A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)
It is said that there only two things keeping the widely disparate nations of the Commonwealth together. One, the omnipresent threat of the Hegemony. While the two countries are at peace now, everyone remembers the invasion by the Prophecy Empire, which preceded the Hegemony. (This invasion created the alliance that became the Commonwealth.) Two, the tireless efforts of a secret society of the patriots, who have put unity ahead of national affiliation, the Founders. They ferret out the plots against the Commonwealth, internal and external, and investigate supernatural threats.
National rivalries are rare in the Southland. Life is just too difficult for that kind of petty politics. The threats to the colony are overwhelming and existential. The entire land and its inhabitants are a supernatural threat. There are few subtle conspiracies and such to occupy the Southland Founders’ time. The secret society has unfortunately turned into something like an exclusive club. They have turned their attention to economic and political concerns in the colony. In short, they are mobsters, the behind the scenes power that controls those who openly wield power.
The Founders are the prime brokers of all information in the Southland. They do use this knowledge to serve some useful purpose in stopping foreign and domestic plots against the colony. But even this is mainly done to safeguard individual member’s own assets, and not any lofty ideals. Petty grudges are instead often played out in this arena. Unfortunately, even at this, some members have become corrupted by Empire and Hegemony agents, who have identified the Founders as the real movers and shakers of the colony.
Other Founders have wondered if the colony might be better off without the Commonwealth altogether and are quietly plotting a future rebellion. The home continent Founders would be horrified at these developments and would take action, but they are completely in the dark about them and quite simply aren’t concerned about the colonies to begin with.
The Founders work in independent cells, called cadres. Founders can be of almost any profession, from accountants to paladins. Further, they are very discrete about their activities for the group. They are outside of any government influence. There is no hierarchy of command to infiltrate. All members are equal brothers and sisters. (Though as a practical matter, senior and highly trained individuals tend to take command.) The cellular nature of the group has made it almost impossible identify all of them, or find their leadership.
All commerce going through and out of the colony passes through the hands of the Cartel at some point. These are the most prominent businessmen in the Southland. Some are civic leaders, Founders, outright mobsters, foreign nationals, and whatever, because they don’t discriminate. If you can pony up the initiation fee, you can get a seat at the table, and a cut of the pie. These diverse elements have come together to control all the business going on in the continent. Everyone gets an exclusive territory. The only rules are do what the Cartel bosses tell you to, don’t cross one another, and shutout anyone not paying their dues.
It’s a monopoly of sorts. Everyone that does business in the Southland is forced to pay them tribute. It’s all quite open, too. It’s no secret. Why is it allowed? Apart from the obvious, that the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the colony run it, they do serve a useful function. They keep goods plentiful and trade flowing in and out of the Southland at slightly elevated, but stable prices. Given the lack of infrastructure, the danger of the continent, and the distance from the homeland, this arrangement was the only way to entice the big money to invest in the Southland. For now, they’re a fact of life.