Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago
Age of the Divine – In the beginning, the divines strode the earth, creating stone and water, air and fire, bird and beast. The gods had epic conflicts, as befitted beings of their epic stature, and the First Races were born from them. The conflicts were centered around The Well of Souls; the font of godhood. It was from this well that the mortal races were created, and without it’s power, no god could create life. These conflicts grew so fierce that the world was wracked with cataclysms, and from the anger of the gods were formed the elementals, reflections of the fury of the divines made of the stuff of creation. Eventually, the gods of order realized that the material plane would be rent asunder if they remained on it, and they banded together to forge the astral realm, leaving the material plane to take their conflicts to the stars. The gods of chaos forged the Abyss, and they too left the world, continuing their ancient feuds in planescapes of their own design. The Well of Souls was stricken from the material world and placed in it’s own plane, a cunningly designed labyrinth, designed to keep it safe from those who would use it for ill.
Age of the Ancients – After the divines left the material plane, the ancient races remained, building civilizations in the cataclysm-wracked world, and thriving. These races are the Elves, the Dwarves, and the Orcs. Each had great kingdoms, sprawling across all of Pangaea. But as they grew, they began to come into conflict, and great wars tore the civilizations apart. Near the end of this age, a new race began to come to prominence in the wide grasslands of the east; humans. At the end of this age, the Elven empire split, with the High Elves moving out of the Ancestral Woodlands to the grassy plains to take the humans under their wing, leaving the Wood Elves to degenerate and become little more than savages.
Age of Magic – This age was the time of swords and sorcery; elven wizards taught the humans magic and science, and with their newfound abilities they built great cities and castles together. The Orcish kingdoms united early in this age and the Elves, Humans, and Dwarves banded together to shatter them forever into disparate clans, effectively ending their threat. This newfound age of comradery led to the Dwarves teaching men about stone and steel, and the Humans grew swiftly.
Age of Enlightenment (Present) – the Humans soon began to eclipse the ancient races. Their quick learning and their prolific numbers set them ahead. The High Elves managed to remain in a place of relevance thanks to their place in Human society. The Ancient races are in decline, though, and many predict that soon humans will be all that remain.
Rise of the Empire – The Aurturi Empire rose 342 years ago around the city state of Eramir, considered to be the cultural center of the human kingdoms. The Count of Eramir, lord Mannifred of House Drake, began a campaign of diplomacy and trade that united the Middle Kingdoms into the first empire. His son Wilhelm used a more martial approach, raising a huge legion to conquer the outlying kingdoms who were too busy feuding to unify against him. The next on the imperial throne was Arriana Drake, Wilhelm’s niece, who cemented the loyalty and sense of national pride of the empire with a series of brilliant political maneuvers and a genuine sense of concern for the well being of her subjects. Knowing that her son and heir Barand was too brutish and martial to continue her efforts, she appointed her daughter Magdelinn as the Castellan Interioras, to see that the needs of the people were met while Barand as emperor forged north, driving the orcs past the north mountains and into the frozen reaches. Barand was assassinated early in his life, and his daughter Bryndis took the mantle of empress, her older brother having died under mysterious circumstances. The new empress plunged the world into chaos, sending legions east and west; burning the great wood of Tol Lorien, home of the wood elves, and laying siege to Dragon’s Reach, home of the last known dragons and their followers. Early in the campaign, imperial forces slew Agarthrix, a mighty Red dragon, and Bryndis had his scales made into a suit of imposing plate mail armor for herself; coupled with her ferocity in battle, this earned her the nickname “the Dragon Empress.” During these wars, Magdelinn died and her son Jorgend replaced her. It was only by Jorgend’s masterful work that the people of the empire remained loyal during decades of ferocious warfare. By the end of her reign, Bryndis crushed the holds of the last chromatic dragons and drove the savage wood elves out of the temperate continent, letting them flee south to the steaming jungles of the Crextec peninsula. Bryndis died an ancient crone, doggedly clinging to life for so long that her grandson Cristos was her heir, her sons and daughters long dead. During his reign little expansion was done, but the Thane of Stoneheart Keep, Colm Therrisson, led a revolution from his nigh-impenetrable castle. The revolution was quickly pushed back to Stoneheart Keep by the imperial legions, but the keep was seemingly unbreachable. Cristos lay siege to Stoneheart for 15 years unsuccessfully. Other nobles inclined to insurrection started to talk, and to form alliances, and Cristos became desperate. He commissioned an infamous group of adventurers to break into the dwarf holds in the Dragonspine Mountains to steal the secret of black powder. Within a month of their return, Stoneheart Keep was blasted level and all talk of rebellion was silenced. The Dwarves were furious, however, and swiftly retaliated with skirmishes along the foot of the mountains. Cristos, tired after the 15 year siege, sent a small force armed with black powder charges, and blasted apart the doors to Dwemmerdeep, the mightiest hold in the Dragonspine Mountains. A non-aggression treaty was signed soon after. Then the dwarves began to pull back from the empire. Smaller holds in hills or isolated mountains were emptied and great caravans of dwarves moved towards the Dragonspine Mountains. Within a year, hardly any dwarves were seen in the entire empire. The Dragonspine Mountains were sealed, the only dwarves left outside were the clanless and the exiled. Thus began the Pax Imerialis. Without the Dwarven roads through the mountains, the burgeoning trade business had to turn to the southern sea, skirting round the uncharted and untamed southern peninsula. Border princes, dispossessed nobles, out of work mercenaries, dissidents and criminals all flooded south to take advantage of the profits to be had on the sea, ether by trade or piracy. The imperial navy was expanded to deal with the pirate threat, and the highly trained imperial marines are rightly feared by pirates everywhere.
The aging Cristos sits on the imperial throne, warily eyeing the Dragonspine Mountains to the east, the frozen wastes to the north, and the Crextec peninsula in the south, just waiting for the older races driven out by the empire to return. He is attended by the recently deceased Jorgend’s daughter, Alexandria.