A Very Condensed History of the Campaign
It is the dawn of what the priests are insisting it is the 4th era. Two years ago, the rituals that activated the ancient travel circles were rediscovered, and now is the time that the races of man are to start taking back the world from the forces of shadow and darkness.
The races of man – civilization – currently exist in cities and city states dotting the long western coastline of the continent. The interior of the continent has been abandoned by Man for the last three hundred years, and is believed now to be ruled by the monstrous worshippers of the Shadowlords.
The civilized world is made up of two groups who still view each other with suspicion.
The first group is made up of the tribes of Men who now have the oldest ties with this land. They were not worshippers of the Twelve Gods, and had no knowledge of the Shadowlords. They drew their power from primal forces and worshipped a being they call the White Lady. They call themselves “The Abandoned”. They claim that in the oldest times there was a great catastrophe. Most of the tribes of the world were taken away to another place for safety by their gods. But there was no time to save everyone. Those left behind, the Abandoned, were saved by the intervention of the being they call the White Lady. They have always been few in number, and have lived along the coast for some thousands of years. During that time, they became aware of other forces for good and evil, but mostly they lived simple lives, seeking to preserve the sanctity of the land.
The second group were colonists who came from what they call “the Old World”. Four hundred fifty years ago, a gate was discovered on their world. Those that explored it discovered a world on the other side that appeared to be free of the monstrous worshippers of the Shadowlords. A program of colonization was started. The gate was kept secret from the agents of the Shadow empires in hopes that this new world could be settled by the “good” races, and become a sort of paradise.
This worked for a while until disaster struck. Something was done to the gate that rendered it one way only – people could go to the new world but not return. There was no way to communicate across the gate. The Old world kingdoms gave up the colonization program and stopped hiding and defending the gateway. The Shadow empires marched to it with armies in great numbers and invaded the new world.
The colonists were taken by surprise by this invasion. They had little warning, and only the unfamiliarity the invaders had with the new world allowed the colonists to attempt an escape. They fled into the mountains on a recently discovered trail. It took them to an incredible natural structure.
The Landbridge was an indestructible span of black stone, a half mile wide and almost fifty miles long. It crossed a vast gorge that split the land, as if some giant hand in the past had torn the mountain chain in half, but this one point had resisted separating, and instead had stretched out like pulled taffy.
On the other side of the Landbridge was the lands patrolled by the tribes of Abandoned, and they chose to befriend the colonists and guide them the rest of the way through the mountains to the coast where they resettled.
This exodus was three hundred years ago, and during that time, the only parts of the interior that was fully explored was the trail back to the Landbridge. There, defences were set up to keep the monstrous races from crossing. There were some settlements along the trails between the Landbridge and the coast but they remained small, as the route was wild and dangerous.
For three hundred years, the races of Man, tribal and colonist together, have been rebuilding on the coast. The colonists, calling themselves the Free Folk now, built navies to explore the ocean and seek out other lands in this new world.
During this time, the Abandoned also taught the Free Folk about the Summerland and the Winterfell – planes that had never been accessible from the old world. The priesthood of the Twelve Gods have resisted giving any trust to stories about the White Lady, the Summer Queen, and the Dark Sister, though they can’t deny the strangeness of the changing seasons – another difference from the world they knew.
In the last fifty years before the fourth era, the exploring ships have found other races that are not of Man. Settlements of strange beings calling themselves “Dragonborn” were discovered, and trade was established. These Dragonborn claimed to serve two of the long forgotten Elder gods – something else that shook the priesthoods of the Twelve – whose Gods refused to answer questions about this new world.
The ships also made contact with other civilizations of Men, isolated pockets that had gathered by race and who were bent towards evil – worshipping beings from other planes that seemed as bent on enslaving man as the Shadowlords themselves. These places have mostly been shunned except by the occasional group of sea-faring adventurers out to find lost treasures.
Over the three hundred years since the exodus across the Landbridge, efforts were made to spy on the Shadowfolk invaders. Unlike their kin in the old world, some of the monstrous races had settled into the abandoned colonial cities and formed civilizations of their own. Many of the original colonists had not managed to escape and now served as slaves to these fledgling empires. For many years now the priests of the Twelve Gods had been proclaiming how it was the duty of Men to free their brethren, be they human, elf, dwarf, etc. But the fear was that with such great numbers against them, any attempt to free their kin would only serve to lead the monster races through the wards and illusions that had hidden the Landbridge from them.
Then, a discovery was made. In ruins from what the tribal peoples claimed was the time before they were abandoned, magical circles were found. They were similar to the circle that had brought the colonists to this new world, but on a smaller scale. The first circles were discovered in ruins on Vann Island. Then similar circles were found in ruins near a tribal settlement in the interior. It took the combined efforts of the priests of Gemen and Caprus but a way to link the circles was discovered, allowing for instant travel.
With this discovery, a new mission was born. Adventurers who had previously only gone out looking for treasures from the ancient ruins dotting the world, now sought after lost transport circles. The hope was to rediscover enough of the old system of circles to allow small groups to sneak into the interior and start to free their kin from slavery, and perhaps, to eventually reclaim the world for the Twelve Gods.