July 29, 2010

Garhelm – The Background

I distributed this background to my players to set the tone of the campaign.  When viking_helmetcreating this back-story, I had three goals in mind: 
  1. Work in all the stuff I love (e.g., Norse mythology, Fraz-Urb’ Luu, etc.).
  2. Embed a rationale that made all of it work together.  Why is the Norse Pantheon worshipped in this world?  Why are there gods outside the Norse Pantheon? Where did the demons come from? 
  3. Ensure there is a rationale for the existence of dungeons to explore. As Jeff Rients has pointed out, default D&D is post-apocalyptic in nature. I wasn’t thinking of it in quite those terms at the time, but in hindsight, I realize it’s the same point.
The Story Garhelm
Garhelm’s history is a tale of betrayal and salvation. Most scholars divide the history of Garhelm  into Three Ages. The particulars of the First, or Elder, Age, are all but forgotten now by Man (the elves and dwarves may know much about this time, but are not forthcoming with information). It is said that the Elder Age was a time of relative peace. Man and Elf and Dwarf and Orc, Halfling and Gnome lived, worked, and fought side by side.

However, Man impatient and rash, grew restless with this calm. Seeking power and might that their own gods would not grant, many men turned to other, more sinister forces. The Book of Delbal-La states that it was Fraz-Urb’ Luu, the Deceiver, who first answered their call. He was soon followed by more Demons and Devils, quick to grant power to would-be followers. The old gods (now known as the Elder Gods), turned from those who turned from them and left Garhelm. But the foolish Men, rash and overconfident, realized too late the price of their power. And thus came the Second Age, the Age of Pains. The very sun was blotted out by the evil of the Dark Lords. Fiends and Undead walked openly, raping the land of its vitality and life. The Giants, whom had long lain dormant, awoke and ravaged the land. Great nations were brought to ruin as weak-minded kings and hell-bent priests led armies into pointless battles. Friend turned against friend and the hearts of most turned as black as the sky. The other races realized too late the evil that Men had brought to the world. They forsake Men, withdrawing to great holds and protected enclaves within the mountains, forests, and hills.

Yet, not all Men had been corrupted, not all had forgotten that there were other powers besides the Lords of the Hells and the Dukes of the Abyss. The Seven Travelers sought aid and aid they found. Mystics spoke of strong gods, hungry for battle and they set out on a quest for these deities. Who these Travelers were has been lost. Some say the band was composed of brave Men seeking to correct the mistakes of their race; others claim the band consisted of representatives of all the races. Whatever the case, they set out on a quest to find those whom would rescue their dying world. After years of searching, they at last reached Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge and crossed over into Asgard and besieged the deities they found there to save Garhelm. The gods answered the call.

Led by Thor, the forces of Asgard made war against the Dark Ones. Valhalla emptied its warriors eager for battle and carnage. Slowly but surely, Men awoke from their nightmare and turned against the Dark Ones. Battle upon battle was fought, entire nations laid to waste, for the New Gods sought to wipe Garhelm clean and saw little need to spare the world of old. Seeing that there was now hope, many of the other races joined in the fight, reviving old alliances and forging new ones. The might of Asgard could not be quelled and the Dark Ones fled, many abandoning Garhelm, seeking to find lower hanging fruit from other realms. However, some could not be driven out entirely. These were driven underground and under the sea, locked in wards and sealed off from humanity. Thus ended the Age of Pains.

Hundreds of years of later, the Third Age is at hand. The sun shines again and Garhelm grows. Yet even while the sun shines, so too do shadows grow.
Web Statistics