I noticed that I do not actually have a good overview of the Seven Kingdoms setting. The one that does exist at the beginning of the blog is outdated and incorrect. I do think that I need a single post that I can point people to for a quick introductory lesson. Here it is:
In 25 Words or Less
Superhero rebels in a swashbuckling world fight an undead emperor.
Because you know I can't be that terse, here is a slightly longer elevator pitch. Fifty years ago, the Lich Lord Acnev used his undead armies to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Today, a few select individuals, gifted with unusual abilities, have decided to fight back. Rapiers and repartee are paired with flight and forcefields to win the day against dark magic and darker politics.
History of the World
The known world is actually fairly small. The Seven Kingdoms ring the Bay of Ser Syrthio, a body of water approximately the size of the Black Sea. To the north, beyond the Lohe Selg mountain range, lie frozen tundras and icy seas. To the east lies the great Oceanus (which has no other name, because there is no other ocean), a body of water that stretches farther than anyone has dared sail. To the west lies a vast desert and scrubland, which is nearly uninhabitable. No soul in recorded history has ever crossed the desert and returned. To the south lies the Sea of Storms, a stretch of water that is filled with rocky islands, strong currents, and unpredictable weather. The occasional ship does cross the Sea of Storms from the mysterious lands to the south, but not enough to be considered "trade."
Since time immemorial, the people of the Seven Kingdoms have worked, played, lived, loved, and lost within these borders. The Seven Kingdoms themselves have existed in more-or-less their current configuration for at least five hundred years (much like the major nations of Europe tend to revert to Spain, France, Italy, Germany, etc., even though their actual borders may shift, and one nation may conquer another for a time).
Fifty years ago, a necromancer in the ever-ambitious kingdom of Is-Ka'ander came to power. He is known as the Lich Lord Acnev. He and his followers raised great armies of undead warriors, sending them forth to conquer the other nations (as Is-Ka'ander tries to do at least once a century). A combination of sound strategies and implacable troops gave the Iskandrian troops the edge, and the other Kingdoms eventually had no choice but to bend a knee to the Emperor of the Dead.
The magical universities of the kingdom of Linnea had magi known as merlanes. These wizards specialized in creating new creatures, through cross-breeding, mutation, and direct manipulation. The Queen of Linnea demanded a miracle, and the merlanes delivered. Through their magics, they were able to cross humans with various animals to create legions of fanatical monsters, known collectively as "goblins", to counter the relentless armies of the dead.
Eventually, though, even Linnea was to fall. In addition to its armies of goblins, it was protected by a powerful artifact known as the Cudowny Crystal. Through powerful magic, a daring strike at the palace, and a foul betrayal, the forces of Acnev were able to kill Queen Arabella and shatter the Cudowny Crystal. Robbed of both leadership and protection, the armies of Linnea soon folded, solidifying the Empire.
The Cudowny Crystal, though, seems not to have lost all of its magic. Certain children, primarily of Linnean descent, have begun in recent years to demonstrate remarkable talents. They are like magi who know only a single spell, but need neither years of study nor hours of ritual to accomplish the effect. These Shardlings, as they are known, now form the core of the rebellion against Acnev.
The Shardlings, of course, have been declared illegal. So have the remains of the goblin armies, and the merlanes, and many others who opposed Acnev. The rebels were torn between a need to make dramatic strikes against the Imperial forces, and a need to avoid being arrested. They began to wear masks when operating. Those masks soon developed into full-blown costumes. The rebels would refer to one another by code names, such as Phalanx, The Martyr, and Maverick.
For Further Important Details
Here are links to a couple other important posts on the setting:
Who are these Seven Kingdoms, anyway?
Heraldry of the Seven Kindgoms
Sexuality in the Seven Kingdoms
The races you can run
Magical items in the Seven Kingdoms
A Couple Final Notes
First, I need to mention that, yes, I know that Game of Thrones uses the term "Seven Kingdoms". I came up with the term before the first GoT novel was published. I have never read any of the novels, nor seen the TV show. It's a fairly generic title, and so not particularly surprising that it would have been used elsewhere. I'm vaguely annoyed at the muddling the name creates, and have considered changing the name of the setting. I haven't decided on a good new name, though.
Of course, I also find it personally amusing that so many swashbuckling settings use the number seven. When I first started the Seven Kingdoms, it was supposed to be high fantasy, not swashbuckling. It drifted over the years. When Chad Underkoffler released Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies, I noticed the pattern of three of my favorite settings being S7S, 7K, and of course 7th Sea. I wonder if it's pure coincidence.
The setting is littered with in-jokes and references. Most of them will only be appreciated by a small handful of people (like the eternal conflict between Tsoi and Arras). There are some elements that I have shamelessly ripped off from other places (like, oh, Acnev himself). Also, I have recently discovered the greatest tool ever for naming things in a setting - Google Translate. Some of the names are terribly boring and mundane descriptors that I ran through the translator until I found a language that made them sound cool.