Ruined Empires

Dreams of a Warforged Nation

At the end of your month long respite, the group is once again gathered together in a large anteroom. Many things have changed since your journey’s beginning, some of the changes more evident than others. Regulas now stands almost twelve feet tall and the ground shakes under his weight when he walks. The table at the center of the room is set with name placards, each indicating where you are to sit. On the table before your spot is a package, each with the notation: “Do not open until instructed.”
Once you take your seats, the doors to the anteroom open, admitting an individual you all know by sight but have never met. Shadessa Eckrock, a beautiful elf-maiden of indeterminate age and surpassing loveliness, such that even the mechanical members of your party note her beauty. But you know her for another reason: She is the second most powerful sorcereress in Antipolis, second only to the GodKing himself, and it is widely known that she is Antiphon’s consort.
“Good evening,” she says with an enigmatic smile…

Arrival at Half-Mountain

After the party’s perilous journey from the Shifting Ramparts and their betrayal at the hands of their elven “hosts,” they finally reached the Great Mountain only to find a sheer cliff facing them. Whatever cataclysim happened here brought down half the mountain. High above the party could see stairways and balconies cut into the cliff face. From those balconies stood grim faced dwarves armed with crossbows. Skittering and jumping from stairway to stairway were dwarves riding large mountain goats, whose size contrasted greatly with the nimbleness they traveled up and down the slopes. As the party moved to the base of what was left of the Great Mountain, they were met by three dwarves on their strange goats. “You are to come with us.” one of them barked out in a rough common. The party was led up a narrow staircase cut into the mountain. It zig zagged up the cliff until it ended at a huge set of double stone doors. Dwarves on either side of the doors pulled on large capstans causing the doors to open. The party entered the great hall which was lit by only a few everburning torches. At the end of the hall a large grey bearded dwarf wearing a black iron crown sat on a great stone throne that was hued from the mountain itself. His legs stretched out on what appeared to be some sort of animal hide oversized footstool until it stirred and it became apparent that the footstool was really a large sleeping bear. Next to the dwarven king sat a dwarven woman in a much smaller stone chair. She was dressed in animal hides and wore several necklaces fashioned from the talons and claws are various beasts. “Welcome to Half-Mountain” the king bellowed. “I am King Andor Ironsides.”

The Journey to Half-Mountain

Dearest Babindalia,
I hope this letter finds you well once I finally have time to send it. We are making our way though the wastes on our way to a great dwarven kingdom. We have been traveling a most unusual road. It seems to be some sort of magical cartway. One of our party members, one of those unusual automotons, chiseled out a piece of the metal railway so I doubt anyone will get much use from the road now. We met a strange genie who warned us of a coming darkness. We also stayed the night in an elven city in the forest. The elves did not appreciate your baby recipes, but I am certain it is simply because they have never had baby prepared correctly. I met some splendid gnomes who agreed to mechanize a stuffed beaver I had been finishing up. Unfortuneately, the elves did not end up being so nice. They tried to sacrifice us to some sort of demon as part of some sort of contract they had entered into with the beast. We should arrive at the mountain tommorrow.


A Path to Glory

“The Godking is not displeased with your actions and he confers upon you these gifts as you embark on your journey into the Lands of the Endless Queen.”

Five days ago you announced your success and your loss to Antiphon’s rangers. Four days ago a small group of the Godking’s seers, scribes and librarians came to examine your discoveries. Three days ago they left you with the rangers until they return.

With little else to do, you have gazed from the Rampart to the bleak and broken lands once held by Mersené and her consorts. Whatever flora and fauna these lands once held must be bleached and broken as the ever shifting canvas of bones and eddies of lifeless topsoil. The landscape appears unbroken until the Great Mountain standing tall at the northern horizon.

“You will travel there, to the ancient halls of the Dwarf kings. Our seers say there are survivors in the north. The Godking wishes extend his beneficence to those who dwell there. He would also re-establish the Portals between the Great Mountain and Antiopolis. We expect your travels north to be complete within a fortnight and have provided provisions for that amount of time. So you may better serve the Godking, we have provided these gifts. Not the least among them is this beast of burden to carry back such artefacts, trinkets and gifts as may meet with the Godking’s approbation. We are not unmoved by the loss of your companion and have therefore brought you this comrade to assist you in bringing favor upon the protectorate. Make haste, but have no care for your families are subject to our beneficence until your return. Godspeed.”

