lord of the keep-high-resWelcome to chapter 1. You are about to take your first steps into the world of Fate of the Remnants, a grim place now ravaged by war and haunted by the souls of the dead. All that is good seems to have died or disappeared, and commoners and lords alike struggle to survive each day. Most survivors believe that the darkness has defeated the light, the world is doomed, and that they too face their own impending demise.

This game takes place in the raging Oracle War, a brutal conflict that followed the fall of the gods. This series of cataclysmic events sundered the world, scattered the people, and devastated entire kingdoms. The warring lords that remain are slowly reining in their forces, fortifying whatever is worth defending rather than pushing the war to its bloody end. The bloodshed so far has been profound and no one is truly innocent anymore, not even the youngest and most sheltered. Battle fatigue and desperation have taken their toll, leaving the weak at the mercy of the strong.

From the shadows of the war, a tide of evil poured forth. Wise folk claim that this is the legendary Darkness Before; a primordial shadow that envied the gods and their creation, and which ensnared the weak to do its malevolent bidding. Perhaps it has always been with us, hiding in the darkness, or perhaps it found a way up from the Underworld after the gods were gone… who knows?

In the mayhem of the war--under the veil of the Darkness Before--a small flicker of light appeared. From their hidden chambers and libraries, magicians of old emerged. Once banned from the tribes of men when the followers of gods gained power, they are now the last hope of all living men and women.

What was before

The First kings of men established traditions that enabled their realms to prosper and grow over millennia, through the reign of many great leaders. As time passed, chroniclers recorded the rise of legendary kingdoms--and the fall of lesser ones.

A few of the greatest lasted until the very end, and for those with the courage to look in the ruins, many secrets lie in the dark waiting to be found.

The prophecies and the Rupture

No-one doubts today that the gods fell, but it was not always so. Before the Rupture and the Oracle War, mighty adherents of the gods reigned over matters of faith and spirit beside each kingdom’s temporal rulers. The people were required to follow their holy edicts while also serving their princely landowners--not always a simple task.

Every commoner had to follow the teachings of the Tree Mother, or the wise of Tair doeth--the three spirit-judges of the barbarian people--or the old sea god Bodachmar of the islanders, or any of the other countless divinities and prophets of the old kingdoms. The grip of the most powerful priests lasted for hundreds or even thousands of years, with their agenda present at every court and council as they sought to tip the balance of power even further in their favor.

When the oracles began to predict the fall of the gods, many assumed them to be making bad jests or speaking false portents. The truthfulness of the oracles was questioned by kings, by peasants, and even by the most powerful adherents among their own ranks. Many were put on trial for heresy, but no oracle recanted or abandoned their vision or prediction regardless of their eventual fate. The oracles stood by their words and some even died for their prophecies.

The oracles’ visions polarized priests and their followers of every religion. On one side were the oraclau, who believed in the ominous revelations and called for penance. On the other were the cysegri, who argued that oraclau were just usurpers and rebels, no better than brigands lusting for power. In the Rupture between them, the first step towards a full-fledged war, were those who could not or would not choose sides and those who lived for other beliefs not tolerated by anyone.

Not long after the Rupture had escalated throughout most realms and provinces, and most of the priests had been forced to choose a side, the conflict spread to commoners and kings and the war became a fact. It was fought everywhere men lived, from distant hamlets and villages to the greatest of cities, to temples and ceremonial places where folk came to do the will of the gods. As the war spread, fires colored the skies, smoke tainted the air, and ash rained down upon the land.

Many commoners swore allegiance to the cysegri, determined to uphold the the old laws of the gods and to banish the blasphemous followers of the oracles. Others stood up for the oraclau, fighting what they thought of as corrupted adherents who didn't listen to the oracles and wouldn’t open their eyes: The gods would fall.

The fall of the Gods

Just when it seemed that the Rupture’s violence had peaked, things changed for the worse. Zealots of the mightiest faiths burned entire cities to the ground and hunted their adversaries without mercy. Wherever they appeared, blood flowed thick in the gutters.

That's when it happened. On a stormy midwinter night, screaming worshippers staggered out of temples and holy glens, appalled by a revelation so terrible it was impossible to recount. Marked with bloody eyes and other stigmata from the gods, they all knew that the gods had fallen just as the oracles had foreseen. At the same time an old evil awakened, an evil that began to snare people and turn them into slaves. It grew in power over the next few winters, its menace spreading among the forests and villages. People called it the Darkness Before after legends of old, and with it the dead awakened and demons crawled up out of Underiorth.

