LANDAL (WORLD B)
At first, Landal was a magic-free world. Around 10,000 years before the story begins, this world had reached an incredible level of technological progress, and developed machines that would allow traveling to parallel universes. The discovery of the existence of magical powers in other worlds prompted people of that epoch to try and find a way to bring them to Landal. That required importing an ethereal substance known as "Mana" in enormous quantity. However, because of an accident, an ocean of Mana flooded Landal in a uncontrolled manner, causing the mental destruction of every conscious living being. Entire civilizations ceased to exists in the span of a few days. Less than ten thousands human beings survived in remote islands, far from the main continents where the level of Mana remained for several years at high concentration that would be lethal to the human mind. At the present time the main continents of Landal are re-populated, and new civilizations have arised, but history of the futuristic civilization of the past has been lost, and remains completely unknown to most people.
Mana is omnipresent in every part of Landal's world and just like air it is invisible to the naked eye. Despite being an alien substance, current civilizations assume that it has always existed. Mana is able to interact with the human mind and the human mind is able to interact with Mana. However, the concentration of this substance in the air has reached levels too low to have any noticeable effects on most people. There are several disciplines that through special training allow the perception and manipulation of Mana. In most cases this involves transmuting a part of the Mana into physical matter in the form of energy or even objects. This technique is known as "Magic" and whoever practices it is considered a "Magician". In the past, when the Mana was much higher, legendary men are said to be able to produce miracles. Currently, however, this system is considered impractical and true magicians are almost non-existent.
It's common knowledge that there are supernatural creatures commonly called "Spirit". They are also known to be magical creatures, but few know that "Spirits" are nothing more than a condensed form of Mana, and they are the main reason why Mana on Landal has decreased dramatically over the years. The formation of a Spirit is very complex and requires a specific "focus", a sort of mold on which to base one's form. Particularly long-lived animals or trees and in some rare cases humans or monsters can become the focus of a Spirit if their body somehow remains intact over time. Much more often, however, these are objects subjected to the fury of the elements. Millennial rocks sculpted by the wind. Gems subjected to the pressure of the oceans, metals hardened in the cauldron of a volcano. Spirits need to reside in a physical object to maintain their form which is generally the focus in which they formed. Spirits maintain a strong affinity with their original focus, so that those who formed inside a volcano, for example, will be able primarily to generate fire and heat. Spirits vary in power depending on the amount of Mana they possess, and the more powerful they are the more intelligent and aware they are.
Spirit Pact / Spirit Master
Historical facts and legends mingle regarding the multiple interactions between humans and Spirit. Whole shamanistic religions, not dissimilar from Shintoism, have arisen around the cult of the Spirit; their focuses are often kept and venerated inside temples. Tales of how some heroes made pacts with the Spirits to acquire their powers abound in the folklore of every recent Landal civilization. These heroes are known as Spirit Masters. However, while in the past it was rare for a Spirit to agree to make a pact with a human, in recent times it has become common. Just as ice melts in a warm environment, so the Mana of which the Spirits are composed is dispersed in those environments where the Mana is lacking or even absent. This process can be limited within focuses subjected to particularly intense energy, but even more so in the minds of men due to their ability to interact with Mana. And since Mana has become scarce in the Landal world, very few Spirits do not agree to make a pact with humans and settle down in their minds. For this to happen, however, the consent of both parties is required. A Spirit cannot reside in a human mind that wishes to expel it. This happens very easily as weak and untrained minds experience severe pain as a result of a Spirit Pact. Within a human mind a Spirit can even increase its Mana level (and consequently increase its powers), but this consumes mental resources (experiences, emotions, thoughts and even memories) and can easily lead to fatigue and in extreme cases cognitive disturbances and insanity. It is therefore extremely rare for more than one Spirit to reside within a human mind, although possible. The advantage for humans is the ability to use magic by converting the Mana of the Spirits they have made a pact with into energy. So while a wizard can do nothing in a mana-free environment, a Spirit Master can practice magic anywhere. The main problem is that this consumes the Spirit's Mana, its very essence, and as a result Spirits never give up more Mana than they know they can recover through the pact. This is the main reason why no Spirit Master has ever managed to recreate the "miracles" of the wizards of the past. For this to happen a Spirit would basically have to agree to sacrifice itself. Spirits are able to temporarily take physical form, which allows them to interact with the surrounding world but at the same time consumes their Mana. A Spirit thus materialized can be attacked with the effect of causing it an additional loss of mana in proportion to the damage dealt.
