Welcome to your new campaign!
The continent of Condor spans three-fourths of the known world. Stretching from the vast emptiness of the Western ocean, it raises ridge beyond ridge to the stone and smoke of the Crags before flowing into a vast plain of grass and river lands. Its Southern coast is treacherous, a tundra of nearly perpetual frost, while its Northern coast is dominated by a vast desert. It is a land of extremes, both cultural and geographic, and its legacy has ever been one of conflict. Following the recent Third Great Guild War, the people of Condor are divided into four large territories.
1) Nippon – sprawled in the midst of the North-Eastern forests, it is a land dominated by an oligarchy of hereditary feudal lords, Nippon is united in war time under the military banner of its strongest house, House Florent. Its people a fiercely loyal to their hierarchical system and Nipponese warriors hold themselves to the strictest codes of conduct.
2) Gheld – the South-Eastern swamplands of Gheld are a mysterious region of Condor. Ruled by its infamous Magicrats, each a semi-autonomous nation unto himself, the territory has no recognizable capital or center of commerce. And yet Gheldish traders are seen in every port city and capital of the land, running a brisk trade in magical commodities before fading back into the depths of their native fens.
3) Lovaria – the second most powerful nation-state of Condor, Lovaria boasts a vast and unchallenged merchant fleet. Its capital and main ports are rooted in the Eastern archipelago and command near total control of the marine trade lines into Condor and among the lesser lands masses across the Eastern Sea.
4) The New Tarrantian Empire – the largest and most technologically advanced nation on Condor, the Industrial Council of Tarrant commands roughly half of the land mass of Condor from its ring of iron fortresses among the Crags. Although its foreign relations have stabilized in recent years, Tarrant struggles with the task of ensuring internal security and loyalty among its districts.
The Third Great Guild War – 1951 C.E. through 1961 C.E.
Condor’s Third Great Guild War lasted seven years and, despite its name, was largely fought in absence of the guilds of Condor. Tarrant, governed by the Industrial Counsel, is the most technologically advanced of the territories and its mighty iron fortresses ring the Western mountain range known as The Crags. Lovaria, led year-by-year on a rotating tribal system, hugs the Eastern coastline and its vast merchant navy binds the continent together and connects its economy with kingdoms and city-states across the seas. Tensions between the two great city-states have always been high, but ten years ago a border dispute escalated into small-scale battles along the breadth of the Tarrant-Lovaria lands. The conflict escalated and soon the smaller kingdoms of Condor were forced to take sides.
Tarrant, despite its air force and advanced technology, was completely isolated from the sea and its attempts to mount any naval resistance were futile. Cut-off from sea trade and with minimal agriculture due to its mountainous terrain, Tarrant relied heavily upon the resources of its allies. As the conflict dragged on these lesser kingdoms began to waver in their support, and eventually the Industrial Council passed emergency powers and declared a military occupation of all allied lands.
For its part, Lovaria secured supporting kingdoms by promising increasingly favorable trade contracts. At the height of the conflict over half of the Lovari navy was engaged in merchant activity just to satisfy its treaties. With neither the air force nor land strength to match the New Tarrantian Empire, Lovaria was forced to grant more and more military authority to its land-based allies. In the months before the armistice Lovari land forces had completely disengaged from battles, assisting allied kingdoms only as spies, scouts, and raiding parties. As a direct result, Lovaria had ceded nearly 40 percent of its pre-war mainland to allies by 1961 C.E.
The various guilds of Condor managed to remain neutral for the first five years of the hostilities. Though each individual guild was small in number, the largest claiming only 150 members, they represented many of the land’s most experienced and powerful beings. Which guild broke the pact of neutrality first is a disputed issue to this day, but the fact remains that once these elite organizations began to take sides the entire scale of the conflict shifted dramatically.
