Permia... a world frozen in ice for more than a millennium. It is unknown how this ice age truly began, but the world’s most prominent religious text, the Book of Auris, ascribes it to an ancient and tremendous conflict. Demonic alchemists, led by the fire lord Argath and his three generals, attempted to overthrow the Goddess, but were punished for their hubris. This led to the collapse of the civilization of the Ancients, whose great works remain scattered across the land... but perhaps the factions of order and chaos still wage war in the shadows.
In the modern day, the humans and ferans still remain in a state of sporadic conflict. The most powerful human government is known as the Empire, with its capital, Sanctum, being located in the northern hemisphere, while the Council, an alliance of feran tribes, is located in the southern capital of Ashkar. The humans living in the Empire maintain a constant dependence on clockwork and steam-powered technology, including the all-important alchemy kits that allow certain humans to perform alchemy, while the ferans prefer to tame beasts to suit their purposes and train their mind and body in the spiritual arts.
The Red Moon in the sky above Permia shines its red light across the land on the night of the Moonglow. It is said that the souls of the damned travel there, where they leave their worldly sins before their soul travels to the Infinitum forever.
The setting of Icebound. A bucolic town that combines traditional charm with modern construction. Once an ancient fortress, it ceased to be a location of strategic importance long before Imperial unification and was abandoned for centuries.
However, it was resettled in recent times as the Empire expanded to the northeast and became a hub for trade in the region. An airship departs monthly to Sanctum, but those who arrive here find it difficult to bear the extreme cold. The land remains as wild and inhospitable as always outside its walls.
The Empire contains most of the human population of Permia, and rules from the Imperial capital of Sanctum, said to be an ancient clockwork machine of enormous magnitude. The ruler of the Empire and leader of the Church of Auris is the Divine Empress, though she lacks the influence of the other two branches of the Imperial government, the High Court and the House of Nobles.
The Empire makes heavy use of mechanical devices known as "clockworks", powered by steam or alchemy. The storage of alchemic energy using the rare crystal, aetherion, is what has allowed the Empire's technology to flourish across the world, becoming an indispensable tool of traveling alchemists.
The feran populace prefers not to live under a central government, and instead is composed of tribes which follow different tenets. The major tribes are allied under the Council. Based in the ancient capital of Ashkar, this powerful alliance rivals the Empire in their military strength and alchemic abilities. A stubborn people, the ferans are not easily moved from their ways.
Many ferans believe that the elements of alchemy are created by beings known as the Spirits. As such, many feran arts are centered around becoming closer to the plane of the Infinitum. The human church disapproves, claiming the Infinitum is the Goddess' domain. Humans' suspicion of ferans is only part of the reason that the Empire and the Council face longstanding tensions.
Alchemy has long been known as a means by which living creatures are able to manipulate the forces of nature through the use of elemental energy. Only a select few are able to channel this energy, and even less can complete the intense training required to hone one’s mental focus and become an effective alchemist. The ability to become an alchemist is said to depend on environmental factors as well as heredity, but ferans have been known to be more attuned to the alchemic arts.
Due to the chaotic nature of living beings, elemental energy contained within them cannot be harnessed easily. Therefore, alchemy often requires a “catalyst”, a stable inanimate object of a certain element, in order to manifest it through an alchemist’s body. Aetherion, a clear, brittle crystal of solidified aether, is often used as both a catalyst, and a means to store energy. These crystals are in turn stored in vials, which an alchemist can then use to release the energy in a time of need. They are the most useful tool in an alchemist's arsenal.
A device known as an “alchemy kit” is often used by humans to transfer power from a catalyst into a crystal of aetherion or another device, while some ferans can perform such an act unassisted. While the energy can be released in a pinch, the presence of an alchemist amplifies it immensely.
Upon reaching a certain level of skill, all alchemists are expected to find a Familiar - a creature that bonds deeply with them. This creature becomes permanently linked to their soul, allowing an alchemist to send them to the Infinitum and call upon them when needed. Without the assistance of a Familiar, the burden of performing alchemy would be too great. However, the use of Familiars is one reason that alchemists are often known as pariahs, as they can be a shocking sight to behold.
Alchemists without Familiars do exist, though they are extremely rare. They are known as the Unbound, and their mental states are highly unstable. For this reason, they are deemed a hazard to public safety lest they abuse their power, and are usually imprisoned by the Empire.