A Brief History of the Northlands
Birth of the EmpireEdit
Over 15,000 years ago, in the Age of Dragons, Human tribes wandered the Northlands. Contending with the beasts of the North, and with each other led to many tribes nearly dying out. A boy from one of the tribes managed to tame a dragon, and united the tribes and became their first King. He took the title of Adon, meaning “King of Men”, and established the Adnaes Empire lasting five-thousand years.
This first king began the order of Dragon-Keepers to protect mankind and it's allies against the Beasts of the North. Though no more than terrifying beasts to most people, the Keepers saw the dragons as powerful relics of ancient days. They formed bonds with their dragons, and respected the power the beasts gave to them. They were more than simply tamers though. Each Keeper swore an oath to serve as the defenders of all Mankind, and their only master was the reigning Adon. However if an Adon's will ever endangered the Empire or its people, the Keepers were allowed to depose him from his throne. They were the people's safeguard from tyranny.
The Dwarfs of Elbor and the Elvish Nomads, having witnessed the birth of the first Human civilization, came quickly to offer friendship to the Humans. These nations became so intertwined that for some time, they were politically indistinguishable.
The Silver-Sun and the Partitioning of the EmpireEdit
13,000 years ago, during the reign of Adon Alaend, miners in the northern mountains found an artifact, that shone like a white sun. Called the Silver-Sun , the orb allowed Adonrin – the central seat of the Adnaes Empire – to become incredibly prosperous. The city was bathed in what seemed to be eternal sunlight, and no enemy ever reached the city's walls.
Alaend's seven sons split the empire between them. Alein, Alaend's eldest, inherited the title of Adon, and granted each of his younger brothers one sixth of the empire to rule. For himself, he kept the city of Adonrin, it's Dragon-Keepers, and the Silver-Sun, and his heirs would forever remain the One King of Men.
Of War and ExodusEdit
The Empire continued in this way for nearly 3000 years. As time went on though, some of the Kings desired the Silver-Sun for themselves, and thus the War of the Silver-Sun began when the Third Kingdom invaded Adonrin. Eventually, all seven of the kingdoms were embroiled in the conflict and no end was in sight. The Silver-Sun traded hands and moved locations nearly constantly, and whichever Kingdom held the orb became the target of all the others.
The Exodus of Men began when a powerful Magi stole the Silver-Sun from the Fifth Kingdom and returned it to Adonrin. Using his magic, the Wizard froze the Northlands, making them uninhabitable and banished the men of each of the five remaining kingdoms from their homeland. Due to their part in the war, the Dwarves of Elbor too were forced to evacuate their home. Both Men and Dwarves founded new nations in the south, and the stories of their former home in the Frozen North became legends that few believed to be true. The Elvish Nomads had long ago settled in the land they named Ara in the south, and drew themselves into isolation during the human's civil war.
Rebirth of the North, Blackliff founded (200 years ago)Edit
After ten-thousand years the sheet of ice covering the Northlands receded, finally allowing humans to return to their ancient home. A collection of six wealthy aristocratic families from the Southern Kingdoms went north to found their own nation, and succeeded. Blackliff was settled and quickly became known as a haven of free trade and political refuge, far away from the traditional monarchical governments of the Southern Nations. Over the next few hundred years, new cities began popping up all over the Northlands, with nearly all of their wealth and resources flowing into Blackliff and becoming the property of the Houses .
The Beasts of the North and Formation of the GuildsEdit
After the Fall of the Empire, the Northlands had returned to a near primordial wilderness, and the beasts there were strong. Upset that their homes were being encroached upon by the banished humans, many of the beasts would attack settlements, destroy crops, devour entire heards, and kill whomever they were able. Heroes came to the Northlands seeking the glory of helping to tame the last great Wilderness. The Houses levied heavy taxes on traveling adventurers, forcing nearly all into guilds to offset the costs of these taxes. Many guilds grew powerful during this time, and were celebrated by the people for helping fight off the onslaught of the Beasts.
Conflicts with the OrcsEdit
Humans were not the only ones to venture into the Northlands as the ice sheets retreated. Bands of Orcs came across the mountains to the east, and would wander and attack any settlements they could find. Often times they could be driven out, but particularly fierce clans had to be forcefully removed. Many guilds made names for themselves as Orcslayers, but insurgences in the last fifty years have been few and far between.
House Wars (between 195-186, 170-165, 85-82, 51-32, and 15-3 years ago)Edit
More in-depth information on the House Wars here.
Since the founding of Blackliff, the Northlands have been in a state of constant flux. As the only political or economic power in the region are the Houses, when members of two Houses have a conflict -whether over trade rights, debts, or in one case an insult - it is entirely possible to erupt into a civil war. During the wars, the Houses would buy guilds into their service, and - when that wasn't enough- they would conscript the populace into their armies by raising their taxes and forcing them to pay it off with direct service to the House. These wars were volatile times and would often leave many areas of the Northlands ravaged and it's people destitute. The last of these wars ended three years ago in a peace negotiated by a young House-Prince of Askrell, Hector. Since then, Hector Askrell has been a very influential figure in the Northlands.
Some additional, non-plot setting detailsEdit
Technically speaking, cities in the Northlands are independent city-states, but they are held together by a collective dependence on the Houses economic power and political control over Blackliff. The Northlands are, effectively ruled under an econ-fascist oligarchy. All races are welcome and are present in the Northlands, save those that mean harm to the people there.
The climate in the Northlands is similar to Europe; it is significantly warmer than you'd expect despite its proximity to the pole.
Trade in the Northlands is very vibrant. The region is full of metals that are rare in other parts of the world, and the climate is hospitable to agriculture and grazing animals. Craftsmen the world over travel to the Northlands to work with the rare and valuable materials available here. Rare antiquities often make their way into Blackliff's market place, but often cost much more than a normal person could afford as they are almost always going to end up in the collection of a House-Prince.
The Houses control the vast majority of the resources in the Northlands.
While the people of the Northlands are magically savvy people, they still live rather unenchanted lives. Their arts of magic item creation are rudimentary, hardly beyond simple weapon enchantment. The ruins of the old Empire, those that are still standing that is, indicate a much higher level of magic use and understanding during that time, their arts apparently dying out with them.
Arcane magic is fueled by the caster's own willpower and energy. Those who learn the art from masters learn self-control so as to not lose oneself to his own spell. Self-taught or arrogant magi can often become corrupted by their own spells. All arcane spells draw their power from an energy called Arcana, an invisible ether flowing through the world.
Due to the very nature of Divine magic, it is much safer to practice than Arcane magic, but is much less flexible. Divine spells are the manifestations of a god or goddess' will channel through the caster. A divine caster may only cast as many spells as his deity will endow him with before he must meditate or pray to curry more spells.
In this world, dragons are beasts. They are not intelligent, not capable of planning or treachery or speech. They are majestic creatures and cunning hunters, but only that. When bonded to a Keeper, they share a connection similar to that between a Sorcerer and his familiar.
Other than the dragon's lack of intelligence, the Monster Manual's description of each dragon remains accurate for this setting.