The Lovari culture is steeped in the arcane arts; most children can command minor tricks of magic from a very early age and accomplished sea masters learn to call winds and can even alter weather patterns in subtle ways. The Tarrantians, while not as naturally gifted, boast a technology based upon primal arcane magic married with metallurgy and craft work. And yet either nation claims only a relative handful of dedicated wizards, clerics, and sorcerers. The Magicrats of Geld have more, but far and away the most powerful spell casters on Condor belong to the guilds.
Saul’s Kindness – 1961 C.E.
The arch mage Saul was perhaps the greatest, and certainly the most travelled, of all the spell casters on Condor. An outspoken opponent of the war, and a lifelong pacifist, Saul refused to follow his guild when it declared in favor of Tarrant. Instead, the old man disappeared for nearly two years, leaving no notice of his plans or whereabouts even to his most trusted apprentices.
In his absence the guilds rose to prominent places in either side’s armies and battles became true hell. Firestorms and blizzards clashed, summoned demons and hideous monsters crushed friend and foe alike, and the mortal soldiers of either side were cut down in volleys and swathes of raw arcane power. The guilds lost many of their number, but for every one of them hundreds of commoners were killed. The leaders of both sides became desperate, committed ruthless acts, and commissioned the creation of dangerous artifacts of war that even now litter the ruins and abandoned places of Condor. Finally, as the two sides gathered around the capital city of the Rain Country at the center of the land, Saul returned.
Accounts of that day are scattered and conflicting. Some say that Saul appeared to hover above the city’s towers wreathed in white flame that exploded outward. Others claim that Saul flew a strange craft, and from its bays a legion of silver angels, terrible and beautiful, fell upon the land. Whatever the case, a blinding flash seemed to consume the mage and everything and everyone around him. The light was visible for hundreds of miles, and when it dimmed both sides had been decimated, the capital city was in ruins, and the land itself had been blasted to glass and ash such that even now it is an unnatural desert marring the otherwise lush interior of Condor.
Those who survived were often blinded, driven mad, or permanently rendered incapable of spell craft. In a single stroke the leaders of the great guilds were killed or stripped of their power, the Rain Country was utterly destroyed, and over 6,000 people were slaughtered. If Saul’s desire was to end the war, he succeeded. Tarrant and Lovaria scrambled to establish a cease-fire while the dead were accounted for. The cease-fire became a cautious withdrawal, and eventually the Chairman of the Industrial Council and the leaders of the Allied Kingdoms signed an armistice that formally ended hostilities.
Three years later, the people of the territories bitterly refer to the event as Saul’s Kindness. In exchange for the gift of peace, Saul will ever be remembered by commoners and historians alike as the most hated war criminal in the history of Condor.
A War-Torn Landscape – 1966 C.E.
It has been nearly 5 years since the event known as Saul’s Kindness forced an armistice upon the warring territories of Condor. In that time the continent’s various guilds have taken steps to ensure that full-scale warfare never again threatens to engulf the land. A peace-keeping body has been established under a joint committee of Arbiters representing the territories and six largest guilds.
Although diplomatic relations have strengthened, the military strength of Condor is in ruins. Each major city throughout the continent is an island of security among a rural countryside that is becoming more and more dangerous with each passing month. Those troops not detailed to homeland security are primarily occupied in the protection of the various trade routes between kingdoms. They are not nearly enough.
Thousands of magical artifacts are spread throughout Condor. Wicked tools of a dangerous war they were crafted without oversight for the sole purpose of destruction. It is no wonder, then, that they act as fell beacons, drawing the dark and hideous things of the world as iron to a magnet. Evil monsters, once driven to the brink of extinction, now breed and thrive among ruined forts and foothill caves. Bandits and pirates swell their ranks as impoverished refugees of war stream into cities by the hundreds. The land itself is deformed with the scars of old battles and once-championed homesteads turned to blasted tombs.
It is in this climate of uncertainty that we begin our tale, for though the war is ended peace is yet a distant hope. Condor remains a land of extremes, and it is time now for you to grasp your legacy.