Theah is the original setting for 7th Sea. With Eisen in the center of the continent, one can find the Vendel to the North, the Ussurans to the Northeast, the Sarmatians to the East, the Vodacce to the Southeast, the Castillians to the South, the Montaigne to the West, and the Glamour Isles (Avalon, Innismore, and the Highland Marches) to the Northwest.
The Glamour Isles (The British Isles)
The Glamour Isles is a union of three countries: the magical nation of Avalon, the ancient land of Inismore, and the impoverished but proud Highland Marches; recently the magical Sidhe have begun to enter the Glamour Isles more and more, bringing a strange fourth people to the halls of power here. Each has their own monarch and ruling body, but all answer to Queen Elaine of Avalon.
- All Your Powers Combined: Glamour magic, the Avalonian sorcerous lineage, allows the sorcerer to channel the mythical powers and abilities of various Avalonian heroes of the past. The legends a particular glamour sorcerer has access to are set at character creation and the powers available vary wildly.
- Brave Scot: The Highland Marchers are the best warriors Queen Elaine (Or her enemies) can put on the field of battle. Especially since she ordered all standing armies disbanded in favor of creating the Avalonian Navy.
- The Fair Folk: The sidhe consider Avalon their home, and use their reality-warping powers for their own inscrutable purposes. Avalonians usually give them a wide berth, but those who know how to deal with them can gain quite a lot of power, such as glamour magic.
- The High Queen: Queen Elaine rules Avalon with the assent of Jack O'Bannon, the consent of the Highland Marches clans, and the power of the Sidhe Graal. By all accounts she's well liked by most people in all three nations, though each nation has its grievances whether they resent giving up sovereignty to her, do not appreciate the Sidhe warping their lands, or are unhappy with Elaine's unwillingness to marry.
- The Lost Woods: Though it borders on being a Green Hill Zone the Highland Marches are the most impoverished lands within Avalon. The wilderness isn't fit for farming and the lack of war with outside aggressors means the warrior clans aren't occupied with defending the Queen and Country.
- Man in a Kilt: If the artwork in the books is to be believed, EVERYONE from the Highland Marches dresses this way.
- Mook Horror Show: The Castillian Armada attempted to make landfall on Inish soil before invading Avalon itself. They found one man waiting for them: Jack O'Bannon. They left over six-hundred corpses on the beach when the Armada decided to call it quits.
- Oireland: Called Inismore, it's actually better off than Ireland was at that period of history. They even have their own recognized king, Jack O'Bannon.
- Polyamory: As of Second Edition, Queen Elaine is... involved with her Sidhe bodyguard Lugh and the separatist Highland Noble Colleen Macleod. At the same time. With the consent of both (and Colleen's husband). The blackmail associated with this scandalous arrangement is threatening to tear the court apart and is worthy of an Adventure in its own right.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Played straight and Subverted — at the same time. Highland women exist in a similar social climate to the Vodacce. They are treated as subservient to men in public, cannot own property, and are barred from politics. Outside of these restrictions, they are given the same stature as Castillian Matriarchs when it comes to handling money, working as political counselors, and fighting in the Highlands' army.
- Violent Glaswegian: The Highlanders are constantly looking for fights to engage in- historically with themselves or recently with Avalon's enemies. Now that the nation is at peace and unified, two factions have formed in Highland society. Some are seeking adventure on the high seas to bring back treasure and glory. Others see they are working twice as hard and still impoverished and are preparing to declare independence from Queen Elaine- against the wishes of their own King.
Castille is a nation wrapped in religious tradition and scientific progress. The seat of the Vaticine Church, the Third Prophet brought his teachings of hatred toward sorcery to this land, built a seat of power in Vaticine City, and led a religious conquest that established the dominance of the Church after the fall of the Numanari Empire. Its piety and devotion to learning meant Castille stood on the highest peaks of prestige in Théah, which has made its fall all the more tragic.
