Doaden is a land languishing in the sins of its forebears. The Old Empire is no more. The Rulers of that vast and ancient civilization rose to such great heights they sought to make themselves Gods, but succeeded only in casting Doaden into a dark and terrible twilight.
Now, a malignant corruption spreads from the heart of the Old Empire. Thick clouds of swirling ash and corruption cloak the skies above, leeching the vital energies from the world. Once held back by a series of powerful monoliths, these ancient founts of magical energy have decayed over the centuries, allowing the blight to seep ever more into the realms and hearts of man.
The citizens of Doaden are a shattered people, vying for survival amidst the bones of this decaying empire. Myriad horrors assault their lives; from the dark holds of forgotten places to the shining pulpits of their would-be leaders; demons, beasts, and wild magics threaten to twist their minds and consume their bodies, devouring their souls and damning them to eternal annihilation.
Hope, is a long-forgotten word. For there can be no salvation within the shadows of such all-consuming darkness. Civilization survives only in sporadic pockets, clawing for life within the impasse between the endless clashing and cycles of attrition, greed, and bloodthirsty wars waged by the dark forces and their hellish servants.
Perhaps once in the ages of old, the forebears of these desolate realms possessed secret wisdoms and great artifacts with powers enough to keep such darkness at bay. But all such knowledge is lost, and such power forgotten, hidden away among the fraying pages of time.
Yet within this darkness, a flame yet flickers. The people of this world, like the last solitary campfire in an endless night, record the tales of their plights and battles, singing their last dying songs before they are consumed by the still and silent void.
- The Calden Keep. Part II -
Journal of the World's Ending. Entry 4921 – A Throne of Hate.
I pray to whatever deities who might listen that the Tales the old Crone told me of Calden were true, for I cannot imagine a less chilling explanation. I can, however, imagine truths far worse.
I ventured into that accursed Castle, using the quiet paths between. I saw for myself the legions of unquiet dead, the forces arrayed in waiting for a command as yet unspoken. I travelled deeper, crossing the deep ravine which separated Calden Keep from the wider Castle Grounds.
The sheer arcane, soul-deep corruption of the place staggered me. Hurts and Hate piled upon Hate and Hurts, so much so that the very air above glowed with malevolent light.
I wish that I had more to offer by way of explanation, but this place may well be beyond me. Whatever foul being rules from the throne I know to be at the centre of this castle, I leave him to stew in the prison of his own hatred.
These are the words of Dreyen Solius, Chronicler of the Realm's Ending.
- The Calden Keep -
A few days march from the western edges of the realm lies a great Fastness, Calden.
The folk who lived there long dead and forgotten. For generations, all that was known to remain were slowly crumbling gravestones and a lingering atmosphere of bitterness and rage that discouraged settlement by those who were not deterred by the western forest's other myriad threats.
This ruined place had once been a valorous feudal court of knights and lords. Although, as is the wont of the dark that resides in all men's hearts, what began as chivalric virtue was warped into an arrogant, isolationist pridefulness.
As their sense of superiority grew, so too did their levies and brutalities. The peasant folk of the region rose up in revolt and struck down their once-protectors. Their remains and the burial sites of their ancestors were desecrated, ensuring that the fallen warriors would never enjoy the peace of the grave.
Rumours of great, armoured monstrosities have arisen in recent times. Something has begun to stir in this lost Kingdom and woe betide any who stand in its way.
Twisted Aurorae now flicker above Calden and the regimented pad of dog footed soldiers echoes off the peaks of the Hessiod Mountain Range, as the Keep sits like a sullen wound in its flank. The Lord's revenant subjects are preparing for something, none outside the walls could say what exactly, but one can be certain that their cause is ill.
- The Penitent Crusade -
Sinner, criminal or brigand, a time for retribution comes for all. Pity those who find theirs in the ranks of the Penitent Crusade.
The Penitent Crusade is an ever-growing body, comprised of both those found guilty of some heinous crime and those whose burdens of past sin have become too much to bear. No matter their motivation, or willingness, the Crusade holds that they must all walk the Path of Redemption.
