Title Art by Adreas Rocha, Deviantart
Dwarven historical accounts are the earliest records of the region previously known as the Colidellera. The area was system of valleys, forests and mountain chains; creating a remote and defendable position. Although the reason is unclear as to why the Dwarves moved into the Ruvalk Mountains to the south of the region, it is assumed that Danrogh started out as a Dwarven outpost before evolving into its own Kingdom. The citizens became highly skilled in alchemy, enchantments and siege combat. The uninhabited mountains and forests were turned into a testing ground. The Dwarves soon scarred the landscape with their experiments and with no target left standing, withdrew back underground. It was then that the siege equipment did the most harm. It was used to blast large amounts of rock, deep within the mountains. Danrogh was becoming overcrowded and the city needed to expand. One fatal blast from an enchanted siege machine blew open a lay line.
The raw mana supercharged the enchantment on the siege equipment. The resulting explosion decimated the immediate area but before it could tear its way through more of the city, the magic was pulled back into the leyline. As the dust settled, nearly a third of Danrogh had been vaporised. A hole larger than any of the Danrogh Dwarves had seen had been left in the wake. Far below in the cavern, the leyline sparked but never erupted. The ground became sacred, the incident a secret. No Dwarf was to ever mention the event again or be accused of treason. This dark secret was sealed away with a runic capstone and kept under constant guard. The event was buried in history, any consequences lost to time and the they retreated underground. Since then the Dwarves have never truly recovered from the blast even and this secret has been taken to the grave one way or another by every generation. Rumours persist to this day about a lost group of explorers who were sent down into caverns around the leyline, never to return.
On the surface as the Dwarves hid their shame, the Yuirwood Wood Elves under the guidance of the God Rillifane Rallathil took to their divine mandate with zeal. The Colidellera had been disfigured and left barren and it was their holy task to replant and nurture the forests back to life. Their small numbers made the task seem impossible at first, but the Dwarves took no notice to the Elves on the surface of their realm. Over hundreds of years the entire region was reforested and wild animals returned. They Elves kept their nomadic roots however, favouring temporary structures, allowing them to constantly monitor and protect their forests.
Along with the wildlife, a tribe of Orcs had followed a herd of Aurochs over the Zarn mountains and into the Colidellera. The Bloodfang Tribe was diverse and partially always at war with itself. The elders and shamans of the tribe tried to keep the more war hungry youngsters out of trouble. Their tribe had traditionally kept within its own borders but the new generation was far more bloodthirsty and would actively patrol outside their new mountain village, murdering anything that got in their way. The Orcs kept to the mountains under the commands of Elder Shaman Boghat who tenuously held both sides together.
To the far south east of the Zarn mountains the edges of the forests had encroached on the Syrun Plains. A dry and dusty grassland was now teaming with life at its edge. The desperation of starvation lead a large raiding party of Gnolls out of the dustbowl to feed. The Carrion Butchers thanked their god Yeenoghu for providing for them and in return offered sacrifice. It took them many years to even find an Elf and more to sacrifice one. Soon however, the focus of the Elves on the raiding parties of the Gnolls were shifted to the Dwarves. They had decided after hundreds of years to check on the surface of their Kingdom, only to find it verdant, teeming with life and claimed as holy lands by the Yuirwood Elves. War became unavoidable.
Neither side would give up their land to the other and so the Dwarves with all their might, went up against the forests that the elves had turned against them. The mountains became home to forts, siege platforms and runic magic. The forests grew enchanted temples, deadly camouflaged traps and even the animals themselves were poised to attack. Each side built more defences, more traps, more temples but neither side would initiate.
In an act of anxiety filled desperation, one unnamed Dwarf took it upon themselves to tap into the lay magic of the capstone and use it to fuel their defences. The social horror was quickly swept away as the magic was easily harvested and even more so to use. Unbeknownst to them, and lost to time, the tapping of magic stored within the capstone was compromising the arcane seals. Inevitably the stone cracked and split, causing the ley magic beneath to rupture. A hole was bored into the cavern roof by a powerful beam of the untamed magic. It tunnelled all the way to the surface and became beacon lighting up the great Dwarven secret. Few had seen it on the surface and even fewer believed them but all were soon to learn the repercussions what the Dwarves would do next. As mana started to flood the area, the Dwarves tried to keep it under control, replacing the capstone and constantly reinforcing the enchantments. They had stemmed the flow but it was too late. The pressure that had built up over of the hundreds of years could now only force its way to the surface in other places.