The disastrous thirty-year-long War of the Cross between the Vaticine and Objectionist churches crippled the army in Eisen, saw their mighty fleet destroyed by Avalon's sea dogs, and nearly cost them everything when the Montaigne invaded. The final blow came with the death of King Salvador — his son, Sandoval, was too young to inherit the throne and his mother had no political capital to have a say governing affairs or overrule the ducados, nor is there currently a Hierophant of the Church to help guide the nation as a spiritual regent. The vaunted Tercios that brought Castille such prestige on the battlefield have deserted after too many broken promises were made to them, and the ducados are too busy fighting over their regional affairs to organize in defense of the old regime. The Vaticine Inquisition now rules the country and is driving it into Dark Age of Learning by burning "heretical" books and imprisoning teachers and foreign religious scholars, with the teenage King Sandoval as their "guest of honor" in Vaticine City.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: King Sandoval is only in his mid-teens, never expected to become king, and is the head of a country engulfed in war with Montaigne. That's rough, buddy. As of Second Edition, there's not one Sandoval, but two. The role of King is actually shared by Amadeo Sandoval and his twin sister, Rocio. The birth of the twins is a carefully kept secret of the Royal Family — even the Inquisition is unaware of Rocio's existence. The two look so much alike that they alternated who sat the throne while the other learned the truth of how the the Inquisition was running the nation by wandering the city streets. After recent political shenanigans, Amadeo has been made a "guest" of the Inquisition in Vaticine City while Rocio secretly plans his rescue.
- Appeal to Tradition: Castille is a nation built on tradition. All of its fortunes and failures owe to this. The greatest traditions are:
- Family is everything, and family begins with the mother. Castillian matriarchs are held in opposite standing to their Vodacce neighbors.
- Castille was the first Vaticine nation in Theah. The power of the Church is absolute, which has had its benefits and problems.
- Outside Castille, you are a Castillian. Within Castille, you are loyal to your ducado. Internal reforms and the overthrow of the Inquisition have fallen by the wayside to the local lords who might otherwise help to free King Sandoval.
- Book Burning: Castillians value scientific thought and discovery, but with the rise of the Inquisition, Book Barbecues have become a more and more common occurrence.
- Equivalent Exchange: Introduced in the Alchemist background in Second Edition. An Alchemist can immediately use a potion with many potential effects from healing elixirs to stat buffs, fire bombs, and others. The Hero must sacrifice a hero point to activate this power.
- Heroism Incentive: When Montaigne invaded Castille during the tail end of the War of the Cross, the crown called on the famous Tercios to take up arms to defend the nation, promising gold and land to the mercenaries. Of course, they neglected to mention they were broke from the disastrous Castillian Armada sinking off the coast of Avalon, which lead to Heroism Won't Pay the Bills.
- Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: By the time Montaigne withdrew its troops, the Tercios realized no payment was coming and quit the army, becoming wandering mercenaries and looking for work elsewhere.
- Playing with Fire: El Fuego Adentro, the Castillian sorcerous lineage, allows control of any fire and immunity to being hurt by fire and heat of any temperature. It was wiped out by the Inquisition. There's a few families still left, though. As of Second Edition, this tradition has been completely replaced with Alchemy in the system.
- Knight Templar: The Inquisition is the living embodiment of this.
- Sinister Minister: Cardinal Esteban Verdugo masterminded the Castillian collapse in the War of the Cross, nearly managed to manipulate the entire Montaigne Invasion if not for the boredom of l'Empereur, and has ensured King Sandoval can do nothing without the assent of a religious council. Of course, the man does have one potentially useful little secret.
- Spexico: For representing Spain in a world without any Americas, there sure is a lot of Mexican/Latin American influence.
- As of Second Edition, the Castillian court is hosting more and more figures from the New World. Their cultural influence on Castille's politics is slowly degrading the power of the Inquisition and justifying this trope.
- State Sec: The Inquisition has effectively taken hold of the entire nation in Second Edition, torturing educators, burning books, and running the country into the ground. They've even forced King Sandoval out of the royal compound in the capital and relocated him to Vaticine City. Though the Inquisition has agents in every nation, they only operate openly within Castille.
Eisen (Germany/The remnants of the Holy Roman Empire)
Eisen's Imperator held its many provinces together for centuries and was feared and respected by all the monarchs of Theah. So long as Eisen was unified, no other Thean Kingdom could match its military, resources, or wealth. Tragically, it was no foreign enemy that ripped this empire apart, but the Eisen themselves. Eisen cities sheltered the Vaticine Objectionists from the Inquisition, which led to Eisen Vaticines attacking and killing their Objectionist neighbors.
Soon the other Théahn nations saw an opportunity to carve up the most powerful empire of Théah and descended on it in force, a pack of vultures and hyenas killing a pride of warring lions. The War of the Cross left every participant shaken. Eisen is now an empty shell — millions are dead, others are starving by inches in its darkened woods, monsters out of folklore leave the countryside and deep, dark places to claim its ruins as their own, and the few safe cities are preoccupied with who will be elected as the next Imperator.
