Heroes of Ordem
An eon ago something colossal was buried deep within the earth…
What woke it 38 years ago? Was it’s waking somehow a result of the Great War of the last century? Was it woken by the evil masters who tried to conquer this land? Was it trying to escape a future catyclysm of which we can only guess? Will it ever return?
Whatever woke it, when it surfaced it brought terror and death to the inhabitants of the land. The dwarves of Hammerfell died as it tunneled up through their mountain home. The humans of Blackbrier Village were crushed beneath it as it tore a chasm toward the north west. The elves and eladrin of the Greenwood were burned as its fiery wake destroyed the forest in a flash.
Now, a remnant of each race has banded together to rebuild and defend Blackbrier against the encroaching darkness. They will have to work together to survive. For not only have their old enemy, the orcs, returned to this region in force; but rumors say worse things are stirring in the heart of the world…
The Village of Blackbrier
Blackbrier is a tiny crossroads village surrounded by a wooden palisade. A flickering candle amid the vast darkness of the wilderness, Blackbrier draws people from the surrounding area to its sheltering walls, offering what little promise of safety might come from numbers.
Here are the key features of the village, and the people connected to them:
Hammerfell Home: Both a tavern and a place for the villagers to gather for meetings.
◀ * Eldest Delanna Stormwatcher (female elf), the village’s oldest resident, who leads town meetings.
- ◀ Elder Marti Veransdottir (female human), pro-human faction leader.
- Blackbrier Temple: The Raven Queen’s altar holds the central place here, but Pelor, Moradin, and Melora also have altars and priests inside.
- ◀ Halvyn (male eladrin), preist of the Raven Queen
- ◀ Torki Pelorslight (male dwarf), the young, idealistic priest of Pelor.
- ◀ Thran Sundrisson (male human), blacksmith, part-time priest of Moradin, militia leader.
- Moonsword Trading House: A merchant consortium based in nearby Lake Towne.
- ◀ Kaela Mossflower(female elf), Moonsword Trading house agent, part-time priest of Melora.
- Waymeet Shipping Co: A merchant consortium based in distant Waymeet.
- ◀ Derek Sheveksson (male human), son of Marti, agent of Waymeet Shipping Co. and a good source for exotic goods.
The Surrounding Area
The palisades of the village are surrounded by farms, and beyond the farms to the north and west stand the scorched trees of the Burned Wood. A generation ago, the forest was a lush wilderness inhabited by elves and eladrin. Now the forest is a desolate waste of blackened trunks and scorched earth, where strange green fire still dances along the ground in random eruptions.
West of the village about a day’s travel lies the ruins of Mount Khûn and the remains of the great dwarven city of Hammerfell.
Northwest of Greenbrier is the city of Waymeet, the last great bastion of civilization in the middle of the wilderness. A road leads to the city, still well-traveled by merchants of the Waymeet Shipping Co, but it is not as safe as it used to be.
South along the road lies the now empty town of Tower Watch, built amid the ruins of a larger city. Near the city travellers soon find the remains of a large battlefied from the time of the Great War, rusted weapons, old bones, and a strange shiver down the spine are mute witnesses to the aftermath of war.
The third branch of the road leads southeast along the Ravenwash River to Lake Towne, a small town built on wooden platforms extending over a great lake.
The road to the west is ancient, worn, and choked with grass and weeds. It leads to the Frosthorn Peaks and to old Harrows Pass, but the pass hasn’t been used in decades.
There is no road to the east.
The Hammerfell Rift campaign uses all the core D&D rules, with a few modifications and exceptions.
For the start of the campaign, you can use any Core race except for genasi, tiefling, halfling, or dragonborn.
The people of Blackbrier are mostly human farmers. Many of them live on farms outside the village palisades. Humans founded this village, and the Eldest always ruled the Council. Now that the Eldest is an elf in her prime, some humans are unhappy.
Dwarves are not only the First People, but are also heirs of an empire far older than current memory, and they cling to an ancient pride. Some dwarf merchants and artisans are settled in the village, and others come through in caravans from time to time. Dwarf caravans link Blackbrier to the nearby cities and towns.
Elves used to live in what is now called the Burned Forest, but since its devastation they have moved into the smaller, tame forests closer to Blackbrier, and their camps and roving bands are as much a part of the village as the scattered farmsteads.
Elves have been a part of Blackbrier long enough that a notable number of half-elves now inhabit the village. In fact, there are more here than anywhere else in the known world.
Eladrin used to inhabit a city called Cendriane, which they were building, with the elves’ permission, in the middle of the forest. With the destruction of the Burned Forest, the eladrin city was destroyed as well, sending refugees scattering across the land and to Blackbrier.
You can’t routinely buy or sell magic items in this campaign. You can use the Enchant Magic Item and Disenchant Magic Item rituals to create the items you want and convert unwanted items to residuum. You may be able to sell to or order from an agent of a trading house, but conditions may apply.
As you think about your character background, please consider connections between your character and the other player characters, and try to forge a strong bond with at least one other character.
Besides other player characters, you might also have ties to NPCs in the village. In addition to the characters mentioned on the previous page, you might consider a tie to one of these characters and their stories:
- ◀ Jander, a crazy old man, was Torki’s predecessor as Pelor’s priest in the temple. He’s devout and earnest—too earnest, in fact, for the people of the village. He used to harangue well-meaning farmers, telling them they weren’t doing enough to stave off the encroaching darkness, and publicly berating those who had failed to show mercy and kindness to their neighbors. Finally the people of the village replaced him with Torki. Jander lives in a hut just inside the village palisade.
- ◀ Several years ago, a valiant knight ventured into the deepest reaches of the Hammerfell Rift. The family of this knight treasures a single heirloom left behind: a golden holy symbol of <<pelor>> with a topaz eye. Are you a member of this family—perhaps the child or other relative of the vanished knight?
