Corbin is located between the fires and wonders of the Commonwealth of Landonia to the north and the airy floating islands of the Vendaeros Empire to the East. Caught between the elements of fire and air and surrounded by water on all sides, Corbin is a land of obscured dangers. The land of Corbin suffers from distinct weather patterns that other places on Eldross don’t have to contend with. The geographical shape of Corbin is like a bowl that drops below sea level the further inland you go, sloping inward from the coast. One might think flooding from high tides would be an issue, but the tidal boundaries never infringe upon the land. Some believe it is magick that keeps the tides at bay, but if you asked a Corbinite, they’d tell you the water is afraid of going too deep towards the heart of Corbin. They might be right. There is an old wisdom, “a rot eats the heart of Corbin, and none but fools go near it”. The land of Corbin is beset with a deep and perpetual haze that can sweep in faster than an airship can crash and leave just as suddenly. ‘The Haze’ appeared years ago when the Great Plague swept the world of Eldross; it comes in many forms, and is as dangerous as the monsters and animals that dwell within it. Corbinites who would dare to venture into the Haze know to be well protected, wearing full body coverings and plague masks for protection. Due to the dangers of the strange weather patterns present, clockwork beasts of burden and machinamen farm hands are a normal sight wherever you go.
Cities and Towns
The towns in Corbin are often simple villages but even the humblest of hamlets boasts clockwork creations of complexity that would rival the highest inventions of their Landonian cousins to the north. The largest cities are marvels of clockwork machination. Each moves a precision that is exact and each operates like in perfect time.
The Floating City of Ecclesium
Corbin’s largest cities tend to be on the coast with one notable exception: The Floating City of Ecclesium, the seat of the Arch Seraph that hovers directly above Corbin’s dark heart. An airship is required to reach this city and who comes and goes is very tightly controlled. Most citizens will never step foot in its halls.
This city on the east coast is the largest coastal city. It is a bustling clockwork metropolis where the higher culture and richer citizens live. Most people live very comfortably there, but rarely leave their homes as they prefer to not have to cover up as much.
The city of Pendulum is an industrial town for work and trade. It is on the northern coast. To describe Pendulum is to describe a clockwork machine on a massive scale.
Last is the city of Quartz on the southern coast. This is a city of learning where the best healers in all Eldross come to study. It is built from the giant stone ruins whose languages and mysteries predate knowledge.
Places and Oddities of Note
This is a crystal vial that contains a drought of the original cure created by the Arc Seraph that ended the Great Plague. It was this original tincture that the wider spread cure was derived from. This is an heirloom of House Seraph and is said to cure more than just the plague.
The Living Archive
The Living Archive is a repository of every plague, illness, virus, blight, and horror ever to come to the world of Eldross. There are strains, substances, and creatures contained in here that are horror beyond knowing. It is even said that a full draft of water from the pool of Maevyn’s Promise in Tahlea is kept on file and, perhaps, its only known antidote. The promise of the Living Archive gives hope as much as its threat helps to maintain Corbin’s borders.
The Mask of Sebatal
This plague mask was the original first successful step in fighting the plague. Its replication, iteration, and distribution are what made life on Corbin possible both during the plague and after.
The Kason Vault
This is a vault of countless treasures and wonders retrieved from both the ruins of Corbin that most never return from as well as the Heart of Corbin itself. It also contains many unique relics discovered by the traveling Plague Doctors who have brought them back to Corbin.
The Heart of Corbin
This fully enclosed crystal container with no opening has within it the essence of the Great Plague. It is located at the center of the land it is a nearly impenetrable swamp and shrouded in an opaque Miasma. So potent is this essence that one part per one trillion could turn an entire city into a horror of walking abominations before the sun sets. It was the containment of this essence that ended the Great Plague, but the essence is so powerful that it still gives rise to the Miasma which surrounds it. The creation of the Heart of Corbin was Phelan’s masterpiece when he worked within The Living Archive to cure the Great Plague… one he has been working to replicate ever since his retreat into Corbin’s center.
The Haze is ever-present and shifts with the winds. It can range from wispy and light to so thick you cannot see your own hand in front of your face. From morning till night, across the land of Corbin, the haze is everywhere to some degree. It usually does not obstruct vision too badly and becomes thinner the closer you get to the coasts. There is only one time of year in which the Haze truly dissipates from all but Corbin’s heart, and that is during the Deep Summer. The Haze had not been seen in Corbin before the Great Plague swept the world of Eldross, bringing about utter chaos and death. Many believe it is infused with the Nethyr itself, but there is, as yet, no solid evidence to support this. What is known is that the plague that spread madness and mutation seemed to reach new heights within the Haze. Nobody is sure which came first, or if they came at the same time, but even after a cure was developed, the Haze remained.
