A thousand or more years ago, the world was ruled by an ancient empire (or empires), but war between divinity and primal elementals caused a great cataclysm that sundered the land and shattered the civilizations of the time (The Dawn War). Much of the land sank beneath the hungry waves before the primal spirits of the world invervened, and cast back the warring forces without. Since that time, only lesser divine beings and summoned lesser elementals may cross the rift between their worlds and this one.

Although the cataclysm cast the surviving races back into a dark age, over the many years they developed into smaller, less advanced societies and kingdoms. They have grown into five distinct kingdoms centered around a large island chain (the known world as it stands now; about 15% of the world in total). There exists an uneasy peace between the kingdoms as trade flourishes, and no one kingdom wishes to invade another only to weaken itself and invite invasion from the others.

The most valuable resource anyone can find are artifacts from the old empire(s); powerful and beatiful, and worth a fortune as well. The common man may count himself lucky to even see such treasures, but adventuring bands risk all to find such rewards. Mostly what they find is death at the hands of the ancient mysteries and monsters unleashed upon the world during the Dawn War. But it doesn't stop the races from testing their luck.

Known Kingdoms

This kindom of islands is ruled by Eladrin, and populated by Elves, Gnomes, and Wilden. They are rumored to be the greatest arcanists known, and are led by a council of their wisest. Although they welcome trade, the home island of their kingdom is off limits to outsiders. Their flag is a Golden sun and three white stars on a green field.

These islands are ruled by tribes of barbaric Gnolls, Goliaths, Humans, and Orcs. Petty land disputes lead to contant border skirmishes, but none carry the war too far lest they be destroyed by the other kingdoms. Small populations of Dwarves dwell in small but well-fortified mountain keeps and underground warrens. The badlands of these lands are home to ogres and giants. The warriors of the tribes favor spears and axes, carry great shields, and wear leather and hide, or (rarely) dwarf-forged mail (some trade exists between the dwarves and the tribes; although they hold each other in disdain). Their primalists are as renowned as their warriors. Their flag is a Black, horned skull above crossed axes on a red field.

Pelham is a merchantile kingdom populated by fair-skinned Humans with hair of blonde, light-brown, and red, and eyes of blue or green. Their military-men favor wide brimmed hats and cloth or leather uniforms. They make extensive use of firearms, sabers, and bucklers. They are known to be skilled duelists and fine navigators; and many serve such roles in other kingdoms. They are also known for their advanced agriculture, which is largely run by halflings. Their flag is a white ship on black waves beneath a white cresent on a blue field.

The Sunari people (Humans) inhabit various desert islands with limited agriculure dependant on annually flooding rivers. It is a land of oppressed peoples benath an entrenched noble caste known for extravagant opulance (as well as political treachery). Nobles tend to be masters of the arcane, and many with teifling bloodlines. The warrior caste are made up of phalanx-pikemen, skilled archers and slingers, and a small but elite cavalry. Priests worship gods of life and death, and spies and thieves are known to be the most skilled in the world (since arrests always lead to torture and death). Their flag is a black falcon above crossed lances on a field of gold.

Teheyen is an proud kingdom of ancient customs and honor. Their people (Humans) are tall and well-built, with long, dark (often braided) hair and pale skin. They favor metal armor and great weapons; and are feared for their heavy cavalry charges. They have several petty kings, but in the name of unity, elect a single warlord to deal with outsiders (whom they are suspicious of). Their noble bloodlines are often cursed (Vryloka), and vampire-kings are not unheard of (though unpopular with the peasants). Their lands are of high cliffs and sweeping vales; and cold, snowy winters. The gypsyish kenku peoples originated here, and although they are migratory, know this land as home. The flag of Teheyen is a red sun with a stern face on a black field.

Other Races

Goblins, Kenku, and Kobolds are common, but decentralized. They tend to inhabit the lower eschelons of society in all kingdoms (except Everbright, where they are not tolerated).

Bugbears, Dragonborn, Genasi, Minotaurs, and Shifters are rare wanderers with no lands to call their own (amongst the explored lands, anyways). They make lives for themselves as best they can; using their strengths to fill a niche in whatever land they end up in.

Changelings are known to exist, but their creature type is considered abberation. They are universally distrusted and feared across the five kingdoms, and mobs have been known to form up for the sole purpose of lynching and burning one that has been discovered.