- The Dark Arts: Hexenwerk, the use of potions as a vector for magic, is part of why Eisen is such a monster-infested hell. Even those who use it because it's the best tool there is for hunting monsters need ingredients that usually involves the corpses of the dead.
- The Determinator: Eisen Heroes by default. They have to be, what with their very country making the Despair Event Horizon very appealing.
- Don't Go Into the Woods: Unless you fancy socializing with undead, werewolves, mad scientists, or eldritch abominations, best to stay on the roads or in the cities.
- Empty Shell: An entire social class of them, called 'waisen' (literally: orphans). They became like this due to shell shock and trauma from the local Thirty-Years War.
- Germanic Depressives: Justified in that their once proud empire is now a fractured set of principalities, some of which barely can grow enough food to feed the people living there.
- Gratuitous German: Gratuitous and wrong as usual. The Eisen inventor of the guillotine called it "die Toetenklinge", which translates to "the to kill blade".
- Great Offscreen War: Every disaster, monster, Villain and hardship in Eisen can trace its lineage back to the horrible War of the Cross. Before the war, Eisen was a bustling nation of nearly 30,000,000 souls. Thirty years after the war's end, there are roughly ten million (living) souls within the land.
- Hired Guns: After 30 years of war, the Eisen armies have decided to lend themselves out to whoever pays the most.
- I am a Humanitarian: Eisen Sorcery in Second Edition, Hexenwerk, involves crafting and consuming Unguents made from such varied ingredients as a piece of a man's tongue, a ground up human heart, and the eyes of a dead human.
- Land of Faerie: The forests of Eisen are usually hives of monsters and Horrors — but the Angehneme Wald is home to the immortal Perchta, a Sidhe expelled from Avalon in ancient days. She holds court within the woods as a Queen and any human who begs shelter and safety receives it — but may never leave the Wald without her express permission. Those who venture into the Angehneme find themselves bound to certain codes- namely that dishonesty, poor manners, and taking more than one gives are subject to consequences.
- Land of One City: Well, land of Seven cities. The rulers of the Konigreichs bear the surname of their provinces.
- Freiburg: A vacation palace of the last Imperator, Nichlas Trage was given ownership of the city as a reward for his service in battle. Trage, now a cynical atheist after fighting in a decades long religious war, has made the city a laissez-faire bastion with universities open to heretical teaching.
- Wirsche: Less one city and more an entire province that has completely rebuilt itself to pre-war standards. Curiously, Countess Wirsche never seems to age. The people do not like to speak to outsiders, fearing a visit from Countess Wirsche's State Sec.
- Posen: A city devoted to its Badass Army and maintaining its high walls. The land itself is filled with marshes and swamps, but the port to Grumfather Bay has brought wealth through trade with Ussura. If anyone can conquer all of Eisen, it's Frau Posen. If only those pesky monsters would stop attacking her peasants.
- Heilgrund: A city whose ruler is devoted to researching a Fantastic Nuke to destroy all of Eisen's horrors in one blow. Supported by Posen, Herr Heilgrund is seen as too idealistic by the aged rulers of Eisen- but the peasants see his vision of a unified Eisen as a breath of fresh air.
- Fischler: A city given over to decline. The fishing nets are bringing in less food, the nobility flaunt Herr Fischler's rule, his Iron Guard have practically mutinied to support the best paying nobles, and Fischler's own daughter- sent away for her own safety- is in line to become Czarina but refuses to speak to her own father for betrothing her without her consent. Herr Fischler has been reduced to a man who can only impotently watch his Konigreich disintegrate.
- Sieger: The land most given over to Urban Hellscape and Gaia's Lament. Herr Sieger's land was divided up by the Imperator at the end of the war and part of it given to Castille to ensure peace. Herr Sieger gave up the land- but not before he salted the fields, razed the cities, and burned the forests. Most of the countryside is a wasteland, the people have fled, and only a handful of survivors live within Sieger itself.
- Hainzl: A state that is equal parts City of Silver and Crapsaccharine World. Herr Hainzl's land was spared from the War of the Cross by high mountains and stout fortresses and has all the money he will ever need from his silver mines. Unfortunately, losing his husband to Horrors drove him quite mad. He now wastes the excess money in his coffers on lavish parties and art projects rather than using it to improve the lives of his people or defend his land. Only his Iron Guard and the Dragenblut have kept his people safe from the Horrors this long.
