Narrative: Fall CY 603 – Evil Intentions

Fall CY 603, Hookhill, the Gran March

The room was dimly lit as he entered his grandfather’s room.  His grandfather was very old and everyone in the family knew he didn’t have much time left. Everyone gathered around his grandfather’s death bed. The room was silent except for a soft whisper. A sense of fear washed over him as he stood in the doorway and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look at him. The silence broke when his grandfather said,” Ahh, young Rourik; come and say hello to your old Grandfather so he can wish you a happy birthday.”

It was Rourik’s 16th Birthday and he was now old enough to join in the family business, which was always kept a secret from younger members of the family and anyone who married in. Rourik felt two hands on his shoulders as his father gently pushed him into room. Rourik slowly walked into the room and continued until he was standing right next to head of the bed his grandfather was lying in. His uncle stood beside him, a man he had not seen since he was six years old.

He leaned down next to his grandfather and gave him a kiss. His grandfather looked up to him and said, “Welcome to the family.” With some help from two of the other family members the old man in bed sat up, and after letting out a raspy cough he addressed the family. “We are meeting here today for two reasons. First, we are here to welcome in a new member of the family. Young Rourik is now old enough to take part in the family mission that was set by my grandfather almost a hundred years ago after the great betrayal that nearly destroyed this House. It was my grandfather who then made a promise to make those responsible for our family’s destruction and exile pay for what they had done. It was then through a divine power our family was granted a boon to make sure our revenge was achieved. Unfortunately such a pact requires a sacrifice.”

At this moment Rourik who was full of fear was grabbed by his father again, but this time much firmer than before. Rourik’s uncle and another family member grabbed his arms and bound his wrists behind him. At this moment, scared of what was to come next, Rourik looked at his grandfathers as he said, “I am sorry my son, but the Litharian family requires you.”

Narratice: CY 600 – The Council of Militants

600 CY, Loftwick

“We meet today with the goal of ending Grosspokesman squabbling.” Marius Lindon shouted, commanding silence from the representatives seated before him. “Our nation is on the brink of destruction. We are surrounded, and the reaction of the Council has been too long delayed. Therefore I have called you, the representatives of the militias of the five high districts of our country, to decide the most important decision of your lives. For long The Yeomanry has been a free nation, but we have been weak, we have been open, we have been vulnerable. This country needs a true leader. A leader with the power to raise a true army, not a militia. A leader with the power to judge and preside over all the land. A leader that must bow before none save the Gods themselves. The Yeomanry will become a power to be reckoned with, and no force, whether Giant, Orc, Human, or otherwise will stand before us. I have long defended this country as well as I can, but I need the power to do this as I see fit, without the need for petty arguments amongst a group of representatives with little knowledge of the world outside their villages. I put forth the motion, that I, Marius Lindon, Freeholder of The Yeomanry, should be named Lord of the Lands, Commander in Chief of the Military, and judge, jury, and when it comes to it, executioner of this great nation. I call a vote to name me Dictator, until a time in which I am no longer needed.”

I saw the council’s eyes widen. Some were taken aback, others outright angry, but none could deny his claim. Marius Lindon was a force to reckon with, both as Freeholder and as a ranger in his younger days. A vote was called at this point, with each representative raising hand to show his decision. Of the one-hundred men and women present, thirty voted nay. I stood in the front row, my hand raised in support of Lindon. A smirk crossed his face, obviously proud of his accomplishment. A man stood up in the back. At first, it almost looked as if he were going to congratulate the new Dictator. I glanced backwards, only to see a knife in his hand. The man charged, had Lindon pinned, and was ready to deliver the final blow. But I was already on my way. I tackled him, and began striking the man with closed fist. I caught his dagger as he thrust in my direction. Prying it from his hands, I vigorously stabbed at the assassin’s exposed chest. He struggled a little longer and was still. I stood, grabbed Lindon’s hand, and raised it high in the air. “All hail Marius Lindon, Dictator!” The crowd cheered as Democracy died, I cheered as well, for I knew it was best. I’d come to regret that decision.

Narrative: Spring, CY 599 – Like His Father

Spring, CY 599, Niole Dra

“It’s going to be a beautiful day,” she thought.

The sun was shining, halfway to its peak for the day, as Ereleigh hung her laundry on the line. Then she thought once again of Vorland, and how much she missed him. She remembered when they had met, at the market. Ereleigh was looking for some fresh fruits to be included in some pastries, sent by her parents who owned the Rising Sun Bakery.

She had just bought some cherries and dates, and was turning around when she found herself on the ground, fruit rolling everywhere. He was in a hurry and not watching where he was going. “He was so handsome, I don’t know what he saw in me,” she thought. He apologized as he helped her up, and she knew he was the one as soon as their hands touched. They used to love to tell the story of how he literally knocked her off her feet the first time they met.

Not so long ago, really. Hard to believe it was seven years ago. It seems like a lifetime.

