Rise of the Alstalar
TABLE OF CONTENTS
• Brief History
• Notable Locations
• Notable Figures
• Economy, People, Aspirations
• Beyond the Destral
Before the demons arrived, the site upon which Ophen now sits was occupied by a small riverside village. Mol’Agoth consisted of a dozen humble residences, a fish-house and a sizable smoke room placed in the large cave system nearby. When the portals opened up, Mol’Agoth found itself in a strange and fortunate situation. Unlike every other major Zithin settlement on the continent, the unassuming fishing village survived because no portal opened within one day’s walk of it. This meant that the villagers survived the first hours of the invasion, and were entirely overlooked and relatively untouched by the invading host for nearly a week. This precious time allowed the residents to abandon the village proper and retreat into the labyrinthine cave system nearby.
With food stores high and demonic attacks few, the Zaniman fishing village soon began to grow in number as survivors fled down the Greymud River and happened across Mol’Agoth. In the first months of the invasion, those gathered in the caves of Mol’Agoth developed sound strategies for keeping the demons at bay, and eventually were able to send small search parties into the nearby wilds.
Numbers grew and so did Mol’Agoth’s hope for survival. The last remaining runeship of Undeman crafters from Azamaan Daoom arrived one night and with them came the power to imbue weapons and armour with enchantments set against demonic enemies.
After one particularly successful campaign to reclaim an old guard tower a short distance from Mol’Agoth, the former game keeper turned strategist, Allour of Telwood, stood atop the hard-won battlement and declared the tower would be rebuilt and would be the first watch tower of a new kind of settlement: Ophen-a word meaning hope in the old tongue.
Shortly after the battle for the tower, the leaders of Mol’Agoth gathered in the caves and discussed the future of the settlement. It was decided that walls would be built from stone quarried in the caves. It was decided that Ophen would include the caves that had sheltered the survivors and that the Undema would occupy the lower reaches. It was decided that a garden would be planted using the seeds brought by the fleeing Nordrussol, druids from the now ruined Zithin capitol of Sheth’Samol. It was decided that the garden would be named the Junai-a word meaning last but also first in the old tongue.
It was decided that the survivors gathered on the old grounds of Mol’Agoth would be united now as Ophenians.
Within a year the great stone walls and the bramble netting were secured and set in place. The Undeman magics combined with the power of the Nordrussol granted Ophen potent defences against the new wild and demon-touched lands around them.
Word of other Zaniman colonies reached Ophen. One winter a warparty arrived from the north. They claimed that the northern territories were largely under control of a new military order: the Alstalar. Led by a fearless high command, the Alstalar were seeking to unite the survivors and strike back at the demon armies. The Alstalar claimed to have closed several portals using some newly acquired magic, and offered to teach the Ophenians the ritual if they would agree to join the order.
The Alstalar were established in Ophen within a day of the warparty’s arrival.
Today, Ophen is the central operating hub of the Alstalar. Demons occupy all the lands around it but for a slim corridor northward.
The Junai: A sacred garden tended to by the last of the Nordrussol. It is located in the center of Ophen and serves as a place of reflection and prayer. The Junai is thought to be comprised of flora long extinct in the wilderness.
Alstalar Command: Located at the back of the above ground portion of the fortress, the command building doubles as a meeting hall for the leaders of all of Ophen’s factions. It is a severe looking stone structure and serves as the gateway into the caves. Should the fortress be breached, the citizens can easily flee into the caves and the command building collapsed to prevent pursuit.
The Estral and Destral: Protecting walls built up around the fortress on all sides but the cliff face that Ophen’s caves descend underneath. The Estral is the inner wall and is a full fifteen feet taller than the Destral. The Estral has several platforms from which archers can fire at targets attempting to breach to Destral. The Destral is intended to keep the larger brutish demon from entering the fortress and is therefore significantly thicker than the Estral.
The Bramblenets: A layer of magical brambles stretches across the exterior portion of Ophen. Sustained by the Nordrussol, the netting prevents the demon-touched winged creatures from entering the fortress.
The Caves: The caves are where the majority of the citizens of Ophen live. They are smoke-filled and crowded but have been transformed into remarkably comfortable living spaces.
The Undeman Forge: Below the caves live the mute Undema from Azamman Daoom. The forge is also the temple of the runeship and provides the Alstalar Command with a supply of demonbane weapons and armour. Most Ophenians have never seen the forge or the temple like structure that encases it.
Circle of Storms: Located near the Junai is the outdoor meeting place of the Nordrussol. It is little more than an arrangement of stones in a rough circle, with wooden benches placed along the outer ridge. When the Nordrossol convene, the stones crackle and glow like the thunderstorms that existed before the crimson dust altered the Thronian climate.
