Campaign of the Month: May 2016
The world of Midgard is flat and floats in a vast space of living stars.
The sun is the chariot of Khors the sun god, or of Aten the sun god, or perhaps a lamp of one of the other cults of the sun. When it disappears, it presumably shines on the other side of the flat world. As the sun passes the edge of the world, some believe that the world serpent snaps at it, someday to consume its light, plunging the world into eternal darkness of Fimbulwinter.
Midgard has a single primary moon and seven lesser moons called the Mage’s Stars, used as a common symbol in arcane workings and in the coat of arms of the Magocracy of Allain. The moon is generally called just that, although some wizards and others call it Ond or Selles, names in older tongues also meaning “the moon”.
Midgard stars are living creatures, lesser lights to the sun god’s greater light. Thus a young star may require someone to defend it from the dark gods who would happily devour it. On rare occasions, these stars come down from the heavens to visit people on the face of the world.
Five known planets orbit the world of Midgard, though the Elves insist on the existence of a sixth planet that human eyes are too weak to see. The names of these planets are:
Asaph, the Green Planet,
Ermaon, the Jumping Planet,
Temperos, the Giant,
Tiomoutiri, the Golden Planet,
Zuhal, the Dragon,
Melgros, the Dark Wanderer, which humans cannot see.
The History of The World
The world is flat, with a single sun, one major moon, and six planets. Beyond these facts, the details of Midgard’s origins are shrouded in mystery.
The Tale of the Northlanders tells that life started in the centre of the Great Void between fire and ice. Aurgelmir was the first and greatest giant from whose body both earth and sky were crafted; and from him sprouted the first giants and elder gods. Aurgelmir was killed in the wars created by his own offspring but his bones became the earth and his blood flowed out to fill the rivers and seas.
Little is known of the time of the Elder Gods and each race and belief system has its own views on how things came about but most agree that war was continual and there were great upheavals in all the world, even before any of the sentient races emerged. Most also agree that it was the great worm Ouroboros (also known as Veles or Jormungandr) that encircled the world and made it part of himself. It is said that it was Ouroboros himself who threatened the destruction of the world unless the Gods controlled their murderous factions, thus bringing about the gods’ use of masks to protect themselves from their Divine enemies.
The early dwarves were warriors forged on an adamantine anvil, and spread throughout the Northern lands. Some of them moved southward to the Ironcrag Mountains and these are now the Great Cantons of The Crossroads, most of them revering the God Volund. The majority however, remained in the north and are known these days as Reaver Dwarves. It is said that these dwarves were responsible for causing the early elves to flee westwards across the sea.
The most powerful early humans were those of Ankeshel, a great island in the Western Ocean whose denizens mastered magic and alchemy. However, there were also a great many humans in the vast central mainland, the main power resting in Nuria-Natal where Aten, father of Khors ruled as a living flesh and blood god. About 3000 years ago the mighty island of Ankesh was swallowed by the sea, and the remaining lands were plunged into barbarism. The dwarves ruled in the North, humans and others struggled on the mainland, and goblins, gnolls, ogres, centaurs and other brutal races thrived. To many, it seemed, the light and knowledge of the world glimmered and went out.
The Elves had constantly been at war with the dwarves and it is believed that in ancient years they had been driven out by the dwarves and had fled on their great ships over the sea to lands unknown to the people of Midgard. In all the dark years, little was heard of them, but then about 2,200 years ago, their ships started arriving from the far west and landing on the outskirts of the Arbonesse Forest. They slowly built up their empire from the Western Ocean all the way to the Ruby Sea, ruling the humans, gnomes, halflings and others who saw in the elves a restored hope for civilisation. Their cities were tall, their magic powerful, and their mastery of living things, art, magic and swift travel gave them a powerful advantage. They swept all other nations before them, and built cities in the high places and forests.
