Setting Overview

An Introduction to the Shifting LARP.

 Setting:

For thousands of years, there was one race on the Earth – humanity. They dominated the globe, and nowhere moreso than the continent of Corvantin, heartland of civilisation and cradle of mankind. Guided by the Five Gods of Enlightenment, humanity raised its hands to the heavens in search of glory and peace. Although the dread Goddess Thalae – Patron of Despair and Decay – gnawed at the roots of prosperity and incited brother to strike brother in armed conflict the majority of people lived quiet and peaceful lives. Science and the arts were well supported, and the world began to enter a golden age of civilisation – a Renaissance of learning and culture.

Each person was defined by one of the Six Elements which make up all things – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood and Shadow. The opposition between the Elements drove the great Cycle of Life, and ensured that all were equal. A person’s Element defined them, inspired them, and guided their role in society. Even those touched by Shadow – distrusted and feared though they may be – still filled vital roles in society.

Then, from nowhere, The Shifting came. Taking the form of a dense fog, it rolled in from the coast and began swallowing up the land. All those it touched, changed. The Elements revolted within those affected, twisting their forms and Shifting them into new races, new beings. The land itself became to mutate and warp, and as The Shifting rolled ever further inland, devouring fiefdom after fiefdom, so the terrified mass of humanity swarmed further in to the centre of Corvantin, abandoning their homes and family in desperate flight.

The College of Enlightenment, greatest institute of magical and scholarly learning in all the world, were the only ones to stand firm at this time of chaos and despair. Sacrificing their lives, 15 of the most powerful Earth mages enacted spells of power hither-to unseen, and established the Anchors – potent magical barriers which hold back the might of The Shifting.

What was lost during this time, none can rightly know. The terror and fear of the flight inland was compounded by the wars and conflicts that broke out at the time, incited by fear and further fuelled by the machinations of Thalae and her quisling cults. Entire fiefdoms were swallowed up, their inhabitants – noble and serf alike – killed or changed into new forms. Libraries and churches were burned, as people turned against those scholars and priests who failed to protect them. The history of Corvantin was lost to the ashes, and the future looked equally bleak.

From the chaos and war, one man rose – Corbrey Vanadon, Elector-Knight of the fiefdom of Arador, rose up to seize command in an iron fist. He and his forces smashed all opposition, eventually establishing the central Kingdom as it now stands. Of the many, seven fiefdoms were rescued and united under his command – now named Dominions, their lands are severely reduced from what they once were.

That was 200 years ago. Since then, the Kingdom of Corvantin has sought to return to the glorious heights it once enjoyed, but this is no simple matter. The light of civilisation is surrounded on all sides by the changing chaos of The Shifting. Twisted beings – once humans like everyone else – boil over the borders in howling masses, seeking unknowable goals. So much learning and history has been lost to the dark ages of the Eruption that the foundations are beginning to break.

Even within the Dominions, mankind has no easy task. The prevalence of The Shifted – those humans touched and changed by The Shifting into one of the six new races – has marked a dramatic change in social order, and they represent a growing and dissatisfied underclass seeking justice. The death-cults of Thalae continue to grow fat on the fear and despair of sheltered humanity. The Gods have grown silent and distant. And, it is rumoured, the Anchors are beginning to fail…

 

The Characters:

You play a member of the vaunted Order of the Gryphon. A former mercenary company, the Order of the Gryphon was fully ratified during the reign of Queen Elissa – the successor to Corbrey the Uniter – and has become a force to be reckoned with. No longer merely sell-swords, the Order of the Gryphon are the Crown’s elite special forces – a collection of rogues of disparate skills, experiences and motivations united to handle those tasks too dangerous for the average militia, too sensitive for a bumbling noble, too vital to risk to anyone else.

Drawn together from all walks of life and all races, membership of the Order of the Gryphon is a great honour, and the only way any member of The Shifted can hope to have any real influence on the policies of the realm.

 

The Elements:

All things in the world of The Shifting LARP are driven by the Six Elements which make up all things, and choosing your Element is the most important part of your character. A characters Element dictates many things – which skills they find easier, which magics they can access, what race they can play (or, indeed, become.) It also affects their personalities, their usual role in society, and may lend suggestions for professions, hobbies and the like.

