Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Age of Strife - A Brief History

Warning: the following may be incomprehensible to those not intimately involved in the actual campaign (and may be borderline incomprehensible to those who are!) Ironically some of my old players from the 90's will probably recognize many names and events....including some of their own characters.....Anyway, it's for me, to keep it for posterity where I like posting stuff. You have been warned!

Keepers of Lingusia
The Age of Strife
AW 2090 – the Grand Reboot

Campaign Overview:

   The world of Lingusia, in the year 2,090 AW, as it exists after the events set in motion by the agents of the god of time, Huaarl and his seraph Aeon. In this timeline the future Unarak was stopped from corrupting the timeline and destroying the “fabric” of the cosmos. Hyrkania is a strong empire, which has recently weathered the War of Strife initiated by the vile occultists of the Red Robes against the immortal avatars Phyxillus Usyllyses and Gilrad Hyradson. In this era the schemes of the disembodied spiri t of the Champion of Chaos, Xauraun Vestillios are directed in a manner different from that which has happened in prior timelines as the collapse of the Era of Prophecy by the changes wrought by the Chrononauts of Huaarl have insured that the gradual weakening of the contemporary deities did not come to pass, and the schemes of the Skaeddrath have been set back centuries, if not millennia.

   Key elements of this era include the following:

Hyrkania is still a strong empire though civil strife in Sendral and along the coast of the Inner Sea, as well as the constant warfare with local tribes to protect the empire’s interests along the Hettanar border and the trade routes through Amech to the east keep military forces otherwise engaged.

Major heroic personalities are prominent in this period: Catea Gonn Aleric, the necromancer madame of Octzel is active and scheming, though she is now free of being a pawn to the Prophecy which has been thwarted by the Chrononauts. Margda Dan Malik, Davin Kormak, Sylas Nathylien, Teylayurana Sorinos, Celiobantes Astiriate, the venerable Wormie Vellsoth, Dihralk Nephu, Netharien Ariel, Selene, undead Quirak and many more are active in this era.

 Because the Era of Prophecy was erased from the timeline, certain key events did not or will not happen, including the “Great Anvil” event which created the small moon/god Poltrietie. Poltrietie, hatched from a seed of the World Tree, is instead to be carried to its desintation, located deep in the Great Plains of the heart of Lingusia, where it will forge the new World Forest it was intended to. The seed does more than just create a vast forest, it also “terraforms” the land, and it will create a vast new realm of wilderness which the elves who seek to bring Poltrietie into the world intend to colonize.

The War of Strife after 2,090

With no Era of Prophecy in place, the ruse that the Skaeddrath created to disembody the power of Chaos as a trick to persuade the gods of order to depart from this plane of existence during the future event of the Reckoning is not happening. Though this event began in 2116, the events which set it in motion began much earlier, and the War of Strife was at least partially instigated to create the necessary weakening of the bond between chaos and the Abyss, to allow the Skaeddrath’s followers (the Prehunates) to push the dominions of chaos and the Abyss away to insure the prophecy would happen. Since this did not come to pass, the War of Strife instead transpired as a result of the rise of King Makhorven and House Strallikus to power in Hyrkania, leading to the first attempt of King Makhorven in the south to usurp the rule of the emperor Patraeus. Without the Prehunates guiding this process, the abyssal realm remained tethered to Chaos, and as a result the war proved both bloodier and costlier in lives; the conflict raged from 2,085 through the end of 2,089, ending only when the armies of Hyrkania, led by the avatars Gilrad and Phyxillus directly sieged the city of Hyrendan and Blackholm, bringing them  down. Both cities are now occupied and under the care of General Aserius as of 2,090 and King Makhorven is in chains in the dungeons beneath his own city. A new insurgency is brewing, though. Meanwhile, demons unleashed through the magic of Belasco Strallikus still roam the world freely and a bounty on their destruction stands for any bold enough to try for it.

The Prehunates in 2,090

Another side effect from the erasure of the Era of Prophecy was the prehunates: Diannysos, Eskandar and Zelkarod did not awaken during the first phase of the prophecy to aid in pushing through the decades-spanning plot and ritual necessary to insure the weakening of divine power that would allow the Skaeddrath to begin their escape from imprisonment. Instead, each of these three potent pre-human sorcerers still exist with separate agendas, as follows:

Diannysos: awakened from her ages-long slumber by Kadantanian renegades, Diannysos currently dwells in a lost city deep in Chigros as she gathers resources and restores her ancient power. She is the most dangerous of the three, for it was her knowledge of the old prophecy that allowed her to act to commit to the ultimate revenge of the Prehunates against the gods, so her future plans inevitably must include new and dire schemes against the deities which destroyed her people.

