REpubLIC OF Benem
Agemonia is a vast world, but the story of the game starts in the Republic of Benem with the player characters arriving in the northern town of Runedale.
Benem is an alliance of provinces and city states founded by the nihteegri, called Night Eyes by the other peoples. They are humanoids with long tails, sharp teeth and an inborn love for the stars.
Benemite society is ruled by noble houses which control their subjects with powerful magic, ruthless armies or, sometimes, by inspiring loyalty. Over the years the houses have risen and fallen in various wars and revolutions, but have now settled into an electoral college to choose an Arch-Magus to rule over all of the Republic.
Much of Benem is littered with ruined devices of an older civilization, the Ancients. Their monorail The Bluefire still connects the capital Starhaven to Orrery Hill and some smaller towns. Some of the bigger cities like Ambergate,
Kyther Point, and Runedale have to be accessed via roads, riverboats or airships.
Few in Benem anticipate what evil threats loom on the horizon for the Republic…
Thousands of years ago the nihteegri lived in primitive tribes who were in awe of the bridges, statues and cities left behind by the Ancients. These were clearly made by the gods or their descendants. Soon the tribes gathered around these divine places grew into permanent villages and towns.
Over time, towns grew into city states and clans into noble families. Over the centuries cities such as Starhaven, Mossport, Orrery Hill, Ambergate, and Runedale would ally and make war with one another, but stay connected by culture, religion, language, and love for the stars.
Science led by the Cosmographers’ Guild, and trade led by the Council of Eight brought these Benemite queendoms and polises into prosperity. However, the noble houses and the priesthood grew more and more oppressive, and despite several serf uprisings, nothing could be done.
180 years ago liberal noble houses, commoners, and the cosmographers united in rebellion against the royal house and the pagan priesthood. This led into a bloody civil war, from which eventually rose the Republic of Benem. Serfs were given more rights, and large temples were turned into trade palaces ruled first by the Council of Eight and now by the Amethyst Order.
Over a century and a half, the united Republic of Benem has seen its share of troubles and wars, and has recently withstood electric storms, spreading fungal forests and other strange phenomena. But with the development of airships and the devices of the Ancients powering up, the Republic is ready to take on this challenge.
Benem is a class society, formally ruled by nobility. Each province and city state is ruled by a Magi, the leader of the reigning noble house. Each province also gets to name a representative into the Electoral College which is a form of parliament sitting in the capital Starhaven. Typically an Elector is a relative to the local Magus.
The Electoral College votes on the Supreme Arch-Magus, who is the formal leader of The Republic of Benem. The post has been occupied by Hinwiss Highweld for the past eighteen years.
Most citizens are serfs or peasants, but not all the power is in the hands of the nobility. With the downfall of the pagan temples, the Cosmographers’ Guild holds a near monopoly on the people’s souls, offering scientific, astrological and medical guidance.
Most trade is conducted through the Amethyst Order, an Agemonia-wide organization with tradehouses in almost every city. In the Benemite towns of Runedale and Ambergate they have been given taxation rights in return for providing some key social services. The Council of Eight used to be a big player combining magic and trade, but has now lost most of its power and glory.
Not everyone is happy with the current state of the Republic, and the most prominent group of rebels are the Sable Crown. They steal from the rich, sometimes give to the poor, recruit from the lower classes and the minorities, and are becoming an ever bigger threat to the establishment.
The main religion in Benem is science. The Cosmographer’s Guild observes the heavens, making predictions on comets, eclipses, and planetary conjunctions. They also teach algebra, geometry, astrology, medicine, history, and other noble pursuits.
Before the civil war most nihteegri believed in a pantheon of goddesses, and while such pagans still exist, they are seen as backward and simple-minded. Statues of the goddesses are a common sight all around Benem. The most prominent pagan deities are Lanimora, the goddess of nature, Mazurai, the goddess of death and war, Sominar, the goddess of life and the stars, and Xirion, the goddess of magic and trade. Most constellations are named after the goddesses.
