This is a world of many peoples, orcs and elves, dwarves and goblins, fae and even humans, all ekeing out an existence amidst the ruins of a once-great civilisation. Gone are the mighty cities and towering spires of the past. The occasional town is but an isolated point of civilised light in a dark and dangerous world. For the most part, each village looks to its own resources for survival. Villagers may heft a hunting spear, don a suit of ageing mail or even murmur a few barely remembered words of power when marauding gnolls or bandits raid the settlement, but few have the courage to do more than this. You were one of the few who looked beyond your own home and wondered more about that’s out there. You set out to learn more, and through one adventure or another, found yourself at the Academy of Eblana.
The Academy is a recently established institution. Fifty years ago, a loose alliance of heroes – people of purpose and destiny – came together in the mountains overlooking the ruins of Eblana, once capital city of the Eternal Empire. There, they pledged to begin to restore a measure of order and civilisation to the chaotic world they lived in.
Over time, others came to join them, attracted by their sense of purpose and mission. Over the years, they wrought many great deeds, but often at a terrible price. Many of the heroes fell or retired, exhausted after years of arduous work. Some chose to leave for their own reasons. Many who wished to be heroes took on challenges that were beyond their skills, and training was often non-existent.
About 5 years ago, some of the veteran heroes decided to put more effort into teaching what they knew to the up-and-coming heroes. Under the leadership of Sir Marion the Green, they searched for where they first met all those years ago. However much to their surprise they failed to find the garden with its strange statues. A new site was chosen and the Academy was born. The Academy still has little in the way of formal curriculum or lectures, but new heroes are given the opportunity to determine their own path to greatness, and they can learn from those of the masters whose skills most appeal to them.
Teamwork and cooperation are stressed in the Academy: in a fight, you need to know that you can trust the person beside you. Those who are caught breaking those rules are severely punished, although there are always those who try to push the boundaries.
You are part of the first group of initiates to join. Not all who joined with you have made it, though, unlike before, most will live to tell the tale. You take solace in the Academy’s motto;
“Anyone can be a Hero,
But not Everyone is a Hero.”
The Eternal Empire
The origins of the Eternal Empire are shrouded in myth and mystery and almost nothing of what went before is known today. What is known is that the Empire originally began as an Alliance between three great kingdoms: one of which is known to have been Elven, but the others are unknown. They were bound in a great war, against a foe whose identity, too, is lost.
What is known is that the alliance, forged in battle, lasted for many years. The elf king, much longer lived than his counterparts, outlasted them. He also outlived their heirs, and their heirs’ heirs. As time passed, the rulers of the other two kingdoms came to regard the elf who had served with their fathers, grandmothers and great-grandparents through the generations as first amongst equals. By the time his daughter ascended the throne, it had become natural to the shorter-lived peoples that the Elf Queen should lead as Empress.
From this time, the new Empire began to expand, absorbing more kingdoms, and more peoples. Most joined peacefully. The benefits of Imperial membership were manifest: the realm was stable and great deeds were being worked. Magic was being channelled in ways never before thought possible. With the loyalty of more and more realms at the Empress’s command, none who refused to join could stand before them for long.
Over time, the broad specialisations of the various peoples of the Empire became more and more predominant. The Dwarven kingdoms were once well-regarded for their mining and craftsmanship, but they were not the only ones to do so, nor were Dwarves bound to be miners or craftsmen… As the Empire grew more regulated, however, it became rare to find those who didn’t conform to type.
Eventually, after many generations, the Empire had become the land of order and peace that the oldest people alive today can still remember. The various peoples of the Empire lived long lives of comfort and plenty, and great works of art, architecture and literature were developed. Each race had its assigned role, and every child born knew its duty was to serve the High Elves of the Empire in their appointed task.
Then came the Fall. None can truly say they were there when the High Elves disappeared. The first human trade caravans that entered the cities found desolation. Shadows were burned onto the walls, buildings burned and bodies lay everywhere. Not a living soul was found, but among the bodies of the dead, not a single Elf lay among the fallen.
