Guilded Age

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For the United States historical period, see Gilded Age.
Guilded Age
Guildedage.jpg
The title page cover to Guilded Age featuring all main characters past and present.
Author(s) T Campbell, Erica Henderson & Phil Kahn
Website guildedage.net
Current status / schedule MWF
Launch date September 4th, 2009
Genre(s) Fantasy

Guilded Age is a fantasy webcomic about five heroes who have come together to work for a common goal: three squares and a warm bed. There's conflict between warring coalitions based on centuries-old feuds, but the writers claim they intend to "try to focus on what's important." The comic is the creation of T Campbell, Erica Henderson & Phil Kahn. T Campbell, the co-writer, has also described the work as "fantasy dramedy-adventure"[1] Erica stepped down as the primary artist of the strip at the end of November 2010, with art duties being taken over by John Waltrip.

As reviewer El Santo puts it, "the title comes from a portmanteau of 'The Gilded Age,' the post-Civil War era in US history, and guilds, those ubiquitous career-based country clubs in RPGs. Appropriately, while the fantasy trappings suggest the European Middle Ages, they also suggest the dawn of the Industrial Age and the American Wild West." The influence of role-playing games, and World of Warcraft in particular, makes Guilded Age a regular feature on Joystiq's "Sunday Morning Funnies."

Part of the Love Shack and Comicbox networks, Guilded Age has supplied a cover to the online magazine Comixtalk, published books and even inspired a theme song by Dain Saint.

Main cast[edit]

Together, the main characters form the Gastonian Peacemakers. Charged with representing Gastonian interests through establishing peaceful relations with foreign powers, their mandate also includes the use of violence to solve the problems of potential allies.

Byron Hackenslasher[edit]

— Human Berserker
Said to be the only survivor of the War That Felled Battleshire, Byron The Berserker is just about the most professional and genial sort a dual-axe wielding killing machine could be. His good head for tactics and strong sense of loyalty make him the de facto ‘quarterback’ for the group. Byron is normally very cool-headed, but his berserking is a growing danger to himself and his comrades. His axes are named Bayen and Brayen, named for childhood friends, and he seems to be quite fond of them.

Syr’Nj[edit]

— Wood Elf Field Medic
As a Wood Elf, Syr’Nj feels a close connection with nature and the world around her. As an ambitious young prodigy, she has a deep curiosity and applicable knowledge of the cutting edge in technology. That connection and curiosity, combined with a can-do attitude, have drawn her out from her own people to explore a larger, often xenophobic world. She once served as a medic in the Gastonian military, and is now Byron's de facto second-in-command. She has a tattoo on her left arm which seems to indicate royal blood.

Frigg Akerfeldt[edit]

— Human Crusader
A former unwilling acolyte of the Sisterhood of the Bloodshot Eyeball, Frigg rebelled against their tyrannical rule and struck out on her own for a life of adventure and ultra-violence. Frigg is crude, impulsive, and shows little respect for almost anyone.

Gravedust Deserthammer[edit]

— Dwarf Mystic
Gravedust is the last of the Dwarven Mystics, a sect of shamans who communicate with the souls of the dead. He traveled to Gastonia in order to understand humans, and find a way that Dwarves and Humans can live together in peace. In spite of his mission, Gravedust is mistrustful of most humans, though his interactions with Byron have improved his attitudes towards them somewhat. Gravedust is stoic, occasionally grumpy, and usually keeps to himself.

Bandit Keynes[edit]

— Gnome Thief
Bandit is a cunning and agile thief who eventually replaced Payet Best as the group's fifth member. Little is known about Bandit's background, since she is distrustful of strangers. She claims to only serve her own self-interest, but has proven to be a loyal member of the team.

Other Cast[edit]

Payet Best[edit]

— Elf Virtuoso
A prophesied hero of legend (or so he believes), Best is a gifted and intelligent Warrior Musician with a natural talent for both combat and charming a crowd. And he takes great lengths to ensure that you know that very well. His ego has made his membership with the group very volatile, and he was last seen vanishing into a vortex.

Field Marshal Ardaic[edit]

— Human 'Mission control'
Following the team's first mission rescuing kidnapped children from aspirational skypirates, he recruited them as a band of trouble shooters and emissaries for Gastonia. Although he is generally satisfied with the ends they achieve, the means by which they do so sometimes leave him less than impressed.