Zithin Hollows: Some Zith survived, and the original survivors of Mol’Agoth did not turn them away when they came. In Ophen of today, the elves are segregated and are forced to live in the most cramped section of the caves. Though some Zith serve the Alstalar, few have achieved acceptance from Ophenians in general. The Hollows are avoided by the larger citizenry. It is rumoured that a few members of the Daz’Dama still practice the elven arcane arts in the Hollows, but they have never been substantiated.
Goods and Bads: The most popular tavern in Ophen is the aptly named Goods and Bads. It is located near the main gate of the Estral and is in a constant state of repair and renovation. The smoky, boozy air of the place accepts all kinds, and though fighting is occasionally unavoidable, the Goods and Bads is remarkably peaceful. The tavern has a tendency to partially burn down now and then; reasons for its flammability are speculated upon. The owner of the tavern is a halfling named Amanu Flameborne…
The Alstalar: The commander of the Alstalar is Allam Ythdane. She has been campaigning in the north for nearly a year, but calls Ophen home. Her second in command is Roth Leedo, a grim-faced Zaniman paladin of Fahm (likely the last paladin serving the old god). The Alstalar are the only major military force left in Thron, and it accepts nearly anyone who can lift a sword or cast a spell. The order is divided into small units which are led by a few promising recruits and one veteran officer. The Alstalar use guerrilla tactics and it is rare that a single unit exceed ten souls. The Alstalar are the most powerful organization in Ophen, and as such are often seen as the rulers of the fortress settlement. Leedo’s word carries great weight in the monthly meeting of faction leaders held in the Command Center.
The Undema: The enigmatic crafters and runeshapers of fallen Azamaan Daoom are responsible for the Alstalar’s success against the demons. Though they have taken a vow of silence since the death of their primal god Derrimal Down Deep, they maintain a visible presence in the world above their forge. They attend meetings in the Command Center and provide guidance of both a spiritual and military nature to the Alstalar leadership. They themselves have no hierarchy and seem content to toil at their forge in relative peace.
The Nordrossol: The last known circle of druids in Thron, the Nordrossol are responsible for the protective netting hung above Ophen and for the tending of the Junai. The Nordrossol are very active within the Alstalar, and though their primal powers have been weakened by the presence of demons on the land, they still serve as potent warriors. The Junai is likely the last garden in Thron, and it is modelled after the great gardens of fallen Sheth’Samol.
The Zith: Quartered in the least comfortable regions of the Caves, the surviving elves of the empire are tolerated by the humans and dwarves provided they work for the good of the settlement. The Zith have no representation at the Command Center. Some Zith serve the Alstalar, but it is understood that the practice of arcane Zithin magics like those once wielded by the Daz’Dama (the Zithin order of wizards) must be used only in defence of the colony. The study of magic for its own sake is severely frowned upon.
The River Kin: The entire southern tip of the continent flooded due to climate change after the portals opened. The halflings that lived there either fled north into the wilds or retreated into the newly created marshes. Some of those that ventured north found themselves in Mol’Agoth and helped the humans and dwarves establish Ophen. The primal gods of the Halflings were weakened when the demon invasion occurred, but the fierce and resilient small-folk of the south maintain a connection to several of the old “Spirits”. The River Kin are interspersed with the other races and have no specific representation at the Command Center. Many of them do meet unofficially at the only tavern in Ophen to discuss River Kin interests.
The Ckaln: With rules and order come rule-breakers and usurpers. Though the Ckaln are a diverse group of smugglers, thieves and miscreants, they are united in their economic interests. Tolerated by the Alstalar because they rarely cause any real harm, the Ckaln are a secretive lot who provide Ophen with all sorts of illicit goods from beyond the security of the Destral. Artefacts, narcotics, and demonic-trophies are all recovered, priced and distributed in Ophen’s underground markets…The Ckaln are rumoured to have several enclaves outside the walls from which they launch unauthorized looting missions on nearby ruins.
Black Omen: Though their reavers had long preyed on Mol’Agoth, when an army of hobgoblins seized their home, the orcs of Black Omen were forced to seek refuge behind the mighty Destral of Ophen. Led by Angk’Ash, Black Omen represents a small but rapidly growing faction within Ophen.
General Roth Leedo, Second in Command of the Alstalar: Leedo was maimed while defending the builders of the Destral several decades ago, and has replaced his left leg with a sparking clockwork appendage built by the Undema. His injury only furthered his belief in the old god Fahm, to whom the Zanima prayed in the days of the Zithin Empire. He is direct and abrupt when spoken with and relies on some of the lower ranked Alstalar leaders to do his diplomacy for him. He is cunning and determined and is always thinking of ways to advance the position of Ophen in the world beyond its walls. He is a principled man, and believes that rule and order are the tools to victory over the demons. He is devastating in combat; a juggernaut fuelled by rage and piety. His warmace “Cull” hangs menacingly above the meeting table in the command center.
