Chapter 2: Factions and Societies
Queens, kings, emperors, nobles … beneath the rhetoric, it’s all the same. They say they fight to protect your families. They say they fight to enforce your beliefs, your honor. Fight for a better tomorrow. Fight for virtue, for prosperity. Bottom line, it’s all about fighting, and it’s you that dies fighting for their cause.
Collected Tales of the Marrow War
From the ashes of a land devastated by the Calamity grew the civilizations of a new age. The survivors claimed land across the continent, forged alliances, and made enemies as they fought for power and influence. Wildemount is shaped by the ideals and interests of its factions, from powerful governments to covert societies. This war-torn continent is a fertile landscape for adventurers on a quest for greatness.
The Dwendalian Empire has reigned over Western Wynandir for over twelve generations. Imperial rule is maintained through its powerful military, its policy of religious restriction, and the support of the secretive Cerberus Assembly. Though these institutions nominally exist to ensure the safety of the populace from foreign threats, terrible dangers that wander the wilds, and lingering evils that seep from the scars of the Calamity, they also allow the empire to maintain strict social order within its territories.
King Bertrand Dwendal is now two months past his sixty-eighth birthday, and his iron will has not wavered with age. A tall, powerful man, King Dwendal rewards loyalty and swiftly punishes insolence and failure. His family has developed a totalitarian rule that reaps heavy taxes and looms over society with a military presence that only grows stronger with proximity to the capital city of Rexxentrum. While civic unrest does rise beyond mere mutterings from time to time, reminders of the dangerous creatures that live beyond the guarded borders of each city and the protections offered within the empire generally keep the populace in line. Those that rebel often find themselves in chains or forgotten in a dungeon.
Dwendalian society has a rigid caste system, in which denizens who have mastery over the arcane are considered elite members of society. Many Dwendalian ladies and lords came from a sorcerous bloodline or studied the arcane arts within the walls of the Soltryce Academy. Those who especially excel in their magics or were born into prominent families can come to hold power as a member of the Cerberus Assembly, a council of extremely powerful mages that works directly with King Dwendal and his councilors to develop and enforce laws throughout Western Wynandir. However, distrust between the king and the Cerberus Assembly runs deep, for they both wish to eliminate the other and enjoy uncontested power.
Most cities and townships throughout the empire are ruled by a local government under the leadership of a starosta, usually a native baron appointed by the Crown and the Cerberus Assembly. Reporting directly to the king’s council, the starosta is given absolute control over local government, appointing and maintaining responsibility for the heads of the city guard (watchmaster), the regional military (warmaster), local commerce (coinmaster), infrastructure (pithmaster), religious practices (idolmaster), and the courts of law (lawmaster). Twice a year, tithe collectors (nicknamed “Reapers”) visit each imperial city to inspect households for records and proof of income, collecting a percentage of their earnings in coin as determined by the tithe collector.
The empire’s military force currently stands at around 35,300 Righteous Brand soldiers across all regiments, and 5,200 Crownsguard across all cities. The majority of the Righteous Brand forces were deployed to fortifications along the Xhorhasian border at the onset of the current war.
Soon after the Dwendalian bloodline came into power, there was a short-lived rebellion helmed by religious civilians. It was swiftly quelled and the rebel leaders were executed in an event known as the Admonition. The ruling class has regarded religion with suspicion ever since, believing that faith inspires the unworthy to rise above their station and spark fruitless rebellion. Instead of abolishing all religious practices, the empire regulates worship within its boundaries. All temples are owned and run by the government, and must be dedicated to deities approved by the Crown. Priests and clerics are on the Crown’s payroll to preach only approved religious texts. Keeping private shrines or worshiping outside official temples is punishable by fines or imprisonment. The only deities that are approved by the empire are Erathis the Law Bearer, Bahamut the Platinum Dragon, Moradin the All-Hammer, Pelor the Dawn Father, Ioun the Knowing Mentor, and the Raven Queen, Matron of Death.
The empire uses the plentiful resources of the Marrow Valley and sizable tithes gathered from citizens to protect their people and maintain control over Western Wynandir, while keeping a keen eye out for opportunities to expand their influence across the continent.
The empire’s religious proscriptions are proving more and more difficult to enforce in this time of conflict. Theolocrat Kon Bruda is helming a new directive to align religious texts with less oppressive terminology, in an attempt to redirect discontent away from the Crown and onto the heretics beyond the borders.
Now that tensions with Xhorhas have erupted into all-out war with the Kryn Dynasty, the Crown is spreading propaganda through all aspects of daily life to unite the people of the empire against their common enemy. They hope to garner support for the war by reinforcing rumors about the kidnapping of Dwendalian children and the Kryn’s violent and cannibalistic nature.
Though many citizens gripe about the empire’s restrictive laws, the majority have grown accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle under imperial protection. Fear of the evils that stalk the edges of civilization generally outweighs any frustrations about civil liberties, and the relative peace provided within the confines of Western Wynandir is welcomed. However, dissidents have begun to speak loudly of their discontent, and the growing trend of uproar is making King Dwendal quite irritable.
Landlocked and reliant on the trade avenues of the Menagerie Coast, the Dwendalian Empire maintains a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with the Clovis Concord. Agents of both nations watch the borders, and an occasional political gesture of good faith satisfies those in power. Still, the empire doesn’t trust the concord by any stretch of the imagination, and a secret world of subterfuge is alive and well.
Historically, the Cerberus Assembly has been responsible for much of the empire’s acquisition and retention of power, but the royal bloodline has always harbored a paranoid dislike of the council of mages. Handshakes and smiles hide distrust, and the king correctly assumes that the assembly is merely biding their time to attempt to challenge his power.
The King and his chamber ignore most foreign powers. Requests for alliances from the Council of Tal’Dorei and the distant city of Ank’Harel have been met with indifference, and efforts to install a skyport in Rexxentrum to enable easier foreign travel have been continuously shut down.
Figures of Interest
A number of personages maintain the power and influence of the empire, some working to expand its power, while others seek to redeem their country.
King Bertrand Dwendal
Lawful neutral, male human
King Bertrand was raised with the strict beliefs of the Dwendalian royal family, and his mounting responsibilities as the leader of one of Exandria’s greatest nations weighs heavily on him. Bertrand is a dark, clever, and often paranoid king — and a lonely one since his wife Duvia passed away nearly ten years ago. Fiercely nationalistic and proud of his heritage, the king harbors a disdain for outsiders and their challenges to imperial rule; he often has emissaries thrown from the borders or imprisoned until a replacement is sent to barter for their release. Bertrand does genuinely wish to protect the lives of his people and be remembered as the best of his bloodline. However, civil unrest is brewing, and his frustrations with the Cerberus Assembly only intensify his forceful demeanor. His only living son, Eidys, has been unable to produce an heir, and King Bertrand fears that his family line will come to an end, an obsession which drives him to seek out a way to prolong his life.
Chamberlain Queselia Vir
Neutral good, female elf
Chamberlain to the previous king and now to Bertrand, Queselia handles all affairs regarding the management of the house of Dwendal. Trusted deeply by the king, Queselia refuses to give into the brooding tendencies of her monarch and hopes to guide him toward a more just rule. Although she is unable to protect him from his own unreasonable impulses, she hopes to find a way to curb his self-destructive behavior.
Prince Eidys Dwendal
Neutral good, male human
Heir to the throne of the empire, Eidys has shown great strength in physical combat and war games, but little cunning in social or political matters. Though he was once eager to please his father, the consistent lack of approval has left Eidys jaded. Happy to live an extravagant life free from crushing responsibility, he’s been eager to produce a child to whom he could abdicate should his father pass. However, he and his wife, Princess Suria Dwendal, have been unable to conceive. The king has all but given up on his son, leaving the prince dejected and bitter.
Princess Suria Dwendal
Chaotic neutral, female human
Wed into the royal family from her own noble house of Saugiss, Suria was filled with pride to bring honor to her family. Unfortunately, the unexpected difficulty in producing an heir has put her and her husband out of favor with the king. Unwilling to give up, Suria is seeking to remedy the situation by any means necessary, no matter how unnatural.
Prime Arbiter Sydnock Truscan
Lawful evil, male human
The Truscan family are longtime allies of the Dwendalian bloodline, and Sydnock managed to advance his family’s influence within the empire above most other noble houses. Rising to become the Prime Arbiter of Rexxentrum, Sydnock has final say on all matters of law that do not require the king’s attention. A brutal man with a grudge against religious empowerment, Sydnock is constantly attempting to sniff out corruption within the approved structure of worship within the empire. His estranged daughter Lydia disagrees with his ruthless methods and now lives in Zadash as an advocate for civilian rights.
Crown Marshal Hayden Damurag
Lawful neutral, nonbinary human
As a decorated veteran of the imperial military who has served for nearly twenty years, Hayden is a highly respected soldier and clever tactician who is instrumental in the campaign against the Kryn Dynasty. Known to be stern but adaptable in the face of adversity, they’ve risen through the ranks and now directly advise the king on all major military actions. Hayden prefers to avoid court life, especially as their practicality often clashes with Sydnock Truscan’s cold cynicism. Currently assigned to oversee the defense of the besieged eastern front at the Rockguard Garrison, the Crown Marshal is doing their best to keep their soldiers safe and the enemy at bay.
Exchequer Aethia Drooze
Lawful neutral, female dwarf
Aethia is in charge of the tithes from the various cities within the empire and is the overseer of the biannual collections by her tithe collectors. She absolutely loves numbers and wealth, taking joy in squeezing every copper she can from those who are legally obliged to pay. Obsessed with efficiency and intolerant of sloppy work, Aethia will even comb through the ledgers of her subordinates late into the night in order to achieve numerical perfection.
Guildmaster Kai Arness
Lawful evil, male human
Kai came to prominence within Rexxentrum through the Arness family’s illustrious connections within the merchant guilds of the empire. He earned the nickname “Goldfang” for his penchant for sneaking missing profit from the pockets of businesses unable to pay membership fees and taxes. Respected and feared for ruthlessly governing the many guilds and organizations that drive the Dwendalian economy, his private worship of Asmodeus guides his ambition to mingle with dangerous figures in the empire. The guildmaster often works with Exchequer Drooze to maintain the proper flow of gold into the coffers of the empire.
Argonomist June Wiston
Chaotic good, female half-elf
June is seen as a studious spitfire, and she has unexpectedly proven to also be a masterful bureaucrat with a talent for exploiting legal loopholes. Driven by a youth in poverty, she swore to help repair a broken system of agricultural distribution. By making the right moves and the right friends — and making a loud fuss when necessary — she eventually became a folk hero to the underprivileged. Hoping to watch her eat her words and collapse under the pressure of imperial politics, the Crown offered her chief management over all agriculture in the position of Argonomist. Much to their chagrin, she’s proven both driven and capable, pushing for advanced change in the empire. Unable to discard someone so high profile during a time of general unrest, the Crown instead endures her work while attempting to bury her in red tape.