Spirits do not communicate with words but directly with people's minds. They do not use any language and convey ideas and concepts directly. For this type of communication to take place the Spirit must be moderately close, usually within a few meters, but this varies depending on the type and power of the Spirit. Since there are many civilizations and languages in Landal, Spirit Masters are frequently used to carry out the task of translators. A Spirit is in fact able to receive the ideas and concepts of any person and transmit them directly to their Master. In other words, a Spirit Master can hear any spoken language and understand its meaning.
Landal is certainly not an idyllic world. In fact, there is no place where different species of tremendous and aggressive creatures do not reside. These beings are commonly called monsters and are easily distinguished from common animals by their particular morphology. Landal's various civilizations have developed different theories about their origin, but they all agree that their presence is not natural and that they come from some demonic place. And not without reason, since Landal's monsters are none other than the descendants of those beings that ancient civilizations imported from various parallel worlds and who survived the catastrophe. There is a profound difference between a monster and a common beast native to Landal. As dangerous as a beast is, it never fights to the death if it can escape, but monsters are inexorable and show no fear. Everyone knows that as long as monsters exist in Landal, peace will never reign.
Although occasionally in past times some relics of the ancient Landal civilization were discovered, it is only in recent times that awareness of its existence has consolidated. With 10,000 years gone by, all forms of paper documents have been destroyed. Inscriptions in metal and stone are rare and generally short. Therefore little to nothing is known about it. In addition, the remains of the ancient cities and buildings are buried under several meters of earth. Almost no machinery has remained intact, and among them practically none is still functional, but there are miraculous exceptions. There is no person in the world of Landal who possesses the knowledge and the means to make repairs on the circuits, but replacement of parts from different machines is possible. Although most of the Lost Technology exhibits are mostly non-working items that are sold to wealthy collectors, there is a particular type that is highly sought after and desired.
In order to power their various machines and computers, the ancient civilizations of Landal had developed highly efficient electric batteries known as Energy Packs. Their manufacture is so miraculous that in addition to enormous quantities still intact, the energy trapped in them has never been dispersed. Since ancient machineries that still work are more unique than rare, Energy Packs don't have much practical use in their originally intended use, but it has recently been discovered that they can be used to provide a focus for Spirits in an excellent way. The growing need to accumulate Spirits by the various city-states of Landal has meant that Energy Packs are considered more valuable than gold and precious gems. However, to perform the focus function, the batteries must be active (ie the positive and negative poles must be connected) which means that, although they can last up to years, sooner or later they end up consuming; reason why the market request for Energy Packs is not predicted to decline. There is one additional possible use of Energy Packs, although it is rarely applied. It is possible to modify them to cause a sudden release of all the accumulated energy, which generates very powerful explosions.
The continent of Mordia
Mordia is one of the largest continents in the Landal world and one of the last to be recolonized after the cataclysm. As a result, a large portion of its lands are unexplored and infested with dangerous monsters. There are dozens of small city-states, but no real nation. Despite this, Mordia is substantially contested by three powerful cities frequently fighting each other to expand their sphere of influence. The problem of monsters is particularly serious on this continent, each city is defended by high and thick walls, several military garrisons are responsible for the defense of the fields and commercial trips always take place in the form of large expeditions accompanied by armed contingents. Only fools or daredevils travel alone. The race to gain control of areas rich in Spirit and Lost Technology has recently intensified the skirmishes between the three dominant civilizations.
Brangaard is one of the three major city-states of Mordia. The political system is an absolute monarchy of an aristocratic type. Strongly characterized by its glorification of war and equipped with an impressive army, it has managed over the years to subjugate a large number of cities and territories (the cities maintain their government but are tributaries and have sworn loyalty to the emperor) thus becoming the first empire on the continent. The current emperor is Horma Karg Brangaard VI. The empire is divided in four "realms" each governed by one of the four High Knights. Lockham Thorfjorn I, Jorg's father, is one of them. The others are Welfmorn Svinferwild V, Rudgarm Einherjarlm III and Hork Borkejorn VII.
