The game centers around what was, until very recently, called the Empire of Harad. Roughly 70 year prior to our game, following a bloody coup, a federation of powers aligned themselves under a single ruler, Moraon ha-Rapha. While the Empire emerged in response to a threat from a common enemy, the leadership of ha-Rapha held the empire together for nearly 55 years.
The Empire covers half of the continent, encompassing vast tracks of arid wastelands, fertile farming pasture, tracks of mountains, and endless stretches of moors. Politically, the Empire was divided up into duchies under the control of persons close to the Emperor, and under the direct rule of the Emperor’s general, called the Pen-Cath, a man named ben-Ammon. Each duchy had political control over its own territory, usually maintained through relationships with cultural/racial powers.
Still, the Empire was ultimately a complex blend of interests, beliefs, and purposes, and despite ha-Rapha’s attempts to achieve peaceful coexistence between the various factions, control began to slip. These rifts became even more apparent when, in the 35th year of ha-Rapha’s reign, a religious faction in a neighboring un-allied territory razed an Imperial outpost. The dissenters were put down and the region brought under martial law, but unrest continued. The majority of Imperial attention was directed toward the war-torn region, and the defenses of the Empire were stretched thin.
Political turmoil began to foment in the capital, as new factions rose to power, and began to openly challenge the legitimacy of ha-Rapha’s claim to the throne and even of the Empire as a whole. In the midst of this political unrest, a large force of goblinoids calling themselves the Jyhad began striking the eastern settlements, spurred on by religio-racial claims to land they believed to have been stolen from their ancestors. Already stretched thin, the Empire scrambled to defend itself against these new invaders.
Meanwhile, in the midst of this new threat, the aged Pen-Cath passed away, leaving behind a power vacuum. With no one to control the duchies, the Empire began spiraling out of control. At the sudden death of the Emperor shortly after this, violence erupted in the capitol. The mobs were ultimately put down by an alliance of families with ties to ha-Rapha (related to the brother he over-threw to seize the throne decades before). With their new creations, men made of metal and given life through arcane energies, the Creliam family took control of the throne in the capitol city of Dun Fitheach.
At the same time, far in the southeast, a new danger struck, hard and fast. Announcing themselves as the Kingdom of Shadow, this massive horde of undead swept through the southeastern Empire, sweeping up everything in their wake. Their advance was halted by unexpected resistance at the Cuthbertite citadel at Wain’s Cotting, by the Imperial forces garrisoned in the capital of the Occupied Territories, Kittering, and by the combined forces of the elven Queen Anishara and the Imperial forces under the newly-appointed Pen-Cath Gage-Antreis ben-Rapha.
The defenses at Kittering held for nearly 3 months, but the vast and seemingly inexhaustible numbers of the Kingdom of Shadows held all relief at bay. And then the Taint erupted. It is still unknown what caused the walls of raw eldritch necrosis to spill out over the continent, but in the 5th month (the 3rd month of the siege at Kittering) in the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Moraon ha-Rapha, the fires spilled out over the world. Were it not for the mysterious arrival of the gift-bearers and the awakening of the Trees in Azd Gardt, Aneeli’el, Bayth Rapha, Wain’s Cotting, and Kittering, the Taint would have washed over the whole world. But as the Trees took root, they awakened the Lux Aeternum, and the Light held the darkness at bay.
But that was the end of the resistance. With battle-lines drawn and resources exhausted, the combatants withdrew leaving behind them an uneasy peace. MAP Kittering became a vassal of the Kingdom of Shadows, and the southeastern Empire, the regions now known as the Taint, were divided up amongst the royal family of the Kingdom of Shadows. Having been forced from their father’s holdings, those loyal to the fallen Emperor ben-Rapha withdrew to the lands surrounding Bayth Rapha, while an alliance formed between the dukes of Caer Arcadius and Caer Graevanus, still loyal to the Raphan family-line. The eastern empire lies firmly in the hold of the Iron Fist goblinoids. The elven and dwarven territories have returned to their former leadership. And the former capitol of Dun Fitheach along with the vast Harad Wastes lies firmly in the control of those families allied to House Creliam supported by their warforged minions.