The Mountains of Morpheus
History and Politics of Drau-Mura
The people of Drau-Mura are riven by ethnicity, faith, tradition, and claims to land and vengeance. The region has always known war, banditry, and revolt, born out of greed, ambition, the hope of freedom, and the fear of losing power for those same reasons.
In Recent Years …
The situation among the kingdom of Kala Anar and two Azna kingdoms, Strigis and Cinnamarch, is of specific interest to this campaign. Nearly a decade of small-scale skirmishing, banditry, assassination, and trade disputes escalated into two years of war, which in turn culminated in the invasion and conquest of both kingdoms by the greater kingdom. This conflict is now sometimes referred to as the Wheat-Harvest War, as the first outbursts of major conflict began shortly after harvest celebrations in the Strigis countryside. (The name is used with a resentful irony, as Kala Anar’s soldiers destroyed crops in an attempt to starve their enemies into submission.)
Generally, it is the Azna kingdoms’ rulers who supported banditry and raiding in the Kala Anar countryside, while Sky-born lords had forcibly taxed border villages and towns in exchange for protection. Outside parties were also involved: Mercenaries from the Tesia predominantly fought for Kala Anar. The five other Azna kingdoms lent some support to Cinnamarch and Strigis — whether they could have done more is not in question, but whether they should have provokes bitter tavern arguments.
In the present autumn, both Cinnamarch and Strigis have been formally annexed by Kala Anar for nearly half a year. The kingdom has royal maps to include new, eastern territory stretching into the Mountains of Morpheus, and installed a Azna puppet prince in each kingdom. The rulers of Kala Anar claim that, given the cities’ harassment of the kingdom’s merchants and travelers, as well as the brigandry encroaching into their kingdom, the conquest was more than justified. Besides, it is an Azna king who — in name — continues to reign over Azna lands, so the Sky-born argue the disruption is in fact minimal. Most of the defeated see the war as a matter of aggression and greed. Towards the end of the conflict, many Azna families began to see the current outcome as inevitable, and collaborated with Kala Anar forces, for their own gain and to (at least in their eyes) to reach peace more swiftly. The divide between Azna “loyalists” who resist (if only in thought and wish) the conquest, and Azna “sympathizers” who cooperate with the new powers that be, is recent but profound.
Villages have been put to the torch; druids and priests have been executed; children have sworn oaths to the God of War to avenge the fallen. Most notably, as the conflicts ended, many people from the Azna Kingdoms, usually former soldiers, have become bandits, intermittently striking against their conquerors in the name of the Azna people — or for more personal reasons, like greed and retribution. Though bandits are certainly a minority among the area across Cinnamarch and Strigis, they are often well-organized and receive popular support. Meanwhile, the ruling coalition struggles to manage the violence, ordinary folk debate where their loyalties should lie, and the weak huddle in dread as winter approaches, with much of the year’s food surplus consumed or burned.
It is a violent and uncertain time. But as they say in Drau Mura, times are always violent and uncertain. With the large-scale battles finished, travelers from other lands make their way to the region once again — to trade, to find work, and to dream in the Mountains of Morpheus.
Many Years Ago …
Although it hardly counts as ancient history, the Crying War, which ended 177 years ago, provides a common reference point for most of the peoples in Drau-Mura. Whether by agreement or force, many of the major borders drawn after the war remain to this day. Over the course of the war, an intrepid Azna ruler, Kasha Sword-Eye, conquered much of the region, eventually uniting several former fiefdoms under a few decades of peace. Her kingdom eventually fragmented into what are now the Azna Kingdoms, the city-states of the Federation of the Tesia, and portions of the Arius Kingdoms, Kala Anar, and dwarven lands. The Azna see this period as a time when their people enjoyed a solidarity that they’ve never quite been able to recapture (though not for lack of trying). Others see it as a time of bravely resisting a brutal conqueror, eventually rising from the ashes stronger than ever.
Although numerous wars and intrigues have come and passed since the Crying War, the objects of those conflicts have often remained the same time. Drau-Mura’s various factions vie over territory, the right to collect rent from peasants, and resources in the forested and mountainous wilderness. At other times, conflicts are less political, and driven by monsters or a supernatural threat. Some of the major events in Drau Mura after the Crying War are:
- The Two Years of Pestilence (14-16 years after the Crying War): Hordes of the undead rise to slay and devour the living. Kasha Sword-Eye commissions several orders of clerics and paladins to lead the fight against them. Some of the undead meet their demise, but others return to the Ghast Fens to rest (apparently of their own volition).
