Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 19, 2010
Time for an update on the development of Frayed Knights, the tongue-in-cheek indie RPG in development at Rampant Games. This time, we’re gonna talk some not-quite-ancient history: The Wizard War.
The Wizard War “ended” about three hundred years before the beginning of the game. Nobody’s really certain when it really began. Stories tend to begin when the war finally engulfed the original storyteller’s life. What is understood is that it began – and ended – with the arch-lich Nepharides.
Spellcasters of great power can sustain their lives well beyond a normal human’s allotted time. Some wizards are rumored to have been able to sustain their lives almost as long as that of the elves, who have been known to reach the ripe old age of a thousand years. But some spellcasters are powerful enough to take this one step further, and not just extend their lives, but replace them with an undead existence. The process to do this is rumored to require some pretty horrible acts of torture and murder, so it’s not an option for a wizard with an ounce of humanity.
Still, most liches are pretty content to use their ill-gotten existence beyond mortality towards quiet pursuits that don’t bug the neighbors. Sure, there’s the occasional raid for slaves or victims to be used in experiments or food, so one really wouldn’t like to be living next door to one. But in general, a lich that has been around for more than a generation or so doesn’t tend to make a kingdom’s Most Wanted list too often.
And then there was Nepharides. Nepharides is by far the most famous lich, the “arch-lich,” and managed to give an already despicable group a bad name. Well, a worse name. At some point, Nepharides decided to wage war on the entire world. While the thought has no doubt occurred to many people throughout history, Nepharides was both ambitious enough and powerful enough to make it happen.
Nobody is entirely sure what his objective was*, which made it far more difficult to fight him. He wasn’t even fighting over geography – he’d spend weeks attacking a stronghold, occupy it for only a few weeks, and then abandon it (usually – but nor always – razing it when he left so it could not be used by his enemies). His armies kept moving, destroying everything in their path.
He amassed legions of followers, however, whose objectives were somewhat more concrete and predictable. It was against these the forces of good were able to launch an offense. As Nepharides’ chief officers and most powerful weapons were based on magic, so too did the forces of good rely upon wizards and other spellcasters to counter the awesome magical might of their enemy.
While many evil monsters joined Nepharides’ forces – often for no other reason than the chance to kill, destroy, and loot – goblins, strangely, chose to side with the forces of the humans, elves, and dwarves. Rumors claim they originally sided with Nepharides, but the other monstrous races bullied the goblins so badly that they defected. But for whatever the reason, the majority of goblin tribes joined the “forces of good” and were even instrumental in turning back the tide.
Since the war, many goblin tribes have gone back to their old ways of raiding, thieving, and even killing. But some still retain cordial-if-distrustful relationships with their former allies, continuing to enjoy some level of trade and cooperation.
The Wizard War was fought for over a generation, by human reckoning. By the time it ended, there was very little left of the old world’s geography. Kingdoms had been laid to waste, and nations not wiped off the map existed in name only. The destruction of Nepharides by Kalder the Great did not usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, though the euphoria over the victory lasted almost a decade. But the vacuum of power and the lack of a common enemy soon brought about many violent struggles with battles that proved every bit as destructive as any of the Wizard War era.
Kalderia – the kingdom founded by Kalder the Great – fared better than most. As the hero and victor of the Wizard War, many flocked to his banner, and helped him secure a nation that even now spans the better part of an entire continent. And he proved to be an able peacetime leader as well. The nation granted him by virtue of his military victory was secured by diplomacy. His heirs may not have always fared quite as well on the leadership front, but somehow the legacy has remained, and the kingdom has prospered with only a few significant military struggles in its nearly three-hundred-year history.
While the Wizard War has been over for generations, its legacy remains and in some ways the world has never fully recovered. Everyone grows up hearing stories of the war. The fear of the return of Nepharides or another like him remains in the heart of everyone, subconsciously, even if publicly dismissed.
* But those who play the full game will discover the truth. And former beta testers for the pilot have a way of finding out right now…
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