The setting of Sacred Grounds LARP is the world of Aularia. Long ago, a wild event called "The Incursion" introduced magic into the world and essentially tore apart much of the surface, remaking landmasses and cities into something unrecognizable. Much of the population was killed and the few that remain were forever changed. What is known is that the elves once dominated the world during this pre-Incursion era, and humans and dwarves were also civilized but not nearly as powerful as they are today. The Incursion not only altered some of the existing denizens of Aularia, but it also made it possible for visitors from other planes to show up on their doorstep... some of them never having left, while others still trying to find ways back in after being beaten away by those that call Aularia home.
Thousands of years later, the world has gone through many changes, but the mark that the Incursion has left still plays an everyday role in Aularian life.
Aularia has just come out of the Age of Humanity, a period of time in which humans have risen to become the dominant race of the world. Imperialism has reared its head in the north, as either military action or the threat of it has caused five nations to coalesce into one under the rule of the Daltanic Empire. As a result of this growing threat, the city-states in the Aularian continent's true heartland formed the Gethanar Confederacy to unify and protect one another from any potential Daltanic threat.
Caught between these two nations are the holy cities of En's Hand, nations that claim strong links to each of the deities of the human pantheon, as well as Aular City, where humans experienced their rebirth after the Incursion. Many Seraphim live here, sometimes fully devoted to the Church of En, but other times following the ideals of pure justice and good.
To the east, the Mag'duar Dwarves toil away on their agricultural plots or in their mountain mines, not really taking much time to bother anyone except for trade purposes. In the sea, Jorhaul'duar Dwarves, once nearly rulers of all the known world, continue to seek out answers to ancient questions through their own, often violent, means.
Southward, Bara'kaa Runeblades of Sholbara watch their borders warily from their desert homes, wondering if outsiders will ever again invade in the name of holy and righteous war. Beneath them, another human nation, Capriana, where social progress has seen the fostering of art, philosophy, and even new technology that has raised the eyebrows of much of the world and put them on edge. Here, Vaniiri work along side humans and still hold the ever-diminishing power of the crown, while Orcs put their unmatched craftsmanship to good use making Varii notes.
West, the island of Tone'pep Lo is home to the Totemics, men and women with animal traits that follow a tribal lifestyle. Fae, migrants from another plane, have strung themselves across the world. Their agenda remaining mysterious to outsiders. Everywhere, where nature sprouts, the Wild Elves work in tandem with the spirit world to keep out the dangers of outsiders.
In recent history, exploration beyond the main continent has taken off. Islands in the southwest began revealing themselves to mortal eyes. Capriana was the first to gain a foothold in these new lands on the island of Casoria several decades ago. More recently, Gethanar took the island known as Landriga and Daltanica named its own patch Reinsburg. Vae'teer is home to conflict between Jorhaul and Wild Elves. Other islands have appeared, but their dangers have left them unclaimed. But one island has made the largest ripples in world politics: Lucania, claimed by Capriana and named after the Princess herself.
As Capriana explored the island, they soon learned that it had massive deposits of everything, from Mithril to Vulcanium and to Ilium itself. Plants and trees seemed to grow here that only grew in specific parts of the rest of the world. Lucania was rich in much of the material that was rare in the rest of the world, and Capriana, unwilling to allow war to start over this land, instead came up with the concept of the Sacred Grounds Treaty. This treaty would allow all nations that signed it to participate in resource cultivation here, but also required that al participant nations to halt al military action against one another. As Gethanar, Mag'duar, and Sholbara signed the treaty, Daltanica saw no other option but to delay its military campaign in favor of sharing the wealth with these other nations.
Truce, the first multinational city, began construction only a few short years ago on Lucania's east end. Plans for Banner Rest, a much smaller settlement in the west, began to take shape with the first boats leaving in the 12th year of the new and unnamed Age (often referred to as simply, the "New Age").
Despite all of the conflict in the world, Sacred Grounds events strive for a mood that promotes cooperation over solitude. Threats exist in the world that are far larger than the threat that various nations and cultures clashing pose to one another. There are no true alignments. You may strive to be good or evil, but more likely you are somewhere in between and trying to survive alongside close friends and family. Politics and intrigue are rarely played openly, with most plots whispered in private tavern rooms. After all, the people around you could be your only hope when a horrifying attack leaves you bleeding out in the middle of a field. You only survive if you work together. Whether that results in genuine admiration for one another or not is up to you. Characters at Sacred Grounds are thrust into situations where reliance on one another to survive and prosper is necessary, and much of the game system itself promotes this attitude. Does this mean that everyone has to be a hero? No, but others around you may take notice of your less-than cooperative actions and you might find yourself playing Fours with the Agent of Kakapos more than you might like.
