Kingmaker - Heroes of the Margreve
History of the Stolen Lands
Ancient elven ruins indicate that the elves ones claimed a vast swathe of the region that now makes up the Stolen Lands and the greater River Kingdoms region. However, not all ruins that date back to the ages before the Age of Darkness can be tied to elvenkind.
During the Age of Darkness, it is believed gnomes made an effort to settle in the Margreve Forest, but only the occasional timeworn relic attests to these attempts. Most scholars believe these attempts proved to be futile because of marauding orcish hordes from the northern reaches.
Age of Destiny
Humans migrate east into the region around the Encarthan Sea. These savage people establish numerous cairns and megaliths throughout the land that would one day become Ustalav, Irrisen, Berovy, Numeria, and the River Kingdoms. They come to view the technological relics scattered throughout Numeria as sacred, and through experimentation with these ancient devices, come to pierce the boundaries between life and death, and begin worshiping the undead. These humans, known to historians as Kellids, drive back the orcs into the Tusk and Icerime Moutains and the northern wastes of Belken.
These barbarians would come into conflict with the expanding dwarven empire of Tar Taagardath. The dwarves construct a number of watch towers and other defensive fortifications throughout the sprawling plains around the Sellen River. These fortifications are abandoned when Tar Taagardath descends into civil war.
Age of Enthronement
A new migration of humans reaches the territory of the Kellids. Related to the Balok peoples of the eastern Balinok mountains, these people bring with them domesticated cattle, bronze weapons, and magic derived from their faith in the nature spirits. These humans drive the Kellids back into the forests and hills while they lay claim to the rich lands along the rivers. These would become the ancestors to the modern Iobarian peoples.
Age of Humanity
First Millenia, Absolom Reckoning
Aroden’s revelation leads the humans of the city states along the eastern shores of the Inner Sea to unite into the Empire of Taldor. One of the Empire’s first acts is to send forth an Army of Exploration as commanded by Aroden’s edicts to bring forth his light of civilization to the world. The first of these armies travels north across the Fog Peaks and into the broad plains that surround the Sellen River, charting the mighty river’s course and forming alliances with the human clans that call the land home. A number of clans agree to join the Empire and accept the faith of Aroden, but many of those who refuse head east into the wilds of Iobaria.
The first Taldan ruler of these lands was a brash young nobleman named Siran Rost. As his frontier territories were caught between savage orcs and the vicious Kellids, they were constantly under attack. One local Kellid lord challenged Siran to a duel for the land he sought to claim, and the foolish nobleman agreed to the barbarian’s challenge, loosing badly and costing Taldor a portion of its new gains. Siran vanished, and most presumed he went into hiding from the Empire’s agents. However, seventeen years later, Siran returned, a grizzled man wielding a strange sword. Calling himself Siran Aldori, the “Baron of the Sword,” he challenged the barbarian lord to a rematch, and effortlessly defeated him, as well as all other challengers. He then presented himself in the Emperor’s court in Oppara, asking for forgiveness for his mistakes. Aroden himself was said to have appeared in the court, and praised Siran for seeking to make amends for his grave mistakes. Siran was granted control over the northeastern frontier, which became known as Rostland. When Siran died, control over the region was given not his son, but his most talented apprentice, who became head of House Aldori. This established Rostland’s unique inheritance traditions, known as the swordpact, where land is transferred not from parent to child but from master to apprentice. Siran was also proclaimed by the Church of Aroden as patron saint of swordfighters.
A number of migrants gather together to found the settlement of Orkormirr on the eastern shore of the Lake of Mists and Veils. Explorers from Orkormiir would discover the ancient stone highways, known as Koloran Roads, that cut through the taiga and steppes east of the Lake. These highways facilitate the exploration of the clan’s new homelands. The settlers numbers are bolstered by a large number of refugees fleeing Taldor’s aggressive expansion and war against the Kellid hordes lead by the arch-necromancer Tar-Baphon, and soon the realm of Njalgard comes into being.
Njalgard was a loose confederation of nine separate clanholds each ruled by a koffar, and sharing a similar culture, language, and religion. The clanholds would often cooperate in terms of trade and exploration, but they were not a united nation in any sense of the word. However, in 353 AR, Iobar the Potent, son of Koffar Kjell of Orlov, challenged his father and the other koffars to ritual combat for a right to their titles. He bested each of them, and united all of Njalgard under his banner, and became the first King of the Iobarians.
Over the next thousand years, Iobaria would expand to become one of the great empires of humanity. With the fall of Tar-Baphon and the shattering of the Kellid people’s unity, Iobaria would expand west, forming the provinces of Issia, Mendev, and Sarkoris.
Second Millenia, Absolom Reckoning
In the 1100s, Iobaria falls into a civil war known as the Native Plaguestrife between its Arodenite nobility and druidic lower classes. A number exiled Arodenite refugees, under the leadership of Soividia Ustav, head west and settle among their Taldan kin near Avalon Bay. When Taldor is invaded by their rivals Kelesh in the Oath War, Ustav and her restless Iobarian followers seize control of a swathe of territory along the northern shore of the Encarthan Sea. In the tradition of her ancestor Iobar, Ustav is proclaimed the first Queen of Ustalav. By 1226, the Empire of Iobaria has collapsed into a collection of petty city-states and a huge influx of Iobarian refugees pour into Ustalav.
