Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Introduction to the Shadowend

The Shadowend is a high-fantasy setting that emphasizes traditional fairy tale, sword-and-sorcery, and folkloric themes. The Shadowend has feuding gods and godlings; a glass mountain; kings, queens, and the politics that go with them; fair elves; mountain dwarves; leshii; jotunar; giants; dragons; a city of assassins and thieves; griffonriders; wizards, witches, and mages; the sidhe; and a thousand adventures!

Civilization vs ruin is something that threads through alot of the Shadowend - and civilization is losing. The forces of ruin aren't always evil (though some are), but they are amoral and uncaring. Civilization isn't always good (though some are), and it's often domineering and restrictive. I'm not sure who I'm rooting for. There is magic. There was stronger magic in the past, but while that magic is currently lost, it is not inaccessible or unusable.

Fey and monsters are strong elements in my campaigns, as well as resurrected leavings of the Amerite Empire like the Fallen and the Black Legion. Tension between Chaos and Law is likewise influential, though neither is "right" or "wrong", and there are no overt manifestations of it in the campaign setting itself (no one worships "Chaos").

Geography: The Shadowend is a mostly temperate region in the northeast corner of what was once the Amerite Empire. To the south lies the Tehmar, a vast grassland dominated by primitive humanoid tribes and the arcane ruins of Nekkarn. The Shadowend Forest dominates the east; a trackless expanse not even the elves have fully explored. The Kameurhorn Mountains define the northern border; beyond the Horns lies the unyielding power of the High Ice and the frozen domains of its servants. West is the Shattered Sea, and beyond that the once-mighty nations of Amatheir and Bherune.

The Shadowend may be split into four sub-regions: the Near North; Utgard; the Woodmarches; and the Hundred Kingdoms.
* The Near North includes the Voriskoghn, wherein dwell the Vorisk and the Vanar; the city-state of Gaidrilar, the City of Coins; the mage-city of Innergild and the realm of Dore; the dwarven greathall of Arthringlaur and its tributary realm of Kameurgard; and Keldruag tribes of Keldru.
* Utgard includes the eastern Kameurhorns; Tuonela, the realm of the Black Sorcerers; the wasted land of Kaulderzhun; Jarnwold, the stronghold of the Iron Witches; and countless miles of swamps, fens, forests, mountains, and moors.
* The Woodmarches are in many ways the front lines of civilization against the forces that would bring ruin, and include the kingdoms of Larenyss, Roen, Coedalan, and Guanes; the near-fey realm of Shalanholt; the goblinoid stronghold of Old Sarn; the ruins of Asavar; dwarven Tarandrellur and the remnants of the elven realm of Illendia.
* The Hundred Kingdoms of the Taras Penninsula are the gateway to the civilized west, and include the fey redoubt of Wythin Wood; sinister Blackgate; the matriarchal tyranny of Orbor; imperial Triumport, still courting Amerite favor; wizard-ruled Starfell; and the slave-trading merchants of Chollor.

History: The rule of Law peaked in the Shadowend nearly a thousand years ago, with the rise of the Amerite Empire. When the Dragon Throne weakened, though, the peoples of the Shadowend were among the first to tear free, beginning a long period of anarchy and conflict as petty warlords, princelings, and kings fought for control. Eventually, the kingdoms of Larenyss, Arramor, Dore, Sarn, Sieriven, and Asavar coalesced from the chaos. That respite was brief, however, as Sarn fell to goblinoid hordes, and Sieriven to the divisive manipulations of the Crone Goddess Kajalla. Arramor split apart, its western reaches forming the country of Roen, Romagna, and the Forest of Eoghin.

The Second Speaking of Te ushered in a new Age of the Wyrld. Divine bonds were casted off, and many remnants of past Ages surfaced for the first time in millenia. Asavar fell to a plague of monstrous creatures, though the survivors rebuilt as the kingdom of Coedalan. Innergild seceded from Dore, and Dore itself was hit by waves of orc hordes, devastated the country and reducing it to a shadow of its former self. The fey Queen of Larenyss disappeared, then reappeared, unaged, forty years later, instigating a war of revolution that irrevocably weakened the Griffon Throne, established the palatinate state of Guanes, and led to the recovery and resettlement of parts of Sieriven as Shalanholt. The sidhe returned to the Shadowend, bring a new complication to the lives of elves and men alike.

The Taras Penninsula remained relatively unchanged this whole time, insofar as that change and revolution was the order of the day. Petty states rose and fell, eventually leading to the current major realms of Orbor, Triumport, Chollor, the Open Halls, Bellararan, Archen, Starfell, and Vaena (plus the ungoverned Marchlands, and a host of minor realms - many no larger than a tower keep and some farmland).

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