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The Crusader States

Magical Chaos
Magical Beasts
C. States History
Population Centers
Important Sites

 

THE CRUSADER STATES
Capital: none
Population:
913,040 (82% human, 7% halfling, 6% half-orc, 2% wood-elf, 2% Centaur)
Government:
Feudal
Religions:
Conorrian
Imports:
Grain, livestock, trade goods
Exports:
Metal, timber, amber

The Crusader States are a confusing patchwork of feudal principalities, duchies, counties, baronies, septs, and city-states. Born out of the fiery crusades to liberate the holy city of Echoriath from the orcs and ogres a generation ago, these states now struggle amongst themselves, and with their considerably more powerful neighbors, to forge the region into a true kingdom.

Prior to the Crusades, the land between the Lyodan river and the Valesian Sea was known as Akasia. Once a part of the Conorrian Empire known for its excellent food, fine weather and good black soil, Akasia fell into ruin after the Mage Wars that left it a haven for monsters, strange storms and dark cults. It is said that the only thing more twisted than an Akasian tree is an Akasian lie.

The land is now under the rule of foreigners, priests and knights of western lands who settled here during and after the Crusades. The local Akasians recognize that the rule of the Crusaders is preferable to that of the orcs, but they chafe at it nonetheless and scheme to rid their land of all foreign domination. At the same time, larger neighbors such as Ianthe, the Neldorean elves and the Empire itself cast acquisitive eyes at the hundreds of small, squabbling lords of the Crusader States.

Magical Chaos

No history has ever captured all the fury and chaos of the Mage Wars, but the Crusader States bear mute (and sometimes quite noisy) testimony to their destruction. Here, the very fabric of the world was rent, and magic, the blessing of Shorral, was torn and damaged. Throughout the region there are places, invisible to the naked eye, where magic does not have its intended consequences. Instead, magic may be wildly unpredictable or powerful. In still other places, magic does not function at all. Most such regions are small, a few hundred yards at most. Some are no more than a dozen paces. Still others move in unpredictable patterns.

Some of the stable areas have attracted wizards or even whole schools to come and study their effects, but most remain uncharted, awaiting the unwary or unlucky.

Magical Beasts

The long ago mages also summoned armies of creatures from other worlds to fight their battles. While most of these returned to their fantastical homes when released by their summoners, many stayed. In addition, the walls between the worlds were made thin in Akasia, and many unlikely and dangerous beasts still slip through to Theeurth from beyond. Each such monster seems to be more fantastic or ferocious than the last. Many are mere animals, though exotic and dangerous. But some have come purposefully and, filled with an alien malice, seek to dominate humankind. They work in secret below the Akasian hills, but they will not remain hidden forever.

HISTORY

First known to the Conorrians as Transmilesia, the region was settled by tribes of elves and humans who lived in small, separate farming communities, or gathered in cities on the coast. Transmilesia was among the first conquests of the growing Conorrian Empire, and as the province of Akasia, remained at the heart of the mighty Empire for thousands of years, its rich harvests supporting a growing urban population.

All that changed with the advent of the Mage Wars, Conorria’s terrible civil war in the eighteenth century. Akasia formed the border between the regions of the east, loyal to the line of the emperors and the regions of the west, split among half a dozen factions and waging arcane war for the Phoenix throne. No region suffered from that war as did Akasia. More than a million people were displaced, and tens of thousands were killed by the sorcerous plagues and summoned monsters that twisted the very land itself.

Akasia emerged from the Mage Wars as a no-man’s land between the eastern and western empires. Strange beasts and magical effects were more common than any of the remaining human inhabitants. Nearly all the elven Akasians fled to the Neldorean Wood, or perished in the service of one or another pretender to the throne. Thus Akasia was a wilderness for more than two hundred years before men began once again to settle there, and to rediscover the horrors that had caused their ancestors to flee.

Akasia’s suffering was not over when Markimillien vanquished all his foes and became the Emperor of the western, Miletian Empire. It was again a battleground in 2282, this time in the war between the Conorrians and the Darothic hordes.

In the winter of 2723, a vaste horde of orcs and allied creatures descended on the lightly-defended western half of the Conorrian Empire and routed its defenders, burning and looting across the once-mighty realm. Only in the east was their power thwarted. In the west, the legions fought on to defeat throughout 2724, managing to survive only in a few well-prepared fortresses which the orcs and their ogre allies could not defeat. Yet even these outposts would have been doomed after the passage of time, if not for unlooked-for help from the west.

