The main focus of the game is a seedy tavern in Shepherd’s Find, a fairly large stallic mining town in the Grand Republic of Vardell with a few distinctive traits – Mayor Linson governs the town and has recently implemented new laws banning the practice of technology and magic within the town borders. The town watch patrols frequently, and most people seem to feel that this new law (as an addition to an already large list of laws and punishments) is a much needed one. It is generally frowned upon to be a mage or a technologist, and even the more accepting townsfolk advise keeping it hidden. There are two pubs – an upmarket one near the main square, called the Traveller’s Rest, and another, plain-looking pub called The Bull’s Head. It is rumoured that if you need a “problem” solved, The Bull’s Head is the place to go…
How Tilt Works
Although all people understand the basic nature of tilt and the danger it poses, they may not comprehend the more complex aspects depending on their level of education and time spent outside of stable areas. Tilt is not a fully understood phenomenon.
When people spend time in tilted areas, they gradually take on some of that tilt over time. Conversely, being in the same area as stallic removes that accumulated tilt, extremely rapidly in the case of directly touching a large amount. If a person is extreme tilted they can experience a variety of debilitating effects, including physical injury and death. Prolonged exposure to lesser tilt can cause disease and mutation. Moderately and extremely tilted areas experience a wide range of effects- most notably, pockets of magical or technological energy form and lie dormant, waiting to discharge violently if disturbed.
Tilt appears, changes, and migrates relatively rapidly. Over the course of several days, it’s possible for a given spot to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. What causes this is unknown, but it is believed to be somehow related to the actions of technologists and mages. Stallic serves to dampen this effect, gradually bringing everything around it back towards balance. As these ‘waves’ of Tilt roll across the land and clash into each other, they form comparatively stable boundaries of balance between the areas of tech and magical tilt, and it’s these boundaries which caravans must negotiate as they travel.
Laypeople can’t see much of a difference between technological and magical tilt, but they know intuitively what each feels like, just like people intuitively know what hunger feels like and its cause. Likewise, they can intuitively feel the difference between their own tilt and that of the area they’re in, and so work out its tilt. It is commonly believed that magic becomes more powerful in magical tilt, and likewise for technology in tech tilt.
The seven discrete stages of tilt are a mechanical simplification- in character it exists as a pure continuum.
Reason’s Folly is a bustling and vibrant city, and one of the two major powers in the geopolitical area surrounding Relief. The bulk of the city area is built atop a cliff overlooking the sea, though the sprawling mass of structures continue for some distance, and the city has no real boundaries or walls to speak of.
It is impossible to discuss Reason’s Folly without discussing The Church of Folly– they are, in many ways, one and the same. Though Reason’s Folly has a civil council nominally in charge, in recent years its power has degraded to the point where it is almost wholly ineffectual. Nothing of importance happens in the city without the approval of the Church.
The Church teaches that nothing is permanent and man must learn to live in the moment. The making of long term plans is seen as arrogant, as you declare you know the future state of the world in the face of the vagaries of chance. Life is short and cruel, so why not have a good laugh while you’re here? Gambling forms a central part of worship- you offer up your works to other players and the Church, and chance decides who amongst you can make best use of it. Many of the parables told by the priests of the church involve a Vardellen, stereotyped as an unimaginative dullard, being taught valuable life lessons by a perceptive and witty jester.
Ceremonies and rituals to chance are conducted publically with great aplomb and humour. Perhaps one of the faithful will receive a basket of ripe tomatoes, while another will have the same ‘reward’ hurled at him- it’s impossible to tell in advance, and visitors are astounded that anything here runs at all with such a zany, casual attitude in the air.
Morality in the city is extremely lax- theft, murder, and the practice of magic and technology are some of the only crimes against civic law, though the Church deals with those who fail to keep the faith in all manner of creative ways. Punishment in the city is a light-hearted affair, with minor crimes punished by small tasks with a view to embarrassing and humbling the perpetrator. For more serious crimes, punishments are usually left to chance, the most serious being to walk across an area of extreme tilt unassisted.
