An angry sea lit by a dying red sun has clawed away most of the islands of the world. Now, in a realm dominated by scum and tyrants, Gentlemen and Gentlewomen take to the seas. They fly the Black Flag in the name of Virtue. Ruined and toppled monuments dot the ocean; fallen colossi once made to glorify titans, Gods, and mortal heroes. The curtain has yet to fall, but the ropes are being readied.
Mankind outgrew empires and divinities and replaced it with an Age of Reason. They were convinced they had moved beyond the need for Gods, who they more and more began to regard as evil and primitive. In the absence of Gods, it was reasoned, mankind could flourish in higher forms and seek freedom and leisure. Just as the Gods usurped dominion from those before them, so too did mankind destroy the race of the Gods and enslaved the Pantheon that dwelt on the Isle of Firs and Poinsettias.
The Lord of Leagues (an unforgiving Sea God), the Lady of Kisses (a love goddess), the Fool of Feasts (a wine god), and the Sun King (the highest god) now lie imprisoned there. The bodies of their kin molder in the ocean, pocked-through by eels and crabs. The Order of the Golden Gull kill their sacred albatross, lest the Gods use these birds to ferry messages between one another. If such a thing could happen, the Gods might again threaten mankind’s maturation. The enslaved Gods are forced to pray to the glories of mankind, now. The Order is now known as the Gull-Hunters by the Gentlefolk. Their order has receded into secrecy and conspiracy. Their roster is unknown and forgotten to the Lowlives.
The Three Seas are each cursed in their own way. The southern Sharkbitten Sea is rife with hurricanes. The eastern Sea of Smitten Idols is full of deadly reefs, shoals, and is littered with the remains of ancient monuments. The western Urchin Sea is prone to doldrums, where hope dies with the wind. Sailing in the north is suicide; the ice permits no interlopers. The world once sported thickly forested islands laden with game. Their names evoke gratitude: Goodharbor, Lovelylake, Harvesthall. The ancient land, now known as the Dry, has been eroded to a fraction of its glory. The great cities of antiquity have been claimed by the wrath of the Lord of Leagues. The Dry is not a fortunate place to dwell. Each island is ruled by a Governor (although they may claim many titles) who are, to a man, universally nefarious. Consequently, the Dry is not a place ruled over by wisdom and Virtue does not flourish there.
The inhabitants of the Dry are called Lowlifes, for their lives are self-absorbed, wasteful, and lowly. This comprises the overwhelming majority of all souls upon the Winedark Seas. There are, however, noble spirits, an uncommon minority, who are called Gentlemen and Gentlewomen. Unlike their terrestrial counterparts, they take the seas under the Black Flag to signal their hostility to the tyrants and their bad behavior. Indeed, despite the terrible curses and numberless dangers of the watery wastes, men can find freedom on the whitecaps. This cannot be said of the drunken farmer or the joyless pickpocket.
Gentlefolk take on Affectations, styles that reflect personal philosophy, as a reaction to the fallen state of the world. Those who see human beings as animals are of the Cynical Affectation. Those who seek fame and the Eight Hundred and Eight Worthy Treasures are of the Vivant Affectation. Those who champion the virtues of Love and Eros are of the Erotic Affectation. Those who project an air of Wickedness to intimidate their enemies are of the Nefarious Affectation. Those religious souls who mourn the Gods are of the Penitent Affectation. Those who champion Beauty and the glory of days passed are called the Romantic Affectation.
The Fraternal Order of Maritime Captains are the only people able to perform the duties of a captain on ships. This is because their craft is specialized as the commander of any vessel must either take the curse of the Lord of Leagues upon themselves, or lose their crew to the fury of the Sea. The means of being granted such a curse is a secret closely guarded by the Fraternal Order.
Make Up Requirement and Advantages
Gentlepersons from the Winedark Seas are born into a world which has no pity left to give. It is only through common purpose and talent that they thrive at all. And, despite the fact that their cause is all but lost, it is noble, beautiful, and powerful. Every Gentleperson is a hero in a world that has long since left heroes behind. Consequently, they receive a 5 character point discount for each level in one particular trait, claimed as their Heroic Trait during Character Creation. This means they have receive level 2 for 10 character points, level 3 for 25, and so on.
An Out of Play Discussion of the Winedark Seas
Note that given the role-playing restrictions placed on Gentlefolk characters, concepts will be closely scrutinized for appropriateness.
The Winedark Seas draws upon two sources for inspiration: swashbuckling pulp and the 19th century Romantic movement of English poetry. Characters from this setting are intended to be heroic in tone, but because Fractured is a dark fantasy setting, their ideal of Virtue is a lost cause. The age of heroes in this setting is long past, if it existed at all. Therefore, although Gentleperson characters are intended to be “good” guys, their existence is fundamentally tragic. Their “Code” may very well get them killed, or worse, ostracized by more survival-oriented people. Player characters cannot begin play as Lowlifes or as members of the Fraternal Order of Maritime Captains or the Order of the Golden Gull.