- Mad Doctor: The source of many of the Horrors in Eisen's mountain regions. Less ethical sorcerors and alchemists have found numerous old castles to take over and practice less ethical experiments within. Most villagers become overpowered by the monsters unleashed before they can reach for their Torches and Pitchforks.
- Defied in Heimstatt. The Yachidi people of Sarmion heard stories of Eisen's troubles and have set up a medical enclave within the city. The Doctors produced by their university have been a boon for the entire nation and their experiments and treatments are only ever humane. Agents of the Inquisition have begun kidnapping the "heretic" Yachidi to try and drive out what they see as unbelievers. Elsa Posen, Niklas Trage, and Herr Fischler stand ready to defend Heimstatt and the Yachidi enclave from anyone who wants to cause it any harm.
- Dracheneisen, a very rare and highly coveted material only found in Eisen. Finding a mine of the stuff used to automatically grant the lucky finder a sizeable portion of land as a new principality.
- It's heavily suggested in some of the GM's sections that dracheneisen is actually a form of pottery that's hardened and shined up through secret alchemical practices, and that the "mines" are actually clay beds. Whether this makes any logical sense, as the stuff is nigh-indestructible, is left up to the player to decide. Considering its main points are way stronger then metal, way lighter then metal, and the abovementioned technology, it's pretty clearly a medieval CARBON FIBRE!
- Further hints are dropped that the "clay" is in fact ancient dragon poop.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Hexenwerkers who have discovered a potion that lets them stop aging, at the cost of ten gallons of blood a month.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: A lot of nasty things once relegated to legends and fairy tales have started to crawl back in due to the devastation and social breakdown of the War of the Cross (i.e. there aren't many people left to stop them).
- Überwald: The general aesthetic of stories within Eisen. The major cities are still safe places (most of the time) but outside their high walls? The countryside is full of abandoned villages, foreboding forests, and monsters within mysterious manors.
- Ultimate Blacksmith: The Nibelungen, a reclusive group of smiths who are the only ones who can forge Drachenesien. Once forged, it's nearly unbreakable and super light, making a weapon made of it quite powerful. It is also the only useful armor in the game, as it can stop bullets.
Montaigne (Ancien-Regime France)
The center of art and culture in Théah, the entire continent looks to the court of l'Empereur Leon Alexandre for the latest in dress, manners, gossip, and politics. While the nobility frit away the hours over feasts and dances, the peasants of Montaigne eke ever farther into poverty and starvation to provide the means for the nobles to keep up their lavish lifestyle. They have even been denied the comfort of the Vaticine Church, as l'Empereur will suffer no organization in his nation that will not recognize his supremacy on Terra. Only the vaunted Musketeers, a thousand men and women, work to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. In a nation where the army, courts, and government are devoted to keeping them subservient, the peasants can still hope for some measure of justice to come from the Musketeers. And should they fail, the peasants may look to that new invention — the guillotine...
- Deadly Decadent Court: And HOW. The court of l'Empereur is a veritable playground for the rich, where a display in bad manners can get one quickly exiled to the periphery of the realm- a fate worse than death to the pompous nobility.
- Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Puzzle Swords in First Edition.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: One of the accents provided in Montaigne's nation book costs extra hero points and includes the Dangerous Beauty Advantage, because it just sounds so alluring.
- Foregone Conclusion: All the nations of Théah are loosely based on European nations at a specific point in time, with Montaigne drawing clearly from Alexandre Dumas' works. That is, from stories set just before The French Revolution...
- French Jerk: Fortunately not everyone or even a majority, but several nobles (especially l'Empereur) can be colossal pompous douches.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: As might be expected of the rest of this entry, their swordsman school revels in humiliating their opponents... to the point that they gain massive bonuses from it. Both in-story and out-of-character, people hate fighting these guys.
- Heir Club for Men: l'Empereur Leon XIV has had nine daughters so far, and no sons, due to a curse his mother spat from her deathbed.
- The Musketeer: Heroes who take the Musketeer background receive ranks in Aim and Weaponry. They are also notable for being the only authority figures the peasants of Montaigne do not view as entirely corrupt.