While all members of an Element will share some personality traits, that is not to say that they are all the same, nor is it to dictate how you must play your character. These are merely suggestions as to the affinities and traits people of those Elements usually exhibit, and it is up to you how much or how little these traits ca be found in your character.

One small addendum, however, is this: Shifted folk, being closer to their Element by virtue of their very nature, tend to exhibit characteristics somewhat stronger than unShifted Humans. Again, though, it is up to you as a player how much you wish to play this.

Wood:

Wood is the Element of life, the natural order and all things contained within it. Wood has dominion over healing, rebirth, the animals and trees. Wood also has no particular issues with death – as that is a part of the natural order. Undeath, however, and the twisting touch of The Shifting, are anathema to this Element.

It is an unsophisticated Element, and this tends to be reflected in the sense of humour of Wood-aspected folk. Wood people tend to revel in the simple things in life, and the natural pleasures to be found therein – fellowship, feasting, drinking, love-making.

The opposed Element to Wood is that of Shadow.

Earth:

Earth is the element of stability, defence and constancy. While not the proactive Element, Earth endures all that can be thrown at it, and shields those weaker behind them. Earth is also the Element of artisans, craftsmen, farmers and smiths.

More so than most other Elements, Earth has a strong sense of justice and a hatred of injustice. While generally patient and understanding,  when finally roused to fury an Earth person can be an implacable foe.

The opposed Element to Earth is that of Air.

Fire:

Fire is the Element of creation and destruction, inspiration and ingenuity. Inconstant, ever-changing and passionate, many may feel Fire is fickle, but that is the nature of the beast. Fire burns away the old so it may be replaced by the new, and Fire lights the darkness to give hope to the fearful masses.

Fire people tend to be extremely sociable, loving the company of others and delighting in being all things to all people. They do tend to the fickle, however, and rarely hold to oaths made. While Fire people are generally quite intelligent, it is rarely the considered acumen of Air people – more, a knack for leaps of logic and insight.

The opposed Element to Fire is that of Water.

Shadow:

Shadow is the Element of death, decay, and all that lies beyond. Shadow is the necessary evil, acting as the counterpoint to Wood and exhibiting the harsh face of nature just as Wood is (generally) the more benevolent side. Shadow also encompasses a host of unpleasant aspects – the futility of life, the inevitability of dissolution and rot, and the twisting of primal forces to sinister ends

That is not to say, however, that Shadow people are all evil, untrustworthy, wicked or cruel. They merely reflect that aspect found within each of us. They tend to solitude and secrecy – as much by social pressure as by personal preference. They are generally fascinated by the forbidden, and a need to meddle in things which they are not supposed to. A morbid sense of humour is also a frequently found trait, as is a more mercenary attitude.

The opposing Element to Shadow is that of Wood.

Air:

Air is the Element of intelligence, understanding, investigation and knowledge. While Earth provides a solid foundation to build upon, it is Air which reaches for the heavens and seeks to expand understanding.

Air people tend to the scholarly, and even those who do not find their calling amongst the libraries and colleges still usually have a passion for discovery, secrets and reading. They tend to the impractical, leaving everyday necessities to others, and can lose themselves in unravelling problems and puzzles.

The opposing Element to Air is that of Earth.

Water:

Water is the most peculiar of all the Elements, and by far the hardest Element to define in terms of shared traits and the like. One major aspect of Water is that of empathy, and emotion. However – it is important to note – not necessarily compassion. Water has a fondness for manipulation, using a person’s emotions as leverage, and this rarely lends itself to happiness.

Water is also an Element of stasis, of preserving the past, and traditionalism. These two traits can combine into leaders, tacticians and organisers; however there is also a tendency to follow the path of least resistance rather than find a new way to do things, unless there is no alternative.

Water people tend towards conservatism and manipulation, to leadership by privilege and a fondness for the old ways. It is no surprise that many of the senior noble families around the Kingdom are headed by Water people.

The opposing Element to Water is that of Fire.

 

The Shifted:

While Humanity remains the dominant race, six other races have also emerged, each linked to one of the six Elements. These races are treated as second-class citizens at best, slaves and monsters at worse. Barred from holding any position of authority, used mostly as dirty labour or shock troops, it is an unhappy time for the Shifted. It is, perhaps, an unpalatable truth that anyone – regardless of their birth, rank, privilege or station – may become a Shifted upon exposure to The Shifting. It is this fear that drives the distrust and hatred aimed towards them.

