You have arrived at a strange and dangerous time.
You may have to become strange and dangerous to survive.
Ethnis is on the other side of a vast divide of history, yet is closer to the present than you would like. There is a war going on and everything is on the line. This war is The War, the sum of life and death; every reason to fight played out at once, a controlled burn of faith, pride, politics, money, bigotry, and necessity.
Somewhere, in all of this, is you.
You live in Ethnis, among its people. You know of the Meta, and how it allows you to command the nature of the world around you. You know of the Wayhall—the path through the stars—and you know of the Banners, the Sophont, the Sovereigns, and most importantly: The Wheel.
You know this because Ethnis is home.
Fear becomes passé when it is constant.
It is our lot to rage against the dying of the light, to fight with primal furor and disarm that primordial dread of its scythe and hourglass with the wonders of science. We have slain the horsemen, stolen their steeds, and now use them to terrorize each other.
This era is not one belonging to Death, it belongs to unrepentant, unforgiving, unrelenting life.
Make it count.
To be sophontic is to possess wisdom, wit, and reason. It is the umbrella term for intelligence within Ethnis. You, reader, are sophontic. You are self-aware in a complex way, capable of introspection to depths which other life cannot comprehend.
There are tiers of sophonce lower than yours, and tiers above. Your mind is ineffable to a mouse, though whether or not that is of any consequence to the universe is yet unknown.
An ancient people with a complex history. Each Verin is a new entry in the ongoing chronicles of a species unified by a tale sprawling back beyond memory.
Their past is defined by hubris. The terrible mistakes they made recurr and are punished again and again, like ripples in a pond lingering long after the splash.
To be Verin is to have an intimate bond with Consequence.
Chosen. Not by fate to fulfill a grand design, but engineered by the Verin to serve. Borne to parents more proud of the act of creation than of its fruit.
They chose another path. They fashioned their chains into armor and engineering into a weapon. They chose to define themselves, rather than be defined by their creators.
To be Sazashi is to have an intimate bond with Purpose.
Humanity grew up alone on a world which was theirs to shape and destroy. Their short lives made for short plans, and their children were forced to pay penance for their actions.
This transience is humanity's boon and curse, feeding cycles of growth and collapse. With each iteration, members arise to embody and shape the dream of the collective unconscious.
To be Human is to have an intimate bond with Choice.
Not all sophontic entities are seen as such. Some are seen as mere aberrations, or have more 'worth' if they remain treated as soulless. Systemic oppression is their norm.
Uplifts, Constructs, and Infomorphs are the common victims. They usually awaken as individuals, alone, and live and die trying to be seen—let alone treated as equal.
To be Unseen is to have an intimate bond with Struggle.
The Vanthric Haimarchy
The history of the Haimarchy is written in cycles of blood and conquest, pride and shame, rise and fall. In this iteration this primarily Verin society is ruled by ancient houses, with a youth encouraged to explore, learn, and become.
A constant churn of squabbling among the lower families resolves into a measured grace at the top with the Great Houses—empires with claims over dozens of worlds apiece. They build towards a grand plan: a promise of universal peace and growth.
To be from the Haimarchy is to value Experience.
The ValuSelu Pact
When not mired in political infighting, the Sazashi-dominated Republic can muster immense power against any threat. This strength and chaos stem from the same source: a culture which celebrates its differences.
The Pact is a culture of roles, of actors playing their part. This is reinforced by the drive and purpose engineered into the Sazashi by the Verin. They expect everyone to fill their role, Sazashi or no, for the sake of working towards a common goal.
To be from the Pact is to value Duty.
The Andromeda Syndicate
Chances given; chances taken. The guiding principle of the meritocratic Syndicate is to invest in its populace. Providing housing, food, and health is a universal norm, but the Syndicate takes it to a new level.
Business within the Syndicate is a dance on a tightrope over a safety net. You gain and lose by your own merits, but even at your lowest you're well fed in a warm bed. The pressure to perform is high when there's no danger in failure.
To be from the Syndicate is to value Opportunity.
The Free Planet Federation
The Lacuna broke uncountable bridges, metaphorically and literally. Planets were left to fend for themselves, separated from their Banners for centuries. Many sank, but a few lucky, determined planets survived. They became their own entities.
They stand for individual freedoms and laissez-faire governance. They welcome all planets to the fold, holding firm through their shared ideals. They have a powerful message: live how you want and support others who do. The message works well, and this new player has taken its place amongst the Banners.
To be from the Federation is to value Freedom.
The Hypnagogic Order of Sol
Unified by purpose and resolve, the Hypnagogic Order is the sleeping giant awakened, shaped by Holocene Extinction and Aempian Occupation. The Hypanagogic Order is a pantheon of God-Rulers kept in check by the Somnolent—a spiritual leader whose Miracle was to give all of Humanity the power of Projections.
It stands in a balance of rebirth and aspiration, of wanting to cultivate a wonder lost to time while also spreading to new worlds.
To be from the Order is to value Hope.
The Apple of Hedonism
One law above all: the Law of Consent. Follow the Law of Consent, and you can do whatever your soul, mind, or heart craves. Your greatest freedom is within yourself, but as a Hedonist you will have to hide within other Banners, living as them.
Hedon is the cultural powerhouse of Ethnis. No matter the city, a Hedonist is near, ready to tantalize you with experiences emotional and physical alike. Laws and traditions are cast aside, and the best and worst of Sophontic life is on display.
To be from Hedon is to value Individualism.
House of Sorrows
Some consider them the villain, others the scapegoat. Despite a brutal history as a boogeyman to the Banners, the Sorrows still manages to find members in the disenfranchised and the disillusioned.