Theolocrat Kon Bruda
Lawful neutral, male human
Once a monk of the Cobalt Soul, Kon Bruda’s faith in the Knowing Mentor has waned since accepting the office of Theolocrat. Kon is a specialist in the historical and social workings of modern religion. When the previous Theolocrat passed away, he accepted the post out of a sense of duty, then became accustomed to the lavish lifestyle afforded by his position. He helps the Crown alter existing religious texts and write approved sermons and prayers for distribution throughout the empire.
Emissary Lord Zeddan Graf
Neutral good, male human
A beloved noble and socialite from the House of Graf, Zeddan showed prowess in gathering rumors for his own entertainment. The cunning Sydnock Truscan saw promise in Zeddan’s talents and recommended him to the king to become the empire’s lead emissary. Now acting as the diplomatic contact to the world beyond the empire’s boundaries, Zeddan is eager to do the Crown’s bidding while rooting out gossip that may prove politically expedient. In his travels, Lord Zeddan often crosses paths with Lord Athesias Uludan of the Cerberus Assembly, and the pair loathe each other deeply. Zeddan is desperately trying to convince the king to install a Skyship Tower in Rexxentrum to make his travels easier.
Oliver Schreiber, Retainer to the Crown
Lawful neutral, male gnome
Most know Oliver as the immediate head servant to the king and the royal family for nearly three generations, but Oliver is also the secret head of the Augen Trust, the Crown’s elite spy network. The Augen Trust uses extreme secrecy, false identities, and infiltration into allied and opposing societies to acquire information and inform the Crown of any threats to its goals. As one of the most trusted members of King Bertrand Dwendal’s circle, Oliver holds more power than his compatriots would believe.
LAWS OF THE DWENDALIAN EMPIRE
As judged by the eyes of the local lawmaster, appointed hands of that lawmaster, or the Law Bearer herself, any criminals discovered and/or convicted of crimes within local halls of judgment throughout the empire are subject to punishments befitting the crime. All fines and punishments for crimes against a Crownsguard member, Righteous Brand soldier, or noble are doubled. All fines and punishments regarding crimes against an imperial official or associate of the Cerberus Assembly are tripled.
Theft: 5–10 days incarceration and/or a fine of twice the worth of the stolen goods.
Worship of non-empire gods: 30 days incarceration and a fine of 250 gp.
Ownership of another intelligent humanoid creature: 12–20 months incarceration and a fine of 1,800 gp.
Trespassing: 12 days incarceration and/or a fine of 215 gp.
Failure to pay taxes to the Crown: 5–30 days incarceration and a repossession of property equal to the amount owed.
Damage to private property: 5–15 days incarceration or a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Damage to Crown property: 15–60 days incarceration and a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Kidnapping: 60 days incarceration and/or a fine of 800 gp.
Assault with intent to injure: 30 days incarceration and/or a fine of 350 gp.
Assault with intent to kill: 250 days incarceration and/or a fine of 1,800 gp, or execution.
Murder: 8–15 years incarceration and/or a fine of 6,000 gp, or execution.
The Kryn Dynasty rules the northern wastes of Xhorhas, and has only revealed itself to the wider world within the past century. Centered around — and under — the ruins of Ghor Dranas in Eastern Wynandir, the dynasty governs many townships and small villages where the Kryn have helped establish a modicum of civilized living among the nomadic wastefolk. They believe that beings not yet beyond redemption can be turned to the light of the Luxon, and often struggle with the unruly denizens of the wastes, hoping to gain converts to their cause and faith. Those that do accept the dynasty often do so because they seek protection from the dregs of the Calamity that wander the wastes, as well as the scouts of the Dwendalian Empire.
Dark elves are the most populous race within the Kryn Dynasty. The drow were the first people to uncover the first buried Luxon beacon many ages ago, in a time before they turned from Lolth and escaped enslavement from the Betrayer Gods. The dark elves claimed the dread citadel of Ghor Dranas as their own, as well as the massive network of underground caverns that make up the Underdark of Wildemount. The Kryn are stealthily becoming a force to be reckoned with.
The Kryn drow who emerged from the shadowed depths of the caverns beneath Xhorhas now endure periods of sunlight as part of their worship, though their cities are shaded by umbral magic during daylight hours. When hunting, or in times of conflict, the warriors of the Kryn don their signature chitinous armor. A series of small airways woven through this armor can be opened to emit a loud, clicking buzz to intimidate their foes as they charge. This noise has inspired outsiders to call the Kryn “cricks,” referring to this cricket-like din.
Artifacts left behind by the Luxon that hold its essence are known as Luxon beacons and are coveted by the Kryn Dynasty as central to their civilization. If a proven soul is ritualistically bound to a Luxon beacon, they can enter a process called the consecution: when a mortal bound to the Luxon dies within a hundred miles of a beacon, the beacon ensnares their soul from its intended afterlife and prepares it to be reborn in a new child within that same vicinity. When that child then matures into adolescence, they begin to recall subtle knowledge from their past life’s experiences, a process called anamnesis. Through meditation with a guide, they can unlock the memories of their past lives and become a more complete being. When a soul has cycled enough to believe they are ready to greet the Luxon, they are called an Umavi, or “perfect soul,” and are revered within the Kryn society. Some beings that naturally reincarnate, such as the phoenix, are considered holy creatures that carry a shard of the Luxon within themselves.
If a life continues long enough to achieve a state of clarity called achess, where they believe that they’ve learned all they can learn from their current life, they can choose to partake in a ritualistic termination of their current life, assisted by an Umavi in proximity to a beacon, thereby setting them on the path to a new birth. While considered an honor within the Kryn Dynasty, this practice is misunderstood and seen as barbaric outside their culture.
The Kryn Dynasty is a society restructured from the Lolthite history they rejected. The people of the dynasty stand under the first Umavi, known as Bright Queen Leylas Kryn. Beneath the first Umavi, there are twelve noble Dens that mark families of souls who have lived together through generations: Dens Kryn, Mirimm, Thelyss, Hythenos, Icozrin, Biylan, Tasithar, Duendalos, Daev’yana, Omrifar, Beltune, and Zolaed. When someone is believed to be experiencing anamnesis, they submit to a deep meditation with a guide trained in the ways of consecution. This process helps restore memories of the past life, which then mingle with current memories.
The awakened soul is then reunited with their Den. Dens do grow as new souls enter the consecution and join their ranks, and new Dens are established with each generation. The oldest Dens, especially those helmed by an Umavi, are held in the highest esteem, and generally answer directly to the Bright Queen. The older the soul, the more prestige it holds in the dynasty. Beneath the Dens of Rosohna, guilds and Den representatives govern the other cities of the dynasty that stretch across Xhorhas, spreading the faith of the Luxon and watching over all Xhorhasians who seek the safety of civilization.
This seemingly benevolent societal structure does have a dark side. A closely guarded secret of the highest Umavi is a challenge in the consecution called typhros: some souls that have undergone multiple cycles of the consecution are driven mad when their minds cannot reconcile the memories of many lifetimes. Those who fall to typhros are quietly removed from the dynasty and either left in the wastes or mercifully slain away from the beacons. Signs of madness are beginning to show in the Bright Queen herself, but those closest to her do all they can to shield others from such portents.
It is believed that the Luxon cherishes unity in community, but also values free choice and the power of the individual mind. For each soul to carve a unique path is the best way for a soul to learn about the world. Casting off the teachings of Fate and Destiny taught by some of the current pantheon, the followers of the Luxon are taught that the real power of the universe comes from the power of choice. Many possible futures all await your path, and the universe trembles with anticipatory power as you approach every decision. This power is called dunamis, the energy of potentiality, and the coalescing architecture of the multiple futures leading into each moment is released when an outcome is brought to reality. It is the energy that suffuses every Luxon beacon to prepare the lives to come, and it is the basis of the Kryn’s unique divine crafts and arcane abilities.
The Kryn Dynasty has uncovered four beacons and is certain that more remain to be discovered. It is believed that once all the beacons are brought together, the Luxon will be summoned from their slumber to ask their children the great question and impart the truth. It is said that at this time, the Luxon will take those who entered the consecution and abandon this lesser world to start a new world elsewhere.
The Aurora Watch legionnaires of the Kryn currently number around 21,600 in total. Around 13,200 Aurora Watch are divided among the cities under the dynasty’s protection, with another 3,300 Aurora Watch stationed in and around the capital of Rosohna — formerly known as Ghor Dranas — to keep the peace and defend the region. Approximately 5,100 soldiers are scattered throughout the Underdark beneath Wildemount at different locations of interest, many employing magically controlled purple worms to allow elite units to navigate the caverns quickly. The remainder of the watch is stationed along the border of Western Wynandir to prevent the empire’s incursions — and to seize land from the empire as they advance.
The primary objective of the Kryn Dynasty is to seek out and recover the Luxon beacons presumed to be scattered across Exandria. Not only does each beacon bring them closer to the eventual rebirth of the Luxon, they also help broaden the boundaries of the Kryn society as a new center of the consecution, allowing expansion into new lands and the continued conversion of others. With two of their four beacons now missing, the Bright Queen and her people are desperate to discover more of these sacred artifacts.
The Bright Queen and her fellow Umavi see the strength dormant in the roving beastfolk and goblinoids of Xhorhas, and have taken to teaching these nomadic peoples their ways, helping them build villages under the banner of the dynasty, and converting them to their faith. Even so, not all ruling Dens like the idea of introducing what they consider lesser creatures into the consecution, leading to tensions between the people of Rosohna and the scattered villages in the Xhorhasian wilds.
With some beacons stolen by operatives of the Dwendalian Empire, the entire Kryn Dynasty has mobilized to retaliate. They are gathering armies to assault Western Wynandir while sending assassins and spies through the subterranean paths of the Underdark, hoping to recover the beacons and simultaneously weaken the evil and blasphemous empire.
The Kryn Dynasty has spent a generation training and preparing a select group of volunteers to gather information on their enemies and find routes through both political and physical borders. These agents are collectively known as the Lens, a network of spies and infiltrators who can bypass boundaries and assimilate into foreign nations to gather intelligence, help the Bright Queen protect their people, and seek out beacons across Exandria.
Open war has recently broken out between the Kryn Dynasty and the Dwendalian Empire — a conflict that neither nation can afford to lose. Those bearing the colors of the enemy are subdued and questioned before being punished and sometimes executed. Judgment is swift against the perceived imperial oppressors, and the forces of Rosohna will continue to push until their foes yield the stolen relics.
Though the Kryn have remained fairly isolated throughout their history, they are now reaching out to other factions in the hopes of making alliances against the Dwendalian Empire. The Kryn Dynasty has begun hiring mercenaries through the Tribes of Shadycreek Run and purchasing dangerous weapons of war from the Myriad. Rumors of strange magics and powerful relics in northern Eiselcross have reached the dynasty’s ears, and they are willing to seek out any potential advantage over their Dwendalian foes.
There are many humanoid tribes that roam the southern reaches of Xhorhas that have declined to ally themselves with the Kryn — or to be assimilated by them. While the Bright Queen has allowed them to continue their neutrality for the time being, she watches them closely, lest they be courted by the empire’s coin and empty promises.