Medilah's Republic (Jewel of Mordia)
If Brangaard's greatest value is war power, Medilah's is trade. Located on the coast, it has become the most important economic center of Mordia and the main crossroads of imports and exports from other continents. Medilah is also known as the capital of culture and arts and its urban and architectural beauty has earned it the nickname "Jewel of Mordia". Although officially a republic, with voting rights limited to a few influential families, Medilah is mostly governed by an oligarchic system. Medilah has made an intricate system of alliances and agreements, both overt and occult, with only slightly fewer cities than Brangaard's subjugation. The current prime minister is Mina Kalindres
Sonalum is the center of all the knowledge of Mordia and is one of the oldest cities. Traditionally at the forefront of the study and application of the magical arts, in recent times it has shifted its focus to the recovery and analysis of Lost Technology. There are numerous "schools" of knowledge in Sonalum each specializing in a specific field: Mathematics, Philosophy, History, Magic, Spirit and so on. Every decision is made by the council of elders, who elect new members primarily on the basis of their academic achievements. Sonalum's motto is "Knowledge makes you free" and his ideology strongly founded on the freedom of expression and dissemination of knowledge has influenced many city-states of Mordia. Together they made a pact of alliance in order to preserve their independence in the face of the growing threat from Brangaard.
Due to the perennial threat of monsters and the constant struggles for control of territories and resources, there is an ever-increasing demand for individuals who are skilled in combat. It is not surprising, therefore, that several groups of mercenaries have emerged ready to lend their weapons to anyone who promises them adequate compensation. Merchants are among the most frequent customers, but they are not infrequently hired by the three main city-states; In most cases from Medilah and secondarily from Sonalum. Brangaard boasts of having the best army in Mordia and admitting to using mercenaries would be a disgrace to them, but they too are known to hire them for sabotage missions in which they then deny any involvement.
Tech Hunters are individuals who specialize in the recovery of Lost Technology. They differ from common treasure hunters in that the recognition of artifacts and the ability to ascertain whether or not they can still work requires out-of-the-ordinary knowledge and skills. Most Tech Hunters are from, or otherwise affiliated with, Sonalum and enjoy respect in scholarly circles. Tech Hunters are generally adept at fighting or using Spirit as expeditions to uncharted places always inevitably involve having to fight against monsters.
TERRA (WORLD A)
Earth is a world not very dissimilar to our planet in the 21st century, but slightly more technologically advanced, particularly when it comes to biotechnology. Thirty-two years before the beginning of history, planet Earth was drastically disrupted by what is known as World War III, a conflict that erupted due to disputes over the indiscriminate use of recent biotechnological discoveries, their diffusion in the environment and genetic modification of human beings. The main promoting nation of such technologies was the "Free Nations of Helian's Federation" but its existence ended at the end of the conflict. To date, the surviving population of the entire continent of Arkroym (of which Helian is a prominent peninsula) has come together to create a new form of utopian society based on "The Johlonn's Principles".
The Second World War
About 80 years ago, the planet Earth had to face a catastrophic energy emergency. The inexorable machine of progress that required ever larger quantities of fossil fuel ended up running out of most of the existing deposits. The economic tension due to the sudden rise in oil and gas prices and the consequent territorial disputes in order to secure the few remaining resources were the fuse that triggered the second great planetary conflict. The already highly polluted planet was further scarred by the first thermonuclear weapons. Ultimately no one could define themselves as the real winner and with the little resources further dissipated by the conflict, the civilized nations seemed destined to have to plunge into a dark era and back to the barbarism of the past.
