Setting and History
WORLD HISTORY The campaign begins in the kingdom of Dalasia, historically it was known as Erigain and in ancient times it included the neighboring kingdoms of Mora-Deva and the wilderness to the north into the mountains. Ongoing wars have occurred in these two regions as the high kings attempted to outdo ancestors and to expand to the whole half of the continent.
See the included map for a worldview or general layout of the world, the campaign is named after the region that player characters come from. Though historically the empire of Erigain stretched to cover most of the Continent, its center has always been the 13 kingdoms that comprise the players contemporary Erigain empire, at the time of the Fall of the empire, little record survived of the empire, and what few legends remain talk mostly of the great feats of architecture, flying cities and deep underground metropolises. The legends say that the gods were disturbed in some way, and balance was fixed by the destruction of the empire.
Ancient Erigain was forgotten by all but sages and storytellers, until a high king was empowered again two hundred years ago. The empire to the West named Mora-Deva had attacked and the kingdoms of the Erigain region pulled together under the high king and protected themselves. After peace was reestablished the Throne of The High King was relegated to a nearly powerless position, and the individual kingdoms once again minded their own affairs. Then about 100 years ago Arthus was crowned. His uncle, the former High King, lay dead. The new high king ordered meetings of the council of kings, when they met; he announced his intention to raise high the lantern of Erigain again, to rejoin the kingdoms into one Empire as they were in ancient times. Though he seemed idealistic his methods were swift and vicious, those who fought against him were shown no mercy. The initial councils of kings ended with his taking all hostages. This began the wars of succession.
Eventually in his short reign Erigain was reformed under a powerful central high king, but as was usually the case, limited changed happened at the local level. Ten years of open war between the High King and those who he asked fealty of, followed by bloody expansion along the borders into the ork lands, lands that were rightfully the provenance of Man, War and its aftermath cost the kingdom dearly, and Arthus’ grand plans of peace and progress did not come to fruition. For the last hundred years after the end of the war of succession and the Darkling wars, the whole of Erigain was controlled by the High King. Most of the kingdoms considered the fighting to be over, knowing only vaguely that the southwestern border of the United Kingdom where it meets the historical enemy land of Mora-Deva is still plagued by skirmishes.
The year in which the campaign begins is 100PA (post-Arthus, the first modern High King), and the current high king of Erigain/Dalasia is Dalus the third, eleventh high king of the modern age. The original high kings rose more than a thousand years earlier and united the lands driving out the evil ones. It should be taken as a sign of his personality that the king has declared the kingdom to have been renamed after him, and it should show a sign of the internal disharmony of the aristocracy that the 11th high king sits the throne in less than 90 years since Arthu’s death.
King Dalus III has largely been effective due to the implementation of a new order with the input of his advisor. They are forming a controlling and more egalitarian regime, confusing most people with the proliferation of something new called “administration” and “bureaucracy”… they levy fines and license fees as well as traditional taxes. Lands are now owned by the king as opposed to vassals, and many jobs previously done by serfs and managed by the barons are now done by paid servants known as administrators. Most regions in the central kingdom have ended the near slavery of serfdom, making people free from the old system but poor and causing some social upheaval.
Enabling this switch is a new kind of magic, called ‘techne’ methods and mechanisms that allow the kings administrators to do the work of many. The resultant labor surplus is used to enlarge the army, those who can’t pay taxes, who can’t maintain their status in society are labeled ‘indigent’ and forced to join the army. Many folks think these shifts are wondrous, an ambitious peasant who shows loyalty and a knack may move up in a way that historically was not possible, at the same time the new laws mean there is no draft, no quartering within peasant houses, the new grand order has eliminated many of the small injustices of peasant life.
Within the larger kingdom of Erigain/Dalasia, the Kingdom of Thale has historically been the land of free men, populated sparsely, and with a less rigid feudal order, it is where the current players have begun. Also known as the iron hills, or dragon back mountains, this region is more often a site for starting adventurers and profiteers to wander around, it was historically an Ork and goblinoid kingdom, crushed by the first high kings, there is still an ongoing conflict between tribal orks and other goblinoids. A bounty on renegade Darklings (a local pejorative for all non-pc race humanoids) demonstrates the ongoing conflict.
- 1600 yrs BA –The region of the thale was controlled by an Orkish empire, and the first High king founds a smaller erigain.
- 1200 yrs BA – With the rise of the Glorious Empire the Orks are scattered and the region is civilized, erigain covers the whole of the northern half of the continent.
