One of the oldest cities in the Western Empire, the city now known as Godsfall was founded near the beginning of the 3rd Age. In the wake of the 3rd Wish that opened the gates of faith, empowering those with faith in the gods, a temple city was founded in the central hills of northern West Noefra. This city became the devotional capital of the Empire that arose, housing temples to thousands of gods, demigods, devils, and heroes. For a thousand years it remained an ecumenical center of divine learning. By Imperial decree, all priests of official religions had to be trained in the seminaries of Divina Lux (as it was known at the time).
With the fall of the empire, Divina Lux diminished in importance and became somewhat of a backwater. It clung fiercely to its historical pride and continued to train clerics, paladins, invokers, warlocks, and other wielders of divine (or infernal) power. As the Cataclysm approached, the people had sorted themselves into two classes--the divine (upper) class and the infernal (lower) class. They coexisted, uneasily, until the end came.
As the monstrous, demonic armies of the Nameless swept closer, the warriors and clerics of Luca (a corruption of Lux) made a colossal, desperate gamble. They evacuated all the noncombatants they could, sending them out into the wilds to the south, away from the path of the armies. Then they deliberately lured the enemy, commanded by a ranking Lord of the Abyss, one of the Nameless’s generals (said to be the same Naeblis the Breaker whose summoning sparked the Fall of Empire), to the city. Giving ground only stubbornly despite being horribly outnumbered, the brave clerics channeled the core of the demons into the High Temple district. When they were inside the ancient inner walls, the high priest of a god now forgotten conducted a ritual to empower wards that had been placed all along the walls and throughout the city. These wards were designed to contain the army--and they succeeded. At a terrible cost. Every single defender paid with their own soul, condemning themself to becoming a twisted abomination of an undead creature, soul forever trapped and in agony but active and capable of fighting eternally against the demons they trapped in with them. A bubble of light enveloped the city--that was the last the fleeing survivors saw. They said “a god has fallen to Quartus”; from there the legend of Godsfall started spreading.
Sections of Godsfall
Godsfall was divided into 8 sections before the Cataclysm. Three of these are un-warded at the present--the Green Zone, Brightwater, and Abaddon. Elysium is accessible over a damaged bridge; the remaining 4 sections (Acheron, Arcadian Fields, Low Temple, and High Temple) are still behind heavy ward-lines.
Home to Watcher’s Keep, the rapidly-growing headquarters of the Godsfall Alliance, this area is a buzz of activity. Humans from the Council Lands and the Sin-Eater order, wood elves from the Pilvi tribe, orcs of the Watching Eye and other small allied tribes, plus a growing number of adventurers all call this area home base. Named after the heavy forest cover.
Across the Styx river from the Green Zone, borders Elysium. Retaken by mid-summer 210 AC by the Godsfall Alliance. Currently the main home of the Sages and the Oath-bound. The portal linking Godsfall to the Council Lands is here, under heavy guard. A few tiny pockets of feral undead remain, but no significant combat occurs. The border with Elysium is contested between the United Front cult conglomeration and the Alliance. Recovery, exploration, and redevelopment of this quarter is underway slowly. The undead Oath-Bound are working tirelessly (because undead don’t sleep) to reclaim any feral undead that can be reawakened to their eternal oath; those beyond redemption are destroyed. Disused armories and forges are being re-awakened to produce weapons for the growing Alliance. Vaults of forgotten items are being raided both to pay for these materials and to sate the curiosity of the sages.
To the east of the Green Zone along the south edge of the Luca river is Abaddon. The north of this area is covered in rolling hills hiding the ruins of many old buildings, making travel treacherous. The south has both the ruined buildings and a thick cover of old trees. Three primary factions and one minor faction are present here.
The demon-tainted insectoids of Xe’laka desire nothing more than to consume the whole world, breeding ever more of them to feed on the corpses of all other beings including the gods themselves.
Led by Queen Shelob, they form an organized host. Each type is bred for a specific purpose and they constantly experiment with captured creatures to breed new types.
- Queen Shelob: the queen and one of the true demons, Shelob was an outcast among demons for her insatiable hunger. Along with her “husband”, Ungoliant, she has bred an army. The entirety of the swarms of Xe’laxa are undyingly devoted to her (although this is changing due to interference by the Winged Redeemers), no matter how they backstab each other. All of the greater servants are her spawn.
- She wields the Cauldron of Plenty, a pre-cataclysm artifact that she has “adjusted.” In its current state, it can transform any organic material into bland, edible mush. Living beings are preferred.
- She herself feeds on the souls of living beings--the more powerful the better. If not kept happy, she will devour her own people.
- Lord General Aklix: Shelob-spawn in charge of the military efforts. Straight-forward.
- 1st Swarmlord: Head of an elite corpse of defenders
- 2nd Swarmlord: Biggest force, fighting underground warfare vs Isshin
- 3rd Swarmlord: Lowest rank, relegated to trying to find and overcome the remains of the Kindred
- Grand Vizir Merax: Shelob-spawn in charge of logistics and research. Profusely overly loyal. Thinks everyone else is disloyal.
- 3 logistics swarms of barely-sentient bugs ferrying supplies to the swarms and back.
- Research Drone Zirex: 2nd-generation spawn. Only sane bug. Researcher and experimentalist. Amoral. In secret possession of the Beast-hide Mask.
- Brood Mother Shavax: Shelob-spawn in charge of the lesser brooderies. Lustful and greedy.
- Central Brood Pit: main production facility for workers and warriors.
- Experimental Brood Pit: production facility for the experimental creatures, including assassin bugs.
