The World of Bridgend
The world of Bridgend has a long and storied past. A land of magic. A land of mystery. The Bridgend continent is roughly 6.5 million square miles. It has wide climatic changes from sub tropical in the south, to lands of ice and snow to the far north. Jagged mountains, harsh deserts, and mighty rivers cross the continent. Over the millennia races of humanoids have carved out mighty kingdoms and fast retreats.
Over the last three thousand years humans have gained an increasing grasp on the face of the land. Scores of powerful kingdoms have arisen, from the fierce and proud races of dark people in the south, with their colorfully painted cities and temples encrusted with gold to the hardy searfaring folk of the far northeast with their solid cities protected by thick walls and protected anchorages they have flourished.
The elves have retreated into the fastness of forests and behind mountain protected enclaves. Dwarves have delved into the earth in search of the mineral wealth hidden there. Carving out great cities and strongholds they sternly defend their mountain areas without mercy. The Halfling race retreated into secluded vales, their race split and isolated. Other races too have carved out areas that they too control. Dragonkin, and the goblinoid races all have their area’s of control.
At the end of the bridge of time Bridgend also is a cross roads of gods. Old gods from other worlds have taken an interest in this place. The reason is magic. Magic actually works on this world. It is part of the very environment of the planet. The stories speak of a time when this wasn’t so. They speak of a dark time in the deep past when only the elves inhabited this world. Peaceful and pastoral in their existence. Before the time of the arriving.
The old stories were passed down by generations of elven story tellers. Scores of story tellers. A mighty thing from the heavens plunged into the great Kora kurum Desert. Hills shook after the blinding sun lit the night. Mountains were rumored to have grown from the force of the impact. Brave or foolish elves traveled into the desert and came back speaking of pieces of twisted metal, some larger than hills. Small pieces of this strange goldish hued metal came out of the desert. A metal that no regular fire could heat enough to shape. Rumors also came from the desert. Rumors of the very sand devouring entire parties. But also rumors of those sands changing people. Magic had arrived in the world.
The explosion that changed the land also awoke and greatly disturbed the dragons. Dragons had always been troublesome to the elves, but once they began investigating the desert they too were changed by what they found there. Instead of brutes the on occasion hunted and terrified elves and animal alike they began to change. To grow. Not only in size, but also in their color, shape, intelligence and worse of all in their ability to wreak havoc with their deadly breath. They quickly endangered everything and their rampage came to a head in the first dragon war. The metallics against the chromatics. By the time the slaughter had ended, only the most powerful dragons remained. Seemingly eternal. They separated from war, not so much by agreement, but out of necessity. They carved out areas of control and retired to their massive lairs to plan, plot and gloat over their vast treasures.
The First Dragon War was 100 elven generations ago. It was during the six generations of the Dragon War that the elves began to find groups that began changing. Children born were odd. Most were true to form but some were stunted and broad, others swarthy and deformed. Most were outcast. These outcasts began to gather with others that were like to them selves. These deformed offspring also didn’t live as long as their elvish parents. Instead of over a thousand years of life they had only a quarter or less of this lifespan. Over their much quicker generations they devolved into the races of dwarves, gnomes, Halflings, and reportedly some dark deep races.
Over the generations explorers into the Kara kurum found a strange substance in the deep desert. A strange material that appeared as patches in the deep desert. It was a pungent and aromatic material that could be consumed. In consuming this spice of the desert it was found that in some people it enhanced their powers of magic. It allowed these people to focus the power that flowed through the land, air, fire, and water into a more concentrated form. Over the generations adepts learned new ways to utilize this power. They learned certain substances facilitated concentrating this power. Certain minerals, ores, and substances allowed adepts to codify methods of utilizing and concentrating the magic of the land.
Dwarves delving into the earth in the dry mountains of Kardic Mon discovered unusual metals that allowed things to be made that an adept with the power and knowledge could imbue the construct with permanent powers and abilities. Weapons of power, staves and wands capable of magical feats were made and used.
It was at this point, 80 generations ago that the gods took an interest in Bridgend. They didn’t come all at once. The elven gods came first. Weak at first, because of the loss of so many followers in other worlds they slowly found followers. As their power grew, aided by the increase in followers and by the innate magic unique to the planet, they grew in power. Soon other gods took interest. Each found a niche with one of the many different races.
Seventy generations ago a new wave of gods arrived. Some warlike, others hungry for followers. Most races by this time had their own gods and had no need for this new crop. Legend has it a cabal of gods assembled and pooled their power to do the hardest thing for a god. The legends say they created, or at least they changed the form and temperament of an existing life form. They created the race of humans., some say from survivors of the great impact. Humans, because of their forced change in creation, had a much shorter life span than the races that proceeded them. Living barely a century, their lives were flashes to the elves. But they had something the elves didn’t. They could breed in prodigious numbers.
Some of the other gods were not pleased with the results and felt slighted by the other gods and began to change some of the fast breeding humans. Warping them and twisting them in their hatred. The goblinoid races were thus born. These gods also learned of the dragons and encouraged their followers to seek them out and offer service. The dragons saw a tool to gain an upper hand against the metallic dragons who the chromatics felt had taken some of the best areas. Rumors began spreading among the elvenoid races and they sought out the metallic’s. Thus was spawned the Second Dragon War.