Outside of the Kingdoms, various races exist as undeveloped smaller tribes yet undiscovered. Other races not mentioned above surely have developed elsewhere in the world, and may become fast friends or perilous enemies. Time shall tell the tale...

Recent Posts

As Anders and his friends were led out to arena's sands, he reflected on the gossip he'd overheard between two of the Sultana's guards.

One had whispered, "I cannot believe she let them go. I thought the plan was to finish them..."

The other glanced about before replying, "You weren't there. The fight was like something you've never seen. They fought like ancient heroes come to life! Nobody should have survived what hellish forces they faced. I tell you, if she had tried to have them executed, the crowd would have torn this city apart. She knew it. It was not mercy, but survival that forced the Sultana's hand. Besides, who would have attacked them?"

He coughed sharply, then quickly drew himself up straight and glanced about them again, "I mean I would have obeyed", he stressed, "and maybe a few loyal and valiant others; but I believe that many of our brothers would have fled rather than facing them..."

Anders had to smile at that, but it was short-lived. A doubt as to his own prospects began to grow in his mind as his wiser, if darker, sensabilites condisidered the situation anew.

Anders and his crew came out out of the prison entrance and onto the arena sands. The heat shimmered off the sands like a djinn's tail, and the sun bore no mercy. The stands were packed full of wretches hoping to see another such spectacle as Larissa and her men had given; but Anders knew the truth of it. Now was the time for the Sultana to reassert her power. She would do all that she could to crush him and his companions while making it look as if they had a chance.

He was happy that Larissa was free, but he knew what it meant for him. He had begun to suspect what might be in store; but when the guards handed him gear that looked like his own, but were cheap imitations instead, hastily constucted of inferior materials, his fears were realized. The Sultana held all of the cards, and this time she was playing to win. Larissa's victory had cost her too much to risk breeding hope among her people, and Anders was about to feel the tyrant's sandle on his neck to allow her to re-establish her dominance.

Some cheers went up when he and his companions were introduced. The crowd especially loved the golden dragon that he had befriended, but the priestess of iron and the dwarf cheiftan also had their fans. The crowd went silent when the opposition arrived, however.

It came not from the pens or the prison as was usually the case, but flew in from the open desert, accompanied by flocks of noisy songbirds. It was a large, lion-bodied, and winged magical-beast with the head of a human. It seemed female, but with strong, broad features that could have appeared noble, but for that maw of feline needle-teeth, those seven-inch claws, and its baleful yellow cat's eyes.

It spoke in a deep, smooth rumble, in some language that Anders could not comprehend, and the Sultana herself replied in kind. Some sort of agreement was reached and the thing cast it's malevolent gaze at his party. The signal was given, and the fight began.

It was a bloodbath. Anders was surrounded by swarms of the noisy songbirds, who went for his face and eyes with their sharp beaks. He heard rather than saw the golden dragon's death-throes in the maw of the beast. The priestess swallowed curses as she herself went down under the things deadly claws, and the dwarf lasted little longer, as his mock-greatclub shattered under the force of the first blow he delivered it.

"Who would of thought I'd be eaten by a sphinx?", he marveled when his own mock-longsword broke under him as the songbirds drove him to his back...
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The Awakening, Part III
Thorn, having learned only recently of the Sultana's "trials", resolved to rescue his friends; but he was at a loss. "I'm good in a fight," he thought, "but I am in a city with no friends, little money, and lack the power to save them". Worse, he had heard that Jak had perished; devoured in singular combat against some sort of demonic being that the Sultana used to weed out those she feared might have a chance of winning. Without his strength, Larissa, Mord, and Zaen couldn't last for long.

He knew he had done all he could, and considered turning himself in so that he could at least join them, help them, and hope that together they could fight well and long enough to earn their freedom; but he knew it was a poor plan borne of desperation. "What am I to do?", he asked, hoping for insight, divine intervention, anything.

Thorn jumped at a sudden cacophany. A brazen melody, like a sounding of trumpets made speech, interrupted his despondence. "Valor, might, fearlessness, and precious victory comes to those who bend a knee to Daeren; the God of Glory in Battle!"

Thorn looked about him franticly for its source, but the throng in the streets of the great baazar wandered by and paused irregularly before stalls selling goods; they were totally unawed by the terrific sound. "I am here, mortal", it sang, and the flaming mote he had taken from the hidden isle's ruined fortress flared brightly before him. Again, passers-by took no note.

