Introduction to the Shattered Kingdom
One thousand years ago much of the land of northern Ystred was governed by the Kingdom of Dal Riata. Stretching from the Whispering Sea in the West to the Eastern Mountains of Elmet the vast tract of land was divided into seven provinces, each governed as a semi-autonomous kingdom from one of Seven Citadels. From its cradle in the Eden Valley, the kingdom of Dal Riata flourished and the human population, mixed with incoming elves, dwarfs and other races, enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. The Barbarian tribes of the Elmet Steppes and Orc hordes of the Northern Tundra were kept at bay by the organised legions of the Dalratii, the security they brought allowed the flourishing of science and the art’s within the Kingdom’s seats of learning and culture. The Pax Dalratii was a period where great aqueducts of stone carried water to remote villages, alchemists uncovered lost secrets and engineers developed techniques to forge steel to levels of sophistication never attained before or since.
This golden age however could not last. When the end did come the Kingdom was not rent asunder first by raiders or invaders but by the petty greed and machinations of man. Ancient rivalries burgeoned into simmering feuds reaching crescendo amidst tumultuous arguments over the legitimate heir to the High King’s Throne. Rival claimants sought whatever leverage they could muster to support the necessity of their claim to the Obsidian Seat. An unscrupulous ploy by the Earl of Hen Ogleth who sought a pact with the Orcan Warlord backfired spectacularly and the rampaging host tore through the heart of a Kingdom that had become complacent in its vigilance and undermined by the court games of it’s nobles. The capital at Eden Brae was sacked and the destabilised Kingdom shattered.
In the millennia since the downfall of the Kingdom, the lands of the Dalratii have become a lawless land of splintered fiefdoms, petty Duchies and isolated city states. The northernmost provinces have been largely annexed and overrun by the Orcan Lords who roam the ruined cities and boreal forests to their content with regular raids down to the few remaining bastions of human settlement in the south and to the west. The majority of the eastern most provinces have been claimed by a multitude of debased tribes of men both barbarian and fell. The rolling hills and ragged gullies of that land are fraught with danger and few travel those bandit infested byways now unless they have pressing need. Of the remaining provinces none now are as they once stood. The Kingdom of Caer Novaria claims inheritance of the Dal Ratian legacy but few heed fealty to the rulers of that land. The city of Caer Novaria acts as best it’s able as a bulwark for the city states and Duchies remaining in the land that was Dal Ratia but there is little it can do to defend more than its own populous from slavers, raiders and the more aggressive ambitions of the lands southern neighbours.
Only time will tell how long it is before the legacy of Dal Ratia is consigned to folklore and legend.