Saturday, November 16, 2013

Campaign Design - The Start of the Campaign

Campaign Start

The campaign will start in the village of Lonn's Ford at the confluence of the Pererin and Meander Rivers in the Brigantia March of the Kingdom of Ceniþ in the Freeholds in Midrun. Lonn's Ford is also the location of the recently constructed fortress of Cær Ånwar. The campaign will start in the year 472 by the High King's Reckoning (HKR).

The Brigantia March is the northern frontier of the kingdom of Ceniþ in the Freeholds and is currently ruled over by Earl Rhuddlum Cwensonne of House Ånwar. Located in a highland valley nestled in the Nimlau Mountains, the Brigantia March is crossed by important trade routes connecting Ceniþ to Steinigreich as well as the large cities in Elizon. Unfortunately, the passes through which these trade routes run make the March vulnerable to attack by the more barbaric chieftains in Elizon and the denizens in the Achelos Forest, the Stonetalon Mountains, and the untamed wilderness between the Stonetalons and the Steinig Mountains. These passes are each guarded by large fortresses, the more imposing being Cær Wydyr, located in the Wydyr Pass near the headwaters of the Meander River and which is maintained by the Order of the Shield, and the other being Cær Vyriddin, located in the Vyriddin Pass near the headwaters of the Pererin River and which is owned and maintained by the Earl of Brigantia.

The Pererin River feeds into the Meander River at the strategic confluence at Lonn’s Ford, now guarded by the freshly constructed Cær Ånwar. From there the Meander leads to the largest geographic feature in the March, the broad and deep Sosemere. On the shores of the Sosemere are a handful of villages and two notable towns, Garo’s Wharf, the home of one of the most important of House Ånwar’s Thanes, and Laketon, the large trading town located where the Sosemere feeds into the Glein River. The Glein River then flows through Carn Modahn, past the imposing, ancient, and mostly neglected fortress of Cær Mhon.

Starting in 458 HKR the humanoids and giants beyond the Brigantia March’s northern boundary started to become more organized and aggressive, rallying under the banner of an evil temple located in the Achelos Forest north of the Vyriddin Pass. This temple joined the combined forces of those who honored Halpas, Iku-Tyrma, Khil, and Surtan, forging them into a potent army under the command of a figure that styled himself the Prince of Elemental Darkness. Raids through the northern march became progressively more frequent and more destructive over the next couple of years, and raiders were even seen under the Temple’s banner in the Hills of Brann-Galedd and Eidling. In the spring of 461 HKR, after years of border raids and counter raids, the Prince of Elemental Darkness rallied his host and invaded the Brigantia March, overwhelming Cær Vyriddin and overrunning the northern march. By fall the Prince’s forces had ventured as far south as Cær Mhon and placed Laketon under siege.

The Dark Temple's forces dispatched to Cær Mhon proved unable to overcome the skeleton garrison that defended the stronghold under the command of the then teen-aged Rhuddlum Cwensonne. Similarly, Cær Wydyr held out against repeated attacks through the summer, autumn, and winter of 461-462, with the paladins of the Order of the Shield doggedly holding on to their isolated fortress despite deep privation caused by lack of food. Eorl Cwen commanded the forces defending Laketon until he died in the early days of 462, when he was cut down by trolls while repelling an assault. His son Beagan succeeded him, ascending to become Eorl of an almost entirely occupied country. Emboldened by their success, the Dark Temple sent expeditionary forces across the Nimlau Mountains into Eidling and deeper into Ceniþ, as well as raids through the Hills of Brann-Galedd into Cadfor.

In the spring of 462, King Smoit of Ceniþ summoned his armies and called upon his ally King Eatun of Eidling who sent a force under the command of his most powerful Eorl to aid in the war. King Girion of Cadfor sent a column of troops through the Hills of Brann-Galedd to relieve Cær Wydyr and put a halt the raids into his own lands. With three kings demanding action, the High Council could not refuse, and a company of the Warknights of the Realm were attached to Smoit’s army, while platoons of Wardens were sent through the Hills of Brann-Galedd into the Achelos Forest to attack the villages and settlements supporting the Dark Temple. Mannan, Dallen, and Ådon all joined the cause, disturbed by the eldritch powers displayed by the Prince of Elemental Darkness, as did three members of the Collegium. Under this combined force, the Dark Temple’s fortunes began to turn. Cær Mhon was relieved in the spring of 462, and the forces besieging of Laketon were driven off early in the summer of 462. The combined allied army under the command of Prince Trystan of Ceniþ drove north to meet the Dark Temple’s main body in the middle of summer at the Battle of Red Fields, where they broke the power of the armies of the Prince of Elemental Darkness. This victory was marred by the death of Eorl Beagan, the second Eorl of House Ånwar to die in 462. He was succeeded by his brother Einion, who, along with Trystan rallied the forces of Ceniþ to continue northwards and laid siege to the Dark Temple itself, breaking down its walls and rooting out its last defenders. Dallen, Mannan, and Ådon banished the Prince of Elemental Darkness and sealed the Dark Temple with arcane runes of power.