Throughout the cities and towns of the formerly Conorrian territories, from Luxur to Tirgonia, the clerics of the powerful Conorrian church stirred their followers into a divine furor, a lust to seek redemption in the driving forth of the unclean orcs from the ancient Conorrian lands. A grand crusade was organized, and the armies of the west arrived in ravaged Conorria in the spring of 2745. The fractious coalition of churchmen and nobility drove the orcs from a large swath of western Conorria, but never reached its goal of entering the capital, which had been liberated months earlier by Varantius II and his Rhanalorian allies.

Conorrian forces soon took charge of all the areas conquered in 2724, but stopped there, leaving the crusaders in possession of Akasia. The religious coalition swiftly disintegrated, as each prince, baron or abbot staked out his claim among the weird hills and valleys long despised by two separate empires.

Major Population Centers

Pontezium - (Small City, population 43,450). Located on the Lyodan river, some forty miles upstream from its mouth, Pontezium is the largest of the Crusader cities. Built on a broad cliff above a bend of the river, it is highly defensible, practically an island. This ancient city held out against the orc hordes for twenty-one years, despite constant sieges and several massive assaults. Today it is the seat of Tristan the Bold, Duke of Pontezium and cousin of the King of Lorraine. Tristan encourages trade with all nations, and there are in the city enclaves of Warlocks from Accolon as well as merchants from Har’akir and the Valesian City-States.

Regaldros - (Small City, population 34,530). At the northwest corner of the Gulf of Thyestes lies the port city of Regaldros, near to both the Akasian hills and the troll-haunted Firefall woods. Regaldros is known as the City of Shadows, because some weird magic of the Mage Wars has freed the shadows of all things in Regaldros. They move about on their own and interact as if intelligent. Though extremely unsettling, this appears to be harmless. It is the seat of Kellek, Knight-Commander of the Blazing Dawn, a knightly sect dedicated to the god Erdhon. Regaldros is also home to the Scholae Superiorum Umbrae, or the Great University of Shadows, a secretive brotherhood of shadow mages.

Laedrus - (Large Town, population 18,870). In the northwestern Akasian hills lies the important walled mining town of Laedrus. This remote town is home to several gold mines nearby. It sits directly atop a great underground cavern complex known as the Old City. In fact, at least two old cities lay below Laedrus. The most recent was sunk below the surface during the Mage Wars, while the older city collapsed into a great limestone cavern as a result of natural causes centuries before. Some legends claim that there are even older cities buried below.

IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES

The Akasian Hills - These rugged, partially wooded hills dominate the central region of the Crusader States. Caves and caverns dot the myriad hillsides and are home to all manner of weird beast, as well as a few tribes of orcs who hid in the hills when the Crusaders came. The most persistent legend of the Akasian hills deals with the Fey Hunt, a terrible procession of dogs driven on by a demon master. It is said that he who hears the baying of these hounds will suffer a terrible fate, even if the dogs do not tear him apart.

The Firefall Woods - Several hundred years ago, long before the Mage Wars, these woods were known for unusual occurrences. One of the best known was the night that fire rained down from the sky, setting the forest ablaze. In the morning, the trees had all been changed to fragile crystal. Though new trees grew, and few of the crystallized trees remain, the night of Firefall was believed to be the cause of many strange omens, unnatural sounds and strange rumblings below the earth. Now, the Firefall woods are home not only to some of the most bizarre and unnatural creatures in Theeurth, it is home to a great green dragon named Ymardalore, who treats the western woods as his own fief.

The Solstice Tower - Said to be the home of a wizard who opposed the Archmage (later emperor) Markimillien, this tower was banished from the face of Theeurth. Only once a year does the tower return to the lonely moor where it once sat, on the night of the winter solstice, when the walls between the worlds are thinnest. Those who have seen the tower describe eerie lights and strange armored riders who issue forth from it into the world. What other worlds the tower visits in its travels, none can say.

The Phantom Desert - One of the many strange results of the Mage War, the Phantom Desert is a vast region of blowing sand which moves from place to place around the Crusader States and nearby realms. Each day at dawn the desert appears in a new place, sometimes vanishing entirely for weeks or months at a time. It is a harsh, waterless place peopled by fierce, nomadic beast-men, and said to contain a lost graveyard of gods and titans.

 
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