Barbarian in the Playground
Join Date: Feb 2012
Re: Total War: Steampunk Skies
Queen of Cities, Crown of the World, Beating Heart of Ten Thousand Empires
A Brief History of Vien-Au
A Short Treatise on Culture
Before there were words to record it, there was Vien-Au. Before there was art to portray it, there was Vien-Au. Before civilization itself, there was Vien-Au.
The city of Vien-Au is ancient. No one really knows how old; the only thing the records show is at least three different incidents of older records being destroyed. The common folk say that the city was built before the concept of time existed to measure it, and they may very well be right. Over the millennia of its existence it has played host to countless empires and kingdoms, each greater than the last. A conqueror would arise in the city and bring forth the Viennish legions once again, or an emperor from afar would seize the Crown of the World and make it the capitol for his new nation and, for a time, Vien-Au would rule supreme. But for every decade of righteous conquest there came a century of fading glory as the empire crumbled, leaving again, at last, only Vien-Au. The people of this city have always held themselves aloof, believing that among all the world only they are unchanging. Empires come and empires go, after all, but Vien-Au endures. When the earthquakes began, Vien-Au was untouched. When the plagues came, Vien-Au lived on. When the fog rolled in and the monsters stalked the night and all of mankind fell back from the awakening dark, when nature reclaimed her own and the light of civilization was all but extinguished, Vien-Au built up and outward and the city survived, unchanging and eternal. Bit by perilous bit they built up the mountain that rose above the city, the lower levels gradually falling into disrepair as they climbed ever higher, the Master Architects competing with each other for the most fantastical, the most long-lasting, the most Viennish designs.
They say that the mountain of Vien-Au is the tallest in the world. They are wrong, though you would never be able to tell by looking at it. The mountain stopped below the clouds, far too short for this modern age of ships in the sky, but the Architects didnít let a simple thing like that stop them. Vien-Au is built on top of Vien-Au, spreading out from the top of the mountain like a flower opening, far too large to be supported by the mountain itself. When the masters of engineering could not build any further out from the peak they drove massive pillars back down to the earth, workers dying by the hundreds far below the clouds so that the city could expand. Thus was Vien-Au reborn, in blood and sweat and tears, the City Above rising over the haunted, abandoned halls of the City Below.
Vien-Au has always been, and always will be, a place of Empire. The sure knowledge that the world owes the City allegiance is one that is set in the Viennish consciousness, much in the same way that everyone knows the sun will rise tomorrow, or that to go to the ground is death. The people of Vien-Au do not think of themselves as prideful or arrogant, though that is how the rest of the world tends to see them. The fact that Vien-Au will conquer and enslave and burn its way to Empire is seen as a natural cycle, inextricable as the tides. Related is the idea that everyone in their right mind wants to be part of Vien-Au. This is the greatest, oldest and grandest city in the world, and it is only natural that everyone should want it for themselves. Here, then, are the core tenants of the Viennish mindset; the city is great, and the city must expand. To this end they take pride in their work, in their lives and their city, with the most pitiable Viennish beggar still regarded as fortunate, simply because he is living in Vien-Au. It is assumed that his life would be much less comfortable in any other city, even if he is sleeping in doorways and eating scraps.
The expansion of the city is as much a matter of everyday life as the pride in being a citizen is. This ideal manifests itself in two forms. First are the Master Architects, always plotting new ways of building onto the City Above. Their engineering standards are exacting; if a new construction cannot last for centuries upon centuries, then what use is it to the City Eternal?
The second element of the cityís perpetual expansion is the Legions and the Fleet, and the grinding, bloody workings of Empire. Of this, much will be said in the years to come, I am sure.
The upper nobility of Vien-Au are little different in overall outlook than the common people described above, with some minor changes. The focus of the noble class is inward, as they believe (as, again, the common Viennish people do) that Vien-Au is the center of the world, with all else being somewhat less than relevant. The intrigues of the noble Conclave, and of the lesser houses scheming to get into said Conclave, are complex in the extreme, and tend to be marked by conversations that have at least three meanings and elaborate poisonings. Every noble house has at least one poisoner on staff, possibly more, usually with the official position of "kitchen page."
A minor side-effect of this intrigue provides the origin for the common phrase "Good as a Viennishman's word" (meaning something is near certain, or can be relied upon completely). The tradition of the blood oath is one found in Viennish tradition further back than anyone can remember, and is taken very seriously by all involved. If a Viennishman swears a blood oath, he will not break it. However, no Viennishman will offer a blood oath without prompting, as this is viewed as admitting that the oath-giver cannot be trusted otherwise; and no Viennishman will ever ask another to give a blood oath for the same reason, as well as the subtler admission that the asker's plots are so poorly constructed that they could be disrupted by one man's betrayal. The blood oath is, in the modern Vien-Au, mainly used as a plot device in pulp radio dramas.
