New Fallen Empires!!

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The new worlds of 4th edition will not feature a single map that explicitly states where everything is, in addition to Points of light, there are also numerous fallen, ancient empires forged in elder eons by races human and otherwise. These forgotten polities provide not only story-hooks, but also fantastic locations, new magic items, and possibly ideas for new monsters as well. In addition to Bael Turath, Arkhosia, and Nerath already mentioned in the preview material, this thread shall be used to present new (forgotten) empires of yore, stretching back through limitless epochs from the most primordial ages of Titans and Immortals, across misty milennia, and down through the years that might yet be recalled by elves and men. One of the key conceits in the new addition is of an unfathomably ancient world, in which almost any empire could be dropped into any 4th edition campaign world. Some human, many not.


AEONIA

It began with a small family with a sorcerous bloodline, who through desire and destiny began to cultivate astonishing divination magic, resulting in a circle of mystics that could unfailingly predict almost any event, both catastrophic and mundane. The simple villagers came to rely on the arcane prophetesses, and profited enormously by always knowing the outcomes of any crucial decision. This ability allowed a once simple village to navigate the perils of politics and grow into a metropolis that soom blossomed into an invicible empire where the most profitable course of action became simply a matter of reference. (and a matter of donation to the temple coffers, of course)
Aeonia was ruled by this circle of mystics that were both leaders and priests to the people. They created numerous divination artifacts and magical guardians to safeguard vaults where histories of future events were written on scrolls meant to last ages. Finally, tragedy struck the Empire during a monthly scrying by the most powerful hereditary prophets. A disaster of such magnitude was predicted that the military officers in a fit of panic murdered the most powerful prophets in fear of the unrest that would ensue if this terminal prophecy was ever revealed to the public. The military thought they could hold the Empire together until a new generation of prophets was trained. But with the death of the mystic seers, there was nothing to hold their culture together, and Aeonia disintegrated into civil war and chaos - the very tragedy that the fearful officers sought to avert.
Today, the ruins of Aeonia will resemble spherical constructs, a preferred shape. Glass and crystal were used extensively, to symbolize the transparency of the universe's mysteries to those with intellect and ingenuity. No one today possesses the rarefied knowledge needed to make full use of Aeonian artifacts, but those that find them can use them to cast many divination spells. More important are the Vaults of the Future, still protected by ancient magics, where the fate of current civilizations just might be written down. No doubt kings and warlords would pay steep prices for Aeonian books of prophecy.
FLAGRAESH

A small human tribe was fleeing from a savage horde of orcs and ogres for many miles, when they came upon a hot, active volcano, and attempting to hide from their enemies in a sheltered ravine until the horde passed. But the volcano erupted explosively as the horde crossed its foothills, annihilating the savages almost entirely. The cataclysmic eruption buried the ravine partially in a layer of ash, but the refugees were unharmed, and easily able to dig their way out. They made prayer of thanksgiving towards whatever spirits might be associated with the Volcano - and these prayers were well-received.
A mighty fire titan appeared from the caldera, and a pact was sworn. The humans were given a potent artifact, the Malleus Infernicus, a great fiery hammer said to possess the power to render dormant mountains volcanic. The ingenious mortals developed a way to arouse slow volcanism, and used the heat and gases released to create a form of steam-power that could propel simple mechanical devices. They built cities centered on volcanic peaks and found ways to use flows of lava and eruptions of infernal gases to defend fortifications against invaders.
Slowly but surely, they prospered and expanded - each city built around a smouldering volcano. But the fire archons and titans grew upset when Flagraesh became complacent, ceasing to ignite new volcanoes, and eventually deciding that they no longer needed to pay homage to the elemental beings. In an explosive fit of rage, the fire titans triggered simultaneous, uncontrollable eruptions of such magnitude that Flagraesh was blasted into dust within just a few minutes of infernal wrath. The Malleus Infernicus was shattered into four fragments, and the survivors scattered as well.
Today, burned out volcanoes may still have carved dwellings erected in their rock, with many statues of obsidian and pumice. And should someone discover a piece of the Malleus Infernicus, there are numerous interests in the world that would both welcome and oppose its assembly with all the powers they possess.
BUU'UUUL