With the Dark Temple overthrown and the Prince of Elemental Darkness rendered impotent, the war was over. The allied forces dispersed, leaving a shattered march in the hands of Eorl Einion. With its farms and villages burned, its fortresses damaged or destroyed, its armies spent, and its countryside depopulated, the Brigantia March was in dire need of reconstruction. King Smoit offered some aid, although his own treasury was greatly depleted by the war. Unfortunately, despite Smoit’s help, and Eorl Einion’s best efforts, the March received another setback when Einion was crippled fighting an incursion by giants in the autumn of 463, and then died when an epidemic of fever swept through the beleaguered March that winter. At age twenty, having lost his father, uncle, and two older brothers within the previous two years, Rhuddlum became Eorl of the Brigantia March.

Eorl Rhuddlum set about rebuilding his devastated dominion, and has proved to be an able ruler, although he has faced some criticism for his chosen policies. To defend his lands, he borrowed heavily from the Crefft to rebuild the fortifications at Cær Vyriddin and Laketon, and build a new fortress dubbed Cær Ånwar in the northern March controlling the crossing of the Meander and Pererin Rivers. As an incentive to the Crefft to extend these loans, Earl Rhuddlum offered several concessions to the Merchant’s Guild, waiving tolls, fees, and duties for members, and allowing them to build Guild Houses in many new locations. Rhuddlum gave stronger voice to the Order of the Shield, allowing them to choose the priests assigned to many of the Eorldom’s churches in exchange for their support in the form of money and men. To encourage those displaced by war to return to their farms and villages, Rhuddlum waived taxes for five years for anyone who returned to their former lands, and to repopulate areas where the inhabitants were unwilling to return or had been killed by war, famine, or disease, he issued an edict proclaiming that anyone who occupied abandoned lands could claim ownership of them so long as they were willing use the land to take up farming or another of several other occupations described as “useful trades”. In response, many farmers and craftsmen seeking to lay claim to property have moved into the region, helping restore the population.

While, these policies have helped to rebuild the March and to restore the population, they have not been without controversy. Some of Rhuddlum’s Thanes expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of ability to tax those in their lands despite still being required to meet their own financial and military obligations to House Ånwar. Many Thanes as well as others have also complained about the substantial economic concessions made to the Crefft, which they feel have taken even more money out of their own pockets. Rhuddlum has also appointed several new Ceorls and one new Thane to take the place of those who had fallen in war, creating new nobility out of adventurers who had proved themselves both loyal and skilled in battle. This has offended some of the existing Thanes, who resent the newcomers in their ranks. Some of the older Thanes had argued vociferously that the lands that ended up being bequeathed upon these upstart gentry should have been distributed to their Houses instead.

No decision has caused as much unrest as Rhuddlum’s concessions to the Order of the Shield. The Order had long been an ally of House Ånwar, maintaining the critical stronghold at Cær Wydyr at the gateway to Elizon, but the Order had also always tread lightly in matters of local politics. But since the war, the Order has become increasingly outspoken, insisting on being given the right to build and choose the staff of local village and town temples, and pressuring Rhuddlum into accepting some of their members as officers in his household, much to the chagrin of his Thanes, who regarded such positions as rightly theirs. Currently Eorl Rhuddlum's Steward, Lord Privy Seal, and Lord Marshall are all members of the Order of the Shield. But the infusion of members of the Order of the Shield into the local politics of the Brigantia March has had another, more pernicious effect: Always suspicious of the followers of the druidic Old Faith, some members of the crusader order have suggested that the druids aided, or at least were insufficiently vigorous in their opposition to, the Dark Temple’s forces. This suggestion, in an environment in which many already harbored the belief that many of their countrymen had collaborated with the invaders, has sparked considerable prejudice against the adherents to the Old Faith, splitting the populace, and in many cases pitting older, established residents against the new settlers.

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