Forms of the Haze
This green tinted Haze is very fast-moving and comes in from the north. Looking almost more like a mirage in a blazing desert from a distance, it brings with it dangers. It has an aetheric charge to it and is filled with radiant matter. Staying in for too long can hurt those who don’t prepare for both the heat and the aethyr lightning. Rogue clockwork creatures and Machinamen stay in this fog as its aetheric nature recharges them. Many of these creatures were attempts to bond Machina parts to animals or people that went terribly awry. These creatures range from automatons moving only on base instincts to not break down to the Machinamen who are more machines than living creatures and suffer from Augment Sickness; their bodies keep rejecting parts, so they need the Steam Fronts to survive and fresh parts to replace those that are eventually rejected. Anyone caught in the Steam Fronts they come across will be cannibalized for parts in attempts to grant them greater autonomy and allowing them to persist for longer outside of the Steam Front.
This Haze is thick with a violet tint. So thick you have trouble seeing your hand in front of your face. It is slow and billows about. A small stroll could turn into being lost for days as it is very slow to dissipate. There are creatures that hunt in the Gloom, that don’t need eyes to see, and are known to take whatever prey wanders in. Nobody knows what these things look like as they have never been seen outside of the Gloom. There are also whispers that those who die in the Gloom become vengeful lost spirits who whisper in the ears of those lost in the Gloom, luring them to the same fate.
The Miasma is a yellow Haze rarely found outside of the Heart of Corbin. It is a living plague unto itself. The remnants of the Great Plague that mutated to survive lives in this nightmare. While not as virulent as the plague it came from, it carries in it countless sicknesses and mutations. It is known to be acidic and to destroy almost anything that stays in it too long, breaking down, rusting, and eating away buildings, clothing, armor, and people. The Miasma is a cloud of perpetual death, sickness, and decay. It is the home to the Blightborn, living abominations of disease. They are immortal within the Miasma, and it is whispered that the Miasma itself is a product of their existence. They are the bringers of plague and a living rot at the heart of Corbin.
The Breath of the Arch Seraph
More like a cooler mist that pours down from the floating city of Ecclesium, where the Haze kills, the Breath revives. Those healers blessed by the Arch Seraph herself are given the gift of the Breath and take it with them when they travel.
The Great Plague ravaged the wildlife of Corbin, animals and crops alike. The only exception seems to be the wolves of Corbin, who have somehow remained immune to the many plagues and blights of the land. While feral, the wolves of Corbin have never been known to attack any citizen who wasn’t infected. Seen as good luck and finding a place on Corbin’s coat of arms, citizens of Corbin frequently leave offerings for the hunters in the haze. Every house in Corbin keeps a bowl of clean water by the front door and some clean dried meats should one wonder by in the night in search of a snack.
The Blightfather, whose real name is Phelan Aliaine, operates with Impunity in the Heart of Corbin. The Miasma not only does not end him, it sustains him. Even still, Phelan holds a place in society. Any force that would invade Corbin must take into consideration the rotted Heart of the land and the father of the blight that rots it. While an enemy of the state, even the Blightfather serves a role in Corbin’s society. Even Phelan himself is known to be fiercely protective of Corbin from outsiders. None doubt that the Blightfather loves the land of Corbin in his own very twisted, corrupt, and toxic way.
Magic and Technology
Corbin is known throughout the world as the expert makers of clockwork technology. Enhanced by Machinimancy, nearly every imaginable augmentation or tool in Corbin uses clockworks. Beasts of burden such as oxen and horses are augmented with clockwork lungs and various other enhancements to help them survive the harsh realities of Corbin life. A broken leg is never a reason to put an animal down, and any animal that is able to survive in Corbin is treated with respect and kindness, usually dying of old age. There are no pigs in Corbin, and the beasts are looked on with disdain as they have never been able to survive. For this reason, pork and bacon are rare delights and can fetch a high price.
Mechramancy powered trains encircle the border cities of Corbin, but within Corbin itself, modified beasts of burden pull armored carriages. Low-flying low-occupancy air ships called skiffs can be used for short trips – usually to Ecclesium.
In hand to hand, Corbinites prefer a large two handed polearm with clockwork augmentations called the Arc-Glaive. Severing the hose on a breathing apparatus is on par with killing the enemy, and no blightborn monster yet has found a way to grow scales that can ward them off. For range, they prefer thrown gases and disease bearing grenades.
A Plague Doctor of Corbin is the best overall healer all across Eldross. Their understanding of healing and physiology is unparallelled. Their blending of magic and anatomy is almost seamless. The most notable of this is the Breath of the Seraph, which allows the user to create literal billowing clouds of healing and purification that can heal most ailments and repel creatures that are of corrupted origins.
The Plague Mask
Having a unique mask made is a right of passage to adulthood in Corbinite society. Each mask is unique and personal to the person.
The principal building material is called Corbinite, a formulated form of bricks and plaster similar to adobe, composed of tightly compacted sand, clay, and straw dried in the haze and baked in a bath of radiant matter. This gives both the bricks and plaster a charred black appearance with dark blue lines that give a faint blue glow that can hardly be seen in the daylight even when looking for it, but that glows like a beacon at night in the Haze.
This strange alloy, whose creation is a guarded secret, is the one metal that is resistant to the Miasma. Almost everything metal in Corbin is made from it, including clockwork gears, weapons and armor.