It was then that planet Earth was saved by the revolutionary discovery of the renowned (and at the time still very young) biologist Rhys Hengel. Initially considered the father of Quantum Biology, he was able to demonstrate how some single-celled organisms were able to use quantum phenomena for the transmission of energy; and through his research he successfully managed to manufacture a species of bacteria, known as Ergoplasma. Through the Ergoplasma, humanity could not only generate clean and completely ecological energy but also enabled them to transmit it to any wireless device through the phenomenon of tunneling. But his glory days were short-lived. His discoveries in the biological field generated a real rush to develop new biotechnologies, a scientific branch that however ended up in the wrong hands. The study and application of genetic manipulation reached levels never seen before. When Rhys, who was very critical of the indiscriminate use of these new biotechnologies from the start, discovered that the Shepherds had even modified the Ergoplasmas for their own ends, he tried to rebel. But the Shepherds made him a scapegoat and Rhys Hengel is still remembered today as the terrorist, the traitor, the inhuman mad scientist who caused the horrors of the third planetary conflict. Rhys Hengel was then forced to go into exile in a neutral country on the continent of Cyndar with his family, where he continued to conduct experiments and where his nephew Ciel was born.
The Third World War
A scandal shocked "the Free Nations of Helian's Federation" when data on the horrific human experiments conducted by their research departments were revealed to the public (by unknown persons). Although the general reaction of all the nations of Arkroym's continent was negative, there was no clear condemnation on their part on the indiscriminate use of genetic manipulation and on the use of Ergoplasmas. On the contrary, all this unleashed the anger and indignation of the rival peoples on the continent of Ostharn. In particular that of Harrhang, a vast nation ruled by a rigid military dictatorship that has fought with the Helian peninsula since the First World War. Harrhang not only denounced the atrocities committed by the federation, they proclaimed that they believed the survival of the entire planet and the human race were in danger due to the indiscriminate use of genetic manipulation. Soon the entire continent of Ostharn, envious of the miraculous economic recovery of their historical rivals, was convinced by this theory. It was not many days before the Third World War began. The war was fought with tremendous biological weapons on the one hand and with nuclear weapons on the other; and exactly as had happened in the previous conflict, there was no real winner.
Arkroym after the War
The upheavals of war have thrown every nation on the continent of Arkroym into total chaos and all forms of government ceased to exist. The Shepherds took the opportunity to advance their project of achieving the ideal society to a new stage. From an outside point of view, the way in which all these populations once divided by nationalisms and different languages and cultures have suddenly decided by mutual agreement to unite in this new social system can only appear as miraculous, especially when one considers that there is no evident charismatic figure who could have accomplished this prodigy. In reality this was possible through some new modified Ergoplasmas. Officially, the citizens of Arkroym have declared illegal any form of genetic alteration on humans, thus removing the main reason for the world conflict. Rhys Hengel has been blamed for the whole matter of inhuman experiments, and fake documents have been fabricated that show that the true discoverer of quantum phenomena in microorganisms was a colleague of his that Rhys allegedly killed in order to steal his data and publish it as his own. The use of Ergoplasmas is therefore still widespread and considered as the only way to solve the problem of energy needs. Arkroym's is a multiethnic and multicultural society which, on an ideological level, has abolished all forms of class division. It is common to refer to others as "my friend" or informally "buddy". Officially their system is based on Johlonn's principles.
The Johlonn's Principles
Johlonn was a prominent philosopher and ideologue native to the continent of Arkroym. His principles form the foundations of the utopian society that arose in Arkroym on the ruins of the third world war.
- ** No Countries: ** The very concept of dividing territories into countries with precise borders has been completely abolished. Although the original denomination of the places still remains, it has only a purely geographical function. Although there are still states and nations on Earth on other continents, the people of Arkroym believe that all human beings have the right to travel and reside anywhere on the planet. Nonetheless, Arkroym's borders are "inexplicably" controlled by a not small military deployment.
- ** No Politicians: ** Along with the concept of nation, "politics" has also been abolished. Every decision is made directly by citizens through the ubiquitous support of the computer network. The detractors of this system, however, often point out that it is not clear who actually holds the power to present the questions, or the fact that bodies such as the police and the American army often take autonomous decisions not voted on by anyone. So who is it that gives the orders?
- ** No Money: ** Not a single coin or bill still exists in the entire continent of Arkroym. The population is very proud of this by declaring the overcoming of the ruthless logic of profit and economic exploitation. However, detractors point out that there is in fact a system of "credits" that has practically the exact same function as money as a virtual currency. But the apologists of utopian society deny this thesis by claiming that "credits" are simply an "acknowledgment of people's industriousness", and are neither inheritable nor acquirable through theft and scams. But in spite of the vaunted economic fairness, there are individuals who live in luxury and own goods, land and buildings of incalculable value.
