Rise of the Runelords

Preamble

Introduction to the campaign

The rise of the Haraelm and their Empire of Triumphal Horizons brought the foreign Thaogardshun and their hobgoblin minions to power and ended the Age of Demons over a thousand years ago. The new empire provided relative peace and order to the Inner Seas but at the price of liberty. Ogard, the Stern Father, was established as the official religion, and all worship off ‘false gods’ was forbidden. The racial hatred between hobgoblin and elf simmered from the very start and eventually boiled over into open warfare. Known as the Grand Crusade, the Haraelm declared sorcery as heretical and linked it to the elven race. The elven confederacy not only faced a force superior in both numbers and organization, but arcane magics continued to wane since before the Age of Demons ended. Shortly after the millennial celebration of the Year of Triumph, the Haraelm had eradicated or enslaved all elves within the central kingdom. Following the victorious end of the Grand Crusade, the Empire of Triumphal Horizons turned its attention to expansion into the surrounding frontier territories.

The frontier region formerly known as Varisia had succumbed to demonic forces during the earliest Ravaging. Throughout the Age of Demons and the rise of the Haraelm, it remained a dangerous and thoroughly untamed wild. Only a few elven enclaves and dwarves strongholds endured deep within the forests and mountains, and the barbarian tribes of the Shoanti rose from the ashes of human civilization. The hobgoblins armies of the Haraelm Empire led the initial expansion into the region, driving the warlike Shoanti into the rugged regions of the northeast. The mostly human colonists that followed adopted a tenuous peace with the natives, establishing the first major settlement, Magnimar, in 1168 YT. The Haeralm Empire declared Varisia a subservient nation thirty-five years later.

Since then, Varisia has come to represent a place of new opportunity with relatively limited interference from the Haeralm and a land rich with ancient mystery and the promise of undiscovered wealth. For much of its length, the Lost Coast offered little shelter, with one exception—a perfect cove on the Varisian Bay about 50 miles away from Magnimar overlooked by a curious stone ruin. Four powerful families from Magnimar consolidated their efforts, formed the Sandpoint Mercantile League, and successfully established the coastal town of Sandpoint in 1408 YT. Despite many hardships, fishermen, farmers, and other simple folk made the community prosperous and one of the rare truly peaceful havens in the frontier territory of Varisia.

Twenty years ago, strange foliage rapidly bloomed throughout the continent, coinciding with an unusual aurora in the night sky. The effect, referred to as The Bloom, persisted for almost a month. Many explanations were given and many groups declared it a portent of their cause’s success or legitimacy. One thing is known for certain; magical energies began waxing once again. Rumors are whispered in taverns across the lands of elves dark as night raiding outposts, sorcerers regaining strength and followers, and magical beasts not seen since the Age of Demons roaming the wilds. Armies of the Haraelm are again on the move, but to secure the central kingdom leaving the frontiers more and more to their own defense. Now a new shadow of an ancient power has begun to loom over the unsuspecting town of Sandpoint.

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