There are almost no mortals in Corbin. It’s not that they are not welcome, but simply that most were killed by the plague and were unable to be saved – at least not in their mortal form. These mortals are in truth Risen, for their fragile bodies have truly died and are now kept immortal by means of Machimancy, Arc-Brass augmentations and runic tattoos. These tattoos are very personal and often also incorporate pictures and works of art, and are never seen publicly except during the Deep Summer festival. It is often a shock to outsiders to see Corbinites without their usual full coverings during the festival of Deep Summer almost as much as it is to learn that they are covered from head to toe with these runic tattoos.
The Incarna of Corbin have brass colored skin, with greenish blue veins radiating from around their eyes; a few have hair that has become brass like in color. Their bodies are usually covered in runic tattoos as well, and many have Arc-Brass augmentations. The most powerful have impressive wings augmented by clockwork parts, and those blessed with The Breath of the Seraph occasionally have fog-like effects emanating from their various vestments.
The people of Corbin are rarely, if ever, seen to be showing skin. From head to toe they keep covered. The only parts usually left to view are those with clockwork augmentation which are immune to most typical ambient weather or sickness. Masks and breathing apparatus are almost always worn. Those either blessed by or aspiring to be blessed by the Arch Seraph as sanctioned Healers of Corbin wear plague doctor masks. Many prefer goggles when needed. Clothing is usually lighter fabrics as Corbin is quite hot and muggy. Men and women tend to dress very similar. The more noble may wear much finer clothes. The working class tend more towards cloaks and scarves while the upper class trend towards suits and dresses. In some special occasions, other ceremonial layers such as cloaks and outer adornments and jewelry may be worn. The only notable exceptions being the Day of Faces where those choosing new masks present them for the community to view and the Festival of Deep Summer where the occasion calls for wearing nothing at all (or as close to it as you’ll dare or local custom permits).
There is a semi-stoic belief in providence among the people of Corbin. Selfishness and greed are viewed as tantamount to crimes of treasonous intent. There is a belief that if one has much while another hurts from a lack, then to not give freely is to value oneself over the survival of the whole. This is the only true “evil” in their philosophy and is viewed as a high crime if proven.
No matter what, Corbin survives. The greatest plague couldn’t kill them. The frailties of the flesh couldn’t stop them. When all of Eldross has passed from memory, and all the cultures of it have fallen to sickness or war or avarice, Corbin will be where the world is born again from, and the ruins of Corbin’s civilizations will be the mysteries for whatever ages follow after. Survival of the whole is more important than the part. If the hand is weak or infected, remove the hand. If the lungs fail, replace the lungs. If the person is a danger to society, remove the person. The whole is always more important than the parts that make it up.
Authoritarian order is critical. A thing for every place and a place for everything. Corbinites view their culture in the same way they view a clockwork machine. Each gear, turner, spring, and sprocket has a use and a function. Each part is needed for the whole to work. And when a part is broken or needs replacing, then it is replaced without sentiment.
Corbinites are not sentimental. While not exactly stoic in times of crisis, they will come across as very cold and unsympathetic. The brutal realities of their world have been hammered home too often and everyone from Corbin knows at least one person whose refusal to lose a limb or sentimental attachment to some old doll or trinket caused their sickness and death. Things have uses, but are just things. They are the surgeons who understand that saving the patient means cutting them open and cutting out the rot. Anesthesia is only as useful as it keeps the patient from flailing and injuring themselves worse – it isn’t there for comfort. They are the healers who heal what others can’t. They sit with the dying. They walk into the rooms of sickness and death that would kill others and walk back out again unphased.
Corbinites avoid physical conflict as a rule, but when it is a necessary option, they exercise it without flourish and as efficiently as possible. There are no “honor duels” in Corbin. Politics is like clockwork. Conflict means there is a part that isn’t functioning correctly. Once the part that isn’t functioning is revealed, it is removed.
Corbin has no real “allies”, but it does have a working relationship with its neighbors; though Vendaeros and Corbin have both seemed to agree that limiting contact as much as possible is in everyone’s best interest. Vendaeros fears being contaminated by Corbin, and Corbin doesn’t want to deal with a culture that is “too pure” to risk being “contaminated” by them. Landonia are fast trading partners with Corbin, and share advancements in magick and technology, and Corbinites are fascinated by the creations of Arcamancy. The people of Corbin treat Chrossus with a kind of awe – it is believed that wonders wait at the middle of the world should one be so brave as to study them.
Though they have no real enemies, Corbinites are not overly interested in engaging with certain cultures. Aside from their contractual language and creation of a universal currency, Corbinites tend to disapprove of everything else about the Tahlea culture, as their culture is seen as the opposite of functional. This is not so much dislike as it is head-shaking confusion at how they haven’t eaten themselves alive yet. The Corbinites look at the Mechramancy of the Badlands with a mixture of fascination and disgust. Anything that borders on dealing with death as a means of survival has too harrowing of an association with the Blightfather’s methods for their tastes.
When outsiders visit Corbin itself they can receive a very cold welcome as they are seen as an unneeded burden on Corbin; keeping them alive, healthy, and sane can be a very taxing endeavor. As such, very few people ever visit Corbin beyond the most coastal towns and most never leave the docks where their ships land.
