Against the Odds
For three centuries, the Empire in the east and the Kingdoms of the west made war upon each other. Devastating battles raged for countless decades as the armies of the two great nations clashed. Common folk were left dispossessed. Once proud families were eradicated as their sons and daughters bled and died on the field of combat. Entire communities were razed to ash and dust.
Then the Emperor and the Council of Kings struck an uneasy peace. The Council of White facilitated the treaty between the two great nations. Death had taken its toll and peace was a foreign hand to all. Although the Cult of Dorvos attempted to sabotage the moots, the Council’s Wardens were able to defeat these efforts almost entirely. The words were drawn up, and the terms set. The nations would not position their armies in aggressive fronts, and borders would be withdrawn to their standings prior to the wars. Although it was never spoken directly, rumors circulated that the White Council had paid a dear price to all the affected parties, in order to bring them to the tables of mediation.
Now, nearly five decades have passed since that monumental day. Although there is an entire generation that did not take part in the wars, their long impact is still felt. Trade occurs in the major hubs, freely and as easily as can be expected, but there is still much wariness between citizens of the Empire, and the freemen of the Alliance. The Cult of Dorvos still plays its role in the shadows, trying to push the peace out of balance. But even this odd anarchist sect has been disturbingly quiet for nearly two years, with few incidents of any serious note.
The Eastern Continent
The denizens of the Eastern continent, are composed of Human, Half-Ork, and Ork tribes that have all been brought under the banner of the Shau’r Ti Empire. There are a few Half-Giant (sometimes called Golliaths) clans who are very nomadic, and still exist outside the limits of the Empire, on the fringes. Several remnants of the once-proud Dragon born still live in their ancestral homelands in the High-Mountain reaches, and sell their services as warriors to the highest bidder.
The Eastern Empire
For 1000 years, the tribes of the wild steppes in the east were dislocated and without a central government. Some 500 years prior, a chieftain united his entire clan under one banner, and systematically became Warlord of all the tribes. That was when he claimed the title of emperor and began ruling in the East. Although it started as a very militaristic regime, and still to this day is rooted in deep martial traditions, the Empire has served the populace well. They’ve encouraged arts, medicine, higher learning, civil infrastructure, as well as a very strict code of justice, based on their ancient tribal customs.
The Western Continent
The kingdoms of the Elves and the Dwarves looked kindly upon the first men to walk upon the lands in the west. They were taught and nurtured by the ancient cultures that had walked before them, and shown the meaning of craftsmanship, agriculture, and government. The cultures blossomed, traded, grew, and flourished with the assurance of mutual protection and defense. Eventually, the Nine Kingdoms became a mighty alliance. (Seven Dwarf Houses, the two Eldar Races, and the Allied Human Protectorate make up the Council of Nine**.) The Nine govern the large brush strokes of Legislature, and have put governors and thanes in charge of various territories and cities.
The 7 Dwarf Families
There are seven Noble families, to which all Dwarfs claim allegiance and blood relation to. These seven great houses built the first forges, dug the first Mountain Halls, and brought order to the chaos of the realm (that chaos taken largely in the form of huge bands of marauding orcs and goblins, wicked gnolls, and putrid daemonic creatures). Dwarf males don’t shave their beards or the hair on their heads ever, unless they’ve committed some great atrocity or dishonored their family name somehow (breaking oaths, abandoning a friend in time of need, damaging or defacing relics, or failing to vanquish an enemy). If a dwarf ever does fall into ruin, they have one way out—the path of the slayer. They shave part or all of their hair and beard, dye it bright red or orange, and they seek out foes, ever greater and more deadly than the last, vowing to destroy their nemesis in combat, or die in the glorious conflict. Dwarves can come off as stubborn, taciturn, and grouchy. They do, however, enjoy feasts and wealth, gift-giving, and receiving, and LOVE to show off their collective cultural cleverness at manufacturing arms, armour, trinkets, toys, and gems. No matter which house a Dwarf actually belongs to, there is a sense of brotherhood and intense loyalty in each member of their race.
The Iron Mountain
The Eldar Kingdoms
Once there was a single, united, proud kingdom of the Elves. But several thousand years ago, there was a schism. Only the Elves know the history of this event, but it is not spoken of. Now there are two distinct branches of the Elder Race.
The “Elves” (also sometimes called Wood Elves) as they are known in the West, are wild and impassioned. They view themselves as protectors of the natural world, and guardians of all the wild places. They dwell on the natural plane and love to make their homes in arboreal forests and glens, jungles and rainforests, or anywhere nature has provided some extreme from any end of the spectrum. The seat of their “Kingdom” (if it can be designated as such) is located south of a large expanse of forested wild-lands called Blackwood. The royal city of Sylvarryl is a work of wonders, the Elven architecture blends and joins with the natural forest surroundings in an uncanny mimicry of the forest itself.
The Eladrin (sometimes called Sun Elves) are represented by a smaller enclave on the natural plane. These folk dwell along the edges of the most Western borders of the continent. The majority of their kind chooses to dwell in the Fey Wilds, a mysterious “Mirror” of the Natural Plane. All Eladrin are beholden to a seasonal Court, and the four Lords of the Seasons are very protective of their subjects. Anything that happens in the Natural World, also will bleed into the realm of the Fey, and vice versa. Although the Eladrin presence is not as populous as the Elvish kingdom, their power is great and they are afforded a voice on the Council of Nine. It is rumored that the Council of White was initiated by Eladrin Wizards, some 12,000 years ago.
Inverashiel [Eladrin Enclave]
The Allied Human Protectorate
Men first appeared in the West over 5,000 years ago, and were immediately recognized by the other races as a force for coming change. Originally clannish in their family structures, they very soon began organizing themselves in a feudal republic, with a chief declaring himself King, but taking the other clan chiefs in as a democratic parliament. Although he is “King” in his own right, if he should pass, his heir does not ascend the throne. The Clanmoot is convened and they elect a new king from the standing clan chiefs, based on a consensus vote. This vote must be ratified by another moot one year and one day from the time of the initial election, to confirm the crown is seated upon the most worthy brow. The Protectorate is primarily governed by humans; however, several other races have representation in a House of Commons (equal to but separate from the House of Chiefs). Among these other races are the less common of the free-folk, including—but not limited to: Halflings, Dragonborn, Teiflings, and a host of others. Because the Protectorate is a Democratic Monarchy, their parliamentary proceedings can be over-ridden by the King, but traditionally this is very rare. Mostly the King determines policy, while the parliaments determine legislature. This works quite well in theory, however the very nature of politics has yielded a somewhat, stagnating and overly-bulky governing body.