Other Important Persons
Eliza Jian Elmouni, First Legion Lord and Despot of Vien-Au
In theory, the Despot of Vien-Au rules with unlimited authority within the city and, if there is no current Emperor, with much authority outside of it as well. In practice, the Despot must answer to the Conclave, which is composed of the heads of all the important noble houses. The political manoeuvrings in the Conclave are brutal, with the goal being to force the Despot into one particular path of action while making it appear to be entirely his idea. The conspiracies of the lesser nobility jockeying for a position on the Conclave are no less vicious.
In the middle of the storm of intrigue that is everyday life in the upper crust of Vien-Au, the current Despot and favored son of House Elmouni stands like a rock. Eliza Jian has, thus far, been unmoved by the conspiracies and plots surrounding him, instead finding members of the Conclave who agree with the actions he was already planning to take and pretending that they had convinced him to do so. In this way culpability shifts from one party to another, never resting on Eliza himself, leaving him free to do whatever he deems necessary. He has not yet had to go up against the will of the full Conclave, but considering the sheer guile of his political activities he may not ever have to.
Eliza Jian himself is a cheerful man, warm and friendly to everyone he meets. To the Legions under his command he is a father, and to the common people of the city he is nearly a god.
Silas DuLant, commonly known as the Painter, occupies a unique position in Vien-Au as both the commander of military operations when the Despot is otherwise occupied and as Eliza Jian's personal assassin. He is known to be brutally fast, extremely precise, and a wonderful artist. It is rumored that he has painted a portrait of every person he has ever killed, but most tend to discount said stories, as it is assumed that a gallery large enough to hold them all would stretch the length of the entire city.
Ellisa Fausindast is widely-regarded as the greatest architect to have ever lived. Even the ranks of her fellow Master Architects, men and woman more grudging with their praise than a miser with his coin, treat her as such. Young, perpetually-unkempt and all but vibrating with enthusiasm, Fausindast is a staunch member of the Constructed World Party, which believes that the best way for humanity to survive in this age of clouds is to keep expanding the City until it covers the entire world, in a sense creating a new earth to walk upon. The practicality of this dream is weak at best, but the Party does have a surprisingly large number of members caught up in the romanticism and sheer audacity of the idea.
, the capitol, Queen of Cities.
, industrial center on another mountain in the same range. Attached to Vien-Au by massive (and, frankly, unsafe) bridges.
Mixed. On the one hand, the Viennish usually come as conquerors with fire, sword and reckless bullet; on the other hand, life under their rule isnít actually half bad, as they try to raise up every place they conquer to something near the level of Vien-Au itself.
If you want a one-word description: Imperialistic, in the old-school Manifest Destiny/Divine Right style.
More Flair: Flags
-Navy: Medium-low. Vien-Au is late to the airship game, having until recently been more focused on expanding their existing cities than reaching outward. Now that they are beginning to stretch the limits of what engineering can do with a single mountaintop, though, they are beginning to look elsewhere, building fleets of ships that while looking very pretty are less technically advanced than other factionsí.
-Army: High. The Viennish legions have been famous for their mastery of war for thousands of years. The modern army is no exception.
-Defense: High. The Master Architects have practiced their craft since the beginning of civilization, and in all that time no enemy has ever taken Vien-Au itself. Even while empires were tearing themselves apart around it, the city endured.
Spyworks: Medium. The Viennish nobility are perpetually fighting bitter feuds against each other, and the cityís poisoners are second to none. That said, thanks to typical Viennish aloofness, they are not experienced with looking at other factions and infiltrating foreign operations.
Economy: High. Vien-Auís wealth is ancient, its treasuries measured in the ransoms of kings.
Innovation: Low. Vien-Au has relied on traditional, established methods for construction and armament for a very long time, and is only just beginning to catch on to the fact that newer designs might be better.
Morale: Medium-High. The City Prevails.
The traditional Viennish crest consists of a stylized golden symbol on a purple shield, surrounded by scrollwork and crowned by one of several mottos depending on what era it was made in (this example uses "Civitatem Praevalet," marking it as being from the reign of the second Blue Emperor). Roses are generally used as a repeating motif in the scrollwork, said to symbolize the beauty of the city, as well of the dangers involved in taking hold of it. The golden symbol in the middle is, according to Viennish historians, supposed to be a stylized dragon, though it also has many other names, with "the Viennish Wyrm" and "the Barbed Serpent" being two of the most common.
Due to the complicated nature of this crest, all flags produced with it (and variations) are heavily embroidered masterpieces, and are generally very highly valued. In the present day most of the traditional, handmade flags are in museums or the walls of various noble families. The only known example of this flag actually being flown is in the courtyard before the Despot's palace. It appears far more often as part of the facade or other ornamentation on government buildings.
Last edited by Zemalac : 09-06-2012 at 02:08 PM.
Reason: Adjusting stats slightly