Untold eons ago, an alignment of the stars and planes allowed something unspeakable to leak from the Far Realms and slither perversely into the mortal world of men. This terrible essence landed in a deep, freshwater lake close to the underdark, where it mated itself with several natural creatures, finally resulting in a mutant horror that took the shape of a collosal kraken, but with knowledge and power inconceivable to mortal minds.
A colony of Kuo-Toa discovered the mighty aberration and began worshipping it as a god-made-flesh. The creature's attitudes towards these supplicants varied greatly. Some it aided, some it consumed, to others it revealed its True Name, a knowledge so utterly alien that to hear it spoken aloud is to plunge into madness.
The Kraken was not content to merely remain in this single deep lake, lording it over these icthyoid creatures it had dominated. It possessed the ability to traverse the planes, but it could only re-appear in other bodies of water. The Kraken traveled to a variety of other freshwater lakes all across the world, to bring menace and madness to whatever new life it encountered. The Kuo-Toa discovered that their new god left portals in its wake, and that they too, now had magical access to new bodies of water unavailable to them previously.
Slowly then, came the rise of the Drowned Empire of Buu'uuul, built up over the years as the land-walking races dwelled in ignorance of its splendour. Cyclopean cities of fluid construction and sinister evil emerged at the bottoms of seas and lakes. Until finally, the armies of Buu'uuul were great enough to force tribute and sacrifice from all the simple humanoids that depended on the lakes and seas for fishing, commerce, and travel. Many creative attempts were made to attack the Kuo-Toa, but with so many other colonies to support one another, and the ability to instantaneously travel between them via magic portals, no single enemy arose that could defeat them.
As Buu'uuul expanded, and its watery vaults filled with food and riches, the Kuo-Toa became more introspective and curious, and many more demanded to learn the True Name of the Kraken, their great, ancient deity. For it was believed the Name held universal truths that would reveal the true meaning and purpose of the Kuo-Toa race. But upon pronouncing the alien syllables, the racial madness that plagues their species became inevitable. These mad prophets were seen as visionaries at first, but as more and more of the population demanded 'enlightenment', soon there were not enough sane Kuo-Toa to maintain their vast, complex empire, and the cities were abandoned, and the monstrous Kraken gathered up the mad ones that spoke its True Name and conducted them back to the Far Realms to dwell in wonder, horror, and insanity forevermore.
Over the eons, even those not able to breathe water may visit the twisted ruins of Buu'uuul, for over time, many lakes have dried up, leaving the cities intact and abandoned. There are few artifacts that sane humanoids would comprehend, but the Kraken is said to have left many aberrant spawn that will menace sane civilizations for eons to come. In addition, the legacy of Buu'uuul includes not only their own artifacts, but also the bizarre works built by other races trying to defeat them. Great Dams were built by dwarves to try to redirect water flow and dry-out the fish-people. Countless tons of rock were quarried to try to fill in the lakes and bury the alien cities on the bottom. The locations of these projects, as well as the dried-up husks of the Drowned Empire will harbor trouble and treasures alike.
very good
Thank you, I just hope people will consider using them.
If one were able to capture a medusa and not be petrified, and if one were able to persuade that medusa to parley rather than fight, it might be possible to coax from the creature details of a bygone age of wonder and terror.
It is whispered that many long ages ago, there was a breed of medusa that was not hideous as such creatures are in modern eons. There was once a breed of creature with the snakes for hair, yes - but a form and visage achingly beautiful to many races. These primordial medusas had many powers available should one meet their gaze, including the ability to charm and dominate as a sorceror would. It was not difficult for them to amass legions of followers mesmerized by their powers who could then carve up the world in that forgotten age to form an empire whose exact name is lost to time - but is known by scholars as the Dynasty of the Stone-Queens.
They shattered resistance and brought to heel yet more races and city-states through a mighty spell that allowed them to reanimate the petrified statues of their previous victims. Each person stoned by a medusa-queen could become a mindlessly loyal tool, possessing all the skills they had in life, but now within a mighty body of solid, animate stone. The swords and sorceries of neighboring domains proved no match for such tireless armies of invulnerable soldiers.
Their spiralling cities of jade and marble were peopled not only by medusas, but by the many other races enthralled into slave labor for the power and glory of the serpent-haired queens. But their society was always corrupt, and their dominion lasted for far fewer centuries than the eladrins feared.
Their end came from a scheme derived by clerics who worshipped an obscure goddess of Love. With divine help, a humanoid simulacrum was constructed of surpassing beauty, a male ideal who was given life and a soul by the goddess. This false-man also proved immune to many of the powers of the stone-queens. He entered under a banner of peaceful negotiation, and the medusas craved this impossibly perfect creature. He toyed with almost the entire medusa nobility, until their unrestrained greed, jealousy and lust grew so great, that they turned their petrified armies against each other, each determined to destroy all rivals that she might possess this perfect lover.
But the stone soldiers could not countenance conflicting orders from multiple medusas ordering them to attack each other, never being used in this way, they became confused, and stopped taking orders altogether. Soon, they were attacking anything and everything in sight. The crazed constructs soon tore down the Empire, and began killing their Queens. This freed the ensorceled humanoids from domination, who launched ferocious, mirror-masked reprisals. In a matter of weeks, not one city of the Stone Queens was not scorched by flame and revolt.
After the slaughter, only the weakest, most poor and pathetic medusas survived, those considered defective and ugly. The true beauty and glory of their race bleeding away on the blades of subjects in revolt. The ugly, stunted rejects escaped and proliferated into the current race of medusas, longing for splendors that can never come again.
Today, it is believed that the rebellious stone armies destroyed each other, and yet there were many generations of noble medusas that were each buried in grandiose, trap-guarded tombs with all their petrification victims buried with them. The riches plundered from dozens of races lies in these grand mausoleums, and if someone should locate the resting place of a truly powerful queen, with thousands of soldiers, then all the world should tremble if the means were found to animate her golem-troops again.

