CONTINENT OF ALARIANATIONS OF ALARIA.
The five nations of Alaria are the central focus of all events major or minor. Within the Kingdoms of Alaria events are not so peaceful, stable or civil.
Black Kingdom of Khaelesh.
The Black Kingdom of Khaelesh is named for its master. Through not the largest of the Kingdoms it is by a significant margin the most dangerous of them all. Its Borders are protected by great armies and walls. The magicians of Khaelesh’s order serve to reinforce his lines wherever they lay. There have been nine incursions by Khaelesh into the other Kingdoms, each more devastating than the last and only the combined might of all four other Kingdoms have kept him from overrunning them completely.
The Black Kingdom is highly mountainous and is fairly diverse as far as terrain goes though it is known his kingdom has no desert or swamps it is known that he has forests and plains and believed he has tundra lands as well. Just about all the races believed to be considered evil have found their homes within the Black Kingdom where they thrive.
Periodically Khaelesh flexes his muscle and sends an army to do whatever it feels like to its immediate neighbours.
Royal Kingdom of Alvias
The kingdom of Alvias is the Black Kingdoms nearest neighbor and has all too often borne the brunt of Khaelesh’s assaults. Indeed, over the centuries the Kingdom has suffered under the influence of the Overlord so greatly that it has never fully recovered from any of Khaelesh’s major incursions. All its cities are walled with high walls and its fortresses are built tall. And yet, they are hasty constructions built more with speed than skill, many of their cities and fortifications are thus falling apart, their Capital City Alvi, has its entire north wall basically crumbling, it is said that it can lose a foot of height in any heavy rain. But few put stock in that.
The Kingdom of Alvias is ruled by Queen Mehrana Kindos, though her rule is unpopular and many of the people don’t feel that she is strong enough to defend their borders against Khaelesh’s predations. The population is varied but mostly Elf, Dwarf and Human stock with some small quantities of the demihuman races. When preyed upon the Kingdom of Alvias however typically summons its armies to its crumbling fortifications to try and hold them while not even attempting to stop the enemy burning the rest of their Kingdom.
For all their experience in war against the Overlord they have suffered too much under Khaelesh’s hand to grow strong and in fact have grown weak and fearful of war. While they can fight, and fight fanatically, they would strongly prefer flight to fight. They’re a people deathly afraid of Overlords and what they’ve done to the Kingdom.
Empire of Bratei
The Empire of Bratei is a strong country, a Southern Kingdom bordering the Kingdom of Alvias. The Bratei Empire has numerous treaties with Alvias but is growing increasingly discontented with its neighbor and its tendencies to hide in their cities and castles whenever feet rumble in the Black Kingdom. A proud righteous people they take faith in the Celestial Realms very seriously and are often the homeland for the few Guardians that patrol the world. And indeed. The Emperor of Bratei himself is said to hold a treaty with the Celestial realm for troops from the heavens whenever Khaelesh begins another incursion.
But Bratei for all its pride and strength hides foundations of sand. The people of Bratei are fearful of the Church’s power and influence and its tendency to conduct routine purges of the lower cities of all its ‘heretics’ loosely defined as any homeless, beggars, cripples or other such ‘dregs’ of humanity.
There is also always talk of corruption in the Imperial Court and the Inquisitors of the Church hover silently watching for any signs but the corruption eats deep within all the institutions, Khaelesh has grown bored with the failure of direct assaults and has contented himself with seeding the Empire with agents to undermine it from within.
Kratocracy of Deimos
The Kratocracy is a militaristic nation to the North of Bratei, this strong proud people are staunch avowed enemies of Khaelesh. Their warrior culture is the envy of the free Kingdoms and they don’t lightly tolerate trespass on their lands. They are ruled by Kratarch Ashzlan Grindhold, the former Clan Chief of the Grindholds his ascension to Kratarch was not without scandal. Even now there are those in the lower clans who believe that Ashzlan purchased his place as Kratarch with funds from the Black Kingdom.