The Sorrows teach the world is trapped in a cycle of torment for which the institutions of faith and greed are responsible. They maintain that suffering is the only common language.
To be from the Sorrows is to value the Painful Truth.
And Bearing Great Power
Technology in this era is fantastic, alien, and dangerous.
Humanity may have made great advances in terms of mechanics and chemistry, but the Verin and Sazashi of Jhoutai made great strides in metaphysical and organic technologies. Now, all three are commonplace, intermingling in all manner of configurations.
These are the Clades, each alike in worth but differing in use, fabrication, and resource. While there are overlaps in materials and function, each Clade shines or sours in different circumstances and in the hands of different users. Sometimes, the best tool for the job is just the one you're most familiar with.
To survive in Ethnis, you're going to want to familiarize yourself with one of these, and to learn all the best ways to avoid the rest.
Encapsulates the analysis and advancement of using materials and energy to succeed.
The domain of circuitry and forges, Mecha distills the material realm into purest forms. Dynamo hearts pump fire and lightning through rubber veins and metal neurons. This is as close as you get to drawing life from clay without supernatural aid.
The domain of organs and gristle. Orga is all of the gooey bits of the physical realm which Mecha excludes, yet complements. Psio and Mecha alike probed into the realm of Orga and have found within it the ability to change the shape of nature, and the self.
Mastery of Form
Technology is not just tools to bear and wear, it is also what goes inside of the body as well.
It's the cybernetic arm bristling with firepower, the gemstone eye which gives you glimmers of the moments to come, the neurotoxic gland which makes your bite lethal.
It's your declaration of mastery over the shape of your body, whether that's for the sake of aesthetic, identity, or survival.
What will you make of yourself? Will you retain the form into which you were born—sophont, sex, and bearing—or will you become a canvas of beauty or a tool of death?
Choose your form wisely. Your soul will try to adapt to the shape of its vessel, but the friction may become more than it can handle.
No tech mutually excludes another. The best examples of modern technology combine the three Clades. How will you use them?
Even if you're not interested in focusing on Gear, it's good to know how to upgrade and upkeep your own.
For the truly mad—build your gear from the ground up from scrap to tool. There's no finer tool than the one made to your exact specs.
The Meta, Metaphysics, magic. Kyzan first discovered it in the Verin copper age, and it has only become more advanced since. When Aempian soldiers went to Earth, they took it with them.
Although a sophont's soul first develops at a young age, most are incapable of casting until they reach the more existential stages of puberty. Longer, if their lives lack challenge, support, or opportunity.
Most sophont have a knack for a convenient spell or two, and have likely encountered some impressive casters, but one must begin training as a Psiolic to be seen as a professional.
The nature and presence of this force is is a topic of great debate. Many, even academics, point to a higher mind: The Wheel. The nature and presence of this force is is a topic of great debate. Many, even academics, point to a higher mind: The Wheel.
For some The Wheel is a placeholder term for the unknown, something to not be considered seriously; for others it is the will of God, or God itself. It is an ongoing conversation, often played out in deaths.
Inner Strengths; Deeper Truths
Those who master the Meta and their skills often tap into a deeper gestalt and arcane power, and harness it to gain monumental will and incredible capability.
In the distant past, Monoliths were one in a hundred-thousand. Now, thanks to technology, education, and the freedom to explore passions, they are one in ten-thousand, and often comprise the peak of society.
This power is in your grasp.
You Will See Many Worlds
A flock of leviathan ships swoop down from low orbit. The trees here are wilted, and so the flock leaves stormclouds and rain in its wake. In the distance, an earthquake rumbles. Somewhere, a wildfire rages. All are the doing of the flock, softening the earth to be habitable for life. They sing; and a world flourishes.
On a wild world, squalls of acidic rain veil the slow crawl of soldiers armed with wands and guns and wearing camoflesh biosuits. They're hunting a modified Synth-Rex. Their benefactor watches in glee. They will fail. There will be a great celebration.
In an arcology, symbiorg brains float in an amniotic pool that will never see daylight or warmth. They parse raw data from the city above and invent upgrades to infrastructure. To them it is a game, a competition, like children at play. They are happier than anyone.
Terrors and delights abound, handmade with love.
The WayHall is the expansive web of WayPoints which define the borders of civilization and links the worlds. Its existence allows for mass transit and commerce beyond the capabilities of the Sophont.
Without it the peoples of Pillar Spoke and Via Lactea would never have met, and intergalactic travel may not have happened for thousands of years to come.
A millennium ago, the Banners sprawled through the stars, fighting viciously over worlds and WayPoints. They were unstoppable, until, for unknown reason, the WayHalls closed and their Indices disappeared.
Overnight, the universal economies collapsed and the Banners imploded to base parts as they struggled to maintain grip wherever they were. At first they turned their energy towards re-finding the Indices, but only a couple were found before the apocalyptic state of the Hub forced their energy towards conservation and to abandon hope of growing.
Within the last century, the Indices have begun to appear en-masse, and once more the Banners grow...
Many Worlds Beckon,
Rife with Opportunity,
And Relics of The Past
And You Shall Stake Your Claim
What are you?
The Ethnis Universe is an expansive one, with ambition to match. As it progresses, it will have many stories to tell, and many ways to tell them. Dive in, and lose yourself in a rich tapestry of interesting characters and wild worlds.
The RPG allows you to adventure within Ethnis. Make rich, interesting characters with intriguing backstories and lofty goals, fight gods, save worlds, and rise to become a renown power in a diverse and wild setting.
You want more—you want to be involved, to contribute, to help Ethnis get out into the world. Support comes in the form of time (sharing Ethnis on social media) or money (backing us on Patreon and other platforms, and we deeply appreciate both.