She looked beyond the clothesline, to the small garden that needed tilling and planted, and the fence that needed tending. But most importantly, she looked at her children, Wilby and Mistelle, playing in the cramped backyard. Wilby was the oldest, a boy now 5, very much like his father, so mischievous and bold. “At least he will have some memories of his father,” Ereleigh thought. Mistelle was born shortly after Vorland died in the Invasion, protecting Niole Dra. Ereleigh was told it was quick, and that he did not suffer, and for that, she was grateful.

Thank Phaulkon that they have good neighbors, ones who have helped her and her family through the winter. She thinks of her only sister, and Vorland’s father and brother, all of who passed over the winter. Thank goodness for Karthan, Vorland’s captain, who checks in on them regularly to see how they are doing. He always brings treats for the children, and Ereliegh always finds a few coins after he leaves.

As she watches, Wilby swings a stick around as if it were a sword. “Take that, foul dragon, and that,” Wilby cries out as he dances around the picnic table, slashing at it with his “sword”.

“So much like his father,” Ereleigh thinks, as a tear comes to her eyes. Not the first tear, and likely not the last.

Narrative: Winter, CY 598 – They Will Be Ready

Winter, 598 CY, somewhere in the Good Hills of Keoland

“They will be reborn.”

A simple statement, spoken with resolve.

The twelve druids have gathered here, on the peak of an unremarkable hill, in the middle of the Good Hills, called together by one of the most important of their kind. They come out of obligation, and loyalty, and they come out of duty, and despair. The Arch-Druidess Reynard Yargrove speaks to them as the winds of the winter storm rips through their robes.
“Things appear bleak. Omens point towards terrible things. We’ve seen a mighty force trample through the breadbasket of the Sheldomar, and leave the land barren, unable to grow crops. Thousands and thousands of our people have died as a result of the starvation. Many other have perished from the wars, and disease, and brutality.

Fiends have flocked to the lands of the Flanaess, as the Flight of Fiends have proved to be a ruse for the Old One. Old adversaries now threaten arms once again, after decades of peace. Danger now threatens the Sheldomar from the south, and from the north, and from the east. Menace also comes from within, from greed, and ego, and madness.

But even with all that has happened, and all that will soon come to pass, heroes will return to the lands. As we speak, heroes are being born, and diapered, and breastfed. Others have the bravery in their heart, but it has not yet pierced through to their souls. And yet others will be born soon.

Though dark times have returned, and troubled times lie ahead, there is yet hope for the future. Heroes will return to the land. So, seek out those of good heart, and strong soul. Help meld them and shape them, so that when the tools are needed to bring down the tyrants and the fiends, they will be sharp and strong, yet tempered with mercy.

Yes, the heroes will be reborn.”

Campaign Background

It is no longer safe to be out at night.  It is not safe to travel from town to town, except in groups.  The dark somehow seems darker, more sinister.  Only the very powerful travel alone, or after dark.  Or the very foolish.

What was once thriving farming hamlets are now walled villages.  Towns are now heavily fortified.  Only the foolish are outside the safety of town walls at night; even the farmers travel to the fields to mind their crops during the day, only to return to the protection of civilization at dusk.

Goblin, kobolds and their ilk fill the vast spaces between towns now, bullied by hobgoblins, and gnolls, and orcs.  It is said that their evil grows stronger each day.  There are likely fouler, more evil masters above them, such as trolls, and giants, and drow.  And even more hideous evil creatures above them.  And it is rumored that great fiends and other abyssal creatures now sit at the top rung of the ladder with the strong ruling the weak.

No, it is not a safe world anymore, not since The Breaking.

The Empire of Keoland
The once powerful Keoland has fallen into a series of city states. Niole Dra, at one time one of the most powerful places in all of the lands, is now controlled by the Wyrd-King and his magical minions, who rule through their knowledge and power. Their dominion extends only from the Capital to the tall tower south, from where the Wyrd-King came, and extends a day’s ride or so outside the area. The capital has yet to be completely rebuilt after the Invasion of a decade ago.

Gradsul is still ruled by the Duke Luschan and the Duchess Maressa. Their benevolent rule is enforced by their navy, which was virtually untouched by the Breaking. The city remains intact and boasts new construction beyond the walls of the Old City, where many refugees of the Invasion and the Breaking, came for protection. It is now a thriving city, as much as a city can be thriving in these times. Many fine sages and artisans ply their craft here in Gradsul where they now make their home. The Duke’s protection extends not far from the city, though it does extend further along the coasts than inland. Of course, the Duke’s navy broadens his influence to the seas.

The western area of the Kingdom is now entirely composed of the Cryllor and the Good Hills. The Lady Lora Manz rules the Cryllor and the area round the city. Cryllor is strongly allied with the Hills to the east where many of the raw ores and resources needed for their forges are found. Many races live in the Good Hills, mining the ores in small defensible settlements, including dwarves, gnomes and halflings as well as kobolds and other humanoids.