"How...", Thorn muttered, but its harmony drowned him out. "I am all that remains of Daeren, and although the bravery and fierceness shown by your friends and yourself has been a welcome change from the imprisonment I suffered in the fallen tower, I yearn for greater acts. I want the world to know me once more!

I was a God! My existance was glorious, and my fall even moreso; but as long as this echo of me remains, there is more glory to win. And you need me as much as I need you.

I offer you this choice; be my chosen, and I will make you a master of the battlefield. Brave men will fear your coming. Great evils you will overthrow. Your name, and mine, will become legend!

Or you may return to your room, mourn your friends, dull your pain with wine, and pass from this world a shadow whilst I find another worthy enough to reclaim my glory!

Speak, Thorn. Choose your fate!
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The Awakening, Part II
Two more days and nights passed. Thorn was recovered from his ailment due in part from some foul smelling herbs he'd purchased on a foray into the baazar two days hence; the tea he'd brewed from them was fouler still, but three cups and much rest later did the trick.

He'd gathered more than remedies, however; he'd rumors and news from tavern-patrons and eager sellers and buyers in the market (a place he didn't care for; as full of rakes, sellswords, soldiers, and filchers as merchants and patrons). The press of civilization was stifling here, and as treacherous and changing as his native swamps; only far less familiar.

Often contradictory, and some too wild to be believed, he'd gathered many stories and accounts, and sorted out what he believed to be the truth.

First, Larissa, Mord, Zaen, and Jak had gotten into a fight with some guards, and were now under arrest; likely rotting in the Sultana's dungeons.

Second, the crew of The Storm Raven had been arrested and sold into slavery. Although Thorn was loathe to trust anyone for fear of his own arrest, certain contacts Thorn had developed a mutual trust with were trying to get the details regarding when they were to be sold, or who had bought them, and where they were now.

It was a time of despair and hope, of fear and learning. Thorn, although feeling far from up to the task, put his fears aside and pressed on. For his friends, for his shipmates, he felt he had little choice. Would they not do the same for him?

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The Awakening, Part I
Thorn had been bedridden for days with dysentery. The change in diet, from fresh meat and vegitation to hard tack, old fruit, and stale water had finally taken it's toll. The days he spent sweating in misery, with high temperatures tamed by the ocean's temperate breeze. The evenings were colder than those of the open sea, yet the ocean was still a moderating influence. Thorn could only imagine the hell that the desert inland must be, and wondered the sort of people who survived out there; if any.

On the evening of the third night, he felt a little better, but was surprised he hadn't heard from Larissa or his friends that had left with her. He stumbled out of bed to take a walk, get some fresh air, and hopefully get some news.

As he reached the deck, he saw that the city was sleeping; well, mostly. All was shades of black and dark blue except for a few taverns that lit up in the city's darkness like ships anchored for the evening on the open sea. Then there was the base of the mountain, where the Sultana's palace lay. He imagined he could even catch music upon the wind; so faint to almost seem imagined.

Marik and Narok manned the night watch, and he heard what could only be Skelek cursing in goblin from the crow's nest. Acknowledging their nods with his own, he walked down the gangplank and into the night.

Moments later, before he had turned the first corner, he heard before he saw a swift-moving progression of men; soldiers, as they came into view, heading directly towards the Storm Raven. Clutching his stomach in pain and feeling a sudden and desperate need to void his bowels, he could only hide and watch. The came swiftly out of the darkness into the ship's watchlights, and there must have been forty men or more, armed and armored. Skelek called out the warning only seconds before the first of the column of soldiers had rushed agilely up the gangplank.

When Marik saw their numbers, he set down his blade, and Narok did the same. Archers among the men fired warning arrows into the crow's nest, and soon Skelek scampered down the rigging unarmed. Thorn watched in agony as every member of the ship was roused, brought to the deck, and clapped in irons. He knew that now was his only chance for escape, and ran into the night, hoping to find Larissa before they found her too.

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Next game
James has (once again) offered to change his character to keep the party going without need of a fifth player. He is now a beserker, and will be the party's defender. Since his character is a primal character, it falls within the house rules for this change to occur; and I am rewarding him with a primal weapon do to his consideration.

Mark has left the gaming group in lieu of board games, so I have dropped him from the campaign. Do to personal stuff between us, he will not be coming back. That is all that needs to be said regarding this.

We are on for next Thursday, and every other Thursday after until our situation changes. I hope to see you all next game!
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Homebrew (4E)
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