Category Archives: Hills of Shade

Into the Depths of: Loping Plains


Overview

Change has come to Faydwer. The Bloodmoon tribe of wereorcs have become a formidable force in the land. Secured in their southern fortress, the wereorcs send scouts and hunters out into the surrounding countryside. The Bloodmoon tribe often wars with the neighboring werewolves while the goblins and minotaurs keep mostly to themselves.

Background Lore

Long ago, the Loping Plains were a thriving habitat for a large variety of Tunare’s creations. They have since become cursed and twisted by the influence of dark powers. From the south, the dark forces of the Bloodmoon tribe creep out from Bloodmoon Keep, threatening to consume the land, while the curse of an angry god pulses from the northern coast and the Hills of Shade.

The wereorcs have taken up residence in elven ruins from the days when the Loping Plains were a vast magic forest. Their purpose is to subvert as many of the Crushbone orc tribe as will join them. Those who will not join, they will destroy.

Areas of Note

Bloodmoon Keep: The keep was once an elegant elven city. It was destroyed by the forces of Mayong many ages ago and was recently claimed by the Bloodmoon orcs as their fortress. Even though the city lay in ruins, the ramparts and thick stone walls of the keep provide a stronghold that is relatively easy for the wereorcs to defend.

Nightwalker’s Refuge: The nightwalker refuge a goblin stronghold built on an abandoned elven outpost. The goblins use this area as a hiding place to avoid the wereorc scouting parties. The Nightwalkers are allied with the Ranthok goblins, who are searching, largely in vain, for their leader.

Festival of Mistwynd: An abandoned festival ground on the northern shore of Wayunder Lake. This was once a fairground of sorts, but now has a more nefarious purpose… There is evidence of sacrifices.

Drangol Point: A fortress of Creepfeet goblins who are trying (mostly in vain) to avoid the conflict raging in a land now dominated by undead.

Fangbreakers’ Recruiting Station: Once a society of werewolf hunters, the Fangbreakers have expanded their scope and now hunt weres, cursed spirits and any other monster that preys upon normal folk.

Shadowmane Camp: The Shadowmane feel responsible for the spread of the wereorcs and have set up a camp to try help rid Norrath of this new scourge. While they don’t normally interact well with the Fangbreakers, there is an uneasy alliance between them in the face of a common threat.

Three Oaks Hill: A mysterious grove of oak trees. It may well be worth exploring.

Roots of Elddandor: A small cave system under the Three Oaks area made up of roots. Adventurers who venture into these caves may meet dangerous imps.

Decaying Caverns: These caverns house minotaur thralls, who work there until released by death. Their cruel taskmaster was once one of them, but his failure changed him into a shadow forever bound to toil in the caverns.

Marble Mine of Mistwynd: A cave system located near Wayunder Lake. The outcast vampires of Mayong’s realm live here in exile.

Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20100727143322/http://eqplayers.station.sony.com/news_article.vm?id=51964

Advertisements

Into the Depths of: Loping Plains


Overview

Change has come to Faydwer. The Bloodmoon tribe of wereorcs have become a formidable force in the land. Secured in their southern fortress, the wereorcs send scouts and hunters out into the surrounding countryside. The Bloodmoon tribe often wars with the neighboring werewolves while the goblins and minotaurs keep mostly to themselves.

Background Lore

Long ago, the Loping Plains were a thriving habitat for a large variety of Tunare’s creations. They have since become cursed and twisted by the influence of dark powers. From the south, the dark forces of the Bloodmoon tribe creep out from Bloodmoon Keep, threatening to consume the land, while the curse of an angry god pulses from the northern coast and the Hills of Shade.

The wereorcs have taken up residence in elven ruins from the days when the Loping Plains were a vast magic forest. Their purpose is to subvert as many of the Crushbone orc tribe as will join them. Those who will not join, they will destroy.

Areas of Note

Bloodmoon Keep: The keep was once an elegant elven city. It was destroyed by the forces of Mayong many ages ago and was recently claimed by the Bloodmoon orcs as their fortress. Even though the city lay in ruins, the ramparts and thick stone walls of the keep provide a stronghold that is relatively easy for the wereorcs to defend.

Nightwalker’s Refuge: The nightwalker refuge a goblin stronghold built on an abandoned elven outpost. The goblins use this area as a hiding place to avoid the wereorc scouting parties. The Nightwalkers are allied with the Ranthok goblins, who are searching, largely in vain, for their leader.

Festival of Mistwynd: An abandoned festival ground on the northern shore of Wayunder Lake. This was once a fairground of sorts, but now has a more nefarious purpose… There is evidence of sacrifices.

Drangol Point: A fortress of Creepfeet goblins who are trying (mostly in vain) to avoid the conflict raging in a land now dominated by undead.

