Fourteen years ago, the Magyars (we’re using that real world name here because it’s cool and not overdone in historical fiction), swept through the nation-states of Raavnia and destroyed much of the Emperor’s army. Entire swaths of land were razed and ancient settlements decimated in the wake of their nomadic army. Falling from power, the Emperor’s dukes squabbled for power. Loyal armies turned on one another and the peasants, trapped in the middle, were forced into squalor. Even the church seemed ill-prepared for what was happening and years passed without any hope of release from the plight.
After nine years of war and internal backbiting, the nation states felt their tensions ease as the Magyars left their stomping grounds and settled in the [North Central] Zolnierz Mountains, leaving the decimated empire to its owns contrivances. This release of pressure would only last so long, however, as a grain blight struck the land two years later and the already strained populace fell onto harder times. The nobility balked, the church waffled, and cults sprouted, offering “miracles” for those who converted to their faith.
Two more years passed and the Emporer’s health began to fail. Rumors of his abdication from the throne, sent power hungry dukes into a fervor over who would take the heirless noble’s seat. Court-appointed regents eagerly cast their own nominations for important positions within the changing government and with the Emperor still alive, the climate within the capital (Milosny) grew even more tense and antisocial. Anyone not climbing a ladder of power was being brushed aside in the wake of the court’s own farcical calamity.
But Styrga was not done showing his followers the meaning of the word “struggle.” A mere six months ago, beasts unfamiliar to the peoples of Raavnia appeared on the edges of the land. To the southeast, dwarves told tales of battles with fast, impossibly strong beasts, with razor sharp claws and eyes are black as coal. To the northeast, elves spoke of nightmare beasts that roam the shadowy hills and forests at night. To the west, the Draha dealt with child-abducting monsters. And to the northwest, a witch hunt began against gypsies, unwed women, and any outsider displaying unnatural gifts. Rumors of a plague ripped through Aradan lands, but none can verify any such claims. And now, whispers of a death cult rising in the south has both arms of the church worried.
Note to DMs: I have purposely added elements to satisfy any campaign (we haven’t gotten to dungeons yet, but wait). A political or religious campaign with lots of roleplaying can certainly be accomplished. Grab 20 of your favorite NPC templates and scatter them throughout Draha and go. A high-combat campaign fought on any of 4 different borders of the empire is cake. A particularly difficult campaign would have them already inside the borders. Exploration can also go beyond the borders of these lands (see the map) and peacekeeping, escort, and rescue missions exist in every corner. If you can’t use this material, you’re not looking hard enough.
Please feel free to contact me with more ideas.
Theme D coming soon (and D is for Demon).