Campaign of the Month: January 2014
Greyhawk 937 CY: The Age of Steam
Forty centuries before the golden sun of the Aerdi rose in the east and the rampant lion of the Rhola and Neheli crushed Vecna’s undead legions, a twisted civilization rose and fell upon the fertile plains of the Dragonshead Peninsula. Caerdiralor was a fell land dominated by Tiamat-worshipping priests and mystics. Obsessed with eradicating the dwarves and gnomes of the Headlands, the masters of Caerdiralor waged terrible war on them, giving no quarter. However, at the struggle’s climax Caerdiralor’s capital, Myrsyrna, was overtaken by a sudden and devastating catastrophe that all but wiped the city and the realm’s ruling elite from the face of the Oerth. A few priests and their adepts survived the devastation, however, and fled to the west across the Sea of Gearnat, carrying certain relics and holy texts of ancient provenance.
Wrecked upon the shores of the lands of the Rhugha, the newcomers initially parleyed with words of peace and rich gifts the like of which the indigenous tribes had never seen before – subtle secrets and scraps of knowledge saved from the fall of their land. Initially welcomed by the tribesmen, their coming also presaged bloody war, betrayal, and the eventual doom of all those dwelling amid the grass-sea. The fall of their homeland had not changed the hearts of the newcomers. They were still black-hearted and evil and the natives quickly divined their true nature. Where once words of peace greeted the newcomers, now volleys of bronze-tipped arrows drove them from the nomads’ camps. In desperation, they sought escape but the harsh terrain of the Abbor-Alz and the many monsters dwelling therein frustrated their attempts (as they would the wandering bands of Suel escaping the utter destruction of the empire four millennia later).
Trapped between the rugged wall of the Abbor-Alz and the vengeful Flan tribes, the wanderers went to ground, hiding themselves away in secret places, passing on what remained of their ancient lore across the generations and praying to their dark gods for the means to regain the dimly remembered glory that they had lost across the sea. Perhaps in answer to their supplications, the dark priests discovered sites of ancient magic, wellsprings from which they could build their power once more. They established new temples, and slowly began to rebuild their shattered heritage.
Other changes were afoot in the grass-sea. A new influence was growing among the tribes – that of Vathris the Maker, the Subtle Teacher. Said to have been born as a mortal man, Vathris, through his knowledge, deeds and wisdom, raised himself to the cusp of immortality, embodying the ideals of progress and ingenuity. Under his influence, the tribes ceased their wandering and began to plant and sow and harvest. Their camps became settlements and their settlements became towns and cities. The six great peoples of the grass-sea became six realms.
It was among the mightiest of these realms, Sulm, that the dark seeds of Caerdiralor found fertile ground in which it put forth its insidious malfeasance. Emerging from their hidden fanes, the dark priests won the favor of the ruling house of Sulm, promising that their gods would bring power, wealth and glory to the Sulmi. Thus it was, that after centuries of peace, ambition and hubris, fanned by their mastery of these new sciences, sent Sulm’s iron-shod legions marching against her neighbors.