Okay this is a campaign centering around a civil war in which the PCs are bannermen to one of the claimants to the throne, a minor claimant and his retinue, or from a vassal state fighting for independence. For this reason the absolute geography is left a little bit vague, so that the PCs can include their own Birthright esque region if they wish.
The continent of Estron is dominated by the Boreal Empire a martial entity which continually expands its borders by turning less powerful nations into vassals who must then contribute their populous to the empire's army's auxiliary forces. The empire has recently come under the grips of a civil war, due to a question of succession.
Less than one year ago the Emperor Bjorn the Dead Eyed died of a sudden illness, which many suspect to be the result of poisoning. In theory this should mean that Bjorn's young son Bron would take control of the empire, but before his death Bjorn's queen Isabella had been accused of and executed for adultery, after which the emperor disowned his son. As a result four separate factions have emerged with different claims to the thrones. First is Emund general of the eastern expansion army, and cousin of the late emperor. He claims that he was named as the Emperor's rightful heir after the queen's bastard was disowned. Second is Sophia Bjorn's sister and keeper of the north, ancestral homeland of the Boreal Empire before its expansion to the south. The paetorian guard have claimed that the late monarch recanted on his deathbed and reinstated the child Bron as his heir, and currently hold the capital against all those who wish to claim the throne. Meanwhile the Church has declared the imperial family not longer fit to claim divine rite and now fight to remove the emperor entirely and restore complete power of government to the senate.
Last edited by nyarlathotep : 06-25-2012 at 01:08 PM.
The praetors are an order sworn to protector the rightful emperor until death and act as both his immediate bodyguard and the only standing army allowed to enter the capital city of Thaneland. Only those who are citizens but not of noble lineage may join the order, and they are forbidden from declaring any child their heir, as all they are belongs to the crown.
The praetors have claimed that the rightful king is twelve year old Bron Magnuson, and have taken control of Thaneland and the surrounding countryside. Though they are the smallest and militarily weakest faction in the civil war, their position in the capital allows them to wait out all but the most powerful of sieges. The entire of population of the city can be fed by the fungal farms underneath the city cared for by dwarven slaves.
Within the city of Thaneland life continues much as it had before Bjorn died. Senators argue over the finer points of politics, even the new ones to replace those who left to support the church. Trade goods from far off tributary state are turned into finished products by artisans or slaves. The amphitheaters including the Great Theater of Magnus still host games of blood sport. The citizens still wear cloths made of expensive foreign cloth. The city seems almost unconcerned with the war that is surely going to soon be upon its doorstep.
The Eastern Expansion Army
The main Boreal army is composed of citizens filling the roll of either heavily armored infantry or heavy cavalry. The infantry wear banded plate mail and wield large square shields with either a short lance or military pick; while their cavalry wield a smaller kite shield with a lance, mace, or saber.
Needless to say with only citizen soldiers preforming these functions the Boreal military would be very off balance and unable to function against many foes. Thus the Empire has taken to enlisting a full fourth of all male children born to its vassal states as auxiliary forces, working as archers, light cavalry, siege engine operators, and airforces appropriate to native armed forces. These auxiliary forces can earn Boreal citizenship after fifteen years of service to the crown. The majority of these forces are sent to the east to expand the empire's borders and thus bring new vassals into the fold.
Emund leads the Eastern Expansion Army now and has turned its vast might back inward toward opponents to his claim to the throne. To further this cause and ensure their loyalty Emund has declared that any auxiliaries will be granted immediate citizenship after he becomes emperor. Although this has maintained the loyalty of his large force of vassal soldiers, it has caused many citizen soldiers to desert him as they view this as taking away the privileges afforded to them and has failed to maintain many forces hailing from regions that are taking this civil war as an opportunity to declare independence.
The Boreal Empire was founded in the northern portion of Estron known as Northmark. Later however the capital was moved to Thaneland in order to have a more centralized location to administrate to the empire as a whole. As a result a large number of northerners feel that the empire has been corrupted by southern decadence.
