Dark Ages and Dragon Gods

This teaser is the first posting for my “Dark Ages and Dragon Gods” setting for Savage Worlds. This is one of the four settings covered in my “Savage Characters” project which is available starting in Nov 2014 at DriveThruRpg. The setting itself is in development and playtest with some new races, new rules for your heritage (Raised as a Viking or Raised as a Roman for example), and some new magic (Trickster and Alchemy). Sign up for the Dragonlaird Gaming website or like our Facebook group to keep updated on happenings at Dragonlaird Gaming.

DARK AGES AND DRAGON GODS

Words of Lucius Cornelius Marcius, Acolyte of the Roman Draconic Church

“The bells? Why the bells ring to welcome in the Year of the Dragon God 399, all praise! I can think of no more wondrous time than this day. We bask in the glory of the Roman Empire under the benevolence of the Dragon God! Our Roman Draconic Church speaks the will of the Dragon God through his Pope and we obey. Our faith is spread from Boulogne to the shores of the Summer Sea by our Priests of the Scale. Our legions hammer on the gates of Byzantium and hold back the hordes of darkness. Our men of trade are found throughout the Known World. The Roman Empire is strong once again, spreading our civilization by word and by sword.

True, we do not rule an empire as large as the First Romans yet, but within the fire of the dragon we are powerful and protected. Let the feral tribes battle for scraps in the wilderness outside the light of knowledge. Let the Goths tend to their own when the trolls raid out of the Ruhr. Let the godless dwarves toil beneath their high Alps and the elves lurk in their black forests, lands no right man would seek out by choice.

Dangers lurk near and far to be sure. Even the lands outside our cities are vulnerable to the foul creatures which infest the wilderness: goblins, trolls, orcs, and dogmen. Perhaps most frightening are the Willowkin—those monsters who walk among us bearing the faces of our people and even our loved ones. Only true faith can save one’s soul from them.

But I dwell too much on the stuff of nightmares and perilous journeys. Here in the heart of Rome with the great Temple towering over us we can be the true men that the philosophers adore. We dine on the fruits of the Empire and bask in its glories. Who does not fill with pride to walk down the Palladius between the trophies of conquest: the obelisk of Aegyptus, the Starlight Fountain of the Elves, and the Titan of Athens?

The low classes work the fields for their lords and slaves serve masters as has always been. It is the way of the world. Our Draconic Lord be praised that serfs and slaves know their place. Only the ignorant and the heretics resist the rule of their natural superiors. The worst are the Solitarians, a plague spread from Jerusalem. You see their heretical graffiti everywhere on the walls of Rome. They worship a god in the blasphemous shape of a man. Why it is pure madness to believe that god is like us in our frail and vulnerable form! Our true God is made of stone and fire.

Sadly, even under the Dragon’s rule our exalted senators and nobles squabble with each other, setting their private armies against one another, grabbing for scraps of power. The Crown of the West has rested unclaimed upon the throne of the Gauls, but should one rise there, dark days of war would be ahead. Byzantium stands battered but unyielding, its lands consumed by Rome or the Salemic hordes from Africa. The Salemics infest the deserts of Africa and Aegyptus, raiding on Roman towns and ships. Their disregard for law is legendary. There are even stories from far north in Angland about a young king who has ascended to the Throne of the Isles and clings to it as he seeks allies in resisting his rivals. How anyone survives such terrible cold and the constant raids of the monstrous Northmen is beyond me!

Magic? Certainly magic is everywhere! It can be found in street fairs from the desert wastelands of the Southern Lands to the hovels of barbaric London, and in the shadow of the Great Temple here in Rome. Many can command a touch here or there to make their daily struggle a bit easier. It is true that in the enlightened places of the Roman Empire powerful practitioners of magic are respected and lauded. In others they are hunted and persecuted as heretics or demon-worshippers. Of course all must acknowledge the supremacy of the Church in all matters, but mages can have their role to play. Certainly any noble who plans to stay in power has a wizard or two at his beck and call to protect his person, his treasury, and, above all, his domain. His enemies will use it at every chance to steal from him or depose him for good. I even hear that in a few wilderness kingdoms of the North, wizards have eliminated the middle man and taken thrones for themselves.

Naturally, as powerful as wizards can become, they can never rival priests in their power. Granted supernatural abilities by the grace of the Dragon, our priests can work miracles far more potent than any magical trickery. More than just fortresses of faith and knowledge, the Church’s monasteries are often literal fortresses, relying on swords and priestly magics to repel monsters of the wilderness and the armies of covetous neighboring kingdoms.

To be sure some still cling to the Old Gods, the first gods of Rome, put down by the Coming of the Dragon. But their time has passed and they have little real power. Even their temples are all but rumors, torn down to build the One Temple upon their bones. The Gods of the barbarians cannot dim the light and power of our Draconic Father.

As ever, change is on the wind. Look now to the canals and ornate buildings of Venice, a young city rapidly growing to be one of the most prosperous in all of the Empire. With over three thousand ships in its mercantile fleet and a reserve of a thousand warships ready for any naval threat, Venice has quietly grown to rival Rome for rule of the Summer Sea. While they pay ready tribute to the Dragon every year, the Doge of Venice is plotting and preparing. I don’t see how we will avoid war if he does not come to Rome and submit to the Senate. Rumors of war between Venice and Rome are common in fishermen’s taverns and the banquet halls of the wealthy.

But you look like bright, adventurous folks even if you are obviously ‘fresh off the boat’. I’m sure you’ll find your way soon enough whether you join the legions, serve the Church itself, or even petition for charter as an Adventuring Company to enrich our Empire and confound those who plot against us. The choice is yours. Now, I believe there was a promise of wine for my guidance?”