Fangbreakers’ Recruiting Station: Once a society of werewolf hunters, the Fangbreakers have expanded their scope and now hunt weres, cursed spirits and any other monster that preys upon normal folk.

Shadowmane Camp: The Shadowmane feel responsible for the spread of the wereorcs and have set up a camp to try help rid Norrath of this new scourge. While they don’t normally interact well with the Fangbreakers, there is an uneasy alliance between them in the face of a common threat.

Three Oaks Hill: A mysterious grove of oak trees. It may well be worth exploring.

Roots of Elddandor: A small cave system under the Three Oaks area made up of roots. Adventurers who venture into these caves may meet dangerous imps.

Decaying Caverns: These caverns house minotaur thralls, who work there until released by death. Their cruel taskmaster was once one of them, but his failure changed him into a shadow forever bound to toil in the caverns.

Marble Mine of Mistwynd: A cave system located near Wayunder Lake. The outcast vampires of Mayong’s realm live here in exile.

Source: http://eqplayers.station.sony.com/news_article.vm?id=51964&month=072010

Land of the Dead


The Hills of Shade were almost completely ignored by the residents of Faydwer for many years after the destruction of Durathin. Bandits and criminals are likely to have taken refuge there, but such outcasts were far enough from civilization that no real effort was made to discourage this kind of self-imposed exile. Common wisdom across Faydwer held that nothing of importance would ever come of the Hills of Shade.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum, and such a vast, unregulated wilderness could not go forever unexploited. Though unsuited to supporting living communities, the hills proved far more accommodating for groups of undead. Such creatures didn’t mind getting lost, since they had no destinations anyway and had all the time in the world; they had no love for the sun, so the shade was a boon; and they had no need for farms and ranches to produce food. Over years, the number of undead in the hills grew to stunning proportions.

The more powerful undead forced their lesser brethren to built grand tombs, turned the peaceful corpses already interred within the hills into new kinds of undead, and seeped the powers of necromancy into the ground itself. A kind of hierarchy developed, and a black necropolis was built to serve as home to the throngs of undead. Unlike earlier societies of such creatures, the undead of the hills kept to themselves. It is unknown if this time of quiet was the calm before the storm, or if the walking corpses truly had no desire other than to be left alone by the living. In any case, they did not raid outside their borders or build any defenses that might be noticed by casual travelers.

Even so, it is surprising that this dangerous development went unnoticed by the guardian races of Faydwer. No report of vast armies of undead reached the lords of Felwithe, Kaladim, Kelethin, or far off Ak’Anon. Many have since suggested that some powerful being (probably a spellcaster) may have concealed the activities of the undead in the Hills of Shade — creatures ranging from Mayong Mistmoore to the dragon Trakanon and even the gods themselves have been suggested for this role. No real evidence of such a plot has ever been produced, but the suspicion remains that some force must have protected the black dead of the Hills of Shade.

Curse of the Bloodmoon


Unfolding the Lore, Pt 5

The Loping Plains occupy the central area of Faydwer. Once a healthy habitat for a large variety of Tunare’s creations, the Loping Plains has become cursed and twisted by the influence of dark powers. From the south, the dark forces of the Bloodmoon tribe creep out from Bloodmoon Keep threatening to consume the land, while the curse of an angry god pulses from the northern coast and the Hills of Shade.

Little is known about this new tribe of orcs, but they are believed to be a splinter group from the Crushbone clan led by Ralkor Bloodmoon also known as, “The Prophet”. Several rumors that these orcs are lycanthropic have drawn Norrath’s most famous werewolf hunters, the Fangbreakers, to the Plains. Larquin Fangbreaker and his band of hunters have come in hopes of whipping out this new curse before it can spread beyond the plains. An unlikely ally has also emerged from the depths of Darkhallow to combat this new curse, but their ultimate goal is as yet unknown. 

Along the north coast lies the Hills of Shade, a once lush landscape cursed by the fury of an angry goddess. Damned spirits of Humans and Elves roam through the ruins of their once beautiful cities, cursed to replay the fateful actions of their final days for eternity. The powerful energy of the curse has drawn several visitors to the hills. A holy order of paladins hopes to cleans the curse and free the damned spirits from their torment. Nearby, a conclave of necromancers hopes to harness the power of the curse and use it for their own malicious plans.

Meanwhile, in a dark crypt beneath the hills, the Soulbleeder continues to amass the power of thousands of souls and an army of undead. Soon the Soulbleeder will run out of spirits to consume in the Hills of Shade and certainly head south to begin the culling of the living.

