Chapter Sixteen - Aquilonia

Following is a sample time line of a world setting that you might use. On the assumption that humans are an integral part of the story most games will begin at 0 AL or later. Initially I was going to do a game based on the later scenario, but recently I decided that I would include a year 0 option as well. What more fun can it be than to begin exploring a new world completely unknown to the players. This would mean of course that all players begin as humans, and it would be a good idea to keep secret the true nature of the other races. So at some point in the future I will break this chapter into two parts, one for a year 0 game, and another for a later game.

Time Line (in sequence order).

Age

Event

-5000

The Elves arrive in Aquilonia.

-4500

The dwarves appear in Aquilonia.

-4000

The 1st Elvish-Dwarvish War begins.

-3800

The Goblins arrive in Aquilonia.

-3700

The 1st War ends in Elvish victory. Dwarves are forced to live within the Southern Mountains by Treaty.

-3500

The Trolls and Lizardmen arrive in Aquilona.

-3200

The 2nd Elvish-Dwarvish War begins.

-3100

The Goblins side with the Dwarves.

-3000

The Trolls side with the Elves.

-2950

The Elves-Trolls win the 2nd War. Dwarves and Goblins are forced back to the mountains and also forced to make enormous payments.

-2500

The Centaurs arrive in Aquilonia, destroying many of the elvish settlements of the North.

-2450

The Centaurs defeat a small Elvish army in battle.

-2300

The Dwarves prepare to start the 3rd War but are betrayed by the Goblins, they retreat in disorder.

-2250

Elves-Trolls defeat the Centaurs but with heavy losses. Trolls announce policy of neutrality. Elvish demand submission. 1st Troll-Elvish War begins.

-2200

Trolls ambush and annihilate Elvish Army at the Battle of Two Forked Rivers. The Troll Warlord Arach secures his races freedom.

-2150

The 3rd Elvish-Dwarvish War begins.

-2050

The 3rd War ends in a Treaty, allowing Dwarves access to all mountain lands in Aquilonia.

-2000

The Pact of Peace is signed at the Cairn of the Troll Warlord Arach. All races agree to peace and status quo for 500 years.

-1500

The Elves demand submission of all lesser races. The 1st Anti-Elf War begins.

-1000

The Elves are defeated and retreat to their forests. The other races are unwilling to pursue due to heavy losses.

-800

All other races have by now appeared in Aquilonia except humans.

-637

The Dragon Grond captures Faradoom.

-500

The 4th Elvish-Dwarvish War begins, the Dwarves burning huge areas of forest in a stated aim of elven genocide.

-400

The Battle of One Stump is fought between the Elves and Dwarves for final supremacy. Both sides retire after 3 days fighting. A Troll army arrives with a supporting army of Goblins, they demand Elves and Dwarves to submit to a new Peace of Arach. After 3 more days of arguing the Trolls attack both sides in the early morning and are victorius, but with heavy losses to all sides. A new Peace is agreed to for 500 years.

The Dark Ages

Dark Ages: the races are so depleted of males due to war losses that the balance of power shifts considerably. Female rulers first appear in the Elves and Dwarves. Trolls become isolationist. Goblin prosper by quick breeding and vast areas of abandoned land.

0 AL

0 AL (After Landing). The Great Fleet of Viriconium arrives on the shores of Aquilonia near the presentlocation of Ekbir.

50

The Cities of Ekbir and Viriconium are raised.

100

The Dark Lord arrives in Aquilonia, near Krang.

200

Humans have settled must of the plains lands of the North and South, driving the Goblins out.

300 to 350

Humans start to push into the lands of the Elves, Trolls and Dwarves for various reasons. Bush wars break out and the humans are repulsed. Local Lords turn to raiding and problems escalate. The Elves send a proclamation to the Emperor that no human will be allowed to enter the land of the Elves without invitation. The wording is not the best and many take offence. The final trigger is the slaughter of a large family group just south of the elvish forests. Local lords demand revenge, the weak Emperor raises an army and marches north. The army dissappears into the elvish forests and is never seen again, no one returns.