For Wood, there are the Therian – the most disparate of all races, the bestial Beastkin exhibit the traits and appearance of the animal world writ large upon their twisted forms. They are the most primal of all the races, and the most shaped by their appearance into the least human of all.

For Earth, there are the Dwarrow – a hardy race known for the quality of their craftsmanship and the sturdiness of their shields. They are mostly a dour folk, focused on practicalities, with little time for flights of fancy.

For Fire, there are the Efreet – alchemists, scientists, poets and performers. As Fire is the element of change, so do they bring inspiration and transmutation in their wake. Despite the burdens of their station, Efreet are generally jolly folk, witty and entertaining.

For Shadow, there are the Ramanga – mostly solitary, morbid and quiet. They are predators who are doomed to eventually feed on the life force of others, and many embrace this tragedy to become the monsters they are feared to be.

For Air, there are the Sylphs – a flighty and intellectual people. They focus on study and investigation, history and learning. They can lose many days contemplating a problem until it is resolved, and their sharp and cutting wit can stop many a discussion.

For Water, there are the Rusalka – calculating, insightful and thoughtful. They are an empathic people, emotional and dedicated. When set to a goal, they will always see it done – for just as a mountain can be winnowed into sand by the rain, so too can anything be accomplished given time and planning.


The Gods:

As there are six Elements, so too there are six Gods – the five Gods of Enlightenment, who raise humanity to the shining pinnacles of civilisation, and standing against them, Thalae, who seeks nothing more than to see all fall away into darkness and fear. All of the Gods are worshipped, and even Thalae receives prayers of propitiation and warding, for to turn one’s back on the Gods invites destruction.

Shanyith:

God of the Book, Father of Knowledge, Shanyith is the eldest in the pantheon and rules it with a kindly word and a keen insight. His is the Element of Air, and he epitomises the search for understanding and revelation that characterises the best and brightest. Under his tutelage, the libraries flourish, the scholars delve and the philosophers debate.

Gaianna

Lady of the Forest, Protector of the Cycle, Gaianna stands sits to Shanyith’s right hand side. Hers is the Element of Wood – the beasts of the field, the silence of the deep forest, all that grows and strives. She is the giver of life and the bringer of healing. Her enemy is all that corrupts of perverts the natural order, and she spearheads the fight against both Thalae’s undead forces and the foul perversion of The Shifting.

Axandia

The Changing One, Flame’s Muse, Axandia stands to the right hand side of Gaianna. She is a fickle Goddess, flighty and mischievous. Hers is the Element of Fire – the spark of inspiration, the potential to change and create, the pure untapped possibilities of imagination. She is the inspiration of artists and alchemists, poets and performers, spies and singers.

Terrena

Mistress of the Forge, the Mountain-Breaker, Terrena stands opposite to Shanyith and provides a firm foundation for the pantheon. Her patience is legendary, as is her memory. Hers is the Element of Earth, and she exemplifies the drive to craft and create. She is the patron of artisans and smiths, farmers and freemen.

Histevon

The Crying God, The Fateweaver, Histevon is the youngest and most fragile of the Gods. He sits between Shanyith and Thalae in the pantheon. His is the Element of Water, granting him a sensitivity that extends beyond emotions and motivations to the very strands of fate upon which we all dance. His perceptions are heightened to painful levels, and the discord of the world reduces him to the tears for which he is known.

Thalae

The Sorrowsmith. Mistress of Cold Nights. The Poison Whisper. The Dark Which Devours. Thalae has many titles and many faces, and behind all of them lie fear. She feeds on misery, decay and despair, and in this current time of conflict and sorrow she is grown fat indeed. She stands opposed to the Gods of Enlightenment, and strives to reduce civilisation to fragments, to drag all back to a time when the dark held nothing but dread. Despite her opposition, she remains bound to the Wheel and part of the pantheon, standing between Histevon and Terrena and directly opposite Gaianna. She is the patron to necromancers and murderers, traitors and thieves. Beneath her hand countless cults flourish, sharpening their knives in the dark.