Eskandar: in this era he remains a Vestige, a hollow shell of his own existence serving only to commit terrible murder in the Dreamlands. His legacy from long ago, in which Seven demon lords were each bound to the Amulet of Eskandar to protect a portion of his soul remains undiscovered. The amulet still resides scattered across the material plane and the Abyss, it’s power to restore Eskandar forgotten.

Zelkarod: dwelling in physical form deep in Ashturak’s Mountains, Zelkarod has not ascended to power as a demiurge and remains a stoic keeper of one of the only intact ruins of the dead race of Prehunates. His existence is a mystery to most, though the followers of Hodon Systalien know of him and have visited his domain in their quest for knowledge.

The Fall of the Shadow Gods – Almost Erased from History

Unarak was the demiurge manifestation of Anharak, the half-orc warlord who sought sorcerous power and immortality in the 1,950’s. Unarak’s vestige was destroyed in this timeline before it could do harm, but Anharak lived to fight his war against the Silver Dwarves. Anharak was slain by an unknown hero who fought in the battle, where his body was interred, just as he had in the prior timeline. How and when he awakens as an undead lord remains unknown at this time, though rumors of a vile lord of darkness named Unarak are just now surfacing in the Silver Mountains north of Covarte.

Phaedra rose to power when she murdered her mentor, the lord of shadow Avarath. Avarath did not attain power until after the Reckoning, but with no reckoning now possible the shadow god Umbras remains in power in the Shadowfell. Phaedra’s form which returned t the past was slain by Huuarl’s agents.

The only deity of the Shadow Gods to still hold potential power at this time is Amadan, who appears to be an ancient god, possibly the direct child of Wolfon and an unknown goddess. Amadan is only worshipped at this time by remote tribes in the Chigros wilderness.

Xauraun Vestillios, Corrigan and Laikhanamen – Great Changes

The destruction of the Prophecy which created the new timeline led to a change in the events during the rise of Corrigan the Witch Queen. In the original timeline her quest for power Corrigan thought to possess the unfathomable knowledge of the Orb of Oblivion, only to discover that it was too much for even a demigoddess to bear. In the course of these events Xauraun Vestillios returned to power when his immortal soul awakened in its newest incarnation, only to be slain and trapped in a soul gem by Black Annis. This entrapment would insure he could not reincarnate, but Xauraun figured out how to forge the gem into a ruby golem body. He was ultimately stopped and dismembered by Aurumurvox, though not before slaying Corrigan in spite.

In the new timeline, Xauraun escaped imprisonment entirely because he had an ally in the form of Tyriandras Gonn Holivarnen, a sorceress and regent of Kymir who assumed control of the city when House Strallikus allied with King Makhorven and was exiled to avoid facing the direct wrath of the Empire for treason. Behind the scenes Tyriandras  Gonn Holivarnen was deeply enmeshed in sorcerous studies and she learned of the legacy of the Champion of Chaos, seeking him out to aid in his schemes to her benefit. Because of this action, a series of very different events transpired as follows:

First, Corrigan the Witch Queen returned from her exile in the Feywild with her visions of power and revenge. However, without the vision of the prophecy she was not tricked into taking the course of action that would lead to the Champion of Chaos from being effectively removed from the scene….another action which kept the bond of Chaos to the world strong. Instead, Corrigan brought the uneelie back into the world with her, and began a quiet war against the fair elves of Sylvias and Niras, while offering the Ashtarth of Dahik an opportunity to restore their connection to the feywild. This action led to an even greater strengthening of the bonds of chaos as dark elves were allowed to reenter the feywild for the first time in two thousand years. This war is ongoing.

The Lich King, Laikhanamen, realizing his exiled love had returned, redoubled his efforts to capture her once more. His forces work to retrieve her or even to make contact, but her strength with the unseelie makes it difficult.

While all this is going on, Xauraun and his beloved Tyriandras watch as King Makhorven and Strallikus cause strife within the empire, weakening it from within. Xauraun begins to quietly rebuild his power base, reaching out to old allies and new to reveal that the Champion of Chaos has returned. His cults are revived in Galonia and Persedonia. In a surprising move that take all by surprise, Xauraun relocates his center of power to a lost city of a forgotten empire deep in the Northern Wilderness, where he begins to gather an army of gnolls, orcs and giants to conduct a new war in the north, even as Tyriandras works to sew chaos from within the Empire itself. The War of Strife is seen as a sacrifice, a perceived victory by order that is really an increase in the influence of chaos….