 

Hills of Shade


Hills of Shade

The Elddar elves fled Tunaria, the land now known as Antonica, to escape the destruction that Solusek Ro wrought upon their land. They found their way east, to Faydwer. Over time on the new continent, the Elddar branched off into two distinct tribes: the Koada’dal and the Fier’dal. A fraction of the Fier’dal population settled in the Hills of Shade, creating a small village they named Kirathas. The elves of Kirathas cherished nature, and resided in simple wooden huts not unlike the structures of Kelethin.

Much later, an enterprising group of humans led by their captain Han Jensen, “discovered” Faydwer while searching for profitable fishing routes. They erected a crude port on the northern coast, opposite from Kirathas in the southwest, and named it Blackwater. Under Jensen’s orders, they made a point of keeping Blackwater’s location a closely guarded secret. This protected the sanctity of their bountiful fishing port, but it also eliminated any possibility of a rescue should disaster strike.

It was only a matter of time before the elves and the humans met. The first introduction was between a young fisherman, Fendel, and the daughter of Kirathas’ leader, an elven girl named Amber. They stumbled upon one another at an elder oak tree. Their initial fear of each other melted away, replaced by curiosity. Curiosity turned to friendship, and friendship blossomed into love. This was a union that was blessed by the goddess of love, Erollisi Marr.

Unfortunately, the subsequent interactions between the citizens of Kirathas and Blackwater were anything but blessed. Territorial skirmishes and confrontations spiraled out of control, escalating into all-out war between the two villages. Not long after Amber gave birth to Norrath’s first half-elf, she was slain by her own father. He felt the act of sacrifice would end the conflict, but Fendel’s screams of anguish reached Erollisi’s ears. She descended upon the squabbling tribes, furious that her gift of love would be twisted into such hatred and pain. She cursed the inhabitants of the hills to relive their mistakes, forever.

Today, the Hills of Shade are haunted by all manner of twisted and tortured creatures. The residents of Kirathas and Blackwater continue to battle each other even in death, seemingly unaware of their tragic fate. The elves’ ancient burial catacombs, the Crypt of Shade, are overrun with the undead. Feeding off of the decay are a vicious new breed of Sporali, darkly transformed by the remains they consume. The foliage of the grove, disfigured by the divine curse, stand guard near a statue to Erollisi. A flock of crow aviaks known as the borrowers has taken up residence in the northwest, decorating their home with scavenged baubles, brightly colored cloth, and bone.

Two camps of relative newcomers have arrived in the Hills: the benevolent members of Camp Valor, and the gnomes that call themselves Bertoxxulous’s Chosen. Both groups are recruiting passing adventurers for assistance with their wildly different goals. The gnomes’ attention is on scavenging dead bodies. For a necromancer, the concentration of death and decay are a valuable untapped resource, and profitable if one is willing to risk one’s neck collecting it. The paladins of Camp Valor have come to the Hills for a more noble cause. They desire nothing less than to fend off the undead and destroy the curse. They are failing thus far, however, and their membership dwindles.

The Crusade of Tears in the Hills of Shade


The undead were eventually noticed by two of the gods Mithaniel and Erollisi Marr. Concerned about this development and other goings on throughout the continent, the twin gods ordered their worshipers to undertake a crusade. Not only were the undead of the Hills of Shade to be destroyed, but numerous other objectives on Faydwer were commanded as well. To this day, no one knows the full extent of the gods’ commands but their chief followers.

The Priests of Marr and Knights of Truth, both based out of Freeport, took up the call and bent their full, considerable power to the Crusade. Through careful and complex diplomacy, the followers of the Marr twins managed to gain acceptance from local governments on Faydwer for their fight, and were free to march through the wilds of the continent as they wished. The Crusade took many years and eventually cost the orders the control of their home city, but in time the will of their gods was carried out. Whatever else the Crusade’s warriors may have done, they cleansed the Hills of Shade of undead and made it once more nothing but an empty wasteland.

Aataltaal II : Silent Vigil


For Aataltaal’s plan to work, the human majority of Landing had to be left leaderless as soon as the dark elf and orc threat was weakened. Lady Delailith was well known as his second, however, and thus was a natural choice as his successor. After the attack of the Long Night and Aataltaal’s disappearance, Lady Delailith fled as well, to prevent this very thing. She took with her several close friends and allies, mostly gnomes and elves who had served the Combine Empire, but told them nothing of their destination.

Not wishing to be found by those who felt loyal to her and Aataltaal, she hid far away from Landing, in the Hills of Shade. From there she kept watch from afar over her old city, now called Freeport, through agents and potent magics. But Aataltaal’s plan worked, and the city never had need of her. After many decades more she succumbed to old age, and her agents buried her in secret. The location of her tomb and the Rod of Command was to be kept, in secret of course, by her agents, but in time they too died without heirs, and thus took her secret with them. Having voided any record of her name or fate, Lady Delailith was lost and forgotten.

