City of Freedom
Lying on the outskirts of the Basin of Life, the city of Gaudiguch makes its home amongst the scorched fires of the southern Razines, there in the shadow of Mount Zoaka. The city of Gaudiguch was once the victim of the Taint Wars, whereby it was lost in time and space for over five hundred years. When the lost city finally returned to the current timestream, all its citizens were dead except for one, Scuchidira Tliwx. Having declared its independence, Gaudiguch prides itself as the city of liberty, truth and justice. Home primarily to the dracnari, the city values the Light of individuality and self-identity second to only the Light of the Eternal Flame, the Nexus of Power that rages in a towering inferno through the heart of the Great Pyramid. The Nexus of Power burns within the Elemental Plane of Fire, as well as the Cosmic Plane of Vortex.
Lacking little social order, Gaudiguch indulges in many aspects of pleasure and frivolity. Even so, most citizens at least claim to strive for perfection of mind, of flesh and of the spirit. Though in the ancient days of the Holy Celestine Empire the city was guided by a spiritual leader, in modern times they have opted for a more conventional figure with proper elections - if anyone remembers to vote, at least.
Nexus: The Eternal Flame
The nexus of power in Gaudiguch is the Eternal Flame, located in the center of the Great Pyramind in the city. It simultaneously exists on the elemental plane of fire and the cosmic plane of the Vortex.
Gaudiguch has a reputation for being a city of liquor-addled excess, a place where its citizens chase debauchery after debauchery in the name of keeping the endless party going. The Revelry are the ones who fill the drinks, cash the chips, busk for every bawdy play, and sweep up the confetti in the rare moments of quiet. While many are performers, and much more are unabashed hedonists, the only requirement to join the Revelry is a desire to care for the city culturally, even if said culture is often the kind found growing on the wall of a public privy.
Joy is the fire that pushes back the darkness of sorrow, and through joy, many Revellers pursue the unity of thought and action. Don't think, just do is the motto of those who seek to cultivate their intuition into a force to be reckoned with. Some might claim this can only be reached through a life of asceticism, but when the world is full of so many wondrous things, the Revellers feel that it's better to embrace it all and let one's Will be responsible for burning away the chaff. A city full of delights is no good if one seeks to rise above it all, and this faction argues that its far better to try new things and live in the moment, teaching the inner self through experience rather than abstinence. Anyone can join the party, but it is the Revellers who keep the fires stoked and the laughs coming well after the rest of the Basin has gone to bed!
Through furious battle, pyre-kissed art, or just making sure the keg never runs dry, those who bask in revelry seek to keep the city full of raucous, bright-eyed life through whatever means necessary. Flesh-dancing at the Eternal Flame brings sensual wonder to the eyes of the people while the betrayal of an enemy at just the right time keeps the same people safe, and both are fine pursuits as far as this faction is concerned. Their bright colours reflect the city's own fires, after all: what better way to reflect that which gives light, heat, warm food, and dreadful burns than to become the Fire itself?
Seekers of Illumination
The world is dark and muddled by false knowledge and most of the Basin doesn't even realise how weighed down by the chains of ideology they truly are - the Illuminators recognise this darkness and seek to cast the flames of Enlightenment into its furthest corners, burning away everything that might impede the raw Freedom of thought. They are the Hidden Temple, both its members and its guardians, and the only thing that is more precious to them than the pursuit of a new mystery is protecting said knowledge from those who aren't yet ready to understand what needs to be known.
Their obfuscated methods are, paradoxically, the Illuminators most well-known trait: while some choose to work behind closed doors or in the spaces between important people, others weave secrets into song, or dive ever-deeper into the Pyres in search of hidden knowledge, or simply flood their thoughts with enough oaths and riddles that they can better protect their less martially-minded allies, and no two Illuminators work quite the same way. All the better to protect the truth from those who would harm it.
No one way exists to pursue the Mysterious Truth. Members of this guild can be found seeking Enlightenment through asceticism or excess, through transcending the limits of mortal flesh or revelling in said mortality, and be it fire or steel or ecstatic dance there is always a way to push the boundaries of understanding. Both a heated debate and the heat of combat are sacred, so long as its practitioner finds themselves unfettered by false thought through it, it is permitted. An Illuminator is expected to protect the city from more subtle threats to Freedom than rampaging Soulless or enemy organisations: the spiritual well-being of Gaudiguch is a major focus of theirs. This does not mean that they must form ties with a Divine, but that any citizen be permitted the right to pursue a state of mystical wholeness. What good is a koan if the ear that hears it is muffled by self-doubt and sorrow? They tend the constant revelry that fills the city like a gardener does a trellis, as a heart that is open and free from woe is far healthier ground for new thought taking root.
Where the light of the Pyres falls, so follow the Illuminators, and they strain furiously against whatever might limit their quest for knowledge. What is a thing like death but a new limit to be overcome? Paradigms exist to be shifted. Let the world try and contain itself in a smothering shell: they will crack it, then read the future in the shards even as reality shudders and gasps in the brilliance of understanding.
Enlightenment of the self brings Enlightenment to the world. The ultimate nature of Enlightenment is uncertain -- figuring out such a thing is a mystery even this mysterious faction can't easily untangle -- but this is seen as a gift, rather than a limitation: because there is no way to define it, it frees the individual to act upon pure intuition and following the nature of their Will. Is the body a vessel for greatness? Is the mind the true Hidden Temple? Who is actually hosting the never-ending party that is Gaudiguch? No one can say, but the Illuminators do smile wryly and refuse to give direct answers.
