Introduction To Ethnis


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.

— Archive Regent Alexander Jadey

Among proud people and bearing great power, you will see many worlds and stake your claim

You have arrived at a strange and dangerous time.
You may have to become strange and dangerous to survive

Among Proud People

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.

You Are A Sophont,
A measure of minds

Higher sophonce means experiencing yourself and the universe through a more complex lens.

You are a sophont, a tier of complexity within Sophonce which has a soul and the ability to manipulate the Meta.

Read more about the Sophont
Of A Kind,
Each distinct and distinguished

Within each Sophont is a colorful variety of Kinds, otherwise known as subspecies. Each has their own unique physiology, capabilities, and norms.

Ethnis is a vast tapestry of unique experiences, both emotional and physical.

Read more about Kinds
Belonging To A Tribe
Unique callings and upbringings

The Banners are too large to be homogenous. Even against an intergalactic backdrop we seek Tribes for safety and comfort.

Crews, clades, gangs, and parties. Who will you join? What will you form? What role will you fill?

Read more about Tribes
Sazashi by Antti Hakosaari

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.

Sazashi by Antti Hakosaari

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.

Human by Ademal

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.

The Unseen

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 Banners

The Vanthric Haimarchy

Crest of the Haimarchy by Ademal

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

Seal of the ValuSelu Pact by Ademal

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 Church of The Somnolent

Crest of the Church by Ademal

Unified with great purpose and resolve, the Human-centric Church of the Somnolent is the sleeping giant awakened. It stands in a balance of rebirth and aspiration, of wanting to cultivate a wonder lost to time while also spreading to new worlds.

A phoenix risen from the ashes of Eden with wings aflame. They have a point to prove: that the identity of Eden cannot be buried by the ravages of past Sazashi occupation and the modern wave of Haimarchy revisionism.

To be from the Church is to value Hope.

The Andromeda Syndicate

Crest of the Syndicate by Ademal

Changes given; changes 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

Crest of the Federation Placeholder
Crest of the Federation by Ademal

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 Apple of Hedonism

Crest of Hedon Placeholder
Crest of Hedon by Grace Garret

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

Crest of the House by Ademal

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

Within every Sophont is the potential for earthquakes and hurricanes


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.

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 an S-Rex bioweapon. They will fail.

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, many handmade with love.

Meta Tech Icon

Read more about Technology

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.

We may no longer have to listen to Mother Nature, but, as with any parent, we have come to realize that her lessons held more wisdom than we wanted to believe.

— Osborne Jadey

Read more about Technology

The Meta

Breath of The Wheel, Mastery of the Cosmos

The Meta, Metaphysics, magic. The Verin discovered the most base forms of Meta millenia ago and it has only become more advanced since.

Most everyone has basic grasp of Meta, because as they hone their Skills they also open new avenues of metaphysical prowess. Skilled users are called Psiolic, and accomplish such feats as commanding the wind, spewing fire from their palms, and tearing stone asunder.

All Sophont are capable of Metaphysics. Wielding Meta is the litmus test of Sophonce and Sophont maturity, as most are incapable of casting until they reach the more existential stages of puberty.

To deny Metaphysics is as foolish as to resolve to only ever walk on your palms or eat through your nostrils. It is a great power gifted to us by The Wheel. Seize it.

— The Somnolent
The Meta by Ademal

Read more about Metaphysics

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.

They become Monoliths.

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.

Rank/Title | Mar 15, 2023

To be a Monolith is to be Enlightened. Enlightenment is the transcendant state of grace achieved through mastery of an art. It grants insight into the nature of our world, and some power over it.

Read more about Monoliths

The Wheel

The Root of All Mystery

There is a higher force at play in the universe, some source for the Meta, the Soul, the Wayhall, and the Sovereign. It is the root of the greatest mysteries of Ethnis—the prime enigma.   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.

Glowing Wheel by Ademal

Read more about The Wheel

The Chosen of The Wheel

The Sovereign are the supposed chosen of the Wheel and the keepers of the afterlives. There is one each for the Sazashi, the Verin, and Humanity.

Prophecy foretells the rise of a fourth, but who?

Profession | Apr 18, 2019

The Chosen of The Wheel

Read more about the Sovereign

You Will See Many Worlds

Explore strange lands and encounter stranger things Back to top ↑

The Wayhall

An intergalactic highway of unknown origin

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...

Read more about the WayHall

The Hub

The origin of life and the Banners, in uneasy conflict—click a galaxy for more info
The Hub is the core of Ethnis—the worlds of the Banners which exist in an uneasy, sometimes violent, truce. For any of them to survive there must be a measure of cooperation, for now, but each of them is waiting for that insight or advancement that puts them ahead of their peers and secures their place as the dominant Banner.
A representative map of The Hub—the major settled worlds and their routes to each other, marked by time to travel through their WayPoints.

Read more about the Hub

Many Worlds Beckon,

Reclaim old worlds, discover new ones
Indices are discovered frequently, each one marking a fresh gold rush—mostly of worlds being brought back into the fold, but also of entirely new ones being found. This new era is the Reclamation, and is marked by rampant, exciting growth.

Read more about the Reclamation

Rife with Opportunity,

Take up the mantle of your choice
There's no shortage of work in the Reclamation, and with the economic boom comes a demand for explorers, adventurers, settlers, and warriors of every shade. Take up a mantle, and seek out adventures and fortunes!

Read more about Mantles

And Relics of The Past

Learn from the hardships of countless worlds
The abandoned worlds didn't all die at once, and some never died at all—the survivors took root and built new civilizations. Every world is a treasure trove of ideas, technology, and life, ripe for exploration, exploitation, or resettlement. Get out there!

