The dwarves are driven from their Silver Mountains by a horde of orcs under the reign of Anharak, the mad warlock half-orc who aspires to be a great champion of chaos. The adventurers could be caught in this conflict (which starts around 1,930) or they could be entering some years later (1,960 on) when the take over is complete, seeking lost treasure or vengeance.
This campaign revolves around the Silver Dwarves who have discovered the ruins of the ancient subterranean prehunate city and set about colonizing the remains, to make a home for themselves after the invasion by the half-orc warlock Anharak in to their own Silver Mountains
Ocrist was eventually enslaved, possibly by his own demon kin, but this exile of the Abyss stormed the world for a time, causing a great deal of trouble among men and beast. His rebellion against all beings both divine and abyssal led to many unusual tales, and the full story of his later imprisonment remains untold.
Kalorik is a tough city on the edge of a great desert, and its leader did much to stir the pot in the region. Kalorik eventually fell, though none know the full tale of how or why this city came to ruin and was subsequently never inhabited.
Often hinted at but rarely explored, the mystery surrounding the Belphegor cults has only been touched upon, as has its origins in the ancient Kadantanian Empire which once encompassed the vast expanse of the Amech Jungles. More about this ancient cult of semi-human sorcerers and their obsessive worship of the dark demon god could be uncovered, as could more about the relic city of Ur, and its mysterious dragon guardians, including Barachaunus the wingless green dragon lord. More too could be revealed of the mysterious baltorklani ape men, about which little is known.
During this era several heroes were beseeched to visit the tombs of the fallen gods, those deities who had lost their mortal forms in the War of the Gods. Being gods, the loss of an aspect’s mortal flesh was no great burden to them, but these bodies were nonetheless honored greatly and buried in the Tomblands of the Mountains of Madness. In this time, several tombs were visited, and many more remain undiscovered. Some of the history that could be repeated or has yet to be discovered includes:
Slithotep’s Tomb: Slithotep the mad god has always been tethered to the mortal plane it seems, and his consciousness was somehow cognizant of Wormi’s attempts to penetrate its secrets. Others may yet arrive to do so; like so much of this god, his very tomb morphs and changes over time, to lure more unwitting souls to their doom within.
Tomb of the Nameless One: Gilrad and his crew entered this ancient tomb after a vision from the god compelled Gilrad to take up arms in the name of the nameless Death God. He won the right of the Ruby Death by trial of combat against a skeletal giant that may have been the animated godflesh of this deity. A historical revision could include Gilrad hiring adventurers to aid him on this quest, and the subsequent discovery of other artifacts within.
The Star of Naril: This powerful artifact was located in the great temple-monument of the sun god, atop a vast pillar of stone in the Marshes of Mist. It is not certain that the temple was also a tomb to the sun god, who’se corporeal aspect was also believed slain during the War of the Gods.
Some tombs that could have been uncovered, with suitable mysteries:
The Tomb of Amasyr
The Tomb of Wishupar
The Tomb of Ailyenarion
The Tomb of Set
The Tomb of Haro
The Tomb of Hargameth
The Tomb of Baragnagor
The Temple of the Moon to Selene
There may be others; these are a suitable sampling of gods which may have had aspects that perished in the War of the Gods, and which have not yet called forth avatars of power (or which have not yet been recorded in history as having done such).
At the end of the War of the Gods, many Demon Lords had been mortally wounded or slain, but these cunning villains had conspired to preserve their dark essence within soul stones that had been culled from the branches of the World tree. These corrupted gem stones somehow got out, though the exact reasons for their distribution remain suspect. There is another story told that the surviving gods and their mortal agents bound the demons within the stones after the war to control them; to release the demon from the stone meant it could fight on, forever reincarnating in the Abyss, but so long as it’s soul essence remained within one of these stones then the demon lord could not return to the mortal plane. No one knows which story is true, exactly. Both tales agree that, should a demon’s soul stone be shattered and the demon’s physical aspect subsequently slain, then it would be doomed to reincarnate after one hundred and one years; the demon lords tended to lose power and favor in the depths of the Abyss if such an event happened, and so they avoided this fate as much as possible.
What is known is that by the Empire Era many of these stones existed and were in the hands of various sorcerers who took advantage of the demons bound within to act as servitors on the mages’ behalves. Quirak held the soul stone of Kostchie and Demogorogon, a gnoll shaman held the soulstone of Yeenoghu, Xarion held the soulstone of Orcus among others, and so forth. There are still more undiscovered, which would later be unearthed to amass the great armies of the War of Strife a hundred years hence. Some tales can revolve around the discovery and retrieval of these stones for the appropriate powers that be, or for interested benevolent agents seeking to better hide the stones from discovery.
