As Iron Heart gets closer to being released, I’m putting together a series of blog posts that examine the world and its characters from different perspectives. Hopefully this will give you the reader some insight into the thought processes that went into creating the world, the people that inhabit it, and the stories that take place there. First up is a look at Autumn itself and a bit of its geography and recent history.
The world of Autumn is similar to our own in the late 1930s, but with a few key differences, some that we’d consider anachronistic. Understanding of the almost-mystic resonances and properties of materials has allowed the nations of Autumn to build machines larger and more powerful than those from the same era on Earth. Battles are fought between airships and huge landgoing dreadnoughts, while lightning cannons that draw on the planet’s magnetic field are deployed alongside more conventional weapons. At the same time, most of Autumn’s nations are still dominated by nobility and aristocratic classes, with commoners having little say over national policies. Kings and emperors lead most countries – some as figureheads for other powers, others holding sway by themselves.
Iron Heart and The Red Witch of Autumn center themselves on the conflict known as the Autumn War (because it began in the fall, and no one expected it to last longer than a few months), involving almost all of the major powers on the continent of Hallstatt. To most country’s reckoning, the year is 1277 – the Thule, using their own calendar, call it Imperial Year 68.
Between twenty and thirty years ago, a series of small wars – much less devastating than our own World War I – overtook the continent. Although unrelated, these conflicts – ranging from the uprisings in Acraga to Poziel’s War of Succession – had one underlying theme: larger powers interfering in the affairs of smaller nations, using them as pawns and puppets. The last round of wars also served as the breeding ground for new weapons of war – poison gas, the airplane, the airship, the machine gun, and the tank, to name a few.
As a result of the last round of wars, the major powers signed a series of alliances designed to deter them and their puppet states from a full-scale war and to stabilize the balance of power. Six months ago, a border skirmish in eastern Hallstatt between the small kingdoms of Poziel and Vlachia (Vlachia really being more of a collective of bickering, xenophobic mountain tribes than anything else) provided a spark, and ironically, the alliances designed to prevent war made it all but inevitable.
The forces of the nation of Thule, wanting to recapture the glories of the Old Empire which once dominated the continent, jumped into the fray to “defend” their Vlachian allies, and along the way, conquer the territories which had been independent nations since the Empire’s fall. Other large nations, allies of the Poziel, jumped into the fray one by one to hold the Thule’s influence in check. The only major power not yet involved is the large kingdom of Kazgorod in the east. Rumor has it that the Knias of Kazgorod is just waiting for Poziel, his nation’s nominal allies, to officially request help. That help may come at too high a price for the people of Poziel, though – once the Kazgorod are inside the kingdom, they may never leave.
The only place the war hasn’t reached is across the ocean to the west. There, the continent of Aylon is dominated by the Federated Provinces, a collection of former colonies that won their independence. The Provinces bear a resemblance to our own United States, but are in many ways closer to the US of the late 1800s than the 20th century, being dominated by an oligarchy of robber barons and bankers. The nation is a freewheeling confederacy of semi-independent states who bicker and only cooperate for mutual defense. So far, the Provinces have stayed neutral in the growing conflict – more out of the tendency for one province to support one side, and others to support the opposition. Mercenaries from the Provinces have fought on both sides of the war (as they did in the previous conflicts), with no sign of preference. Pirates and opportunists from the colonies have made their way to Hallstatt, hoping that the war will be their key to a fortune.