The Long Game
Cyfandir is the continent where the campaign takes place.
There is, of course, a lot more to the history of Cyfandir than I’m putting here. You’re not there yet. This is just a general overview.
A thousand years ago there were four great empires: Nerath (human), Arkhosia (dragonborn), Bael Turath (tiefling), and Demenor (dwarf). Demenor was fairly isolationist, but the three surface empires had been at war for decades. Nerath’s strengths were its adaptability and its horses – the entire army was mounted. Bael Turath had powerful magic and had bound demons to its will. Arkhosia, though, was strongest by far and looked nearly ready to win the war. Arkhosia had dragons.
But on the eve of what was to be the final battle between the armies of all three nations, the Arkhosian general called a parlay. She saw how the battle would end: unimaginable bloodshed and devastation, regardless of the victor. The generals agreed to stand down and a peace treaty was negotiated between the empires.
Then came the Great Betrayal.
To this day no one knows why it happened. The dragons turned against Arkhosia and burned its capital to the ground, and within hours did the same to Nerath and Bael Turath. Demenor sealed its doors and refused to provide aid to anyone.
In the most destructive war in history, the armies of the three empires joined forces to fight the dragons. The battle lasted years and caused the complete annihilation of the empires, but in the end the dragons were defeated, and every one hunted down and destroyed (save one that had not participated in the Betrayal). Many heirlooms and artifacts passed down within powerful families are made of dragonbone – symbols of bittersweet victory and marks of honour.
The surface world plunged into a new dark ages for hundreds of years. The dwarves of Demenor kept themselves hidden away, fearful of the spread of ruthless violence and greed as families and former organizations and guilds warred against each other.
But then came Demenor’s turn. According to the dwarves, a vast swarm of mind flayers and aberrations rose from the deep, kidnapping the thousands they could dominate and killing those they couldn’t. The dwarves fled the underground and begged for help, but the elves and eladrin, with their long memories, reminded the others of the dwarves’ refusal to assist in the Great Betrayal, and the dwarves received no aid.
Those few who were willing to help returned to the cities of Demenor with raiding parties, but found no evidence of illithid – simply of violence. In the end no one believed the dwarves that they were attacked by mind flayers, and instead think the dwarves had a violent civil war. The dwarves are now mostly surface dwellers spread across Cyfandir, but they constantly watch for signs of the mind flayers, and occasionally send parties into the ruins in a futile search for evidence of their presence. Many dwarves worry that the illithid will some day invade the surface, as they (allegedly) did with Demenor.
Two survivors of the Great Betrayal are currently known: the Dragon of the West, an ancient brown living in the Dragon’s Waste; and Rime, a cobalt that was thought to be dead, but was really dormant under a glacier in the north.
Countries and Regions
Adamantina: military-industrial nation under the Adamantine Warlord, a man who never removes his indestructible armour. The army and workforce are mostly warforged constructs, organized much like the Roman empire. Adamantina recently captured the adjacent country, Albus, and is preparing to invade other nearby countries.
Niger: a swampy, forested territory full of superstition, undead, vicious reptilian humanoids, and plant creatures. The population is sparse but strong, loosely organized, stealing or adapting technology and advancements of other cultures for their own. The coming-of-age ceremony involves a ritual that turns the new adult into a semi-intelligent undead upon death, so the country’s population and knowledge grow without a growth in resource needs.
Hyacintho: a somewhat isolated religious nation following a thunder god who rides a blue serpent. Very skilled and advanced use of electricity for technology and magic. The high priestess was recently killed in combat by outsiders, apparently from rival naval nation Aes, and the country is now in turmoil.
Aes: an island nation and the world’s naval superpower. Militaristic and religious, led by a Grand Admiral. Every citizen must serve a mandatory minimum of ten years in the navy. Rumoured to be developing powerful superweapons, and those rumours may be the start of a rebellious desire to return to the older, honourable ways of battle. (led by Kalgar Drakeswynd, aka Dallas’ character)
Cupro: a country composed of desert canyons and mesas, rich in resources and excelling at trade. Several noble families fight constantly for the title of sultan, with all kinds of backstabbing, broken treaties, and assassinations.
Aurum: a plains nation in a communist system under a friendly, extremely old, and extremely lucky king. Due to the nation’s huge size but relatively flat and open terrain, the people have a strong relationship with animals as mounts – the entire military is cavalry and makes use of dinosaurs as shock troops.
Viridi: a forest nation with a small, mostly elven population, ruled by a council of druid elders who speak with the spirit of the world serpent. Viridi thinks of magic and combat as art, and most citizens practice both. Duels are popular, and the military is small but elite.
Canitia: a frontier sort of nation composed of an alliance of three groups: the feudal warlords in the east, the hunters in the centre, and the explorers of the west. The country as a whole has no formal laws except the law of respect, and despite the cultural differences of the three groups, Canitians are friendly and trusting by default. All groups share an affection for hunting and tracking.
Ferrum: a wild territory of warring forces. Tribes of unusually-featured humans, elves, and half-giants fight for territory between themselves and the strange monsters that roam the wilderness. The Iron Tower, said to be the source of the mutations and monsters, has recently gone quiet.
Aerugo: a jungle territory with a tension between the native groups protecting their land and the heavy influx of academics, explorers, and treasure hunters interested in the ruins of a very ancient but advanced civilization deep in the jungle.
Ruber: a volcanic nation with majority populations of tieflings and dragonborn. The volcanic climate and soil create a harsh environment, but one with unique life and resources. The unusually benevolent balor lord of the country was recently assassinated by a group of adventurers, and the major volcano that the country’s capital relies on has just gone dormant.
Argentum: a mountain country of wyvern-riding knights, hardy miners, and expert builders. The border between the two powerful warring nations of Adamantina and Aurum, Argentum is oftenstuck in the middle of conflict, making political decisions over access to its mountain passes.
Chalybs: a city-state that seceded from Aurum a few hundred years ago. It’s a huge walled city ruled by an elected queen. The appointed advisor has been the same elf for hundreds of years and people are growing suspicious of him. With the building war, Aurum has garrisoned a force outside Chalybs, demanding the city submit and return to Aurum.
Albus: a feudal nation devastated ten years ago by the Whitehelm Reaping, where a single man annihilated the entire samurai army before being stopped by a lone unarmed monk. Recovering poorly, Albus was recently invaded and occupied by Adamantina, but its warriors – bound by honour – will not submit to the new military dictatorship.