Some decades ago Benem was approached by a new religion or philosophy called The Cult of the Fifth Eye. The believers seek out relics of the Ancients, trying to understand more about those who inhabited Agemonia before nihteegri and the other modern peoples. The Cult of the Fifth Eye was seen as a fringe group until a dozen years ago when the devices of the Ancients started powering up. Since then there has been an influx of worshippers in their churches.
In bigger Benemite cities there are minorities of other peoples, as well. Quothians worshipping the bones of their ancestors, Korallians and their deep-water deities and their Creators, sun-worshipping ignisaurs, and pattangans believing in totems. And who knows what strange religions may yet be created when all these beliefs clash and evolve?
Money makes even Agemonia go round. The most valuable Benemite coins are moonsilver stars, followed by golden suns and copper moons of two different sizes.
Until recently, minting money was only legal in the capital, Starhaven, by the cosmographers of the Celestial Mint. Nowadays, the Amethyst Order has been granted the right to manufacture coins as well.
Indeed, the power of the Amethyst Order trade emporium has grown so much it is now the biggest financial player in Benem and all of Agemonia. Even bigger than the korallian corporations or the Council of Eight, which used to be in charge of much of commerce.
The Amethyst Order controls all trade in agura crystals, minerals, and metals. It is also a large importer in pattangan timber and quothian silk. Its caravans go to the farthest reaches of Agemonia, be it the snow-covered Veletian Mountains, or importing exotic gold from the Megeian Empire beyond the ocean.
On top of that, each noble house runs their own operations, trading with one another or making deals with foreign investors. One of the biggest trade partners is the free nihteegri city of Mossport, famous for its wealth and its devotion to old pagan customs.
Much business is also conducted with the korallian corporations, each effectively an underwater city unto itself. The competitive corporations play a rough game of trade wars and shifting alliances, but some rumors say they have a common plan, playing the Benemite houses against one another. The korallians provide fish and other seafood, amber, luminescent pearls, corals, and expensive dyes.
Benem’s main exports are game, crafts, wine, potions, scrolls and moonsilver. Caravans, foreign merchants, bazaars, and cargo ships or carts are common sights in all Benemite towns.
The world of Agemonia is full of many strange and wondrous peoples, but the Republic of Benem is mostly home to the nihteegri. Yet there are traders, sailors, immigrants, and other small groups of other peoples living in Benemite towns, some of which do not sport yellow eyes and a tail, but instead horns or even wings.
To the north of Benem live the clans of four-armed pattangans, and individuals are a common sight in Benemite towns. Most commonly spotted are porters or beggars who have left their native lands for some reason better left undiscussed. Often they are addicted to magical herbs such as voidbloom. Trade caravans regularly arrive in the northern towns such as Runedale, where wealthier pattangan merchants have made much lucrative business.
Benem’s neighbor to the south is the underwater Thalassocracy of Zheebul where the korallians live. Their corporations make lots of business with Benem’s noble houses and the Amethyst Order, often setting up shop in coastal towns. There is another class called the dry korallians who live in poverty and may be employed or enslaved by wealthy nihteegri. Many korallians and nihteegri also live in the pirate state of Shiver Retreat which plagues the coastline on both sides of the surface.
Ignisaurs are uncommon in Benem, but there is an enclave of them in the capital Starhaven. They are allied to house Highweld working as elite soldiers and bodyguards.
Another rare sight are the bird-beaked quothians from the dark forest called Heartwood. The superstitious consider seeing them an ill omen, even if most of them are just female silk merchants. Quothian males are seen as cattle, but sometimes one manages to escape and seeks refuge in Benem.
Some Benemite towns also have a few agurians, the stone people from the mountains around the Mutelands. Centuries ago one of them, Xotho, tried to take subjugate all the other peoples of Agemonia under his will. Everyone knows agurians live forever, but somehow everyone claims they have no memory of these events, or if they do, they had no part in them. Indeed, they seem more melancholic than dangerous. Their immense physical strength and ability to create agura crystals finds them employment wherever they go.