Thus Sophia was able to harness this resentment in her claim for the thrones. She is leading an army of northerners south to attack the capital and remove corrupting southern influences from the empire. Even more brazen she has abandoned the faith of Wodane and Tyren, claiming that they were false gods whose church will be dismantled when she claims the empirel instead adopting patronage of the One God of the North. This army is much more like that of earlier times being primarily composed of heavily armored ax or greatsword wielding infantry, bear cavalry using long lances, and archers either behind their lines or mounted on larger howdah mounted creatures.
Northmark has a strong woodsman and martial tradition with most citizens living in towns composed of log cabins, surrounded by dense woods and connected to bodies of water. Their primary resources are iron mining and timber, with hunting providing for a majority of their meat consumption. Their culture places an emphasis on personal strength and not relying on others. This combined with the still large number of northern nobles who actively gather armies even in times of peace have lead to the north being a large military presence despite it losing overall importance to the empire.
The Church is a religious organization deticated to the worship of the World Tree Pantheon. It is a group of deities headed by Wodane: the god of wisdom, trickery, leadership, and the dead, and Tyren: god of honor, combat, bravery, and law. Although it was not religion of the northern conquerors who founded the Boreal Empire, it has become the empire's current official religion due to how popular it was with their southern subjects. In fact it was the High Hidden One who declared Magnus, first emperor of Boreal, to be divinely favored by both of his patron gods.
The church's priests are know as Hidden Ones because they are supposed to keep their faces hidden from their subjects. They are then able to test their virtue by disguising as beggars and other travelers without their faithful knowing who they are. These men are primarily servants of Wodane who serve to guide their people in times of turmoil and make predictions of how the gods will respond to specific actions.
Since Sophia's abandonment of the faith, the church has become fearful of the monarchy entirely and now claims that the Magnuson clan no longer have divine rite to rule the continent and as such power should fall back to the Senate, a governing body of the south which was appropriated by their northern conquerors. The majority of these senators have fled the capital to seek the church's protection but maintain little actual power compared to the Church currently giving them asylum.
The Church's army is primarily composed of citizen volunteers seeking a path to salvation and mercenaries paid for by the hidden ones' enormous wealth. These men usually wield either long swords or spear, the holy weapons of Tyren and Wodane respectively.
Last edited by nyarlathotep : 06-25-2012 at 12:52 PM.
Before the Boreal conquest the south of Estron was controlled by many competing kingdoms who all claimed common descent from the Skiths, foreign invaders whom had conquered the lands themselves from its native Estron inhabitants. These kingdoms collectively sworn obedience to the law passed by the Senate; an extra-national organization originally composed of representatives of their homeland across the sea but eventually a governing power in and of itself. The Senate was at the time primarily used to arbitrate disputes between kingdoms and determine what was and wasn't fair methods of conducting war.
After the Boreal invasion the Senate was appropriated into the legislative body of the Empire, but ultimately still subject to the supreme authority of the emperor and his armies. They tended to mind to the day to day governance while the emperors tended to focus their efforts of the expansion of their borders. Currently the Church is supporting an attempt to reinstate the Senate as the highest authority the south, but many suspect this is simply an attempt to create a puppet government for the Church to rule through. Despite this those of the senate willing to flee the capital and join forces with the Church have found much support among the population of southern Estron and control much of the land east of Yamashima and west of the Eastern Expansion Army's claim.
Dwarven Slave State
The mineral rich hills on which Thaneland now sits used to be the seat of power for an industrious people who were able to outlast the Skith invaders. These were the dwarves who carves out an extensive series of cavern cities. However when the Boreal invaded they considered anything other than human less than human. They subjugated and enslaved the dwarves, before building their new cities, including their new capital, on top of entrances to the dwarves cavern homes, meaning that none could leave their own cities without first passing through and receiving permission from their new masters.
Currently the dwarves work for whoever controls the city above their homes. They live very spartan lives because anything that cannot be manufactured in the caverns is very difficult if not impossible to procure. The only goods that are readily available are those food, cloths, and tools that can be crafted from the various mushrooms and fungi that can be grown underground. In fact most of the caverns have been converted to fungal farms in order to supply food to the world above that has enslaved them. These cavern cities also tend to have a heavily isolationist view, believing almost all other creatures to be dangers to their communities.