LAWS OF THE KRYN DYNASTY
Within the sight of the Luxon, the Umavi, and the Dens who protect the lands of Xhorhas and its people, any who are presented for judgement before the presiding officials entrusted with the wisdom of the Bright Queen are to have their sentence carried our accordingly. All fines and punishments for crimes against an Aurora Watch soldier or noble are doubled. All fines and punishments regarding crimes against a Den official or member of the Bright Queen’s council are tripled.
Theft: 2–5 days incarceration and a fine equal to the worth stolen.
Ownership of another intelligent humanoid creature: 10–20 months incarceration and a fine of 1,500 gp.
Trespassing: 5 days incarceration and a fine of 120 gp.
Damage to private property: 5–20 days incarceration or a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Damage to dynasty property: 12–50 days incarceration and a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Kidnapping: 60 days incarceration and/or a fine of 800 gp.
Worship of Betrayer Gods: 150 days incarceration, or execution.
Assault with intent to injure: 12 days incarceration and a fine of 200 gp.
Assault with intent to kill: 200 days incarceration and a fine of 1,200 gp, or execution.
Murder: 5–10 years incarceration and/or a fine of 4,000 gp, or execution.
Figures of Interest
There are many powerful figures that guide the faith of the Luxon and the expansion of the Kryn Dynasty’s power and influence.
Bright Queen Leylas Kryn
Lawful neutral, female dark elf
Leylas was present when the first beacon was found a millennium ago, and has lived eight lifetimes of intense struggle and self-discovery since. She built the dynasty around her journey, spearheaded the recovery of the four beacons known to the Kryn, and died numerous times in the defense of her people. Leylas Kryn is deeply revered and respected as a mighty warrior, an empathic leader, and the elder Umavi who guides her people in the light of the Luxon. Her behavior has grown erratic at times, worrying her trusted inner circle, but she is far too driven to acknowledge such weakness in a time of war.
Dusk Captain Quana Kryn
Neutral good, female dark elf
An extremely powerful echo knight and general of the forces of Rosohna, Quana has been Leylas’s partner for three of her lifetimes, and five of Leylas’s. She is wholly devoted to her people — and her queen. Quana holds a private hope that the Kryn might one day leave the inhospitable wastes of Xhorhas and find a proper place in the world among the other peoples of Exandria. The Bright Queen was once receptive to her ideas, but Leylas Kryn has no time for idealism in this age of war. Quana is disappointed, but she is more worried by the strange shifts in her partner’s usually wise and controlled demeanor.
Shadowhand Essek Thelyss
Neutral evil, male dark elf
Just over a hundred and twenty years old and still within his first life, Essek is a prodigy who displays an unprecedented talent for the manipulation of dunamis energy. Essek is both respected and feared for his intelligence and cunning, and he carefully plots each step he takes to further his and his Den’s climb up the hierarchy of the dynasty. Essek is more interested in dunamancy magic than worshiping the Luxon, and he is strangely excited for the war with the empire. He is eager to use the conflict as an excuse to practice the deadlier aspects of dunamancy, and also curious to see what the powerful minds of the Cerberus Assembly may have gleaned from their research into the beacon they stole.
Neutral, male minotaur
Having lived a number of lifetimes as an early follower of Leylas, Olomon has settled into this recent life as a massive minotaur, embracing the abilities granted to him on the battlefield and taking his place as a champion on the front lines. His presence inspires his fellow warriors, and his cunning has led the armies of the Kryn to many victories against the empire.
Taskhand Verin Thelyss
Lawful good, male dark elf
An acclaimed soldier and talented leader, Verin Thelyss is the younger brother of Essek and the youngest soul of Den Thelyss. Verin lacks his older brother’s ambition but possesses a keen sense of justice and honor. Recently given command of Kryn forces in Bazzoxan, Verin hopes to bring about a victory for the dynasty that will grant him respect and acceptance from his accomplished family.
Skysybil Abrianna Mirimm
Lawful neutral, female goblin
Seen by many within the dynasty as a talented diviner and voice of reason, Abrianna is an Umavi nearly as old as the Bright Queen herself. The beloved Skysybil has spent her current lifetime as a goblin, a fact that has drawn both ire and jests from the Bright Queen’s court for decades. This experience has given Abrianna a new perspective on the wastefolk under the dynasty’s banner; she is now one of the few councilors in the Lucid Bastion who bother to vouch for the goblinkin.
Professor Tuss Waccoh
Neutral, female half-orc
A scatterbrained scholar whose subtle brilliance has increased the effectiveness of the dynasty warmachines, Professor Waccoh usually oversees a number of academic programs and private research projects at the Marble Tomes Conservatory within the Firmaments of Rosohna. Recently obsessed with the desolate, cursed lands of Blightshore and the mysteries that lie hidden within, Tuss is actively seeking allies and mercenaries to send into the dangerous lands to recover information, relics, and specimens for further study.
The Cerberus Assembly was established nearly three hundred years ago, when strife and competition between warring mage lords threatened to unravel the social order of the Dwendalian Empire. The house leaders of this conflict nearly destroyed one another in what was called the Eve of Crimson Midnight, an arcane battle within the capital of Rexxentrum that leveled two wards of the city, killing hundreds of civilians. At the peak of the violence, a parlay was called, and the mage lords decided to put aside their differences and avoid mutually assured destruction, instead joining as a unified conclave. When brought before the king for judgment of their crimes, they offered an accord to instead officially instate the conclave and submit entirely to king’s rule. Taking the name the Cerberus Assembly, a reference to a powerful, historical union of mages during the Age of Arcanum, the mages took the empire to new heights of power and expansion.
In the centuries since, the Cerberus Assembly has subtly ingrained itself within most facets of the empire’s government, becoming a force of political and military power that many say could rival the king himself. This reality is not lost on the royal council, and tensions often simmer between the assembly and the Crown. The mages of the assembly are known for their extravagant lifestyles and intimidating history of political and economic control, and much of the populace mistrusts them, though no one dares to cross them or the king. There are eight ruling positions within the assembly, and the families of each member are appointed as lesser members without responsibility, called “annexes.” Mages of the assembly wander throughout the empire with little fear of argument or resistance.
Members are elevated into one of the eight major offices on the death of a member that leaves an office vacant, or when a standing member abdicates their position. The remaining members then recommend replacements and vote on the mage to fill the newly open office.
The assembly plays the long game, working to subtly increase its power across the empire and beyond. Popular decisions are often publicly presented as the will of the assembly, while conflicted issues are tailored to seem purely the "will of the Crown," driving a wedge between the two bodies. The assembly seeks to write history to favor its members as the architects of modern law and culture, with the eventual goal of subverting the power of the king, turning him into yet another puppet of the assembly’s goals. Assembly mages believe that only they have the knowledge and talents to truly guide the empire into greatness.
Aside from political matters, the assembly is focused on locating and excavating powerful relics and magic lost to the Age of Arcanum. Its members believe that their original namesake was the apex of society across all history, and they seek to reclaim their place as paragons of mortal rule. Thus, all salvaged texts and artifacts of power from that era are to be recovered at all costs.
The curious discovery of the power behind the Kryn Dynasty has recently drawn much of the assembly’s attention. The mysterious, primal force known as dunamis could change the world’s understanding of magic itself — and could even be the key to placing the assembly above all other rulers and nations. In pursuit of this goal, agents of the assembly stole two Luxon beacons from the Kryn Dynasty, though they subsequently lost one to a band of adventurers called the Mighty Nein. The assembly has dedicated immense effort to studying and exploiting this new form of magic, knowing full well that stealing the beacons is what caused the current war in the first place.
The assembly has worked directly with the king and his chamber for so long that the two factions have become deeply intertwined, frustrating both of them. Though they rely heavily on each other, every smile and agreement barely conceals an undercurrent of venomous loathing. Some members of the assembly feel that it is far too soon to overtly challenge the Crown, while others believe it would be foolish to miss the opportunity the war is creating.
The assembly has established itself as the more forward-thinking face of the empire to the outside world, with Lord Athesias Uludan going out of his way to upstage the Crown at every diplomatic opportunity, all "in the name of the king." Most foreign officials happily deal with the assembly instead of the Crown, especially those of the empire’s closest trade partner, the Clovis Concord. The assembly ensures that such meetings are recounted to the king with embellished tales of their diplomatic success.
The acquisition of a Luxon beacon and the hunger among assembly mages to unlock its powers have drawn the animosity of the Kryn Dynasty, triggering their attacks on the empire.
Figures of Interest
The mysterious minds of the Cerberus Assembly often quarrel over goals and methods, but ultimately these eight mages are united by their heritage and a shared thirst for knowledge.
Master Trent Ikithon, Archmage of Civic Influence
Chaotic evil, male human
Trent is respected as the acclaimed Propagandist of the empire and the third oldest member of the assembly. Once an instructor at the Soltryce Academy, he only returns every few years to collect young students for his experiments in the mental conditioning that he calls “awakening.” Many of these students go mad and are locked away, but those who endure become zealots for the assembly and join the Volstrucker, an elite group of arcane thugs commonly known as Scourgers, who perform the assembly’s dirtiest work under Trent’s direction.
Martinet Ludinus Da’leth, Archmage of Domestic Protections
Lawful evil, male elf
Ludinus is the oldest and only original member of the assembly, as well as the master of warfare and conflict. Charged with overhauling the military structure of the Dwendalian Empire, Ludinus directed the construction of the garrisons on the Xhorhasian border and often oversees their maintenance. He was one of the mages who survived the destruction of Molaesmyr and fled to Bysaes Tyl, but he saw the opportunity to achieve greatness within the empire and left his culture behind to continue his arcane pursuits. Wise, if emotionless, he bears a deep hatred for the Kryn Dynasty and spares no effort gathering information on their weaknesses and secrets. Ludinus spends most of his time developing arcane weapons of war and shoring up the military might of the empire, while subtly challenging the leadership of Crown Marshal Damurag.
Baroness Jenna Iresor, Archmage of Industry
One of the younger members of the assembly, Jenna is known for her business acumen and her extravagant lifestyle. By hiding her nature as a doppelganger and using memory-altering magics at a young age to fabricate a false past, Jenna constructed her human persona from the ground up, leveraging her powers of deception to essentially write herself into history as a Clovis Concord expatriate. She helps oversee central guild business in Rexxentrum under Guildmaster Kai Arness, and helps Exchequer Aethia Drooze organize the collection of tithes through starostas across the empire.
Master Doolan Tversky, Archmage of Dysology
Chaotic neutral, female gnome
The second-oldest member of the assembly, Doolan is in charge of the study and understanding of abnormal creatures and deviants of arcane creation that might threaten the empire’s way of life. She is an absentminded yet brilliant gnome who is obsessed with all beasts, aberrations, and creatures of legend. Doolan imports creatures from around the world to study, disassemble, and use in her attempts to revolutionize magical practices. She resents the Library of the Cobalt Soul, as her reputation has caused them to bar her from their facilities. She wishes to catalog the unstudied horrors of Xhorhas and has covertly obtained the services of the Myriad to retrieve new specimens.
Lord Athesias Uludan, Archmage of Diplomatic Union
Neutral good, male human
Athesias’s charm and bombastic personality serve him well as a diplomat. His duty is to foster a positive relationship with people of power both within and beyond the borders of the empire. He was originally one of the most effective instructors at the Soltryce Academy, but his penchant for spectacle and his rampant narcissism made him a difficult ally to trust with state secrets. When the office of Diplomatic Union opened, he was quickly and quietly reassigned. Athesias finds great pleasure in ruining or usurping the plans of his counterpart in the Crown’s employ, Emissary Lord Zeddan Graf.