The people of Deimos are proud and typically slow to listen or heed rumour which is why the very scandal of Ashzlan becoming Kratarch is taken with such seriousness by the people of Deimos, the country is on the verge of civil discord and war over the issue though both sides of the argument have their eyes firmly on the Black Kingdoms border, though at a boiling point it is clear to any who cared to see that, push come to shove, an incursion or action by the Overlord would re-unite the country against him.
The Kratocracy is old and is beginning to show its wear at the seams. There are those who look at the Kratocracy and are beginning to wonder how long the warlike nation can continue to weather the assaults of Khaelesh before the warrior spirit is crushed for good.
Kingdom of Lleywon
The kingdom of Lleywon is the backbone of the alliance against Khaelesh’s predations and is the largest of the four kingdoms. It shares no border with Khaelesh’s realm but is the first to send troops whenever Khaelesh’s armies are on the move. The people of Lleywon are strong moral people who believe strongly in the Celestial Realms, though they don’t have any direct contact such as that Bratei is said to have it does have some of the finest cathedrals in the world.
The armies of Lleywon are heavily reinforced with the finest Centaur Cavalry in the world known as the Silver Charges of the Priest-King. Which brings us to the next point, the Kingdom of Lleywon is entirely ruled by its clergy. Their greatest rank is that of Priest-King and this man rules the kingdom with an iron grip. Free of the Overlord Khaelesh’s border they have a strong sense of independence and the kingdom isn’t plagued by discord and trouble that has been infecting the others for the past several decades. But its people are also largely overconfident and headstrong. Unlikely to call for help due to their pride it may be what destroys them.
But Overlords should beware. The kingdom of Lleywon if roused to a threat is quick to anger and retaliate. And will do so strongly.
There are many other powers in the world. The one you are most familiar with are the Overlords and Guardians and their influence and strength can often be felt far from their domains.
Overlords are beings of undiluted evil. Their sole goals are to further their own desires and ambitions. Overlords range quite far in their natures. Some are great wizards ruling from their towers seeking ancient and very forbidden knowledge, others are Beasts, intelligent but dedicated to unbridled violence for sport and plunder, yet others are the dark whispers in the ears of those too weak to resist their advances furthering some political ambition. In any case, an Overlord will have their lair and an army of servants to make their will known, and felt.
There is no “chicken/egg” argument with Overlords and Guardians. The Overlords came first and in all cases Guardians have risen to challenge them. Usually with some event in their history at the hands of an Overlord these people rise above the others with gifts from the gods granting them power beyond that of normal mortal ken and even physical abilities. Guardians are dedicated wholly to stopping the Overlords from whatever it is the Overlords plan on doing. These people are generally considered to be holy and virtuous. And indeed most, but not all, are.
The Celestial Realm, The Heavens, The Light Beyond, this is the realm of higher beings commanded by the gods of the holy realms. They are the ‘good’ guys and have been fighting an ancient war against the Infernal realms and its own gods. The Angels and all their kind serve the Gods with slavish devotion. One commonality between the Angels and Demons is the arrogance of their kind. An Angel’s sense of honour and devotion are seen as beyond reproach and they will not consider any action that will violate it.
Specifically. Angels of any stripe will not do anything they feel is beneath them. If an Overlord charges your castle wall with an army of peasants at spear point, the Angels will not participate. The same as Angels see battle as honourable and will not participate if they would render a battle imbalanced in their favour. The only exception is when Demons take to the battlefield. When demons take to the field you would in fact find it difficult to restrain the Angels from joining the battle against the demons.
The Infernal Realm is the dark mirror of the Celestial Ream. The apparently permanent subterranean cavern, flames, the frozen reaches and so on all stretch out to make the Infernal plains. Within them the dark gods scheme and plot amongst themselves and grant rewards to those who prove their devotion to them. Their eternal war with the heavens almost entirely compels their actions. As with angels demons are almost all universally arrogant and won’t do anything they consider beneath them. Though of unbelievable cruelty they have their foibles.