Etiquette and Society
Everyone in Corbin society should be respected. Disrespect causes friction and problems and is considered a threat to Corbin society which is threatened enough by Corbin itself. While there is a ranking centered on learning and ability and those less skilled are expected to differ from those more skilled, disrespect or disregarding of another Corbinite’s opinion is not tolerated on a cultural level. Every mistake is a chance to teach and learn. Every debate is a chance to learn to see things through a different lens. It is expected that what works in Quartz will not work in Mainspring or Ecclesium and what works for one artisan may not work for another. These differences and variations in approach can spawn different schools of thought on design, but as long as the end result works well and integrates into the whole seamlessly, then it is welcomed in Corbin society.
Due to the survivalistic nature of Corbinites, any member of a family is fully accepted as family, regardless of gender or number involved in the union. As long as the end result is a working and happy family that contributes to the good of all, then the details are immaterial. Every situation from single parent families to polyamorous collectives are considered normal and common in Corbin culture, and children are raised with the parents of their choosing with whom they fit and work best to their benifit and the benifit of society as a whole. There are a multitude of reasons to marry in Corbin culture ranging from love or sex to asexual unions based on intellectual appreciation and good working synergy. Because of this, morality is never a factor in such unions, but rather working together well and contributing to the good of all is what counts.
Raising children is considered the responsibility of the entire society and it is not uncommon for a single child to live with various families and call a range of adults their parents while growing up. Due to mortality rates and the variety of paths open to a citizen of Corbin, the genetic lineage is not important where family is concerned, but rather finding the place you fit the best is what is important. Quite often, a child’s first passage into adulthood as an apprentice is with one or more of their chosen parents.
Weddings are low-key affairs usually only celebrated by the families involved. This is because marriage is just part of finding your place, and because it is not expected to be a life-long arrangement; it is expected that those involved will grow and change together and that there will likely become a time where there are others they would fit better with. Not only are divorces allowed, but encouraged. It is logical that over time the newlyweds will grow in different directions and meet others who suit their new circumstances better. Often this leads to group marriage and polyamory, but just as often it leads to separations which are usually amicable and create no bad blood between the separating parties.
From the first day a child draws breath, every adult in the community essentially becomes the child’s parent. Whenever a birth is to take place, the immediate family is present and once the child is found to be free of blight and strong enough to survive, the child is presented to the whole town. Once they are weaned, the baby is passed around through the community, living with each household in turn. This process continues until the child has a preference of where they wish to grow up and who they wish to grow up under. Once they are old enough to choose their home family, another celebration is had as they are seen as truly becoming part of the community at that time.
Every Corbinite is expected to move up in society until they find the place that suits them best. There is no such thing as useless in Corbin culture, and to have the ambition to take on more responsibility is met with the support and training needed to achieve it – but every increase in rank comes with an increased responsibility and pressure. In the same way, moving down is also encouraged and supported without shame or judgement. What is important is finding your place where you fit and thrive. The rich take it as their duty to care for the poor. The more you have, the more you help. This only applies to citizens of Corbin.
Death happens. Often. Sadly, there is no Corbinite that reaches adulthood without knowing at least one friend who has been killed or “taken”. When a Corbinite dies, their bodies are cremated in a reductive flame known as Blightburn. This flame burns away all the flesh to ash but leaves the clockwork augments and garments unscathed. The ash is then spread over the field to give stronger life to the crops and the clothes and augments are cleaned and passed on to those closest to the deceased and these treasured heirlooms are put back into use. To be left to rot is the most shameful death a Corbinite can have. As such, many augments have a storied history and are very sentimental to Corbinites.
There are no taboo topics of conversation in Corbin culture, as long as they are spoken about logically and objectively. To refuse to speak of a problem is to let it fester and to encourage rot of the body, mind, or society. As such, the frankness with which Corbinites will discuss things can be a bit jarring to outsiders listening to Corbinites talk. That said, they are much more guarded with outsiders. The one thing all Corbinites agree on is that outsiders are best kept outside – for their own good as well as that of Corbin.
There is a native dialect based on the mixing of Corbin, Vendaeros and Landonia that has a rigid and slightly harsh sound to it. Only those born in or who have studied a great deal in Corbin are privy to it. There is a script of Corbinish that is based on the runic language discovered in the ruins of Corbin. This script is used to denote major life events and rituals that bring them into greater alignment with their paradynes. In point of fact, this is the great secret behind many vestments and their clockwork augmentations, without which they would never work.
When greeting another native to Corbin, the greeting of “Sali!” or “Hoi!” is most common. Corbinites greet each other as family, for in their view family is just what they all are. When travel is required, it is customary to bring gifts for the hosts and toys or treats for the children. A slight turn of the head with a nod is a gesture of respect. A hug with a kiss or two on the cheek if more informal and showing friendship. Taking a knee is customary when wanting to show extreme difference – usually only reserved for the heads of house and the Arc Seraph herself.
Speaking ill of another Corbinite is frowned upon, and if made public or widely known will result in a trial that usually ends in the loss of the critic’s citizenship. Disagreement is fine if kept civil, and tolerated with a friendly and supportive nature (the goal is always to make all of us better and have more tools at our disposal) but hidden grievance is like an infection, and infections must be cut out or cured lest they cause the whole to rot.