Lady Vess de Rogna, Archmage of Antiquity
Neutral evil, female half-elf
A public recluse for most of her life, Vess is both a brilliant mage and dedicated historian. She assumed this post after replacing her criminal predecessor, Lady Delilah Briarwood. As an instructor at the Soltryce Academy for over two decades, Vess has studied and unraveled a number of historical mysteries and pre-Calamity riddles — and hoarded some of the spoils for herself. Always eager to pursue forgotten lore and artifacts of eons past, Vess has been known to quietly vanish to Xhorhas for weeks at a time, returning with fewer guards and more uncovered secrets.
Headmaster Zivan Margolin, Archmage of Conscription
Lawful neutral, male human
Zivan Margolin inherited the position of headmaster from his father, the late Jorma Margolin. Zivan has been the headmaster of the Soltryce Academy in Rexxentrum for nearly twenty years. Calm, patient, and quietly imposing, Zivan walks the halls of the Academy with a keen eye for talent. He is in charge of the curriculum and also watches for any latent powers that may be worth grooming as future allies of the assembly, dangers to be monitored, or prospective minds for Ikithon to conscribe into the Volstrucker. Zivan has rarely had the opportunity to demonstrate his full power, for he is typically busied with keeping the peace between the feuding members of the assembly. Those who have witnessed his true might, however, now know that his words are backed by some of the most powerful magics within the Cerberus Assembly.
Headmaster Oremid Hass, Archmage of Cultivation
Lawful neutral, male earth genasi
The current headmaster of the Hall of Erudition in Zadash, Oremid is tasked with watching and grooming the next generation of mages and arcane specialists outside Rexxentrum. While he himself is a gentle soul who adores animals, he puts on the façade of a strict man with no sense of humor, which is further enhanced by the elemental influence of his earth genasi blood. He teaches students that failure is not an option, and that emotion is a barrier to one’s true ability. Equally feared, respected, and privately loathed by the students (and some instructors), Oremid personally dismisses those who break under his school’s curriculum and heaps joyous praise on those who endure their training.
Nearly four hundred years ago, an alliance of the Ki’Nau islanders and foreign Marquesian traders founded a new nation on the tropical Menagerie Coast. The Clovis Concord is a democratic nation that enforces law and order, and regulates commerce along the length of the coast. The nation is composed of eight independent city-states, each ruled by its own marquis, which operate as one union under the banner of the Clovis Concord. This arrangement ensures uniform laws, regulation of trade, and mutual protection between the city-states. These eight cities are Port Damali, Port Zoon, Gwardan, Tussoa, Othe, Feolinn, Nicodranas, and Brokenbank.
Open shipping lanes and inviting tropical scenery have made the domain of the Clovis Concord a cultural melting pot and a popular place to live or visit. Knowing this, the respective marquises uphold a long tradition of welcoming all weary travelers and providing an atmosphere of color and delight. If there is gold to be spent, the concord is eager for you to spend it within their cities. Between the venues for entertainment and vice, and the ample business opportunities, the concord hopes to convince those with wealth to spend it here, outside the gates of the Dwendalian Empire.
Internally, each marquis of the Clovis Concord keeps a tight grip on the shipping and trade that comes though their cities, overseeing all guilds that organize imports and exports and managing a handful of guildmasters that form the backbone of local commerce. When a marquis dies or is impeached by the other members of the concord, the remaining members choose a successor.
Warriors who prove their might through gladiatorial bouts during times of celebration and ceremony are asked to join the Zhelezo, a well-paid guard force that works for the governing marquis to enforce the laws. Cities have one or more magistrates that oversee judgment on legal matters and criminal punishment.
While the cities do work together for the good of the concord, they are also each in silent competition with each other, flaunting their affluence and clientele at every opportunity. When a prominent figure from the far reaches of Exandria finds their way to the Menagerie Coast, it’s not uncommon for them to be courted by multiple marquises in an attempt to convince the personage to stay as a guest of their city.
In recent times, the Myriad has subtly infiltrated the Clovis Concord, often with the unwitting aid of greedy local politicians. Rumors of criminal collusion have raised suspicion amid members of the concord. Sooner or later, the tension will have to break — and the fallout won’t be pretty.
Despite the concord’s cordial relationship with the Dwendalian Empire, their proximity to the imperial power is a lingering source of unease. Currently, the concord maintains a standing military of 7,800 Shore Warden soldiers across the coast, a nautical fleet of 370 ships, and 5,200 Zhelezo divided between the cities. Some of the Shore Wardens are posted inland, scattered around and within the Cyrios Mountains, where they maintain forts along the border with Western Wynandir and the Dwendalian Empire.
The Clovis Concord is concerned with maintaining the trade and commerce that ensures their continued influence, both in Wildemount and the rest of Exandria. Anything that might jeopardize business is viewed as a major threat to the sanctity of life along the Menagerie Coast. Faced with the hazards of dangerous creatures that lurk in the nearby jungles and beneath the waves, as well as piracy on the open waters, the concord is employing substantial numbers of adventurers and mercenaries.
Forty years ago, when the concord worked to enforce rising taxation on independent merchant companies operating within the Menagerie Coast, the outrage led a small union of angry enterprises to turn to piracy, calling themselves the Revelry. These pirates have claimed the island of Darktow and terrorized the shipping lanes for four decades, all while deftly avoiding pursuit and naval retribution. The concord is eager to destroy the Revelry in its entirety, and have put massive bounties on the heads of the so-called scourges of the ocean.
After the fall of the Julous Dominion and the rise of the Dwendalian Empire, the concord was eager to reach a diplomatic arrangement with the victorious empire. The empire recognized the difficulty of conquering the Clovis Concord and the challenge of managing their immense network of international trade, and acquiesced to a treaty. This loose alliance has been mutually beneficial for many generations, and the concord city of Nicodranas acts as a common ground for people of both nations. Both imperial Crownsguard and local Zhelezo keep the peace in Nicodranas, and both imperial and concord laws hold sway within the city. While this arrangement occasionally causes strain between the two governments, the marquises of the concord are happy to have the buffer of the empire between them and the ravenous wastes of Xhorhas. As the war between the empire and Xhorhas continues to grow, the concord is determined to stay neutral. This has caused some tension with the empire, but nothing the concord worries will overshadow their long-standing treaty.
Figures of Interest
Though the marquises of the Clovis Concord outwardly embrace the spirit of cooperation on which their nation was founded, most scheme and conspire against one another to attain ever-greater power.
Olesya Lapidus, Marquis of Port Damali
Neutral good, female human
The Lapidus family’s work in protecting and continuing the prosperity of the city for four generations has kept a Lapidus as Marquis of Port Damali for just as long. Olesya was raised as a boy, but quickly discovered that she identified as female and transitioned in her youth. As the fourth and current leader of Port Damali, Olesya takes pride in her charge and is respected by the rest of the concord. However, with the growing distraction of the Revelry, Olesya failed to notice the infestation of Myriad agents throughout her city and the guilds beneath her. Now realizing the dangerous web surrounding her and the interests of her city, she is seeking a way to turn the tide.
Zhafe Uludan, Marquis of Nicodranas
Lawful neutral, male human
Zhafe is a distant relative of Lord Athesias Uludan of the Cerberus Assembly; his placement within the concord was primarily a diplomatic concession to maintain a positive relationship with the empire. However, Zhafe shuns this notion, insisting that he earned his role on his own merits, and eagerly organizing small galas and parades to ensure his popularity among the citizens of Nicodranas. Even so, he secretly fears the assembly and bows to Athesias’s requests whenever they meet, making him a useful pawn.
Alamads Haddou, Marquis of Port Zoon
Neutral good, male dwarf
The old, crotchety, and honorable leader of the industrial city of Port Zoon, and head of the Silverbone Smithing Guild that operates all along the coast, Alamads is widely known for his insurmountable will and strong sense of duty to his people. As a former Shore Warden and a legendary ironsmith, his skill with a hammer — both on and off the battlefield — has earned him great respect, as well as the whispered nickname of “Ironpuss.”
Vasan Atrith, Marquis of Gwardan
Lawful good, female elf
Unflappable and driven to protect the people of her city, Vasan is a bit of an outsider among the other marquises of the Clovis Conchord for her standoffish nature and the way she unapologetically prioritizes the wellbeing of her city over that of the whole coast. Though Vasan presents herself as aloof and uninformed, much of her political persona is intended to sow underestimation of how informed and clever she may be.
Portcaller Mazin “Fat Fish” Fahreed
Neutral, male tabaxi
Tough as nails and quick to bite back, Mazin is an honorable tabaxi and dependable leader in times of trouble. This led to his rise as the Portcaller of the island village of Brokenbank, the first major trade junction along the Menagerie Coast. Though the village is small, Mazin deals with a perpetual string of smugglers and pirates while also organizing the incoming and outgoing shipping lanes for much of the coast. Even so, Mazin is rarely included in major concord business, to his obvious and public frustration.
LAWS OF THE CLOVIS CONCORD
All who are found by the esteemed Zhelezo to have broken the fair laws of the Clovis Concord are judged and sentenced by the local magistrate and are subject to punishments befitting the crime. All fines and punishments for crimes against a Zhelezo official or a noble are doubled. All fines and punishments for crimes against a Clovis Concord official are tripled.
Permits must be purchased and owned to do business for more than 15 days in Menagerie Coast cities. Permits are approved and purchased from the Compass Lodge installations.
All religions are legal to practice in private, but public worship of Betrayer Gods is considered dangerous to public discourse and is strictly forbidden.
Theft: 3–10 days incarceration and/or a fine of twice the worth stolen.
Public worship of Betrayer Gods: 10 days incarceration and/or a fine of 300 gp.
Ownership of another intelligent humanoid creature: 6–12 months incarceration and/or a fine of 1,000 gp.
Trespassing: 7 days incarceration, and/or a fine of 100 gp.
Failure to pay taxes to the Clovis Concord: 3–15 days incarceration and a repossession of property equal to the amount owed.
Damage to private property: 5–15 days incarceration or a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Damage to concord property: 30–60 days incarceration and a fine of twice the worth of property destroyed.
Kidnapping: 30 days incarceration and/or a fine of 500 gp.
Assault with intent to injure: 15 days incarceration and/or a fine of 250 gp.
Assault with intent to kill: 170 days incarceration and/or a fine of 1,000 gp.
Murder: 5–10 years incarceration and/or a fine of 5,000 gp.
Any civilized society will turn the people it has failed into criminals, and the societies of Wildemount are no exception. The continent’s largest criminal organization took shape about eighty years ago, when a shipping company in the Dwendalian city of Yrrosa turned to smuggling contraband to make ends meet. This tightknit group of clever smugglers soon began to bargain with their competitors, employing blackmail and offering membership to their organization as an alternative to elimination.
