Longman's hex-based exploration PBP campaign

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Post Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:27 am

I have altered this a lot from your original post in the OCD thread to match up with a few things about my existing history. For a start, goblins are recent, and also, I don't do gnomes (Red Dwarves, I'll accept). Also some of the events you describe need to have been longer ago. All told, the dwarves have had a rough time! Lemme know if it still works.

In the beginning...
Very little is known about origins of the ancient dwarvish religion. Legend has it that the very earth and moon were forged from the RockFather's tears, when Thorium Stormforged the RockFather learned that the wicked Troll King Gomdar had stolen the Hearthstone from the Hall of Children. A mighty war between the Goblin King and the RockFather. Blood fell upon the earth, and brought the existence of the rockfolk (dwarves). Trolls came into existence at the same time, though less is known about how. The generally accepted belief is that Thorium challenged Gomdar to a duel, who lost control of his bowels at the thought of dueling the RockFather, creating the Troll race. Eventually the Hearthstone was recovered, and the Troll King was crippled and cast out from Rockhaven, as were the troll spawn.

Thousands of years ago
The rockfolk lived peacefully, with the dwarves becoming master stoneworkers and ironsmiths. Both worshiped the RockFather devoutly, who empowered his followers with the ability to magically shape the earth, defend the devout, and smite his enemies. During the Undercrust Wars, trolls were driven back into the farthest recesses of the earth, and a golden renaissance of rock reigned across the dwarven realms, as they began more and more to inhabit the surface world, and make ties with the elvish people, and the incoming human race.

2000 years ago (during the human iron age)
Alas, such a renaissance could not live forever! Driven deep underground, the trolls found allies such as hordes of grimlocks, surface giants, and rare but ruthless umber hulks. The initial attacks overran the dwarvish outposts unfortunate enough to be deep underground, and after centuries of peace, rockfolk mobilization was slow. King Bronzebeard eventually sallied forth with a legion of dwarven defenders, all of whom were decimated within the first few battles. Babbling survivors spoke not only of trolls and grimlocks, but also a new enemy from the north, an enemy the rockfolk had never heard of before: dragons.

The Dragon Wars, as they came to be known, were a turning point in both dwarven history and dwarven religion. Rockshapers and ironforgers had replaced warpriests as the core of the dwarven clergy, and the 'red' dwarves (who some call 'gnomes', or knowledgeable ones) could no longer create the tecnological juggernauts of the Undercrust Age. Slowly, the dwarven races became isolated from each other, with the troll hordes reclaiming territories from all the dwarvish kingdoms.

1500 years ago - The dragon alliance with the trolls and giants did not last long and the dragons seem to have retreated to the far and north east, or have lived on in seclusion guarding vast hordes of stolen dwarvish treasure etc.

However the destruction wrought by dragons such as Kossa and Malmitor was so terrible it took several dwarvish generations to recover. In the intervening centuries, giants, trolls, grimlocks and many other subterranean creatures continued their inroads against Aarn and other smaller states, to the point where the dwarvish states were nearly in ruin.

800 years ago -

Desperate to end the war of attrition, King Ironshield III (Bronzebeard's great-grandnephew) petitioned for an unlikely alliance with the upcoming Kingdom of Yoll. The human king had but one stipulation: surface rockfolk residing in Yoll would renounce the RockFather and follow the ways of the One Church; and rockfolk visiting Yoll would not worship the RockFather while in Yoll.

Facing eventual decimation of the dwarf kingdom and having no communication with the gnomes, Ironshield had no choice but to agree to the terms. In the years that followed, the humans of Yoll helped the dwarves to reclaim much territory held by trolls.

The Goblin Invasions - 400 years ago (CE 950)

Just when things were getting better, the goblins came. Goblins were an entirely new threat when they emerged from the east, and had not been heard of before. They are different from the dwarves ancient enemy, the trolls, in that they breed very fast, and can live above ground in a range of environments....yet still, the dwarves survived, and their alliance with the humans held firm.