- ** No Armies: ** Johlonn's ideology repudiates all forms of violence, so there are no armies in Arkroym. Sure there are self-defense forces, which are pretty much the same thing, but it's "just for self-defense in order to keep the peace". Detractors point out that Johlonn's original principle more precisely cited "no weapons". No official explanation has been given for this "correction".
With Arkroym's major urban centers ruined by nuclear warfare, most of the continent's survivors have concentrated in what was once a small town, but miraculously suddenly developed into the largest planetary metropolis. Renamed "Ark City" it is the main artistic and economic center of Earth, a melting pot of various ethnicities and cultures and the ideal mirror of the new world order secretly promoted by the Shepherds.
The Shepherd are a group of influential individuals whose purpose is to shape human society according to their ideals of perfection. Also called "the committee of 30", since this is their number, they have for centuries controlled a vast number of people in absolute secrecy to manipulate the political scenario of Arkroym and beyond. It is through them that the Helian nations have united in a federation, it is they who have promoted the development of biotechnology and it is they who have manipulated newspapers and historical sources to make Rhys Hengel a war criminal. Currently, the use of modified Ergoplasmas has allowed them to extend their control over the entire population of Arkroym, but their projects go far beyond that. Most Shepherds believe they are acting for the common good and strongly believe in the righteousness of their ideals. The use of subterfuge, manipulation and murder is considered by them as a completely negligible evil in the face of the immense benefits that their work will bring to human beings.
Lewe is the name of the corporation responsible for the development and distribution of Ergoplasmas and for the research of new quantum biotechnologies. Since every Arkroym machine and device works through the use of these micro-organisms, Lewe holds an almost absolute monopoly on every and each technological product. The population is unaware that Lewe is nothing more than a new name adopted by the same organization that before the war had created and spread all those biotechnologies that are now banned and considered illegal. Rhys Hengel himself initially worked for them, but any information about that fact has been changed or deleted. Lewe secretly continues human experimentation and the development of biological weapons.
Yesof Raumann is the current president of Lewe and a Shepherd member of the "committee of 30". He is a man as charismatic as he is disgustingly powerful and rich. He considers himself a philanthropist and is loved by the people for his frequent charitable works and various promotions for social development. Like most Shepherds, he believes he is a savior of humanity.
Ergoplasmas are unicellular organisms capable of transferring electrons at a distance through the quantum phenomenon of tunneling. Thanks to an ingenious system devised by Rhys Hengel it is possible to exploit this property in a systematic and large-scale way to transfer enormous quantities of electrons from one place to another. Ergoplasmas however do not produce energy out of thin air and need a host organism to survive. The ideal environment for their proliferation and their ability to develop energy is the human brain. In controlled quantities, Ergoplasmas can coexist with the host organism without significant consequences for health. Currently 99% of Arkroym's citizens harbor several million Ergoplasmas in their brains. For the energy transfer to take place it is necessary that in the devices themselves there are specific cells containing cultures of Ergoplasmas which act as receptors. Such cultures do not survive more than a few months and therefore must be frequently replaced. On a practical level, for the most part, each individual provides energy to the tools he personally uses, but there is a real global network through which energy is shared and transferred where it is most needed. This system guarantees greater efficiency because even during sleep each individual provides energy through their own Ergoplasmas. However, energy does not come out of nowhere and therefore the carriers of Ergoplasma consume twice as many calories as normal individuals. Excessive effort to increase personal energy output causes accelerated heart rate and breathing and severe mental fatigue. Repeated abuse can cause permanent brain damage, but it is extremely rare among ordinary people. Ergoplasmas have been genetically modified by Shepherds via what is now known as Lewe Inc. There are two main types of modified Ergoplasmas in use.