The Path of Redemption is the central credo of the Penitent Crusade, and it holds that forgiveness can only be found by expunging the corruption from the realm, and thereby, one's own soul. As such, the Crusade travels the length and breadth of the realm, rooting out signs of corruption wherever they might be found. True to the nature of Doaden though, the Path of Redemption has no ending, for along the way the ranks of the Crusade are required to commit deeds for the 'greater good' of the Church that would be an unbearable burden on any soul. The Weight of Sin is never ending, and it is oft to drag one backward on the Path.
While the Church concerns itself more directly with matters of the spirit, the Penitent Crusade is better suited to deal with more practical threats, they are, after all, soldiers at their core. Any Beasts, Monsters or Horrors that the land might throw at the few remaining bastions of faith left will face a staunch foe in the ranks of the Penitent. Though, to the misfortune of many a Peasant Village, they are not well equipped to deal with the more subtle manifestations of the Realm's corruption and are as likely to put an entire community to the pyre rather than root out individual evil.
Deadly and vicious warriors who are equipped with rare and exotic armaments, bought from the deep coffers of the Azerai Church itself, those of the Penitent Crusade live only to slay the evils that beset the realm. Each Crusader bears a metal mask, a symbol of their penitence and elevated station. Wearers of such masks are due a duty of care by the residents of whatever locale they visit. Food and lodging is expected and readily taken by the Penitent Crusade. As such, they are quietly maligned by the common folk who have little to spare already, but there are still those who would argue the Crusade is a sad necessity in these dark times.
- Tormentor Cults -
Journal of the World's EndingEntry 2876–The Prison Realm
Among the interplanar entities that beset Doaden, few are as overtly insidious as the Jailor. A being intent on the total and brutal subjugation of all mortal kind, it sends foul whispers out from its great seat in the prison realm; promising to those desperate enough to listen the chance to unshackle themselves from our dying world.
It is true that the Jailor exists in a realm beyond our own and it is an interstitial plane of existence beyond the physical. But it is a place of tyrannical subjugation, a mad asylum of twisted souls determined to express their mastery over the mortal realm and one another.
In fairer times, I doubt any could look upon this entity and consider it worthy of anything but fear and scorn. It is another sad example of the dark times in which we live that any would seek solace from the Jailor.
Still, enough do flock to the Prison Lord's callous shackles that they are a ubiquitous threat across the realm. In his service, the Tormentor Cults commit all manner of dark deeds to thin the veil between Doaden and his Prison Realm, seeking to pass through and receive their master's blessing. Many enter the portals of blood and never return, presumably taken forever into their lord's terrifying embrace; some though are cast back into Doaden, changed, twisted and hell-bent on exerting their mastery over their once-kin with bloody abandon.
These are the words of Dreyen Solius, Chronicler of the World's Ending.
- The Man Eaters -
In the Corrupt Twilight of Doaden, starvation is commonplace.
Crops are liable to be stricken with scale or blight, livestock is often born still, or worse yet, twisted and wrong. The desperation and hunger that followed these commonplace calamities leaves folk with few options, and some of the most desperate might even feast upon their own.
If these folk are not found out quick and strung from the village gallows, they will soon leave town of their own accord, disappearing in the night, never to be seen again.
Direct reporting is confined to a few scant ravings from those scouts lucky enough to escape a sighting, but what is assumed is that many Man Eater tribes are present across the realm, for bone totems have been found in the center of razed towns many leagues apart, within mere days of each other.
What can be known for certain is that they are cannibals who sweep across the realm of Doaden like a plague of locusts, but instead of crops, the cult will pick the land clean of human life. Strangely, livestock,
crops or valuables are often left untouched in the ashes, for the Man Eaters are
uninterested in such things, they only deal in the Fleshspoil.
What drives these once-men to such depravity is not clearly understood, for
hunger and desperation alone is not enough to justify the overt corruption
of the Man Eaters.
From their apparent ritualistic behavior some scholars posit that the
Cannibal tribes worship some kind of godhead or aspect of their hunger.
While it's true name is unknown, whispers have fed back to the cities
of a ‘Carrion King’, a great and hungry being that must lie deeper in the woods,
bound to the place where the tribes are first formed.
The Man Eaters are desperate souls, worthy of pity were it not for
their feral deeds, but in the call of the Carrion King, they find a new
family who offer acceptance of their shame.
Drawn together, their great roving hunting parties
descend from the forests without warning upon
unsuspecting towns and villages. They leave naught but
ruin and silence in their wake.