Fast forwarding to the present...

Having been sorely beset for so long, many of the dwarf race no longer feel that their rockfather is protecting them at all. Many have turned to the human god, as it is humans who have been the dwarves best allies in recent centuries.

Almost all surface rockfolk follow the One Church, and hardly any know of the RockFather beyond name. Farther north, outside of Yoll, the RockFather is still worshipped, but not as devoutly as before. Many dwarves feel that the RockFather had abandoned them during the Dragon Wars and subsequently, in their encouters with giants and goblins, and the attempts by pleading dwarven priests to rediscover the divine spells of combat and protection were ignored by the RockFather. Yet they still worship him, and it's said that in the clang of the forge, the roar of volcano, devout followers can still feel his presence.
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Re: Campaign Background stuff

Post Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:59 pm

Hiya! Hoppy Easter to you as well.

Since the break I’ve been thinking about the pretty awkward juxtaposition of:

- a game where no one is supposed to know anything about what happened in the past or what’s just over the horizon, and;
- the existence of powerful flying elvish wizards, skilled in cartography, who live for 400+ years.

If the elves had lived in Boldenwald a mere 600 years ago, Tiana would know a lot more about the place than she actually does. (You pointed out the same issue a while back, IIRC.)

So, I have decided on this back-story fix up:

The Moon Elves are a matrilineal group of the elves - who are otherwise mostly male-dominated in their leadership. The Moon Elves have always been a small group, and today, there are only an even smaller number of them remaining (20-30). But, they use magic much more than their male counterparts, and are more engaged with the world. Since their formation, they have always been friendly to other creatures of this world, especially the Sylvans, with whom they shared some lunar affinity and nocturnal leanings. And unlike the other elves, they did settle on the mainland, back in the (human) Iron Age, in one small peninsula.

Moonglade Estate was the only elvish territory on the main north continent, and it was in the far south east of the continent. The Moon Elves had some knowledge of the geography around the estate, and also had contact with the Sylvan people of Cruthy as well, back in the very old days (in the Iron Age and early medieval period).

From ancient elvish records from before the 4th century CE, it was known that the Elves of Moonglade used to be able to travel to a faraway place called Ann’ovar Cethn’amacha, or, the Well of Four Souls. There, they would meet with Sylvan people – in particular the fish people and the otter-folk – as well as dwarves, and human beings, and there are records of religious ceremonies to rock, moon, fish and water, being carried out at the same time by four different races.

The Well was lost long before the goblins came – it was overrun by human magicians back in the 4th century. The humans must have developed powerful and evil magic, for which the elves were not prepared. No one knows exactly what happened because all the Moon elves that lived at the Well were killed in the attack, and the dwarves, Cruthy and other peoples who lived there must also have been killed or displaced. Then, the human magicians must have deactivated the gate somehow, because travel back into the Well became impossible for the elves of Moonglade.

It is not known what happened to the ancient magicians, after that. They may still be at the Well. But, it was over a thousand years ago...

Anyway, many hundreds of years later (in the 11th century), Moonglade estate also fell to the goblins, one of the last places on the continent to fall. Many of the Moon Elves died there too. In addition, many records and artefacts were lost in their stubborn refusal to abandon the place.

Thus, all clear knowledge of the location of the Well was finally lost, and the Estate was lost too.

The Moon Elves have slowly regained their numbers - having dropped as low as 7 survivors after the fall of Mooonglade - and now they dwell in the Moon Isles, Brandt, and some in the Shiant Isles. A small group - led by Rillow ‘Ember’ Moon and another very elderly mage back in the Moon Isles - have decided to undertake a quest to find the Well and see if they can regain entry into their old Estate “through the back door”. There are two other young female elves, also out on scouting missions in other parts of the forest, looking for clues to the location of the same place. Both of these are operating to the north of Tiana’s group. Both started out being a bit more powerful than Tiana (one 5th, one 3rd). You had planned to meet in Nore at Xmas time and discuss progress. You may have been sending message to these other explorers at regular intervals, if desired.

