Introduction to Feyworld
|This article is part of the Feyworld Sourcebook|
War, strife and plague has shattered the great kingdoms of Baltheron into pale shards of their former potency. Sprawling cities that once upheld the tenants of truth and justice have fallen into ruin, a gangrenous sore upon the land. Armies of common folk who fought against any odds for their freedoms have decayed under the leadership of petty warlords interested more in keeping their coffers full than aspiring to the greatness of their forefathers. Once proud citadels of relentless order have crumbled before the inexorable might of political squabbling and failed judgment. Even powerful nations that prided themselves on their strength of arms and cunning in battle have become little more than manged dogs nipping off the scraps that slough from the corpse of society.
The Third Age of Man died less than a century ago. None at that time realized the chain of events that would lead to the Dark Times and certainly none could prevent it. In distant Donnagh Saoristat, peace was established between the Great Empire and the Gaels of the north when a dark army swept across the region, threatening to destroy all in their path. Heroes came forth, as they often do in times of strife, and helped bring two dissonant people to agreement. The dark horde was defeated and Man coexisted in a new-found peace. But as with so many men who must rise to the clarion call of conquest, the Great Empire only used this peace to redirect their attentions eastward, towards prodigal Koramia.
Koramia had finally achieved the union it had sought for so long. Under the banner of Vortumnus and the Greysword lineage, it seemed destined for the glory of ages past and, for a brief flicker in time, it achieved that former greatness. Then the black-sailed ships came. With Koramia again prosperous and conflicts in the Empire settled, the Legions returned to reclaim their former colonies on Duria. Few realized then, least of all the Emperor, that this one war would not only cost the Double Dragon its claim on Duria, but lead to the final destruction of the Empire as a whole. Even fewer realized that its destruction would come from within.
A native born of Koramia, the Mage-King of Lun Dorak, Lucasa, wrested control over the Empire and urged it further into the war with Koramia. Dubbed “the Heretic,” Lucasa ruled the Empire with an iron fist, enslaving its population to the whims of the Dorakian Mages and pushing ever harder for victory at any cost. Only through the intervention of the Dragonknights and the unexpected death of the Mage-King in the wretched throws of disease did his mad scheme fail. But now, those who recollect look back and wonder if his rule would have been preferable to the times that followed. For the Heretic Emperor had not only succeeded in throwing Koramia into ruin, but left behind a power vacuum in the Great Empire, which quickly succumbed to their Fourth, and likely last, Succession War.
Then in the ancient south, an evil greater than any this world had known rose from another world and buried his sword deep in all of us. The Manslayer incited the armies of Thet to march recklessly on its neighbors, encouraged Bakal to take back lands that once were theirs and caused countless petty conflicts and civil wars to arise across Old Gallorea, all in the attempt to obfuscate his horrific plans. In the final moments before his plan reached culmination, the Manslayer was defeated by a band of heroes and the world saved from destruction.
But the damage was done. The Manslayer’s broken schemes and forgotten provocations shook many cultures to their very core. Society, already fragile from over a decade of conflict, crumbled beneath their own weight. Even those nations who were not disrupted directly by the Manslaer’s plans fell pretty to bickering when trade began to slow and, in some places, ceased altogether. The Crimson Plague, believed to have been mystically engineered by the Manslayer, raged across Old Gallorea and quickly made its way to Duria and Aurea, killing a third of humanity. Kingdoms shrank and Empires crumbled, leaving large tracts of wilderness where the corrupt or the bestial could lay in wait to prey on the remains of society. Creatures never before seen on the face of Baltheron (or beneath it) ravaged its people and raised their lands. Though the Manslayer could not succeed in conquering our lands, his legacy was the chaos that still roils across the Three Continents.
For reasons that are still unclear, the Old Gods receded from the world and Baltheron plunged into the Third Interannum... the Dark Times. Abandoned by the Gods that had created them, Man turned on himself in a bloody attempt to find purpose. Amidst war and disease, the ancient order of Druids returned from their hermitage among the savage Gaels hiding in the remote corners of the world. Man was eager to accept the wisdom of the Druids and knowledge of their gods, the once-mortal Tuatha de Dannan, began to spread across the world. Those few scholars who retained knowledge of history knew that the previous Interannums had lasted centuries and, with only the ancient and dim light of the Druids to guide them, much of Man lost hope that they would live to see the Fourth Age... if it were ever to come.
As terrible as they were, the Dark Times only lasted four decades.
As abruptly and inexplicably as they had departed, the Old Gods returned to the world, again lending their power to the few priests who had remained loyal to the old ways. For the first time in the historic record, Druids and priests were actively competing for the hearts and souls of Man. Though this competition was quite civil in most regions, in some places the conflict grew violent, throwing some Men into holy wars. Meanwhile, the Mage Guilds of Old Gallorea began to establish chapterhouses on Aurea and Duria, promising to focus practitioners on scholarly pursuits instead of conquering nations. Though distrust of wizards and particularly sorcerers was still predominant, the Guilds worked tirelessly to prove that wizards were a useful and beneficial part of society.