The syndicate grew with alarming speed, infiltrating the criminal underbelly of every major city in Western Wynandir. Masquerading as purveyors of antiquities and foreign textiles, the Myriad focuses on providing their clients with exotic goods, such as illicit substances and magical beasts, or supplying hired muscle to intimidate their clients’ rivals. The worst of the Myriad even deal in human merchandise.
Originally centered in Yrrosa, the Myriad now operates across the continent as a loose network of gang bosses who run their own local sects without direct oversight from the mysterious heads of the syndicate. Each satellite group is expected to regularly deliver information and a cut of their profits to the leadership. Those who fail to pay up receive quiet threats of enslavement or assassination — and the Myriad always makes good on its threats.
Members of the Myriad are sworn to keep their syndicate secret by pretending that their chapter is still just another local gang. This has given the Myriad a sinister and enigmatic reputation, which further obfuscates its activities from the authorities. Since members of the the Myriad prefer coercion to public displays of violence, officers of the law often fail to recognize Myriad activity until it’s too late.
The empire scored a major victory fifteen years ago when they discovered and raided the central Myriad stronghold in Yrrosa, forcing the surviving leadership to scatter across the continent. The Myriad has emphasized the narrative of its own fall in order to keep a low profile, though in fact it has retained most of its power. Its influence has stretched to the distant corners of Wildemount as it bide its time and waits to reinstate its control within the empire. Shifting tactics, the Myriad has now begun seeding major factions with double agents, who turn the most foolish or corrupt of their colleagues into the Myriad’s unwitting pawns.
The loss of their headquarters taught the surviving Myriad leaders to temper their arrogance with caution. Now a decentralized network of allies and informants, the Myriad is reconnecting with their temporarily dormant contacts, not all of whom are happy to see their cruel masters return.
Beyond the borders of the Dwendalian Empire, the Myriad has deftly utilized the chaos of the Revelry’s decades-long reign of piracy to infiltrate the guilds of the Clovis Concord. Between the war in the east and the distractions on the western waters, there has never been a better time for the Myriad to strike.
Merely mentioning Myriad activity within the Dwendalian Empire or the Menagerie Coast is enough to draw unwanted attention; members of the local law enforcement might investigate the rumors — and the person who started them. Those involved with the Myriad often vanish into the darkest prisons, or worse. Though the Myriad has apparently scattered since the raid on their base in Yrrosa, the authorities still keep an eye open for cell activity.
Twenty years ago, the Myriad established satellite cells in the distant lands of Tal’Dorei and Marquet. Since their headquarters in Wildemount was destroyed, some have suggested sending agents across the oceans to reinforce their foreign operatives. If the network can quickly regain its former strength, there will eventually be little chance of stopping the spread of its power and influence.
In the supposed absence of the Myriad, the Tribes of Shadycreek Run have begun to push into the empire to stake their claim in Myriad territory. The leaders of the Myriad watch from the shadows and plot ways to conscript (or, if necessary, to destroy) the prideful families of Shadycreek Run.
Figures of Interest
The dangerous aspirations of the Myriad are driven by a curiously scattered collective of intelligent liars.
Lawful evil, female human
This lovely, elderly woman is deeply respected and beloved for her wise, spiritual guidance and seemingly gentle demeanor. This persona kept her safe in Yrrosa, and now in Rexxentrum, where she is one of the masterminds planning the return of the Myriad. Insightful, clever, and unhesitating in her cruelty, Iris has long been considered the driving force behind the Myriad’s success.
Doctor Waldorf Perifeather
Lawful evil, male halfling
A talented physician and healer, Waldorf often travels between Port Damali and Zadash, tending to affluent patients with rare diseases. His proximity to powerful figures in their most vulnerable moments grants the good doctor a source of highly sensitive information and a reputation as a savior. This combination of influence and access makes him a key information broker for the Myriad.
Neutral evil, male water genasi
The Gentleman has held a position of influence in the shadows of Zadash for nearly two decades, using his charm and connections throughout the city to carve a sizeable niche for himself in the Underworks beneath the city. These days, he’s respected as a suave crime lord with dozens of reliable cutthroats and thieves at his beck and call.
Neutral evil, male human
A patient and intimidating figure in the underground of Deastok for over forty years, Korshad is often known as the “debtkeeper.” He sends agents and missives to individuals throughout the empire who fall behind on their payments to the Myriad. Korshad is a mysterious figure by his own design, and he shrouds himself in illusion magic for his own protection and prestige, feeding the whispered myths about him that are legendary in unscrupulous circles.
Lawful neutral, female elf
A talented songstress and dancer renowned throughout the Menagerie Coast for her sweet voice and enchanting allure, Chessia is a popular performer in many opulent social circles across Port Damali. Chessia uses her charming persona to deflect suspicion as she weaves her way into the lives of politicians and guild masters to steer them toward Myriad interests.
Children of Malice
In the echoing stillness that followed the Divergence, the ruined lands of the surface retained remnants of civilizations trying to rebuild their world from the ashes. Below, however, the surviving children of Lolth could feel her presence fade with her banishment. The chains she held over her drow were weakened, and those who had found renewed faith and purpose in the discovery of the Luxon abandoned their terrible mistress and slowly climbed their way to the surface to reclaim Ghor Dranas and be rid of their spiteful god for eternity.
Still reeling from her banishment to the Abyss, Lolth felt a rapid shift in her influence as these drow turned from her. Her fury burned with a poisonous hate, and she seethed in her webs as she plotted vengeance on her ungrateful and treasonous progeny. As time passed and her dark divinity gradually recovered, the Spider Queen set aside her pride in favor of her wish to punish; she began seducing the minds of goblinoids, beastfolk, and the wayward people of the wastes, creeping into their dreams and convincing them to love her, bending them to join in her violent hate for the rising Kryn Dynasty. She found drow who felt spurned by the Dens of the dynasty and preyed on their fears and insecurities, amplifying their xenophobia as the dynasty recruited more and more outsiders to their cause. Gradually, Lolth developed a new network of scattered worshipers, spies, and assassins. She calls them her Children of Malice, and they will gladly serve as the instruments of her revenge.
The Children of Malice aren’t numerous, but they are clever, driven, and directed by a god of pure hatred. They established hidden cabals throughout the fringes of Xhorhasian society, forming motley bands of Lolthite bugbears and hobgoblins who raid outlying Kryn settlements. Drow agents of Lolth have infiltrated even the highest echelons of Kryn society, slowly poisoning the dynasty both metaphorically and literally. The true extent of this infiltration is only now being uncovered within Rosohna, spreading fear throughout the dynasty as the war against the Dwendalian Empire continues to divide the attention of the Bright Queen between the enemy outside and the enemy within.
The primary goal of the Children of Malice is to subjugate and dismantle the flourishing, Luxon-worshiping dark elf society in Xhorhas. They wish to raze everything the Kryn have built, crush their will, ruin the holy implements of the Luxon, and drag these broken, traitorous drow back under Lolth’s influence and command.
To achieve this goal, Lolth and her children know well the necessary tenets of secrecy, lies, and patience. Most of their spies are sleeper agents who wait in the shadows, quietly gaining converts while worming their way into the heart of Rosohna and awaiting the order to strike.
The Children of Malice have no formal alliances; they prefer to infiltrate other factions as part of their design to undermine the dynasty. Keeping their true nature hidden, members of the Children trade with outlying camps and townships across the Wastes for supplies and information. Thus, their informants are usually unaware they are informants as they trade gossip for goods and conversation, unwittingly feeding the enemy.
Figures of Interest
The Children of Malice vary dramatically in both appearance and methods.
Lawful evil, male dark elf
Zyn was born in squalor in the Coronas of Rosohna. Lolth found him at his nadir and showed him how to refine himself into a true liar. He’s since risen to become one of the more even-tempered members of Den Daev’yana, climbing the ranks as a respected strategist and writer. Using his position to sew discord and doubt amongst the Dens, he privately communes with the Spider Queen as one of her most trusted operatives.
Neutral evil, gender-fluid dark elf
A talented harpist lauded throughout Rosohna for their musical gifts, Ereldra worshiped the Luxon before they were betrayed by their own brother, who sabotaged their marriage to their wife. Lolth found Ereldra in their despair and molded them into a valuable spy. Ereldra weakens in the social foundation of the Dens by spreading rumors and telling lies.
Ironeye Jaglord Brukk
Lawful evil, male hobgoblin
A feared warlord who guides a nomadic band of Lolthite hobgoblin warriors, Jaglord honed the skills of his marauders in the broken lands of the Barbed Fields, where they brazenly attacked Kryn trade caravans and supply wagons before vanishing into the deadly fields. As his war band grew larger and more capable, he boldly led them farther south, eventually coming to rest within the Ghostlands outside Rosohna, where they now patiently await further orders from the Spider Queen.
Head Matron Vivurk Tonn
Neutral evil, female dark elf
Vivurk commands the drow houses and the hobgoblin horde that claim the mountainside stronghold of Dumaran. She rules with a bloody, iron fist in the image of her god to impose the same love and fear that characterized the drow societies of old. Ruthless and demanding, Head Matron Vivurk builds, trains, and prepares her forces to one day help Lolth strike down the Kryn Dynasty with delicious brutality.
Diarchy of Uthodurn
When the elven city of Molaesmyr unearthed a terrible curse that ruined the Savalirwood, many survivors fled to the north. They endured the blizzards and dangers of the Flotket Alps, clinging to the hope that the withdrawn dwarves of Uthodurn would find enough mercy to aid them. Though many perished in the harsh elements, the elven refugees finally located the iron doors of the subterranean stronghold and requested asylum. It was with only mild hesitation that the dwarves accepted their desperate guests, taking them into the warm halls of their city and giving them a place to stay.
Many years passed, with little information on the cause of the cataclysm that shattered the elven homeland, and everyone gradually realized that their new situation was permanent. Social tensions rose as cultural differences and forced proximity placed the denizens of Uthodurn into rising discomfort. This growing divide worried Judessa Fruunast, the queen of the dwarves of Uthodurn. She met with the throneless elven king, Imathan Talviel, and unexpectedly offered to instate a diarchy within the city. Months of deliberation followed as the monarchs discussed how best to establish social harmony, where new homes would be built, and how to expand the discs of the city to fit a more permanent populace. Eventually, the two came to an agreement that the majority of both dwarves and elves felt was fair and tolerable.
The process of restructuring the stubborn societies of this new Uthodurn forged a long partnership and deep friendship between the two leaders until Queen Judessa’s death in 794 PD. Judessa’s daughter, Simone Fruunast, took up her mother’s mantle, and the bonds of friendship forged in her mother’s time flourish under her rule. The benefits that were uncovered through the unity of these disparate cultures birthed new prosperity throughout the city, and the new dual society has grown into a synergistic civilization over the centuries.
Now spreading beyond the underground halls of Uthodurn, the people under the Dual Monarchs seek to build a brighter future, and perhaps even resolve the mysteries of their past.
Many historians and prominent members of both halves of Uthodurn’s society are investigating the source of the corruption that persists in the Savalirwood, hoping to one day heal the forest and reclaim the homeland of the elves. Shreds of evidence have been recovered by scouting parties sent into the deadly thicket surrounding the ruins of Molaesmyr to uncover signs of the curse and its origins. However, looters and thieves from Shadycreek Run have discovered the ruins as well, stealing relics and selling them to private interests. These thefts, coupled with recent research indicating that the corruption is slowly spreading, have accelerated the need to find answers to the mystery of the Savalirwood.