350-360

The new Emperor, Leonidas, ascends the throne. He is only 19 years old but highly talented. Defy the calls of his Lords he declares a truce with the elves and orders all humans to remain out of their lands. In the mean time he rebuilds his army and institutes major reforms in the government, becoming very popular with the people. He signs a treaty with the Trolls that stands to this day.

His efforts with the dwarves however are met with violence. A dwarvish army marches toward Viriconium and is intercepted by Leonidas. The battle is over quickly when Leonidas's new army is unleashed, the dwarves suffering a crushing defeat. The survivors retreat to their mountains and 4 years of pointless guerilla warfare follows. Eventually the dwarves submit to a treaty that is exceedingly generous to them.

360-370

Centaurs appear in the north. An advance force marches into the north lands and creates havoc. Several local focres are destroyed by the centaurs. Emperor Leonidas takes command and in a brilliant series of battles crushes the centaurs and drives them back to their homelands. The centaurs send ambassadors and a treaty is agreed to.

370-380

The elves suddenly get aggressive and demand that all human settlements within 20 miles of their forests be removed (reason given that they were cutting down the trees). The Emporer tries to negotiate but is rebuked by the elves in public. He challenges the offender to combat for the insult and in an epic fight is victorious, but takes a nasty wound the his left lung that will evetually kill him. It is here that he takes the name Sword King and claims the sword and armour of the elf. The elves are stunned and outraged, and immediately prepare for war, invading from the north and burning everything they come across.

Leonidas raises a new army and camps near to the elvish lands. The elves present for battle and over two days are eventually defeated, but at high cost to both sides. The elves retreat into their lands. Leonidas refuses the trap and instead begins cutting and burning the elvish forest, yard by yard. Casualties mount for both sides but eventually the elves are forced to accept another peace. Again Leonidas is overly generous, including moving human settlements back the 20 miles originally agreed to.

380-400

Leonidas rebuilds and counters activities by the goblins. He founds the three western cities (but these are not supported by his successor) and many reforms. A golden age passes.

400

The Centaurs attack from the north with surprise. Leonidas is ill for the first 3 months of the invasion and his Lords do poorly. He eventually recovers enough to lead his army and manoeuvres for a deciding battle. He is outnumbered three to one and many think him insane. Again he proves his genius and soundly defeats the centaurs at Manson Gap. He then follows up with a vicious pursuit that completely routs the centaurs.

On completion of his victory he rests at the Norgaard Pass and founds the great northern fortress that would become so important in the future.

500

Zard founded.

610

The Great Invasion (Centaurs) arrives from the north, under the leadership of the Great Khan, the centaurs strongest leader for 500 years.

614

The Battle of Last Blood is fought around the fortress of Norgaard. Trolls, Dwarves and even the Elves send forces. The Centaurs are close to victory when their Khan is slain by the Elvish hero known only as Shadow. The centaurs fall apart without their great Khan and their armies retire.

698

The Empire is split in two.

710

Christian, King of the South, is slain by a mage assassin. Mages outlawed in the South.

810

Dark Lord captures the city of Ekbir.

813

King of the North slain by assassin.

815

The Dark Lord imprisons the city of Zard.

845 - 0 OG (One God)

The Paladin Tarsh arrives at Karego-At and founds the Church of the One God.

900 - 65 OG

The Lizardmen of Hist adopt the faith of the One God.

950+ Present

The above history outline is just that, an outline. It gives you a series of events and their results, it doesnt tell you how this was achieved or what the effects were. Each GM can complete their own detail to fit into the outline as they chose.

Following is one possible world. Above I have set the campaign to begin in the year 950 AL, this is completely arbitary. In my campaign I selected this date as the start of a second dark age, where the DarkLord would have a powerful, and possible victorius effect. The human lands are in dissarray, especially the South Kingdom, and a wind of bleak dispair sweeps over all. Even the elves, dwarves and trolls are feeling the effects of the Dark Lords work. Goblins are teaming, normal people live in fear of the night and dark shadows. Those most needed are locked away in Zard. What better time for the players to begin in.