Meanwhile, a few other elves have also been on a ship-bourne mission, scouting the coast around the Old Moonglade Estate, to see what sort of creatures still live there, and what remains of it.

That is all the forces the Moon elves can muster for their operation. (The Sun elves and other groups want little to do with life on the mainland.

Through various remaining records that escaped from the fall of Moonglade, the Well is known to have been on the west side of the great river Severin, which runs between the two main ridges of the Mundine mountain range. This means it is probably only about 100-150 miles east of the border. (It is known where the estuary comes out in the sea to the south, but you don’t know exactly where it flows north from there.

IN SUMMARY: Tiana’s mission is to find the Well of Four Souls, and see if it can be reactivated somehow. This will allow an unexpected path of entry back into the Moonglade Estate, and perhaps, a chance to reclaim it from the goblins.

Kilian has never heard of dwarves worshiping together with elves and otters, and doubts it is true. But he has heard of there being places where dwarves lived, long before the goblins came, that were well south of Aarn, and he wishes to find some of these and recover some of his race’s lost heritage.

Freya remains a Tiger Elf whose family originates in the Shiant Isles and she is hired to scout. Talin remains a local guide keen to keep the border safe.

If that sounds OK...feel free to continue! I'll stick some new maps up sooner or later.
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Post Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:40 pm

The Kingdom of Aarn – the southernmost of the Dwarven states – used to extend all the way through the Vale of Langallen, over the Nine Bridges and onto the fortress that also bears the valley’s name. But 100 years ago – still very much in living memory – the Vale was overrun by a resurgent goblin tribe, the Black Spears. And 20 years ago, the same goblin tribe even managed to take the ancient fortress of Greyforge, and the north end of the valley.

This was a huge blow the Dwarvish pride, as well as blocking several key trade routes to the north, but the King, Archie ‘Redhands’ Cullen, was too old and senile to do anything about it, and the nation’s clans were in disarray. It was not until his son, Cody ‘Silverhand’ Cullen, took the throne 8 years ago that steps were taken to reclaim the fortress of Greyforge.

The campaign to take Greyforge was, in many ways, a defeat. The fortress was reclaimed, but at a great cost. Many fine dwarf soldiers and clansmen were killed during the final days of the siege, due mostly to poor leadership and lack of co-ordination. What should have been the start of a major campaign to take back the whole Vale of Langallen, instead ended in a Pyrrhic victory at Greyforge. Beyond that, to the south and east, the goblins still hold sway, and may fine Dwarven towns and citadels still lie in ruins.

That day, many proud soldiers quit the Army of Aarn in disgust, never to return.

The GREYFORGE campaign begins with a small band of dwarves from the Onyxbreaker clan, led by a human seer called Milly, who has been having visions of a great treasure lying in some catacombs beneath the shrines of Mt Awen. This treasure has lain for many hundreds of years, undisturbed by goblins or dwarves alike.

It contains one item, in particular, that seems to be drawing Milly's attention - - a crown, certainly human in size and workmanship, made of silver. Compared to many of the other items in the hoard, it does not stand out as looking particularly valuable. But in Milly's dreams, it is the the center of the hoard, and she knows, instinctively, that much magical power will be unlocked if she can get her hands on it.

Fortunately for her, the dwarves of the Onyxbreaker clan are ready for a journey into the Vale - - word from the scouts has it that goblin numbers have seriously decreased over the last few years. Perhaps the journey to Awen will not be as dangerous as everyone previously feared...
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Post Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:03 pm

The small portion of the eastern mainland known to the Moon Elves
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Post Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:05 pm

The nearby areas of the human mainland as they were when the goblins invaded.
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Post Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:28 pm

In case the two of you hadn't noticed, the Boldenwald house-rules are now in a word document, which replaces all previous posts in the rules thread.

I may get round to making a condensed historical background document at some point.
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