History of Victus
History of Victus
Victus is a world brimming with tyranny, dragons, war, and strife. It’s kill or be killed.
DM Note: Please understand I am writing this as from the perspective of a historian within the Mage-States. Any bias or incorrect information is not designed to deceive or influence the characters but rather to establish some ‘in-universe’ feel similar to the Codex found in many games produced by BioWare.
Victus before Dragonfall
Before the events collectively known as Dragonfall, Victus was not a paradise. It was not a place without conflict. It was, however, a place without magic.
The known world was split into numerous small holdings.
The large forests which once covered much of the regions near the mountains was home to the elves. They lived, much as they did now, in elevated cities high in the canopy of the great forests. They were also lived in the tall Blackwood Forest near the western coast (currently claimed by the Freewing Union, Azure Despots, Sage Ward, and the Western Sky Hegemony.
The Dwarves were known to live in small communities near the mountains which they mined to produce their legendary crafts. They became extinct on the surface after a plague wiped them out. Some human scholars maintain that there may be dwarven communities living under the surface, however, this has never been corroborated.
The humans lived in plains areas where most lived by farming and herding. This was, as it always has been, the most numerous of the several races. It is their history that we shall focus on here.
Humans before the Dragonfall
While much of the records before the Dragonfall were burned during the years subsequent to that event, a few things are definitely known. There were three major culture groups of humans( North, Mid-Victus, and South) each with a separate religion, language, and way of life. Although they many relied exclusively on farming, shepherding, and fishing for sustenance, their cultures widely varied and are generally referred to by their latitudinal holdings, as earlier described.
Northern Victus Humans
Full Article: Northern Victus HumansThe most accurate records which still exist are often found in the great Tribute Vaults controlled by War Machiners. According to most historians and antiquarians, the North Victus humans tended to be prolific farmers. The major cultures which existed prior to the Dragonfall are the Norest Cultures, the Seasonal Farmers, and the Herdswomen.
Full Article: Humanity of Mid-Victus
The humans which lived in the middle of Victus tended to be highly influenced by elven culture and many cities today are constituted of half-elves whose ancestry has been half-elven for an unknown number of generations. The Mid-Victus Humans (and half-elves, as they are considered a subset of humanity) are generally referred to by five groups: Western Fishers, Grove Keepers, Road Builders, Lakemen, and Eastern Fishers.
Southern Victus Humans
Full Article: Humanity of South Victus
Southern Victus is a warmer clime than those that lay above it which may explain how it was able to come to civilization and create such a large empire that lasted up until the Dragonfall. While not as technically civilized as other cultures previously discussed, The Southern Empire which formed the basis of the Crimson Imperium during and after the Dragonfall, is unique in that its culture and much of its history remains for modern scholars.
Main Article: The Dragonfall
During an astrological event, There was an eclipse of the three moons Tidal, Vertal, and Sunson where all three appeared to align so that Vertal was the only visible and it became red as blood. This event had been predicted by the Order of the Astral and was said to fortell great change and upheaval. They were correct. This lunar alignment caused storms and a great air-bridge formed so that all of the moons were connected to the land of Victus. A huge flock of chromatic dragons sped into Victus and quickly began laying waste and claiming the kingdoms as their own. Many attempted to resist but almost as a rule were cut down. The dragons possessed an ability not seen on Victus before: magic.
Time of the Overlords
After the initial Conflict of Subjugation ended. Almost the entire continent of Victus was covered in myriad hoard-holds of dragons holding three or four towns. The humans beaten and enslaved, resistance began to wane as fatigue set in with the war-weary mortal races.The dragons’ thirst for wealth was never ending, however, and they soon looked to each other for their next source of wealth. Humans had been easy prey, with no magic to speak of and an inability to fly, dragonkind found that they hardly had to exercise much effort to extract wealth from the weak mortals. That wealth having been extracted, now required the dragons to exert more effort in accumulating their hoards. Inevitably, they saw each other as competitors for land, wealth, and slaves.