The growing population of the city has a constant need for more resources, so the diarchy agreed on the need to expand beyond the mountain pass. The village of Uraliss was founded using experimental magic designed to thaw snowfields, with the goal of developing sections of the Rime Plains into farmland. Unfortunately, the ground beneath the snow turned out to be untillable rock, so the settlement was abandoned. The dual monarchs then established the northern fishing village of Palebank, which supplies new goods and a coastal outpost in spite of the grueling cold.
Small vessels built to withstand the icy waters of the Frigid Depths began to explore the shores surrounding the region, discovering the lands of Eiselcross. In these frozen wastes, the settlers of Uthodurn uncovered signs of scattered arcana from a pre-Calamity era buried beneath the snow. These discoveries have piqued the interest of Molaesmyr researchers and Uthodurn’s monarchs alike. As the conflict in the south escalates, the leaders of Uthodurn are eager to gain whatever power or protection might be gained from the secrets hidden in the treacherous tundra of Eiselcross.
Uthodurn has little affiliation with other factions across Wildemount. Aside from the occasional explorers and adventurers who pose no threat, most people who come to Uthodurn are met with skepticism and avoided. The locals want nothing to do with the war in the south.
Anyone who might be from Shadycreek Run is treated as a lowlife brigand and immediately captured and interrogated. Any information about the powers behind the criminal civilization is considered useful, and once non-violent prisoners expend their usefulness, they are unceremoniously stripped of their equipment and set loose in the snowy fields of the Rime Plains.
Figures of Interest
Distanced from the political bustle of Western and Eastern Wynandir, these figures within the Uthodurn diarchy are beginning to seek their place in the wider world of Exandria.
Queen Simone Fruunast
Lawful good, female dwarf
Daughter of the previous queen, Judessa Fruunast, and the current ruler of the dwarven people of Uthodurn, Simone is a respected, charismatic leader known for her endless compassion and warrior spirit. Often driven more by her heart than her wits, she has come to rely on Imathan for guidance and clarity. While a diplomat by nature, Simone has certainly proven her mettle with an axe in times of conflict.
King Imathan Talviel
Lawful good, male elf
The elder king of the surviving elves of Molaesmyr, Imathan is as candid as he is graceful in his old age. Patient but stern, he guides the elven people of Uthodurn with a calm strength and wisdom that helps maintain the continuing peace between the dual communities of Uthodurn. Imathan was a priest of Corellon in his younger days; now he maintains the faith among his people and shares the light of the Arch Heart with the dwarves of Uthodurn.
Professor Gulrim Shalebrow
Lawful good, male dwarf
Gulrim is praised as the brazen — though perhaps crazy — explorer who convinced Queen Fruunast to allow his team to cross the Frigid Depths. He and his surveyors found the mysterious banks of Eiselcross, established the Syrinlya outpost, and recovered fragments of ancient relics previously lost in the ice and snow. Professor Gulrim now helms the Uthodurnian efforts to expand Syrinlya and learn more about the mysteries hidden among the glacial fields.
Tribes of Shadycreek Run
The collection of rival criminal families known as the Tribes ran Shadycreek Run for nearly a century before losing much of their dominance to violent infighting and internal power struggles. Comprised of the Mardoon family, the Uttolot family, the Trebain family, and the Jagentoth family, the Tribes still control most of the business that transpires in the city as they work against each other in secret. While each family center is usually comprised of relatives by blood or marriage, their employees are also considered to be “within the family,” so long as they remain loyal. The Tribes operate without a unified symbol or banner, and their interests lie in fencing stolen goods, importing and providing vice, and controlling the populace through confusion, intimidation, and fear.
The Mardoon family is a powerhouse of crime within the Graying Wildlands, thanks to its vast network of foreign contacts as well as its prosperous alliance with the Myriad. Known for relentless business acumen and a love of enforceable contracts, the Mardoons would rather shake hands than swing blades. Even so, when contracts are broken, examples must be made, and such circumstances demand a bloody show. The family fortune is made from brothels, jewels, and the slave trade, often specializing in exotic finds from Xhorhas and beyond. Leadership is shared between Lord Anselm Mardoon, Kriemhilde Mardoon, Ophelia Mardoon, Demis Mardoon, and Rufus Mardoon.
The Uttolot family rose to prominence through a network of familial trade alliances, making it the foremost importer of goods difficult to find this far north of the empire. It controls the gates through the Quannah Breach, and anyone who passes into or out of the region must pay tolls to the Uttolots, making them a necessary partner to the other families whether they like it or not. They dabble in poaching dangerous beasts and monsters, and often clash with the hunters of the Greytrader Union, a collective of citizens who want to improve life for the people of Shadycreek Run. Unlike the other families, the Uttolots rely on the Grudge Gang of Shadycreek for most of their muscle. Leadership is shared between Lord Milos Uttolot, Mira Uttolot, and Jagoda Uttolot.
The Trebain family is the most covert of the houses, preferring to do its business through intermediaries and hired muscle. It lives beyond the boundaries of the city, deep within the Savalirwood, in a network of homesteads surrounding a stronghold. The Trebain family focuses on controlling hunting grounds and harvesting relics from the ruins of Molaesmyr. The family’s interests put it in constant conflict with the Uttolot family and the Greytrader Union. The triangle of animosity between the Uttolots, Trebains, and Greytraders sometimes makes for strange alliances — after all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no matter how temporary that bond might be. Leadership of the family is shared between Lord Darko Trebain, Juraj Trebain, Tatia Trebain, and Zorka Trebain.
The Jagentoth family has earned a reputation for being especially brutal and unforgiving. Its members publicly execute perceived traitors and high-profile competitors, but promise great rewards in exchange for absolute loyalty. The family’s most successful business ventures include assassination, cultivating and distributing illicit substances, and slavery (which puts them in direct competition with the Mardoon family). Leadership is shared between Lady Sulia Jagentoth, Reese Jagentoth, Numa Jagentoth, and Ionos Jagentoth.
Conflict between the families is a constant in Shadycreek Run, but the apparent absence of Myriad activity has given the Tribes a unique opportunity to expand their horizons — and their influence. Lately, the Tribes have occasionally endured each other long enough to embark on joint ventures into the empire to rekindle old alliances with the Myriad.
Some see this age of tenuous cooperation as a chance to escape from the long shadow of the Myriad and stand alongside them as equals, but others fear that forging new bonds with the Myriad will just give it the freedom to destroy the Tribes from within.
The Tribes endure each other in order to maintain a level of civility within the otherwise cutthroat streets of Shadycreek Run, but they are each on the lookout for ways to subvert or weaken their opposition and become the city’s dominant family.
All members of the Tribes are documented criminals within the empire, with bounties to match. Travel within the borders of Western Wynandir is dangerous for these criminal overlords, but each family has their own connections within the major cities of the empire that enable business.
In the past, the Myriad has oft attempted to subjugate the Tribes, but it has been rebuked time after time. The Tribes are too proud of their well-oiled engine of vice to permit the Myriad to take over. Even though the Tribes are pursuing new alliances with the Myriad, the people of Shadycreek Run fear that conflict between these shady powers is inevitable.
Figures of Interest
Life in Shadycreek is perpetually dangerous for the members of the Tribes, where every smile hides ill intent.
Neutral evil, female tiefling
One of the most prominent members of the Mardoon family, Ophelia commands the Estate Sybaritic to the north of Shadycreek Run. Hedonistic and forceful, she does not enjoy being denied and has the skills and connections to ensure that she gets whatever she desires. One of the more ambitious members of the house, Ophelia has made a number of contacts in the Wildemount criminal world outside the Greying Wildlands.
Chaotic evil, male half-orc
Jagoda is a master hunter and expert on the terrifying beasts that wander through the Savalirwood, using his skills to track and capture rare creatures for his family to sell. Gleeful in his brutality and prone to ignore the graces of diplomatic relations, Jagoda has occasionally gotten himself into trouble that the rest of his family has had to dig him out of.
Lord Darko Trebain
Lawful neutral, male human
The elder of the Trebain family, Darko helms the efforts to excavate the ruins of Molaesmyr from within his museum-like mansion. He is obsessed with the secrets of the blight on the Savalirwood, and he’s convinced that it was caused by the elves of Molaesmyr tampering with misunderstood magics. He hopes to discover the source of the corruption and learn how to weaponize it. With such power at his disposal, the rise of the Trebains would be unstoppable.
Lawful evil, male half-elf
Known for his skills in negotiation and deceit, Ionos has proven himself the master of the family’s distribution network. Inspired to expand the business alliances of the Jagentoth family far beyond the northern edges of the Dwendalian Empire, Ionos has been making arrangements with Myriad operatives while simultaneously rooting out Myriad influence in those same circles. Either the noose is about to tighten, or he’s designed a brilliant ploy to eliminate the competition.
Library of the Cobalt Soul
Under the enlightening scriptures of Ioun, the Knowing Mentor, teachers, priests, and monks who have been drawn to the calling of truth and knowledge spend their lives training within the Library of the Cobalt Soul. Rather than a single physical building, the Library of the Cobalt Soul is a collective term for the universal knowledge and philosophies upheld by those who follow Ioun’s teachings. The Cobalt Soul is guided by a central belief that true strength is found in understanding the world around you. Despite their idealism, the pursuit of truth is hampered by the realities of life in the empire: politics, propaganda, and the dangers of the wilderness.
The Cobalt Soul is based in Rexxentrum but operates throughout the empire and across the whole of Exandria. Temples to Ioun under the management of the Cobalt Soul act as massive libraries called archives, usually located in larger cities and cultural centers. Its members come from all walks of life and are expected to assist in the maintenance, organization, and protection of the archives. Its satellite archives collect artifacts and research information both historical and contemporary along the Menagerie Coast and in the distant lands of Tal’Dorei, Issylra, and beyond.
Archivists act as administrators at each Archive, delineating tasks, overseeing the training of new members, and even negotiating for or purchasing artifacts and records — often from those unaware of their true value.
The monks of the Cobalt Soul are the enlightened knowledge-seekers of their order. They research places where ancient knowledge could be hidden and lead large-scale expeditions to these places.
Expositors are the covert agents of the Cobalt Soul. These enlightened infiltrators extract information that others would keep secret and use their newfound knowledge to better the world. As masters of acquisitions, expositors answer only their High Curator.
At the top of each Archive is a High Curator, who dictates the Archive’s goals to subordinates and uses this power to assign marks to expositors, outline allies and enemies to their archivists, and approve the expeditions proposed by monks.
The Cobalt Soul was founded within the Julous Dominion before the nation fell to the armies of the Dwendalian Empire. The Dwendalian Crown permitted the Cobalt Soul to be assimilated into the social hierarchy of the empire rather than destroying it. This was not an act of mercy, but a political maneuver; the Cobalt Soul was allowed to survive only to provide a sense of normalcy and appease the restless populace.