Being too late or too early can be a faux pas, though if you asked a Corbinite, they would say they are very relaxed about this and it is perfectly fine to be up to two whole minutes early or even a three minutes late without it being a scandal.
To refuse to help when asked or to refuse help offered is considered very rude in Corbin culture. It is seen as a vanity as if saying “my work is too important to help you” or “My work is too important to be sullied by your aid.” While not truly a taboo, it is rarely done and often considered to be very rude. If the offense is repeated too often and becomes a problem behavior, depending on its impact, it can land a Corbinite in serious trouble and lead to their exile from Corbin. Wishing to work alone is the behavior of outsiders, or worse, those with something to hide who are usually in service to the Blightfather.
All profanities revolve around sickness and corruption. “Rot take you!” is the highest of curse and only reserved for those who serve the Blightfather or for outsiders deemed a threat to Corbin society. An insulting gesture is the thumb and forefinger are brought together with the middle, ring, and pinky in the air and then rotated back and forth in a twisting motion to mimic using a tool to make a tiny fine-tuned adjustment – this implies someone has a cog loose.
Architecture and Art
There is an artistry to all Corbinites do and make, but it is a beauty of function. The wheel that spins without resistance, the gear that ticks away without friction, the magic that flows cleanly and never strays from its purpose – this is the art they appreciate. Other cultures make the art that has no purpose other than to be art. Other cultures make up the “emotional heart” of Eldross.
Theater is very rare in Corbin, but musical performances are not. While not the best musicians, a traveling musical troupe will always find a welcomed place in Corbin culture. Expos and faires that display the newest, greatest, and best innovations are much more their speed.
Home and building design, like everything else in Corbin, is a product of adapting to the land itself, and filled with well thought out functional design. The homes themselves are like vaults built of Corbinite that are built tall with the first floor where inhabitants live being the fourth floor of the building. The lowest floor is always a basement level that is completely submerged below ground. It has walls that are unusually thick in order to protect the maze of clockworks and rube goldberg-esque machinations that run everything from the clocks on the walls to the perimeter defenses that all houses have.
The second floor (and the first floor to be above ground) has no entrances/exits either, but is covered in a number of openings, each with their own small portcullis. When threats wander into town, these portcullis open to reveal a series of flame throwers, projectiles, and swiping blades of various make. In a situation of true alarm, all the houses of a town can be set to go off together turning the streets, alleys, and walkways into a veritable impenetrable interwoven gauntlet of death that a double jointed acrobatic spider would be hard pressed to find a way through. Like Corbin society, every building and its defenses are made specifically to interlock with and complement the whole so that every addition works with a precision like clockwork.
The third floor is reserved for any beasts of burden or tool storage along with a general workshop as every Corbinite has a basic understanding of simple mechanics. This is the first floor that can be reached by a retracting elevator. The fourth floor is the first floor where the citizens of Corbin live. This elevates them above the worst of the Haze and puts them out of the reach of most of the beasts and monsters that roam the Corbin countryside. The roof of each building is always covered with vents and filtered ventilation ducts that ensure those inside always have clean air to breathe as well as the ability to seal themselves completely should the temporary need arise.
Food and Diet
Due to the toxicity of the natural environment, necessity has forced the people of Corbin to adapt to survive. Corbinites have a hard time trusting any undercooked or improperly prepared foods. Dried, purified meats and jerkies are the norm along with fish, nuts, and bread as the other staple of their diet. Spices are a major import for Corbin. Deep Summer is the one exception when fruits and vegetables are in plenty and free of the risk of blight. Restaurants are rare, as most Corbins prefer to eat their own cooking.
Fish and Chips – Potatoes grow under the ground and are unaffected by the Haze, and as the Haze never reaches the ocean, fish the safest meat option. The two combined make an ideal meal.
Filtered Water – The filtration systems of Corbin are legendary, and unfiltered water should never be imbibed.
Geistschlager – Corbinites are resistant against most poisons and diseases, and this includes intoxication – they can drink most any other culture under the table. Geistschlager is the most common Corbin liquor, in all but the most meager of quantities, can cause rather intenses sickness in others not accustomed to it. It can also be used to clean machine parts, and serves that purpose in the society too. Most alcohols of other cultures are considered too weak to register, so they drink those only for the taste alone.
Professions and Skills
While each citizen is taught to read and write Chrossian from birth, they are also taught twin dialects of Corbinish. Corbinish uses one writing system that is very runic in script and cannot be read by anyone not raised to understand it. This script is used in the tattoos that Corbinites have scribed on their skin as they progress through life. The second script can be learned by outsiders and is easier for those from Vendaeros or Landonia. It is an extremely technical script that deals with very exact language that is hard to misinterpret – as would be expected from a society that lives on precision.
All occupations are respected from the most skilled artisan to the apprentice janitor to the child at play; all are needed for society to function properly. Though every occupation from the greatest to the least is given equal respect, healers and doctors have a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Corbin, and those given the blessing of the Seraph are more notably received.
