A dieselpunk, dark fantasy setting for D&D 5e
THE FACTIONS OF VANGAARD
All the big names factions and groups that any inhabitant of Vangaard would have heard of. Or pretend that they haven't heard of.
THE GUILDS OF MERCEN
Mercen is a city that was set up as its own state, run by a council of Guild Masters, centred around the sole purpose of generating wealth. Mercen is home to countless guilds, all interacting with one another to generate commerce throughout Vangaard.
The Guilds run the show in Mercen, where every shopfront is connected directly to its relevant Guild, from Candlemakers and Carpenters, and Butchers and Bakers, all the way to Enchanters and Gunsmiths.
The Guilds are virtually untouchable in Mercen, and they only answer to themselves, save for regulatory security from The Order of The Nightingale monks, who act as Mercen's police force. Additionally, the Guilds oversee the Mercenary contracts in the city.
The word Mercenary is rooted in their connection to the City State of Mercen. Mercenaries are soldiers that ply their services in exchange for coin. Mercenary companies vary greatly in numbers, ability and specialisation, and you can pretty much guarantee that there's a group nestled in a corner of the city that facilitate your needs.
Some groups are rag-tag groups of misfits with unique abilities that can get small jobs done with extreme expertise. Others are capable of providing small armies purposely designed to engage in proxy wars for nations unable to make legitimate, official displays of force.
THE BELOW ENCLAVES
Get closer to the solution to become the problem.
The Below Enclaves are a pseudo-nation of peoples who all share one thing in common... an obsession, whether that be religious, monetary or otherwise, with oil.
The Below Enclaves are populated primarily by Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes who have gone deep underground and settled there to become closer to the source of the Blood of The Machine God. Drow, Duergar, and Deep Gnomes, have all put their overland cultures aside, and united under the desire to be in proximity to oil, and it's power.
The Below Enclaves speak Undercommon, a creole of sorts assembled using Elven, Dwarven and Gnomish speech. An outsider might be able to make out portions of it by understanding some of it's root languages, but may not understand the grammatical structure.
The enclaves are extremely hostile towards surface dwellers, and don't take kindly to unwanted visitors. One thing is for certain, if you're close to oil, your close to an enclave, and vice versa.
LIQUID GOLD OIL CO.
Sacred Blood is immensely profitable.
The largest Oil refinement company in Vangaard, they own the vast majority of surface level oil extraction facilities throughout the continent, and the only company with the capabilities of extended extraction at sea. There are other smaller companies who've managed to strike it lucky in regard to the oil they have found, but it's almost inevitable that they will either be bought out, or eliminated from competition over time.
Liquid Gold is a force to contend with, with a finger in virtually every pie throughout the continent, as they are the largest supplier of oil to every nation throughout Vangaard, and is one of the few commercial groups that operates independently of the Guilds of Mercen.
If you own land that they find oil under, you're either very fortunate, or your life is about to become hell.
THE BLACK ROSE LODGE
Master of Puppets, pulling your strings.
The Black Rose Lodge is supposedly a shadowy cabal who pull the strings behind the scenes in Vangaard. Very little is known about them, or their existence, save for a portrait labelled with a plaque reading "The Black Rose Lodge". It depicted several wealthy businesspeople, high ranking clergy members, royalty and military figures. At the time this portrait was painted, the world was steeped in war, and none of these figures would have been seen together under any circumstances.
Nobody knows if this group is still in operation, but proponents of conspiracy theory, the overly suspicious, and chronic paranoids believe they still sit in the background, making sure everything goes according to their plans.
Connected to the Planes
The Kalashtar are primarily human people who have developed a connection to the other planes within the Astral Sea, outside the material plane.
They travel throughout the continent in search of Dreamfields, places where the veil between planes is thinnest, in search of a deeper connection to the interplanar spirits that inhabit their mind.
They travel in large caravans of often a hundred people or more, made up mostly of kalashtar themselves, looking to connect with their spirits, and traverse the planes, but can also be joined by travellers wishing to get from one place to another safely with the aid of their superior steed breeding. Or people, who wish to understand the planes better, potentially linking their minds with an external spirit.
Zealous Witchhunters, determined to quash occult magic
The Hagmen are a group of merciless Witch Hunters who specialise in tracking, hunting, capturing or killing practitioners of dark magic. They use brutal and violent methods to root out cults, track down hags, break horrible curses and destroy malevolent forces operating using magic.
The Hagmen often do work as they please, and work without prompt, but will also narrow their focus on particular targets of interest, for a fee. Know that they will get to all magic related problems eventually, but if you want your problem to take priority, it's going to cost you. If you are willing to invest in their services, rest assured that the job will absolutely get done.