It ruptured the surface, splitting the forests and mountains with veins reaching all the way to the Underdark. The Zarn Mountains cracked open, the young were forced to one side of the ravine under the guidance of Tugog Man-Breaker and the elders and shamans on another. This formed the Nightstalker and Razorback Tribes that are known today. The former aggressively patrols and expands their territory while the Razorbacks only wish to unite with the Nightstalkers and to reconnect them to their faith and traditions.
Underneath the mountains where the once united Bloodfangs resided, the open Underdark revealed an Drow outpost. Some from the city of Eryndlyn came to the surface under the guidance of the God Vhaeraun but soon retreated. The majority of the Drow stayed deep within the Underdark in Eryndlyn but those that reached the surface found the surface deadly and corrupted. Demonic entities had risen from the open Underdark in an unnatural putrid fog both to the north and to the east of the Ruvalk Mountains. The surrounding forests quickly decayed and in the rot, fungal forests grew. The sign of this demonic corruption was the growth of mushrooms and other fungi. It would claim any surface and the minds of those it tainted, beast or otherwise.
The Yuirwood Elves and the Danrogh Dwarves quickly forgot their war to turn back the tides of the demonic invasion. It took years and many lives but individually, both won at a huge cost. The Danrogh Dwarves, were left a broken people. Their secret still kept but at a cost far greater than they expected. Their legacy now permanently rippling through the land, sparking in surges of wild ley magic through the fractures in the soil and rock. Their shame has made them reluctant to come to the surface at all, reinforced by the edicts of Queen Ironbeard.
The Yuirwood Elves hardly grew in number since they had arrived, and had used the forest to deceive the Dwarves into fooling them into believing they had a larger force. The toll of the war halved their numbers and for fear of losing more, established a permanent home on the shores of Duin Lake. Their position near the fungal Mhaor Forest and the canyon to the Underdark is a dangerous prospect, but their holy mission, under the guidance of High Priest Anrudeil Timberrock, is still the same and regardless of their numbers. They are still the protectors of Colidellera and seek to take back the fungal forests, cleanse them of their corruption and purify their lands from the surges in wild ley magic.
Over the years that the Underdark grew silent and the corruption stopped spreading both sides continued their paper thin truce. Neither side wished to initiate at the start of their war and now after the toll of the fight against the demonic forces, neither had the numbers or the resources. The forests and mountains remained as dangerous as they were and stories of demons, wars and magic bought about a new name, The Broken Forest and two new kinds of people to the area. The first to arrive were those hiding from the outside world, those that had done terrible things or were under the threat of it themselves. The area was deadly to those who couldn’t navigate the forests and mountains and so it was the perfect defence against an unwanted pursuer. Those first people built the primarily human village of Fair Harbour with reluctant help from the Elves. The second to arrive were the glory seekers. The dangers of the land did not put them off trying to make a legend for themselves surviving the area. Nobody had ever been known to leave The Broken Forest, or at least that was the myth. A Paladin of Chauntea, Nancy Patricia Cromwell, took it upon herself to try to clean up the dark past of Fair Harbour and has for many years been its first and only sheriff and ‘mayor’.
The last to arrive never wanted to be there as they knew of the myths and history of the lands. They were the exiles and those fleeing for their lives. The Kingdom of Thaesal, which borders the west of The Broken Forest, had been under turmoil for some time. Lord Kaveh Ondska, had been rebelling against King Adelburn. Lord Odnska believed that Adelburn’s linage was a lie and that he should rule in Adelburn’s place due to his ‘royal’ ancestry. Kaveh was known for his cruelty, his manipulation and his intelligence. He left his prisoners mentally broken, with ever last drop of information drained before slitting their throats. Those that sought refuge from the civil war and Odnska’s grasp could flee in two directions, west, or east. West brought them to the coast, trapping them at the water’s edge. Going east lead to The Broken Forest and a chance, a very slim chance at surviving. Two months ago King Adelburn was murdered, and Lord Odnska became the self proclaimed King. Those belonging to Adelburn’s court have either been killed, or banished to The Broken Forest to die.
There are rumours that his coronation was not just by his own hand. There have been sightings of a noxious fog pouring out again from the Underdark and stories that the gloved hands of the new King are covered in mycelium. They say the demons are coming back, that the corruption is spreading again and The Broken Forest is on the edge of a second demonic war.
Don’t forget. First Episode of The Broken Forest D&D 5E Campaign will start at 18:00 UCT+1 over on The RPG Lab Twitch