Further north, Flen, once a proud city, now lies in ruins, buried at the bottom of a new lake created by both the Invasion and the Breaking. Several other small points of civilization survive in the Kingdom: Shelspring Barony, now ruled by the young noble with eyes not his own; the far northeastern part of the Kingdom, isolated and left alone during the Troubled Times; and yet another far outpost, Haven near the swamp to the southwest. The Dreadwood has been rid of its malevolent influence but has grown greatly over the time since filling in the farmlands of the Heartlands with darkness of a forest unknown. Many foul creatures have taken up residence in this wood under the dark canopy where sunlight rarely shines.

The Troubled Times

The Invasion came first, a decade ago. The Army of the Returned marched across the Keoland from the western reaches to the Capital, destroying everything in their path. The Army was composed of marru, humanoids, giants and undead, led by a powerful creature whose face was constantly hidden behind a shield of flickering colors, their true identity unknown to this day. The Heartlands were devastated during the Invasion. All crops were destroyed and anyone found was killed and turned into undead soldiers in the Army of the Returned. The Invasion was defeated at the Capital, though with great cost. The King and the King-Slayer were killed as were many other good citizens of the Kingdom. That winter, many of those lucky enough to survive the Invasion died during the Famine that ran rampart throughout the Kingdom. Many perished all over the Valley as the breadbasket of the Valley was barren. Good people turned on one another, as the survivors fought over the scarce food. This was called the Year of the Invasion (598 CY).

Next came the Year of the Plague. The Plague ran rampart through those that survived the Famine. Where it came from or what its cause was never discovered. It spread like wildfire in the spring of CY 599. The shakes came first soon followed by the bloody cough, then hallucinations, followed shortly by death. The Plague hit the entire Valley hard and even spread somewhat beyond the Valley. Prior to the Troubles the population numbered 2 million citizens.  Now less than 250,000 remain.

As the Invasion, the Famine and the Plague were happening in the Kingdom, other woes occurred across the rest of the lands which came to be known as the Breaking. The Old One of the North, plotting as always, had finally outsmarted the Circle of Eight. The Old One created a ruse in which his main goal was divine ascension at whatever cost. He pulled the wool over many wise men’s eyes and, to craft his plan, created much havoc. The good folks of Veluna were taken aback when their most holy relic, the Crook of Rao, was used in the Old One’s deception and grab for power. Many fiends were released from the demi-plane where they had been trapped and many other fell beasts were delivered onto the lands as the Old One’s scheme reached its final act.  These creatures were unleashed and took up residence where they could find those to rule and subjugate and where they were far from those of good dominion who could threaten them. This has come to be known as the Breaking.

As the Breaking was occurring, many other events were happening across the lands. In the remnants of the Great Kingdom, it seemed that the ruling line had finally fallen. The shield around the capital of the once great kingdom had also fallen and with it, many of the undead and other foul creatures that had populated those lands. With those lands now mostly not inhabited, the former vassal states of the once Great Kingdom vie for control of the lands and wealth remaining, as well as the power that could be available.

In the south the Scarlet Brotherhood survived somewhat intact, though the Trouble Times certainly caused much havoc in their master plan. They still exert much influence over the seas of the south with the Duke’s navy being their only worthy adversary. They still continue their breeding programs though they have lost control of the loose alliance of pirate states and islands that they once commanded to the west.

In the north, as part of the Old One’s subterfuge, war had broken out. The Old One’s army marched south to once again battle the Veluna and Furyondy. The Old Ones army had many greater numbers but the good hearts, great courage, strong arms and wily minds of the good men were winning out when the Old One’s plans came to fruition. Upon the Old One’s ascension, most of the leaders of the Old One’s army lost command and most of the soldiers lost morale, as he was no more amongst his army. But a great many fine men and women were lost in the Last War of the North though the Old One left his former right hand man in charge.

In Greyhawk City, much was changing. The Great City’s mayor had entered into an alliance with Turrosh Mak, the orcish leader of the wild coast, saving the city from a near certain siege. However, as much as it saved the Great City, it doomed its mayor’s political future. Without his adept leadership skills, the Great City has since fallen into a web of political intrigue and mistrust as the various powers within struggle for influence and control. And with the Troubled Times, many refugees have fled to the Great City, filling its already cramped spaces, overflowing out beyond the walls.

Turrosh Mak, with a treaty intact to his east, then turned his full assault onto the Ulek states between him and the Keoland. The long and difficult battles cost the orcish leader many of his troops and much time but he eventually overwhelmed the states and now holds control over all of the land from the Great Bay to the Great Empire. But there are still dwarves, gnomes and others, living underground, who fight valiantly in a guerilla war against the troop occupying their lands. The once powerful neighboring kingdoms are now too busy trying to solve their own problems rather than worrying about the Ulek states.