Saurpikan and the Serpent men of Hazer-Phennis

Without the prophecy to influence him, Saurpikan chooses a more refined course of action. As he sees the dark elves of Dahik brought back into the courts of the unseelie to sew chaos in the Feywild and the human civil war within Hyrkania unfold Saurpikan decides to commit to a new action in which his people will thrive. Polymorphed agents are sent out to infliltrate Hyrkania, replacing soldiers and civilians lost in battle as well as ashtarth, to seek to influence the rival enemies from within. Saurpikan continues to cast about for a great sign that will aid his people, and he does learn of the seed of Poltrietie, but without the manifestation of the prophecy he is unable to act upon this knowledge. He does barter the information of the seed with the queen of Dahik, Anaxia, who in turn sets a plan in motion to thwart this divine event by the elves.

 The Avatars – Still Strong

Like with all else, the avatars of Lingusia in this age, the eponymous “Keepers” of the land chosen by the gods to serve as their spiritual representatives, continue to thrive and function.  Without the events of the Prophecy underway, the mad monk who uncovered the Infernal Book of Prophecy never created the ritual that opened the chasm to the Abyss in 1,980. This was the first weakening of the chaos boundary under the prophecy….but since it never happened, this avoided conflict ironically meant that the bind of Chaos to the Abyss remained strong.

Without the conflict that led to years of planar wandering in service to the gods, the avatars instead continued to travel the world and explore the vastness of Lingusia. Wormie Vellsoth wandered through many lands though he eventually journeyed back to the feywild, where he was entranced by the arboreal lands of the fey and spent much of his time there, not to leave until he was called once more to duty as an avatar during the War of Strife. Since his return to the mortal plane Wormie has journeyed among his wild and wood elf tribes, seeking to spread the word of the faerie homeland to them and the connection to the weirding that elves have all but lost.

Phyxillus Usyllysses and Gilrad Hyradson continued as the immortal emperor and empress of the great empire for decades after the fall of Xauraun in 1,962. In this timeline things changed ever so slightly; the two did not conceive a son who they raised to become a new, young emperor that would eventually fail, for they had been warned of the dark times ahead by the two chronomancers and servants of Huuarl as to their potential fate (Pennywhistle the bard and the monks Horus and Aman). So warned, the two elected to step down from the throne, appointing the rule of Hyrkania to the young cousin of Anander Usyllyses after the elder emperor passed away. Anander’s cousin was Tyberus Usyllyses IV, a man who had served as both an Emerald Knight and fought in the brief border wars with Octzel around 1,980 AW. Tyberus and his clan assumed the rule of the empire, and the avatars stepped away, to wander the planar realms with their cohort Wormie and the elven avatar Selene Fairchild. They would not return until the War of Strife, when called upon by the gods to defend the land once more. In time the two did have children, and in fact raised an impressive family in the lands of Arborea, in the barony of the Ghaele Asualdon. Phyxillus and Gilrad reappeared, no longer as rulers of the land but as holy avatars, to fight at the front of the battle. With Gilrad stood his two strongest children, Denarchus and Tyriadne Gilradson-Usyllyses; in a twist of irony it was Denarchus who took after his mother as a natural spellcaster, and Tyriadne who found the heft of a sword more to her liking as was her father’s proclivity.

When the War of Strife ended, Gilrad and Phyxillus retired back to Asualdon in Arborea, but their eldest children saw fit to continue to explore the mortal plane from which their heritage came, as half-elves are always prone to inquisitiveness.  Tyriadne has sworn her sword to Emperor Patreus Usyllyses, great-grandson of Tyberus, and Denarchus has gone to study under the tutelage of the immortal Hodon Systalien, to learn of the Esoteric Order of Knowledge.


  1. Very nice piece! I am assuming the Chrononauts are the actual player characters. Unfortunately it seems their efforts to change the world have resulted in one that is different, but perhaps not better.

    1. Absolutely....the chrononauts were the regulars for Saturday night from 2010-2012. Technically the world is a better place than the one they adventured in in the 3,500 era of the future....their world had cthulhoid kaiju wandering the oceans and was facing an imminent apocalypse, after having barely survived a zombie apocalypse. It put the "crapsack world (ala TVtropes)" into the truest definition of the word! So yeah, it may sound bad above but it was worse before....