The Library has continued to work with and under the empire out of necessity, but its archivists are savvy political players — whenever possible, they avoid making moves that could put them in danger of being exploited by the Crown or the Cerberus Assembly. Nowhere is this tension more apparent than in the very existence of the militant truth-seekers of the Cobalt Soul: the expositors, rigorously trained to root out corruption and falsehoods. Behind the scenes, a silent war is brewing as expositors bring the dark secrets of the empire’s social elite out into the light.
Untold knowledge was lost when the Calamity brought the Age of Arcanum to its fiery end, and so too was the case when Ioun was mortally wounded in that terrible war. Since that day, the Cobalt Soul and their progenitors have sought to recover what was lost. They hope that, in time, their tireless effort will eventually usher all societies to an enlightened future.
Ioun is still wounded, but her wisdom and grace has returned to the world — at least in part. Under the guidance and wisdom of their patron god, members of the Cobalt Soul seek to enlighten themselves through study and research. They devote their lives to studying the mysteries of the world, and turning that knowledge to protect it from another Calamity. To this end, the Library makes the immense breadth of knowledge within their archives available to anyone and everyone who seeks to educate themselves — though some secrets are so potent that they must remain hidden from the public until the proper time.
Empires thrive on misinformation and propaganda, yet it is necessary for the Cobalt Soul to operate within the Dwendalian Empire. As such, the Cobalt Soul works to provide the truth to those who will listen, to covertly update revisionist history, and to remove false information before it can spread too far. Unfortunately, imperial agents and even spies from foreign powers have successfully infiltrated the Library over the centuries, and some of their attempts to rewrite fact and history in favor of their own interests have succeeded. In response, the Library has had to construct a powerful, hidden force of expositors to defend their texts from manipulation and uncover truths that remain guarded.
The Library tries to remain autonomous, but their agents within the empire are under constant siege by Theolocrat Kon Bruda, a once-respected monk of the Cobalt Soul who is now just another corrupt lackey of the Crown. Bruda and the archivists wage a quiet battle of wills and subterfuge, each trying to outsmart and undermine the other. This situation, combined with the empire’s efforts to prevent the education of their people, has created palpable unrest within the Library.
The perceptive ears of the expositors often hear rumors of unwholesome practices behind closed doors within the Soltryce Academy and other places under the Cerberus Assembly’s oversight. The Library is concerned about the assembly’s secretive cabal but has thus far been unable to infiltrate deep enough to uncover anything damning.
Meanwhile, a small number of volunteers from within the Library have agreed to travel deep into Xhorhas in the hopes of communicating with the Kryn Dynasty to learn more about their mysterious society, and to understand the level of threat they pose to the people of Western Wynandir and beyond. None of the volunteers have yet returned.
Figures of Interest
Operating under the will of Ioun, and driven by curiosity and the desire to further universal understanding, the diverse agents of the Cobalt Soul seek to change the world for the better.
High Curator Loman Turray, Herald of the Zadash Archive
Lawful neutral, male human
Curator Turray has held the position of High Curator of the Valley Archive in Zadash and the title of Herald of the Archive under the Crown for over forty years. He faces increasing pressure to instill his subordinates with loyalty to the Crown, and he is slowly giving in to imperial indoctrination. He fears that enforcing the will of the Crown when it contradicts the philosophies of the Library will cause his own colleagues to depose him — which only leads him further into the Crown’s protective embrace.
High Curator Yudala Fon, Herald of the Rexxentrum Archive
Lawful good, agender half-elf
Yudala is a wise and respected figure who has spent most of their life fighting to protect and maintain the Rexxentrum Archive. They have mastered the art of parrying the Crown’s and the assembly’s attempts to subjugate the Archive and bring it under state control. For nearly two decades, they have been engaged in a battle of wills with the infuriated Theolocrat Kon Bruda — and they fear that Kon’s patience is at an end. His vengeance will be elaborate, exacting, and swift, or so Yudala fears. Their network of spies and expositors is frantically seeking to find and publicize evidence of Kon’s unlawful dealings and end the feud before it escalates further.
Expositor Sia Kresh
Neutral, female halfling
As Yudala Fon’s secret right-hand, Sia organizes the expositors of the Rexxentrum Archive. She is determined to root out the infiltrators who would seek to undermine the leadership of the Library and grab power for the Crown, and she is swift and brutal in her work. Those that know of her fear her, and many wonder if her methods are crossing a line.
Scars of Scale and Tooth
For hundreds of years, the small, cloistered dragonborn nation of Draconia reigned over the Dreemoth Ravine to the south of Xhorhas, removed from the troubles of the wastes. The erudite draconbloods of the ruling houses, marked by their intellect, jeweled tails, and ostentatious wealth, looked down from the floating chain of islands that formed their capitol while the droves of tailless slave dragonborn, known as ravenites, toiled away in the ravine below, gathering resources and serving their masters for generations. This structure collapsed around twenty years ago, when the Chroma Conclave, a union of ancient dragons, destroyed Draconia and left the city ruined in the ravine below.
When the Conclave was destroyed, the surviving dragonborn ravenites outnumbered their previous masters, who were bereft of their former privilege and power. In the uprising that followed, many draconbloods were executed for their crimes, and others fled to the empire for asylum. Thus freed from their shackles, the ravenites built a new society adjacent to the ruins of the old nation of Draconia.
The past two decades have seen the rise of a new society, known as the Scars of Scale and Tooth, and it is wracked by the growing pains inherent to the dawn of a new nation. The Scars’ leadership is tenuous, as many seek to claim the prestige of leading their people, and disagreements have led to bloodshed between the newfound councilors. This has made the building of the new city of Xarzith Kitril slow and fraught. Some heroic figures are seeking to establish a better direction for the ravenites, while others fled to the empire to seek better fortunes away from the infighting in their homeland. The war between the Kryn and the empire has closed the border pass into Western Wynandir, so the ravenites must find a way to coexist and thrive before the strife of warfare engulfs them.
The conflicting goals of the Scars’ leaders have placed their nascent settlement in peril. Every would-be ruler wants something different for their people and has sufficient support within their faction to cause the streets of Xarzith Kitril to run red with ravenite blood, if they so desired.
Some amid the Kitrilians are outraged over news that a massive number of ravenite and draconblood refugees have been relocated to a shantytown called Talonstadt. Not only is the treatment of their kin unfair and inhumane, but this makeshift settlement practically straddles the Dwendalian Empire’s eastern border, and they fear that Talonstadt will soon become the first casualty of a Kryn invasion.
Meanwhile, the monstrosities of the Xhorhasian wastes can sense the power vacuum left in the wake of Draconia’s fall. Xarzith Kitril has no formal military, just a loose militia of hunters and trappers. This leaderless force is stretched to its limits, and more hunters are lost every day to opportunistic monsters. Outside aid is urgently required, but the squabbling councilors of Xarzith Kitril can’t agree on whose aid they should request.
Rumors of the Dwendalian Empire mistreating dragonborn ravenites have bred a heavy distaste for King Dwendal and his nation. The empire has recently sent emissaries to request an alliance against the dynasty, but Kryn diplomats have also arrived in Xarzith Kitril, seeking friendship and offering to aid the dragonborn in their efforts to rebuild. The Scars have heatedly debated which power they should side with — or if they can afford to aid either.
Ships from the Clovis Concord have docked on Kitrilian shores in recent years, eager to resume trade with the dragonborn people. In particular, Nicodranas has welcomed the emerging nation, and a few emissaries from Marquis Zhafe Uludan currently reside within Xarzith Kitril to keep an eye on the developing city-state and to aid to whatever limited extent they can.
Figures of Interest
The former slaves of Draconia are eager to forge their own destiny in the world. Some have risen to the challenge with glee, while others have had leadership suddenly thrust on them, but all the bearers of this charge hope to create a new beginning for the dragonborn people.
Lawful good, male ravenite dragonborn
Once a trained combatant in draconblood gladiatorial games, Druvis gained notoriety when he refused to strike his foes dead. His skill and creed garnered attention, and he was quickly sold to a wealthy noble house atop the floating islands of Draconia. In the chaos after Draconia’s fall, Druvis became widely respected for his courage and sense of morality, and has hesitantly become a champion for the downtrodden people of Xarzith Kitril.
Chaotic neutral, female dragonborn
Vemosi is a zealous and militant priest of the Storm Lord, and her tempestuous fervor and blistering sermons in the aftermath of Draconia’s fall made her a popular voice of the people, though her detractors call her little more than a demagogue. Vemosi’s brutal sense of justice has earned her — and the Storm Lord — many followers, all of whom are determined to hunt down and exact retribution from the surviving draconbloods. Vemosi has become a powerful figure within the Scars, and now she seeks to cement her place as a leader of her people.
Troka, the Scoundrel King
Neutral good, male dragonborn
Druvis first noticed Troka for his silver tongue, and tasked him with infiltrating the empire and appraising the situation in Talonstadt. Frustrated by the meager living conditions and demeaning treatment of his people, Troka has retaliated by sowing chaos throughout the surrounding Dwendalian territories. Troka and his troupe of slippery thieves steal from the Crown, confuse the local military, and keep a watchful eye on the dragonborn refugees, making him a folk hero among their community.
Centuries ago, the high cleric of the Julous Dominion made secret pacts with a devil of the Nine Hells, hoping to gain enough power to repel the aggressive Dwendalian Empire. However, he failed to read the fine print of the devilish contract — he succeeded in his mission, but his people paid a terrible cost. The empire was indeed repelled, but it was because the lands of the Marrow Valley were brimming with devils and undead. The common folks hid in their homes, and the valley grew unhallowed and gray. In this brief era of terror, a humble priest of the Raven Queen named Trence Orman prayed for a way to protect his flock, his people, and the lands they called home. The Matron of Death blessed him with the ancient secrets of blood magic. Trence trained his most trusted friends in the techniques of hemocraft, and they sacrificed a portion of their humanity in exchange for the power to defend the dominion. This marked the origin of the Claret Orders.
Using their forbidden skills, the Claret Orders managed to seal away the source of this dark deal, free the high cleric from his torturous form, and clear the countryside of the evil that pervaded it. Unfortunately, before the Claret Orders could be celebrated as saviors, the armies of the empire swept into the freshly purged Marrow Valley and crushed the Julous Dominion.
The newly installed Dwendalian lords blamed the Claret Orders for inviting fiends into the Marrow Valley. While some knew the truth and tried to clear their name, it quickly became clear the Claret Orders were no longer welcome in their own homeland. Trence and his troupe of blood-tithed warriors went into hiding. Even in the face of such opposition, they never stopped protecting their lands from the shadows, seeking and destroying evils that emerged from the scars of the Calamity.
The orders have spread to the outskirts of Western Wynandir and beyond. They maintain small keeps to train new generations of protectors who are willing to take the Hunter’s Bane and embrace their inner darkness to combat the outer darkness in the world.
The creed of the Claret Orders asks its followers to commit their lives to hunting monsters that threaten the sanctity of life and joy. While the sacrifice is great, the reward is the continued existence of purity and good in the world. The orders strive to protect those who cannot protect themselves from the terrors that go unseen by their noble lords and ladies. Most take little credit for their services, beyond means to live and travel. Some have strayed, using their skills to amass a fortune, but the heads of the orders deliver swift justice unto those who exploit the people they are sworn to protect.
