In the AGE OF PENDRAFORME, it is always dark, and forever Winter. There is no day - only night and gloaming. But, even during gloaming hours, the clouds overhead are so thick the people below have no knowledge of sun or stars. Lightning riddles the sky, and yet the winds are light and there are no rains, only endless snow. The scarce flora is evergreen, and the fauna have adapted to the cold and the dark. Humanity is here, but it is different. The human people are dazed and docile, and go through the motions of their lives as soft-spoken automatons. It is as if they have been placed under some spell - but, there is no magic here. The truth behind their temperament is far more complicated than that.
But, humanity does not rule the Earth. There are another people here. They are immortal, beautiful, and predatory creatures who feed from the souls of human beings in order to sustain themselves. They are vampires, but the never use that word to describe themselves. Instead, they call themselves:
FRIENDS. Among Friends, there are four breeds. They have a complex, monarchal system of government, and have divided the Earth into cities. Within these cities, they oversee humanity, providing food, homes for them to live in, factories in which they work, and greenhouses to provide them greenery and light. Friends keep humans as workers and pets during peacetime, and as cannon fodder during times of war. Nevertheless, Friends love humanity. THE UNAWAKENED not only supply their food source, but their breeding pool - Friends are only able to expand their species by turning an Unawakened human into one of their own. In the Age of Pendraforme, the aesthetic of the world may look anachronistic in relation to its technology. Modes of dress resemble styles seen in our 18th and 19th centuries (with a hint of Medieval mixed in) as do their styles of architecture. However, they have air travel, and fast-moving carriages that run on petrol and electricity. Their science is advanced, and has ventured into territories such as the warping of time and space, the recording and selling of dreams, and the melding of technology and flesh. There are four main breeds of Friends. They are as follows:
THE PENDRAFORMÉ: The Pendraformé are the second-to-rarest breed of Friend. They have long been the ruling class, composing the monarchy and higher noble families, who are collectively referred to as the “Arch of Pendraforme.” Historically, the Arch had absolute control over the rest of Friendkind, keeping those they considered “lesser” Friends enslaved, and keeping tight reins on the flow of information. The Pendraformé are able to extract the human soul through simple skin-to-skin contact. As they age, members of this breed grow thin, pale, and androgynous in appearance. Their power in the social structure of Friendkind is due to their unique ability to use mental domination over both human beings and other Friends, while the other breeds are only able to employ this power to control the Unawakened.
THE TRAVAANA: They are by far the most populous breed of Friend, and the only breed which consumes blood. Only through the ingestion of human blood are the Travaana able to extract the human soul. Although the Arch of Pendraforme has long considered their mode of feeding to be messy and undignified, many Travaana have been granted titles of nobility, and are assigned smaller cities to govern as long as they remain faithful to the Arch’s whims.
THE CAODI: While the Caodi feed in the same way as the Pendraformé do, this breed has the unique ability to extract the soul from a human host and transfer it to an inanimate object, where it can then be stored for later consumption. Precious stones provide the best storage vestibules for souls, and are referred to as “trapping gems.” As the second most populous breed after the Travaana, the Caodi are usually merchants, bankers, and traders. While their ability to create trapping gems is invaluable, the Arch of Pendraforme has allowed them little social mobility in the past.
THE PARA-ANPLEXUS: The rarest (and perhaps strangest) breed of Friend is known as the Para-Anplexus. Unable to feed from the souls of living humans, the P.A. must survive by consuming disembodied souls - in other words, ghosts. Because ghostly souls are less potent than living ones, the P.A. must feed three times as often as other breeds. Para-Anplexus tend to have brilliant minds, but as they age they undergo a mysterious neurological degeneration which results in involuntary shaking, twitching, speech impediment, and eventual psychosis. The P.A. were historically enslaved by the Arch of Pendraforme, forced to develop advanced science and technology which only the Arch had access to. As the Arch begins to hold less power, they send out spies to keep tabs on Para Anplexus who still retain the knowledge of those secret technologies, fearful that this rare breed could be the one to eventually cause their downfall.
While Friends are immortal and don’t suffer fatal illness as humans do, they too have their diseases. The most common is the Para-Anplexic neural disfunction, but there is another malady which is feared and reviled above all others. This malady is called:
MERRÏOCHISM: It is extremely rare, and only afflicts members of the Travaana breed. This affliction causes the normal impulse to feed from humans to occasionally manifest as an overwhelming, violent, and pathologically sexual impulse to feed from other Friends. Merrïochism is classified as a combination of physical, mental, neurological, and sexual disease, although once it was classified as a form of demonic possession. The act of one Friend feeding on another is known as the crime of merrïochry. This act is usually extremely brutal, as merrïochists tend not only to drink the blood of their victims, but to savagely maul, rape, devour the flesh, and break the bones of any Friend unlucky enough to cross their paths when in the grip of the frenzy caused by their affliction. Merrïochism comes in two forms. The first is:
TREPLOLORRIC MERRÏOCHISM: in which the condition is innate - the Friend was “born” with it, and cannot be cured. The Friend will experience merrïochistic urges predating any acts of actual merrïochry. "Treplolorra" is classified as a mental and neurological illness causing heightened emotions, invasive thoughts, and lack of impulse control. The majority of merrïochists are treplolorric. The second form is:
MERRÏOCHRY ADDICTION: in which the Friend commits the act of merrïochry and becomes addicted to the euphoria of it. Merrïochry addicts tend to be more like serial killers, taking pleasure in the ritual of tracking down victims and killing them in particular ways. Because they are not treplolorric, these Friends can be “cured” - but this requires a long and painful withdrawal process, and probably a century or two of therapy. For the majority of merrïochists, who are treplolorric, there is no such cure. There is only one way for them to keep their urges in check, and this is through the practice of:
MERRIARCHAGE: A merriarchage is an establishment where Friends known as merriarchs allow merrïochists to feed from them in a controlled environment, and for a price. The term “merriarchage’ is also used to describe the act of allowing one Friend to feed from another. Merriarchs are specially trained to handle the appetites of merrïochistic Friends. The vast majority of merriarchs belong to a sub-breed of the Caodi, known as the KIRAI. Kirai are well suited for the job because the smell of their blood is weak, and therefore less likely to rouse merrïochistic hunger. Even with merriarchs to help them, merrïochistic Friends face enormous stigma, and are considered disgusting and dangerous. These attitudes have lead to the legislation of:
THE PENTASCRAL: It is a five-sided pendant no larger than a man’s fist, black with a red slash across the front that resembles a lightning bolt. In many cities, a law has been passed requiring merrïochistic Friends to wear this pendant in order to identify themselves. The pentascral is fixed around the throat by a diamond-steel chain, and to remove, hide, or purposefully damage it is a felony.