A dark time has befallen the realms of Anrath. 200 years ago, an evil archmage began to take control of a forested region in what was once known as the Kingdom of Adakar. The Empyrean Order, the champions of justice and light in the region, led an ill-fated assault on a hobgoblin clan’s fortress in the region, not knowing that the Archmage himself had made the fortress his home. Following the devastating loss, the clan of the Broken Fist swept over the region, pushing the Adakarie forces back as the mage began working on darker forces.
Somehow, the mage gained control of an ancient artifact known as the Resurrection Stone. Hidden by the gold dragon, Yllasandivanyx a thousand years’ prior, the stone was in fact the phylactery of an ancient black dragon dracolich, who had once terrorized the lands of elf and man before being destroying by the Goliath hero known as Rovaak. In an ironic twist of fate, the archmage discovered the final resting place of Yllasandivanyx and used the ancient gold dragon’s bones to give new life to the dracolich, freeing its spirit from the stone and using its powers for his own ends.
For the Archmage had a secret vendetta against the lands of the Fey, blaming an Archfey by the name of Barashur for corrupting and destroying his family by laying with his mother and birthing a bastard fey child in the form of his brother, a wild mage sorcerer, whose uncontrollable magic killed the mage’s family. Using the dracolich as a source of power, the Archmage sought out the places where the veil between our world and the Fey were weakest, and sundered the links between the planes, letting loose with a great evil, and laying waste to the Feywild itself.
Somehow, the Archmage had come across a talisman of evil, embodied with the essence of godhood. While the Empyrean Order scrambled, attempting to find a way to defeat this ancient evil, the Feywild withered away, the Seelie court all but wiped out by this strange power. The Archmage returned to the land, bent on bringing it under his control. Wielding the power of the dark gods and united in purpose with the dracolich and an ancient night hag, he began to conquer the lands of Adakar for himself, with the Broken Fist claimed their ancestral lands for themselves.
The defeat of the Adakarie forces sent a rallying call amongst the various monstrous clans living in the Daggerspine Mountains, causing the orcs, goblins, trolls and others to rise up in a great wave, sweeping down into the plains of Rysa.
The Empyrean Order made a last stand in the capital city of Blythe, luring the Archmage into the city where they set loose a grand ritual to banish the god Mogash’s energy back to the infernal realms. But they had all been tricked, for the god Wrazul is ever the god of lies and deceit. He had been masking his energy as that of Mogash for thousands of years in an ancient orcish idol. The energies the Empyrean Order set loose were keyed to the wrong god, having no effect on the Archmage’s new font of power. The Empyrean Order fell, and with it one of the greatest bastions of good and justice in the realms of Anrath. The Archmage slew the Queen of Adakar himself, ending the Rythsbain line and taking their crown for his own, twisting the platinum circlet into a dark and evil thing.
The Seng Empire quickly swore allegiance to the Archmage, sending their armies forth to help conquer the lands of Rysa with the monstrous hordes while the Archmage turned his eyes westward, to the ancient home of the elves. High upon the peaks of the Daggerspine Mountains, he struck the mountains with his dangerous power, ripping a hole in the planes leading to a plane of eternal hellfire within the infinite plane of the Abyss, spewing forth creatures of ash and flame who devoured the lands of the elves. The Archmage’s hatred for the Fey bled over even into those who were merely touched with Fey ancestry. The once proud elven nation of Miriewyn was turned into a wasteland of ash and shadow, now known as the Ashfall. The vortex to the Abyss remains open, pouring forth ash and lava into the lands below, keeping the gateway open for an eternal hell within the elven realm.
As elf and man fled the onslaught of the Archmage’s hordes, the dwarven kingdom of Kazak sealed their great halls, locking themselves within the mountain homes, abandoning the surface lands and their hill folk kin to the dangers of war. The gnomes were pushed deep into their own mountains homes, but left relatively unscathed by the creatures of evil.
As the dust settled, the Archmage withdrew his armies, granting ownership of the lands to the humanoids of the world. The northern reaches he granted to the dracolich, Zyrephilyam. The swamps of the Blackmoor he granted to the Night hag, Desra. He himself retreated to the fallen palace of the Adakar kingdom.
It was there, drawing upon the magic of the God-Idol of Wrazul and his own dark power, that he transformed himself in the God Lich, declaring himself the overlord of the world. Newly risen to power, he named himself Báscáth, the Shadow of Death, and naming his lands Áit Báscáth.
200 years have passed since those fateful days, when the world fell to darkness. The last bastions of the races of good hold on for survival on the fringes of known world. The majority of the people of the realm have given up faith in the Gods of Light, blaming them for not sending them champions against the darkness, condemning them to his dark and dreary life. Few places still worship them, and none in the open. Cults following the evil gods, particularly those of Izual and Wrazul, openly control the lands. They act as administers of the realm, their mighty temples growing rich on extorting the remaining people trying to survive. Magic is practiced in secret when not sworn to the God Lich’s use. The people need a champion, a beacon of hope to stand up in these dark times…
You and your companions hail from a border town in Shanaval, the last of the realms of man who have not sworn fealty to the God Lich. The self-proclaimed “Last Free People” of the continent, Shanaval has kept watch and an uneasy truce with the kingdoms of darkness that surround its every border. No one knows why the god Lich has allowed Shanaval to stand, but to the Free People, they proclaim it as a sign of their might. But here, one the Border Towns, the people know better. The presence of the evil temples is felt strongly, as they levy taxes for “protection” and heavily police the border regions. But the border towns are far less secular than the inner cities. Life on the border is tough, and people of all races and walks of life are welcomed; provided they provide a helping hand….