This here is a FRP campaign idea that I've been working on. Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Kaern, the Doomed City
Herein Lie The Memoirs of Airen Ettan, High Prince of Kaern
On This, The Third Day of the Second Month of Changing Leaves
In the 48th Year of Our Lord Tobias Ettan III
The twenty-eighth year of my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rule was a very good time for our people. I was only twelve years old, but I remember it vividly. We were a happy, peaceful folk in our remote kingdom, perched on the side of the tallest mountain in the Elvarda range, great Kaerus herself. Our enemies were few and far between; the treacherous conditions kept any intruders or attackers at bay. The only dangers we needed fear were landslides and blizzards, and we were well prepared for such eventualities, having lived on our mountain home for untold generations.
We are a by trade and profession a mining people, and though we are the closest to the heavens of any of the folk in the Colored Lands, we are at home underground. There is not a Kaern man, woman or child that does not know the way about our caverns, even while blindfolded. The river-folk of our neighboring kingdom, Haitayr, say that Kaern children are born with dirt under their fingernails. We would almost agree ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ our slightly swarthy complexions and dark hair make us seem preternaturally dirty, in any case, so it is difficult to argue.
When our hands are not clutching hammers and pick-axes, however, one would most often find them raising flagons of ale. Our nearly one hundred days of celebration during the year, honoring the gods and the coming and going of the seasons, are often excuses for us to perfect our brewing skills, which are second only to our abilities in mining. Foreigners can rarely stomach our brew, however, because it is made from various lichen and fungi that grow in the caves beneath our city. Kaern celebrations last for many days, allowing our hard working people some respite from the toil of mining.
Often during our celebrations my father, King Tobias Ettan III, would be found regaling to the children the tale of how he single-handedly drove off a barbarian raid of our town during his first year of rule ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the number of barbarians would grow with each retelling ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ or perhaps he would be sharing a pint with the townsfolk, laughing and singing as loudly as any of the commoners. His relationship with his people, unfortunately, was not indicative of his family life; he was a cold and commanding father and husband. My mother, Lyta, pretended not to notice the comings and goings of his many mistresses, and seemed not to be affected by his harsh tones when we were all in private.
My father was a just king, and always was respected by his subjects. Crowned at the age of twelve after his parents were tragically killed in a landslide, he was the youngest king to come to rule in the history of our people. Until he reached the age of manhood, however, his aides would make most of the decisions. When he was old enough, he realized that one man in particular, a magician of some power named Rashaad, had been usurping the kingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s power for his own ends. Rashaad was later banished to the barren wastelands to the north, never to be seen again. This act garnered much acclaim from the townsfolk, and solidified my father as a respected leader.
My mother was much more concerned with raising us children rather than dealing with issues of state, however, and did not let any of the servants wait on us for fear that we would become ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œspoiledÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬?. She wasted no time in our youth teaching us etiquette, all manners of schooling, and most importantly, chivalry. My youngest brother was only four, however, when Mother became ill with the Black Fever. She was bed-ridden for nearly two years before she died.
My father became even more distant with my motherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death, and spent all of his time and energy planning our mining operations. Every waking moment that was not dedicated to our celebrations he spent conferring with the mining scouts and surveyors, inspecting the operations of the pick-miners, and watching the progress of the Arc-miners ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ our elite group of men who are able to bore through the earth using magical power.
Our peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s toil is not without cause, however, and our passion for mining not unfounded. Beneath the Elvarda Mountains, and especially Kaerus, lay untold troves of treasure ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ not of gold, or jewels, but of the substance only known as the Red Ore. The Ore is the lifeblood of our people, and our only source of revenue and trade. It lies hidden in every meter of the outstretched fingers of our caverns, so plentiful that it is in the very food that we eat and the water that we drink. Its strange properties are valuable to every people in the Colored Lands, from our kin in Haitayr, to the Tree Whisperers of the southlands, the Tall Ones of the Tarnus Fields, and the Blue Folk of the north.
Appearing much like hard reddish clay, the Ore seems inert and no different from any other substance found in the earth. When fired at extreme temperatures, however, it becomes harder than iron, and can then augment and strengthen those with magical power. Its full capabilities are not yet known, but its presence here hasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦changed our people. We are, some say, more attuned with the flows of the Essence than most. Spells do not affect us as well as they do normal folk, and for that we are often feared and hated. It was because of the Red Ore that our city has thrived for generations, but it is also because of the Ore ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ and my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s obsession with it ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ that our kingdom has experienced the troubles that it has since my younger years.
Raymus, my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s eldest brother and the ruler of the Haitayr river-folk to our north, fed my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s obsession, always pushing him to have his crews dig deeper. He was convinced that the Ore had some sort of a nexus deep in the earth, and that the secret to the strange substance was within reach. I would hear their arguing from my chambers late into the evening when my uncle would visit; Raymus would always be commanding my father to dedicate more men to the tasks of exploring and excavating the Ore.