- 900 yrs BA – With the Fall of the Glorious empire the kingdoms split apart, and many regions return to chaos.
- 100 yrs BA – the rise of the new line of high kings in response to an expansion of the kingdom of Mora Deva, sets the stage for the modern age.
- Arthus yr 1 – Arthus is crowned high king and through the war of succession, and ongoing war with mora deva centralizes power in a reformed Erigain.
- Arthus yr 11- Arthus names his nephew heir, and is killed in the last battle of the Darkling wars. Erigain stays together, but the cascading system of feudalism is reinforced by the distribution of some power, some kingdoms within erigain gain dominance and others fare poorly.
- Arthus Yr 15(PA)- Arthus revealed to be alive, allows his nephew to stay high king and leads an army of knights over the dragon back mountains never to be seen again.
- PA(Post Arthus) 30- Arthus’s nephew dies, and court intrigue begins a series of rapidly changing high kings, with little impact on the lives of commoners.
- PA 100- King Dalus III crowned high king, officially abolishes the old feudal order and declares all subjects free men, all lands the property of the high king in fact not title, and slowly begins to exchange the nobility for his appointed agents. Centralization of power begins and the rule of law is extended to a covenant, creates increasing poverty for most, but is seen as good ending absolute rights of lords over serfs.
- PA 110- Campaign Begins-
POLITICAL/LEGAL FRAMEWORK *
While some kingdoms within the empire have emancipated the serfs, or in the case of Thale, have historically been easy going about feudalism, the general political structure in Erigain is feudal, the serfs are the property of the liege though he has a responsibility to them in turn, a good lord takes care of them, to a bad lord they are little better than slaves. A serf may not own property, and any valuables he does have are the property of the lord, his income is taxed heavily and his daughters are potentially ravished, the high king Artus ended the legal right to kill a serf without cause, and instituted a system of magistrates to adjudicate executions, this system has expanded a great deal in some countries. The high kings magistrate for a region is the top bureaucrat, and has the weight of the army behind him, even landed nobles are afraid of them. As such serfs are more likely to be imprisoned or abused than killed. Arthus justified the law against the killing of serfs by naming the lives of all his subjects his own property as highest liege, thus any murder within erigain is a potential capital crime. Most other laws are locally determined, but an extensive system of licensure and taxation has descended from the top down through the new bureaucracy. Technically there is no punishment for the breach of an administrative decree because it is not common law, but if caught repeatedly withholding fees and taxes from the High King one is committing a serious crime. Debt indenture or forced repayment through service in the army has become a fairly common punishment but no term of service above 1 year may be levied except by the high king’s magistrate.
Hereditary and Capture Slavery- Unlike dept indenture, and peonage (being a serf with no property rights, but other rights) there are regions in which hereditary slavery is still legal. While the killing of a slave outright would break the high kings law, they can be worked to death or mistreated and have no other legal standing. Slaves can be captured in war, or born to another slave. This is the case in the kingdom of Dev Devorah and legal though no longer as common in the Havi Region. The high king is known to dislike slavery of humans at least, and many say slavery in any form. Thale allows the enslavement of any who is not at least 50% of human blood, though there are certainly cases of half elves and other near humans being enslaved. The execution of a slave who is attempting to escape has been deemed pardonable but does involve asking for forgiveness after the fact. Thale is technically still at war with Darklings in the mountains as the declaration of war 100 years ago was never formally rescinded, this makes the taking of darkling slaves legal in the kingdom.
The High King- Ordained by the High Father, king of the gods, to be his chosen master of the empire of Erigain, Though he has absolute power, he has until recently left much of the governing to the Council of kings. Currently Dallus III.
The Council of Kings- The Unified Kingdom/Empire of Erigain, existed for a thousand years until it fell at the hands of mythical Dragon lords from the south, though most know that somehow the war’s end was related to the formation of the Plains of Glass, and the fall of the high king, few remember stories that connect to it in detail. Since the reformation of the seat of the high king about a hundred years ago, the council of kings has held the real power. The council is formed of the kings of each kingdom and a few religious, mercantile and magic user representatives who decide on plans, and act as a place to work out conflicts between the kingdoms. It functions much like the senate and Supreme court, proposing laws of the empire
The Council of nine – The personal advisors to the high king, unofficial, and though the membership is guessed at, no one knows for sure.