The time when Xarion united the chaos kin under his banner from Galonia and sought to conquer all of the Middle Kingdoms is often referred to the War of Darkness. As an eternal champion of chaos Xarion is perpetually reincarnated, but his great power lay within his suit or armor, specially enchanted to contain the engrams of his total power and knowledge over the eons. Without his suit, his memories were imperfect, his power fragmented. Likewise, his counterpart, the wizard Warenis Barghest, was also fated to reincarnate forever as a champion of order. Warenis, like Xarion, sought out an instrument in which to contain his vast knowledge and power over lifetimes, and imbued his staff with this energy.
In the Empire Era, the single greatest conflict between order and chaos is about to come to pass, as Xarion reincarnates, growing up to become a potent pharaoh of the ancient Galonian civilization. He uncovers the secrets of his past, and learns that his visions of power and destiny are not merely delusions of grandeur, but visions of what has already happened. He discovered clues to the whereabouts of his armor, rune-chanted with the might of his many lifetimes, and just prior to completing the set in an excavation deep in the wilds of Galvonar he is accosted by the awakening of Warenis, who banishes both of them in order to end his madness.
In the primary backstory, Wormi, Gilrad and Phyxillus (and others) befriend the quirky and eclectic Wiziz, a hedge wizard who travels the Great Old Road, and adventure with him for a time before Wiziz is at last united with his Staff of Order and awakens to the threat of Xarion. This part of the story is well known, and some heroes might happen upon or be able to aid the legendary crew of young avatars in their adventures that have been lost to history.
The other side of the coin is more enigmatic: before Xarion awoke to his memories as Xauraun Vestillios, Champion of Chaos, he went through a lengthy period of discovery, and may have sought adventurers to aid or accompany him on his quest of discovery. Such a journey surely happened, but the details of how Xarion rediscovered his nature and subsequently his armor have yet to be told.
A third prospect for adventure involves the countless tales of heroism and combat in the middle of a time when the greatest empire of the Middle Kingdoms was suddenly threatened by overwhelming forces of darkness amassing in every dark corner of the earth. Many cities and towns were threatened with extinction in this time, and even after the war concluded when Xarion and Warenis disappeared, it was several years before the roaming orcish warlords settled down or were beaten in to submission.
For time line purposes, use the following:
1,950-1959: Xarion quests for his identity, and the forces of chaos slowly begin to stir at the sense their champion is about to return
1,960-1,962: The actual War of Darkness lasts three years, concluding with Xarion and Warenis mutually exterminating one another. The company of avatars wander through war-torn lands during this time on a quest to defeat Xarion’s demon minions and recover the Staff of Order, as well as attain their personal hero quests to become avatars.
1,963-1,970 and longer: for many years after, the chaos armies, disbanded and leaderless, still cause strife and conflict as the warlords refuse to settle, requiring armed conflict to subdue and disperse.
Other Actions in the Defeat of Xarion in the Dark War: Adventurers may be recruited to stop the machinations of Xarion and the Dark War in different ways. Assassinating or converting potential enemies who might join Xarion, finding and securing or destroying known artifacts from the era of the War of the Gods, seeking out the relic weapons from that era for aid against the forces of chaos, and uprooting the cults and cabals that have infiltrated Hyrkania are all examples of this.
During this period the heyday of the enigmatic Order of the twelve, sometimes also known as the Council of the Twelve, was in full swing. The purpose of this order was for the greatest wizards and sorcerers on the continent to gather and seek a means of affecting the future of the world in whatever manner best suited them. The Twelve, as of 1,960, consisted of the following known members:
Therias Karan, highlord of the Twelve and founder of the order; he ruled the magiocracy of Karan, the great free city of the vast central northland plains of Lingusia, ostensibly in the cultural region of Caelernin. His intentions were regarded by all as well-meaning; he was known to be an immortal, having uncovered the secrets of eternal life some centuries earlier, and that he founded the remote castle of Karan to further magical studies; in time the city proper grew up around him.
Hodon Systalien, scholar priest of Nistur and founder of the White Robes; Hodon was a silver elf of great repute, and he was regarded as venerable even in this era, having been made an avatar not long after (or possibly even during) the War of the Gods. In this era he has recently founded his keep for private study off of the edge of the Great Rift of Tragonor. Hodon’s magical power was nearly unequalled, and his academy also studied the mysteries of the god Huuarl. Though a recent member of the council as well, his admission seemed reluctant, for Hodon was not trusted by many, and his admission may have been to keep an eye on him; Karan seemed to regard him highly; when the in-fighting between members led to strife in the council, Hodon eventually left.
Anharak the Vile sought a seat of power with the Council and it was granted, partially to keep watch on him, and also because his unbelievably quick rise to power had all on the council concerned enough that it was better to keep him around than to let him go unchecked. As it turns out, they were right.