An example is how a demon will not attack something if victory is overwhelming. A Higher Demon for example would refuse to attack a half dozen peasants defending a village. It would be beneath him, a Higher Demon killing peasants would be sullying its reputation. Demonic Infantry also refuse to fight peasants other non-military targets. This honour and pride in their abilities is a strange match for the angelic, but, in inverse, if an Angel takes to the field, regardless of how many or its rank, a commander would find themselves stretched to prevent the demons from taking to the field against them. The only exception being if the Demons think that they would be overwhelmed. Demons are far less interested in martyrdom and self sacrifice than angels and if a battle looks to be beyond any hope of victory they will flee the field.
And additional warning. Demons are as difficult to control as any Angel, but Angels will eventually bow to authority, or give their leave and return from whence they came. An overlord (or anyone else) who loses control of their demons can expect immediate attack by them as the Demons fight to erase the offence of having to serve what they feel is a lesser beast. Daemonbreed are less likely to have their authority questioned, but a Daemonbreed Overlord or Overduchess has to get used to the fact that the Daemons will only ever refer to them by the term halfbreed.
PEOPLE OF IMPORTANCE
The cities across the breath of Alaria, excepting the Black Kingdom, all have their criminal underclass, and they have, over the centuries, come together to form a pseudo-shadow government. Each city has its own thieves guild that runs crime in the city run by a man who runs under a title of his choosing. From the Upright Man in Lleywon’s capital of Seras Ven to the Sewer King of Bratei’s fort city of Excos. The leaders of each nations capital form the High Council of Thieves, and indeed, almost all information in the world passes across those networks. And more importantly is how hard they are to root out, and the fabulous costs for information or services. While lesser guilds may be found in the services of the Overlords from time to time, the Thieves Council protects its own secrets far more closely.
There are those in the world whose presence is far and above beyond normal understanding. Beings whose name is known by all, and feared or loved by many.
The Gods and the Magic of Good.
There is no name in the world more feared than his. He is the Overlord who four thousand years ago rose from nothing with an army of the damned and waged war across the length and breadth of Alaria. He forged his kingdom in blood and sacrifice with a measure of guile. He is believed to have once been a human overlord but not are too sure what he is now for he has not been seen outside of the Black City in three millennia. Though his orders, and magic, are felt far beyond his palace walls.
Khaelesh is the first and only Overlord to date that no Guardians have been capable of suppressing or slaying and indeed, most have given up attempting to strike at the Overlord directly, his city protected by unnamable beasts and an army of the unliving said to be a million strong. Though his actions are no longer by mass but by guile most worry about his goals and predations.
More feared is the knowledge that he monitors and watches all the Overlords active in Alaria. And when their actions please him he is known to hand out material rewards to those Overlords. Though when he feels that they, and their actions, are beginning to pose a threat it is said he stomps those Overlords into the ground.
The world has its guardians. The Gods who stand against the evil that has been plaguing the land for millennia. Or more.
For good, or ill, the Gods cannot however directly interact with the world. Whether it is beyond their capabilities or the result of some ancient pact none can say, and none do, but this leaves the Gods, beings of power, unable to interfere directly in the affairs of mortals except through the Guardians of Good, mortals born with an innate connection to the gods.
Unfortunately, or so it would seem, this means that the very use of their spells requires the permission of the Gods before it will be used. However so long as that use of power does not harm an innocent or being of good persuasion there the gods will rarely refuse a Guardian the use of the powers granted to him (or her).
However, where an evil being will find that their powers wane and become difficult to use when they approach the threshold of exhaustion a being of Good can still call upon the Gods and be granted the ability to cast their abilities.
The gods however have a strict set of definitions that make an innocent or being of good. An innocent is anything that is not able to understand the morality, or such, of what they do. A boar, or snake or other animals are innocents, even the Unicorns so prized are innocents incapable of comprehending the morality of what they do and are. And a being of good is a being, be it human, elf, centaur or dwarf that is capable of understanding the nature of Morality and chooses to do good instead of give in to the ‘easy’ path.