And let us hope that none of the primordial medusas might have somehow survived in some isolated region....
I'm not sure if this fits the theme, but here goes (X, Y and Z are used as placeholders that you can insert your own names into):

[u]Feran Empire[/u]

The Feran Empire has its roots back in the end of the empire of X which had been fighting a loosing battle against Y. Hetad Nigh was promised to be named successor as emperor of X if he was able to push back Y along the northern front. For 37 years Hetad Nigh worked far from the capital of X, pushing back Y where all others had failed. Upon finally succeeding Hetad Nigh returned back to the capital of X to claim the hand of the emperor's daughter and eventually leadership of the empire. However by the time he reached the capital it had fallen to Y who had succeeded on another front.

In the following years Hetad Nigh attempted to unite the remnants of the empire, but the chaos was simply too large and so he failed. However unwilling to give up on his hopes and dreams, Hetad Nigh transformed himself into a death knight so that he could continue to work on becoming ruler of the empire.

A century later a charismatic leader was able to unite the cities that had once been part of X and create a new empire he called Z with himself as leader. This was a large affront against Hetad who had failed where this charismatic leader had succeeded. He began leading orcs against the cities of Z, but he was repulsed most of the time and this only served to strengthen the charismatic leader's hold on the cities.

For centuries Hetad Nigh plotted and worked to become leader of Z. Eventually he led his legions of undead against the northern cities of Z and was able to not only capture them, but hold them against the retaliation of Z. He called his territory the Feran Empire.

In the following years the Feran Empire and Z battled with Hetad Nigh's territories growing while Z lessened. Eventually though Z had shrunk to a size that could be defended against the Feran Empire and so the two were at a standstill. Setting his sights elsewhere, Hetad Nigh sent ships led by Lichs and Death Knights across the ocean to spread his empire into unknown lands. However Hetad Nigh remained behind as he sought to conquer all of Z.

Eventually Hetad Nigh would gain a boon as a noble house of Z betrayed it in return for the immortality that only Hetad Nigh could offer. After the capital fell those of the house that survived were turned into Death Knights. The Feran Empire expanded considerably with the fall of Z, which benefited the southern cities who banded together against Hetad Nigh who needed to secure his hold on his newly captured territories.

Defeat would have eventually come to those who southern cities had it not been for a band of heroes who with the help of the Orb of (healing God), was able kill the undead legions of the Feran Empire at the head of the southern army. With the majority of his forces dead, Hetad Nigh was unable to win against the southern army and was forced to retreat. The southern army forced him all the way back to the northern territories and eventually into a cave. The heroes went in and defeated Hetad Nigh.
BLACK TLAKARA