Engineering, disaster survival, Machinamancy, and the Corbin-specific crafting of clockworks are all highly respected skills. In the worst of cases, should the machinery of a home break down, someone could be trapped in their house and suffocate – though thanks to the breathing masks, this would take a very long time indeed, and usually not so long that they wouldn’t have time to repair the house’s inner mechanisms. It is for this reason that diligence and basic mechanics is required in tandem with learning to read and write among Corbin’s young. Sloppy design and negligence in Corbin will literally result in your death one way or another.
Education is handled through apprenticeships. Some basic apprenticeships are mandatory for foundational learning, but these are always customized to the child’s interests and taught in a way that the child specifically finds interesting. There are no schools in the traditional sense.
The Night of the Great Howl
Called Wolfenoot in Corbinish, this occurs during one night every Moonsleep the wolves of Corbin come out of the Haze en masse. The night itself is decided by wolves and not people, but is always started with one wolf howling close to midnight. Soon other wolves join in and within an hour the chorus of howling is so loud that it can rattle the very windows. When this happens, Corbinites come out into the night air and bring gifts of meats and treats for the wolves as well as toys made specifically for the wolves and their pups. The night is filled with playing with the wolves and feeding them the best foods that Corbin has to offer. Nobody knows when this started, but it was House Kayson that first turned it into a celebration rather than something to be feared. Within a few years of seeing House Kayson playing with the wolves, all of Corbin had joined in the fun. It was after this that the relationship with Corbinites and its wolves became one of respect and cherished friendship. It is a local phenomenon that all Corbinites look forward to.
The Festival of Deep Summer
This is the most important holiday in Corbin culture. The festival begins on the third day of Sundance, clear of the Haze, and ends when the Haze returns with the near approach of Soulfall. This festival commemorates when the Arc Seraph cured the Great Plague and is denoted with a retreat in the Haze to the Heart of Corbin. While there may still be fogs and such, none of them contain the Haze that all Corbins know and fear. Celebration of this festival is marked by removing as much covering as you dare. Only the work that is essential to sustain society is still carried out and usually only the work one takes joy in (leaving the mundane work for the rest of the year). This festival is the one time of year where being late or early is socially acceptable. Within the borders of Corbin the festival is celebrated by showing faces and as much skin as one dares. The more skin someone shows, the more in the spirit they are considered to be and the better the celebration. Many prefer to go completely nude (or as close to it as safety permits depending on the activity) during the festival, as if to make up for the rest of the year they remain covered from head to toe. Outside of the nation of Corbin, this festival is celebrated with a showing of skin and faces still, though often with less nudity.
Day of Faces
This day happens on the last day of the festival of Deep Summer. This is the day when Corbinites put their regalia back on and their masks pack in place. What makes this day special is that it also marks the passage into adulthood for Corbinites who are of age. This is the day they choose their own mask rather than the mask chosen for them by their families. This is a declaration of individuality as well as a pledge to the betterment of Corbin society as a whole. The revealing of your chosen “face” is as important as the day a Corbinite is born, declares their path of interest, or receives their first naming.
While the process of learning skills and trades begins as young as possible, Declaration Day is when the young declare their chosen path of interest. While it is not uncommon for someone to re-declare a new path of interest on declaration day, the first declaration is the most special. It takes place on the last day of the first day of Soulfall.
The Arch Seraph is the single leader of Corbin. She is a savior, healer and protector, who rules with approval to the point of zealous advocation. Should something happen to her, it is almost certain that all of Corbin would be dead within a generation, and Eldross would follow after (at least, that is what Corbinites believe). The Arch Seraph’s word is absolute.
Ecclesium is the seat of all magical power and authority in Corbin. Though any request or ruling from Ecclesium is obscenely rare, as they only step in when threats to all of Corbin or Eldross itself are on the line, or when the direst of circumstances arise. Ecclesium does not have power over the people of Corbin; the people of Corbin gladly give all power to the Ecclesium and the Arch Seraph. As every citizen is an extension of the will of Ecclesium, all goods are owned by the Arch Seraph and all needs are met without exception. For one Corbinite to have much while another goes without is a shame bordering on treason. This only applies to Corbinites. It is viewed as a point of pride among the upper class to be able to help fill in for those less fortunate when a need arises; it’s the fastest way into Ecclesium’s good graces. This is why when a local doctor or steamsmith has to travel to visit someone, the upper class are almost falling over each other to fill in for them while they’re away. In this way, an absence is never felt and even the lowliest of hamlets often get visits from the most talented and wealthiest of citizens.
Each city, town, and hamlet has a single leader – usually called a magistrate – who delegates to the various guilds and citizens the tasks of keeping the city running as needed. It is an honor to be asked to a task as it shows you were the best choice. All of the magistrates are subject to the will of the Arch Seraph and the high seat of Ecclesium whose word and dictates, while rare, are seen as sacrosanct. There is no citizen of Corbin that would not gladly die in attempts to fulfill any request from Ecclesium, because if that was not the case, there would not be citizens for much longer.