- Our Wormholes Are Different:
- Porte sorcery, the sorcerous lineage of Montaigne, allows a user to physically tear open holes in space with their bare hands. The exit point must be close to a place or item marked by the sorcerer's blood, and allows the sorcerer to either grab the blooded object and pull it to them, or walk through the portal to where the object is. Oh, did I mention that portals scream in pain as they open and bleed at the edges?
- And, if you go by the Die Kreuzritter supplement, the Walkway is actually a part of Hell, and by using Porte frivolously, the Montaigne are weakening the barrier that keeps the legion of bloodthirsty demons at bay, so that one day soon, they'll all come pouring through the gap and overrun the world.
- And the first thing they teach you? If you walk through the portal, never open your eyes. Sometimes you hear voices calling out to you, telling you that they'll give you such wonderful things, if only you open your eyes...
- As of the 2nd edition, all of this seems to have been retconned, with the space behind portals instead consisting of a Dream World known as "The Walkway". It is extraordinarily mutable and responds to thought, meaning it's incredibly deadly because hundreds of sorcerers all over Montaigne believe this to be the case. Someone with sufficiently powerful willpower can open their eyes and remain unharmed. In fact, ancient sorcerers have used this quality of the Walkway in order to craft personal dream paradises where they live to this very day...
- Praetorian Guard: The Lightning Guard, elite swordsmen who guard L'Empereur.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: l'Empereur's edicts sometimes defy all logic, especially when it comes to antagonizing the church.
- Upper-Class Twit: Other countries can suffer from this trope too, but Montaigne overshadows the rest in this area.
The Sarmatian Commonwealth (Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth; Second Edition)
A combination of the ancient kingdoms of Sarmatia and Curonia, this is also a revolutionary nation in the realms of Théah as the Sarmatian Commonwealth has enacted a new form of government through "Golden Liberty". By proclamation of the King (in response to a political crisis), every man and woman in the Commonwealth has been raised to the rank of Knight and is therefore eligible to vote in the Sarmatian Senate. While nobility in Theah looks to Montaigne for art and culture, Sarmatians are looking to their peasantry for inspiration. Chivalry and gallantry are returning, noble dress is less ostentatious and more practical, and the common folk of both Sarmatia and Curonia now feel that they have a personal stake in the success and failure of their nation.
The Sarmatian Commonwealth was added to the world of Terra in the Second Edition after (per Word of God) the Polish role-playing game community continued to support the 7th Sea game line even after its heyday had passed in the United States, but they lamented a lack of a Polish-analogue nation.
- Deal with the Devil: Sarmatian magic entails making pacts with otherworldly creatures called dievai. Each pact comes with a request from the Dievai — anything from "Buy that homeless man a hot meal" up to "Kill that priest and frame the poor widow down the road for his murder" (although Deals the losejas in question actually knows force dievai into extremely minor deals like "actually thank me for my help", and a bank of these can be built up before needing more major favors). Another contract cannot be made with the dievai until the request is fulfilled. Loophole Abuse ("the old man died before I could get there.") usually sees the dievai demand an even more harsh favor be fulfilled before it will make another contract. Those who make these pacts view themselves as jailers to the creatures and do their utmost not to make the seventh and final pact — the one that will let the creature free to roam the world.
- There is one way to banish a dievai for good. Each task the dievai gives the Hero is actually a clue to its real name. Speaking the name will destroy the creature.
- If the Hero cannot guess the creature's name, the pacts will become more and more wicked in nature, racking up corruption points until the Hero becomes a Villain.
- Disaster Democracy: The actual Sejm was so deadlocked by infighting that it was feared the Crescent Empire or Ussura would invade and conquer Sarmatia after the monarch's death. In desperation to avert the coming conquest, the dying King has made all people in the country the equivalent rank of a Knight in an act called The Golden Liberty. Now, literally anyone can walk into the court off the street and propose a vote on something, and their vote counts equally against the votes of the old blood nobles.
- Elective Monarchy: How the Commonwealth establishes its next King or Queen. The current King's son, Stanislaw II, is trying to secure enough votes among the people to make himself the next King. Stanislaw is competing with his extremely capable, endearing, and loving mother for the crown.
- Good Is Old-Fashioned: The current cultural trend of Sarmatism. Old Nobility have begun dressing like peasants rather than like Montaigne courtiers in an attempt to become more ingratiated to the newly empowered peasants. Meanwhile the common folk now proudly carry out chivalrous acts of Sarmatism not because they must, but because they believe they should.