The war against the combined orcish tribes was not going well. Though the small, tight-knit human kingdom of Tlakara had allied itself with the dwarf clans of Thundermountain, screaming multitudes of foul orcs continued to chip away at the kingdom like a slavering river of tusked barbarism. But the leaders of Tlakara had a plan, and through forbidden sorceries they caused a duplication of their kingdom to appear in the Shadowfell, a dark echo of all they had built over their history. During a brief respite in the orc raids, Tlakara conceived a plan for their perpetual survival. They would continue to resist with all their might; but they knew that if their mortal empire should fail, they would now be able to start anew in the dark mirror of the world of man.
But the dwarves of Thundermountain had no stomach for black magic or necromancy of any sort, and when a visiting dwarf princess happened upon the Grand Vizier in a dark ritual, she was horrified and promised an end to their alliance. In an unthinking panic, the Vizier murdered the princess and tried to cover up the crime. But the dwarves could not be deceived, and soon it was they who marched upon Tlakara.
All was in readiness; elite spies had already stolen a scroll from the Castle of the Raven Queen herself that would transport the entire population to their new haven in the Shadowfell. And as armies marched on the gates of the Capitol, the Vizier read the spell-scroll standing atop the city walls. But it was the Raven Queen who had the last laugh. The spell that the Vizier cast not only moved his population to the Shadowfell, it also transformed them into Vampires at the same time.
Still bound by the spell, the Black Tlakarans can only return into the world of men one night per year, when the moon is properly aligned. But with legions of vampire warriors, this proved enough to deal a deadly, and blood-drenched revenge against the dwarves over the course of a decade. And when the orc-hordes returned next season, they found an unpleasant, undead surprise awaiting them.
Today, the ruins of Tlakara are seeded with gold and jewels, to entice the greedy to brave the wreckage, which is littered with portals to the Shadowfell. During the night of the BloodMoon, or when foolish adventurers fall into their new realm, Black Tlakarans assail their prey with military discipline and vampiric powers, their swords have hollow metal fangs that can retain blood with each slash, allowing the vampire a chance to feed on blood in the midst of combat.
Black Tlakara cannot rebuild their mortal empire, but the undead menace is a grave threat to the region. The nearby villages have resigned themselves to the practicality of delivering sacrifices on the night of the BloodMoon to add to the human blood farms kept by the Tlakarans in their new domain.
I started a thread with the exact same purpose a while ago, ;)
It wasn't very successful, though, maybe 'cause I posted it in the wrong place (Races instead of Adventures), but ah, well...
Well, if you people are any interested, here's the link: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1009348
NOTE: The Enemy mentioned has yet to be decided in order to avoid having it contradict fluff from the core books. At this stage some possible races for the Enemy are dragons, illithids and demons.

[u]The Gnome Empire[/u]

The Gnome Empire refers to a collection of independent city-states that were spread out across the entire Feywild and world in ancient times, long before the eladrin empire dominated the world. It was not a true empire with a unified laws and a single ruler, but it is called an empire because the city-states shared a common culture and were the dominant race of this time with all other races living in small towns, nomadic tribes or within the gnome cities.

The city-states excelled in the arts and sciences (both mundane and magical), using them to create numerous devices and inventions that have never been surpassed since. They also used magic to create large sprawling cities that would move locations and planes at different times of the year (the ability of eladrin cities to move between Feywild and Alosh was taken from the ability of the gnome cities). They also created floating cities that would traverse the world's oceans along with flying cities that crossed the land.

The gnome city-states would eventually fall when the Enemy came. Against the greater intelligence of the gnomes were the large numbers of the Enemy along with their raw power which would eventually overcome the gnomes. Since the fall of the city-states, gnomes have become a nomadic people with some having rediscovered limited forms and applications of their ancient sciences.
Selon

Selon was a large angel empire that resided within the Astral Sea. It was the height of angel civilization and the geography was based heavily on the material plane. However when the war between the gods and primordials erupted Selon was a casualty. The war spread to Salen with much destruction happening to the empire, resulting in the land itself fracturing and drifting apart. Large portions of it were then taken over by the primordials while the gods took over other portions under the guise of offering protection to the angels. The angels would eventually enter the way on the side of the gods and helped them defeat the primordials.

After the war only small remnants of the empire had survived with most of it destroyed. Now homeless, the angels would split into smaller tribes and live on either the few remnants that existed, create new lands for themselves (although these always pale in comparison to Selon and is quite costly) or live in the domains of the gods they serve.

In angel societies legends always abound of the great Selon, many of which have very little basis in reality. Amongst these legends are popular ones on how to bring the empire back. Whether or not any of these are possible is unknown.
THE STARBRAND COVENANT