The Goon Squad
The People have their voice in Gaudiguch, and that voice, the great mob, has formed enough of a faction to have voice on the Freedom Council. Derisively termed the Goon Squad by their detractors, this group of patriotic malcontents have reclaimed the title, and style themselves the only true voices of the free citizens of Gaudiguch.
While the Squad is known for rioting, bad behavior, and being a disorganized collection of both discontent citizens and thugs, it (perhaps surprisingly) shows a distinct organization and a distinct commitment to freedom and the ideals of revolution. The Five Sacred Flames - those of life, passion, knowledge, and even enlightenment and eternity, all find expression here.
Nowhere is passion more obvious than the short temper of a Goon on behalf of a fellow injured Goon. While they may be prone to corrective violence inside of the ranks, aggression and interference from outside of the Squad tends to result in a strangely unified and organized band of Goons appearing on the doorstep of the offending party.
The elected leaders of the Goon Squad are surprisingly canny at their negotiations. Woe be to him that assumes a Goon is nothing more than the thug hired to collect on a debt - the Goon Squad contains expert negotiators, expert craftsmen, and revolutionary idealists whose manifestos and monologues have stirred the riots in which the politics of Gaudiguch may be remade overnight. The Goon Squad claims that to offend the Goon Squad is to offend the people of Gaudiguch - and given the evidence, this may well be correct.
The origins of the Illuminati are unknown, though it is generally accepted that they are extremely ancient, certainly predating the Celestine Empire. Some scholars have speculated that the Illuminati predates even the Vernal Wars, though there has never been any conclusive evidence on this one way or the other. At the time of the founding of the Celestine Empire, the Illuminati were known as an enigmatic sect of primarily dracnari mystics, revered by most dracnari for their spiritual wisdom and strength. After the Illuminati opened the way to the Eternal Flame, it is rumoured that their occult and esoteric teachings had a renaissance. However, the Illuminati had always closely guarded their rites of Initiation into the Mysteries, and the general public only saw their spiritual and mystic powers increase dramatically. Around this time, members of the Illuminati began to wear their trademark robes that hid their features and it is also around this time that the dracnari developed the skills of Beastmastery.
The Illuminati is a guardian archetype. Thus, they are required to take HighMagic as a common skill before being able to study Cosmic magic. Once having mastered Cosmic magic, the Illuminati member then specializes in Transmology, a mysterious skill that allows them to tap into the wonder of the Plane of Vortex. Their main secondary skill is Rituals, which when they master will allow them to specialize in Paradigmatics, sometimes called chaos magic. At some point a member must choose either to take the Hexes skill or to train in Tarot or to learn the science of Astrology. Illuminati members may also take Enchantment as a trade skill with a specialization in Spellcraft.
The Minstrels Guild was founded just after the Era of the Wounded Sky in the year 315 C.E. after the Voice of Gullagumbah was freed after being held captive by the Ice Angels and before that the Frost Spite. When the Voice of Gullagumbah was in captivity, it used to help break the sky and amplify the power of the Soulless God Zenos. After finding freedom, the Voice was attracted to the intoxicated state of Beloch Baruwski in Gaudiguch and took up residence in his body. When the Voice of Gullagumbah heard the song sung by Tetra Alin'dor, who also composed it, titled "Morning Star", it left the body of Beloch and took up residence in the Pleasure Palace, founding what is now known as the Minstrels Guild.
The Minstrels Guild is a bard archetype guild. They can choose to follow either Lowmagic or Highmagic. Their main skill is Music with specialization in the bawdy songs of Minstrelry; their secondary guild skill is Acrobatics. Members of this guild can choose between the skills of Tarot or Illusions.
The Pyromancers Guild are mages who devote themselves to the element of fire. Though originally founded many centuries ago, the guild was lost during the Taint Wars when the City of Gaudiguch was trapped in time and space for over 500 years. The Pyromancer Scuchidira Tliwx was the only survivor, and it was she who reopened the guild. Of all the mage skills, pyromancy is the most aggressive of all the elemental powers, though it offers little in the way of defense.
Pyromancers are a mage archetype. Thus, they are required to take HighMagic as a common skill before being able to study the Elemental magic. Once having mastered Elemental magic, the Pyromancer then specializes in Pyromancy, allowing them to travel to the elemental plane of fire. The main secondary skill of a mage is Illusions. Pyromancers also at some point decide to be a runic mage by taking the skill of Runes, or a dream mage by taking the skill of Dreamweaving, or a psionic mage by taking Psionics (with the choice of specialization between Telepathy and Telekinesis).
Before the opening of the Eternal Flame and the founding of the Gaudiguch, the Illuminati were known as a sect of primarily dracnari mystics. Their inner teachings were closely kept occult secrets, guarded zealously by a subsect known only as the Guardians of the Hidden Temple (the 'hidden temple' is often regarded as a metaphor for their spiritual teachings rather than an actual structure). Throughout ancient history the Illuminati went through periods of denying the existence of the Guardians to promoting them as a charitable arm of the sect. Unsubstantiated rumours often followed the subsect as being in possession of powerful relics and artifacts. When the Eternal Flame was opened, the Guardians of the Hidden Temple were refounded as the Templars, being a more overtly militant arm of the Illuminati, though still charged with the primary task of protecting the Secrets of Initiation. In time, the Templars took on more mundane guard roles and were eventually considered the military arm of Gaudiguch.
Templars are a warrior archetype. Thus, they take Knighthood as their primary skill, though they may specialise upon reaching mastery as a Blademaster, Bonecrusher, Pureblade or Axelord. Like all warriors, they take Athletics as a secondary skill. They also may take Rituals as a secondary skill, and can specialize in Paradigmatics. Alternatively instead of Rituals, they may choose Hunting and specialize in Tracking.