But the Gods are not naive and foolish. They will not deny an agent of good the chance to strike down a creature of evil just because the creature has an blade to the throat of an innocent. No, they will grant the Guardian the use of their powers to slay the being of evil, but to protect the innocent from the power at the same time. For a Bolt of Divine Intervention, or Holy Fire for example are not true lightning and fire but raw manifestations of the gods power for good and those of good alignment or innocence cannot be harmed by such.
The Black Path and its Sorceries.
The powers of evil are known by most, if not all, as the black path. None can say from where the power of the black path stems. Only that it is known that its power is the will of its users. All followers of the Black Path serve themselves and none other. Though they are known to consort with the demons who, like the gods, cannot exist on our plane of existence the followers of the Black Path are not dependent upon such beings for power. And at no times can any being deny a follower of the black path the use of their abilities.
But the nature of the Black Path is one of greed and evil. This does not lend well to altruistic uses, and most powers that can be seen as good come at far too high a price, to heal a being takes ten times the amount of life force a follower of the Black Path might attempt to heal. Typically their own injuries or that of their valuable Lieutenants if they possess such a talent, which many if not most do not.
But, despite many centuries, even millennia, of study none can seem to discover the source of the Black Path’s power without first walking down that road. And even then they have to have had the nature and talent to do so before even beginning such an attempt. The compulsive power of the black path however is corrupting and a follower of the Black Path can never leave it without being slain. It is said that upon the moment of death they can beg the forgiveness of the gods and be redeemed.
Portal Gates and the Wild Energies.
Across the world there are points where the world has been rent asunder by the devices called Portal Gates. Devices of power connected to the Guardians and Overlords in a manner not even remotely understood. There are two classifications of Portal Gates.
The first is the Master Gates. These are controlled and ‘safe’ gates. These are the Gates that form the heart of Sanctuaries and Lairs. These Gates while smaller than the Wild Gates don’t generate the hellish conditions present around the Wild Gates. They size of the gate however controls the amount of traffic through them. But a Master Gate can easily fit ten men abreast through it at a time. Though the larger creatures, such as Treemen and Giants have to either bend down or crawl through depending on the Sactuary/Lair. Unlike a Wild Gate a Master gate can only store the Lair or Sanctuaries master’s pattern. Hence the name Master Gate.
The second is the Wild Gates. Powered by the unknown called Wild Magic control of these gates is not a permanent thing. People have tried to control the Wild Gates both with power and with simple military control. But all attempts to do so seem to trigger a hostile response from the very ground near the Wild Gates. Fortifications will be heaved into the air on spikes of stone, tents torn apart by tempests and generally anything close is obliterated. They Gates allow themselves to be used. But they do not allow themselves to be controlled by any power.
The Nature of the Gates and their Use
Gates are powerful artefacts, but it remains a fact that an Overlord or Guardian cannot use a gate they have not personally visited and ‘touched’ with their power. When Initialising a Portal Gate the gate stores the energy pattern of the Overlord or Guardian in question allowing the Gate to be used by that individual to travel to any other gate they have also initialised. The uniting factor, the individual in question must have been in contact, physically, with both gates while wielding power at some point.
Once a gate has been initialised it is initialised for that user permanently, almost every gate has thousands of stored patterns within itself and the number grows every time an Overlord or Guardian initialises one, when using a gate however the Overlord or Guardian is funnelling their power into the gate. As such the Overlord or Guardian must be the last through the gate. The only exception is the Master Gates of which are only ever keyed to a single master at a time.
When using a Portal Gate the colour of its energy changes to reflect the power and alignment of those travelling within. A large army of evil will be a bright incandescent red, a small army of good would be a pale but clearly defined blue. But the Wild Gates have an extra issue. They cannot be held, defended or destroyed. There is a 2 League ‘exclusion zone’ around the Wild Gates, if any life remains any longer than 12 hours within the zone the Wild Gates begin to evict them. Even the most powerful Overlords and Guardians cannot resist the threat of the Wild Gates magic.