- Magical Society: The Ratas, the magi who watch each other for being corrupted by their dievai; if you are a losejas, you are either a member or you are marked to be assassinated.
- The Paladin: The Sarmatian Winged Hussars. Heavy cavalry decked out in Bling of War while enforcing the ideals of Sarmatism on and off the battlefield.
Ussura (Czarist Russia)
The largest nation in Théah by far, to outsiders the nation of Ussura is a foreboding wasteland of high mountains, dark forests, and deadly tundra. And they are absolutely correct in these assumptions. To Ussurans blessed by the touch of Matyushka, the land is everything they need it to be — nothing more and nothing less. The goddess ensures that her people are warm enough, fed enough, and sheltered enough to survive the brutality of their winters. Invaders find no wild game, no shelter, and deathly cold that cuts to the bone when they cross into her realm.
Long a tributary kingdom to the Khazars of the Iron Horde, Ussura is now an absolute monarchy ruled by a Tsar or Tsarina with the assistance of a council of Boyar nobility. It may be the largest of the Thean nations, but it is also the least developed. Ussuran peasants and nobility still live in what could be described as "medieval" conditions, and this gap in development compared to the rest of Theah is not sitting well with some Boyars. A succession crisis has forced them to the brink of civil war, with one side favoring reliance on the Old Ways and Matyushka's protection, while the other points out that Matyushka could not protect them from the Iron Horde and may not be enough to protect them from another great power...
- Empathic Environment: The Ussurans claim "Mother Winter" protects them. Invaders find that there's no game to hunt and all the crops die on the vine as they approach, their wagons get stranded in muck and their horses spook and flee easily. Meanwhile, native Ussurans always have enough to eat even in the coldest, bleakest winters, and have no natural obstacles keeping them from getting from one place to the next. It certainly seems like Ussura is on the side of its people...
- Fisher King: The Ussuran Gaius doesn't have a great deal of actual political power — but when he tells you to do something, you either do it, or Ussura itself ensures you regret not doing so.
- Guardian Entity: Matyushka, through and through, along with many other major and minor Leshiye. Foreign invaders will find themselves cold, starving, and unable to find any sufficient shelter — largely thanks to these entities.
- Second Edition introduces the deity Tura, an alternate Leshiye with domain over the skies, wind, and birds that Ussurans can follow. Both are protective deities, but their attitudes are wildly different. Matyushka, who watches over the earth and beasts, will command you to bake a cake, give you all the ingredients you need, then beat you with a spoon and lecture you when you make one wrong step. Tura will ask for a cake, give you a fully stocked kitchen with everything you do and don't need, give you no advice over how to do what he asks, then loudly grumble if you don't finish the job quick enough.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Pyeryem sorcery, the Ussuran sorcerous lineage in First Edition, allows a character to talk to animals. This then allows them to bargain with the animal for its shape. If the animal agrees to give up its form, the sorcerer adds that shape to their library of forms, and may take that shape at will. More dangerous animals are harder to change into, obviously.
- Succession Crisis: Politics in Ussura is a bit of a mess as of Second Edition. The prior Czar has recently died under mysterious circumstances and the country is virtually paralyzed until the crisis is resolved and a new Czar or Czarina is crowned. The leading contenders for the throne are:
- Ilya Sladivgorod Nikolovich, the disowned son of the Czar Gaius Iriney and his now dead husband Nikolai via a surrogate. Ilya spent his exile in the far east of Ussura earning a reputation as a true hero. He has returned to claim the crown with the support of the peasants he spent so much of his life helping. The Bogatyr nobles view Ilya as a hothead unwilling to see that Ussura is falling further behind the rest of Theah by sticking to the traditions of the peasants.
- Ketheryna Fischler Dimitritova, the bride Czar Gaius married on the night of his death. Ketheryna's vision of a modernized Ussura has brought her the support of the nobility in the country. A genius inventor and an Eisen by birth, the peasants view her as a dangerous outsider who doesn't respect the rustic Ussuran way of life.