In the 1400s, an effort was made by House Korya of Issia, House Narkys of Orlov, and House Arjal of Mirby to reforge the Iobarian Empire. Drawing upon nostalgia for the empire of Old Iobaria, the warlords embark on a century-long quest to reunite the fractured empire. When the conquest began to falter, the heirs of Korya and Arjal sacrifice Narkys’ entire house to the dragons of the Syrzemyan Highlands. With this draconic alliance, victory was made possible, and in 1504, Irral I of House Arjal proclaims the establishment of the New Iobarian Empire, and gives control of the ancient ruins of his realm to his red and green dragon allies. Due to the populace of Orlov, Iobaria’s historical capital, resenting House Arjal for the betrayal of their lords, a new capital was founded at Antoll.
During this period, the Kellid arch-necromancer Tar-Baphon rises again as the Whispering Tyrant. Tar-Baphon and his undead legions form alliances with the orcs of the Tusk Mountain, and united, they conquer the realm of Ustalav. This begins a century-long rule of the undead over that realm that would only be broken by the Shining Crusade of Taldor and the sacrifice of the mortal knight Iomedae in 1714. The efforts of the Shining Crusade cost Taldor dearly, and the Empire’s decline accelerates.
By the 1800s, House Arjal became convinced that House Korya was plotting to usurp them, and begin a series of assassinations and betrayals against the Koryas and their allies. Many scions of House Korya flee west into their historical territories and hide among the common people of Issia. This political infighting, alongside the Drakeplague which kills two thirds of Iobaria’s dragons over a period from 1819 to 1826, leaves New Iobaria teetering on the verge of collapse.
In 1942, the Tergish people of the Amber Wastes, under the rule of the Blood Khan, launch an invasion of the west, marauding through the weekend Empire of Iobaria. The empire relied on their draconic allies for defense, and with their decimation, the empire was largely defenseless. The Tergs swept west through the shattered realm of Ustalav and in to the western reaches of Taldor. The horde is stopped only through the heroic millitary efforts of Strahd von Zarovich, a minor count from the mountain province of Barovia.
The invasion of Tergish horde breaks both Taldor and Iobaria. Taldor looses control of not only Barovia, but also Cheliax and the River Provinces along their border with Iobaria. The River Provinces collapse into a number of small, shifting nations dominated by Rostland in the north, Galt in the south, and Daggermark in the west. Rostland is a largely rural nation which, thanks to the continuing traditions of the swordpact, is also a major military force, while urban Galt became an economic powerhouse on the backs of its artists, scholars, and numerous great universities. Meanwhile, Afanasy Athanasius, the so-called “King of Assassins,” leads his people, displaced by the Tergish horde, to the town of Rivermark, and transform the sleepy river town into a booming, anarchic metropolis. Furthermore, Iobaria’s western realms of Issia, Mendev, Vorostokov and Sarkoris also become independent realms.
Age of Lost Omens
The death of Aroden in 2286 transformed the delicate political balance of the region. Baba Yaga, the Queen of Witches, invades from the north, and conquers Mendev and Sarkoris, transforming them into Irrisen, domain of the Winter Witches. The barbarian lord of the river kingdom of Numeria activates the alien technologies of his realm, and becomes the tyrannical Black Sovereign. Choral Rogarvia, a descendent of House Korya, reforms his house’s alliance with the red dragons of Iobaria, and together with an army of mercenaries, conquers both Issia and Rostland, uniting them into the nation of Berovy. A number of Aldori houses flee south and conquer the river kingdom of Mivon, and nearly succeed at taking over Pitax as well, sparking decades of war between the two nations. Wars among the noble houses of Iobaria reduces the empire to the now-isolated city-states of Orlov, Kridorn, and Mirnbay. Students in Galt overthrow their monarch in an attempted democratic revolution, only for the nation to become consumed with violence and a revolution that has yet to end even eighty years later. The so-called “Living God” Razmir conquers a number of river kingdoms through powerful magics not seen since the days of legend. The clergy of Droskar the Dark Smith overthrow the fractious dwarven lords of the Five King Mountains, and establish a theocracy bent on reforging the dwarven empire of yore through might and dark magics. The elven empire of Kyonin returns from faerie and announces its intent to reclaim its historical territories along the River Sellen, despite the other races which now call those lands home.
The River Kingdoms now find themselves caught between dozens of nations who hunger for the region’s fertile lands and abundant wealth. Funding puppet states and sending in the occasional army, the River Kingdoms have become an anarchic place where new kingdoms rise and fall by the year. However, the lack of a strong, central government has created a place of freedom, where escaped slaves and persecuted peoples rub shoulders with assassins, drug dealers, and cultists of forbidden deities.