"The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it. The way is shut."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
As a runner, one has to find ways to pass along the time as all those miles are logged. My good friend and I have spent many a long run (8+ miles) discussing our own fantasy world. This was before I had discovered D&D, and had my creative outlets put on hold in life. So, for me, these runs were just little glimpses into the wider world I would jump back into building with my friends.
As I've continued to playtest D&D Next, I've been able to flesh out other areas of the world, one of them being a currently unnamed kingdom that has fallen into ruin. I've decided to put down the thoughts and explanations of the world in order to add a basic primer to what I'm running in the campaign. Feel free to use this post as inspiration in your own gaming world.
The history of this Dying Kingdom lies in a small island nation. Many centuries ago, the first ancestors of House Nowyki conquered the lands and claimed them for their own. They built many great keeps and fortresses, turning the island into a self-sustaining nation that assisted the outside world.
Slowly though, the kingdom fell, slowly being destroyed from inside by renegade factions and civil war. Worship turned from the angelic deity Umbaria to something more sinister. The conquered creatures began rising in revolt, strengthened from outside observers who wished the noble house of Nowyki to fall.
Currently, House Nowyki maintains a few remnants of greatness it once held long ago. A few cathedrals and chapels dedicated to Umbaria dot the landscape, while fallen fortresses have become overrun with monsters and fiends.
Umbaria, the angelic deity primarily worshipped by those of House Nowyki, inspires hope of the coming dawn and that darkness is only temporary to the light. Historical accounts speak of Umbaria's angelic servants assisting House Nowyki as they conquered their lands and brought peace to their island nation. However, the angels that assisted in the past have not been seen for decades. Some wonder if the kingdom is too divided, or if Umbaria has simply turned her back in disgust with the kingdom. The devout maintain that the land has been cursed, and that Umbaria's servants can no longer manifest into the lands they once protected. Despite this upsetting observation, many aligned with House Nowyki still give their worship and service to Umbaria.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: While I have no pictures of Umbaria, I picture and base her off of Sheik and Midna from the Legend of Zelda. There is also an Orzhov piece of art from Magic the Gathering that ties some things together. Umbaria is tied to twilight, to light and darkness. She needs to be garbed to appear as such.
Out of all the structures that dot the landscape of the island nation, none are as prominent as the crypts. Numerous and well decorated, their gigantic mausoleums hold dead royals and their servants. A sect of clerics, known as the Collectors, scour the battlefields and collect any remains they find of House Nowyki and its allies. They are then interred within the crypts, where they are sealed magically. In times of great need, the dead are awoken, and an undead army of soldiers loyal to Umbaria and House Nowyki marches into battle. The crypts also act as historical libraries, recounting the tales and deeds of those within. Many magical items of legend lie within the vaults as well, buried with their owners so that they may wield them again if woken. The crypts are sealed magically, only able to be opened with special keys held by the High Priests, or by powerful magical wards. Despite the destruction that runs rampant across the lands, the magic the permeates the crypts has made them unable to be harmed by normal means.
The threats to the Dying Kingdom have continued to grow in alarming strength. Many violent orc tribes have been united by a strong leader, and numerous fiends have begun to roam the lands, amassing their own armies. More disturbing still are reports of a deviant group of paladins, once loyal to House Nowyki, seeking to bring about the final fall and rebuild the nation as they see fit. Still others whisper about movement in the shadows, a darker power that stirs as the sun goes down on Umbaria's blessings...
The heir to the king of House Nowyki is a young paladin named Eric. In his youth, he as known as 'the Handsome' and was believed to have Umbaria's blessings upon him as he sought to defeat many of the enemies that surrounded his land and kingdom. However, he was betrayed by a close friend and now roams his kingdom in exile, seeking to help his people and right the wrongs committed to the lands of his ancestors.
|Eric the Handsome, by P@|
And with that, I bring the short summary of the Dying Kingdom. I'm currently writing another module for my players as they seek to discover other secrets and threats that are assailing the noble house of Nowyki.
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