Of further importance to the mood of the game is that Banner Rest is a colonial settlement, but it is set in a world that has genre-blended Medieval, Age of Exploration, Fantasy, and even Victorian Steampunk. Banner Rest is a town where philosophies, cultures, and religions that do not normally encounter one another in the rest of the world may find themselves in abundance. The undertone of politicking and maneuvering against one another may exist, even if on the surface the laws promote general acceptance.
Baner Rest is also a town that requires various components to survive. It needs sword-arms and spell-slingers, but it also needs smiths, alchemists, cooks, doctors, and gatherers of various types. The game economy should not be taken for granted; having people in town that can perform such tasks and being able to pay them to do it can be just as important to keeping your character in fighting shape as earning experience points (XP).
Finally, various themes exist, written into the very lore that we hope to promote as part of the game through the characters that exist in it and the plots that come about. While there are certainly many more themes, some more ethereal than others. Here are some that you may want to keep in mind: The conflict of magic and technology, the ripple effect that Lucania has on the larger world, the conflict of various religions and which of them may be "right," economic growth, survival, challenge, adventure, and the strength of community.
Keeping Track of Time
The world of Aularia uses its own Calendar. For simplicity, the in-game calendar correlates to the real-world calendar with most of the names of months and days renamed to fit thematically with the game world. The in-game calendar has been written from the perspective of the Church of En, and most cultures have accepted the calendar's use. Even Wild Elves and Fae use the calendar to make their dealings with other races simpler.
The calendar is referred to as the Tyrollean calendar, written and created by the first Arch bishop to the head of the Church of En after the Age of Darkness. History has been divided into Ages, some of which the Church has approximated based on texts handed down since the founding of Aular City. The Church ends and begins Ages as major, world-changing events seem to occur. As time moves on, these major events seem to grow closer together, making each age shorter than the last.
The Tyrollean calendar does not attempt to track time before the Incursion, as too little is known about it. This Age is simply referred to as the "Old Age" or "The Age Before." When the Church declares that an Age has ended, the current Age remains unnamed until the Church determines what event will define the Age. Generally, people simply refer to it as "The New Age" until it is named. To determine the current year, simply subtract 2000 from the current year. For example, if the current year is 2014 in the real world, the in-game year would be "The 14th year of the New Age." Pst years are simply counted from the beginning of the age that the year took place in, such as "The 63rd Year of the Age of Glory" or "The 301st Year of the Age of Salt."
The records that make up the information from the timeline below are primarily made up of records kept by the Church of En. As such, much of the information is told from the perspective of religious scholars. While the Aularian worldview is greatly shaped by this perspective no matter what walk of life a person comes from those that delve deeper into their own culture, race, or religion may find discrepancies in the story.
Below are all of the Ages and their approximate length:
The Old Age - (aka) "The Age Before") - Length Unknown.
Very little is known about this age. Based on the stories of the humans of Aular City, what is known about this age was learned from Jaejal. It is believed that in this time, elves were the dominant race in the world, but mention is made of both humans and dwarves walking the land as well.
The Incursion - The events of The Incursion are said to have lasted approximately 15 to 20 Years.
Sometime around 6000 years ago, magic in its purest, rawest form found its way into the world. The majority of civilization was unmade as the fabric of reality began to bend, with only a few ruins being left to mark the great cities that once were. 99.9% of all life on Aularia was wiped out, with those that survived suffering each time ripples and aftershocks formed. Those that did survive were either extremely lucky or in some way found protection; the elves stayed away from the cities, finding that in the wilds away from civilization things were safer. The dwarves were said to have been trapped underground or on isolated glaciers. The Fae claim to have escaped the Abyssal realm during these years to form their first settlements. The humans survive only when the deity Jaejal appeared to shelter them from the dangerous and unpredictable magic of this era, while also imparting knowledge of En's pantheon. While the exact length of this era is unknown, it was said to have lasted less than a generation.