Those dwarves who do migrate to the surface generally do so in order to gain some measure of economic mobility, either as a artisan slave for one of the above ground city's nobles, or as a gladiator in the many blood sports sponsored in human cities. In fact most free dwarves come from dwarvish artisan slave who were freed by their masters or gladiators who were able to earn their freedom through successful fights.
Church of the One God of the North
The old official religion of the Boreal region, and still held sacred by the majority of Northmark, is the Church of the One God. It is a faith that believes there is only one heavenly god who rules over a vast pantheon of earthly gods, and any other gods claiming to be of the heavens are imposters. The one god is said to have many forms but is most commonly depicted as either a wise old man or a silver bear. The One God teaches self reliance and the value in strength for its own sake. The church also holds a fervent belief that the strong deserve to rule the weak as it is the natural order of things.
Priests tend to dress in animal pelts and live in caves, under very large trees, and other natural shelter points. They hold services only in times of war, famine, or to celebrate a new birth in the community. During war they provide clerical support, enhancing the fighting ability of soldiers and healing them. During famines they make sacrifices to appease the One God, starting with effigies and moving up to more drastic measures such as human sacrifice if the famine continues. Finally when a birth occurs the local priest will hunt down the next animal he sees near his home and prepare it as a feast for the infants family, but save the heart to drip some of its blood into the babe's mouth so as it mark them as a hunter of the north and follower of the One God.
The Church now supports Sophia's bid for the throne with the forces of Northmark. She plans to reinstate them as the Empire's official religion and is a pious believer herself.
Carnival of the Masked God
Tangential to most modern mythologies the Masked God is one which has existed for as long as there has been recorded history. The Masked God known as Janus is the god of the self and the various personalities, moods, or "masks" that an individual wears throughout there life. He is also sometimes said to be the god of humanity as a whole. The Masked God's followers are usually of a profession that requires one to act as though they were something other than what they really are: actors, diplomats, prostitutes, spies, personal servants, and assassins. His teachings claim that to give someone a new experience is the greatest gift but to force someone into a single role is the greatest crime.
The Masked God's clergy move from town to town as traveling carnivals. They perform all of the standard animal tricks and acrobatics, but those are considered mere sideshows by the performers themselves. The most important event is the play, as the night draws long all of the performers gather to act an event from history which the clerics believe will help spurn those in the audience to action; these stories are usually those of mythology and popularly known history. Their exact goals are unknown but most if not all of their performances work toward the destruction of any institution that would force beings into a single role in life.
A cultural and racial holdout, Yamashima is the last remaining vestige of the native cultures who once controlled the entirety of the South of Estron before the Skiths who brought with them worship of Wodane and Tyren. The Skiths were able to conquer and convert all of Southern Estron save for the western mountain nation of Yamashima, which maintained its independence, and outlived the short-lived Skith empire that eventually dissolved into the many disparate nations which were conquered by the Boreal. Thus their religion is one separate from the two major churches of Estron instead worship ping local spirits whom provide services in return for care.
Despite this survival Yamashima was conquered by the Boreals and made into a vassal. Besides the standard drafts for auxiliary service, their lands were largely left along however due to how few natural resources they had to harvest. As a result the overall power structure within the mountain nation was able to survive. Now these leaders are planning to use this civil war to reassert independence and conquer their neighbors for desperately needed farmland.
Yamashima today is in dire need of resources particularly wood and farmland. Consequently the majority of its culture it formed around militarism and acquisition of resources through conquest. Thus the majority of its citizens live in apartments carved out of the mountainside, and only the very rich own wooden buildings. These apartments are led as a military unit by the building's overall owner.
Yamashima's military is primarily composed of knights mounted on tamed members of its native wyvern population. They are armed with heavy glaives crafted from near solid iron, one of the few materials that the mountains have in abundance. These polearms have a distinct disadvantage due to their weight in close quarters combat so the usually also have lighter shorter steel spears for close quarters combat.
