Coldforged: A brief History of Tysis 8: The Dead Kingdoms

Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week I’m looking to finish up the histories by telling the brief stories of a number of dead kingdoms.

The Dead Kingdoms

While the history of the current kingdoms is important for telling the story of the stat of Tysis as it currently sits, these same kingdoms rest upon the corpses of those that came before them, and their history reflects their influence.

Each of the kingdoms below left ruins and dungeons aplenty in their respective areas of influence, and have their own style of coinage, leadership, and even religion, and to this day many individuals trace their heritage back to the old kingdoms with proud and honorable traditions that seem foreign even to those within their own current kingdom.

The History of Occurus

Occurus was once a strong kingdom on the edge of a great sea, a trading and merchant hub, harvesting the abundance of their Ondar Forest and selling it to Kingdoms near and far. The silver and gold that poured in would have made a normal Kingdom immensely rich, but Occurus was not normal.

Occurus was ruled by a trio of Ecclesiarches, the heads of the theocratic council that advised and controlled their puppet king. Through Tithes and taxes, the churches squeezed the merchants and nobles to their breaking point, erupting into rebellion during the Demonsgate wars, as not only their wallets but their families were drained. The Rebellion, however, was prematurely disrupted by the Sundering, which destroyed the southern half of the kingdom, as well as the Kings seat.

After the sundering, the remaining theocrats reasserted their dominance fairly quickly, citing the sundering as proof that their rejection by the populace had doomed their kingdom, but it never had the staying power with the people that the message had previously. Slowly, each town and each area rose up or moved on, and the degradation of the area was a slow grind until it was completely conquered by Tyndaria and absorbed, becoming the domain of the Griffonsbane Family, which has ever since maintained a strong connection with the gods.

The History of Yamik

Yamik was a small, yet formidable Kingdom south of Killbar on the Imerian Peninsula. Its warriors trained extensively in hand to hand, unarmed and guerilla warfare, and defended their small Kingdom from the predations of others, especially from a southern invasion. When the Sundering and Demonsgate wars occurred, the vast majority of the kingdom was destroyed, leaving only a fraction of the population and, somehow, their College of War intact at the end of the peninsula.

The Kingdom, for a couple of years, existed at the end of their world and contemplated the devastation that occurred all around them. They continued to train the reduced population and began to explore the nearby islands and oceans. Quickly, however, they encountered the hostile and powerful Killbarans on the path of conquest. They delivered a staunch defense and were able to hold the Killbarans off for a significant period of time before succumbing to both their greater numbers and their superior military strategy.

The Yamik, however, were able to keep much of their culture alive, starting the College of the Arcane Fist, and teaching disciples the way of their small kingdom and combining it with the arcane arts that the Killbarans so revered.

The History of Indillus

The Duchy of Indillus was a small and peaceful Duchy lying on the northern edge of Udine bay. It was once part of a larger, lost civilization that was destroyed in the sundering but prospered along the coast, minding its own matters and keeping to itself. However, they were caught off guard when the Killbarans overran their duchy within days, razing many towns and slaughtering at least two full cities.

The People of Indillus quietly submitted to the rule of Killbar, but inwardly seethed at their conquest. Generations trained in combat and magic, gleaning every bit of information and knowledge from their rulers in order to one day rise up and throw off the yoke of their oppressors.

Finally, the time came when they were ready to assert their independence, Rebellion stirred in the hearts of the Indillus patriots and overflowed into action and violence as the decade’s long plan came to fruition. The rebellion was the fiercest and longest in Killbaran history and took a generation to subdue, but the might of the Killbaran legions could not be broken. In the end, Indillus was ground to dust, its population slaughtered and sold into slavery, and its territory settled by loyal and stout Legionaries. It was a glorious flame that burned bright but was snuffed out by a greater and more determined force.

The History of Morestti

The Kingdom of Morestti is a successor kingdom to the Kingdom of Modresto that collapsed and vanished beneath the Saldi tide a century prior to the sundering. The Morestti cobbled together the survivors of the horrific onslaught and banded together under their monarch to try and recreate the glory days of their empire. They were able to align a number of cities and town before the sundering, and due to their central location, they were able to survive without too much disruption.

