Of the four factions used in the miniatures game in Shieldwall, three are “player character” factions: the civilized but hidebound Elvorix, the savage and impulsive Vidaar, and the disciplined but severely outnumbered Jaarl. They vye for control of the last few productive lands in Agaptus. Looming over all of them are three great themes: first, the marvels left behind by the Ancients, comparable to the wonder of the Egyptian, Roman and Mayan Empires of Antiquity, or even Atlantis; second, the meddling of the Gods, powerful but inept and dangerous; and third, an incipient ice age, which may make the eventual winning of the wars a moot point.
Today, let me give you an overview of the factions (all of this is drawn from War of Ashes: Shieldwall, published by ZombieSmith). In a subsequent post, I’ll tell you about what I have done with this so far.
The greater area called Agaptus includes the three main islands of Sentia, Iradon, and Matriga, plus lots of smaller islands. Outside of those, dozens and probably hundreds of other islands are known to exist, but Agaptus is the focal point of the game. A few thousand years ago, a people built a prosperous and advanced civilization there, born on the island of Sentia and expanding to neighboring lands. Alas, three things precipitated chaos: the Kuld invasions, internal strife, and the whims of the Gods.
The Kuld are a species of blubberous, voracious creatures able to eat and digest almost anything but rocks. They originally seemed harmless, but they were driven to the lands of Agaptus by droughts and famines, and discovered their own power of destruction. War raged for years until the Sentians were able to repel the Kuld—and the victors, General Vidaarus and his warriors, promptly seized power over all of Agaptus. Mistrustful of the scholars who had ruled until then, he immediately destroyed all the archives that could be rounded up, beginning a reign of brute force and ignorance that would last hundreds of years under his dynasty.
At last, a wily scheme cooked up by the scholar Elvora Bibulus convinced King Vidaarus the Thirty-First to seek the fabled island of Garigla and its untold riches; most of his warrior caste—by then rather decadent—left with him. As soon as they were gone, Elvora Bibulus re-established the ruling council and scholar-kings of old, and founded the Elvorix Kingdom. The Elvorix started restoring as much as they could of the knowledge of old, but much was lost forever.
Those who had left with Vidaarus the Thirty-First wandered the oceans for hundreds of years, now a nation of sea warriors and pillagers. At long last, they landed back on the island of Iradon and recognized it—and knew they had been fooled. They seized a beachhead and started settling their own kingdom, calling themselves the Vidaar people. War between the Vidaar and the Elvorix raged for about a century, until…
All through the Sentians’ history, the Gods had been a problem. The simple truth is, the Gods are just not very good at what they do. But they wield considerable power and must be contended with, so much of Agaptan religion consists of appeasing the goods just enough that they won’t pay too much attention. Unfortunately, a spectacularly botched ceremony about 86 years ago attracted unprecedented divine anger. This was called the Great Catastrophe, and marked the beginning of an ice age.
Soon after, the Kuld reappeared from the lands in the north, driven by hunger as the climate cooled off; then another people, the Jaarl, reached the coasts of Iradon and Sentia with clear intention to conquer. Their own homeland had been destroyed by a gigantic volcanic eruption at about the time of the Great Catastrophe, and the survivors were in search of a new home. For a while, Elvorix and Vidaar made a pact to fight off the Jaarl together and it looked like they were winning, but three years ago, a combination of Jaarl ruse and Elvorix and Vidaar stupidity led to the dissolution of this alliance.
Now the war rages on more desperately than ever for the lands that are still temperate enough to produce food, but even those grow colder every day.
Credits: Art ©ZombieSmith 2012-2013, used with permission.