It was more than a mere orc-horde. The Ogre-Magi who led them had forged a mass-pact with the Nine-Hells to deliver the souls of their casualties straight into Asmodeus's grasp - in exchange for the services of war devils leading untold legions of hellish minions to aid them in their blood-drenched conquest of the Middle World.
It was not known by outsiders what god or gods aided the dwarves of Cresthelm, but no doubt so many devils thundering across the land drew the attention of many powers. But the great falling meteorite did not strike the orc-devil horde, rather it landed in the ranks of the dwarven defenders, seemingly killing only one of them.
But Ulya Emberforge was not slain, rather she had been transformed. Wreathed in silvery flames of icy fire, the warrior had been branded with a glowing sigil of no language known by dwarves or elves. The dwarf had been branded with the power of an army of angels. Her rallying cry renewed the flagging courage of the dwarven hosts, and weakened the powers of the devilish marauders. So awesome were her blasts of silvery angelic flame, so domineering was her aspect and resolve, that hardened orcish raiders loathing dwarves for generations untold fell to the knees before Ulya-Starbrand, to beg her forgiveness in the heat of battle. Overwhelmed by her commanding aura, several regiments of orcs turned against their own allies and fought to defend the city they had come to despoil, and the devils were utterly vanquished. A circle of orcish warriors forsook their own people, forever devoting themselves to Ulya as an honor-guard.
Under the leadership of Ulya-Starbrand and her successors, A Covenant of fealty was formed and grew, including many dwarven holds and human cities under one banner. The orc-tribes were driven to the brink of extinction during these centuries. Human and dwarf together created monumental structures and sculptures to defy imagination in these years. But the power of the Starbrand does not pass directly from mother to child in most cases. The power burns in the bloodline of the dwarves, but manifests unpredictably. Yet within a century after the death of the prior bearer, the mark must appear again on one of the old bloodline.
Urghardt Bluntsworn knew this, and vowed to stop it. For in his greed and yearning to rule the growing empire himself, he made the political calculation that the failure to manifest a Starbranded descendant would cause a crisis that he could demagogue to his advantage, predicting that the people would support his bid for ultimate power over the empire to guide them through a time when the promise of the gods had failed them. The ambitious courtier sent spies through the country, and found the Starbranded girl days after birth, killing any who knew the truth. Hiding her in his personal palace, he proclaimed that the prophecy had failed, and that only his practical leadership could guide the people.
Some believed Bluntsworn, some did not. It was not long before the crisis devolved into fratricidal civil war. The domains and cities that survived the carnage broke apart into separate polities, and the Starbrand descendant perished, and the true fate of the bloodline is unknown.

The dwarves of the Flint-heart Hills swear that the bloodline still exists, and there are those certain that the Brand must appear again someday....someday soon.
The Floating Empire

Not every great empire is brought together by race or history and not every great empire is conquered by force. The Floating Empire is such an example.

What brought the floating empire into being was simple greed. Pirates, traders, and merchants roamed the seas, occasionally pillaging, occasionally robbing, but for the most part trading.

The Empire was controlled by a loose confederation. The Halflings controlled freshwater commerce, the human and dragonborn merchants the saltwater, and the pirates just kind of stuck around, eventually being paid not to do piratey things (or to do them to the proper people).

The arrangement went well. Everyone struck a profit, the local waters were relatively safe, and even the land dwellers cities grew.

Until the Pox.

The Pox spread quickly throughout the empire, stretching to the furthest reaches. Nobody could explain where it came from, nor who caused it. Rumors circulated. A cursed treasure brought up from the depths by ambitious pirates, a rat-born pathogen from the far east, or even a divine plague brought on by the ancient sea dwellers.

The empire crumbled. Trade all but stopped. Many former cities were reduced to ghost islands, populated only by gulls. Towards the end some decided that the only way to avoid the Pox was to shun solid land altogether. The last great city, Aquaregia (Highspeech for King's Water), consisted of a thousand ships, tied together, floating far away from anywhere, headed by the mad trio: Despek, a dragonborn rumrunner, Hemmer Ricepaddy, a halfling merchant, and the Captain Balachai, one of the last pirate lords. Together they kept the city alive for fifty years.

But even so, the Pox found them too. As their city fell to the coughing plague the men disbanded. Hemmer sought safety at a monastery, Despek left with the last of his men, convinced he could find a cure deep in the jungles, and Balachai, ever the captain, stayed with the rotting mass of timber, rope, and cloth, dedicated to his ship and his home.

Today the Pox is a hidden danger of the past, not seen for a hundred years. Some city-forts have been reclaimed, such as Lastport and Saltpeter Cliffs, while many others are left, haunted by the salt winds. Tales are told of Hemmer's final raving hours, of Despek's lost voyage (and whether or not he found what he was looking for), and of Balachai's floating city. Adventurers sometimes go looking for things long lost, but most return to the bars and taverns of the civilized world, adding to the mystery their accounts of the lost Floating Empire.