About 200 years ago, the great trading state of Daranosk was at the height of its power. It commanded great fleets upon the seas, had great armies on land, and had forged treaties with its neighbors ensuring prosperity for all of the peoples of the region. Peace had reigned for three centuries in these human lands and in other kingdoms south of the mountains and everyone expected it to continue for another three, or more. But the winter of 1233 brought disaster. Spring never followed, the lands fell into a cold spell, but the peoples relied upon deep reserves of grain and few perished. Some thought it a warning from the Gods, punishing these people in their age of hedonism, but few believed it to be more than an anomaly.
The following year, 1234, the year of ice, grew even colder. Now starvation began to spring up in some towns, even as clerics tried their best to bespell enough food for their following. There were two more years before a thaw. Only in 1237 did spring finally come. But it was accompanied by far fouler things in its wake--a three-pronged attack from beyond the northern mountains brought threat to Daranosk for the first time in as long as anyone could remember. The great kingdom called upon its allies of Holdorf's Keep and Rigellin--elves--and prepared to meet their foes on the field of battle. From the north came great humanoid bands of orcs, ogres, and giants in numbers never before seen. From the northeast, armies of dragons and dragonmen swarmed down from the mountains, slaying foes in great bursts of fire and frost. And from the northwest, dead armies marched mindlessly, led by the great lich king Thalin Netherwind. It seemed hardly chance that these three great enemies all descended upon the civilized nations of the world all at once and soon it became clear they came to divide, conquer, and enslave. Daranosk, the Keepish and Rigellish elves, dwarves from Blarnost, gnomes from all of the vale towns, and even the kender of Far Rockaway, all joined together to put a stop to the invasion.
Initially, it seemed that the allies might be able to push back effectively against these attacking bands. But reinforcements kept coming from further north. By 1244, Daranosk and their elven allies were growing weary of war. Then in 1248, a new army of dragons joined the eastern army and broke the back of the elven armies. With Rigellin and Holdorf's Keep subdued, Daranosk pulled its forces back to its capital of Kronmere, taking a defensive position. After a three-year siege, Kronmere fell to the enemy and Daranosk was destroyed. The lands were laid waste and most free peoples of the kingdoms were rounded up and either killed or enslaved. Terrible is the history that tells of times since. It has been a time of extreme hardship, enslavement, small yet futile rebellions. And by 1450, the current year, there are few who hold out hope for a better life ...
Each of you were born into slavery and sent to work in the mining colony of Hilgrad. It is run by a fearsome half-ogre named Thraaldin the Mighty who, it is told, eats a slave of his choosing for dinner each day. But none of you have ever seen him, thankfully, and have instead been confined to the deeps for some time now. Among the enslaved are the races of dwarves, gnomes, kender, goblins, kobolds, and fremlins (very rare). It is rumored that elves and humans have gone extinct.
You were working on one of the mining crews just like any other day when there was a great rumble in the earth. The ceiling began sending shards of rock down upon you all such that none of you could see a thing. Your lungs were inundated with dust and you could not see, while all around you all you could hear were screams of anguish and death. And even as you took shelter or ran madly through the confusion, death did not claim you. The earthquake subsided. After the dust settled and you could begin to see again, you saw that many lay dead--masters and slaves alike. A few others also managed to survive. As you looked about at each other, wondering whether you could trust each other, three things became clear. First, you could either go up towards the surface or deeper into the mines. None of you had anything but the clothes on your back (and they were grimy and were nothing but tatters), but you might be able to scrounge a few things from the dead before proceeding on. The other thing was, regardless of whether you liked each other or not, you would have to band together to survive ... after all, you had one thing in common--you had all been enslaved by the enemy ... and there was nothing you desired more than your freedom ...
The slavers exterminated all of the tall races they conquered for fear of revolt. So, the peoples that remain are all shorter: dwarves, gnomes, fremlin, goblin, kender, and kobold ...
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