My uncle Neifa, my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s younger brother and trusted advisor, gave me the first indication that our kingdom was in any peril. He took me aside during one of our celebrations and spoke in worried tones about my uncle Raymus and my father, and their obsession with the Red Ore. He said that it was a danger to our kingdom, and that their greediness would be their undoing. I was only eleven years old at the time, but those words have stayed with me in the years hence. Soon after his warning, he was killed in a cave-in while inspecting the deeps of the mines.
As the oldest child of four, it was my responsibility to think for the future of our kingdom, though as an obedient son I did not want to go against my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s wishes. I watched as he drove our already hard-working miners to exhaustion and death, forcing them to probe ever deeper into the bowels of the mountain, searching for deposits of the Red Ore. For the first time my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s people became resentful as they watched their fathers, brothers and husbands die for the endless conquests into the earth.
Months later, a clan of cave-dwellers was found in the caverns sixty miles north of our city. A people we had never seen before, they seemed to live as savages and spoke no language we knew. Short, wiry, with dark reddish skin, eyes black as obsidian and menacing sharp teeth, they began attacking our miners, slowing their progress dramatically and killing several men each day. When my father heard of this he became furious, and declared war.
A company of three hundred men made up of miners, warriors and magic users were sent to destroy the Cave Dwellers. The battles lasted for months ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ it appeared that we had underestimated their fierceness and numbers. The death toll climbed sharply as our men neared the Cave DwellersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ underground city, and our people began begging my father to pull them back. He ignored their pleas and sent two hundred more.
So obsessed with affairs under the ground, my father was, that he did not see the threats from outside our kingdom. As our battle with the Cave Dwellers neared its climax, my uncle Raymus led a swift attack on our city, crippling our defenses and making off with much of our stores of the Red Ore. My father, furious at the betrayal, called back the forces from the caves and prepared a counter-attack on Raymus. This is when it happened.
Two days after RaymusÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ attack, as our troops were still amassing in the city, one of our watchtower men spotted something in the sky approaching our city. As it came closer it was apparent that not an airship or some other man-made device, but a beast of some sort. It came to rest hovering thousands of feet above Kaern, and we saw it in all of its terrible glory.
It was a creature no one had laid eyes on before ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ a gigantic crimson bird, but not really a bird, because instead of feathers it was covered with dense scales. Its wings must have spanned hundreds of feet, for with every beat the air rushed through our city with the force of many gales, and the ground shook as if to tear the castle apart. Lightning arced from its gruesome talons, and a horrible roar came from its gigantic beak. Ballista bolts had no effect on its hide, and our spell-casters were powerless against it.
It swooped down, and with one terrific blow destroyed the castleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s tallest tower, raining wood and stone down upon us. We knew that we were helpless against the beast, and began retreating our forces into the citadel and caves below. The lightning from its talons burnt our remaining warriors to a crisp, and it continued to crash against our walls until the entire city collapsed in on itself.
Only six hundred survived the attack; luckily everyone in my family was spared except for my younger brother (who had wandered out from the citadel to view the gigantic beast), but we were trapped beneath the ruins of the city. With most of our Arc-miners killed in the attacks it took us nearly a month to reach the surface, but when we finally did we found what we did not expect ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the beast had stayed to roost on our fallen city, guarding it as a gigantic winged sentinel. He killed everyone that attempted escape, and collapsed the tunnels that we had created to the surface.
With all of our forces either dead or crippled, we could do nothing but regroup and concentrate on the essentials, such as water, food and caring for the wounded. Though in the twenty years since the attack we have rebuilt our people and our forces, we are no closer to reaching the surface. Every attempt to escape has been blocked by the beast, leading to more bloodshed, and many think that he will eventually collapse the caverns and kill us all. Thus Kaern is no longer known as the red jewel of the mountain, but we are called a Doomed City by our own people. Apart from the Cave Dwellers and the Great Beast, none know that we still live beneath our rocky tomb.
Since the attack my father has become a virtual recluse, speaking to almost no-one and eschewing most of his duties as King. ChaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢tha, the leader of our military forces, spoke for him until I reached the age of manhood, at which time I was given the power to rule. ChaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢tha has become like a father to me through these many years, and has inspired me beyond measure.
Now, in the forty-eighth Year of my fatherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rule, our forces are amassing once again and we are attempting escape ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ but instead of upward, we must forge downward, into the bowels of the caves. Our only chance lies in defeating the hordes of the Cave Dwellers and finding a way out through their city. Our new generation of children, bred in these dark caves and raised on lichens and fungi must fight for our peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s solidarity, for the warriors who survived the attacks are now too old to carry this burden. I have appointed ChaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢tha, wise in the ways of mining and making war, to train these youngsters. Our kingdomÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s future lies in their hands.