 1700. Earth is also long gone and is now considered more legend than fact, though of course the explorer who can find it would have his reputation made a thousand times over. Secondly, be aware that the difference between science and magic is more a matter of taste than power. A scientifically primitive civilization with vast magical powers against a magically inept civilization with the art of high technology at its command will be more or less evenly matched. Of course, the greatest power is gained from melding the two, but that is no easy task. Lastly, none of the powers, scientific or magical, verge on the "godlike", even for those who actually *choose* to play gods. There will be no blasting planets to bits with superlasers, or wiping out entire civilizations with spells o’ doom. Even use of more mundane methods of mass destruction such as etheric fission bombs or city-wide rains of magical fire tend to have nasty repercussions, not just politically, but also physically, as the universe itself will react against too much wonton damage.
That's the universe itself, it's a weird mixture of magic and technology, where all kinds of odd people wander about doing things for all kinds of reasons; some of them even make sense.
Pendleton originated on the world of Erde, though it is often simply called Pendleton these days, to be precise it is the Free Republic of Pendleton. The world of Erde is a peculiar one since there are so many different ethnic groups there: Anglo-Saxon (Pendleton and Avonlea), French (Nouveau Aquitaine), Spanish (Grand Plains), and even Swiss (Helvetia).
Originally all of these ethnic groups had their own country, but over the centuries Pendleton grew till it ruled the entire world, and this leads to some confusion since the word Pendleton can mean the city of Pendleton, the Pendleton Archipelago, or the entire Republic.
To give a comparison though Pendleton is roughly a mixture of Victorian/Edwardian Britain, the American South (without racism), and part Elizabethan Britain for the magic system, (which is part Reginald Scot and part my own invention).
The other nations are most easily described thus: Nouveau Aquitaine is part 19th Century France and part Ancien Regime France, most specifically there's still a powerful aristocracy, and no state anti-clericalism; the Grand Plans is sort of a mixture of Texas and Argentina, with an overlay of Spanish Grandees; Helvetia is 19th Century Switzerland more or less; Avonlea was Britain, but having been conquered it's kind of hard to describe; and finally the Southern Islands are pretty much the Caribbean in the early 19th Century with all
that this entails.
Technology is roughly 1890s-1905s with some exceptions, ether powered rockets enable Pendleton to send battleships into space, but they still use horse drawn carriages to deliver the milk.
Magic is as I said a mixture of Reginald Scot, I've lifted a lot from "Discoverie of Witchcraft," and some is a hodgepodge of influences I've gotten elsewhere. The feel of the matter should be Hermetic, there are ritual invocations, there are geometric shapes, mystic symbols, and astrology. The matter is a collection of rules of thumbs, lectures from ancient authorities, and practical experience; very similar to Renaissance architecture, practical, possible to learn in a school, but not quite a science. That said most Pendletonians have no more mystical awe of magic than a Renaissance person would have of architecture, powerful magic and magnificent architecture may cause gasps and astonishment, but a CD player or laser printer is likelier to cause awe and bewilderment.
Bigotry is hardly unheard of on Pendleton, every ethnic group has abusive terms for every other ethnic group, but in general they get along. Racism as such don't exist because Pendleton haven't got other races, the fantasies of radical Nationalists aside. When a Pendletonian of any ethnicity says "race" he means "nation", indeed even a family or clan can be described as a race.
Finally there is slavery, Pendleton has slavery, roughly 30% of the population exists in an abject state. After the Avonlean War much of Avonlea was outright enslaved, and Avonlean slaves are greatly treasured for their supposedly excellent qualities. Pendletonian slavery however is non-racial, there are slaves of every ethnicity, and the character of the slavery is more like that of classical slavery.
In short you have a hierarchy from the slaves in the coal mines and cane fields, who are brutally abused and eager to rebel; to the farmhands on plantations, also abused but not so badly; to private family slaves who are generally treated well, often as junior members of the family, though always with the threat of punishment or sale over their heads; to household slaves, servants, once more treated well but still property; to the very upper classes who are trained craftsmen, even architects, and treated very well indeed.
Three things keep the slaves down, first the Gendarmes who prevent uprisings; second the Bureau of State Security which infiltrates abolitionist groups, and spies on the slaves; third and final the hope of emancipation, and given the non-racial nature of slavery an emancipated slave can simply move to where no one knows his past and begin a new life as a free man or woman.
Large river, roughly the size of the Nile, runs through Nouveau Aquitaine.
An entire world which is oddly similar to 19th Century Afghanistan, subject to Communist take over attempts. Pendleton and the Communists are fighting a Great Game here.
Bureau of State Security:
BOSS is not an entirely nice organisation, but they are responsible for keeping Pendleton safe. Just picture something like the organisation from League of ExtraOrdinary Gentlemen, fused with a Victorian CIA, and you won't be far off.
Church of Erde:
There is but one Church, pseudo-High Anglican/Catholic in nature, and a few dissenters and Jews making up under 5% of the population.
Once upon a time there was a city known as Quedlimburgi, it was founded on Erde, and it was a grand and magnificent city; though by pre-God War standards probably more like the equivalent of Seattle. However that may be towards the end of the God Wars something happened, what is not quite sure, but all that remains of the city is a perfectly round crater thirty miles in diameter. This crater is now a lake.
High Worshipful Mistress:
Unlike what some twisted minds may think she does not wear high heels and leather garments, except maybe on special occasions. This is the most powerful mage on Pendleton, though over six hundred years old she looks like she's in her forties, though most men would would guess that she's younger.
The field of medicine does not exist on Pendleton, they are working on this though. Hedge magic, Humour theory, and other amusing ideas take their place.
An Archipelago stretching hundreds of miles, filled with islands big and small. Pendleton City is on one island, and the original Republic consisted of this Archipelago. Generally the term Pendleton Archipelago, the Islands, the Home Islands, or the name of the specific island in question (Anchover, South Blaine, etc) is used.
Not to be confused with The City, which is the financial district. Pendleton City is generally just called Pendleton (yes very confusion) and with five million inhabitants it is the largest city in the Republic. It's roughly equivalent to London anno 1840-1905.
Black River, its origins is in Crater Lake, the river is so called because occasionally it turns pitch black with ash; this ash is oddly enough very beneficial for agriculture.
Lesbian socialist aquatic pseudo-Romans with a heavy accent, please don't ask anything else... no really, please, my head hurts!
An entire world oddly similar to Ottoman Turkey, claims to have the Kabaa which has been rescued by the intervention of Almighty Allah; other powers are somewhat sceptical of this claim.
Roughly a mixture of the FBI, with SWAT teams, and a riot police function. An inheritance of Nouveau Aquitaine.
German world, roughly 1890s Germany in attitude and looks, roughly Star Wars in technology. Virulently anti-Communist, and therefore supportive of Pendleton, despite also being anti-slavery.
If you want even more information on Pendleton I've posted the complete write up below, be warned that it is quite long, but if you're genuinely interested you might want to read it.