The Darkened North
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Two Empires once ruled the known lands of the Great Continents. Once steadfast allies in the Grand Alliance, Imperial cooperation collapsed in the wake of the War of the Heavens. Both victorious yet suspicious and nearly broken, the great states divided the spoils of war but not the bounties of peace. As each expanded, the frontiers drove outward, spreading like blood spilled into still water.

The Gilded Realm, built on a rotating throne, trade, alliances and war, imposed the Western Peace across their continent and beyond the seas to the west. The Empire of the Patriarch, ruled by the Autocrat drove to the Great East and frozen north with fire and sword. Sage and scholars, princes and general, peasants and paupers waited for the reckoning when the borders of the Empires inevitably collided.

Yet, two centuries, the much expected Great War did not come. And first one, then the other, the Empires fell.

In the aftermath of the collapse, blight and war ravaged the lands. Forest and fields emptied as populations fled sword, flame and famine. Then came the millennium of Winter’s Dark and land lay blasted under the eternal snow. Yet even in the darkness, flickering embers of defiance remained smoldering. In time, even the Horned One’s dominion waned and was finally shattered by the combined might of the Alliance, a Council of Man and Dwarf, who fought the Winter Dark Wars to glorious end.

A generation ago the Winter Dark Wars ended, the world has been born again in the After Winter’s Dark. Yet alliance too faded and crumbled and the world fractured by greed and the lust for power. Within a few short years, all the victors of Wars save a precious few had fallen too to ruin.

Empress Pryzmira, last of the line of old Gilded Realm aspired to re-forge the old in the guise of the New Empire. The last of the rulers who emerged from the wars of the Winter Dark, she chose compromise and confederacy with strange bedfellows over the disastrous fate of old allies, the Empress turned inward, toward the lost lands emptied by the Winter’s Dark and called for crusade promising land and wealth. The summons generated wide enthusiasm and hosts of men came to carve holdings for themselves. Though the coming years saw many victories and some expansion, the Empire failed to expand much beyond its original borders.

The last two decades of her rule have seen little in the way of outward military expansion but rather an eruption of new, often-unstable even temporary Crusader States. The continuous calls for crusaders to rid the lands to the north of wild orcs and remnants of the horrors of the Horned One a beacon for would be glory hunters. Yet however dangerous, however wild, still the Crusaders come lured by a myriad of motives. Driven by want of glory, surety of faith, pangs of greed or even the unquenchable lust for battle, they come in search of their own kingdoms where one rules what one holds.

To the north along the Shallow Lake lies the contested Crusader state of the Margravate of Blackmarch.

Seal of Empire of the Patriarch
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Rune of the Gilded Realm
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