Campaign of the Month: November 2007
Varis: The Broken Land
Dwarves and Gnomes
- Before the settling of Varis the homeland of the Dwarven Clans was a small continent called Azduum (Rockhome). The land was cool and the dark earth was rich with minerals. Dwarven lore claims they were formed from the hard earth by the Allfather, Moradin the Maker. Soon after their appearance the first dwarves were enslaved by the vast giant empires which stretched across the world and worked to create vast stone cities and magical weapons. Giant civilization eventually waned and the dwarves fought for their freedom and have hated the giants ever since.
- For thousands of years the dwarves(Azrin in their own tongue – Stone people) built an empire that stretched across Azduum, led by the scions of the first Thane: Dolrek Belrim.
- A thousand years before the settling the dwarves discovered runecraft and sorcery and many thousands of talented young dwarves flocked to masters and schools to master the arts of magic and rune casting. But the dwarves delved too deeply into their studies of magic, mixing divine and arcane without care. They stumbled upon the Key of Making, a powerful word spoken accidentally and triggered a terrible cataclysm upon the dwarven people. When the word was spoken, it reverberated across Azduum and many who heard it were twisted and mutated into new and varied forms. Those few who survived the changes were shorter and slimmer in stature than the dwarves, the Gnomes. These new creatures were like the dwarves in many ways and the dwarves accepted them into their culture, but the tragedy of using the Key of Making was never forgotten even when the actual word was.
- 75 years before the Settling, a new race emerged on Azduum: the Jargur (Orcs). These creatures rose from the vast tunnels of the Underdark in great swarms and laid siege to half the continent in the span of a year. Within ten years goblin sappers who infiltrated the heart of the First City, Belgen, destroyed the most sacred place in all Azduum, the Maker’s Throne. Though the dwarves had fought against many adversaries in the past, they were unprepared for the sheer numbers and feral cunning of their orcish enemies. Clan after clan fell slaughtered by the ravenous horde and with each defeat the orcs grew stronger.
- The Clan Chiefs gathered in the Summit of Elders to discuss the possibility of complete annihilation and the options the remaining clans still possessed. What they decided would forever change the fortunes of the dwarves. They sent scouts into the vast tunnels of the Underdark and gathered the clans into the last great city, Delsten for their final stand. The great city, with the combined strength of the dwarven people, held out against the orcs for 24 years until a scout returned with news of a new land, as beautiful as Azduum. The dwarves staged a great illusion and fled into exodus beneath the earth and for 41 years traveled the Underdark as nomads in search of the Promised Land found by this lone explorer.
- The Exodus ended when they stumbled across the Highlands of Varis and, elated, began establishing clanholds once more. The dwarven clans scattered to found their own outposts once more.
- A year after the dwarves settled in Varis the orcs once more rose up from the depths, intent on hunting the dwarves into extinction. 8 of the 20 remaining clans were exterminated by the growing horde. Driven by desperation the dwarves collapsed the tunnels of the Underdark, trapping most of the horde deep within the earth, the unending tide of orcs and goblins was stemmed and those left in Varis were forced to withdraw their attack and retreat into the mountains. The 12 surviving clans began the slow process of rebuilding their shattered society.
- 7 years after settling (15 A.S.), the orcish hordes once more pour across the mountains against the dwarves but this time the dwarven citadels were nearly impenetrable and the disorganized and less numerous orcs were forced to retreat once more.
- 20 A.S. The dwarves discover an ancient foe and make contact with Varian giants for the first time. In the war that followed (The War of Stone and Frost) they battled frost giants and their monstrous minions and both sides of the conflict are devastated.
- In the spring of 25 A.S. the dwarves made contact with the race of man as human refugees poured into the Highlands to escape the Daemar purge. The dwarves opened trade with the humans, they named the humans Bazrin (People of Fire). As the War raged on to the south, the dwarves remained content to remain neutral in the conflict, though many feared the Daemar would turn on them should the humans be defeated. All of the clans were glad to see the war end in truce.
- In the year 130 A.S. the dwarves faced a great threat as the giants and orcs joined together to wage an intense war against the clans. This conflict lasted for 15 long, grueling years and the great dwarf thane Morbin Barim is slain in conflict and his sword Meallan is stolen by the orcs. The great cities of Grimbek and Urtgard were destroyed before the dwarves defeated their enemies by causing a massive avalanche.
- The dwarves lived more or less in peace, though they fought a thousand enemies on a thousand battle fields, their cities and strongholds remained safe from their hated foes though true victory always remained just out of grasp. In the year 265 a great horde of orcs emerges once more, somehow different – better organized, more ferocious, and backed by powerful necrotic magic and disease. This horde fought two wars at once, against the dwarves and the human country of Bretyn and fought well. By the end of the year 270 Bretyn had all but fallen, only the country’s capital(Blackpool) remained free and by 271 A.S. Blackpool was captured and became the fledgling orc nation’s capital: Garvelloch. The dwarves, having lost an ally, fight all the harder against increasingly overwhelming odds.
The cataclysm in the middle of summer in the year 271 A.S. brings the war to an abrupt pause as the Highlands are wracked with earthquakes, avalanches, and collapsing mountains distract both dwarf and orc from the fight.