The Obsidian Spire
Over a thousand years ago, a war was fought between the forces of light and darkness. On the side of the light was a woman named Sola: a prophet who came to the world to alert its people of a threat from beyond the GodWall and to help them remember that they are the children of the gods, who seem to have been forgotten. With her, an alliance of kingdoms from across Creation – the last of the civilized lands, come together against a common enemy. On the side of the darkness, Necreus: a being of evil, said to have come to the world during the time of the mythical Godswar at the dawn of time, returned now to finish what he and his brethren started millennia ago. Necreus called to him those who had darkness in their hearts. He formed his Army of Darkness and awakened the abomination known as the Terrasque to ravage the world.
The war, which came to be known as the War of Darkness, lasted over five years. At the culmination, the Alliance of Light faced Necreus’ Army of Darkness at Rijum Pass, on Necreus’ doorstep. Outnumbered ten to one, the side of the light had little chance of succeeding. The prophet Sola stepped forth and challenged Necreus to a duel to the death. Necreus won, taking the beaten and battered Sola back to his Obsidian Spire to finish her off. The Army of Darkness closed in on the Alliance of Light and the Terrasque bore down on both forces.
Suddenly, a burst of light came from the Blacksand Desert and washed over the battlefield. The forces of the Alliance were emboldened and the Army of Darkness lost its link to Necreus and became shaken. The Alliance moved in and crushed Necreus’ armies. The monstrous Terrasque also lost its connection to the Dark Lord and began insanely rampaging within the pass, causing a massive avalanche of rock which buried the monster and choked the pass in a mountain of rubble. The War of Darkness ended and both Necreus and Sola were gone. All that remained was the Obsidian Spire, sealed and dormant.
Over a thousand years has passed. In that time, an empire rose and fell, and the War of Darkness was forgotten…
Life in the Southland of the continent of Aria has been hard since the fall of the Empire of Nerath. Isolated from the world by natural barriers, the people of the Southland have had to adapt to life without the support of the world abroad. Gnolls have grown from a nuissance to a significant threat to the settlements of the region. And from the north, goblins, orcs and other creatures have grown more bold in their forays into the Southland. To guard against these threats, the people of the Southland have reestablished a military force in the ancient keep on the borderlands. This force is made up of volunteers and of those who have committed crimes against their settlements and offered a chance to redeem themselves by serving at the keep rather than rotting in a prison.
The heroes, whether volunteer or criminal, begin their careers on active duty at the keep on the borderlands, where they have just completed their training and been formed into a border patrol unit.
NOTABLE PLACES IN THE SOUTHLAND
- The Borderlands: The eastern side of the valley that makes up the Southland is a rugged, hilly and rocky terrain that is less suitable for farming and more difficult to settle. Few villages last in the Borderlands. The Keep on the Borderlands is at the northern edge, situated at the entrance to Rijum Pass.
- Rijum Pass: Once the largest, navigable pass leading to the Forbidden North, the mouth of the pass was collapsed by the rampaging of the Terrasque, according to legends. Though still navigable, the entrance is blocked by a large wall of stone that is riddled with caves. All manner of creatures use these caves as lairs. The Keep on the Borderlands is situated at the entrance to the pass and its standing military force defends the valley of the Southland against these would-be invaders, as well as from internal threats, such as the gnolls of the Borderlands.
- The Crossroads: The main road leading from the Keep on the Borderlands to the major settlements in the valley branches off at the Crossroads, where one brach leads to the city of Winecrest, another to the village of Greenvale, a third to the dwarven stronghold of Hammer’s Hope. A tavern sits at the Crossroads, called the Crossroads Tavern, and offers food, shelter and supplies for travelers braving the wilderness.
- The Verdant Plain: The western side of the valley, this land is fertile and ideal for farming. The majority of the settlments in the valley are in this region, the largest being the city of Winecrest to the south. The largest in the northern half of the Verdant Plain is Greenvale.
- The Greymarsh: A sprawling swamp on the eastern edge of the valley. The swamp is home to many unsavory and malevolent creatures that, from time to time, cause problems with the people of the valley.
- The Blacksteel Peaks: The northern border of the valley is dominated by a towering and imposing mountain range. The mountains are home to goblins, orcs, giants, ogres, trolls, and many other dangerous species, who, luckily, keep themselves busy fighting amongst themselves to bother the people of the Southland. The dwarves of Hammer’s Hope have to contend with them, however.
- Hammer’s Hope: The dwarven stronghold is the largest settlement of dwarves in the Southland. The dwarves live peacefully with the people of the valley to the south, actively trading with them.
- Greenvale: A mostly humn settlement in the northern part of the Verdant Plain, the village sits on the Coldwash River and is home to farmers, hunters, craftsmen and artisans. Some migrated here from Winecrest, wanting to live a simpler life than what the big city and its politics offered. The people of this village have trade relations with the dwarves of Hammer’s Hope, the elves of the Hedgewood, the halflings of the Coldwash River, and with Winecrest. Most of the Keep on the Borderland’s volunteers come from Greenvale.
- The Hedgewood: This forest is on the western border of the Southland and is home to elf settlements.
- Winecrest: The largest town in the Southland is a port on the Inner Sea, known best for the fabled wine of its vineyards.
- The Inner Sea: The body of water on the southern border of the Southland.
- Mirror Lake: This lake is formed from the meltwaters of the Blacksteel Peaks. It is cold and deep and said to harbor more than just fish.
- Coldwash River: The river flows from Mirror Lake to the Inner Sea and feeds the lands of the Verdant Plain and the Hedgewood with fresh water. A number of settlements lie along its banks, including Greenvale and many halfling villages.
NOTABLE ORGANIZATIONS/POWER GROUPS IN THE SOUTHLAND
- Chamber of the Vine: The ruling body of the city of Winecrest, made up of nobles.
- The Hawkguard: The militia of Winecrest.