I was about to start writing a campaign report for my current Stormguard test campaign when I discovered that I haven’t posted the map of Stormguard yet. Let’s remedy that.
Stormguard was first populated by orcs, who somehow found their way into much of the world ahead of everyone else. The southern tip, which the orcs had mostly left alone, was later settled by halflings who had been blown their in primitive, almond-like vessels at the whim of the wind goddess, Anaith.
Shortly thereafter, the main body of the elves banished from their lands a large portion of the population in a bloody war. This included most of those favored with magic, because magic was seen as full of darkness and evil. Many of the elves so banished were indeed of dark heart and remained underground, becoming the Drow and rapidly expanding, conquering the Dwarves in the arae and eventually reaching Stormguard by undersea tunnels before being held at bay by the Livecaps. But some of the banished elves were not evil at heart, merely enthralled with the pursuit of magic. These accepted their banishment better and found the undersea tunnels ahead of the Drow, traveling to Stormguard where they befriended many of the orc tribes and eventually settled in the Northern woods, teaching their descendants, as the orcs did, that Stormguard was the origin of their race.
Seeing the downfall of the dwarves before the drow and how they sacrificed themselves to seal their caves, the gnomes of the mainland ceased their deep delving and began to grow on the surface, but to the South were humans and orcs and minotaurs with which they did not want to have relations. Seeking for new land to settle, they became master ship builders, sailing out in search of ore filled mountains to build settlements, preferably on lonely islands. One of the locations they favored with a large settlement was the isle of Lesser Stormguard, where they built a thriving mining community without much fear of the Drow.
It was sometime before new people arrived in Stormguard after that, though some records claim that the Osprytes were blown there during this period of stability. Indeed, the next arrivals did little to change the relations on the island. Dwarves, escaped after generations of slavery, emerged in the Southern mountains. The Livecaps aided their escape and gave them caverns near the surface to work in as they began to rebuild what oral tradition assured them was their culture and heritage. They hardly bothered to surface in the new lands, going straight to mining, smithing, and working the stone of their caverns into majestic halls.
The next change seemed minor at the time, but it set in motion changes that would rock the island to the current day. The gnomes of the mainland formed an alliance with the growing nation of Vardor, whose founder was now a god, and as a gesture of goodwill, released all human and minotaur slaves in their possession who did not desire to stay and work for wages. Most of the slaves in Lesser Stormguard opted to leave, spending their release stipend on boats. The minotaurs sailed West, settling in orc lands with only a little conflict. At first the orcs saw them as another tribe, and their land grab was seen as a display of power and applauded by nearby tribes. The humans landed to the South, in a rocky, uninhabited land where the hills rolled right down to the sea. They had some conflict with dwarves who scouted the surface there and the dwarves became still more isolationist.
Meanwhile, Craithe, the god of the wilds, worshiped by the orcs with great fervor, became enraged at all of the varied peoples encroaching on his sacred wilderness. The elves had tamed the forest to the North, the Halflings farmed the lands to the South, and now Minotaurs had arrived capturing and leaving unused some of his shrines and altars. He commanded his priests to preach multiplication to the orcs and soon their populations were booming. They needed more land to maintain their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The Minotuars rebuffed any attempts to reclaim that land, and the elves retaliated quickly with powerful armies and magics to any incursions into their lands. The South was all that remained. The orcs of the South descended upon the Halflings, taking much of their land and pressing on through the storms of winter to push the smaller foes back toward the sea from which they had emerged.
Anaith loved the Halflings, but there was little she could do to help them, with the orcs ignoring her storms. But then fortune struck. A small flotilla of Vardor ships was passing out into the deep ocean, going behind many other such expeditions that had never returned. These courageous men could surely save her Halflings. She blew the small fleet on a wind that threatened to sink the small, coastal ships until they found shelter in what would be called Anaith Bay. The expedition did not have many warriors, but they were fierce and when confronted with the warring orcs, they fought valiantly and with faith that their god, Vardor, supported their fight. Their fight became a brief reprieve for the Halflings as orc returned from the war with them to protect territory rapidly being claimed by the Vardor knights. Soon, reinforcements were able to arrive and the Halflings were rescued, allowed to settle in the heart of Antaithwaite, the first colony of Vardor. The orcs were pushed back beyond the Waist Marsh and the border was fortified. The population boomed as intrepid settles arrived from Vardor, and though the orcs resented their losses, there was little they could do.