Sorcerer-King Hadanur of Hotepsala was another unlikely candidate for the Council, but his power was unrivaled and his position of authority in an ancient land where the largest single concentration of remaining Prehunate ruins could be found insured Karan wanted him somewhere visible, should Hadanur ever display true prehunate sorcery.
Quirak, Wizard-Advisor to Octzel; Quirak was born in 1,930 aw and by the age of 24 was serving as the chief wizard and advisor to Octzel’s king. Quirak’s exceptional talents earned him a position on the council, and he was trusted by all, though few suspected how manipulative he was in Octzellan and Hyrkanian politics.
The Mad Alchemist Macabath; Lurking deep in the Hexerei Mountains to the east of Jnrill, Macabath was a terror to the mountainfolk around him and famous for his terrible alchemical experiments. His exact age was unknown, but his demise was well-recorded, as he fell to Wormi’s blade.
The Necromancer Nerazasas of Takonor; Secret power behind the demon-worshipping city of Takonor, Nerazasas’s evils rarely came to direct light, but he was reknown among the wizardly community for his excellent advances in the study of magic, and held a place of esteem on the council. In later years after the fall of Takonor his association with demons and the undead became more well known, and his exact fate remained undetermined.
High Priestess Amathris of the Ashtarth; though her intentions were obviously self-serving, her mastery of magic was undeniable, and she was granted a position on the council, if only so Karan and the others could keep a close eye on her.
Xarion sought entry to the fabled council, but was denied for various reasons, and he swore he would destroy them all if they did not ultimately bow to him, sort of proving the case to the council that his denial was the right choice.
In later years, Lady Nialle (eventually to become the Lich Queen of Blackholm) would be granted a position on the Council of Twelve after Macabath was slain by Wormi. Wiziz, once revealed to be Warenis, was offered a position on the council after he defeated Xarion. He accepted, though his participation was mostly as a source of wisdom and inspiration.
The above lists eight known members, leaving four unknown for the period in question. It is generally believed that the lich king Laikhanamen was a member of the council, though he was never seen participating in any way that was documented. It is also possible that the enigmatic prehunate named
This leaves at least three unknown members of the council from this period yet to be discovered. One might be the enigmatic Atashan, the strange sorcerer-druid who dwelt in Atrin’s Woods. It is suspected by others that he may have been a former council member who left the council on poor terms, however. The last two remain undisclosed at this time.
Scenarios involving the council could revolve around several themes:
The Council is a Secret Order Manipulating History: The Council of Twelve seems to be engineering history and civilizations to some unknown end, and the PCs or their patrons may grow suspicious of this fact. The actual interference by the Council may be minimal (affecting events locally to serve their own ends) or more far reaching (social engineering to unknown purposes). The seemingly oppositional nature of the council might also suggest that the real purpose of the Twelve is simple stalemate: to make sure no one gets ahead of anyone else.
The council, in fact, has been around since before humanity, though none know this. Karan was an enigmatic figure, and unknown to all he is another immortal prehunate. Karan recreated the council from a model used in the era of his ancient, destroyed empire long ago. The purpose of the Council is, in fact, to further the goals of the prehunates: to end the ages-old war between order and chaos! To this end, it might be suggested that many of the curious coincidences that led to the manifestation of the Great Prophecies, which in turn led to the Reckoning and subsequent Cataclysm, were all manipulated in to happening by the mysterious Council…..indeed, in later centuries the Council had all but disappeared from memory, although no record of its abandonment can be found; it simply faded out of existence by the time of the Reckoning. The fact that chronomancers of Huuarl have since changed the very lynch-pin of the ritual of prophecy that set in motion such events has not yet had an impact on those wizards in the council who could sense such change.
The Council is its own worst enemy: There was clearly much in-fighting going on in the Council, as well, and it was suggested Wormi Vellsoth in later years specifically assassinated Macabath and Quirak for other council members. This may have happened elsewhere; no one knows for sure. Other assassins or adventurers might have been commissioned or pressured in to aiding one council member against another, or have been hired by a hopeful prospect seeking to make a vacancy on the council for his or her own ends.
The Council has strange goals and needs adventurers to fulfill these ends: It is likely, almost certain that one or more council members may approach adventurers in their career and send them out on strange tasks, from goals as simple as finding a lost ruin and charting its location to recovering lost artifacts, destroying a cult temple to a threatening entity, or recovering seemingly innocuous objects and returning them to the council patron in question. Many possible job prospects can come from the meddling interests of the council. These adventurers may often run in to opposition from other, similar parties hired to accomplish the same task for a differen council member, or perhaps merely to disrupt the attempted actions of the current councilman for whom the adventurers are working.