Durall the Bog Lands
On the eastern coast of Estron lies the Bordull a vast grey marshland and vassal to the Boreal Empire. It has many sulfurous springs in its north half and which can make travel difficult their meaning that the majority of its inhabitant live in the south. The people live in wooden houses kept above the water with stilts and travel in flat bottom boats. There towns are usually built under the branches of marsh forests. Most of them make their living off of farming sulfur from the northern springs and peat from closer bogs. These resources make Durall one of the few locations capable of making gun powder, so there is a vested political interest in any claimant to the throne maintaining control of it even though the vast majority of its citizens simply desire to be left alone in their swamp. Currently a subsection of the Alchemist's Guild working for Sophia of Northmark control Durall's gunpowder supplies and have constructed a vast processing plant deep in its central forest.
Durall's only native sapient inhabitants besides humans are the corpulent creatures known as Bog Giants. They have thick blubbery hides that make all but the deepest cuts superficial on their bulk; this body-mass is maintained by their ability to eat nearly anything including wood, sulfur water, and dirt. This makes them destructive to the surrounding environment and their presence frequently drives other swamp animals away. The giants are traditionally seen as a danger of the swamp to be avoided by natives, but recently there have been rumors of the Alchemist's Guild making treaties with them for protecting their refineries, even tales of human slaves being given presumably for consumption.
The Mid South
The heart of the old Skith power structure, the mid south is a stretch of plains rich in farmland and dotted by forests of high quality timber. In the times before the empire it was ruled by many competing nobles who each controlled a parcel of land exactly as large as their higher armies could control. The idea of any united government more powerful than their senate was alien to them and thus they were not able to mount a successful defense against the foreign invaders, the Boreal.
After an initial show of force the majority of the nobles surrendered to the Empire and were allowed to keep their lands under condition of loyalty to the Empire. This arrangement eventually led to them no longer being considered a vassal state but a part of the empire proper and led to Thaneland being constructed as the new capital in the heart of old Skith territory.
The majority of people who actually live within the Mid South are farmers bound to a particular section of land who pay taxes to their lord in the form of a portion of their crops, while the lord in turn pays a portion of his gatherings to his army and whichever higher power he serves if any. This leads to a very limited world view on the part of most Mid Southern citizens, who find it difficult to grasp the larger workings of the world beyond the land they are attached to.
Now in this time of rebellion the majority of nobles have sworn loyalty to the World Tree Church and the New Skith Senate. Those who have not are either attempting a bid for full independence or are supporting the Praetorian Guard.
The Alchemists' Guild
The Alchemist's Guild is an extra-national organization founded in the times of Old Estron. It is an group of learned men who strive to learn all that can be learned for the natural sciences, magic, and where the two intersect. This makes them so valuable that most leaders support them simply so they will not be caught without alchemical support when in a conflict with enemies who do. As a result the alchemists are able to remain almost entirely neutral during conflicts and simply supply whichever leader is in control of the direct area their chapter-house is located in. In fact most alchemists claim that they serve mankind rather than any single lord.
Alchemists tend to wear masks and heavy hooded overcoats regardless of weather conditions to cover their many chemical burns. They tend to view themselves above the common man because of their education and connection to an esteemed organization. As a result of this aloofness and their general strangeness most communities shun local alchemist chapters, forcing them to operate on the outskirts of settlements.
The Steppe Tribes
In the time of Old Estron the steppes that divided North and South Estron were ruled by the wolf lords, goblinoid warlords whose power was derived from their wolf and warg riding cavalry. Thus these lands were seen as untamable by those of Old Estron and were allowed to remain independent. Raids on the northern borders of Old Estron were tolerated as an unavoidable part of living in those regions.