The Age of Aular - 1000 Years
This age began as the last ripples from the Incursion ended. The world in its new state, with continents moved and most life and civilization destroyed, had a chance to start anew. While dangerous magic still irradiated much of the landscape, the darkest times had ended. The humans protected by Jaejal founded Aular City, the capital of what would become the new human nation of Aular, while the elves began calling themselves wild elves as they adapted to their new way of life. Islands formed in the north, which some humans of Aular City left to go settle. Eventually, Jaejal leaves after two or three hundred years, with her final act being to cast a spell that would make all of Aularia's major races capable of communicating with each other in one common language of trade. Babies begin to be born again, and the wastelands begin to sprout new flora and fauna. Grobs, strange monsters that are vaguely humanoid, begin to roam the wilds. The Sea Dwarves form their first settlements as they fight off the Frost Giants. The Fae make a pact to leave their settlement and spread themselves thin, believing they know ways to protect this world so that there is not a repeat of what happened on Faeholme. A powerful storm begins to form in the Frosted Sea that lasts for hundreds of years, making travel between the humans that left for the northern islands and those that remained on the main continent almost impossible for a very long time.
The Age of Dawn - 1000 Years
Humans have proven to be the most widespread of the races early on in this age. Modern-day Ostlea, Gethanar, and Sholbara are fully settled, and Capriana has begun to be settled sparsely by humans seeking less intrusion from the church. This entire land is considered to be the Great Nation of Aular, a country of unprecedented and unrepeated size, ruled by Priest-Kings with the Church of En's doctrines and traditions dominating all of civilization. The Wild Elves are forced to remain in less developed areas and remain tribal and divided by choice. War and conflict dominate this age, as early encounters between the races tend to be violent affairs, without ever breaking out into full on war until the Orcs arrive.
In this age, the Orcs appear on the southern tips of the modern day Rouen and Savona peninsulas. The entirety of this race invades the Aularian continent killing or enslaving all other races they come across. This results in occasional alliances between the humans and Wild Elves, but the fighting never ends. Occasionally a generation or two might find a reprieve from the fighting, only for another war to begin as the Orcs pressed forward or the humans fought back. The Great Nation of Aular is smashed apart, only reaching a stalemate just beyond the modern border between Gethanar and Sholbara. Everything south of that point is controlled completely by the Orcs.
The Age of Knowledge - 800 Years
During this age, some humans in the middle of the continent uncover something that completely changes them while also killing off most of the non-human life in what is modern-day Sholbara. This wipes out the entire Orc population in this area, leaving a few easily-defeated groups in Gethanar and less war-like Orcs in Capriana. As a result, the Dawn Wars essentially end, but the Great Nation of Aular has disappeared and become a much smaller nation. The settlements of the Gethanar region remain independent, and the humans of Sholbara reveal themselves as the Bara'kaa and renounce the Church of En. The Orcs still control everything south of Sholbara, but human resistance is strong. The Earth Dwarves breach the surface and form the settlements of Mag'duar.
Towards the end of this age, it is said that the legend of Capriana, Aresh, awakened in Sholbara as a result of the discovery of the Word. After some time, he travels south and becomes a champion to the humans there, rounding up and unifying the hidden settlements and fighting off the orcs. Aresh and his champions spare only fifty orcs at the final battle near the Fingers of Hadios. Aresh founds the nation of Capriana and becomes the progenitor of the Vaniiri race.
The Age of Salt - 600 Years
It is said that the Sea Dwarves and Winter Dwarves met early in this era to discuss their culture and religion, but could not come to an agreement and never end up uniting. Their religion is nearly identical despite having come from different parts of the world, but they cannot agree on which line of regents and kings to follow. Following these meetings, the Sea Dwarves begin taking the coasts of all the Aularian continent, and completely dominate the northern human-settled islands of the Frosted Sea. The Sea Dwarves end up controlling much of the northern human lands in this time, as well as some of the coasts of Sholbara and Capriana. They begin to attack the southern continent towards the end of this era, but lose countless resources in doing so and cannot explain why.
The Age of Darkness - 600 Years
It is a dark time for the Church of En, as Sea Dwarves control the lands where they were most popular, and have built fortress prisons to contain most of the human population. In the south, Aresh is said to have re-awakened to prevent Sholbara and Capriana from going to war, and in the end making the two nations long-lasting trade allies. Near Aular City, the Sea Dwarves encounter an ancient tower that they do not understand and cannot enter, and spend years trying to destroy it. When they apparently do, Abyssals begin to invade from the coastline.
It is said during the invasion, the deity Saphael found a way to manifest in Aularia. He imbues several humans with Supernal power and they fight off the Abyssal invasion. The Sea Dwarves submit to an alliance in this area as a result of seeing Saphael's power, and many integrate into human society. The nation of Ostlea fully forms as a result. Saphael stays for ten years to help with rebuilding and then leaves. The city of Nephilos is built to honor him, and this begins the building of several interwoven cities, with each dedicated to a different deity that will eventually form the megalopolis of En's Hand. The humans imbued by Saphael become the ancestors of the Seraphim.
