Whether it is the announcement of the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide, the release of some recent Blue Rose products, or just general curiosity, if you are unfamiliar with the setting for Blue Rose, you may be wondering: What is this “Aldea” place and what is it like for playing games and telling stories?
Walk across its meadows, under the branches of its forests, or along its shores, and you would find the world of Aldea much like our own: with a day and night, a sun and moon, a cycle of seasons over a similar year, with much flora and fauna that would be familiar.
That said, you would also encounter magic and mystery under those forest boughs and in the watery depths. The sun, moon, and stars were placed in the sky by primordial powers worshipped during that cycle of seasons, and some flora and fauna are quite different indeed, from tree-spirits to faeries to beasts with minds as aware as our own. What’s more, you would find places, and creatures, touched by forces of corruption and evil, which have twisted them, making them inimical to life.
The Western Lands
Aldea is a world in many ways like our own several centuries ago, in others very different. The Blue Rose setting focuses on a region of the overall world of Aldea less than a thousand miles across, centered on the nation of Aldis, the Sovereignty of the Blue Rose. They are collectively known as the Western Lands, or the Old Kingdom Lands, although both terms are not in widespread use, since these lands don’t think of themselves collectively, for the most part. They have emerged only a few centuries ago from a vast dark age of corrupt rule, and parts of the world still remain touched by the power known to Aldeans as Shadow.
- Aldis: Central to the Western Land is the Sovereignty of Aldis, once the heart of the Old Kingdom. Aldis is ruled by nobles who are trained and tested for their roles, including the magical test of the Blue Rose Scepter to verify their good intentions. It is ruled by a Sovereign chosen by the divine Golden Hart from among its people, and the current sovereign is Queen Jaellin. Aldis harnesses arcane power and potential to improve the lives of its people and to promote a culture of tolerance and prosperity for all.
- Rezea: West of Aldis, across the broad Rezean Gulf, lie the plains of Rezea, hundreds of miles of open grasslands, fed by rivers flowing from the high northern mountains towards the ocean. These lands are claimed by the Clans of Rezea, semi-nomadic horse-riders descended from humans who escaped servitude in Drunac to the north and west and found their way onto the vast plains, led by the great hero Jessa. The Rezean clans are largely independent, and often competitive, united by their culture and their respect for the Khana, the wisest of their witches.
- Jarzon: To the east of Aldis, across the expanse of the Veran Marsh, is the Theocracy of Jarzon. Jarzon’s history of struggle in throwing off tyranny and surviving in a corrupted world has shaped their culture and views. A deeply religious nation, Jarzon’s salvation was in the Church of Pure Light. The church preaches a strict life of vigilance against corruption. The practice of the occult is punishable by death, and the arcane arts may only be practiced by the church’s priesthood and those specifically under their supervision. Jarzon mistrusts neighboring Aldis for the Sovereignty’s embrace of arcana and the forces which the Theocracy feels corrupted the world—and have the potential to do so again.
- Kern: To the north of Aldis, beyond the peaks of the Ice-Binder Mountains, lies the foreboding Thaumarchy of Kern, the last of the domains of Shadow. The Lich King Jarek ruled here for centuries until Queen Jaellin and the forces of Aldis brought his rule—and his dark tower—crashing down three years ago. A loose alliance of seven of Jarek’s lieutenants stepped quickly into the power vacuum, taking up the reins of power as a “Regency Council” until the succession could be settled. The so-called “Shadowed Seven” plot and scheme and maneuver for advantage in the inevitable conflict that will settle which of them sits upon Kern’s throne.
- Lar’tya: A sea voyage to the south and west of Aldis lie the volcanic isles of the Matriarchy of Lar’tya. It is a prosperous, tropical nation with a trading partnership with the Western Lands, particularly Aldis. As its name suggests, Lar’tya consolidates political and social power in the hands of women, considering them more naturally suited to administration, business, and leadership. The nation also has a strict caste system, with limited social mobility and interaction between castes.
- The Roamers: The traveling folk known as Roamers trace their lineage back to the lost nation of Faenaria, what is now the Shadow Barrens. The Roamers travel from place to place in small caravans of brightly colored wagons, trading goods and offering services, often visionary readings or small arcane works. They’re known for their love of music and dance, but also for a somewhat mischievous nature and a gift for stirring things up in places they visit.
The Peoples of Aldea
On Aldea, their term for “person” generally refers to any embodied soul: a living being born of the world, capable of thought and self-awareness. That said, not all cultures agree as to precisely who
is or isn’t a “person.” In particular some nations, like Jarzon, question whether or not rhydan are truly people, or whether the night people are deserving of the name, being creations of the occult, and therefore shadowspawn in their eyes. In Aldis and much of the world, however, the following five peoples are recognized:
- Humans: The vast majority of people in the world are humans, who would be quite familiar to us. Aldean humans exist in all of the vast variety they do on our world, and then some.
- Night People: Creations of arcana, the night people were made as brute laborers and soldiers. Many fought for and won their freedom and they are now found in many lands, although fully-accepted only in Aldis, as many others are suspicious of the night people’s origins.
- Rhydan: The rhydan have the bodies of beasts, but possess souls just like any people, making them intelligent, self-aware, and gifted with arcane (particularly psychic) talents. Most rhydan arise—or “awaken” as they call it—from amongst mundane animals of their kind, and many in Aldis believe rhydan are proof of the Wheel of Rebirth: placing enlightened souls into animal forms close to nature.
- Sea-folk: Sea-folk are an amphibious people, who can swim with great skill and hold their breath as long as a dolphin. They have green- or blue-tinted skin and hair and eyes of a similar shade. Sea-folk are androgynous and often gender-fluid. Because they depend on water more than land-dwellers, sea-folk live near rivers, streams, lakes, or the sea.
- Vata: Descendants of the ancient and arcane vatazin, their heritage mixed with human ancestry, the vata are a long-lived people of arcane gifts and insights, but one that has been fading from the world for generations.
Before the souls of Aldea were embodied, they were timeless beings beyond physicality. Now in diverse forms, they retain some sense of their previous oneness. While men and women are the most common genders of Aldea, more exist beyond these two. While people in Aldis have no overriding romantic or sexual preference, placing the importance of the soul over the body, there are those primarily or solely drawn to their own gender, or to a different gender, as well as those not drawn to sex or romance in particular, or even at all. There are many sorts of families, based on many sorts of relationships between people, with love as the most common element.
A New World Awaits
This summary is just the barest taste of the magical world of Aldea. So much more awaits in both Blue Rose, the AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy (for the AGE System) and in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide (for Fifth Edition fantasy roleplaying), as well as fiction set in the world of Aldea from Nisaba Press, such as the novel Shadowtide. Whatever venue appeals to you, welcome to the world of Aldea! Take the time to visit and experience its stories, and then create some of your own.
Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.