Game worlds are however unique creations, they mostly exist within the mind of the creator. Only the creator knows exactly what means what, and how it all hangs together. Only they have the fine detail, the dreams that go hand in hand with any work of fiction. Accordingly you should not feel bound by my ideas, use them or discard them at will. Suggest alternatives, I may well take them up myself. Remember also that your players will change things. Dont set your feet in concrete right from the start, you need to be very flexible once your players turn your dream into a nightmare.


Enclosed you will find a map of Aquilonia, a peninsular of land surrounded by natural obstacles that will discourage players from wandering outside the known world area. As GM you shouldn't be forced into that sort of situation anyway, you control the main story line of the game so the players should be following that, rather than randomly wandering around.

Ref Name Type Pop Law
1 Lyon W 10 E
2 Rouen W 10 E
3 Strandholm W 5 E
4 Suleem F 20 C
5 Pella N 10 B
6 Lilith N 15 A
8 Antioch N 30 B
9 Tyre P 5 D
A Ekbir * * *
B Viriconium S 25 C
C Cairleon S 20 C
D Atard D 15 A
E Karego-At S 15 A
F San Lando P 5 D
G Hist F 2 A
H Krang G 30 7
I Faradoom L * *
J Shar-il-Norq/Last E 20 A
K Hellius I 10 B
N Norgard N 20 B
Z Zard M 5 A
M Forwall N 5 B

Codes.

*         Lost City of Ekbir.
D Dwarvish City
E Elvish City.
F Free City.
G Goblin City of Krang
I Independent City
L Lost City of Faradoom
M Mages City of Zard.
N Northern City
P Pirate City
S Southern City
W Western City, independent

The number code indicates the population of the city in thousands of adults (15+ years).

The last letter indicates the level of law within the city, as represented by a government, police, custom etc.

A Strict ordered society
B Lawful and respectful.
C Organised but inefficient
D Disorganised.
E Chaotic

History of Aquilonia.

Some 1000 years ago the ancestors of the human inhabitants of Aquilonia arrived by ships from the Great Southern Ocean. They arrived from their homelands, escaping the Dark Lord who now ruled there. Some 100,000 people arrived over a 10 year period.

They landed along the coastline from the modern city of Krang to the Haunted City of Ekbir. The land was sparsely populated by goblins who quickly fell back before the technologically advanced humans. The migrating peoples moved quickly inland to find fertile plains and a new home. They raised two cities in short time, one called Ekbir On the Coast (in the old tongue meaning First Berth). The other was called Viriconium and was founded in the middle of the great southern plain they now occupied. This was named after the Hero-King who had lead his people to this new land.

Unbeknown to the humans the thing they were fleeing was not willing to let them live in peace in their new land. This being was a Demon Lord of god like powers who had been released upon their original lands by the experiments of the Council of Great Mages. This Demon Lord saw no threat from the fleeing humans but thought it particularly touching that he should haunt them to their dying days. Accordingly he summoned the now corrupt spirit of the Great Councils leader, gave him physical form and sent him to Aquilonia.

The new Dark Lord (as he has become known) landed at the southern most point of the peninsular and immediately set about corrupting the innocent goblins who inhabited the region.

The humans were unaware of this however and over the next 200 years expanded their domain to encompass all the plains of the land. They encountered the resident races and in most cases made peace with them. First were the Dwarves, who merely wanted to remain in their southern mountain holdings. Next were the Trolls of the northwestern forests, who remained aloof from the humans, trying to ignore them as long as they did not enter their forest lands. The humans ignored them back.

Then came the elves, but here conflict erupted. A series of small battles occurred along the edges of the Elvish Forests lands where humans were trying to raise a city. The small number of humans were no match for the elves and after many defeats moved their city back some 20 miles. Legend has it however that a treaty was signed that prevented the city from being built within an arrows flight of the forest edge. An elf hero was then brought forward with a magical bow and a special arrow made for the occasion. It landed 20 miles away.

New cities arose and the descendants of the Hero-King Viriconium ruled their people wisely and prosperously. A golden age passed as the humans accepted their new land, but dark forces were growing.