Paperwork- recent changes have begun to require the carrying of identification paperwork, a demihuman may fear enslavement, and without proof of tax payment, and licensure any PC may be hassled by nobles, bureaucrats, and any officious sort. Tax receipts and other documents of the high king have a DC 30 for forgery (may not take 20), while deeds and many local documents are so various in style, age and quality that they can be forged easily (DC 15-20, may take 20) with the appropriate background research. In fact for local paperwork a piece of paper with a note quickly written and a poorly forged wax seal (Forgery DC10) of a local lord will allow a bluff check to pass them off as the real thing.
Money in the D&D game is counted in coin weights of precious metal, the minting of a coin is not to make it currency but to verify its weight. Thieves may know the talent of coin shaving, stripping a small amount off of a minted coin and gathering enough metal to make more coins. “gold piece” or gp. Assuming a standard weight, the exchange values are as followed. 1 platinum= 10 gold = 10 silver = 10 copper In erigain the standard spending power of a coin is marked by the ability to buy three things at a price of 1 cp. = bowl of soup, a mug of ale, or a candle. Cheaper versions may be found costing only a half penny, or a copper coin that has been cut in half, a common currency among the very poor. Modern comparison of the perception of the coins would be 1cp=1$, 1sp =$20 bill, 1gp= $500 bill, a weekly wage for an average person would be less than one gold. A platinum piece is the equivalent of a Bearer bond, largely used by the very wealthy to move wealth around. Most serfs, and freeholders, live a largely subsistence lifestyle, out of a total cost of living of 1 sp/day for poor living, they produce 8-9/10ths in the form of growing their own food and scrounging other materials, such as hunting game. Many farmers have never held a gp. Note- Because cash is uncommon, prices are often better when bartering.
CHARACTER RACE CLASS AND GENDER
Women- While the cultures of erigain are wildly sexist, for the sake of player comfort it is my tendency to ignore that female characters are female unless otherwise prompted by the player. Technically women are second class citizens and until married, girls are considered property of their parents until married, a widow may own property in the name of her dead husband, but it becomes the property of her new husband upon remarrying. Female PCs will be treated as widows by anyone when this comes up in role playing. Within Thale and other liberal sub-kingdoms it is assumed in game that the status of female PC adventurers as adventurers largely erases their social standing as females.
Social Status* – All PCs are assumed to be freemen unless players ask for a different background, as mentioned in house rules a challenging background may grant a bonus in return for the added impetus to have detailed character role playing. PCs may hold title, but it costs one or more feats and has to be negotiated with the DM at character creation. The campaign begins in Thale a comparatively hands off political region in which there are taxes, but the local king declared most people freemen and allows people who clear land or mine to eventually own the property as gentry if they have regularly paid taxes. Adventurers hold a special status and when it isn’t important in an interaction are simply treated as outside of the feudal social order. While a noble or knight may treat you badly, there is no requirement that you always act servile to the landed gentry as there would be for an NPC serf.
Races- Darklings – Human legend speaks of all demi-humans as the unclean (sometimes abomination sometimes pitiable) creation of the Sky Queen, she took humans and twisted the magic of the high king… needless to say, the demi-humans disagree… it is from this relationship to the skyqueen that the slightly derogatory term Darkling arises. Within Erigain, most humans are somewhat racist towards demihumans, though dwarves are the closest to an exception. Halflings are assumed to be thieves even when they aren’t, elves are considered haughty and alien, half-orks and other groups are barely tolerated or actively discriminated against. Darklings are not protected by the High king’s edict against murder, in that sense they are all outlaws.
Ethnicities- There are actually three distinct ethnic populations, the aristocracy and many middle classed city dwellers are Brithons, and tend to have sandy or reddish hair, the majority of the population are Havi, dark haired and stout and shorter (largely because of bad nutrition), and in the east there are many people who are ethnically Devi, very dark hair, sharp features and a touch olive skinned they are related to the populace of the neighboring country. There is clear bias towards light hair and a high charisma usually comes with being blonde.
Note: A heavily armed group of adventurers is much less likely to see this sort of treatment, but it may come up especially if PCs wander off on their own.
The Holy Reformation- The often violent movement of the Followers of Saint Hadrian which proposes that there is only one true god and worship of all others is blasphemy, though they acknowledge the power of the lesser gods, they believe that worship of them is failing a test put forth by the high father. They have a mixed reputation, some have heard of them smashing holy sites and temples; others have seen them wander in poverty healing the poor with true divine magic.
The great brotherhood of masons – Though they are loosely a large trade and artisan’s guild for all those who work with stone and building, it contains a semi-open shadowy secret order who is dedicated to the rebuilding of the ancient temples and empire of the High king that Erigain once was.