The Age of Glory - 400 Years
Ostlea now formed, the humans in the northern islands begin to rebel. Once they escape the prisons, they find that the Sea Dwarves have left little military presence behind and retake the lands, forming the nations of Daltanica, Grinleymarn, and Kordland. In Isselheim, the humans and Sea Dwarves come to an apparent agreement and are set free without military action.
The grobs, which had always been a danger but never a worldwide problem, begin to become a severe threat as magic-wielding Ogres appear from the Garn Mountains above the Gethanar Hills. The human nations, Capriana, included, band together to fight the Bael'Garn Ogres and push the threat back down into the mountain caverns. Humans encounter the Totemic for the first time, as they assist in the effort against the grobs for a short time, along with some Wild Elf tribes.
The Age of Heresy - 400 Years
Tensions between Bara'kaa and Ostlea come to a pitch, a "Second Crusade" is launched against Sholbara. The northern lands are undefended and the Ostlea forces gain a great deal of land. The Bara kaa counter attack is strategic and methodical. One hundred years later the Third Crusade attempts to attack the Bara'kaa again, but is much less successful. Capriana, under Zellini the Tyrant, asks if the Bara'kaa need assistance and the Bara'kaa decline. Capriana attacks anyway, doing serious damage to Ostlea in a short time. Aresh awakens and deposes the tyrant, creates a new royal line, and ends the war with Ostlea. City Elves start appearing in human cities.
The Age of Man - 400 Years
Humanity experiences a renaissance that sees unprecedented growth in philosophy, art, and technology. This era has very little conflict in it, and trade is strong between human nations. Towards the end of this age, Daltanica experiences internal conflict that results in a change from King Edward Daltan IV to King Stratford Daltan, who names himself emperor after going to war with Kordland. Soon after, Grinleymarn and Isselheim fall in line under the Daltanic banner behind Kordland, and the Daltanic Empire is formed. Tech Cultists, intrigued by technological advancement and wanting to abandon reliance on magic start appearing
Islands start being found far southeast of the main continent as Capriana settles Casoria, a place said to the first settlement of the Fae on Aularia.
The New Age (aka "The Unnamed Age") - Present Age (subtract 2000 from the current real-world year to determine the in-game year).
Ostlea, at last, joins the Daltanic Empire. This results in the city-states of Gethanar, wanting to remain free, forming their own nation, the Gethanar Confederacy to protect themselves from Daltanic imperialism.
Near Casoria, islands seem to appear one at a time every few years, which allows different islands to be captured by different nations. Daltanica claims the muddy flatland of Reinsburg, the Jorhaul and Wild Elves fight over Vae'teer, and Gethanar invites independent Landriga Bay to join under its banner. Eventually, the island of Lucania is found by Capriana, who claims it, but their explorers find vast stores of Ilium and similar products there. Fearing that a great war might erupt over these magical materials, Capriana invites several nations to join in a pact to share the resources rather than fight over them. All that agreed to the pact could not make war on one another or forfeit their claim. Daltanica, Gethanar, Sholbara, and Mag'duar agreed to join in, forming the Sacred Grounds Pact. Each nation sends boats over from various ports to begin settlement of the land, forming the city of Truce on the eastern tip of the island.
After the foothold on the island is firmly in place, Banner Rest is founded towards the middle of the island, closer to the resources. The first settlers build a town, but are unprepared for the mysterious local threats. Sometime after the second group of boats leave for Banner Rest, the first settlers face catastrophe...
Months correlate to real-world months but are named differently. Months have the same length on the Tyrollean calendar as they do on the real world calendar, including leap years.
Below are the names of the months in the order they appear on the calendar. Many of the names of months have to do with either major events that occurred in Aularian history or Aularia's celestial position.
January: Frostfall - 31 Day
February: Founding - 28 Days (29 Days every 4th year)
March: Ascension - 31 Days
April: Stormrule - 30 Days
May: Earthrule - 31 Days
June: Firerule - 30 Days
July: Firefall - 31 Days
August: Earthfall - 31 Days
September: Stormfall - 30 Days
October: Decent - 31 Days
November: Sheltering - 30 Days
December: Frostrule - 31 Days
Similarly, there are seven days a week in the Tyrollean calendar, named for the hard working people of Aularia.