Red Era in Scarterra | World Anvil

Red Era

In many articles, I reference, "The Red Era" in the history sections of various topics.   The Red Era marks all time between the Second Unmaking and Year 1 of the Feudal Era.   Literacy was spotty for most of the Red Era, so it is not clear whether the Red Era lasted 2000 years or 20,000 years or somewhere in between. Scarterran historians cannot agree on this, and in meta terms. It's one thing for Scarterrans to not know, but I haven't even decided; I am being intentionally vague about this.   Year 1 of the Feudal Era began with the death of Vladimir the Conqueror. The default setting for a RPG is 1837 or 1838 of the Feudal Era.   My intent as a writer is for the Feudal Era to resemble "Classic Fantasy" fantasy and the Red Era is meant to resemble "Sword and Sorcery." That is the frame of reference I am aiming for at least.   At least in my understanding, Sword of Sorcery stories via fiction or RPGs are more centered on personal conflicts rather than national conflicts or world events.   For a more academic break down of the eras, check out the Eras of the Third Age article.    

Major Aspects of the Red Era


Relations between elves and humans are generally hostile

  -The wood elves claimed many forests throughout Scarterra and harshly punished any human who trespassed in their forests. They did not always clearly communicate where their forests were "We explained this to your ancestors two hundred years ago! How can you not know this?"   -The dark elves raided human lands with impunity or else demanded exorbinant tribute, seeking slaves, foodstuffs, reagents, and treasure. The lives of the dark elves human slaves are miserable indeed.   -The grey elves conquered human lands and created a rigid class structure with humans on the bottom. They are technically not slaves, and they are less likely to be tortured and raped than the slaves of the dark elves but that is small comfort. The grey elves a micromanaging lords who want to control every aspect of their human subjects' lives.   -Smaller tribes of mostly nomadic elves roamed about Scarterra. Sometimes these tribes were able to parley peacefully with the human tribes but this was the exception, not the rule. Many of the smaller elven tribes were infested with skopen and Infernalists. Even without these depraved elves influencing their actions, the various elf tribes often preyed on vulnerable humans around them when the opportunity arose.   When the grey elves, wood elves, and dark elves finally met each other for the first time, the three groups went to war almost immediately. Humans exploited this opening to finally push back against their elven oppressors. The smaller elf tribes were caught in the middle. Most of the smaller elf tribes were either wiped out or forced to assimilate into of the three major elf powers for protection.  

Most governments were absolutist

  Feudalism hadn't caught on yet. Kings and queens (more often than not kings), nearly always ruled their territories or people's outright. Whether they are kings of agrarian realms or the chiefs of bands of nomadic tribesmen, these rulers depending on naked force to keep their subjects in line which kept their kingdom's relatively small. Kings usually tried to pass of their kingdoms to their offspring, but most dynasties were fairly short. A royal lineage was generally fortunate if could last four generations before being toppled by an internal coup or conquered by an external threat.   Kings didn't usually have herditary vassals, they appointed lieutenants and the lieutenants kept their position until the king became upset at them for some reason, or they chose to rebel (or both). Coups were pretty common as it was common for one group to conquer another group only for the conquered people to rebel a few generations later.  

Slavery was rampant

  In the Red Era, Scarterrans agreed that being a slave was not desireable, but relatively few Scarterrans argued that slavery was wrong on moral grounds.   Slavery was a byproduct of the frequent wars of the Red Era. In the intercine wars between nations and tribes, the survivors of conquered nations were commonly enslaved by the victorious side, as were the descendants of the conquered. This was considered more merciful than killing them outright.   Slavery was also a cause of wars. Slaves were viewed as a valuable economic commodity, so many wars were started simply for an excuse to obtain new slaves.   Almost every race were slave masters in some lands and enslaved in others. Mortals seldom hesitated to enslave members of their own race or to enslave those of other races. The plurality of slaves and slave masters alike were humans. Gnomes were disproportionally represented among the slave classes.  

There are a lot of wild areas

  Nations and tribes rose and fell not just from conflict with each other but from Things in the Dark. Most of Scarterra is not settled and the wild places are full of monsters, Void Demons, savage tribes, and hostile Fair Folk, among other threats.   In addition to lots of external threats being a constant problem for every tribe, this also meant that long distance was very difficult and dangerous. This contributed to a prevailing attitude of isolationism and xenophobia.   Satyrs and tengku were disproportionately represented among those who traveled between distant locations but they were often mistrusted as being perpetual outsiders.  

Half-breeds were generally treated poorly

  Most half breeds were the subject of scorn or superstition. The vast majority of half-breeds in Scarterra in this era were the product of rape. A disproportionately high number of half-breeds were in the slave classes.  

Worship of the Nine was decentralized

  Every Scarterran nation and tribe agreed on the identity of the Nine, but not on how to worship them. Priests and priestesses did not have much direct political influence, at least not across national or ethnic lines. The best they could is use their holy status to prevent themselves from being enslaved, killed, or assaulted while traveling through foreign lands but this protection was imperfect at best often relying on powerful theurgy to guarantee safety.   The holy men and women of Scarterra were generally the most widely traveled people in all of Scarterra. They helped maintain what little lines of communication and news between distant lands existed during this era.  

The Little Gods are Many and Cruel

  The Fair Folk dwell in the wild places. They view humans and elves as little more than pawns or playthings. They commonly abducted children and adults alike.   The Fair Folk often metaphorically or literally destroyed temples of the Nine and tried to set themselves up as deities to be worshiped and placated by small groups of mortals. The Fair Folk influenced coups against kings and chiefs for fun. Once mortals fought back and tried to purged their tribes of "Fae-Struck traitors", Fair Folk were very good at pointing the finger at innocent dupes.   The Fair Folk had their own factional conflict amongst themselves often but they rarely let mortals catch on to this, so to humans it just seemed Fair Folk were unpredictable, capricious and cruel.   While not as prevailent as Fair Folk, earthbound spirits and dragons often acted in a similar fashion lording it over mortals for their own ends.  

The shadows hide horrific threats

  Pockets of Void Demons were still present long after the Second Unmaking. As the Void Demons numbered declined, the remaining demons began to act more subtly. Infernalist individual and cults were widespread across many nations and tribes, humans, elves, and others.   Because of the long ranged telepathic abilities of Void Demons and their more powerful mortal servitors, Infernalists were generally better able to communicate and work together across national and tribal lines better than their Nine-fearing enemies.   There were entire tribes made up of skopen and ogres living on the fringes of wild places and they fought often with their untainted brethren. There were also skopen and ogres secretly living double-lives within the so-called civilized or Nine-fearing nations and tribes.   Which isn't to say Nine-fearing tribes were free of these problems. A lot of charismatic priests and priestesses created literal cults of personality based around often extreme and violent interpretations of worshiping the Nine.   Paranoia and xenophobia led to large numbers of innocent people persecuted or killed on false accusations of cannibalism and/or infernalism.

Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake


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