There are also nihteegri minorities living in Benem, such as people from different parts of the country who have moved for one reason or another. The biggest of these is undoubtedly the pagans who never gave up on the old gods, refusing to embrace the light of reason and cosmography. They congregate around old statues and mostly keep to themselves, but one never knows who is one of them. Rumor has it all of them support the criminal Sable Crown league.
Benem has wonderful flora, fauna and geography. Much of this will be the stage and backdrop for the first part in Agemonia!
From the bioluminescent forest of Gleamwood to the floating rocks of Shattered Pass, the nature of Benem is full of wonders that are both beautiful and magical in nature. Indeed, the plentiful wilds provide so much game, herbs, and berries for the nihteegri they have little need for agriculture.
Naedel Falls are magnificent waterfalls flowing into the Nary River. The cliffs from which they start used to be a rich source of moonsilver, creating the base of house Maddarch’s vast wealth. It is said even the water itself had glistened in tones of silver. Now the mines are abandoned, but the caves provide shelter for beasts and outlaws.
The crystal mountains of Reflection Range mirror and enhance the light of the sun, making it almost painful to approach them on a bright day. In time of the ancients the whole range consisted of the magical agura crystal, but since they left the range became as unmagical as it is beautiful.
Still, the Reflection Range carries one of the strangest sights in all of Agemonia: the stone faced gates of Lok Torr.
Centuries ago an evil agurian named Xotho tried to conquer the whole world with his army. No one knows just how the army was defeated, but according to rumor it was locked inside Lok Torr, waiting to return. The face on the gates may be a depiction of Xotho, or it may be Xotho himself!
River Throyle originates in the large swampland of Gnatmarsh in Throyle province. Pagans used to believe the seven ponds flowing into the river represent the seven stars in goddess Sominai’s constellation. The marshland is rich with herbs and mushrooms, but plagued by weird monsters and pestering bugs. These creatures present a constant threat to house Tabbart who rules over the province.
Gleamwood is beautiful, which is why it is also so dangerous. The magical trees collect sunlight and at night communicate with hypnotic lights. It is wondrous to behold and causes euphoria, sleepiness, and addiction. The area of the glowing forest is contested between houses Maddarch and Bryndelion. Both would like to claim ownership of Gleamwood because of the expensive star lotus that grows wild in the forest.
But not all nature is beneficial. The cancerous fungal forests destroy healthy plants and trees replacing them with pulsating purple mushrooms. Slugvale and Rotwood seem to grow more and more rapidly, emit strange mists, and attract demons and other vile creatures.
Like all of Agemonia, the Republic of Benem is inhabited by creatures both strange and wondrous. To see a majestic guivren in flight is a sight for sore eyes, but if you come across a venorian critterer, you better run, because its telepathic hive mind will have alerted the huge hive mother…
Perhaps the most useful of all the beasts of Benem is the togrel. These large, furry mammals act as steeds and beasts of burden, and are considered something of an unofficial emblem of the Republic and the nihteegri.
There are countless folk stories, songs, and customs related to the togrel, which both praise the creatures for their strength and size, and make fun of their smell and aggressive nature. “Calm as a togrel” is one way of calling someone way too short tempered.
While the towns of Benem are usually well protected, the roads and the vast swaths of wilderness are full of creatures of all kinds. Herds of game animals may be followed by groups of nihteegri hunters, and likewise nihteegri travelers may be ambushed by carnivores bigger than them. Creatures, sentient and not, eat each other, and that is the way it has always been.
Perhaps this is the reason why animals are rarely kept in captivity and never bred as livestock. It would be considered off-putting and criminal to keep plenty of game animals in your yard simply to be slaughtered them later. That said, some animals are kept due to their usefulness, such as the ophira messenger butterflies, or the grics which can smell valuable herbs and mushrooms.
Large herds of three-horned gronts often ruminate under the open sky, and farmers try to keep them from their fields with ineffectual fences. Sometimes thousands of gronts can even enter a town, blocking streets and eating all the flowers and hedges. Locals may try to negotiate with them, but all one really can do is clean up afterwards.