Setting[edit]

The story takes place in Gastonia, a society that is considered the centre of human (and gnomish) culture on the continent of Arkerra. Their recent period of expansion was triggered by events surrounding the Battle of the Solates Mountains.

Culture[edit]

The capitol has segregated humans-only regions akin to modern day gated-communities, designed to keep the riff-raff of the other races away from the children of the rich and influential.

Politics[edit]

It is ruled by the Parliament of Nine Houses, each of which controls an essential commodity (agriculture, mining, technology, etc.); this includes the Church. The House of Houses was constructed to contain the activities of Parliament, as Gastonians believe society should be directed by those who produce. Currently Gastonia is trying to walk the line between not being feared enough (in which case they will be attacked) and being feared too much (in which case they will be attacked by everything their enemies can throw at them); keeping their airship development program secret until it's viable falls into the second category.

Religion[edit]

The dominant human religious faith is presided over by the masked Priestlord Gigundus; people who follow other faiths are not well received. He claims that his word is the blood that flows through the world and washes out its disobedience. The status of this faith is uncertain, following the dissolution of its most important temple (see "Sisterhood of the Bloodshot Eyeball," below.)

Sisterhood of the Bloodshot Eyeball[edit]

They believe themselves to be the fist of an angry god, though others describe them as thugs hiding behind a facade of righteousness. Their belief in their divine duty fuels their ambitions, strengthens their resolve and binds them together into a formidable fighting force. Dissolved following the disappearance of Gigundus.

Order of the Countless Limbs[edit]

A human terrorist organisation that operates within Gastonia. Described as a cult.

Technology[edit]

Gastonia appears to have entered an Age of Reason and is developing technology to replace the influence of magic. Though combat is still predominantly melee-weapon based, guns and explosives exist and are used by certain technologically adept factions. Airships are on the cusp of becoming reality.

Races[edit]

Humans[edit]

The human populace looks down on the other sapient species of the world with smug contempt fueled by a sense of their own manifest destiny (a trait it shares with pretty much every other nation and race). The various ethnicities, at least in the upper echelons of Gastonian society, appear well integrated though distinct.

Dwarves[edit]

Their own name for their race is the Savasi. They are charactertised as being blinded by rage, nearly unrivaled in combat and ruthless beyond reasoning, traits encouraged as a defence mechanism against the depredations of others. They suffered a significant defeat during the Battle of the Solates Mountains; they still seek restitution from Gastonia for having been forced from their ancestral homes, and to that end toy with forming an alliance with the so-called Savage Races.

Elves[edit]

Elves claim to be the oldest race on Ankerra and there is evidence for their claim. They are found in — and have adapted to — a number of different environments.

Sky Elves[edit]

The world's most prominent magic users, who rely on it almost exclusively. They reside in the floating city of Asallah En-Qu'Lara, which has allowed them to rise above the petty squabbles of the world below and achieve political neutrality. Although they could bombard the land below with an endless array of lightning bolts and fireballs, this threat is abated by the Sky Elves being the most peaceful culture in Arkerran history, but they are not without their own internal difficulties.

Wood Elves[edit]

Wood elves are green skinned and part-plant, but otherwise resemble other elves. They believe that Nature will Provide and have no particular qualms about using Nature's bountiful excess any way they see fit. They have a habit of planting willow trees on fields of victory the way a Wallachian prince named Vlad impaled his enemies. They are as merrily xenophobic — maybe even more so — than humans.

Gnolls[edit]

A canine people described as being one of the Savage Races, Gnolls practice shamanism and worship a fire god who slumbers (very very soundly) inside a volcano.

Gnomes[edit]

A small and inquisitive race, resembling diminutive humans with pointed ears. They operate the Academy of Arts & Sciences in the Gastonian capitol and describe themselves as being the ones responsible for the nation's technological progress, but even so they still suffer from the casual speciesism of humans who consider them the best of the rest, rather than equals.

Orcs[edit]

Another of the so-called Savage Races, Orcs live in communes which they will fiercely protect. Culturally open to new concepts, they are also known to suffer depredations at the hands of troll slavers.

Trolls[edit]

Large and intelligent, they appear to be at the forefront of efforts to unite the so-called Savage Races into a unified entity that may pose a threat to Gastonia. Practice slavery, utilising other species such as orcs.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crossword record: Clues to a puzzling man, Virginian-Pilot, April 12, 2010, Diane Tennant.