Humans began joining militia dedicated to their dragonlords mainly as a way to rise above the fray (and therefore be less likely to be killed, eaten, or worse) and dragons who were only a few years ago decimating armies, now found themselves building them. Inevitably, conflicts arose between dragons and these armies soon faced each other in the field. The dragonlords soon found themselves joining the battle (as the dragons were still the most effective unit on the battlefield), which also inevitably meant they were fighting other dragons.While on their home of Vertal, a dragon’s death was no different than a mortal dying on Victus. On Victus, however, it was something quite different. While magic theorists debate on the reason for it, when a dragon was felled by another dragon, the killing dragon absorbed the magic contained in the dragon who was killed. As a result, these dragons grew in magical potency as well as actual size. The Overlords had come.
Some Overlords were enormous growing to sizes in excess of 100 feet long. Some grew so large, cities began to be built around them. Soon the Overlords were amassing not only armies of men but armies of dragons who each had armies of men. Those who would not offer their necks to the Overlords, would become their food. The dragon had created for itself a predator to which they were the prey, now the dragon hoard-holds were conquered. The Overlords themselves have proven to be nigh-immortal and it weren’t for the mutually assured destruction the other Overlords recognized in one another, it was possible the dragons might have completely wiped themselves out. Humanity wasn’t so lucky.
The Overlords created the Tiamatian Dictates which stipulated general rules which they agreed to all follow for fear of incurring the wrath of the rest. While the Dictates include certain provisions for borders between Overlord provinces and general non-aggression between Overlords themselves, the bulk of the Dictates concerns behaviour and the nature of the newly hatched dragon young. These Victus-native dragons did not possess the ability to become Overlords, but did possess magic. The Dictates provide that Overlords hold supreme authority over their bloodlines. These bloodlines would be allowed to create their own rules as long as they did not violate the Dictates.
Unsurprisingly, the Dictates were largely ignored by most of the younger dragons and wars continued to flare. In order to give it teeth, the Dread Council created the Legion of Judges which was comprised of elite, specially bred, native-born dragons who would pacify a region by annihilating both sides. The Legion became infamous when after an Overlord had become involved in a conflict, the Legion had not only completely destroyed his dragon army, they had killed the Overlord. An entire was suddenly without a central leader and the Legion declared the area would not go to any particular Overlord, but rather would be governed by Viceroys appointed by the Dread Council.
Although it might appear the Overlords were finally content with their lot and with the Dictates stating Overlords would no longer directly confront each other, this is purely an illusion. Rather than huge armies smashing into one another on huge fields, the Overlords, possibly due to their now extremely long-term points of view began subtly plotting against one another. Assassination attempts were common and most dragons tended to die by poisoning or ambush rather than an honorable airborne death.
The Mage Uprising
As the dragons faced off against each other and the Overlords, the humans did not stand still. The wars which preceded the Dictates did not only result in the creation of the Overlords, it also caused what mages refer to as the Infusion of Victus. The magic released by the death of Vertal-native dragons was not always at the hands of other dragons. Truly, the majority of dragons died at the hands of mobs of men shoving spears, swords, and arrows into their tough hides or being pierced by ballistae and dragged from the sky with chains attached to their harpoons. This death is believed to have released their magic into the world and as their blood soaked into the earth, and as rain washed it into the rivers, the magic became one with the world and the fruits of the soil soon conferred magic to those who consumed those fruits: Man.
It is believed that the Secret Society which remained of the Order of the Astral first noticed the spontaneous abilities young children were manifesting. Some sought to study this gift, others to hide it from the Overlords. The former succeeded, the latter failed. Once humans began manifesting abilities, most Overlords confiscated the children and either enslaved them or devoured them.Those whose parents were able to conceal their gifts, or who developed them later in life and so were able to exercise discretion, began to develop their gifts. Soon groups of magic-users began forming. The groups, ostensibly simple astrologers and historians, created schools with the permission of the Overlords. Many were taught to hide their gifts and were taught ways to disguise themselves as simple hedge-wizards or parlor-tricksters. A few, however, were inundated into the Order and set about gaining an understanding of The Gift and determine what it could do. Due to the disparate and lack of communication between the orders, each school soon began to delve into particular aspects of magic and these became the basis for the schools of magic practiced today in Victus.