Anaithwaite: A colony of the powerful Vardor Kingdom, it is highly loyal to the mother country, largely through the influence of the church of Vardor (the chieftain that raised their tribe to a kingdom, before ascending to godhood). Orthodoxy in the church is maintained through close communication with the homeland. In the centuries since driving the orcs beyond the Waist Marsh, the colonists have expanded mostly into the mountains, to the chagrin of reclusive dwarves. Wars on the continent and with the powerful naval force of a mysterious nation across the Ocean have drawn the focus of Vardor kings away from the island colony.
The population of Anaithwaite are mostly human colonists or descendants of early colonists. There are many minotaurs, which are mostly integrated into the society here much as they are in continental Vardor. The humans of the Deep Strait coast, descended from gnome slaves, resist absorption into Anaithwaite, but crime gangs of the Eastern coast often manipulate them to threaten villages and farms for protection money. The Halflings have seats in the Anaithwaite central government, but they have never bothered to send representatives, content with the protection they have provided.
Dwarves: The dwarven population under the Southern mountains have no king or central figure, following a number of clan leaders descended from those who led the escape from the Drow. They have an uneasy trade relationship with the humans who have surrounded them. They revere the Livecaps beneath them, though they have no understanding of how much they do to hold back the Drow.
Orcs: The orcs are still in tribes that are constantly in conflict with each other. In the South, they are more violent and wrathful, lashing out against the humans and minotaurs that press against them. Going north, the orcs becoming calmer and more agrarian, especially those tribes that share a border with Elven lands. The southern edges of Elven lands contain many villages populated by elves, orcs, and mixed race individuals.
Minotaurs: The independent minotaurs, descended from gnomish slaves set free, live in far more primitive conditions than the minotaurs of Anatihwaite. They are warriors, bordering on blood-thirsty, and constantly war with ruthless efficiency to take more land from the surrounding orcs.
Elves: The elves of the northern forest are descended from a highly magical, patient, and determined caste of elves, those who were banished by the elves of the mainland, but did not resent them for it. Their culture of fierce determination lives on in the form of the Elven rangers, who defend the borders of the land against the orcs and goblins, retaliating without hesitation against any attack. Their efforts have so far fostered peace for the entire elven land and many of their people grow complacent in the absence of struggle. They seem to be adopting the unconcerned culture of the satyrs and centaurs of the northern woods.
Gnomes: While the nations of the gnomes have formed an alliance with Vardor, they still isolate themselves as much as possible from the world. The gnomes of Lesser Stormguard still communicate with those of the main land, but their culture has become quite unique over the centuries. They create magnificent and exotic items and vessels and those few able to visit their lands and seas return with stories of their grandeur in the arts.
Goblins: The goblins of the Northern mountains keep no history. The Orcs do not remember their arrival there, but they were there when the elves arrived. Every now and then the Goblins pour out of the hills, causing trouble. The Elves experienced one such outpouring before beginning a constant vigil on the goblins. The goblins stay mostly below ground in the mountains, perhaps owing to the aggressive hunting of the Osprytes.
Osprytes: The osprytes keep to themselves, hunting in the mountains and over the seas to the West. They are often helpful to the ships passing near their coast on the way to and from the elven lands. Ospryte priests of Anaith might sometimes be hired to help protect important ships during the storm season. They sometimes skirmish with the merfolk to the South, who claim control of the western waters of Stormguard.
Merfolk: Three merfolk cities lie near Stormguard, some friendlier to the surface people than others.
Some time this week or so I’ll make a post, or maybe two, describing what has happened so far in the Stormguard test campaign. We’re 4 sessions in and they’ve just finished the first, introductory module I prepared and are ready to start getting to meat of the story.