Type-R Ergoplasma (Regular)
Type-R possess the secondary function of altering human cognitive processes. Type-R wearers are less prone to violence and generally more optimistic. Those affected demonstrate a notable reduction in critical sense, distrust and skepticism. Such people are therefore almost infallibly influenced by advertising campaigns and propaganda. The increase in cognitive positivity prevents them from recognizing the existence of social problems or injustices, even when they are particularly evident. There are no dissidents among Type-R carriers. The inability to think negatively about their future makes people prone to spend every "credit" earned, this increases consumption with positive effects for the economy, but also involves the need to strive to earn more and more credits to spend. Type-R are by far the most common Ergoplasmas.
Type-S Ergoplasma (Special)
The Type-S were developed for military purposes and do not cause the cognitive impairments of Type-R. The Type-S are capable of absorbing and transmitting amounts of energy much higher than the norm. Furthermore, several modifications make it possible to synchronize on a macroscopic scale of various quantum phenomena not limited to tunneling.
Type-C Ergoplasma (Converter)
The Type-C are used inside the Converters, quantum devices convert the quantum energy produced by the Type-R / S into phenomena on a macroscopic scale. There are numerous sub-categories of Type-C, these are found within the ubiquitous appliances on Arkroym, as well as in any type of vehicle or electrical machinery. For military use, numerous species of Type-C in large quantities are employed in devices called Converters, which allow the wearer to use abilities such as the generation of flames or lightning.
One of the countless devices produced and distributed by Lewe Inc., the SPC (Smart Portable Companion) are the equivalent of our Smartphones. They are essential to live in Arkroym as any storage of personal data (including credits) and the possibility of voting laws is done exclusively through them.
The multiple modifications that have been made in the most disparate genomes have been made possible through the use of a specific retrovirus. This retrovirus is called "Mutagen Alpha". Mutagen Alpha played a leading role in the development of Type-R and Type-S Ergoplasmas as well as in the creation of mutant bioweapons and in the modification of the human genome. During the war, the Mutagen Alpha itself was used as a biological weapon on the continent of Ostharn and Harrhang in order to cause horrendous mutations in the enemies. The Mutagen Alphas are able to reproduce themselves as well as to modify the organisms they infect and during the third world war they spread out of control even in the continent of Arkroym. After the war, enormous efforts were made in an attempt to eliminate the mutated organisms and to stop the Mutagen Alpha epidemics. But the retrovirus is still present and occasionally terrible mutant monsters still appear.
Originally created on a precise design as bio-weapons, the mutants are particularly widespread on the continent of Ostharn and are now out of the control of the Lewe and the Shepherds. Each time Mutagen Alphas reproduce, the genetic material they contain undergoes more and more strange and horrible mutations. So that the mutant bio-weapons are now unrecognizable when compared to those originally designed.
Harrhang is the largest Earth nation in both geographic extent and population (unless one considers Arkroym as a de facto nation). Governed by a rigid dictatorial system, it has the most imposing war machine on the planet, also due to its own nuclear arsenal. Harrhang would certainly have won the war in a direct confrontation, but due to the spread of Mutagen Alpha in her territory and a series of internal political conflicts (orchestrated by the Shepherds through the use of Type-R) they were forced to declare an end to hostilities. It took several years to restore order and numerous officers (guilty and otherwise) were "purged" on charges of high treason. Harrhang is one of the few nations that still has fossil fuel resources but mostly coal deposits, which is why pollution has reached tragically high levels and the population can rarely see the blue of the sky. Uranium resources are very scarce and are therefore kept for military use only. The current commander in chief is a woman: High General Ywong Rhen. If Arkroym's dominant theme is life (in the most extreme sense of the term), Harrhang's is death.
The Reaper are special units of Harrhang equipped to purge all kinds of biological threats. Protected by their special Hazmat suits and equipped with nuclear arsenals, they are known for their efficiency and excessive zeal. "When in doubt eradicate" is their basic philosophy. Whole villages were razed to the ground on mere suspicion of Mutagen Alpha contamination. The Reaper's favorite purification system is radioactive bombardment, capable of sterilizing an environment from all forms of life, even the most microscopic, with disastrous ecological effects. Of the numerous Reaper teams, the "Crimson Angels" are by far the best known and most feared. Of particularly extremist ideas, they believe that those who have been infected with Ergoplasmas can no longer be considered human and therefore the entire population of Arkroym must be annihilated (and they do not even know of the true function of the Type-R).