|"Some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests, and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder that was ours before we were wise and unhappy."|
|- H.P. Lovecraft, "Celephais"|
The game centers on the world of Oneiros, in the region of the Arrant Empire. To the eye, it is a world much like our own of times past: a sprawling empire encompassing the shores of a temperate zone in the southern hemisphere of the globe.
The Empire spreads along the shores of a small sea where three land-masses converge, called the three Reaches. The Northern Reach is a sprawling subcontinent, dominated by the Akir River. The Eastern Reach is the trailing arm of a dryer, cooler continent, with gentle shores dotted with islands large and small. The Southern Reach is a tall and rocky island, with rough forests blanketing the mountainous terrain.
The people are all humans like ourselves. There are a few stranger creatures on the fringes of civilization: gargoyles, trolls, and goblyns. But in these civilized times, their kind are rarely seen and almost never a threat. Man's worst enemy is unquestionably his own kind.
In our own culture, the closest parallel to the Arrant Empire might be the Holy Roman Empire at the time of the Renaissance. There is a similar diversity and differences between the Reaches as between the states around the Mediterranean, and the basic architecture and technology are also parallel.
The greatest difference is in their beliefs. The people of Oneiros are universal in their basic cosmology. The world, to them, is the dream of an another being, called Existance for obvious reasons. This central belief has shaped almost all other aspects of thought in their cultures: religion, philosophy, and even daily attitudes.
These beliefs are founded in the basic laws of nature. There are phenomena, called 'magical' by the people, which emphasize the link between the mental and the physical. In modern times the Mage's Guild holds great power - capable of influencing everything which they have knowledge of. The basis of magic lies in the nature of the dream-world: knowledge, imagination, symbol, and myth are all at the heart of magic, and indeed, at the heart of the universe.
The first Empire was founded nine hundred and eighty five years ago, when Victor Arranis crowned himself emporer in the city he had just sacked, which is now called Threshold and remains the seat of the throne. While dynasties have risen, changed, and fallen many times over the years, the people still acknowledge their decent from this first nation. So it is that their years are numbered from the date of its founding, making the present time the year 985.
Between the years 510 and 801, the Empire was divided into several lesser states, which each claimed lineage. During this time the guilds and merchants grew powerful, without the nobility to hold them in check.
John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net> Last modified: Wed Nov 1 17:42:49 2000