Corbin has a standing military force, but no army. This military is known as the Wings of the Seraph and is exempt from the usual ranks of Corbin society. This force exists primarily to deal with threats within Corbin’s own borders. The Haze brings and births new monsters daily and the Blightfather is tireless in his creation of new monstrosities. Every citizen of the city of Ecclesium is the Arc Seraph’s personal guard, and every citizen of Corbin is her secret service.
Studying any form of plague or sickness for any reason other than to find its best cure or to eradicate it is illegal. Disobeying the Arch Seraph, the Ecclesium, or the local magistrate is illegal. Doing anything for selfish gain that causes harm to another citizen or town is illegal. Anyone in possession of strains of sickness, blight, or miasma outside of the Living Archive are considered to be in league with the Blightborn – though some do research in secret for alternative cures and ways to fight infection, believing the risk is worth it if the outcome saves Corbin.
If one breaks a law, it is assumed there may be some form of mental sickness at work. When a law is broken, there is a period of quarantine followed by an evaluation to determine if there is a sickness and if it has or could spread. If the infection is proved valid then steps are taken to save the infected, but ultimately the health of the society is put above the health of the individual without exception. When a trial is needed, the whole town sits as jury with the Magistrate as presiding judge. The case is heard and all in the town vote on the guilt or innocence. The magistrate then gives out punishment or pardon as needed. If the case is too severe, they are sent to the Ecclesium for judgement.
For most all laws there are only three punishments: Revocation of citizenship, exile, and death.
If one is found to be contrary to the philosophies of the people, they will lose your citizenship and become an outsider. If one is hurtful to society in any way, they will not be permitted to stay in the lands of Corbin, nor will they be welcome back. If one is viewed as a threat to Corbin or the world at large, they will be put to death.
There is one other punishment that has not been seen or used for the better part of a century. To those whose usefulness is too valuable but whose ideals are too radical or toxic to the community, there is a punishment that is only the exclusive right of the Ecclesium to administer, and only at the hand of the Arch Seraph herself. Through a process wholly unknown to all but her and her circle, the offender’s mind and soul are severed. They become autonomous beings with no will of their own. Usually they wind up greatly augmented to the point of no longer looking truly human. Whether they are left trapped inside looking out of eyes from within bodies unable to act or communicate or if they are removed from their bodies altogether and left as wandering spirits, only the Arch Seraph knows for sure. This punishment was only used early on when there were those who opposed Corbin’s ideologies in favor of corrupt and selfish practices.
The Noble Houses
All families work together to the benefit of Corbin. When marriages happen between them, the last name of the bride becomes the surname of the groom. In situations with more than one bride, the name taken is that of the highest ranking family. In situations with no bride at all, the name taken is that of the lower ranking family.
The House of Arc-Seraph
The Arch Seraph is a tile taken from this ancient house, and given to the matriarch herself who cured the Great Plague. The authority of the House of Seraph is also acknowledged in Vendaeros society as a noble house, but only technically.
A house dedicated to research. Their innovations and clockworks are always pushing the boundaries between what is safe and what is sane. Phelan, the Blightfather, came from this house – a detail that the house is not ashamed of. Its founder is Kellian Aliaine, who made the foundational discoveries that led to the creation of The Breath of the Seraph which can push back the blighted and cure many ailments.
The healers of House Ashcloth are second only to the Seraph herself. Why this house does not live within the walls of Ecclesium is a mystery that only the Seraph and those of House Ashcloth know and neither will tell. Its founder is Jamel Ashcloth, also Founder of the Living Archive.
The current head is Latsel Leigh, the commander of the military of Corbin (The Wings of the Seraph). Its founder is Ederick Leigh, who was the first responder when Vendaeros first attacked. He rallied the coastal city of Quartz at a moment’s notice and formed a militia to stand against the Vendaeros invasion. So effective was his first militia that the Vendaeros had to fight for every inch of Corbin soil, giving the rest of Corbin enough time to mount proper offense and spread the word.
The richest and most wide-spread mercantile house in Corbin. Other houses may have merchants, but without House Seilaris they’d never sell outside of Corbin. This house controls most of the ships and airships in Corbin. Those who chose to go abroad do so on House Seliaris’ ships.
A house known for its diversity. Healers, merchants, machinists, and military; if there is a need of any kind, House Leoza will answer the call.
A house known for some of the most inspired artisans in Corbin’s culture. Its founder is Josep Sebatal, who invented the first plague mask to protect from the airborne intoxicants native to Corbin.
A house known for explorers and adventurers. House Kayson is the house that banded together from the Vendaeros troops left behind in the war who survived. Seeing themselves abandoned and seeing no way to survive but to swear fealty to the Arc Seraph, General Elo Kayson swore himself and his troops to the Seraph. This house takes its loyalty very seriously as without the Seraph, their death would have been the most horrific since the plague itself. Known for its resolve and being unwilling to back down from any threat, this house braves the Haze in search of answers to the mysteries of the world and its ruins – anything that may help benefit the land that took them in when they had every reason to let them die instead. The members of his family who still go delving to this day are known as Kayson’s Wolves.
When Chrossus was shattered with the forming of the nexus, a large piece of Ondras was separated and shifted east. This would eventually become the island of Corbin. It was first discovered by the Vendaeros airships, who found the people in a state of chaos, trying to understand what had devastated their land and if there was even a world out there anymore. A strange gas-like haze had engulfed the land, making it hard to breathe and to obscuring vision.The Vendaerosians began to assist and establish order, and were welcomed.