The Young Kingdoms
The Elves ruled for over 1,300 years and their influence was considerable in the magocracies of Caelmarath, Allain, Bourgund and Vael Turog, who all learned the arcane arts in the Elven style before they created their own. Sheltering under Elven wings, the human magocracies flourished, starting around 1,800 years ago. Most important of these were Caelmarath, Vael Turog, Illyria, Krakova, Cassilon, Morgau, the Magdar Kingdom and Roshgazi, led by the minotaurs of the South.
The human kingdoms grew to prominence on the outskirts of the elven lands, in mountains and plains where the elves elected not to rule, and their strength and pride grew with the years. Roughly 800 years ago, the humans and tieflings of Caelmarath revolted against Elven rule in the First Great Revolt and it was brutally suppressed, but a strange woman known as Baba Yaga (long known in the East) offered her services to the rebellion, calling up fortress walls, unbinding Elven wards and releasing demons by the score.
The rebels were led by the powerful dark mages of Caelmarath, who summoned dark powers to fight against their enemies. Even some of the elves succumbed to this activity and thus the shadow elves were born. At this time, around 400 years ago, the Elves suddenly and mysteriously withdrew from the world, closing off most of the shadow paths by which they travelled, and the wars for dominance were fought mainly among the humans in the central lands. Thus began The Great Mage Wars.
The Great Mage Wars brought ruin and devastation to the western heart of the land as the Dark Mages of Caelmarath summoned greater and greater powers to maintain their political dominance, until eventually the Great Elders themselves were summoned, that almost brought ruin to the entire area but was thankfully held at bay by powerful magic. The Great Elders could not be destroyed and so still linger in the Goblin Wastes, held only by TIME DWEOMERS. To this day, the Great Elders can still be seen in those lands.
The Dragon Empire
In all of this time the far eastern parts of the land had been dominated by the Great Dragon Lords across the Dragoncoil Mountains. In these lands the draconic races of Kobolds and Dragonkin were afforded greater status than in the western lands and where the eastern lands meet the western lands at the mouth of the Ruby Sea, their lies the Mharoti Empire.
About 300 years ago, the eight Great Dragonlords of the East could not trust any of their number to rule in the frontline area of the Mharoti Empire and so decided that it would be better for all to let a human of dragon blood rule. This sultan would rule the area populated by dragonkin, kobolds, humans, dwarves, gnolls, ogres and drakes and would oversee the will of the Dragonlords, demanding tribute from neighbouring kingdoms. The Mharoti Empire destroyed the minotaurs of Rhosgazi and set up their kingdom that exists to this day, presently governed by Sultana Casmara Azrabahir. The dragons still lust for gold and every so often raids are sent out to neighbouring kingdoms to claim more silver and gold for the gluttonous masters of the land.
It is believed that the power residing in Nuria-Natal still holds the Dragonlords at bay, preventing them from all-out assault on the kingdoms of the North and West, but it is also known that the Great Dragonlords of the East are no longer lone monsters waiting in caves to be killed by zealous adventurers. They are highly organised rulers with powerful underlings including dragons, drakes, dragonkin, humans and dwarves.
The Nurians built their kingdoms atop countless ancient conquered cities whose names they erased from the records. It is said that they built their first cities with the aid of the Titans over 5,000 years ago, making the Nurian civilization the oldest remaining civilization in all Midgard.
In the beginning, a mighty wizard noticed the power of Ley Lines flowing in the mighty Nuria River and harnessed them, setting up his families around the river and establishing encampments that would later become the great cities dotted along the river. About 3,000 years ago, just as Ankeshel flourished in The North, so did the lands known as The Great Umbuso flourish in The South, and central to these lands was the land of Nuria Natal, governed by a long succession of wizard-kings worhipping their own “undying” God-Kings.
In other parts of The Great Umbuso, the lands were ruled by great Wind Spirits, who tended the peoples and the dying Titans. One among these was the North Windlord, Boreas. He was least fond of humans, so much so, that when refugees started to arrive in his land after the fall of Ankeshel, he smote them on the beaches with freezing waves. Abhorred at his actions, the other Wind Spirits drove him out and he sought refuge in the Frozen North, where he resides to this day.