Some 400 years after the first landing, the Centaurs appeared, sweeping down from the north through the pass now guarded by the city of Norgard. They crushed a hastily gathered army of humans at the Battle of the Red River and then proceeded to the city of Lilith. Here their invasion faltered, for they had never seen anything like a city and its defences before. Concentrating so many people in such a small area was completely beyond their grasp and many died trying to attack the city. Finally a relieving army arrived from the southlands and the centaurs were forced to retreat.

To safeguard the land against future incursions of the centaurs the King of the time laid out a new city in the middle of the pass and called it Norgard. He then created a unique charter for the city, promising land and exemption from taxes for those men and women who settled there, as long as they protected the pass with their blood. The King, Leonidas, is revered above all others in Norgard and is now known as the Sword King.

The last race to be encountered by the humans were the Lizardmen of the Hist Swamps. A few private attempts were made to take control of this land but all disappeared into the mirky swamp waters. Eventually a human enclave was allowed to colonise a small group of hills on the coastline for the purposes of trade.

During this time, the agent of the Dark Lord (now calling himself by his masters name) had been working slowly and secretly, building and intervening whenever he could. He now had sway over all the goblins of the south, had influence with the eastern goblins and was working on the northern goblins. His attempts to manipulate the Lizardmen failed repeatedly and he abandoned them to their own fate. He had also begun gathering agents amongst the humans, especially magic users, to whom he gave new powers and blackarts. Finally he showed his hand and launched a surprise attack on the city of Viriconium with forces from the south and east. The attack would probably have worked except for a small factor, he had paid his goblins with gold coin.

Deep in the heart of the Dwarf Mountains lies the lost city of Atard, the only great city the Dwarves ever built. Legend suggests it was a wonder beyond the wildest dreams of men, but unfortunately not beyond the dreams of a certain dragon, known to the goblins as Grund (which translates roughly into " to pulverise, defeat, smash, kill and completely destroy something, then consume it at leisure, followed by an obscene act where the resulting waste is returned to the surviving relatives with a polite thank you note and a loud burp"). The dragon swept in and attacked the city, forcing the dwarves to flee into the surrounding lands. It is strongly rumoured that the dragon was attracted by the huge quantities of gold kept in the city.

The two goblin armies that descended on the city of Viriconium were carrying a notable quantity of gold in the form of payments for military service, enough to tempt the dragon from his lair. Grond rose into the air and swept north, scattered the goblins and return considerably richer.

The lesson did not go unnoticed by anyone. Gold was found to be the trigger and so became somewhat lessened in value, especially as the amount became greater. In fact an enormous amount of gold actually became worthless. Alternative metals were quickly brought into use and paper money, known as script, also became popular.

The goblin attack was thwarted and the Dark Lords hand was somewhat exposed to the human Mages who examined the matter. He quickly covered himself in mystery and managed to avert most of the dangerous attention. However his tactics changed rapidly and for the worse. He now turned to darker methods of ruling his goblin subjects, methods of pain and torture and death. For the next 300 years he worked on the race as a whole and changed it from the primitive tribal humanoids it had once been, into a horrible distortion of itself. He mutated them into new forms and sizes to suit specific needs and deeds.

He also completed his control of the remaining goblin tribes and began work on the Trolls. His work with the humans continued and a large network of Dark Mages came into existence, who acted as his direct servants.

Eventually he was exposed, the Mage Lord Gladius denounced the Dark Mages as agents of evil and banished them from the lands of men. They fled to join the goblins and became their leaders in service to the Dark Lord.

The Dark Lord then began a new plan of attack, he used his Dark Mages to lead the various goblin forces in a guerilla war to harry the whole human race, whilst he concentrated on working with his remaining human servants within the Kingdom. His first break through occurred when the King Valerium gave birth to twin sons in the year 676 AL (after landing). Working with lackeys of the King he managed to convince him that both sons deserved to rule after he died. Accordingly in the year 698 he dies and bequeathed his Kingdom to both sons, splitting it into North and South. So marked the beginning of the Fall of the Two Kingdoms.

In the year 710 the King of the South, Christian, was slain by a mage. Evidence was obtained from the killer by torture and magic that he was in the employ of a group of powerful Lords from the north kingdom, aiming to reunite the Kingdom under one King. This was eventually found to be a plant but not before the peoples of the two kingdoms grew apart. The new King of the South was only 16 years olds, so a regent was appointed till he came of age. The Regent was an agent of the Dark Lord.

