Vanoree’s culture is built around four concepts known as The Pillars: Fes, Lyr, Met, and Con. These form a foundation of understanding about the world and the place of people in the world. They are analogous, but not identical to, conceptual sets such as virtues and vices, or the classical elements. Within the idea of The Pillars are a set of recurring symbols and themes that can be found throughout Vanoree—even if less educated characters couldn’t tell you their proper names.
Fes is the pillar of exploitation. Strongly associated with the colors yellow and brown, wild places such as forests, and scavengers. Sometimes referred to as luck, the ideal of Fes is one of external awareness, observation, and pragmatism. Admirable characters that fall within this pillar are resourceful, empathetic, and good at bringing people together; while unsavory characters are likely to be ruthless, manipulative, and greedy. Fes is about making the best use of circumstances beyond your control through keen observation and flexible planning.
Lyr is the pillar of discovery. Strongly associated with the colors blue and grey, the sea and sky, and fish. Sometimes referred to as talent, the ideal of Lyr is one of internal awareness, acceptance, and honesty. Admirable characters that fall within this pillar are confident, even tempered, and comfortable with their own limitations and strengths; while unsavory characters are likely arrogant, brash, and entitled. Lyr is about knowing yourself honestly and not letting the external define you.
Met is the pillar of tenacity. Strongly associated with the colors green and white, the soul, metal, and birds. Sometimes referred to as skill, the ideal of Met is one of iteration, refinement, and struggle. Admirable characters that fall within this pillar are disciplined, stalwart, and highly motivated; while unsavory characters are likely narrow minded, exacting, and out of touch with reality. Met is about pursuing an art for its own sake and the joy of mastery.
Con is elevated above the other three, the pillar of harmony. Strongly associated with the colors red and gold, purity and fire. Sometimes referred to as wisdom, the ideal of Con is one of understanding and foresight. Admirable characters that have achieved the principles of Con are patient, deliberate, and potent; while unsavory characters are likely aloof and disdainful, or meticulous and controlling. Con is about the choices, fate, and the bigger picture.
One hundred and twenty years ago the evening star fell to earth and took on the form of a man. The star had many adventures, and defeated all the monsters and evils of the world. The people named the star their great savior, Vathaal. He made a pact with the Queen of the Fey, and pulled the golden summer in around the Fountain City of Melythis. There they have ruled as the Bronze King and Queen of Summer, in peace and prosperity, forever.
Melythis the Fountain City is the seat of the Bronze King. Situated between two rivers it is an ancient walled city built from red clay and pine. The roofs of all the buildings are networked with a complex bronze gutter system which collects and diverts the frequent rains for municipal use. Melythis is home to Conaal, the Bronze King’s palace, as well as the Colloquium, the finishing academy for magicians and members of the Summer Court. The city has a large population of laborers and artisans, and is the principle residence of all courtiers. Melythis locals tend to speak formally and wear primary colors—how faded someone’s clothing has become is a good indicator of their social position. Brighter colors mean less time in the sun and rain, which means less physical labor. The exception being magicians and courtiers, who often work outside, but are distinguished by their large brimmed hats—green for magicians and black for courtiers.
The Peninsula is the primary agricultural center of Vanoree, to the south of Melythis. The central river of the three in the region—the Ellyth River—has always had a very regular flooding cycle. Under the reign of the Bronze King, the Summer Court manually controls the flooding, as well as the weather and season, allowing for vast increases in crop yield. The primary agricultural products are cotton and rice. People from the peninsula tend to talk faster, shorten names, and even blend words together. This dialect can also be found among certain groups in Melythis, particularly those who work on the river docks. Towns and structures on the Peninsula are generally made of wood and are often up on stilts, with high crawl spaces beneath to weather flooding. The people who live here wear primarily light or dull earth tones and despite the heat are often found in long sleeves and pants to protect from sunburn. Farmers, the people who plan and coordinate the land use, are usually the figures of authority here. Among the field laborers there is a tradition of veneration toward the elderly that is absent in the city.
The Redfens are a collection of mountains to the northwest of Melythis, densely covered in trees and dotted sporadically with deep fissures and caverns. The Redfens region is geothermally active, and is the source of the copper and tin that go into Vanoree’s bronzework. The people of the Redfens are curt and deliberate, hunters, loggers, and miners. Some of Vanoree’s best artisans—particularly of metalwork—and magicians can be found here as well. The higher elevation of this region means that it enjoys cooler temperatures, as well as lower humidity thanks to its distance from the rivers. Clothing tends to be heavier and more durable—such as leathers—partially for the lower temperatures, but more due to pervasive bramble thickets which make the region difficult to travel through. Redfens towns are primarily constructed of pine and red clay bricks, similar to Melythis, though wood features more heavily here.