About 1,200 years ago the traitorous vizier Kensu revolted against Nuria’s ninth dynasty God-King, Khemket II, with the construction of The Blood Pyramid, but Khemket was victorious, thus cementing the bloodline of the dynasty which exists to this day.
Wide ranging were all the lands of The Great Umbuso, encompassing many great kingdoms outside the immediate range of Nuria Natal – places like Lignus, with its famous library, and the great empire of Morreg – but for many years The South developed on its own without much interaction with The North. After the first human refugees from ancient Ankeshel, probably the first traders were the Minotaurs of Kyprion, who crossed the sea to help establish the great City ports of Roshgazzi, Cindass, Kadralhu and Avaris, forming the Moon Kingdom of Tes Qamar about 450 years ago in the wake of the Great Retreat of the Elves.
At this time the kingdom of Nuria Natal was watched over by Horus and several other “undying” God-Kings who stalked the land shrouded in dust and shadow. All was fairly peaceful until the incursion of the Mharoti Empire about 200 years ago. While great generals led armies of humans, kobolds and dragonkin through the Sarklan Desert toward Nuria Natal, huge flights of dragons swept across the sea to destroy the twin strongholds of Cindass and Roshgazzi far to the west. They marched across the Stone Desert, believing they would take the lands easily but the great Wind Lords united against them and defeated them.
Again the Mharotis invaded the lands, this time Nuria Natal itself, hoping to expand through the Southlands from there, but they were repelled by the Nurians whose counter-attack carried the might of resurrected God-kings, ancient desert artifacts, golem siege engines and a vast horde of Undead. The dragons retreated but remain ever a threat to the kingdom of Nuria Natal, just as they remain a threat to the lands of the North.
Forty years ago this sort of threat was once again realized when a dragon attack of the city of Per-Xor ended in the burning of the prophet of Aten, the Sun God, alive in front of thousands. Once again the dragons were repelled, for the living gods of Nuria are ever vigilant in this land, but the horror of Mharoti capability has never been lost on the dwellers of that great land.
Recent History in and around The Crossroads
Around the same time as the Sultanate of Mharoti was formed, the young vampire Prince Lucan arrived in Morgau and ingratiated himself with the king. He infected the king’s children with his bloodline, adopted the faith of the Red goddess and now rules as the Undead Leader of Morgau and Doresh, supported by its hordes of ghouls in the empire beneath it.
About 200 years ago, the Gnomes made a deal with Baba Yaga that went very, very wrong. In return for her help they promised her The Earth and when they would not deliver she swore vengeance against them. To protect themselves from Baba Yaga they made pacts with the Devils of the Eleven Hells and now they are twice cursed. Those serving the Devils are protected from Baba Yaga but are forced to dark arts and life sacrifice such that no race on Midgard can trust them. Any that turn away from the Devils are claimed by Baba Yaga, and she pays well for the head of any gnome.
About 82 years ago, the people of Zobeck cast off the feudal masters of House Stross, declaring themselves a Free City. Their patron goddess, Rava the Gear Goddess, helped them create the first Gearforged north of the Middle Sea.
50 years ago, the Khazzaki of Rhos Khurgan, the gnomes of Neimheim and the duke of Domovogrod allied to quell a centaur bandit king. When the centaurs were routed, Neimheim’s army turned its crossbows on the Khazzak allies in a great offering to their infernal masters.
42 years ago, Ra-Amon-Ra, the prophet of the Sun God Aten, was martyred in the Nurian city of Per-Xor by dragonfire. His followers have continued to expand their faith, throwing down the idols of other gods and declaring the supremacy of Aten.
40 years ago, the minotaurs were pushed off the last of the Illyrian mainland and their queen swore an oath of vassalage to Triolo in exchange for naval assistance against the Mharoti Empire. Their largest force resides on the isle of Kyprion.
8 years ago, the Triolans chose a minotaur as their Duke and Admiral of the Republic.
2 years ago, the old Mharoti sultan died and the Sultana Casmara Azrabahir ascended to the throne.