Introduction to Arx
The land of Arvum is one of contrasts, five individual kingdoms knit together beneath the shelter of the Compact, an agreement of unity which gave the lands a king. Born out of an event shrouded in mystery and great destruction, called the Reckoning, the Compact shines as a beacon, holding most -- but far from all -- of the peoples of Arvum together.
According to legend, the Reckoning was an apocalyptic conflict between men -- and potentially allies who were not men -- and demons, dark forces that swarmed from the unknown hiddens of the world to consume and destroy. Much, if not all, about those days is lost to recorded time; most scholars agree that such things are likely exaggerations of a much more mundane conflict.
But the legends persist, nevertheless.
Five hundred years after the founding of the Compact, the lands of its members were besieged in yet another epic conflict, this time between the Sylv'alfar -- another legend, that of 'wood elves' -- and the kingdom, led by Queen Alarice the Great. From this conflict peace was hammered, ending the Sylv'alfar as a people, as well as founding laws of the land which raised women to an equal place in Arvum society.
The five Great Houses who make up the Compact each rule over a great demesne of their own:
- In the Northlands, House Redrain holds the mountains and arboreal forests, rooted in the traditions of their shamans and mysteries of old.
- In the west, House Valardin rule the Oathlands, legendary for their forces of mounted knights and dedication to the Faith of the Pantheon.
- In the east, the great sea lords of House Thrax control the Mourning Isles and all the waves between them, bastions of ancient -- and some might say cruel -- ways.
- In the south, the fractious cities of the Lyceum are led by House Velenosa, their power rooted in wealth, trade, and secrets. Many a poisoned cup has ended a war in the city-rich Lyceum.
- And in the center, surrounding the capital city of Arx, are the thickly-forested Crownlands, ruled over by House Grayson -- the ancestral house of the kings and queens of the Compact.
By custom and by law, all kneel in fealty to a lord, and all lords kneel in fealty to a greater lord, until none stand before the Throne. In practice, every free soul has a calling of their own, to greatness, to war, to love -- and each calling may drive them to new ends. Mysteries abound in the city of Arx, lost lore, whispered rumors of strange happenings. The dance of nobility and power plays out in parties and galas, while beneath the glittering heights, craftsmen and soldiers and the laity of the Faith seek their own answers to the eternal questions.
In Arx, anyone might rise to become a hero, whether by feat of arms or mind or the cunning application of social prowess -- and in these dark days, many heroes may be needed, if any are to survive.
Arx is a game set in a low to mid-fantasy world, where magic is more legend and superstition than daily reality. The game itself is set in the capital city of the Compact, an alliance of the five Great Houses who hold sway over the continent of Arvum. The lands of Arvum are wild and sparsely settled, and away from the walls and settlements of the House-ruled fortifications there is great danger and mystery. Tribes of unaligned Abandoned (or shav'arvani) roam and raid the great forests and wildlands between the settled cities, and beyond the borders of the known lands even greater mysteries lie.
There is in the capital something of an uneasy political situation, as the King, Alaric IV of House Grayson, rests in a catatonic state -- alive but unresponsive after a mysterious massacre of his entourage that left many of the Great Houses with new and untried leaders. In his stead, a Regent Council formed by the High Lords rules uneasily over an increasingly tense realm, beset from without by unknown foes who may or may not be legend and from within by internal conflicts of both mysterious and mundane origin.