Brooding forests and forbidding mountains dominate the landscape of the Corpse-Kingdom, casting long shadows over settlement and citadel. Though Gotterdammerung drags itself out of the booted heel of despair, its territories are peppered by marks of tragic war: ominous battlefields, abandoned dwellings and forsaken ruins.
The capitol of Lichtenstein stands in the shadow of the Twilight Mountains. At its heart is Silberfaust, the ziggurat-like citadel of the King-Priest that also serves as the tombstone for Gotterdammerung’s greatest heroes. Other cities, towns and villages dot the Corpse-Kingdom’s expanses though they do not approach Lichtenstein’s majesty or size. The manorial castles of the Kriegers preside over each settlement in protection and taxation while temples and shrines provide direction and supervision of the spirit.
The Corpse-Kingdom suffers from a moribund climate of rainy weather and cloudy days, as though the sun itself fears to tread upon Gotterdammerung soil. Dammerunger farmers must toil hard to keep the shadow of famine at bay, coaxing shriveled crop from the tired earth to feed family, clergy and Krieger.
Beneath arbors and among crags do the wild beasts of the Corpse-Kingdom stalk as hunter, quarry and carrion-eater Wolves are a common sight among the rural areas and carrion birds can be seen wherever one goes. These creatures have grown especially bolder and larger from robbing graveyards and battlefields, attacking even healthy wayfarers in their audacity.
Though the King-Priest may yet lead Gotterdammerung into the dawning light, the land itself remains in the grip of shadows.
All laws are descended from the King-Priest’s own words, which are then interpreted as the word of the Lord Reaper himself. The King-Priest rules Krieger, Clergy and commoner – and it is his burden to guide, to protect and to lead them in this world so that the Lord Reaper will take them in the next.
The Krieger is the land’s main source of protection. He is the militant arm of Gotterdammerung, striking against threats internal and external. It is he who is tasked with the defense of the commoner and the clergy. Settlements are built near the castles and the keeps of the Kriegers to benefit from their guardianship. In exchange for the service they provide, Kriegers are given special rights over commoners (and formerly, over clergy) under Dammerung law.
The clergy is tasked with the commoner and Krieger’s guidance in the matters of the spirit. Temples and shrines are built within settlements themselves and are places of community, piety and sanctuary for all Dammerungers. These places are ringed by vast swathes of sanctified graveyard, grim reminders of the sacrifices, feats and follies of those who have passed on. While the clergy does have some considerable might at its disposal, it cannot match the Kriegers’ forces in numerical power.
It then falls to the commoner to provide for the clergy and the Krieger, who take their due from the commoner’s earnings, from toil, craft and harvest. Being a commoner is a hard lot, but when supernatural, soul-reaving evil is abound – one cannot look at the lot of the clergy and the Krieger and feel a great amount of envy. Glory and honor can be found in battling the forces of chaos and evil, but dismemberment, death and worse are more likely to be earned in these ventures.
The Dammerunger family life is largely dependent on one’s social class. Dammerung commoners live a life of toil, whether it is in the rural areas of Dammerung or in the vicinity of town and city. Dammerungers are expected to perform their duties and support Krieger and clergy, their protectors and guides. Such a life is not a miserable one, but it is one filled with chore and labor.
Men are often tasked to hard labor, such as hunting, farming and building. Men that join local militia are given rudimentary training in the art of war. Women are tasked toward work around home and hearth, such as cleaning, cooking and the care of children. Children quickly learn simple chores around the home.
Krieger life is both softer and harder. The labor of the Krieger is on the field of battle, thus are trained toward such a hard life. They are expected to be leaders and fighters. Common toil is beyond a Krieger, although they may undertake studies of artistry, of lores and of magic. Krieger families are dynasties of leadership, power and arrogance, supported by the labors of commoners and the wisdom of the clergy.
When the Reaper’s Church rose to power, the first King-Priest declared that each Krieger family had to have a son or daughter join the clergy in every generation. Likewise, every Krieger manor has a resident Priest who provides direction in matters of faith and in matters of knowledge.
Important to every family, Krieger and commoner, is one’s ancestors. As the Corpse-Kingdom holds tightly to the ashes of the past, so too do Dammerungers grasp tight the whispers of their ancestors. Every family has the physical remains of their ancestors. Most commoners place ornate urns and jars that hold the ashes of their forebears around the hearths of their homes.
Kriegers and wealthier commoners have more opulent quarters for their dead: catacombs beneath the manor or a familial crypt within their territory. Some even carry these ashes or mummified body parts upon their persons as a source of good luck and as something to turn to for guidance.
In dark times, the Dammerunger family turns to their forebears and the Church for answers. The Church is able to contact the spirits of the dead for answers, acting as the conduit between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Necromancers fulfill a similar role, although without the trappings of religion which are occasionally unavailable… or unwanted.