- General Winter (birth name Akim Maksimovich Lagunov) was saved from a doomed attack on Vesten raiders by a mysterious Leshiye. General Winter was given supernatural powers by the entity and now heads a small but growing army of "Snowmen". These soldiers surrendered to Akim after he blanketed their settlements in blizzards the likes of which the Ussurans have never seen. They are magically enchanted to run across water, withstand any cold, and can leave no tracks in the snow. His goal is nothing short of conquering all of Theah. In a nation with no standing army, he is rapidly becoming a threat to all of Ussura.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Unfortunate inheritors of a widespread bloodline meant to give its scions resistance to The Plague, but instead plagues them with predatory urges all their life and raises them after death as creatures that need it to continue existing, and have a hard time denying their hungers due to the fact they instinctively project their souls to look for blood. Ussurann vampires are actually playable due to them not asking to be this way, but it's recommended to have the temptation to become a Fully-Embraced Fiend always hanging over them.
Vendel/Vestenmannavnjar (Denmark/Norse Viking Scandinavia/Holland mix)
Long ago, the Vestenmannavnjar were the terror of Théah. From Avalon to Ussura to Eisen and Montaigne, their longships prowled the coasts while their warriors engaged in casual Rape, Pillage, and Burn behavior. Then, almost 200 years ago, the plunder ran out and the noble lords couldn't afford to pay their warriors on these expeditions. Meanwhile the merchant classes were being harried by pirates across the seas. The three factions — nobility, warriors, and merchants — struck a deal that had a profound effect on Théah for generations to come, forming a confederation of merchant guilds known as the Vendel League. The Nobility provided land, the warriors gave security, and the merchants moved product across the known world.
Now, the Vendel League is Vestenmannavnjar. The Jennies, Miners, Carpenters, Brewers, Sailors, Moneylenders, and Blacksmiths of the League have formed an organization that is rivaled only by the Trade Princes of Vodacce and their wayward proteges that formed the Atabean Trading Company.
- Band of Brothels: Arguably the most powerful of the Vendel guilds, the Jenny's Guild doesn't just trade in flesh. They also deal in information. Heroes who want to get the drop on a rival can easily get ahead by making their way to the local brothel and paying for post-coitus gossip from their underlings.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Vestenmannavnjar's name is taken from Vestmannaeyjar, a small island off the coast of Iceland. Amusingly enough, its name comes from what the Norse called captured Irish slaves, making this a bit of a "Blind Idiot" Translation.
- Cast from Lifespan: Vesten warriors may take the Bearsark Advantage, which whips them into a superhuman fury at the expense of aging 1 week for each round it's active.
- The new Bearsark Quirk in Second Edition grants the player a hero point if they allow the GM to decide their next action. As in all things, be careful when invoking this Quirk.
- Culture Clash: Vesten finds itself in a textbook culture war between the families of traditional warriors and the newly empowered merchants of the Vendel League.
- Geometric Magic:
- Laerdom, the Vesten sorcery, has sorcerers learn up to 24 runes which are thought to be the fundamental words of creation. Each rune has a different effect when it's inscribed. More powerful sorcerers can make magic items inscribed with runes, and masters can gain permanent powers by branding themselves with a rune in a specific ritual.
- Also Named Weapons, as weapons imbued with Laerdom must be named.
- Global Currency:
- The Vendel have created the Guilder, accepted everywhere but Vodacce.
- Notably subverted and played straight at the same time, as the player's guide also contains a list of currencies native to each country as well as exchange rates based on the nations relative economic strength.
- Proud Merchant Race: The Vendel, after splitting up with the Vesten. Most of the population seems to be made of craftsmen, businessmen or Intrepid Merchants.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Vesten tend to take this role, seeing as the middle class merchants broke off to create the Vendel League.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: After several books setting him up as the ultimate Corrupt Corporate Executive, Val Mokk, leader of the Vendel League, turns out to be one of Théah's nicest Heroes.
- As of Second Edition, the Vesten rely on traditional authorities to settle all internal disputes. By and large the people are very satisfied with these authorities as they have been empowered by the League to levy fines in the name of justice- the more powerful Jarls must pay for any transgressions or risk losing their standing within the League.
- That Thing Is Not My Child!: The Atabean Trading Company was formed when various apprentices in the League took their business philosophies and turned them Up to Eleven. The rampant pursuit of wealth and power by these wayward employees has led to the horror of the Slave Trade in the Atabean and Ifri, along with a meteoric rise in their company value- all in the space of thirty years. The League is itching for an opportunity to strangle the ATC in its cradle after seeing what they've become.