Current state of the world
Two hundred and sixty years ago, every High Elf in the world vanished without reason or explanation given. With their disappearance the Eternal Empire they had built, in which everyone had their place, collapsed overnight. For the next two hundred years, anarchy reigned. Whether due to in-fighting, assassination, external threat or any one of a hundred other reasons, any attempt to build any kind of community larger than a village collapsed.
But then something changed. Following events in the mountains outside the ruined imperial capital, some people started to stand up and have their voices heard.
A number of settlements began to grow, influencing and shaping the surrounding countryside. Dolmorgan was the first of these be established, it was not the only one. Karashima and Lorban quickly followed, but soon there were many more. These days the town controls a large amount of the surrounding countryside. Town watches has been established and some order is returning. Trade and diplomacy once again flow.
Travel has become safer following these growth of these settlements, but only slightly. Many people still roam as bandits. These, however, tend to be one of the lesser threats. People discovered a strange phenomenon out in the wild places some began to refer to as Ribbons of Magic. These are places were the Elements gather and change the world. So far little is known about them, other than that they can be extremely dangerous and can change things in unpredictable ways. Magic does not behave as normal inside these areas. There are tales of them twisting people, tails and claws being grown, and fantastic sights such as cities built of gold being seen. It is currently unknown if these were always there, perhaps kept under control by the now vanished high elves, or something new that has entered the world.
It is in this world that the Academy was established. Its goal to teach people to be the best they can be, to go out and change the world. All are welcome at the Academy.
Five elements make up the world and everything in it. Everyone knows this to be true. From the rock and rivers, to the many species: Orcs, Elves, Humans, Fae, Dwarves, Goblins and the all the others, everything is made up of just the five elements. Some beings learn to manipulate the elements, weaving them into spells to change the world for good or for ill.
Yet there are many things that no one fully understands. Much debate surrounds the Gods. Their influence can be felt through their clerics. Are they made up of the elements or are they something more? Why do they influence the world at all? Who ARE they?
There are many strange and wondrous things in this world. Great heroes have returned and stride across its surface changing lives and the world as they go. The Ribbons of Magic weave through everything twisting, changing and shaping things.
There are myths and legends of darker things out there. Daemons and their infernal pacts binding hearts and minds, dead men returned and walking, stuff of nightmares made real and of great scaly fire breathing dragons. While it is well known that such things exist, no one has ever admitted to have actually seen them.
This is the world you grew up in. This is your home.
The Academy of Eblana
Location: The Ruined Elvish City of Eblana
Population: ~1000 (of which ~150 are members of the Academy itself)
Population Breakdown: Diverse
Religion: Diverse but includes places of worship for The Mother, Hecate, Morrigan, Ogma and Cobra at the very least.
Primary Exports: Highly crafted items, Graduates of the Academy, mercenaries
Primary Imports: Food and drink
The settlement of the Academy of Eblana was founded 6 years ago by a band of adventures lead by Sir Marion the Green using extensive funds from his (and his band’s) days of adventuring. They set up a town partially built into the ancient elvish city of the same name, using stone taken from those ruins with a view to having a base from which to work. Over time people from the nearby, less well-off villages moved to live in the shadow of the Academy and the protection it offered. Using the old elvish roads, trade routes were established between the Academy and other major cities such as Wavemouth and the Homestead.
Anyone, regardless of their age or experience, can come to the Academy and ask to become a student. They are tested for a short time to see if they have the potential to be a hero. Those who are successful become apprenticed to a Master, those who fail tend to stay in the settlement either finding lives as craftsmen, farmers or staff for the Academy itself working alongside Darius. Each new student is encouraged to approach a specific master of the Academy to train under. Those that unsure of themselves are assigned one that is felt to be suitable. Students spend the majority of time training and learning from their Master or their Master’s more experienced apprentices. It is not unheard of for students to be passed between masters for limited amounts of time to round out their experience. The nature of all lessons is that they have a very loose syllabus with the full planning being worked out at the highest levels of the Academy. Tuition is designed so as to allow new members of the Academy to train with people who have been there some time.