Divided into fiefdoms doled out by the Twin Kings to deserving vassals, the Morestti fell into civil war more than once and suffered from a string of assassinated, overthrown or killed in combat monarchs over the course of a short period in time. The kingdom united when the Levishans made contact and, though the reasons are unknown, instigated war. The Morestti united in the face of greater danger and marched as one to battle. Their first campaign was a disaster, with both of the Twin Kings being slain in combat and another set having to be raised to the throne and lead the Kingdom. Their battles over the ensuing years were a series of blunders that, while they lost evermore soldiers, were able to bleed the Levishan army of its will to fight and its manpower. When the Levishans finally sued for peace, the Morestti were as relieved, being months away from being deprived of resources themselves, able only to field an army of near children and extreme veterans.

While the Morestti won the war, they were set down a path of eventual destruction. Impending invasions from Thrax in the east and from the newly established Kingdom of Alora in the south would eventually destabilize and eventually eradicate the kingdom. Today, the capital of Talirh is lost and, supposedly, abandoned, with the treasure room of the Twin kings left unplundered for centuries.

The History of the Forest Goblins

While not a kingdom of their own, the Forest goblins existed in Thrax for hundreds of years before it even had a name. Their culture doesn’t have or value a written history, but their legends and stories tell of a great cataclysm that heaved up the mountains in the north, destroying many of their underground warrens, sending their kind fleeing as their homes collapsed. The refugee goblins found safety within the massive woodland outside of their homes and became adept at building with and living within its natural confines.

Growing ever more numerous, the goblins adapted well to their new environs. There were few enemies in the forest that could threaten their numbers, and once they overcame their intense fear of the sunlight and became acclimated to the shadows, their population exploded, and they spread over the forest with great speed, though rarely with great friendship. Many of them fought against each other in tribal and territorial wars, but the casualties of such conflicts, even if it involved the slaughter of whole tribes, was never enough to slow their expansion. The only real danger, aside from themselves, was the cyclops who came down from the mountains from time to time to harvest a few tribes for snacks, slaves and other terrible ends.

This all ended with the arrival of the settlers from Lev to the west, who despised the goblins and slaughtered them whenever they were found, burning their villages and destroying as they expanded. The Goblins retreated as far as they could in the face of the expert forces of Lev, slinking to the unexplored and desolate areas that were hard for the larger folk to reach, though even there they were vulnerable, as Lev employed both Gnome and Pixie forces, though they were not as fearsome as their larger counterparts. Thankfully, the goblins encountered, after a deadly and swift conflict, the Thraxians, and seeing kinship there, requested their aid against the Levishans forces. Since that time, the forest goblins have been a valued and welcomed part of Thraxian society.

The History of the Eshkin

Eshkin was a small province among a number of small provinces, independent from other governing bodies, and on the fringes of known politics, at the time of the sundering. It was led by a family of elves who’d gathered power around themselves and managed to keep it to themselves over the course of several generations of their family, mostly maintained through their use of expendable troops with much shorter lifespans, trade deals and marriage of their vassals.

After the Sundering, the youngest son became paranoid that something would happen to him and quickly, for an elf, descended into madness. He made a pact with a great being from beyond space and time, and in the middle of the night, he sacrificed his family one by one for greater power, cementing his life as one dedicated to his insane patron. Over the years, his eternal life became one of seclusion and power, where only his most trusted advisors could speak to him, and only at specific times. He was paranoid, greedy and powerful, and his enemies would often mysterious disappear.

Even after multiple wars against Killbar, Occurus, and even Tyrndall, the King of Eshkin kept his eternal watch. It wasn’t war, enemies, or age that struck down the king, but a plague, one that crippled his people, destroyed the army and ravaged the countryside. Killbar, sensing the final downfall of the Eshkin, finally made their move and finished off the dying Kingdom. The ruins of those plagued cities, some wiped out completely to this day, stand to this time as haunted relics of mystical might and deadly miasma.

The History of Elthrim

The Kingdom of Elthrim was once a province of Occurus, ruled by a Knight of the Order of Belthrin, a Dragonborn paladin sworn to the oats of piety to the God Hisea. As Occurus crumbled around him, and the power and influence that he held in the province grew proportionately, Paladin Grekis was eventually forced to recognize that he was no longer supported by the Ecclesiarches.

As situations beyond the talents of Grekis needed tending to, he would appoint an advisor and bureaucrat to attend to that problem, and over the course of just a few years, there were dozens of lords who were in charge of specific lands and bureaucratic divisions. After the Paladins death, the nobles agreed that there would be no further kings, and created a council of lords that would rule the Kingdom. Each noble would be given equal say in the decisions of the Kingdom, except for the Gravun Naturn, the title given to the oldest noble. The Gravun would always cast the final vote, would cast a tiebreaking vote when needed, and could veto any proposal. To counter those powers, however, a plurality (2/3rds) of the lords could vote to exile or execute any member of their body. This tense situation of the threat of exile and the possibility of veto kept the Kingdom stable and powerful for many years.