Vodacce (Italian City-States)
An ancient seat of the Numanari Empire, Vodacce stands as a remnant of its glory days. The capital has long been deserted since the Empire's fall, but its legacy of wealth, sorcery, and politcs lives on in the Seven Princes. Each can claim lineage to the great families of old, and each has designs on reunifying Vodacce under their family with the wealth of their trade fleets and personal mercantile empires. In many centuries, none has been good enough at The Great Game to outdo his rivals.
And it is always his rivals. Vodacce women are in possession of the most powerful sorcery known to Théans — that of Strega — bending fate itself to empower or doom anyone they choose. The princes have held an ancient compact that keeps women from using this power to usurp them or ever holding any political power. No Fate Witch may learn to read, write, or count. Every woman is tested for potential as a witch — those who show the gift are quickly secluded and traded as bargaining chips by their noble family. Those who do not go on to become common laborers or perhaps (if they show enough aptitude in wit, entertainment, and love) rise through the ranks of society as Courtesans.
- Arranged Marriage: Basically required between the nobles, though the nation book points out that they're rarely as unfair to the women as one might think. A little judicious use of Sorte and..."In Vodacce, we do not say that a man has poor luck. We say that he was pushed."
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Princes of Vodacce are all cousins of some kind, which probably explains why they rarely ever come to an agreement.
- Gender-Restricted Ability:
- Sorte, the Vodacce sorcery, is only possessed by women. Girls who show the ability are kept illiterate, and are kept locked away from the public much of the time. It allows a sorceress, called a strega, to see the various social connections between people, seen as physical threads connecting them. The strega can then attempt to alter these threads, strengthening or loosening them. Fate makes sure what the strega wants to happen, happens. At their most powerful, they can literally strangle with the red string, though the thread meaning romance is blue to them.
- Vodacce men have their own (rare) permutation of Sorte in First Edition, although it's easily overlooked because it's mentioned in only a few places. It's called being "unbound" and makes the guy impervious to the manipulations of the Fate Witches: His strands can't be seen, and a strega attempting to attach a thread to him will always fail and suffer a backlash. Needless to say, Fate Witches are terrified of these guys because their one defense against the often-brutal Vodacce men is the threat of sorcery.
- Greed: The prevailing Virtue in Vodacce society, even among its Heroes. Selfishness is very much looked down upon, but money is power in Vodacce, and power can change the world.
- Heroic Seductress: It is likely that any PC Vodacce courtesan will fill this role, given their skill set. There are several NPC courtesans who fit the bill as well, especially in the Sophia's Daughters secret society.
- High-Class Call Girl: The courtesans. They are widely considered to be the most powerful women in Vodacce simply because they can read. An afternoon at a ball with some of the best known Courtesans can cost a small fortune, and many of the movers-and-shakers in Vodacce society prefer to consult them for opinions and advice simply because they are more educated than the illiterate wives they have at home.
- Loophole Abuse: How the Vodacce manage to square being such violent libertines and pious individuals. For example, according to their interpretations of religious texts it's only adultery if either partner is married.
- No Woman's Land: In a stark exception to the rest of Theah, being a woman in Vodacce is miserable, and Theus help you if you're a Strega.
- Pride: Yessiree, and one of the leading causes of brawls, duels, and blood-feuds in Vodacce.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: But not in the way you'd think — playing dirty is expected in Vodacce, but they have an honor-code which no noble (particularly gentlemen and -women) will lightly disregard. Of course, Vodacce being Vodacce, adherence to the Code varies.
- School of Seduction: Vodacce women can seek professional training to become courtesans; essentially they're very expensive prostitutes who hope to find an assortment of rich noble to earn a living from. However, Vodacce courtesans are also given the chance to be educated (unlike noblewomen and Strega, who are kept illiterate), and many are appreciated for their intelligence and wit as well as their beauty. Plus, without the benefits of an organization such as the Jenny's Guild, these schools are the only places a Courtesan may earn a living after her prime years are passed. One of the most well-known schools in Second Edition is La Passione, a former church that is not owned by any of the Merchant families, but is instead owned by the courtesan Desiderata. Here, potential courtesans are taught to fight elegantly with multiple weapons, make love with impeccable skill, and learn how to read.
- Southpaw Advantage: In the First Edition, being left-handed is an advantage with a tangible combat benefit, with the conceit that everyone is used to fighting right handed opponents more.]] Vodacce characters can buy this advantage at a discount, and everyone who learns the Ambrogia Swordsman School, the main school of Vodacce swashbucklers, gets this advantage for free when using the style.