Despite this apparent lack of organisation, The Church of Folly is one of the foremost powers in the geopolitical area around Relief. The Church enjoys immense popularity amongst the laypeople, due in no small part to its fun-loving and casual attitude, which contrasts sharply with many of the other, much smaller tilt-based religions. Every single person in Reason’s Folly at least makes a show of keeping the faith, and pilgrims flock from surrounding settlements on holy days to worship at The Wheel– the stone cathedral at the centre of the city is one of the largest structures in the known world. The internal workings of the Church- its leadership, organisational structure and so forth- are mysterious, though one can safely assume some element of randomness is involved.
While boats can travel along the coast with relative ease, the further one travels from the shore the worse the tilt- and the waves- get to the point where the sea becomes unnavigable. Fishing is one of the city’s main industries however, and excess stock is commonly traded for much-needed metals from Vardell.
The Grand Republic of Vardell has emerged from the city of Vardell, and is one of the two major players in the geopolitical area surrounding Relief. Vardell itself is well defended, with high stone walls, a well-trained and equipped Guard, and the whole city lying in a cleft in the mountains which protects against the elements. In addition, Vardell sits on the largest field of stallic ore known to exist, making the whole area remarkably resistant to tilt. Many Vardellens say (only half-jokingly) that Tilt creeps into the less stable places of the world, making everyone outside the city mad.
Law and order are treated with the utmost seriousness here. The law is based ideas of common sense and community, with most offenders sentenced to hard labour to make amends for damage done to The Grand Republic. Unfortunately, Vardell’s legal system incorporates a number of obscure traditions which limit its efficiency. Diligence, patience, and loyalty are among the most favoured virtues here.
There is little attention paid to questions of philosophy and mysticism, and few of the smaller belief systems seem to make much impact here. In particular, membership of the Church of Folly is publically discouraged. Visitors often remark that there is not much to do in Vardell, either culturally or in the more raucous forms of entertainment typically found in pubs and taverns elsewhere.
The Grand Market of Vardell is probably the largest in the land, open every day, and folk say you can buy and sell almost anything there. In particular, much like prostitutes are euphemistically known as ‘seamstresses’, it’s possible to find a technologist by asking around for a ‘hingemason’ if you’re lucky, though the practice of both magic and technology are illegal here.
Vardell’s main exports are minerals and metals, gathered from the Grey Mountains. The refined stallic slab which forms the heart of Relief was formed almost entirely from Vardellen stallic. However, trading stallic or stallic ore with those outside the Republic without proper authorisation is a crime of the highest order, punishable by immediate execution, as it risks destabilising the whole of Vardell. The city is importing natural products such as food and fabrics from outlying villages as well as Reason’s Folly to fuel its growth.
Though there is no official currency in Vardell, officials of the Grand Republic are authorised to write chits– basically IOUs for resources. These are expected to be bartered as though they were the resources themselves as the Republic guarantees their value, and no trader in Vardell would dare refuse one- though caravaneers are perhaps more discerning. Use of these chits is on the rise.
Several years ago, a charismatic young Captain of the Guard, Anton Verper, rose through the ranks of the city council. His glorious vision of a chaotic world united under the banner of Vardell caught the minds of the populace, and he was elected to the newly-created post of Commander to execute his vision.
Now, it is the stated goal of Commander Verper to unify the many villages and small towns scattered in stable pockets throughout the Tilt under the banner of the Grand Republic of Vardell. Much progress has been made, and over a dozen settlements now swear allegiance to Vardell. More are expected to join within the year, as Vardellen diplomats expound the merits of The Grand Republic and gradually expand their sphere of influence. The city itself is still adapting to being the centre of the burgeoning Republic, and a new class of bureaucrats and managers is rising to meet the challenges of this new age.
Generally speaking, the rules for Tilt II are the same as those for Tilt. Exceptions to this are listed below:
Power & Tilt
The land is always considered to be balanced, though personal tilt can still vary. The effects of this on technology and magic may vary between characters.