Dec 19, 2019
It is the year 1423 of the Perfect Millennium, and the galaxy has been conquered by the Divine Principality. At the center of this empire, the only place where its five Great Stels meet, there is a moon beating where a heart should be. The moon of Partizan.
Abetted by immortal, machinic gods called Divines, and the legions of Hallowed mechs which extend their terrible reach, the Principality spent millennia sharpening itself on its rivals. What it could not devour it obliterated. What it could not obliterate, it simply outlived. It was an empire, unshakeable.
For the first time in the Principality’s long history, two of its five Stels have gone to war with one another, each guided by a ruler with sound claim to the title of Princept, leader of All Divinity. For five years, they have fought to a standstill, while equivacators and scavengers find profit in rubble.
But historical crises do not only serve crass opportunists, they revive opportunity itself. Under the shadow of this war you find yourself wondering: For how long will there be empires? For as long as we breathe? Longer? Will the categories of our conquest outlast us, or could there come a day for something else.
We once dreamt that breaking free from our ancient home in the cosmos would allow us to escape the mass and pull of tyranny and trauma. We failed then, but perennial chaos offers us another chance: Can we launch with such speed that we glide, graceful or imperfect, beyond war and pain? Or is the truth more damning that: Might we carry our own gravity with us?
This week on PARTIZAN: The Divine Principality
Welcome to the latest season of Friends at the Table: PARTIZAN. We’ll be playing Beam Saber by Austin Ramsay, “a Forged In The Dark game about the pilots of powerful machines in a war that dominates every facet of life.”
Though this season takes place in the same universe COUNTER/Weight and Twilight Mirage, neither of those seasons is required listening for this new season, so if you’ve been curious about our show, this is totally a great place to hop on board. If today’s episode all about world building and character creation is a little too slow for you, don’t be afraid to hop back on for next week’s episode, which will be action packed and full of great character moments.
If you like what you’ve heard this episode, then please consider going to our Patreon, which is FILLED with bonus content. We’ve got a Patreon-only campaign called Bluff City, bonus live streams, a tips show, “Clapcasts” featuring some of the unrelated pre-show chatter, and even a special show called Drawing Maps where I talk through my prep and worldbuilding. To give you a little taste, we’ve made the first two episodes of Bluff City, a brand new Clapcast, and the first of the PARTIZAN Drawing Maps episodes free to everyone!
Finally: Every episode this season is going to come with a little Dossier in the episode description. Think of this as a mix between a play’s Dramatis Personae listing and a cheat sheet. It’ll be a (pseudo-diegetic) list of important characters, organizations, places, vehicles, items, and concepts that come up for the first time (or for the first time in a long time) in the episode. For today’s entry (which is non-diegetic) I’ve included the list of factions, religions, and major events that I sent to the players during the character creation process.
Find this below, along with a maps of both the Divine Principality’s view of the galaxy and of Partizan itself, both of which were done by the incredible Annie Johnston-Glick (@dancynrew on Twitter, commission her!) Thanks ALSO to to Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot on Twitter, commission him!) for another season of incredible art. You can also find the music from this and all of our seasons over on Jack’s bandcamp.
Thank you all for your support throughout 2019 and into the new year. This year, we wrapped up Hieron, started a new experiment with the Road to PARTIZAN, and are now picking up with our first “new” characters and setting in two years. We couldn’t have done any of that without your support, and without your help in spreading the word about the show to others. So as a final appeal: If you like this episode, consider telling your friends about us!
Thanks again, and happy holidays.
GM & Co-Founder
The Divine Principality is a massive space empire led by a Princept and comprised of five major houses, called Stels. While the Principality is in a state of constant war with The Branched, a rival power extremely far from the small moon of Partizan, these Stels are also in various states of conflict (open and hidden) with each other. In brief, those Stels are:
Stel Kesh: The oldest established power in the galaxy, built around a stuffy (and secretive) aristocracy. They are tied to the Past. History, knowledge, stubbornness.
Stel Nideo: Created the largest faith in the empire, and used that influence to shape (and surveil) mass culture. They are tied to the Present. Faith, coercion, stability.
Stel Orion: An industrial giant that controls more literal space than any other Stel, yet is also the most fragmented and unstable. They are tied to Space. Wealth, labor, expansion.
Stel Columnar: A fence-sitting democracy, made up largely of synthetics on the cutting edge of technology, art, politics, and war. They are tied to the Future. Innovation, style, cowardice.
Stel Apostolos: A dynamic and diverse military powerhouse, guided by an iconic, but controversial leader. They are tied to Motion. Speed, change, violence.
There are two major faiths in the Principality. Both espouse the idea of an empire built of minor states--allowing for small scale conflict without threat to the whole empire. Where they differ is:
Received Asterism: Teaches that Divines, the immortal machines and mechs that helped establish the Principality's hold on the galaxy, reflect the best aspects of the state itself. The divine Strength, in other words, is like a living flag of the Principality's own strength.
Progressive Asterism: Teaches that these same Divines are true embodiments of their names, and that the citizens and states of the Principality should look to them as guiding stars. The Divine Strength, in other words, is a reflection of strength itself, or maybe "god's strength," and we should aspire to make our strength look like the divine's.
5 years ago, Dahlia, the living Princept (born to Kesh, then kidnapped by Nideo, then rescued and raised into adulthood by Apostolos), declared themself leader of both Stel Kesh and Apostolos alongside a stunning revelation of the Principality’s crimes against Apostolos. Kesh called these claims an Apostolosian ploy for power, and elected a minor noble as an anti-Princept.
Today, as Apostolos and Kesh war openly over territory, authority, and public sentiment, the other Stels seek to capitalize on the chaos. Columnar and Orion’s long cold war, driven by each Stel’s desire to cement its status as dominant economic and technological power, needs only a single spark to explode. Still repairing their reputation after the Farmer’s Sin, Stel Nideo bides their time, rebuilds their forces, and gains popular support. Soon, a weakness will be revealed, and they will be prepared.