The World of Argos

If you are a new player in the Book of Worlds, or if you are just plain curious, this is the first post you should read. It should give you a basic understanding of the world of Argos, and the events that are taking place there.

For any questions you may have, please post them in the comment field -- or you could talk to me in person, if that is an option. I will do my best to provide a satisfying answer.

Note that some time has passed since this was written, and certain changes has occurred in the world in the interim. Rewriting this page is on my list of to-do's, but I have no date for that.

The Pius Chronicles have ended, but the world of Argos still lives on, amongst other places here.

The world of Argos is dominated by Early Enlightenment-era cultures, and much of the real-world reference material used to build it is drawn from the 17th century. This is the age of flintlock pistols, of fencing and intrigue, of burgeoning science, of pikes, muskets and cavalry, of trade and piracy, and much more. Think Three Musketeers, Solomon Kane, the English Civil War, the Thirty Years War, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei.

It is also a world in which magic is awakening after having been suppressed for a millennium. The history of Argos is the history of the rise and fall of civilizations, of mythic ages and great wars between good and evil, between races, kingdoms and religions, and even between gods and men.

Unlike our own world in the corresponding period, this world has not yet reached a stage where the world is mapped out, let alone fully settled. There are vast tracts of land where no civilized being has ever walked, and in these regions, fantastic and terrible things dwell. The world is divided into different Realms, or Paradigms, and each such Realm has its distinct metaphysical rules. Why this is so, or the exact nature of these differences is one of the great mysteries.

At present, the Third Age is coming to an end, and the Great War has broken out all across Argos. The Old Enemy, the Sleeper in the Deep has gathered its strength and is now reaching out to devour all of Creation. The world is changing, and the chronicles of the Book of Worlds are about that change.

Many peoples call Argos their home, but current events focus around the Erian continent. Here we find the kingdoms that formed the Hegemony of Man after the last Great War. Most of these realms sprung out of the old Skythian Empire - the Empire that defeated the gods and the elves in a long series of wars known as the Godslayer Wars and the Wars of Domination. Having driven all supernatural influences out of the World of Man, the Empire then outlawed magic, a decree that stood for a thousand years.

Throughout the Third Age, the Erians have stood divided between the two rivalling belief systems of the Cabal of Pure Thought and the Temple of Man Supreme. Both believed that humans were the highest form of life in all Creation, and that any other race was a blasphemy. 

The Cabal held hard work and rational thought to be the ideals all should strive towards, and against which all were measured. In the last years, the Cabal has been splintered, and most of the Northern Realms are now part of the Enlightened Alliance. This new alliance is united against the common enemy, the Sleeper in the Deep. It also recognises the importance of magic in this fight, and has removed many of the old laws against the supernatural.

The Temple on the other hand, worships the pure soul of man. It has become infiltrated and controlled by dark conspiracies secretly aiding the Enemy. In Southern Eria, religious fervour and old superstitions are being whipped into a frenzy of fear and hatred, most of this directed against the Enlightened Alliance and the witches and demons who control it. This hatred is also directed at any one suspected of witchcraft or free thinking; the smoke of the pyres have long been a common sight over the cities, towns and villages of the South.

Another factor in this age is the return of the gods. Most of the gods of man were slain, and their worshippers were killed or driven into exile as the Second Age drew to a close. Now a few of the old gods are returning, and new ones are appearing as man tuns to the supernal for aid and consolation. Temples and shrines are appearing all over Northern Eria, while the Black Hand persecutes any such worship with ruthless vigour in the South.

The World of Argos
Argos is more than Eria. To the north we find the Wild, a great land-mass covered in impenetrable wilderness, steep mountains, endless plains, and deep, dark forests. Only the northern shores of the White Ocean and the western coast of the Wild has been settled. These are both shielded from the Wild by ragged mountain ranges, and few humans have braved the lands behind. Rumours and legends tell of ruins of lost civilizations, and of foul creatures inhabiting this large white area on the map.

To the east we find the enormous Principality of Wukowsky. This feudal realm stretches from the eastern shores of the White Ocean and into the icy Lands of Endless Winter. While the Erian kingdoms have reached a state of enlightened development, the Principality is stranded in a dark-age agricultural society. The nobility lives in unfathomable opulence - the serfs live a life of endless toil and hardship.

Further south we come to the Hannuman Caliphate, a large realm consisting of deserts, jungles and archipelagos. It is ruled by the Council of Awakened Viziers, a conglomerate of religious magicians following the teachings of Aziz. One of the first major battles of the Great War was fought on the sands of the Caliphate, and it was in this battle that Aziz gave his life so that the fallen Daeva, Grishnak, could be defeated by the first of the younger gods,  the Lord of Nightmares. 

The death of the Daeva released a flood of magical energy that caused a mass of awakenings all over Argos, nowhere more so than in the Caliphate. The war on Grishnak also left countless nightmares free to roam the lands, and today the Caliphate is still struggling to rebuild.

