In the Shadow of Princes
Ours is a campaign set in the twilight aftermath of a global Cataclysm, an unspeakable disaster of such magnitude that it threatened the human race with extinction. But our adventures are set in a time long after the Cataclysm and its immediate aftermath. The stretch of post-apocalyptic human history is vast and largely untold. Our story picks up at a time of relative global stability; the world inhabited by our characters is the inheritance of peoples and nations far removed from the Cataclysm that shook their world so long ago. Indeed, the precise nature of the destructive event that almost snuffed out human life is not known with certainty.
What is known, however, is that after the Cataclysm the subsequent rise of Earth’s survivors over the course of untold centuries witnessed a dark age of human suffering and tribulation: an age of resurgent ideologies coupled with the twisted agendas of civilization’s would-be inheritors. The precise means of humankind’s improbable deliverance from the so-called “Age of Poisoned Sea and Sky” is not widely known. The facts surrounding these events are lost to prehistory. Popular lore frequently attributes the deliverance of the human race to the intervention of superhuman figures, demi-gods among humanity’s fallen, who once more bestowed the flame of civilization upon humankind and brought our race back from the brink of destruction. But these stories are vague and offer little concrete insight about humankind’s survival.
The only reliable historical records that can be gleaned regarding the restoration of human civilization date back about 1000 years. An obscure document called the Book of Survivors, which exists in a few dozen extant manuscripts, mentions the existence of a “Hidden Empire” that eventually rose up from humanity’s dark age to guide the birth of a new human civilization. According to the unknown authors of the Book of Survivors, the Hidden Empire was founded by superior beings committed to the preservation of the human race. The factual details of this centuries-spanning Empire are the stuff of myth and rumour, often contradictory, but one thing that is known with some certainty is the relatively recent destruction of the Hidden Empire and its ruling cabal known as “The Princes.”
According to the people and factions responsible for the downfall of the Hidden Empire, the Princes who reigned over human history were nothing more than tyrants. For those allied to Lord Fredrick Brasden’s triumphant resistance, the rise of the current civilization had been guided not by benevolent demi-gods as had once been comforting to believe. In fact the still largely anonymous Princes were said to be despots grasping at immortality and godhood, the hidden masters of a malevolent self-serving agenda bent on subjugating collective human will and dominating the course of human history. But that is, of course, one side of a story that certainly entertains room for multiple perspectives.
25 years have now passed since the Last Heroic Age, an era of high adventure that called the bravest and best of humanity to join a collective struggle against the Princes and their Hidden Empire. In the aftermath of that time of war, what peace that had been achieved was lost. New factions have arisen to claim the legacy of the Princes. New wars have begun and old feuds have begun anew.
Europa, an approximation of late medieval European political and scientific development and the primary continental setting of the campaign, has for nearly two decades been held under the sway of a nascent Golden Empire. Based in Latia and styled after the Roman Empire of antiquity, this “Imperium Aurum Romanorum” has long been exposed as the puppet political instrument of a secret society known as the Phoenix Order. This secret order, led by the unmatched mental savant Golan Trevize and composed of a nearly fanatical legion of psychically gifted followers, has deemed itself the means for humanity’s ultimate salvation and pursues as its grand aim, a mass psychic “Awakening”: literally the psionic evolution of humankind to a new state of being.
The characters of this world are increasingly compelled to align themselves with or against Trevize’s rising evolutionary tide while at the same time navigating the emerging web of secrets hidden during the previous Heroic Age. The truth behind these secrets, long obscured by past misdeeds and lost lore, tantalizes with the promise of solving the enigma of humanity’s improbable survival after the Cataclysm or even revealing the future destiny of the human race.