And with that, you leave the Rampart and step unto the dead soil of the barren wastes of Mersenéa.

At the Gates of the Empire

The WarGames for this cycle has ended, and the God-King Sarpeadon has won the right for his Protectorate to send his Seekers into the Ruined Empire to explore for riches, artifacts, knowledge and power. Reaction across the remaining Protectorates is of rage and disbelief, and many have called foul; pointing to the tragedy of GodKing Ulitmar’s team dying mysteriously just before the contest (causing the substitution of the Orc Rabble) and the overkill triggering of the great wave that slew so many contestants. As the other GodKings howl, Sarpeadon has quickly dispatched his Seekers to the pre-agreed border to begin their exploration.
Not one to remain idle in rage and indignity, the Godking  Antiphon has another scheme in mind. He has found another border to the Ruined Empire that his Seers tell him can be penetrated without alerting the other Protectorates. He has summoned the remainder of the valiant team that survived the WarGames and provided them an opportunity to pass into the Ruined Empire and win riches and glory for themselves and the Protectorate of Antiphon. The secret passage to the Ruined Empire is untested, and whispers of the fickle chaos that crawls across the shattered face of a doomed civilization, but it is a path to the great risks and rewards hidden in the lost realm that could not be attained without waiting for another cycle to pass and another WarGame to be held.
The secret band of explorers equip themselves and are brought to the legendary Shifting Ramparts to unravel it’s mystery and gain passage to the Ruined Empire, using the clues given to them by the Seers of Antiphon.

History of Panemira

For time out of memory, Panemira (pain-MEE-rah) was ruled by the thirteen Immortal Godkings, supposedly direct descendants of the Gods. Cloistered safely in their decadent palaces, they waged war on each other as quickly and arbitrarily as succubae make love, each vying for complete control over Panemira, and none gaining a clear advantage over the others. This continued for eons until, eleven thousand years ago, the thirteenth protectorate, its ruler, its people, and the very land itself, simply disappeared.

The remaining twelve Godkings paid little mind: one less rival to worry about. They continued their decadent, hedonistic lives and waged their bloody, pointless wars until, on the anniversary of its disappearance ten thousand years later, the thirteenth protectorate reappeared, bringing with it a wave of death and destruction the likes of which Panemira had never known.

Ten of the thirteen protectorates were utterly and completely destroyed (including the mysterious thirteenth), leaving none but the three most powerful Godkings in a state of near ruin. Horrified, the Godkings immediately closed their borders and would not open them for almost five hundred years, and even then would not allow anyone into the blasted Wildlands of the ten destroyed protectorates. Only in the last two-hundred years have the Godkings been openly sending forays into the lands of their former rivals, collecting artifacts and treasures from the ruins of the former empires.

The Godkings soon returned to their rivalry, but recognized that all out war, given their depleted numbers, would be ruinous. So one of their advisors suggested a yearly contest with each protectorate providing an aspect of conflict. One would provide an “arena,” full of its own hazards and dangerous flora and fauna. The other two would provide warriors to fight to the death in the terrain. The protectorate that provided the arena would rotate each year so no one protectorate would have a distinct advantage over the others. The Godkings would then scry on the arena and show it to their vassals in great scrying chambers that offered a panoramic view of the proceedings. The Godkings all agreed to this idea, and thus the War Games were born.

At first, the Godkings threw in dangerous criminals, but this soon grew tiresome to their fickle nature, so they tried trained gladiators. This too became old quickly, and so they began throwing in regular citizens. This never grew boring because you could never predict what the outcome would be. This practice continues to this day.

There are three possible outcomes: Either the protectorate who provided the terrain would win, producing an environment so hostile that more deaths were credited to the terrain than the warriors, or one of the protectorates who provided warriors would win. This fostered the habit of putting many warriors into the arena at once in the hopes of a high body count, and making it more difficult for the terrain to kill more than the opposing warriors. As yet, there is no limit to the number of warriors that can be placed in the arena, though each protectorate keeps a close eye on the others through a wide net of spies to see what they are planning.

This year, right before the War Games, the warriors from your opposing protectorate all died of some mysterious ailment.


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