His first order was to banish all Mages from the Kingdom, and outlawed the use of magic. A force known as the Royal Witchhunters was created and charged to expunge all organised magic from the Kingdom (village and folk magic would still be allowed due to its everyday use). This group of fanatics, lead by Dark Mages, became feared throughout all the lands for their savagery and cruelty.

One hundred years passed and the South Kingdom fell into chaos, the King becoming a figurehead with no power. Individual Lords ruled by force of arms and real power lay with them and the Witch Hunters. Many fled north where central authority was still strong. Finally the Dark Lord decided to bring his plans to fruition. A large goblin army moved on the city of Ekbir and captured it, whilst in the north an assassin was sent to slay the King.

With Ekbir captured, the Dark Lord weakened his control of the Southern Lords and allowed them to join together and form an army. That army was wiped out and with it all effective opposition to the Dark Lord in the south.

The King of the North was slain by magic in year 813, leaving only a 6 year old heir to the throne. Wary of giving power to an individual, the northern lords formed a Regents Council, one member from each city. Unfortunately they allowed themselves to be influenced by advisers and acted against Mages, declaring that all who practised magic must be licensed to do so, and that they must wear distinctive clothing to indicate their skill. Further, no mage was allowed to use or carry any weapon or armour. Punishment for breaking this law was to have one hand cut off. A second offence meant death.

The one exception to this was the city of Norgard, where the WarLord refused to recognise the authority of the Regents Council and maintained the old ways.

Nearly all of the Greater Mages refused to accept this law and so left the Northern Kingdom, going to the city of Zard in the Mountains, a city of Mages established some 300 years before by the Seer Aristides. The city was outside the rule of the two kingdoms and heavily protected by magic. Here all mages could be safe and free to do as they chose.

This was exactly what the Dark Lord had been waiting for. He moved to the captured city of Ekbir with his closest aids and began a great enchantment that lasted for 2 years (666 days). The casting was kept secret from all who tried to learn of the Dark Lords activities. To distract the northerners he organised regular goblin raids and was also lucky enough to find a large Centaur army attacking the city of Norgard, a centre of possible opposition to his plans.

Finally the casting was complete and the spell cast, along with the sacrifice of 666 lives from the human population of Ekbir. A great barrier arose around the city of Zard, a wall of blackness that formed a dome over the city and cut it off from the rest of the world. All those within were trapped, unable to pass through the barrier, unable to bring it down. Unfortunately the same could not be said for those outside, anyone was able to enter the barrier. When no word was received from the city for some time many of the remaining mages travelled there to determine what had happened, becoming trapped there themselves. In one foul swoop the Dark Lord had trapped nearly all those who could oppose him. Unfortunately the spell had considerable draw backs that weakened the powers of the Dark Lord for an unknown period, but this was a small price to pay.

The years now move swiftly, the Dark Lord rests and lets his plans develop through his Dark Mages and other agents. We come to a time where our players enter the world, a dark time where the strong will be needed.

Not everything went the Dark Lords way in the intervening years, several set backs occurred to his plans, some of which are mentioned here.

At the city of Karego-At a great hero arose, the Paladin Tarsh returned from a quest with an item of great power, the Orb of the One God. Here he established a clerical order worshipping the One God. He also enforced a religious oligarchy upon the city and purified it of agents of the Dark Lord (who were revealed by the powers of the Orb). Tarsh is long dead and his city now shows signs of corruption and stagnation but his religion has now become a powerful force against the Dark Lord.

One unexpected result of the new religion was that the Lizardmen of the Hist Swamps suddenly embraced the faith as a race. Although a few recalcitrants kept to the Old Gods, ninety percent of the race became fanatic followers of the new faith. It has since been discovered that Lizardmen have the ability to detect those who have been touched by the Dark Lords control, making them widely sort after by those opposing the Dark Lord.