- First War of the Moors (39-52 years after the Crying War): Some years after Kasha Sword-Eye’s death, her predominantly Azna domains finally split into two kingdoms, beginning a bloody 13-year-long war that ends in a detente.
- Arrival of Vanir (about 50 years A.C.W.): Half-elves and elves, called the Vanir, arrive in Drau Mura in greater numbers, mostly through Mercadia.
- War of the Forges (55-61 years A.C.W.): Invading dwarves fight the Azna-dominated Torbrera’s Forge for control of the city-state. Torbrera’s Forge is ruled by a dwarven king until 145 years A.C.W. (coinciding with the late side of the Great Dwarven Plagues), when a coalition of Azna humans and dwarves take power.
- Paladins’ War (60-68 years A.C.W.): Ashoumite paladins set out to defend peasants from raiders, eventually fighting several of the Eastern Tribes, then provoking a decade of war between the Eastern Tribes and Ghosts’ Mirrors, Cayellia, and Tsinnamarch.
- Arhus-Rho-Upa’s Death (65 years A.C.W.): The ancient dragon Arhus-Rho-Upa dies in the mountains west of Ka Toshah. Factions among the dwarves, Kala Anar, and the Azna compete to acquire its corpse and discover its lair. Surrounding woodlands fill with poisonous fog, scattering several druidic sects.
- Second War of the Moors (75-92 years A.C.W.): Further infighting and popular revolt among the Sibarii result in their fragmentation. The war’s end marks the point when the Sibarii become seven independent city-states.
- Great Dwarven Plagues (about 90-150 years A.C.W.): Disease decimates numerous dwarven settlements, including nearly all of the denizens of Koreth’s Staircase. Humans move into many of these settlements.
- Summer of Nightmares (91 years A.C.W.): People living in (relative) proximity to the Mountains of Morpheus suffer about half a year of frantic nightmares; Acantha, Cinnamarch, Strigis, and surrounding villages are all badly affected. Many go mad, becoming Malkavians. The following winter, some of the Eastern Tribes temporarily seize control of these areas.
- Plague of Mephits (about 110-115 years A.C.W.): From the ocean and mountains, mephits appear en masse, looting and causing mayhem throughout the Arius Kingdoms.
- Third War of the Moors (116-117 years A.C.W.): Kala Anar conquers Amadeus, Othermont, and (briefly) Torbrera’s Forge, installing puppet princes. Various rag-tag armies, bandits, and adventurers eventually overthrow these regimes, though it takes the better part of 20 years.
- Treaty of Tyrrenhos’s Gate (135 years A.C.W.): Despite all manner of mysterious interference, a treaty formally allies the southeastern city-states of the Tesia.
- Shaha-Ka-Kairos’s Flight (141-143 years A.C.W.): The great wyrm dragon Shaha-Ka-Kairos causes great destruction across Drau-Mura. It eventually leaves for the Mountains of Morpheus to sleep, and has not been seen since.
- Civil War in Kala Anar (143-145 years A.C.W.): Soil-born peasants’ revolts culminate in their killing Monarch Rasini II. Sky-born aristocrats mobilize soldiers and mercenaries to quell the violence. After two years of bloodshed and intrigue over the monarchy, a powerful Sky-born sorcerer takes the throne, relaxing certain caste restrictions and imposing limits on taxation and rent.
- Stavtas’s Journey (150 years A.C.W.): Stavtas, a warlord of the Vorroros tribe in eastern Drau-Mura, leads many warriors from the Eastern Tribes in a campaign of plunder across Drau-Mura, kiling a few princes and kings along the way, ending when he burns half of Whitesteed and returns home. Some alliances forged by panicked rulers exist to this day.
- Conquest of Acantha (171 years A.C.W.): Lady Morgana, chief of the Ravenna tribe, conquers the city of Acantha, ruling it to this day. Her attempts to abolish worship of Talos remain unsuccessful. Acantha continues to belong to the Federation of the Tesia in name.
- Coronation of Monarch Damasci IV (174 years A.C.W.): The reign of the current Monarch of Kala Anar begins.
- Present Year (177 years A.C.W.): Several prominent merchants in Othermont assassinated; agents from the Federation of the Tesia blamed. Two Eastern Tribes, the Cold Sun and the Brixia, negotiate peace after killing of a chieftain’s son. Arius kings accused of persecuting druids. Talos worship slays many in Mercadia and Mordai’s Landing. Mephits trouble Anar Avah. Mob in Amadeus kills a dozen warlocks. Merchants from dwarven kingdoms attacked in the Sibarii. Wheat-Harvest War ends when Kala Anar conquers Cinnmarch and Strigis. Banditry intensifies in central Drau Mura.