Apprentices and Graduates within the Academy are given a wage by the Masters and are trained. In return they are expected to perform tasks such as defending the town, escorting caravans, going on missions or exploration that would be deemed too dangerous for others to do. They are also expected to hold to the Academy’s goal of making a better world of justice and hope. It seems that each Master has slightly different ideas on what this goal means but in general all concede to Sir Marion’s vision. It is not uncommon for students to leave their training in search of more lucrative activities and becoming full time caravan guards or mercenaries. This can lead to strife.
It is easy to think of the whole town as part of the Academy as many of the Masters run their classes in local establishments. Classes tend to be broken up into morning, afternoon and evening slots in the general course of things though it is down to each master to decide how they break up teaching blocks. Lectures are sometimes given to a large number of students at once. When it comes to combat training everyone is brought to the fields to fight with different Veterans pitting their pupils against each other to prove who has imparted the best techniques. Meal times are madness as all the students and teachers are brought together, tales told of the old days while grudges from the earlier lessons are laughed and joked away. In the evening, when the normal folk go to bed and even adventurers grow weary, many retreat indoors and are taught of more tactical and ideological things by Master Monty. Other, more daring types, thrive in the night and elect to stalk the nearby woods in wargames or hunts for food. Apprentices of Sir Marion recount with some bitterness of being sent for weeks at a time to work as the normal people do as farmers or fishermen so that they might learn practical as well as martial skills. Those who work under Suidan and Daud counter such complaints citing their Master’s practices of choosing favourites. Meanwhile in quiet corners Mag’Nar’s latest batch of new hopefuls wear haunted expressions after disappearing with their mentor into the wildness for months without contact. And always the Gatekeeper watches.
When a student is deemed ready and has been suitably reviewed by Marion and the other Masters they are told that they have graduated. At that time, they are ready to represent the Academy on missions. Each student is graduated as they are ready; though the first graduates were all told they had graduated at the same time in a grand ceremony in the year 257 after the Fall.
For reference, the Masters of the Academy are as follows:
Sir Marion the Green, Headmaster of the Academy – Human – Bard/Fighter
Daud, Vice Principal of the Academy, Master of Knowledge – (species uncertain) – Wizard
Nakita, Master Smith – Dwarf – Fighter
Suiadan, Master of Arms – Wood Elf – Fighter
Mag’nar, Master of Stealth – (species uncertain, bestial in appearance) – Rogue
Monty, Master of Words – Human – Bard
Sarin, Master of Divinity and Healing – Elf – Cleric
Darius, Master of Supplies – Human – Cleric
The Gatekeeper – (species uncertain) – Abilities unknown
DalMorgan is a large and prosperous mining town founded on the site of an Imperial age mine. Their mayor, Tardof Mountainforger, founded the town by taking a small band and cleared the area around the old mine of DolMorgan of all bandits and dangerous beasts. He then set up at the entrance of the mine. Anyone was welcome to join them there, once they did not cause trouble to the growing community.
Now, the town is well known for the quality of its goods. The townspeople are very proud of the level of order that is maintained in the town. There is a standing rule that only the town watch may be armed within the walls.
Calling this massive, sprawling forest a “nation” is being far too generous with the word. There is no central large town and most beings who reside here are nomadic in nature. There is no single leader or centre of organisation. The bands roaming around are as likely to prey on each other as any outside force, however groups gathering to deal with an external threat is not unknown. Orcs make up the bulk of the population, with Wood Elves following. Mixed communities are far from unknown.
Karashima was established by a group of warriors that had arrived from unknown lands. While the sense of order and discipline was nothing new to those few who remembered the days of the Empire, the level of importance they put in honour was. To these people, their honour is worth more then their life. The also valued the blade very highly. While everyone is trained to fight, only those of high standing may use a sword.
Founded on the site of an Imperial library that somehow managed to mostly survive the fall and what came after. The people here put great stock in knowledge. Emroth has a number of mages of great power, and most of the people learn at least a little magic.
Built on top of the ruins of an old Imperial city, Wavemouth is a prospering port where it is said you can get anything and get away with anything. People have flocked from far and near to live in the buzzing town built on both sides of the great river Free.