The Dark Age History Page
Here now is some of the background for my campaign, happily mixing together real history, real myth and my own invented myth. Enjoy.
753 BCE/0 AUC The city of Rome is founded.
c. 425 AUC An eruption of magic takes place in the Atlantic off Spain. When the magic dies down a group of islands called Nippon now exists off the coast of Europe.
813 AUC The Black Year of the druids. Suetonius Paulinus finds a treacherous druid, Caleddin, who dictates much of the druidic knowledge and power to the Roman governor. He uses this to help him plan the attack on Ynys Mons. He uses armies of dead warriors from the Otherworld to attack the druids. The last druids hung themselves on the Blood Oaks to try to preserve their knowledge. Suetonius, in an attempt to mock them turns the Oaks into a table.
1163 AUC The old kingdoms of Britain are reborn in the wake of the departing Roman legions. Dumnonia, Gwent, Powys, Rheged, Elmet, Icenorum and Trinovantia, are surrounded by small petty kingdoms like Siluria, Henis Wyren, Kernow, Strongore and Belgae.
1212 AUC Vortigern marries into the royal house of Gwent. His marriage to the princess Rhianna is short lived as she sickens and dies less than a year after their marriage. He is now a prince of Gwent though and was considered a suitable candidate when Gwent proposed an alliance and marriage with Trinovantia.
1214 AUC Vortigern marries Sevira, the princess of Trinovantia, and within five years has succeeded to the throne of his new land. He even manages to get himself made Pendragon, high king over all others, like his predecessor. But whispering in the court says he had murdered the old king Constans, whispering heightened by Constans’ cousins who rule in Dumnonia. With the prospect of revolt in his lands Vortigern invites some of the German pirates who had settled on Trinovantia’s shores to be his new army. It would be a disaster.
1216-1220 AUC The pirates are the Saxons. They become feared and hated throughout Trinovantia and many of the land’s greatest nobles flee to the court of Aurelius in Dumnonia. With the threat of Dumnonia attacking him Vortigern brings more and more Saxons over from the German lands. Tewdric, the new king of Gwent, had long suspected that his sister Rhianna had been poisoned by Vortigern and sided with Dumnonia. Whether Vortigern had poisoned her or not is still in debate, but when the loyalty of the Saxons looked to be in doubt Sevira died suddenly and Vortigern married Renwein, daughter of the Saxon’s chief. With their loyalty guaranteed Vortigern seemed ready to attack Dumnonia, when a child stood in the centre of his court and spoke with the voice of the gods. He prophesised the overthrow of Vortigern, a war with the Saxons and the rise of the red dragon. He was thrown into the dungeons for his actions, but before he was killed the druid Blaise rescued him and began training him as his successor. The child’s name was Myrddin.
1222-1223 AUC Aurelius and Tewdric began their war with Trinovantia and the superior skills of Aurelius and Agricola, Tewdric’s friend and general, soon showed. They took Londinium by force and in the battle Vortigern disappeared, though none stepped forward to claim his slaying. In his absence though Hengist, the Saxon chief took over and brought in yet more of his people from the continent. Soon it was clear that Trinovantia was lost to the invaders.
1225 AUC Saxon treachery killed Aurelius, poisoned at Venta in the Belgae lands, leaving his brother Uther to take the throne. He was granted the title of Pendragon and he held the Saxons back, preventing the invaders from seizing the western lands.
1226 AUC The Saxons turned on Icenorum, slowly seizing more of their lands.
1227-1234 AUC The new Saxon tribes sailing to Britain brought other chieftains to the islands, and the Saxons began to fight amongst themselves as well as skirmishing with the British. Many battles were fought in these years with the great king of Powys, Gorfyddyd, distinguishing himself in war. Uther though remained the greatest of the British kings and kept the title of high king, much to Gorfyddyd’s annoyance.
1229 AUC The kingdom of Dyfed fell. This time though it was the Irish tribes that took the land. Though invaders like the Saxons they were not so bad, being British of a kind, speaking a similar language and worshipping the same gods. Dyfed was renamed Demetia and it became a source of raiders and mercenaries in equal measure.
1235 AUC The rivalry between the British kings grew too much and at a Council of Britain, called by Uther to discuss the final invasion of Saxon-held lands, Gorfyddyd demanded he be made Pendragon. Only Leodegan of Henis Wyren and Gundleus of Siluria supported his claim though, and Gorfyddyd stormed out of the Council. His spearmen began raiding Gwent, which had strongly supported Uther, and for the first time since the Saxons came to power British kingdoms began fighting each other again. Only the disunity of the Saxons prevented them from stealing more land.
1237 AUC Henis Wyren became the second land to fall to the Irish, this time to the brutal king Diwrnach. It became the lost land of Lleyn. A resurgent Saxon tribe, under its king Aelle, began a push towards the Severn Sea. Only Uther’s great victory at Caer Idern stopped him, though another Saxon king took the opportunity to sack Venta. Each year after that though the Saxons took just a little more land, valley by valley. Uther too was fading and there were fears he would die without an official heir (he had three illegitimate daughters and one illegitimate son, Arthur).