Lawmen for hire. Worth every cog spent
Crime is rampant throughout Vangaard. With official military soldiers not having much to do in terms of fighting, they are relegated to police forces in cities. Those outside of cities are less fortunate. Many of the frontiers of Vangaard are virtually lawless, and the majority have nobody to protect them in times of need. Enter Goldpact Adjudicators. Judge, Jury, and Executioner, all for a nominal fee.
A group of mercantile judges, they roam the lands looking for areas of lawlessness, tracking bounties and hunting down known criminals. If your town has a bandit problem, and one of these guys rolls on through, get the townsfolk to scrape all their savings together. Consider that problem solved, with considerable proof that it's been solved. They'll even hold a trial, if you include it in the fee!
THE IRONBOUND ORDER
Opposed to the use of Oil in machines. It's holier than thou.
The Ironbound Order are a religious group that are intensely opposed to the use of Oil consumption and in production. Oftentimes the group take radical action against those who make use of oil frivolously, mounting attacks on oil-fields, transport caravans, factories, and anywhere else that might be involved in the wastage of oil.
Labelled terrorists by many, they are very much in the public eye, hijacking radio waves to get the attention of the people, utilising propaganda such as posters, graffiti and protests, not always peaceful, to show the oil companies that they mean business.
THE STEWARDS OF THE OLD WAYS
Maybe technology has gone too far?
Some groups are even more extreme, such as the Stewards of the Old Ways. They believe that it's all gone a bit too far. A violent and aggressive extremist group who think that oil powered machinery is too much. They feel that the people of Vangaard should take steps back to an era that relied more on magic, rather than on machine. They also believe that traditional, magically enchanted warforged should be returned to their original purpose, which was to be members of rank and file military, conducting fighting in place of humanoid combatants.
Some of them live in small communities throughout the Frontiers, but more often than not, you find pockets of them encamped off military patrols and trade routes, destroying machines. The labours of people and the magical fruit that those can produce cannot be compared to inferior, mass-produced technology.
THE NOVAK GANG
Need something done discreetly? You're in the wrong place.
The Novak Gang have a finger in pretty much every underworld pie throughout Vangaard. Almost every element of organised crime within the continent can link back to them in some form or another, either by being conducted on behalf of them, or a subsidiary, or opposition to them. If someone needs a bank robbed, protection money collected, a military shipment hijacked, or a public figure silenced, the chances that it's being handled by agents of the Novak Gang, are quite high.
The Novaks operate in a less than traditional manner, by cultivating relationships with law enforcement, usually through coercion, and conduct business in bars all over Vangaard. The most famous of these bars, is The Empire Bar in Mercen, where The Novaks operate as a semi-legitimate guild, and provide a safe haven for the criminal underbelly of the city, and those just passing through
THE SEA LEAGUES
Water dwellers banded together as a result of pollution.
Over the past number of decades in Vangaard, the landed peoples, through industrial means, have polluted the oceans in various parts of the continent, making life incredibly difficult, dangerous and often deadly for the denizens of the deep. The result of this is an alliance between the creatures of the sea, who have seen fit to retaliate to protect their native environment.
Tritons, Merrow, Derrow, Merfolk, some tortles and Water Genasi, and various other water dwelling species have banded together, and engage in acts of resistance against those who have spoiled their homes. Acts of piracy at sea conducted by the sea leagues are commonplace, and in less common occurrences, full scale assaults on factories, oil rigs, and waste disposal facilities on the coastlines also happen.
Revolutionaries opposing the status quo
Revolutionaries in the most traditional sense, generally opposed to the status quo, and not happy with oppressive powers that be. They initially began as an almost overly paranoid response to the concept of The Black Rose Lodge, and the idea that there was more than meets the eye in relation to the political climate in Vangaard. As time has gone by, this idea became more and more justified, as Sapient rights issues became more commonplace, and getting the truth of the situation to the public out there.
Activity, and support for the group has increased dramatically in the past six months, since the revelation surrounding the political stance of The Ironveil Federation, and the oppressive treatment of its people, particularly those not native to the area. The idea that a nation, let alone a continent, should belong to a single race of people is completely wrong. Mostly active in discreet circumstances in The Ironveil Federation, you can still encounter members roaming the other nations cities, and out in the frontiers, looking for others to take up the cause of getting the truth out there.
Bringing the best sounds to the people of Vangaard
"Grab your radio, sit back, relax, and listen to the sounds of The Vangaard's Vanguard, bringing everything in Vangaard, right to the front."
Now that radio is becoming a more readily available thing for the people of Vangaard, and standard communication is not the only viable use, forms of entertainment and the broadcast of news throughout the continent are a daily occurrence now. In terms of entertainment, one is likely to hear music regularly throughout the day, broken up by radio plays depicting intriguing detective stories, and the exploits of fictional heroes, advertisements for new and exciting products, poetry readings, and news updates, delivered by the ever wonderful host of Radio Vangaard, Velvet Vic. A silky sooth voice bringing the best sounds to the people, directly from the studio in a secret location somewhere in the Frontier.