Fought mostly by proxy 40 generations ago, the Second Dragon War engulfed the world. The balance was tipped because the elvenoid races had better exploited the magic’s of the world. At times genocidal, the War ravaged the world. The races of dwarves and elves bore the brunt of fighting on the side of the Metallic dragons. By the time the century of bloodshed had ended the number of elves was depleted by over 60% and the dwarves nearly as bad. The followers of the Chromatics suffered even greater slaughter. Often sent into battle in howling mobs rather than organized armies, millions died. Some estimate the goblinoid races suffered close to 90% casualties.
During this war the gods also took an active hand. So important was the outcome that the gods began sharing some of their power with staunch followers. Healers and battle clerics arose from these ranks. Centers of learning and worship arose to prepare the faithful in the ways of the spiritual power the gods shared. The power of the clergy always depended on the power and abilities of their particular god. With the loss of so many worshipers some gods diminished in power. Others grew. In time, this shift in power would become obvious in the main sources of clerics of the land.
If there was a winner in this war, it was the race of humans. Already wide spread and numerous, the humans spread even further. True kingdoms arose and expanded. Following the expansion of the Kingdoms, came the merchants. These merchants at first were the lifeblood of the kingdoms. Hardy souls willing to carry the bounties of widespread kingdoms to other nations. Soon there arose great houses of trade which fought to protect their sources and trade routes. Some of these houses became so successful they were able to establish outposts in nearly every major city. They fought to gain access to some of the rarest items of the land, chief among these was the spice of the Kara kurum.
Trading posts, well defended and peopled with those brave enough to risk the devouring sands of the desert in search for the patches of the rare spice. A spice so rare, a thimble full could purchase a fine horse. Caravans and ships were jealously guarded. Shipments of the spice were needed anywhere magic was practiced. Spice was needed for the more powerful spells, enchantments and magic’s, but it also enhanced the abilities of sages, seers and lore masters. There is even rumor of usage by royalty and weapons masters to gain an edge over their opponents.
Twenty generations ago the power of the trading guilds reached a pinnacle. The great trading city of Barbon at the mouth of the great Shillic River fell under the sway of these great guilds. A neutral ground of sorts Barbon was soon ruled by a congress of these great guilds. A true city state, Barbon was ruled by the Supreme Syndicate. A hundred person body which rules over trade in the world. Deals are stuck, alliances made and broken. All with an eye towards increasing the power, wealth and influence of the members.
In the present day there are twenty six recognized countries and areas. Three are controlled by the goblinoid races. Three are not controlled by any single group. Then there are four Elven homelands and three Dwarven kingdoms. Finally, there are the thirteen kingdoms of humans.
There are literally scores of god represented in the world. Some much more powerful, others barely above the level of demi god. These gods depend on the power of their followers. This power is called mana by sages. Each believer releases a tiny amount of this energy when they think of their gods. This amount varies tremendously between believers. Strong believers give more than weak ones. Zealots can release large amounts. This has allowed some minor gods with relatively small followings gain power far in excess of other gods who have large followings of content believers.
The magic’s of Bridgend is based on the spice, Mélange. Even the gods depend on this substance for their prime power. This spice has changed the very essence of the world. It imbues the entire world with various strengths of power. It is able to also channel mana to the most powerful of the magical beings. The inherent power of magic is concentrated in certain geographical areas. There are at least 60 of these powerful nodes.
Dragons are very attuned to these nodes and have staked out territories around ten of the most powerful 20 nodes. Slow to reproduce, there are, at most 20 true dragons of each of the colors. The Red Dragon, Wavihill, controls the strongest of these nodes. The only thing that has kept him from expanding his control further is the constant pressure put upon him by surrounding races. Among the major dragon races, the Red’s have suffered the highest level of mortality. There are only 12 Reds in the world. Auralia, is a venerable female Gold Dragon and maintains control over her node with her 22 offspring.
True dragons are almost immortal. They are stronger by far than most gods. Able to use a wide array of spells and attacks. The prime dragons of these are powerful beyond reckoning. There are areas that have given rise to what is known as demi dragons. These are dragons that have moved far away from the major nodes of power and have reverted to the dumb beasts of ancient times.
The gods of Bridgend are jealous of the Dragons. Though they will, at times work with them to achieve singular goals with like aligned dragons. There are gods who would love to seize the power of these nodes from the Dragons, but lack the power to do so. Legend speaks of one god, during the Second Dragon War which attacked the great White Wyrm of the North with close to 100,000 goblinoid and two demi gods. The god, both demigods and almost all of their followers died in the battle. Only two White Wyrms died. The legend goes on to say the frozen form of the upstart god still provides viewing pleasure to Angisrongivist in him mountain fastness. There is an uneasy truce between the gods and the dragons. Neither appears to have the power to unseat the other in their fastness.
Several of the minor nodes are home to great houses of magic. These places of power have immense power compared to most places on earth. Mages are able to weave the forces of magic directly without the direct need to ingest Mélange, though most still do.