The Gothick Empires Campaign is set on the world of Arth - a world parallel in many ways to our own. It has one moon - although this appears larger than our own, and it is dotted by scintillant lights and green patches. Arth has a year of 365 days (more or less) although the sun it circles is larger and redder than the one we know, and the climate is hotter and steamier, laden with exotic scents. And if appropriately attired, you could probably walk among many of the peoples of Arth without drawing too much attention.
But in many ways, Arth is very different from our world. As mages would say, it lies chaosward of our universe. Magic works there, while physical laws are not as immutable as they might seem to us. Moreover, Arth has been exposed to many other worlds, and gaps in the fabric of the multiverse allow that exposure to continue unabated even today.
There are other changes too. Most of the plants and animals of Arth are strange and even lethal. Some have been brought from other worlds and now flourish on Arth, while others are hybrids generated by sorcery.
The section below aims to give you a general feeling of the world of Arth - although a thousand pages would be too little to describe a world so rich and varied. Alternatively, you can read a general history of Arth, examine the various races and peoples of Arth or browse its geography on other pages. There are also links to general notes about interesting facts about Arth
All of the major cultures of Arth have descended from two great empires of the past - Thanataya or Atalanteä, that dominated - during their prime - the continents of Lumulea and Gorgamelle, respectively. Both are long gone now and indeed not one person in a thousand would even recognise their names, but signs of these ancient empires remain for those who have the knowledge to see. One consequence of this is that even though long vanished, the culture that flowed from these sources has influenced most of the civilisations that rose after.
The second factor that has shaped all the civilisations of Arth is the existence of magic. Magic has enabled humankind to colonise the planets and even travel to the stars. It has enabled wise scholars to determine the workings of the world around and even explore the past and future. Those who command magic or magicians live in comfort. They can visit distant lands with ease, talk with their friends over vast distances, and have little to fear from old age or disease. However magic is an individual power. The inequities that exist in our own world have been multiplied manyfold by the power of magic. While the elite have a cosmopolitan lifestyle, most people live in conditions that have changed little in hundreds of years. The same city can harbour a 400 year old mage whose home is warmed, lit and kept spotlessly clean by magic and servants - and craftsmen whose homes are lit and warmed only by hearthfires. Those with access to magic are often well-informed about the natural world and recent events. Those without still often believe the world is flat and know little that transpires outside their villages. Thus, the world of Arth teeters between almost science-fictional comfort and medieval squalor.
The longevity and conservatism of most of the empires of Arth can be attributed tothe fact that all rulers are ultimately dependant on magic. No army - no matter how strong or desperate - can withstand a force supported by strong sorcery, so all the great kingdoms of Arth are buttressed by small, professional armies, supported by devastating magics. In addition, the powers of divination provide rulers with inquisitions that can root out the most secretive of dissidents. The very idea of a "peasant rebellion" is almost unimaginable on Arth. Where rebellion flares, it is almost always the strong contending with the strong.
Finally, magic allows the powerful in society to live almost indefinately. This factor by itself encourages conservatism. Societies where the young cannot automatically hope to grow into their inheritance breed factionalism and intrigue. Most major societies on Arth are inward-looking and riven with politcal strife. Few of the powerful die natural deaths.
For a more detailed discussion of the societies of Arth, you can use the political map to access them individually.
There is a wide amount of background information about Arth also accessible from this page, including:
Books of Lore. A description of some of the well known writings penned by mages of antiquity and eargerly sought after ever since.
Cities in Orbit. The skies of Arth once held many wondrous cities. What happened to them is discussed here
Diseases of Arth. A description of how to deal with sickness and disease in a fantasy setting. Good medieval feel, without too much record-keeping.
The Plague Priests. Description of the origin and aims of one of Arth's legendary evil sects.
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