After a couple of generations of humanity, the mages began to feel powerful and wished to direct that power against that which all of the mortal races saw as their greatest threat, the dragons. The schools agreed to gather in Conclave to discuss how they would proceed. Various schools suggested various solutions. The Enchantment school suggested dominating a group of dragons to fight one another or even destroy an overlord. The Illusionists suggested creating an army of illusionary soldiers to thin out the numbers of dragons. The Necromancers, who were always considered extreme and unsettling put forth their plan. They proposed destroying an entire city surrounding an Overlord, killing all inhabitants, Overlord and all, and raising them as undead to use against the next overlord until all of the dragons were wiped from the face of Victus. This plan was considered so harsh and so extreme, the Necromancers were dismissed from Conclave and would not be seen for a very long time. Finally, the Invokers put forth their plan, they would gather an army which would be interspersed with illusionary soldiers, such as the Illusion school had suggested, next they would create huge machines of war, one of these machines was a ballista of enormous proportions which would fire a projectile imbued with raw magic.
Enchantment of objects with magical properties had not yet been mastered and imbuing objects with magic was an inherently dangerous and unstable practice. It was high-risk and might possibly blow up in their faces, but it incorporated enough plans of the other schools to gain widespread support. Forces were raised from various militia and mercenaries from The War Machine taught them how to behave like a well-drilled army.They faced the oldest, largest, and most powerful Overlord, whose name was simply Archos and stood in the middle of Archopolis slowly beholding the city which bustled and moved under it’s wings and staring off towards the horizon where the other Overlords plotted and schemed. Finally, the day of battle came and the Mages marched their army and their huge weapons of war into the large field in front of Archopolis. They demanded Archos come before them and surrender to the humans. An army was sent out which was destroyed quickly, many succumbing to the fireballs and explosions of the invokers and falling on their own swords when they believed themselves to be skewered by illusionary soldiers. An actual threat suddenly at his doorstep, Archos was taken aback. Such raw unabashed violence had not been exercised in generations as Archopolis had been pacified and secured long before the Dictates. Archos was arrogant as his power allowed and sought to directly confront these human mage upstarts. As he landed, he dismissed all of the illusions with a glance. His wings buffeted the army to the ground and a single roll of his tail killed thirty men instantly. Finally he emitted a column of fire so hot the armor melted on the soldiers wearing it and most died horrible, agonizing deaths. Spells which the mages hurled at the beast seemed to bounce off his hide as snowballs against a brick wall. Finally the army let loose the ballista with its enormous enchanted harpoon. The wicked barb sunk into Archos’s hide and detonated. Spells suddenly began affecting the huge hulking dragon. With a sudden realization, mages began hurling whatever spells they could against him and slowly but inevitably, Archos fell.
His body was too large for any to move and many sliced huge sheets of his hide as mementos and trophies. It is said there are some pieces of his organs still on display in the Hall of Anatomy in Archopolis. His body bled for over a week and his body slowly decayed over the next five years. Eventually, nothing was left but an enormous skeleton which over the years became bleached white and half-imbedded into the ground.
The mages were as surprised as anyone by their victory. Suddenly, they realized that an enormous part of Victus was no longer under the sway of an Overlord. They feared a power vacuum and of competing Overlords warring over the land and carving it up into new additions to their empires. They also had come to have a taste for power. They decided the Order of the Astral and the entire Conclave would rule over Archopolis and attempt to secure the entire area where Archos had dominated. They proposed allowing Schools to support themselves off of the surrounding land and exact taxes and tribute for protecting the people from the menace of the dragons. The Confederation of Mage-States was established.