Lieutenant Braed Sath of the Alstalar: Braed is responsible for running the daily business of the Alstalar. A Zaniman warrior and master archer, Braed serves as General Leedo’s right hand. She is sarcastic and direct in conversation, and uses humour to gain the confidence of the Alstalar of Ophen. She oversees the units and acts as advisor to the unit leaders when they plan an outing. She also leads her own unit, the Eboth (meaning ravens in the old tongue), whose feats beyond the walls are unrivalled within the Alstalar. Stories tell of her ability to fire an arrow so high, it returns singed by the heat of the now obscured sun.
Rootguide Gul Akenflesh of the Nordrossol: The highest ranking druid of the Nordrossol circle, Gul leads the remaining Zithin primalists and represents their interest in the Command Center. Gul’s partner is Braed Sath and together they are seen as the most powerful couple in Ophen. Gul is soft-spoken and thoughtful in conversation. He foresees a day when the Nordrossol use the seeds gathered from the Junai to cleanse and reclaim the natural world from the demonic taint. Though his travels beyond Ophen are rare, he is known to occasionally serve with the Eboth on their missions in the wilds. His resilience and unflappable spirit on the battlefield are legendary.
Amanu Flameborne, Tavern Owner: The friendly and welcoming Amanu is well known throughout Ophen. His tavern, the Goods and Bads, is the most popular drinking hole in the whole colony. He knows a lot about a lot of people and is considered to be the primary source of unofficial information. He demonstrates his abilities to shape fire on a monthly basis. Amanu has gone on several missions with the Alstalar but greatly prefers his role as bartender.
Forol Daemm’Agon, Captain of the Guard: Forol is a member of the Nordrossol, but his primary duty is to oversee the training and operation of the Ophen Guard. The City Guard are all Alstalar who for one reason or another cannot mount excursions beyond the Destral. Forol sustained a deep wound during an outing which left him incapable of prolonged travel. He is a quiet zith who is contemplative and understanding in conversation. He suffers from insomnia and nightmares and often patrols the streets and the Estral through the night.
Stacks, Grifter and Smuggler: Deep in the furthest reaches of the human quarter of the Caves is rumoured to be a Ckaln headquarters. Within this rumour is a whisper of a puppet master who pulls the strings of Ophen’s guild of thieves. Stacks-the one who can get you out or into Ophen without passing through the gates. Stacks-the one who knows the truth.
ECONOMY, PEOPLE, ASPIRATIONS
Ophen runs on Zithin gold. The survivors all brought coins with them in hopes of securing food or shelter from the invaders, and these coins formed the basis for the Ophenian economy. When Alstalar units return from the wilds, their acquisitions are catalogued and occasionally confiscated. Some effort to keep the amount of gold entering the colony is made, however the Ckaln thwart most of those efforts. Direct trade of goods and service is not uncommon.
The people of Ophen tend to cooperate and get on fairly well. Tensions between the non-Nordrossol Zith and the rest of the colony is kept in check partly through survivor’s instinct and partly though the peace-keeping efforts of the City Guard. There are a number of festivals that often coincide with the old celebrations, though because the colony is mostly human, the Zithin holidays are rarely marked. There is a general sense of hope among the Ophenians as word of the Alstalar’s efforts to close some nearby portals is taken as fact. Artefacts from beyond the Destral are highly coveted and form the basis for the underground economy.
In the broadest sense, Ophenians want to live beyond the walls again. The methods they employ to achieve this want are varied, but any work which aligns with this aim is considered pro-social. One does not have to fight to advance the Ophenian goal of reclaiming the land.
BEYOND THE DESTRAL
Very little exists in the wilds that is not tainted by the chaos of the Abyss. The demon princes consider Thron to be an excellent vacation destination, and encourage the roiling masses of evil in the abyss to use the portals freely. Some factions within the demonic realm have established themselves in Thron. These tend to be the more cunning and militaristic demons, who see Thron as a new land where they can be masters and be free from the chains of the Abyss. Horrors both large and small crawl to and from Thron and tracery of their passing is everywhere.
The old cities and towns are now ruined sites which, though full of treasure and tradeables, are overrun with demons. The old roads are rubbled but there are newly forged paths through the changed land. The Alstalar have secured a corridor of land running north and south through the center of the continent. Ophen is on the southernmost edge of this “safe zone”. Evidence of reclaiming is everywhere, but little can be secured for long without closing nearby portals…