In the sixty years since the return of the Gods, Man has struggled to re-establish itself and forge a new destiny. With the Peace of Gundagor still holding, dwarves continue to travel from their deep mountain kingdoms to trade with and become a part of the surface world. The Elven Diaspora on Duria has even thrust elves back into the greater society with strange and often horrifying results as they struggle to redefine themselves. Orcs remain an ever-present threat, contained in their lands until another Great Khan rises to bring them together and terrorize the free peoples of the world. Rumors are rife in Duria of a new threat rising near Neptaris as that great Freecity fights a bloody war against Daredonia. Goblins, giants and their kin lurk at the edges of society, inexplicably throwing themselves into conflicts across the world. And even more strange rumors hint of lands as yet undiscovered across the supposedly Endless Ocean, where orcs sail ships armed with great steel weapons and mysterious humans speak with the power of their minds.
Meanwhile, on Aurea, the corpse of the Great Empire festers and rots. What was once the shining height of the glory of Man remains a place of chaos as if the Dark Times never ended. While raiders continue to pick the bones of the Great Empire along its fringes, an ancient evil has risen to dominate Dallea and threaten the lands beyond. A great army of giants and their goblin slaves has risen in the deep valleys of the Antasian Mountains, ready to spill out into the fertile lands of Man beyond. On the frozen rivers of Kadach, minotaur slaves have risen up against their orcish masters and established their own bastion of freedom, however harsh and bloody that freedom is. And the Ivory Queen has ascended the Dragon Throne in Dracia, claiming the the Heretic Emperor as her god and his Empire her birthright.
The Fourth Age is here. And it needs heroes to guide its destiny...
Welcome to the Feyworld Campaign Setting. Feyworld has been through a lot over the years and I’m starting to feel how professional authors feel when a place “lives” for them. Since Feyworld’s birth in 1996, I’ve run many different games, but I always return to Baltheron to explore some as yet undiscovered corner of this world with my fellow players, who deserve as much credit for the richness of this world as I do.
Feyworld was originally designed for use with the Dangerous Journeys Multi-Genre Role Playing Game, written by Gary Gygax. My first journey through this world took place back in 1996 in the kingdom of Koramia. The campaign ended with the defeat of the Empire and of Lun Dorak in a dragon-borne raid on the Dorakian capital of Davalor. After a hiatus while I re-worked some of the finer points of Mythus, Dangerous Journey's fantasy genre rules, I started a new campaign in 1999. This time the setting was the Great Empire, far away from Koramia's troubles. In the Mabean Marches, the adventurers were forced to deal with a coven of witches undermining the government and ended up bringing peace to the region. The campaign ended abruptly with a large tribe of orcs rampaging across the countryside.
After the Mabean campaign, Mythus was starting to lose its appeal to me. The game system was extremely good and fit my style of gaming, but the editorial errors mixed with the fact that it was no longer being published eventually dragged me away from it. I ran various games and Feyworld started to collect dust. Then Wizards of the Coast published the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Filled with the sort of stuff I’d come to love when I first started role playing, 3rd edition brought me back into the D&D fold. After running a couple of campaigns in the Forgotten Realms, I decided that it was time to convert Feyworld over to D&D.
For my third Feyworld campaign, I moved the action to the eastern half of the continent, in far off Valduran. An old enemy from many previous campaigns, the Manslayer, had risen on Feyworld and was hatching a plan to conquer it as he had conquered so many campaign worlds before. Numerous NPCs and former PCs came to Feyworld, if not as major players, at least making cameos in the group’s adventures. The campaign concluded with the death of the Manslayer. A villain who had foiled PCs in my campaigns for over a decade was finally dead. Many, many storylines, some even from those previous campaigns in other worlds, came to a close.
The fourth Feyworld campaign saw a return to Paeldain and Koramia. With the world in the desperate throws of the Dark Times, the heroes worked to survive in a once-noble city overrun with gangs and factions striving for what little resources remained. Their quest eventually took them into the University District, where the tortured souls of those murdered by an orc invasion still haunted the abandoned streets.
After several more years hiatus and a move to North Carolina, the fifth Feyworld campaign started in September of 2010 with an almost entirely new group of players. This time, the campaign was based in the Freecity of Neptaris at the dawn of the Fourth Age of Man. Described as a cross between Game of Thrones and Babylon 5, the campaign focused on the adventures of a group from the Explorer's Guild of Neptaris as they worked to navigate the complex politics of the ancient city and help those people they could (usually for good coin). Eventually, they inadvertently became involved in a war between Neptaris and neighboring Daredonia, manipulated by the mysterious Dark Sheaf (a.k.a. Dark Corncob).
A sixth campaign in Baltheron is in the works... more on that as it develops...
So as always, strap on your sturdy broadsword, memorize your hermetic incantations and give homage to Orchus for good fortune!