Last week, I introduced my Generated Game idea. Using a selection of our idea generators, I came up with a set of random details to use as the basis for a game. Today, I’m going to take the foundation provided by the generators, and elaborate upon them.
Vorstland was once situated in the northern reaches of the Alirian Empire. Borders were left vulnerable, however, with the decline of Imperial power. When the Northmen’s barbarian cousins took the lake country to the south, Vorstland was cut off from Imperial support, and it became one of the first of the marches to fall away. This has left the locals to fend for themselves for several generations.
This is a place of ice, stone, and iron. A patchwork of little kingdoms dot the land, separated by river, wood, or ice-encrusted crags, and generally following the borders of the old Imperial defense districts. Lacking either Imperial supplies or defense, the fiefdoms are forced to spend the all-too-brief summer raiding each other for the resources they need to survive. Those who conquer will return to their halls to huddle around their fires through another winter.
It was gold, iron, and copper that first brought Imperial colonists to the north lands. Merchants still make the increasingly perilous journey for the coveted ores, but in a fraction of their former numbers. Many ethnic Alirians fled when they were cut off from their homelands, and the reduced economy has eliminated the livings of many of the remaining Vorstlanders. Those that remain are the descendants of those who were smart, strong, and resourceful enough to survive the dark times.
Countless villages and outposts lie in icy abandonment. Even the region’s major fortified cities are each surrounded by a halo of ruin. Most of these ruins have long since been plundered of anything remotely valuable, but some have proved too dangerous or remote. They still serve as shelter for travelers, raiding parties, and some of the more foul inhabitants of those harsh lands.
Three loose confederations of kingdoms govern Vorstland. Each tends to be dominated by its regional power center: North Port, Glacenium, and Verdansk. The three have been locked in an immovable stalemate since their formation, with each afraid of moving to eliminate another for fear of the third. Instead, they have suffered through years of constant, small scale raiding.
The game will begin in the city of Glacenium. Built on the site of an ancient Northmen village, this Alirian town is a shipping hub for the whole Vorstland region. From the mountain lake around which the city has grown spring two rivers, each flowing to opposite sides of the Jarlog Range, which runs north-south through the center of Vorstland. This, along with the fact that it guards two of the best passes through the mountains, makes Glacenium uniquely placed to control trade.
Much of the ore mined in the mountains makes its way to Glacenium. There may be shaped into finished goods by the city’s renowned tradesmen. Both goods and raw materials are shipped out through a series of ingenious locks, a legacy of Alirian engineering, down the rivers to the other kingdoms.
The city’s weakness lies in its mountainous location. Its share of arable land is tiny compared to its population, so it must import most of its food. Also, it must rely on other kingdoms for import or export with lands outside the Vorstland.
Glacenium’s Alirian heritage is apparent in its population, architecture, and art. The Glacenian kings, and the Imperial governors before them, have long been avid patrons of the arts. The town’s galleries and architecture are said to be second only to Alirium itself.
King Cassius Aristus, ruler of Glacenium, is the picture of an Alirian noble from bygone days. He is cunning, determined, and highly educated. His vision is to reunite Vorstland, and reinstate the region as an Imperial client state.
Vorstland is undergoing a period of heightened tension. The last campaigning season saw larger than usual casualties, as returning raiding parties were regularly ambushed and wiped out. Each of the kingdoms blamed their neighbors, threatening the stability of the Confederations themselves.
The winter brought even more disaster. Several remote villages were razed to the ground in a season when most folk fear only cold and starvation. Survivors have turned up, speaking of monsters from ancient stories.
A summit has been called in Glacenium. Delegates from the major kingdoms of each Confederation will meet in an attempt to avoid all out war, and determine the cause of the disturbance. A bounty has been announced for evidence in the matter.
The party will be members of the Guard, a group descendant from the old Imperial Guard, organized to defend the Vorstland as a whole. Many of the kingdoms consider the Guard to be either inveterate meddlers, or an arm of the Empire bent on reconquering their old territory. However, most of the members sincerely work toward the betterment of the region.
Captain Swala Tharsson, head of the Guard, has managed to hold the band together, despite the lack of support from the kingdoms. Their survival and popularity among the common folk owe much to her quick wit, political instincts, and talent for tying the modern day Guard to the old stories. Much to the dismay of the nobility, Guardsmen can almost always find welcome among the farmers and craftsmen.
Captain Tharsson has decided that the new bounty is a prime opportunity. They can simultaneously gain badly needed income, and avert a major threat to the Vorstland. She has sent several Guardsmen to Glacenium to begin gathering information.
To Be Continued
It appears that I’ve gotten carried away in filling out the details of this game. In the next post, I’ll introduce the rest of the cast of NPCs, and give a GM’s view of what’s going on behind the scenes. Tune in next time!