After the Skith invasion this attitude no longer held water. The Skiths used the power of their gods and massed pike formations to drive the wolf lords back. Knowing that they might otherwise face extermination the goblinoids began the construction of hilltop fortresses to fall back on whenever they encountered a Skith force too great to defeat directly. This allowed the wolf lords to once again retain their independence but at the cost of significantly reduced power and range. They knew raids on the Skiths would result in swift retaliation and should only be attempted in times of the greatest need. It was not until the Boreal's conquest that the wolf lords were turned into a vassal state and then due to overwhelming numbers and the north's advanced knowledge of siege engines.
The goblinoid armies are primarily made up of goblins or hobgoblins riding wolves, wargs, or stranger beasts. They wield composite bows made either from bone or layered wood, and curved blades made from steel as light as can be forged without making it too weak to effectively cut. This has made them a great asset to the Boreal auxiliary army as the citizen army is severely lacking in light cavalry and mounted archers.
Today the steppe tribes are nominally allied with the Eastern Expansion Army but they also know that the bulk of the Army is far away and that they are in the direct path of Northmark's armies. Many wonder the wisdom of putting their own homelands at risk for a king half a continent away.
The Tyrants' Wood
To the west of Durall and the north of the Mid South lies the Tyrants' Woods, so named for the Skith word for its inhabitants, the ogres, who found the name to their liking once they found out its meaning. They live deep within the woods close to the Toothy Peaks, a small mountain range on the Wood's northeastern border, farming large goats and berries to ferment into alcohol. Despite this attack on travelers near their borders were exceedingly common in the days before the Empire, because are exceptionally territorial and ogre chieftains and kings always have soldiers patrolling the very edges of their domains. These soldier's purpose is mainly too simply drive off intruders, but what would be a non-lethal scuffle to an ogre can often leave a smaller humanoid dead.
Ogres are divided up into groups of twelve to fifty known as tribes, each of which is ruled by a chief who can be challenged to a duel for leadership if he displays weakness or incompetence. If one tribe's chief bests another tribe in combat then the winning tribe's chief is considered to rule both tribes, but the defeated chief still maintains control of his own tribe as long as he obeys the winner's instructions. A ruler of more than one tribe is called a king.
After being conquered by the Boreals the ogres were surprisingly willing to send troops to join the auxiliary armies, because of how this fit their culture of kingship. The Boreal empire defeated all of the ogre tribes of the Woods; thus their emperor was seen as king of all ogres. This of course caused issue every-time a new emperor came into power and had to prove to the ogres once again that he had power over them by putting down a brief rebellion or engaging in a duel with the most powerful ogre chief. This custom itself is why the Tyrants' Wood is currently declared for Emund and the Eastern Expansion Army; he quelled them with such a duel shortly after the death of Emperor Bjorn.
The Southern Wall
Long ago in the times of old Estron before the coming of the Skiths the King of the Middle South received a group of refuges fleeing from the lands still further south, what is today the Salt Lands. They asked for asylum, claiming that they were fleeing from an army of demons, creatures whose armored shell turned back even the strongest of sorcery on its master and whose flesh could heal all wounds. When the king asked why these demons attacked them they said that they did not know.
In response the King sent messengers to retrieve a representative of these demons and hear their reasons for fighting, although the elven refugees advised against it. One day past a month later one of the demons presented itself in the court without the messenger who retrieved it. When asked why they fought the elves it said that they refused to feed the First One, and when asked where the messenger was it said he was feeding the First One. So the King accepted the elves request for asylum and ordered the demon put to death. Unfortunately the demon's strength was as the elves said and it could not be put to the sword, it did not die until the King's men dissolved its body in a pit of lye.
Realizing that he could not hope to defeat an army of these creatures in open combat the King had a wall of great size constructed on the southern border of his domain, and tasked all those elves who wished to live in his lands with guarding it, and his court alchemists with mass producing lye and other dissolving agents. These efforts when combined were able to drive back the demon's eventual attack, but were unable to truly break their army. When the demons' army retreated it was clear that it was but a fraction of their forces and that more would come. That is why to this day over one thousand years later the elves of the Desert Wall hold vigil, waiting for the demons to return.