1240 AUC In his last years Uther married Norwenna, a northern princess, and though it was a fairly loveless marriage it did result in the birth of Medraut.
1242 AUC Uther dies. The infant prince was in Isca at the time with his mother. A warband was dispatched to return the new king to the palace in the capital, Durnovaria. This party included Mardoc, Morvawr and Cuan. They were joined at Isca by Amarou, who Myrddin had sent there to protect Medraut. Unfortunately Siluria and Powys had been planning for this and had apparently mustered a huge army to invade Gwent and Dumnonia. They had also hired mercenaries from the exotic island of Nippon who kidnapped the infant king and tried to reach Siluria. They were stopped by Cuan, Amarou, Gwydre (one of the Iscan palace guards), Peredur (leader of the warband from Durnovaria) and Tristan (a prince from the kingdom of Kernow). On their return from Isca though they discovered that the huge army was an illusion of shadows and rather than sending a hammer blow Powys had unleashed a series of stinging warbands that congregated at Durnovaria. Meanwhile Cuan was investigating the disappearance of the druid Blaise, barely surviving an attack from a vicious creature summoned from the Otherworld of the dead. With Morvawr helping to translate Blaise’s notes they discovered he had been trying to track down a Roman artefact and may have located it when he was attacked.
The Powysian forces launched their assault on the Dumnonian hillfort of Caer Mai Dun, The battle began with Owain, Dumnonia’s champion, killing Gorfyddyd’s son in single combat. Then a lone druid from Powys marched to the gates and removed the defences placed upon them by Cuan with a cursestone of his own. Then a traitor from within, a goblin archer named Ligessac, opened the gates and the druid sent through a beast of his, a war hydra. Owain led a charge against the beast, aided by Mardoc, while Morvawr’s magic held up the enemy long enough for the warriors to slay the beast. The soldiers were forced to fight the Powysian and Demetian troops on the causeway that led to the gates. In the midst of the fight a surge led by Gorfyddyd himself almost reached the gate but he was held up by Mardoc who blocked him, though at great cost. But while the enemy were pinned on the causeway they were attacked from behind. Arthur’s horsemen, cloaked by a spell of concealment by Myrddin, crashed into the rear of Gorfyddyd’s forces. With the enemy unable to get away they were crushed by the charge and Arthur picked out Gorfyddyd himself. He hacked at him with a series of vicious blows, the last of which severed his arm. Afterwards Arthur tried to negotiate a peace, but Gorfyddyd was in no mood and has sworn revenge.
1243 AUC In the aftermath Myrddin has tried to uncover what happened to Blaise but found most of his usual magics unable to locate his mentor. On the first day of spring all the heroes of the war returned to Caer Mai Dun, this time for the ceremony of kingship. Medraut was acclaimed as king and Bedwin, Arthur and Owain acknowledged as his council to rule in his name. During the festivities to celebrate the acclamation of the king the heroes were approached by Myrddin who warned them that the loss of a druid to Dumnonia’s enemies was too big a threat to the land for them to ignore. They travelled with him to Ynys Wydryn and the Temple of the Stars. Here the mystical heroes, Cuan, Morvawr, and Pellana, were led away while the others were forced to wait. The three magical heroes took on a series of trials that challenged them, not with physical threats but with ethical conundrums and tests of the soul.
Following these challenges the heroes learned from Myrddin that Blaise was probably being held captive in Saxon territory. With the help of Sagramor (who responded to an enigmatic message from Myrddin) they disguised themselves as Saxons and crossed the border. There they uncovered the place where Blaise was being tortured by a foreign mystic (from somewhere in the Mediterranean area). They were aided in the battle by Myrddin who appeared out of the blue and who seemed equally interested in taking a table from the building as he was in rescuing his mentor. Blaise too seemed adamant about taking the table.
The heroes also discovered that Aelle was launching a raid on Powys. Though they were still the enemy the heroes decided to side with Blaise who felt they should be warned, rather than Myrddin who was happy to let both foes kill each other. They took the warning to Arthur, who led them and a cavalry force to the defence of the Powysian town of Ratae. They then went as Arthur's emissaries to the court of Powys, only to get embroiled in the court politics. Fearing a Dumnonian/Powysian alliance some lords, possibly including Lord Valerin, attempted to kill them. In an attempt to get them to safety, while simultaneously gaining them credibility with the king, Prince Cuneglas sent them on a quest to find the Ring of Eluned, which might heal the King's severed arm.
So far their task has sent them north, through lands they have never visited before. Most dangerously though they were pursued by a psychopathic werewolf named Hengist, who attempted to give his lord revenge for their rescue of Blaise. It remains to be seen how many more of their actions will return to haunt them.