The existence of the Claret Orders is largely rumor and myth in most places, as the orders have no alliance with or allegiance to any standing government or group. The empire is well aware of their presence and makes a point to ignore their heroic deeds while publicizing misdeeds of those few hunters that succumb to the corrupting influence of their powers.
Some splinter orders have traveled beyond the boundaries of the empire, seeking more welcoming folk and more unique challenges in lands across Exandria. Still, no matter where the guardians of the Claret Orders travel, they know they will never be free from the hatred of those that misunderstand them.
Figures of Interest
Weeding out the terrors that feed at the edges of civilization, the members of the orders work for little more than the satisfaction of a deadly job well done.
Claret Director Jette Brashan
Neutral, male half-orc
An elderly priest of the Raven Queen who’s as revered as he is feared, Jette has a powerful will and a tactician’s mind. Jette never makes direct eye contact, and it seems that his attention is scattered among a dozen points at any given time, yet his ability to read patterns and calculate the hidden nature of evil leaves his compatriots in awe. Absolutely dedicated to the eradication of fiendish influence on the mortal plane, Jette has sacrificed much in his pursuit — all who serve him suspect that, one day, he will gladly make the ultimate sacrifice.
Elias de Corvo
Neutral good, male human
A famed blood hunter across the orders, Elias has successfully hunted some of the vilest creatures in all the planes and lived to tell the tale, though his scars show the cost of his victories. In his later years, Elias is now focused on training and mentoring new members of the orders, trying to instill in them morals that anchor them to their better nature.
Chaotic good, female werewolf (half-elf)
A sarcastic spitfire who joined the orders to help gain control over her lycanthropy, Lilyana has become a masterful blood hunter in an impressively short period of time. She leads many hunts with her keen, lycanthropic senses, and is known for being more personable than most who undergo the Hunter’s Bane. Lilyana is spoken of with equal parts irritation and awe within the circles of the orders.
When the lands of Tal’Dorei were ruled by the tyrant Drassig, a hidden society of muses, storytellers, bards, and folk heroes assembled to oppose their despotic king. The Golden Grin has endured since those dark years, and it has secretly guided the just, inspired the common folk, and planted the seeds of discontent and rebellion amid tyranny ever since.
Each member, known as a grinner, pledges to uphold the ideal that every individual has the power to change the world. They seek out places where hope is faint and the soul grows dim without inspiration, lifting the spirits of the downtrodden and heartening those who feel forgotten. Little is known about the Golden Grin aside from myths and rumors, and its members prefer it this way. The grinners listen for whispers and information using fabricated personas they create when they join the faction.
The Golden Grin arrived in Wildemount by following the trade routes from Tal’Dorei to the Menagerie Coast, where its members discovered a land plagued by warring despots. A sect of the Golden Grin has spent the past generation spreading its roots throughout the Clovis Concord. Now firmly established, the Grin has set about undermining corruption within the concord and has begun working their way into the Dwendalian Empire.
The Golden Grin — or simply the Grin — exists to enlighten and inspire, keeping ears and eyes out for the murmurs of tyranny and cruelty and deposing those responsible through social upheaval, or occasionally direct intervention. The idea that each person is capable of great things permeates its mantras and beliefs, and the wandering storytellers of the Grin are known to pay handsomely for tales of local heroes and majestic deeds of courage to add to their repertoire of stories and songs. If the people’s hearts grow cold enough to reject words and poems, the noblest of grinners will often rise to the occasion and get their hands dirty to display such an act of heroism themselves.
The Grin claims no formal allies, since its members never reveal themselves to others except in the direst of circumstances. They uplift and bolster other groups that work with the people’s best interests at heart. Some grinners occasionally find their way into government positions, granting them a platform to disseminate the ideals behind their cause. While some may not agree with their rather anarchistic views, grinners are generally regarded as idealistic paragons of individual virtue.
The Grin’s mischief in Wildemount began relatively recently, so it is largely unknown and able to conduct its work unimpeded; however, those versed in historical lore might know of its deeds and read the signs of its meddling. The Golden Grin currently is seeking an alliance with the Library of the Cobalt Soul to root out the untrustworthy within the Cobalt Soul and align their interests to aid the people of Wildemount.
Figures of Interest
In a world where strife and struggle often define one’s life, it takes a certain quality of hero to step up and answer the call of the Grin.
Sir Linus Denwallop
Neutral good, male gnome
A wandering minstrel who claims a sourceless knighthood, Sir Linus travels all across the Menagerie Coast with his lyre and bag of illusions to astound and excite the children and poor folk of the countryside. Sir Linus intends to make up for his years of villainy as a smuggler and thief by subtly undermining the same sects of the Myriad with whom he once did business.
Chaotic good, male human
A warm, gentle soul with blind eyes and a heart overflowing with patience, Shakäste was quick to learn the harsh realities of the world around him. After finding faith in the storms that shake the coast where he grew up, he was gifted with a hummingbird companion that serves as his eyes. Armed with a talent for going unnoticed and powers granted by his willful love of freedom, Shakäste has operated under the name “Hush” since joining the Golden Grin, quietly seeking out those in need of a little guidance.
Master Duasad Keef
Chaotic good, male human
An affluent noble among the upper crust of the Clovis Concord, Duasad is an inheritor of the Keef family’s ancient, generational wealth. Duasad was raised as a woman, but realized as a young adult that something wasn’t right, and sought a mage to help him transition — a fairly simple task in the concord, at least for those with affluence.
These days, Duasad has become well known as a powerful empath who uses his psychic talents to help others deal with trauma or seek a more fulfilling path in life. He has become one of the most influential and effective members of the Golden Grin in Wildemount. However, the radical shifts in his clients’ life choices have not gone unnoticed, and Duasad is aware that the watchful gaze of the Clovis Concord is now firmly fixed on him.
The Revelry’s allies within the Clovis Concord will tell you that they turned to piracy because of the concord’s excessive taxes and unjust laws. Perhaps it began that way, but over time, a movement that began as public dissent turned to lawful protest, which then became violent action. Eventually, a union of disenfranchised salvage ships and trade vessels fought their way into the Dragshallow Reef and violently overthrew the small sanctuary port of Darktow.
After establishing a lawless base of operations on the isle of Darktow, these pirates began stalking the well-known shipping routes of the Menagerie Coast to harry, intimidate, steal from, and destroy passing ships that flew under the concord’s banner. Calling themselves The Revelry, these “free folk of the sea” have now spent over forty years terrorizing the Lucidian Ocean. With loose morals and a twisted code of honor, they take what they want from less protected targets while living a life of debauchery in the well-guarded haven of Darktow. The Revelry lacks a uniform symbol, instead changing the colors and symbols of its banner regularly to avoid counterfeiting and infiltration.
The Revelry is governed by a collective of captains, all of whom defer to the final word of the Plank King, a capricious monarch who never leaves Darktow. The original Plank King, Hunnis Breeah, ruled for twenty-five years before a goliath named Wyatt Maranoss challenged him for his increasingly lackadaisical attitude — and won. Now Breeah is dead, and Wyatt claims the title of Plank King.
While the Revelry’s original goal was to scare the concord into revoking their soaring taxes, its charter has changed. The Clovis Concord refused to change its laws, and the pirates found a certain dark joy in theft and murder on the waves. The original members of the Revelry (and now their children) have no plans to return to their former lives as legitimate traders. They intend to maintain and grow their operations across the Lucidian Ocean, while continuing to defend and improve their fortress in Darktow, finding intricate ways of reinforcing the reefs with dangerous traps and impassable barriers.
The Revelry has since expanded their interests beyond mere piracy. Relics and secrets dating back to the Age of Arcanum and beyond are rumored to be scattered all across the coast and the Swavain Islands. Some scavengers have returned to Darktow with proof of such artifacts, and a new kind of aspiring treasure seeker has emerged within the Revelry: one who seeks to plunder from the dead rather than the living. The drive to outdo their fellow sailors has already placed several ships in serious danger.
Each member of the Revelry known to the Clovis Concord is considered a major criminal, amassing an ever-growing bounty with each infraction they commit and every ship they raid. Those arrested are generally executed and strapped to the rocks outside Brokenbank as a warning.
Some of the more affluent Marquesian merchant guilds that have little investment in concord shipments use back-channels to pay off the Revelry and fly specific colors when crossing their territory to avoid being boarded.
Figures of Interest
Whether it be for glory, for gold, or for freedom from law on the ocean waves, the banner of the Revelry calls many to join the cause.
Wyatt Maranoss, the Plank King
Chaotic evil, male goliath
After seizing the mantle of Plank King, Wyatt quickly established his position with displays of tactical brilliance, fair judgment, and brutal retribution. Wyatt is eager to maintain the approval of his captains and often throws bawdy, drunken celebrations for his subordinates and the people of Darktow to offset periods of unrest or frustration. Initially friendly and welcoming to an almost unsettling degree, Wyatt has a reputation for abruptly turning into a cruel and violent dictator when his trust and hospitality are violated.
Captain Alyson Paij
Chaotic good, female human
Known to many as the “Screaming Knuckle,” Alyson is the loud and joyful captain of the ship The Ill Hand who enjoys a good brawl as much as she appreciates a stiff drink. Paij took to piracy because of her hatred for the Clovis Concord, but she is driven by an uncompromising sense of moral duty to the downtrodden. She never raids civilian vessels, and she does her best to rein in the Revelry’s cruelest captains and focus their efforts on those who deserve to have their goods stolen.
CULTS: DUBIOUS WORSHIP FROM THE SHADOWS
While this chapter outlines the major players across the continent operating in ways that directly affect the political landscape of Wildemount, there are numerous smaller factions that can be introduced in your own Wildemount campaigns. Among these lesser powers are countless cabals, cults, and leaderless groups of people who fall under the influence of the numerous Betrayer Gods and other entities who corrupt and manipulate mortals. These may operate on their own or within larger factions, providing challenges, villains, and an element of chaos that can make your Wildemount campaign unique.
Below are a few examples of cults deeply rooted throughout Wildemount, and their respective goals.
The Remnants. When Vecna’s physical form was destroyed during the Age of Arcanum, his most devoted followers founded the Remnants, a collection of secretive sects dedicated to realizing Vecna’s plan to ascend to godhood, despite his death. The cult succeeded in aiding his resurrection and ascension, but they were scattered when the heroes of Vox Machina banished and sealed Vecna beyond the Divine Gate. The Remnants now seek new ways to restore their god to his promised position of absolute dominance over creation.
The Caustic Heart. The leaders of the Caustic Heart are dedicated to Tiamat and eager to free her from the hellscape of Avernus. The Caustic Heart uses social leverage and binding contracts, as well as seductive promises of power and vice, to ensnare the weak-willed and greedy within their plots and expand their influence.
The Harbingers of the Core. These aberrant cultists worship the terrors born from the dreams of the Elder Evils: impossibly ancient, malevolent entities who exist within the Far Realm and the spaces beyond the known planes. Touched by madness, their bodies often subtly mutated by their contact with the horrors to whom they pray, the Harbingers of the Core gather in the broken lands of Blightshore to summon and unleash the terrible children of their masters.