The Trolls, who had slowly been falling under the Dark Lords influence, received some form of mystical sign (trolls are very superstitious) that resulted in their shamans warning that all children born for the next 5 years in their forests would be still born. Accepting the omen the entire race left their forests and moved north into the mountains for the next 5 years. This displaced a large population of goblins who moved south into the forests now vacated. After 5 years the trolls returned to their lands and again displaced the goblins, who retreated to the west but still retain control of portions of the forest. The migration did however completely disrupt the Dark Lords efforts to use the Trolls and they are now considerably more aware of his presence.

The three cities of the west appeared, formed around a gold rush. These cities were not in the Dark Lords plans, however they are barbarous places where no authority exists and violence is an everyday event.

The Lizardmen of Hist have begun moving outside their swamp lands, hiring themselves out as mercenary warriors, to those who will pay. They only ever join the service of those who oppose the Dark Lord. There is said to be an elite unit serving at the city of Norgard.

Merchants blown off course have recently returned with the discovery of the Eastern Isles, little is known of this place.

A new race of beings has begun appearing in the west, coming out of the western mountain ranges. These creatures are dark skinned in appearance and ferocious warriors. They currently hire out as body guards to those who can afford them. Merchants trading at Suleem have recently begun hiring them as guards for their caravans, which has brought them into the Northern Kingdom.

Dwarf merchants have begun selling weapons that shoot balls of metal with great power. The weapons use a strange powder that is explosive in nature. The popularity of these weapons, and their profit margins, have resulted in more dwarves travelling around human lands then ever before.


The Effects.

The following is a list of what effects you might impose on a player in the world of Aquilonia as an example of the world setting. This list would be for the North Kingdom, which still remains free for the moment.

  • Option: all players are heroes, they are partially recognisable but can disguise themselves. Whne in 'hero' mode they look robust and healthy and 'bigger than normal', they have a charismatic nature to non-heroes. In hero mode people will treat them with due care and attention. Heroes are 1 in 100, soo for every hero there are 100 normal people. When not in hero mode they are considered less worthy and normal, so guards will push you around etc. The GM will have to warn players when they begin acting 'heroically' if they are trying to remain normal.
  • All heroes must be registered and have a patron. Their patron is partly responsible for their actions and can legitimately call on their services, or hire them out. Heroes are an asset used by the rich and powerful. Without being registered and having a patron a hero cannot work (gain income), and he will be shunned by lawful citizens of the empire (mostly).
  • Magic use is tightly controlled. Anyone who can cast magic, even if only one spell, must be registered, they cannot wear more than cloth armour. They are also required to wear an armband that identifies them as casters. Breaking of this law is rigourously followed up by a visit by a company of guards. This only applies where the Empire has an ability to enforce it, although reports may be dispatched...
  • Magic is jealously guarded and becoming more and more secretive. Gaining a new spell is now a major undertaking. Most mages have fled the major cities to avoid the draconian restrictions and the remaining ones keep a very low profile. You are more likely to find magic in out of the way places.
  • There are curfews in nearly all cities at night. The police forces of each city have been substantially boosted in these dark times. Increased military however means more costs, so the people are under a heavier burden, etc etc. Dark characters are seen scuttling from alley to alley.
  • Cities not within the 'inner' lands of the Empire (like Hellius and Forwall) will be semi-lawless places, possibly ruled over by a powerful lord, or maybe factionalised amongst several powerful groups.
  • The civilised regions of the Empire are limited to 1-2 days travel from the city itself (15-20 miles), after that it takes too long to get news back on what is happening. Farmlands turn to abandoned farmlands after this distance, except where some strong willed individuals resist the encroaching darkness. Travel between cities is mostly along the few roads that are still kept open, or the major rivers. Even they will be raided by lawless types if the target looks tempting.
  • Many inhabited areas have been abandoned. The human empire (South and North) was considerably larger before the Dark Lord began bringing it down, and much more dispersed as it spread out to find the best lands. Those settlements have now mostly been abandoned, leaving them for goblins and other more sinister forces to use. The mountains are filled with ancient dwarvish and goblin ruins.
  • The cities are crowded. Because the population has withdrawn to the protection of the cities and abandoned the outlying areas they are now crowded. Crowded cities are prone to desease and civil unrest, especially if a food shortage occurs.


Born on: November 1, 1998