GUIDED BY A CONGRESS OF BUSINESSMEN AND SCHOLARS, Danor is devoted to endless progress. Old beliefs, especially religion, are cast aside in the face of newer and more profitable ideas. After surviving an apocalyptic collapse five hundred years ago, reason and hard work have created armies more powerful than any in the world, where a common man can wield weapons as mighty as the magic of legendary heroes. After centuries of complacency, the other great nations eye Danor with envy, and with fear.
Following the Second Victory, the social order in old Danor was upended. The Great Malice left the capitol of the Clergy bereft of magic. Horrible monsters spawned in the border regions of wild magic wrought havoc as quavering holy warriors struggled to destroy them without their divine aid. The whole country was cut off from its usual channels of communication, and in a matter of weeks, thousands of priests killed themselves, believing their gods had died, and many more fled in every direction. A once-mighty nation fractured into desperate enclaves, and the old capitol was abandoned as an accursed place.
After decades of chaos, a tiefling named Jierre who had once been a priest near the top of the sacred hierarchy gathered the fractious leaders and managed to convince them in the span of a mere five years to reunite under a new vision. If the hands of the gods could no longer reach into Danor, then it would be the hands of mortals that would give them power and safety.
It was magic, after all, and the superstitions and archaic beliefs that were its trappings, that had held back the people of Danor from their potential. Jierre understood that they had a unique opportunity. No foreign nations would bother a land without magic, so the new Danor needed not to worry about invasion. It would decide its own fate, and as long as all were devoted to the ideal of progress, Danor would one day be the strongest nation in the world. Finally, after centuries of insular work and struggle to build a new society, Danor has begun to claim its place in the world.
Cities and Industry
Danor’s historical capitol of Methia lies abandoned. Though Danorans reject superstition, even they cannot help but feel uneasy in these ruins. Nothing grows there, wild animals stay out, and even in the height of summer, a chill breeze blows under overcast skies. Some believe a community of iconoclastic gearmen have taken root here, though none have ventured to substantiate the rumor—and returned.
The modern capitol of Cherage, though, is a bustling center of business and trade. Two centuries of practice at industry have moved the pollution-coughing factories and poverty-riddled worker villages outside the city, where deep canals provide the water for mills.
Trains powered by steam crisscross the nation, and the great Avery Coast Railroad runs from mountainous Beaumont on the west coast, through Cherage, and on eastward to Drakr, passing through Crisillyir, before finally ending three thousand miles away in Elfaivar. Warships armored with iron churn along the nation’s coast and among the islands it holds in the Yerasol Archipelago, protecting shipments of food that feed Danor’s burgeoning population of industrial workers.
Faith and Philosophy
The ruling tieflings encourage an atheist philosophy known as Pragati, which teaches that gods are the whimsical creations of primitive minds. Science lays bare the underpinnings of “creation” for the enlightenment and benefit of of all—unlike magicians and religious charlatans who squirrel away knowledge to exercise power over others. Those who hold false beliefs, be they in gods, in disproven economic theories, or anything else, are a threat to progress. As magic is virtually non-existent in Danor, it is difficult to argue for the existence of gods. Public education all but eliminates competing ideologies and faith-based groups are unable to acquire private or political support for their projects. Lone religious persons are usually dismissed as “nuts” if they’re lucky, arrested as threats to the peace if not. Any church that remains standing in Danor these days is a museum to what the people feel is a quaint, but ignorant, past.
Danoran lawmakers recognize a Pragati social evolutionary theory asserting that societies are not unlike the animal and plant communities, in that they are strengthened by competition—survival of the fittest. Societal progress occurs through the natural conflicts between social groups; the best-adapted, healthiest, and cleverest survive and thrive, while the less advantaged die out, raising the level of society as a whole. The aspiration to promote a physically and mentally fit society is used to justify legal policies that make no distinction between those citizens able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves, for whatever reason. The most prominent expression of this ideology is realized in the nation’s ruthless, laissez-faire capitalism but it is also connected to Danoran acceptance of eugenics and scientific racism.
Race and Relations
The vast majority of Danor’s people are humans, but they are not the dominant race. A tiefling minority effectively rules them, as many of the wealthy mercantile families, landed nobles, and high-ranking government officials are tieflings.
This state of affairs has given humans an unwillingness to share what power they have with other races. Significant populations of halflings, half-orcs, and tengu are found in all the major settlements of Danor, but they are subject to various degrees of discrimination and often wind up in ghettos. Half-elves, gnomes, and elves are rare and generally assumed to be agents of the Unseen Court.
Dwarves, as a race associated with the closely allied nation of Drakr, manage to do very well throughout Danor despite human prejudice. Tiefling nobles treat dwarves well, oftentimes better than they treat humans of equal station. Dwarves control a great deal of wealth, dwarven workers rarely complain, and there are so many ancient ties binding dwarves of different families together that few ruling tieflings will risk alienating any of them for fear of upsetting somebody important.
The gearman race was birthed in Danor, though many of their prototypes—the non-sentient constructs the gearmen call “the ancestors”—were originally built in Drakr. Over a century ago, gearmen began to awaken to sapience. Why this happened is a mystery, though scholars suggest a algorithmic “bug” in their cranial difference engines—perhaps implanted by enemy agents—is the culprit. As the gearmen awakened, they were cautious not to reveal the extent of their self-awareness. Soon enough, under the guidance of a decommissioned gearman soldier dubbed King Clockwork, the mechanical race covertly plotted a revolution.
The resulting attacks, simultaneously sprung throughout Cherage, were shocking and bloody. The gearmen were so numerous at the time, and humanity so dependent upon them, that they took control of key city facilities with ease. After capturing several tiefling officials and one junior member of House Jierre as hostages, King Clockwork declared victory. Cherage belonged to the gearmen.
A weeks-long siege followed, though this had little effect on a race that did not require food. Covert missions to rescue the hostages failed, and all attempts by the army to breach the city walls only exacerbated civilian causalities. Bellec, the sovereign of House Jierre at the time, realized that the gearmen would eventually exhaust their fuel, but the city’s people would die off far sooner. In a scene glorified many times in art and song since the day it occurred, Sovereign Bellec stood at the gates of Cherage and demanded the right to either see King Clockwork or starve among his people. The tiefling was granted an audience, and within hours had negotiated a mutually beneficial agreement with King Clockwork: recognition of the gearmen as sentient beings and legal protection under Danor’s constitution in exchange for their national loyalty.
Though some rejected the armistice, left the country or went underground, legions of gearmen enlisted in Danor’s various military branches. Perhaps not coincidentally, war between Danor and Risur flared up soon after. The gearmen were instrumental in winning their nation back several Yerasol territories lost the previous decades. Today, most gearmen remain stalwart defenders of the nation and its guiding principles. Like dwarves, the gearmen enjoy a privileged position in the eyes of the tiefling leadership, which only makes humans, many who knew or are descended from someone injured or killed in Clockwork’s uprising, resent them even more.