Read more about the other worlds

And You Shall Stake Your Claim

Read Ethnis, join it as a hero, or contribute to the ongoing development Back to top ↑

What are you?

A Reader?

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 Narrative Universe
Generic article | Feb 10, 2021

Ethnis has many stories within. Some are short, some are long; some funny, some sad. If you would like to experience them, this is the place to begin.

A Player?

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.

Ethnis Core RPG
Generic article | Aug 25, 2020

An introduction to the Ethnis RPGs: Ethnis Light and Ethnis Core. Learn the basics, how to make a character, and, of course, how to play! Most RPG content is for Adept+ supporters only, but you can preview the basics before deciding to back.

A Supporter?

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.

Support Ethnis
Organization | Nov 30, 2021

How you can help Ethnis grow! Share us with friends, give us feedback, and support us on social media and Patreon!

Content Warning!

Ethnis contains intense themes which may not be suitable for all users Keep an eye open for content warnings.

Articles under Introduction To Ethnis


Author's Notes

Please Login in order to comment!
11 Dec, 2017 23:50

Man I love the Layout <3

Dennet Krishnan
20 Jan, 2018 06:39

Loving the layout and flow.. Superb.

11 Feb, 2018 15:22

I love this article, I need to do one for my world, its an inspiration.

GorgeFodder - Former Forge Father & Former Community Director of World Anvil
25 Feb, 2018 01:58

Amazing! Beautiful, smooth narrative that flows easily from one section to the next without overwhelming, but instead informing and intriguing the reader. Very inspiring, Ademal!

Forgemaster Janet
Janet Forbes
7 May, 2018 10:43

Such a fabulous introduction page - great job! <3

  • Janet Forbes (Founder of World Anvil, author, RPG designer, streamer)
  • Grab your hammer and GO WORLDBUILD!
    7 May, 2018 14:59

    I'm so glad you like it!

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    22 Jun, 2018 16:32

    this is okay I guess.

    Check out my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
    23 Jun, 2018 14:54

    Yeah it could use a little love.

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    15 Feb, 2019 21:59

    It has received the love.

    Check out my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
    26 Feb, 2019 17:38

    Too much love. Everything else in Ethnis pales now.   Time to start over!

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    Nocturnal Nightingale
    Nocturnal Nightingale
    30 Nov, 2018 20:55

    A lovely introductory article, well paced and informative without being overwhelming.   As we discussed, here’s the results of my proofreading, some are grammatical and others are just suggestions based on what I think will sound nice, feel free to take them or leave them.   “The beast whose metal they were cast from, the sazakraht, is a force of nature—the Sazashi are them engineered to greater aspirations.” First paragraph under “Sazashi”, near the end, “the Sazashi are them” sounds like it could use a little neatening up, maybe something like “the Sazashi are their progenitors”?   “The Banners are the high factions of Ethnis, to whom all other factions must swear fealty or risk having as enemies or, equally bad, having nobody to trade with or protect them.” First paragraph under “The Banners”, at the top. This sentence feels run on to me? May be better to split it into two? “The Banners are the high factions of Ethnis, to whom all other factions must swear fealty, or risk having as enemies. Equally dangerous is the risk of having no allies for trade or protection.” Or something similar.   “There is no denying that there is some higher force at play in the universe, some source for the Meta, the Soul, the Wayhall, the Sovereign, and so forth, but what exactly this force is is a topic of great debate.” First paragraph of “The Wheel” feels a little run on again, maybe? Can avoid “but” and “is is” at the end by splitting into two sentences. “...and so forth. The source of this force is a topic of great debate.” Or something.   “The Sazashi rediscovers he Earth Index” First sentence of “The Era of Bonds” I assume “he” is supposed to be “the”.   “At first it’s good, but tensions inevitably build and war erupts.” Same paragraph, “At first it’s good” sounds off, maybe something like “Early interactions begin well, but…”   “Now that the 500-year gestation of the colonial terraformation grids has long past those worlds are now rich for populating.” First paragraph of “Era of Reclamation”, middle of paragraph. I’m pretty sure “past” in this context is supposed to be “passed”? May be wrong? Not 100% sure but figured I’d mention it.   “and perhaps rise to become a renown intragalactic force.” Under “tabletop rpg”, last sentence, I think renown is supposed to be “renowned”? Or “an intergalactic force of renown”? Not sure again, but figured I’d mention it.   I think that was everything I could find. But I’ll continue to look it over and let you know privately if I discover anything else. Good luck with World Ember!

    26 Feb, 2019 17:34

    I took a lot of your feedback into mind when I did the article rehaul. Thank you!

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    Elias Redclaw
    10 Jan, 2019 17:01

    This is the way that one should pull off an introductory article to ones world. It is simple and precise and to the point . The adequate usage of links here is simply perfect and it seems to flow smoothly and fluidly. I believe that this article is a must read for those who are wanting to do introductory articles to their own worlds. Well done Ademal and Barron. Hope you guys can keep up the great work

    20 Nov, 2021 21:47

    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.

    You typed “Many, even academics, point to a higher mind: The Wheel” twice. Great article, by the way.

    1 Dec, 2021 00:32

    Thanks for the feedback! Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed!

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    3 Jan, 2023 20:38

    This is a really great article. I especially like the links from here for people exploring the world for different reasons (reader, player...).   I hope to make getting into Linebound this easy someday.

    Join the brave skysailors of Linebound!
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