Before we leave these lands, two distinct realms should be mentioned. One is the Hermetic Order State, located on the northern shores of the White ocean. The other is Draccia, home of the Wolf Lords. These mythocracies survived the the wars on the supernaturals that cleansed the World of Man of their kind, and has become a part of the world as the Erians sees it.

The Hermetic State is ruled by the Ordo Hermetica, probably the oldest magical order in the world. Few outside the Order has been past the port city of Goeteshafen, but rumours tell of weird and wondrous things being commonplace between the mountains that shield the lush farmlands of the realm.

Draccia, on the other hand, is a feudal state where the Wolf Lords make up the ruling class. These shape-shifters seldom venture outside their borders, but lately they have become involved in the Great War, as have the Hermetics.

South of Eria, on the other side of the treacherous waters of the Straits of Ahriman, lies the Dark Continent. Legend has it that it was here that Man first arose from the dust of Creation, and that it was here that the Sleeper in the Deep fell onto Argos. It was also here that the First great War was fought. Since then, the continent has been all but abandoned by the civilized tribes, and up until recently the only known settlements were in the Old Colonies on the north of the continent.

A generation ago, the Orc tribes of the Dark Continent became united under a great warlord named Ghurandahk. In but a few years he had acquired industry, and forged his race into a vast army. This army he first turned on the Old Colonies, and before any force could be brought to bear, he had conquered all of the human realms on the continent.

An army was assembled to reclaim the lost colonies and defeat the Dark Horde. This army, the Host of Man, was the first human force in more than a thousand years to be supported by magic. Still, after months of fighting gruesome battles against this terrible enemy, the campaign had to be abandoned.  Now the Dark Continent is outside the World of Man.

In the far east lies the Kithayan Empire, called the Empire in the Middle of Time by themselves. Few Erians have ever been this far east, and even fewer have been allowed to travel these mysterious lands. The Kithayans themselves seldom travel the world outside their borders, and what exchange there is between Eria and this realm is through trade conducted mostly by Hannuman merchants.

The last place we'll visit on this tour is the Waymar Islands, far to the west of Eria. It was here that the Covenant between humans and elves was signed at the end of the Second Age. These rich islands have drawn adventurers and dissidents from the Erian realms ever since, and many an adventuring gentleman has struck rich on trade or other, less honest endeavours on the Islands.

Finally, beyond the Empty Sea, somewhere over the horizon, legends say that there is a vast and beautiful land, the land of the elves. Some claim to have been there, but none have been able to recall the course they sailed, or what star they followed to reach those distant shores. Many more are those who have set out to find the elven harbours, only to never be heard from again.

The Book of Worlds
The world of Argos is a part of a greater multiverse. This multiverse encompasses all of Creation, and all the metaphysical planes. The Prime Material plane, or the physical reality, is where we find Argos. Other worlds and other planes have an interest in the events taking place here, and sometimes agents from these places will meddle or interfere with what's going on here.  Still, while these outside forces may try to affect the world of Argos, they are not the focus of the story.

The most active of these outsiders are the Ordo Ultima Thule. This organization comes from a dead world far away, and their goal is to awaken the Sleeper in the Deep. They are far more advanced than the cultures of Argos, and they employ dark arts and foul rituals to warp the human body and soul to serve their blasphemous goals.

The Game
The Pius Chronicles ware about mystery, magic, horror, and the eternal struggle against good and evil. It is about the fallibility, and the folly, of man. They were about telling a captivating story, and seeing the characters and the setting change and grow as a result of the choices made.

The game was Mage: the Awakening, with elements of the other White Wolf-lines thrown in. There were also elements of fantasy added to the mix, as well as a liberal dash of Call of Cthulhu - the Sleeper in the Deep is in fact the Great Old One.

Further reading
The following posts also provide valuable information on the setting.
Argos, a short introduction - the first introduction post, written when the world was still relatively young.
Atlas, vol. I - a Flikr album that contains most of the maps I have drawn for Argos. A work in progress.
Chapters - here you can find play-reports of the previous sessions.
Historical References - this is the label I use when I publish source material from our own history.
Languages - A list of the languages spoken on Argos.
Mechanics - under this label you will find some of the house-rules of the BoW, as well as a few resources for playing and understanding the system.
Metaphysical Topography - here you can read about the various planes, and how they relate to the physical reality.
The Pantheon of Argos - an overview of contemporary deities.
Timeline - this timeline is kept up to date, and most important events are listed.
Tower of Heavens - the Rosetta Stone of the Book of Worlds. This is the first written material ever produced for this setting, and almost everything since is based upon this.

Under the "Index" header in the side-bar of this blog you will find a list of links to informative posts and resources of my own making. Further down, under "Other Resources," you can find relevant off-site resources that will help you build and play a character in the Book of Worlds.

[Artist: Keith Thompson]

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