The High Traders Guild – The union of merchants and trading magnates is a lightly veiled way for the rich to price-fix, plot and gloat about how rich they are.
Brotherhood of the shadow Vale – Traders and explorers who banded together offering each other aid, mostly a fraternal order allowing them to drink and brag together. They pledge once a year to work to find a legendary land called Timeral.
The Isle of Sweet Home – created by magic, a heaven on earth, some think fictional, off the coast, run by former adventurers mages, and otherworldly beings. Many times youths will leave home to find it, to study at the university fabled to be there, or meet the legendary adventurers. Few return to tell more tales.
The wayfinders guild- based in Sweethome this is an order of dues paying adventurers who aid each other, act as an information passing source and way to sell extra equipment. Members cannot hold title or rank other then Knight Errant. Most cities and some large towns will either have a guild house or an inn/pub which serves as a meeting place.
Magic Schools – While most magic users are simple hedge mages, and petty sorcerers, three major magic schools are talked about as existing… The new college of Wizardry in DesTemps, The Grand Tower of the Wise ones in Lanta Brithon, and The Grand University supposedly on the isle of Sweethome, but actually located nearby on the isle of Swellstay.
The Mages Guild- Though it is illegal in some kingdoms and not others to be an unregulated spellcaster, the mages guild is powerfully in control in the north, where almost all spellcasters (above level 2 spells) are members and are manipulated by this group. Under the high king the Guild (as the mages guild has come to be called) has gained great power as one of few bodies which has some form of authority, legal or military in all the kingdoms.
The Wise Ones – The day the High father allowed men to use magic he gave it to them by granting power to 8 Wise men, they are the patrons of those who use magic of any sort, and it is commonly believed that though millennia have passed, the wise ones still walk the earth
Common While The entire kingdom of Erigain speaks a distinct language, there are three distinct accents, the western kingdoms (Parthon, Iamont, Dev Devorah) have a sharper accent, the Eastern Kingdoms (Prytha, Genona, Goldshine, Thale) with a slight drawl, and the central kingdoms (Brithon Na Para, Paranthus, Mayhill Vor, North and South Frenta).
Ancient Educated individuals may take Ancient as a language; it is the Latin of the empire, root language with some cognates from in the present common. Ancient is a spoken language as well as written, and travelers tell stories of small towns in the mountains, cut off from progress who still speak it.
Devan The Common language of erigain is a descendent of the imperial language, ancient, and is related to several others including the language in neighboring Mora Deva. In Mora Deva the language is called Devan, which is similar in root to Erigain Common so simple communication is possible, but accents are different and subtle differences sometimes lead to difficulties. PCs that served in the army, or are from the western kingdoms may choose to take Devan as a bonus language.
Demi-Human Languages While Halflings wanderers, gnome and dwarf tradesman or merchants are fairly common sights among humans their interaction tends to be in common, little pressure is put on human folk to speak their languages. Humans and hill dwarves intermingle in the wild hills, and there are larger dwarven cities near erigain in the east and west (Thulak in the wild hills, and Durfa in the Partha mountains) and speaking dwarven would be more common there. For some members of the criminal classes Halfling serves as a thieves cant for those who aren’t guild initiates (only class rogues can learn it as part of training). Some wilderness areas see more elves and in these areas some merchants and educated humans learn Elvish in order to assist in dealings with their slightly haughty neighbors.
Few humans learn Orkish, though some warriors pick up a little in order to deal with their enemy, and the goblinoid common is almost unknown except for a few rangers in the mountains. In recent years the infestation of Kobolds in Thale has led some to learn to speak the dialect of Draconic they use, though rarely. Within the wild hills, dwarves and humans often learn a little of the language of giants if they wander in order to try to avoid a fight. Druids and Rangers sometimes learn Sylvan, the common language of the Fae and some other woodland humanoids.
Magical/Religious Languages Many spellcasters choose to study uncommon languages which offer connection to the outer planes, and archaic writings. Spell books are often written in these languages, and many official church documents are written in these as a code for privacy. Most common for wizards is Draconic, which allows basic communication with Kobolds. Among religious figures Celestial, the ancient language of the gods and heavenly beings is seen as a particularly appropriate exclusive language. Humans can learn to read and speak a broken version of the written language of the Hells, Infernal Even less common would be understanding of Abbysal, the language of the Chaotic netherworld sometimes associated with the god Phinnius.