When the Withering Plague hit, it hit Corbin hard. Most other cultures have lost records of this time and any memory of just how devastating the plague was. No one really knows where it started, but at the time, the divide between mortals and immortal Incarna was great. The Withering Plague indiscriminately killed both. For mortals, it was more merciful, for they died quickly. The Incarana however, had forms with the ability to regenerate, and the plague kept them in a state of slow rot with the regenerative powers attempting to restore dead flesh while the disease fought to rot it away. In the end, all but the luckiest died, and those who survived were often missing limbs.
The Vendaeros reaction at first was to find a cure, an effort which proved futile. Soon Corbin became an island for quarantine, dumping the infected there in an attempt to contain the spread. In other parts of the world where the plague was rampant, the sick were quarantined and died quickly, and though many died, the plague ran its course rapidly and ruthlessly. In Corbin, though it was different. The nature of the people, combined with an unusual quality of the haze, seemed to prevent the plague from outright killing. When it swept through a town like a hot muggy cloud there were sure to be those infected left in its wake. It was something the healers of Corbin were always well aware of. The denser the Haze, the more virulent the density of plague it could carry with it. Isolated and alone, many began to abandon a cure in favor of plague masks and the breathing apparatus.
Decades later, when Vendaeros made its bid to be an empire, it made one push to take Corbin back under its wing. By this point, Corbin had its own identity and bitterly remembered the way Vendaeros abandoned them. The war effort went quite horrifically against Vendaeros with Corbin using chemical and plague based warfare that so horrified Vendaeros that they withdrew, leaving their troops behind for fear of contamination. They named the leader of Ecclesium who cured the plague to the title of “Arc Seraph” to “rule as regent in their stead” and never set foot on Corbin again for fear of being made “impure” by them…
While a few healers worked tirelessly to find a cure, there were those who took a different path. They began to experiment with animals that seemed resistant to the plague. They began to experiment with cross-breeding and darker magicks to engineer resistances. Their creations were abominations, but one man in particular by the name of Phelan would take this path to an extreme. In the end, he came to be known as The Blightfather. In his attempts to transcend death itself he created abominations that not only survived the plague – but thrived in it. These horrors regenerated within the haze, especially the strongest part, the Miasma. They were living plague-carriers. In Phelan’s madness, he believed the Withering Plague was a gift meant to guide Eldross to find true immortality.
Prior to the evacuation of Vendaeros, the city of Ecclesium was a prototype effort to lift land into the skies above the haze. It became a safe haven for those uninfected to work feverishly on a cure. Were it not for Ecclesium, the plague may never have been cured, for it was from here that the matriarch of Arc Seraph was able to safely study Phelan’s abominations and understand their resistance. The exact details of the discovery of the cure are kept secret in the Living Vault, created to contain and guard the knowledge forever. The essence of the Withering Plague was contained in the Haze, understood now to apparently have the power to contain it. The Miasma was formed, and Phelan vanished into it with his Blightborn, into the Heart of Corbin. With a cure in hand, the Plague Doctors of Corbin began to traverse the world and seek the locations of where the plague was the worst. They cured many, learned much and were able to save the world from surely rotting into oblivion. Other cultures do not like to speak of such times, and though most will recognize the skill of the Corbin doctors, the details have been all but wiped from their records.
With the plague now cured, Vendaeros returned to reclaim their colony. The resistance was so fierce and violently met that Vendaeros envoys retreated. What came next was a small army, planning on restoring order and crushing what was thought to be a small force of insurrectionists. The Vendaeros troops landed on the shores of Corbin and instead found every citizen of Corbin standing defiant, ready to die defending their land and leader. The troops also found that they were woefully unequipped to deal with the facets of the Haze as Corbin itself, which seemed to rise up in a toxic rage at the presence of the interlopers. When the war seemed evenly matched and reinforcements beyond counting were on the horizon, it was Phelan Aliaine, The Blightfather, who came to the fore with a veritable army of monstrosities and wielding the Miasma as a weapon. His assault was so horrifically vicious that when word of it reached the incoming reinforcements from Vendaeros, they halted their advance and turned back rather than risk his contamination. Before returning to the Heart of Corbin (and taking countless dead and dying captives with him) he was quoted as saying that while he and the Arc-Seraph did not see eye to eye on Corbin’s welfare, he was still a Corbinite and would not suffer intrusion from any invading force. Though this was the first time, it would not be the last that the greatest villain in Corbin’s history would commit acts that could be construed as heroic. After this day, the focus shifted from purging him and his horrors to simply containing them. It seemed even the Rot at the Heart of Corbin had its place in society.
Corbin was deemed “uninhabitable” by the Vendaeros empire by any except the native Corbinites. They declared Corbin under their hegemony and rule and named the Arc Seraph as their chosen ruler, then proceeded to completely leave them alone. In the end, the fear that Corbin would bring the miasma to other lands was so potent that Corbin has since been left alone by any countries with ambitions of expansion.