V.O.C. of the People
If you haven’t been here yet, please try to read this page first, as it lays out the basics of the setting. There are some links that will lead to pages with additional detail, if you’re curious. Once you’re satisfied you understand how things will work, feel free to proceed to the Character Creation page, and/or the Storyteller page if you want to learn how the system works.
In case you’re interested, this handy dandy cheat sheet will lay out the current state of the world. Head here for a super-awesome gallery of how your character would probably dress (or at least what people in Dutch-occupied areas consider fashionable).
The year is 1717…
…and much has changed.
Thousands of years ago, Earth was a very different place. Dangerous beasts stalked the wilds, demons and spirits ruled the earth and sky, and powerful sorcerers used their dark magics to bend the world and the will of those around them to their liking. But through unity and strength of will, humanity was able to drive out these evils, and seal them away in another world. Thirty-two seals were locked in place all across the planet, and parents warned their children of the dangers that once were.
But time, as it is wont to do, progressed, and civilization took hold in the human world. Once-prized seals became worthless trinkets, and the long-remembered pains of yore fell out of humanity’s collective memory. Fact became fiction, fiction became fable, and the lessons of the past were forgotten as the world moved on to the bigger, and the better.
And so, the seals began to break. History neither remembers nor cares when or how they happened, but happen they did. One by one they shattered, until, on May 23, 1618, in the city of Prague, the last one broke. One of the Holy Roman Emperor’s inquisitors, acting on orders to eliminate leaders spreading false religions, threw two men out of a third-story window. The act was preceded by a fight, during which a table was bumped, knocking a small clay urn to the ground.
The changes were subtle at first—children born with unusual eye colors, strange howls in the distance—but as time passed, they became harder and harder to ignore. Within a few years, it was clear that something foreign had made its way into our world. Certain children born after the event had begun to show a propensity for something that could only be described as “magic,” and creatures with no names beyond “demon” or “monster” were becoming more and more populous.
And in the back of everyone’s mind lingered the fear that soon, nothing would be the same.
Today, things are very different. The Dutch East India Company (commonly referred to as the V.O.C., short for its official name, Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), having secured multiple lucrative contracts and a near-monopoly over the mysterious new mineral Orichalcum, has cemented itself as the leading power in this new world. With more authority, land, money, soldiers, and ships than the three strongest governments combined, no-one is a position to argue when the V.O.C. starts calling the shots.
All across the world, Orichalcum, a pink, crystalline mineral, has been found. Apart from its attractive appearance, it was initially considered unremarkable, until it was discovered that, when immersed completely in water, Orichalcum generates tremendous heat—enough to start boiling said water in a manner of just a few seconds. This incredible discovery inspired inventors and investors all across the world, effectively jump-starting the Industrial Revolution over a century ahead of time, and on a far greater scale.
Machines have become commonplace, especially in places where the V.O.C. has a strong foothold. Technology is advancing quickly, and it seems practically daily that some new invention or innovation is unveiled. Steam power is everywhere, and widely accessible across most of the world. In Amsterdam and the surrounding areas, however, a new form of power—electricity—is beginning to enter the fray, replacing steam as a faster and stronger alternative.
Politics have become more brutal and cutthroat than they ever were, with nations all over the world clamoring to win the V.O.C.’s favor, and a chance at just a taste of their massive wealth. The courts and boardrooms alike are rife with sycophants and liars, willing to throw their nation and people out the window to win the favor of their betters.
Conversely, however, the V.O.C. is not without its enemies, and there is no shortage of people, groups, and even entire nations that would love nothing more to see that bloated behemoth get the short end of the stick for once. Some say that a revolution is brewing, and whispers of change are beginning to flow on the wind once again…
The year is 1717, in a magic/steampunk/alternate history Earth setting. The Dutch East India Company (“V.O.C.”) controls most things, and are probably evil. Political climate is waaaaay different than what’s in the history books, so buckle up.