Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tyranny in Heaven (Sunless Horizon)

The Navigator Houses are the most important civilization in Sunless Horizon - as the assumed home of the characters, it'll be the first group the players interact with. Because of this need, it's more standard - a nice, easy to understand, feudal nightmare dystopia.

The 11 Houses are desperate - since the Retreat, they've lost most of their manufacturing capability, all of their territory, and all of their context. Now, they're frantically scrabbling to grab as much as they can before another House manages to.

The Houses
The 11 Houses all work on the same feudal framework, but conditions are vastly different between them. For example, in House Thamiel, the military is so thinly-spread keeping hold of far-flung territory that other factions have started to gain influence in the cities. House Harab Serapel has a long-standing tradition of councils - any noble position must be held by at least 2 people.

The Peasants
The vast majority of the Navigator Houses' population is in the peasantry - farmers, artisans, workers of all types. They have no power, no food, no money, and no medicine. They are taught little about the world - from above comes the belief of the Peasant Gods, and from within come their own superstitions.

Their money flows upwards, to the nobility - if they don't pay in gold, the nobles will take their tithe in blood.

The Nobility
They stand 10 feet tall, hidden under baroque robes and masks. They never speak, communicating to their herald-interpreters in obscure sign languages. They say they are perfect and immortal.

Over generations, they have improved their bodies and minds, bending their flesh to their will. But now, their mistakes begin to reveal themselves. They rot from the inside, consumed by innumerable cancers and plagues.

They need flesh. Flesh to fuel the bioengineering machines that made them into what they are. Flesh to prolong their life, if even for a day.

As long as the tithes come up from the peasants, as long as the machines still function, they will never die.

Their Ranks 
Banner-Bearer: Knights and commanders, though they hold no lands. They are expected to lead in battle.
Overseer: Leaders of a city and its surrounding lands - they have total control over the Watch, the taxes, the planning, everything.
Hierarch: Controllers of a province, taking taxes up from their Overseers, and leading their Army during wartime.
Lord Navigator: They lead the Houses, collecting tithes from the Hierarchs below. Once, they met in councils to decide the future of the Navigator Houses, but now they fight petty wars for territory and control.

Their Lie
The Lord Navigators are in control of the ship. Keter is simply a servant who broke His bonds. As long as the Navigator Houses stay stable, and the nobility stays in control, they will reach their destination.

Their Armies
Each Hierarch builds their own army out of soldiers offered up from their Overseers. These armies are used to expand their holdings, fight back against incursions from the wilderness, and keep their Overseers in line.

In times of true war, all Overseers have their armies commandeered by the Lord Navigators.

Their Jackals
The Jackals are scavengers, sent out into the cold halls of Ein Sof to return riches to the nobility. They are given nothing - no supplies, no training, no assistance. They are made of conscripts, the desperate, and the violent.


  1. Sunless Horizon's cool yo

    What would you use as the starting scenario/premise for a game in this setting?

    1. "You are Jackals, go find stuff." works as a good starting premise - it gives an excuse to go explore the world and meet all the factions, letting you do a big sandbox game. And, between the end goals of "replace the Navigator Houses with something not built on a literal lie and ruled by space vampires" and "make that AI stop trying to kill everyone", you get good reasons for the PCs to ally themselves will all of these different groups, instead of fighting everyone.

      You could also have them be members of the nobility, and have a domain-focused campaign of diplomacy and sneakiness.

      A mercenary campaign, like Skerples has been working on, would be good if you have the war between the Houses start as soon as the campaign does.

      I'm also working on a one-shot dungeon for trying out the setting, but it's really built for longer things.


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