The guardsmen of the Wall are usually born into their posts, having parents who were also a part of the guard. They view there posts as very important for the good of all the north, but also see it as an easy means by which they can make a living while remaining free from the politics of Estron. For the Wall is considered apolitical and has transitioned from the rule of old Estron, to the Skiths, to the Boreal Empire without any true stake in their rule or wars. Today most view the demons south of the wall as nothing more than a fairy tale, but that the Wall helps keep the elves to the south and out of human cities, for most see the elves as nothing more than foreign thieves.
Last edited by nyarlathotep : 06-25-2012 at 12:51 PM.
A land of rolling hills and green forests Albion is south of both the Tyrant's Wood and Durall and is the only location left on Estron that has yet to be conquered by the Boreal Empire. It is populated by the tengu wildmen. They are a race of birdmen capable of turning into giant humans with exceedingly long noses and bird like legs. They have a clan-based society in which each distinct family comprises a settlement and each only associate with one another during times of war and holidays.
Ever since the coming of the Boreal expansion army however it has always been wartime. The tengus have fought against the Empire for nearly forty years and are motivated by their deep love of freedom. Their primary forces are comprised of armored bird-men wielding long pikes and transformed giants wielding claymores to break enemy battle formations. The lack of attacks due to the Boreal civil war has confused the Albion tengus and they are now considering how they can best leverage this war in their favor.
The Lands of the Dead God
Far off of Estron's western coast is a continent of rocky shores and lush jungles. The people are united by their shared worship of a single Goddess or life but are divided on how she should be worshiped. For the Goddess is dead but some believe that through differing means she might be brought back to life. Unfortunately these means are usually mutually exclusive and as a result the continent is still in the midst of a fierce religious war.
The only specific state of this continent that is widely known among the people of Estron is Cruss, land of the crabmen. Merchants from Cruss are quite common along Estron's western coast and offer goods that are otherwise impossible to find in Estron, such as cocoa, stonehulled ships, olives, and sugar. Also known on Estron are the mighty Cruss privateers. If a lord offends the crabmen he is sure to be blockaded by crabmen pirates who attack from beneath the waves.
Last edited by nyarlathotep : 06-25-2012 at 12:49 PM.
Note: Just because a race is not on the list does not mean that it does not exist, it just means that they would either be difficult to incorporate into a party or I haven't thought about how they would fit into the world. So ask away about races outside of it, you might just create a new faction from my musings.
Campaign Specific Prestige Classes
Some stuff I haven't finished yet but will need to get to Bio Magus- Alchemist prestige class focusing on altering and modifying living creatures at the expense of bomb progression and mutagens. Puppetmaster- Bard prestige class focused on making clown zombies. Fey Initiate- Prestige class only available to dwarves and elves, focused on tapping into connection to fey magic allowing for spell-like abilities and magical transformation. Trying for something like the norse myths with dwarves and elves having weird magic.
We will also be using a variant of the armor as damage reduction rules. Armor grants an amount of DR /- equal to the armor bonus it would have otherwise given that stacks with all other forms of damage reduction, natural armor does not grant this due to the enormous effort needed to rebalance monsters on this paradigm. Enchantment bonuses to armor provide that bonus as an increase to the DR provided by the armor and as a deflection bonus to armor class. Shields still only add to armor class and do not provide damage reduction.
All classes grant a base defense bonus to armor class that is equal to: 1/2 their level rounded down for fullcasters, *1 their level for monks, rogues, and ninja, and 3/4 their level for all other classes. The base defense bonus is a dodge bonus that stacks with all other dodge bonuses.
Weapon damage types offer varying special abilities based on type. Bludgeoning weapons ignore half of all damage reduction granted by armor, piercing weapons ignore 100% of armor granted damage reduction but only on a critical hit, finally slashing weapons causes bleed damage equal to half damage dealt to the target after damage reduction is applied for a number of rounds equal to their critical modifier. Weapons made out of special materials may also be able to bypass armor but this will be noted in their description.
Last comes a nerf for spellcasters. Although all spells have the same casting time spells with less than a 1 round casting time do not trigger until the start of the caster's next turn, thus they can be disrupted regardless of spell casting time.