Some say it was that stormy night when the Darkness Before woke in its primeval, unadulterated form and gave free rein to its servants, who before had been forced to live in hiding. Without ecclesiastics to find and punish them they--like the men and women who practiced the magic arts--could now roam free.

The Oracle War

The Rupture soon escalated into a full-blown war, in which brothers of old now met at the point of a sword. Some joined battle for the first time--both zealous cultists trying to prove their purity and worth and the lurking servants of the Darkness Before. Previous alliances and oaths lost their meaning, and the war spread to even the most distant places.

The blood of commoners spilled in a crimson tide, inspiring rage and terror that changed the war yet again. Survivors focused their lust for vengeance upon their erstwhile spiritual leaders and the places they once considered sacred. for priests were seen as the cause of the war and all the horrific things that had happened since the fall of the gods was prophesied.

Those who did not manage to escape were slain, and their places of faith razed as the Oracle War--as the conflict became known--spread both in extent and intensity. Some priests found hiding places and escaped the cleansing, but only a few. In their absence the Darkness Before came to power, and soon there was not a single kingdom that wasn't destroyed by the war, or a single living soul who had not been affected by it.

As the Darkness Before grew in strength, many succumbed to it. Meanwhile the Oracle War continued on a number of fronts, from battles and sieges to games of intrigue and power. Dark cults sprang up everywhere, and princes who fought to preserve the kingdoms built over centuries by their families were now slain.

The normal folk were no better. After years of being victimized by brigands and other evils they struck back, dragging passing strangers down into their cold cellars to face punishment.

Worshippers were fed to the fires everywhere, regardless of faith or creed. The Doomsday sects shared the destiny of agitators and agents of the night, either growing in strength and numbers or facing death at the hands of an angry mob.

Into this divided, shattered world came a new rumor from the northern wilderness. It was told first in whispers, like a fireside tale to scare children, but soon spread like wildfire. The rumor told of a terrible warlord called the King of Despair. In some versions he was a dead prince resurrected by the night, in others a warlock who harnessed the powers of the Darkness Before. Regardless of his origins, the rumours agreed that he now marched south with an army of slaves and undead to conquer the world. And so it came to pass.

Only a handful of survivors had knowledge of the lands of the dead, the Underiorth, and Hel, and how to stop the minions that the King of Despair was said to command.

Fallen soldiers walked again with weapons in their bony hands, ghastly shapes haunted the silent battlefields, and malicious demons were loosed to roam the fields and ruins--all preying on anything that got in their way.

Small covens of witches were one of the last to step up in an organized way, to stop the end times which lay ahead. The seed to what would eventually become the archmasons also worked to thwart the evil barring captured spirits into great tombs. But they weren't on heir own, and there would light to shine through the darkness once again.

The Archmages

From the dancing shadows of the ruins on fire, powerful magicians came out. Their words carried might and their wisdom seemed endless. In front of kings in crumbling courts they offered a last chance to save their peoples, kingdoms and legacies. Their arts had been banned for thousands of years, but the time had come for magic again.

They appeared in various places, showing up beneath the thrones of the few kings and princes who had stood by their subjects in what seemed to have been the last days of man. They announced themselves as the Archmages and offered a helping hand against the Darkness Before and its minions. If they accepted, the magicians would place magical sigils on their strongholds that would make them safe again. Few were the kings who banished the Archmages again, and the few who did was in time ostracized. Once agreements were made, the old magicians called up their  oldest and most wise adepts and proclaimed them to assist the lords as royal advisers.

The King of Despair and other demon princes were driven away, albeit temporarily, and the Archmages were elevated in many places as the defenders of all surviving men and women, and protectors of the realms. Soon thereafter the magicians instituted their orders next to period of temporary calm although many argued that the end of the world had come.

Still, in the midst of the Oracle War old remnants of ancient kingdoms were still fighting, sometimes for old wrongs or power, sometimes for food or just plain survival. The magicians turned as often into arbitrators as advisors to make sure people didn't have to suffer more than they already had. Despite their help and advice, the weak were still doomed to be used by the evil and the wicked, as others are still willing to enrich themselves at others' misfortune. And these were always traits of men - which the Archmages and their allies would learn - and cannot be fought as the dead and the demons are.