Before Xe’laxa arrived about 2 years ago (from Acheron), the Kindred numbered 5 tribes. Four are now gone. These cat waere-kin and sher-ka are the descendants of were-creatures and human/orcish members of the invading army that fled their brutal masters after the raising of the ward and settled in Abaddon. Independent and xenophobic, they trust no one. Especially once Xe’laxa arrived and devoured most of the villages.
Two main sub-groups remain in the Slepta tribe:
- Those who wish to remain and fight. A slight majority of the tribe refuses to leave their home. Led by Shaman Dappled Twilight, these Kindred are the most xenophobic and least open to outsiders.
- Those who wish to flee, now that the ward is down to the south. Led by Pride Mother Lazy Sunlight, they are open to the outside (or at least more open)
By far the strangest faction, Isshin is a single mind housed in multiple bodies. Entirely subterranean, Isshin’s original mind was a mind flayer who once belonged to the dmonic host. Outcast by its own kind, it dominated a colony of burrowing creatures and has spent the last two centuries breeding and living in the minds of these creatures, digging endless tunnels beneath the northern part of Abaddon and across the river into Elysium. Its motives are unclear, but it is highly territorial (attacking and killing/capturing any creature that enters the territory it considers its own uninvited) and non-expansionist.
Since the arrival of Xe’laxa, it has been slowly losing ground despite being individually much more capable than the insectoids. The sheer weight of numbers and the much faster breeding of the insectoids is proving more potent.
The Kindred have dealt with Isshin before, and know contact protocols. These protocols employ large stretched-hide drums fixed to resonator posts. When a particular rhythm is played on the drum, Isshin sends a delegation to parlay. It trades for goods unavailable in the deeps, exchanging lost artifacts or minerals. No Kindred has been down into the tunnels or met the Prime.
Abaddon was one of the areas where devil summoning was taught and practiced before the Cataclysm. Several pockets of bound devils, summoned back then and not sent back, remain.
The former upper-class area of Elysium is still mostly intact. Many of the buildings have fallen in on themselves, but many are still mostly habitable. How? No one knows. Prominent features are Maelek’s Tower and the Sanctum Imperium. Four factions vie for control here. One, Isshin, is described above.
Undead who have broken their oath and want dominance. Centered at the Sanctum Imperium, they are led by the Death Knight Proditor. They dominate the north-central area and buffer the cult from the Abyssal Dominion.
They hate the White Skull cult and are researching ways to break free of the oath that binds them. Since wholesale repudiation of the oath leaves them mad with hunger, they are searching for a new power source.
The United Front
This unstable alliance of two cults dominates the border with Brightwater (where they used to have a strong presence). They are actively engaged in skirmishes against the Godsfall Alliance. The two cults involved are the Red Fang and the White Skull. Their primary headquarters is a large estate in north-western Elysium.
Cult of the Red Fang: Led by Fearg, a half-man/half ape-demon, the Red Fang desires to free the Great Lord trapped in the Inner Temple. They form the backbone of the combat troops and are fearless and bestial in combat.
Cult of the White Skull: Led by Magus Asgwrn (a high elf necromancer), these black magic users desire to control the undead and to loot the ruins for powerful knowledge or artifacts. Currently in ascendance after the disgrace in Brightwater, Asgwrn pushes for a more measured approach.
The Abyssal Dominion
These demons and demon-twisted humanoids control the north-eastern area up against the ward-line to the Lower Temple district. How did they get there across the ward? No one knows. Strangely, they’re not particularly expansionist. They seem content to keep anyone and anything from approaching the ward line. They are active around Maelek’s Tower in the center of the district, venturing forth to spoil any attempt to approach that tower.
Leadership: The Deathlock Mastermind Kul’tiza commands the Dominion in Elysium. He reports to the Imperial Resurgence headquarters in the Elysian Fields. His orders are to hold that front and prevent anyone from resolving the situation at Maelek’s Tower, as his masters draw power from the trapped godling inside (and pleasure from the plight of the trapped souls).
Since the resolution of the Tower situation, they’re mostly leaderless. Kul’tiza has gone catatonic and others are in a holding pattern. Tower Guard is falling back.
Home to Shelob's primary forces, this area has been scoured of all living things except for insectoid demons. Without the resources sent from Abaddon, this group would quickly devour each other until none remained. Any useful source of magic in this area has long since been consumed.
Arcadian Fields & Low Temple
This area is surrounded by a bubble of the Great Lord's causality-warping influence. It essentially floats free on the stream of time. Not much is known about the interior, except that the leader, the Demon Prince Kul'Asad, has plans to use the power drained from the Great Lord's prison and the Tower of Maelek to bootstrap the take-over of the world. This likely involves time-travel shenanigans. Without the beacon of the Tower to serve as a landmark in time and space, his wings have been clipped. Access to this area is only easy with an amulet held by Kul'tiza.
The prison of the Great Lord, one of the Broken Incarnations who served the Nameless in the Dawn War. This particular Incarnation is called Kel'dan, She Who Shatters Space and is the Incarnation of acausality. Her influence was responsible for the disappearance of the Imperial City and the start of Empire's Fall as well as the retreat into no-time of Imperial Research Alpha. She is trapped in a web of memories--the memories of all those who gave their souls to enact the Oath. More a weapon of mass destruction than a leader of the Army of Chaos, her alien mindset and non-linear nature make her difficult to communicate with. One (wild) theory among the Sages is that she isn't really trapped--she's just fascinated by the concept of linear memory. Of stories that have a beginning and an end, so she's watching them all in series and in parallel. Another theory suggests that she has been "infected" by the memories and thus brought down to a more human scale. No one really knows.