- ◀ Orazio Woundcarver (male elf) the Watchwarden.
- ◀ Thorhild Skarpheddinssdottir (female human) elderly former priestess of the Raven Queen, insane?
- ◀ Astrid Grimmsdottir (female half-elf), a border warden, Narsil’s elder sister .
- ◀ Tarma Derekssdottir (female human), blacksmith’s apprentice armorer, Marti’s granddaughter .
- ◀ Ramynaria (female eladrin), noble-in-exile, obsessed with memories of her lost position.
- ◀ Elder Haander Rockhewer (male dwarf), gentleman farmer, Harvest Guild leader.
- ◀ Thom Martaisson (male human), owner of the Hammerfell Home.
- The legends of the dwarves say this world was theirs. Then, in a time long past, the elves came here or were created. No one can say for sure which it was—although many stories exist. The legends of the dwarves and elves alike say that afterward the deep delving of the dwarves brought forth the orcs from the under-places of the world.
Many years ago, the numbers of the orcs became a problem and since then they have often fought for living space with the dwarves underground and the elves on the surface. Because orcs breed so fast, they are always in need of new areas to settle. Although warlike and fierce, not all are evil. Dwarves and elves have long been allies in the various wars with orc tribes.
Things went on in this way for an age.
Then, 182 years ago, came the first recorded signs of change. Disturbingly mutated versions of animals were discovered in the wilderness. Other signs of evil manipulation of the world soon became apparent. Many noticed various signs, but didn’t know what to do. The Taint slowly spread.
140 years ago, a mass migration of eladrin refugees appeared—out of thin air—on the outskirts of Waymeet, a major city of both elves and dwarves. The dwarves in the city couldn’t communicate with them at all, but it was quickly discovered that their dialect was related to an ancient elven tongue. The ragged and weary refugees were made welcome,
but they didn’t want to talk about where they had come from or why. They set to work building new lives for themselves. Also, trying to increase the numbers of their people became a priority.
136 years ago a great war was started as an invasion of taint creatures, twisted abominations, and foulest undead appeared. They were soon followed by organized hosts invading the world from somewhere beyond. They say the hosts were in service to an evil queen. Chaos was the vanguard of her invasions. The eladrin helped organize a swift defense for this was the queen whose slavery they had fled.
The more organized armies were reported to contain enslaved or ensorceled eladrin, some of whom escaped, were turned, or freed during the war. The hosts of the enemy also contained creatures like small elves—none of whom could ever be captured—and large beings with dragon-like features. A few survived to report fighting some sort of white-haired demons who must have been the elite of the enemy’s forces. Some of the more vile tribes of orcs joined the enemy during the war.
131 years ago the evil queen’s forces were finally driven back through the Veil. The turning point came in the third year of the war when the allies—dwarves, elves and eladrin—were joined by many tribes of orcs to fight off the armies of the invader. After the defeat of the invaders, The Raven Queen herself appeared and rewarded the orcs who had joined the allies with transcendence. Their ascendance resulted in the first humans. As creations of the Raven Queen, the humans kept the short life span of orcs, but were granted versatility and an inner fire to succeed.
The allied races, now four, thought the Great War had ended the strife of the Tainted Times. However, 38 years ago, the Taint began appearing in the world again. In a region named Hammerfell, after a prosperous and influential dwarven city, a great beast of colossal size burrowed up from the heart of the earth and trundled away. The city of Hammerfell, and the mountain which housed it, were almost utterly destroyed. A few dwarven survivors escaped to the nearby city of Blackbrier only to reach it as it was crushed and burned by the monstrous creature’s wake. The next day, elven and eladrin survivors from the nearby forest came seeking refuge, only to find more devastation like that which they had escaped.
In the years since, the four peoples have rebuilt Blackbrier and when needed have fought against orcs or other foul things which emerge from the ruins of the Hammerfell Rift.
Rumors say taint creatures are appearing again across the lands.
You have lived all your life in Blackbrier, its near environs, or have traveled there for some reason in the past few years.
Deities are the same as in the D&D core rules with these changes:
Old friendships were strengthened and new alliances were forged among the gods during the war. The Raven Queen, Moradin, Melora, and Pelor were the most active in assisting mortals during the war. Although their tenets are different, their followers have strong admiration for each other. These are the most popular gods among the civilized races.
Moradin: As the main god of dwarves, the First People, he has many followers of all races.
The Raven Queen: She was very active during the Great War, although the reasons why are not completely known. She has tasked her followers to be especially vigilant in destroying tainted beings and creatures, as well as cleansing tainted places. As their patron and creator, she is the main god of humans. Priests of The Raven Queen will not perform resurrection rituals.
Avandra: As the god of change, most are leery of worshiping her because of the nature of the Taint. Although her followers suffered as much as anyone else during the Great War, they are misunderstood and occasionally maligned.
Relations among the races are very good (for the most part) all having done their part during the war and gaining the respect and trust of the others. Some suspicion has lingered as to the motives of the eladrin… Were they really refugees or were they sent as scouts just before the invasion? Why don’t they discuss more openly where they came from? Also, humans are a very young race. What are their capabilities and flaws?
Humans have conflicted feelings toward orcs. They hate the orcs who joined the forces of the invasion, but they deeply regret fighting neutral tribes when they must… they see themselves as they might have been.
Only Eladrin may play swordmages at the beginning of play. Only they have mastered the effortless, instantaneous teleportation needed.
Dark Pact warlocks have had contact with the forces of the enemy that lay beyond the Veil.
May The Queen of Ravens guide your passage through and your passage from this world, O traveler…