Their end came suddenly, however, as a resurgent Tyrndall under the leadership of Korus Bloodstrike repaid the Elthrims previous treachery with a devastating military conquest that routed the smaller, less skilled and underprepared forces of the loose confederacy.

The History of Alora

Even prior to the Sundering, Alora had always been a fairly disparate province of Occurus, consisting of a few small cities and their vassal town, spreading from their government headquarters in Hilea through the northern lands. Each location felt a distant loyalty to the Crown, but wasn’t as patriotic and nationalistic as those much closer to the Kingdoms capital. When the decline of the Occurians godly authority after the Sundering refused to reverse, the Provincial Governor of Hilea declared himself King, and no Occuran force ever arrived to contradict him.

Following the creation of the Kingdom of Alora, the first and strongest challenge to occur was the sweeping south and west of a great Thraxian horde. Though it was prevented from penetrating too far south, there would be constant skirmishes all along the northern regions of Alora, and all the while the Killbarans pushed from the west. The Thraxian incursions continued for decades and only ended when one of the Thraxians, on a quest of revenge and conquest slew a particularly vile Aloran King and his twisted Magus advisor, and took the crown. King Kor’an was the beginning of the end, as he refused to deal with many aspects of ruling the kingdom, retaliated harshly against all incursions into the territory, resulting in massive losses to the military, and died without an heir, creating decades of instability until a new, yet ultimately ineffectual dynasty was crowned.

The downfall of Alora was that of internal rot, slow incompetence, and eventually simply inadequate rulership, leading to the marriage of the last king of Alora to the princess of Tyndaria, Aarika Griffonsbane, creating the Duchy of Alora as part of the Tyndarian Kingdom.

The History of Xian

Xian did not exist, at least as far as anyone knows, prior to the sundering. Their first recorded mention is as a ravaging band of elves along the southern coast. They were a cruel and terrible force that landed to the west of the vale, and began conquering what they could.

The Xian worshiped Retren, the god of pain exclusively, and scared and branded themselves in his name. Their ruthless and warlike disposition led them to carve out a small kingdom in the south rather quickly, but it also brought them into conflict with the other kingdoms around them, and their enslavement or simple execution of prisoners provided no sympathy from their enemies.

The Kingdom of Xian lasted for some time, but their violent expansion eventually provoked the ire of the Great Dragon Jet when they began to incur onto his lands and kill his followers. It took the dragon some time to notice the Xian, but when he awoke to their danger, his retribution was swift and brutal. The Xian were, unfortunately for them, engaged in a war with the Drim in the east when Jet, in his mighty and terrible glory, descended on their city in his swamp, and then again on their great capital city. None were spared, and the reinforcements that the Xian army needed to defeat the Drimmen were slain in their barracks. The Drimmen destroyed the Xian army, and their remnants scattered to the winds. To this day, some elves secretly worship Retren, and trace their ancestry to the elves of Xian. These elves are called the Drakuul by the Levishans, and are considered the greatest of their enemies and traitors to elfkind, hunted and slain if ever discovered.

The History of Keras

The Duchy of Keras was an expansion colony of Occurus, created when the ecclesiarches were attempting to regain power over the Occurians. They gave an especially pious and powerful vassal, Lady Ker’Ata, the charge of spreading the power of Occurus to the Hrondring and beyond, past the Toldirii Hills.

Lady Ker’Ata took her charge seriously, and crossed the Toldirii hills and started a small city on the outskirts of the Toldirii hills to provide examples to the Hrondring and other locals of the power of the Kingdom of Occurus. This duchy, removed from the rest of Occuria, lasted for quite some time until they were noticed by the Killbarans, who sent forces against it. Thankfully for the Duchy, Tyron Warfire came to their aid with a cadre of loyal and formidable Knights and repelled the Killbarans, saving the Duchy from conquest.

Killbarans, though, do not forget or forgive, and in a few short years, they raised a massive army and sent it against the defiant Duchy. Unable to repulse the attacks of the Killbarans, Tyron became a legend as he leads the fighting retreat, with his children giving their lives to lead doomed rearguard missions and bring victory from the jaws of defeat. The legend of Tyron is built on the death of Keras at the hands of the Killbarans.

Well, that is it for the Dead Kingdoms! These help flesh out the ruins, dungeons, and terrible threats that loom in the dark corners of the continent of Tysis.

Until next time!