Grave Mounds of the Hills of Shade


The region known as the Grave Mounds contains the densest collection of barrows within the Hills of Shade. Located in the northeastern corner of the hills, the grave mounds include tombs dating back to the Combine Empire and the mysterious civilization that built the Black Tombs, and also features crypts crafted by the ancient forebears of the Crushbone orcs, as well as the first elves who traveled to Faydwer from Antonica; finally, the most recent additions are those tombs placed here by the Knights of Truth from Freeport during the Crusade of Tears. In addition, there are numerous burial mounds that have been completed by one group or another but which for whatever reason were never used, which is likely why so many different groups have placed some of their dead here.

As a result, the barrows themselves are far from uniform.They vary in size from a single room to complexes that spread across (or rather underneath) nearly a full acre of surface area. Many of the barrows are linked by tunnels or cracks in the earth, creating subterranean labyrinths of great danger. Great numbers of barrow wolves make their dens within these mounds, and other creatures often inhabit them as well. Many have complex traps set to protect the treasures buried within, and some of these traps are tied into steam vents to allow them to reset after each use.

Unlike the Black Tombs, the burial mounds are easily spotted from the outside. Each is a large earthen mound with a huge stone slab placed over the top and shale built up around the sides. This area is somewhat more geologically stable than other parts of the Hills, so, although quakes do occasionally bury or reveal new mounds, many of the same mounds can be found on any visit to the region. As the mounds have no distinctive markings on the outside, however, it’s impossible to determine who (or what) is in each without either moving the enormous rock atop it (certainly a difficult task, as each weighs at least several tons) or digging into it from the side.

Because of these difficulties, scavengers and corpse miners tend to ignore the Grave Mounds in favor of easier pickings elsewhere. Only individuals seeking a specific barrow spend time hunting here. The sole exception to this rule is agents of Mayong Mistmoore. Dark offerers, deathly ushers, pledge familiars, recluses, webstranders, and even will sappers are fairly common sights around the Mounds, digging into old barrows and setting up ropes and pulleys to remove the huge capstones. It has been suggested that these creatures are seeking a particular tomb for their master, but, if so, no one knows which one, or why.

According to legend, the high elf Aataltaal, founder of Freeport, is buried within the largest of these mounds. This is not true (and many whisper that the elf is not dead at all), but the mistake is understandable: One of the few elves who aided Aataltaal in establishing the primarily human city of Freeport, Lady Delailith, did return to Felwithe upon his disappearance, and eventually her remains were buried here in the hills. Her burial mound, long hidden and lost to posterity, was only recently rediscovered.

The coming of the Elves


Nothing else after the dwarf-sagas is known to have been written about the Hills of Shade until the time of the elven Hejira, the sea journey that brought them from Tunaria to Faydwer. As newcomers to a vast and unknown continent, the elves wanted to explore their new home and its resources. Most of their efforts focused on the areas around the vicinity of current-day Felwithe and Kelethin, but smaller groups of elves set up communities anywhere there wasn’t already a local population. The very fact that the Hills of Shade were abandoned made it perfect for individuals seeking a new home, and relations between the elven newcomers and the indigenous dwarves were strong.

Thus, the small community of Durathin arose in the hills; though small and never prosperous, the town was kept safe by combined forces of high elf and dwarven guards. This cooperation was purely pragmatic — neither Felwithe nor Kaladim had an outpost near the center of the continent, and Durathin provided a useful place for scouts from both kingdoms to resupply.

The inhabitants of Durathin learned much about the dangers of the Hills of Shade and recorded their findings thoroughly. The deceptive shadows and changing landscape made maps useless within weeks of being drawn, but it was possible for explorers with a strong sense of direction to find their way around cautiously. One could navigate by using the coastline as a guide, and notorious or unusual regions within the hills kept the same identifying properties even when their appearance changed: Durathin citizens identified Bertoxxulous’ Cauldron, the Black Tombs, the Crawling Ruins, and the Grave Mounds. They also erected dozens of trail-markers to establish (relatively) safe paths through the hills. Slowly, a trickle of trade began between Kaladim and Kelethin, using Durathin guides to find the shortest route from the Butcherblock Mountains to the Greater Faydark. Durathin was poised to blossom into a large and prosperous trade community.

History of the Hills of Shade


The earliest records regarding the Hills of Shade are the old dwarven sagas of Kaladim. In these it is called the Land of Steam and Shadow, and is even today often used as ametaphor for death. Interestingly, these sagas also make itclear that even in the dwarves’ ancient history, this landwas already full of ancient tombs and twisted wildlife. Mostof the tales make no effort to explain where the tombs camefrom, but a few references to the “dark lords” has lead Teir’Dal scholars to claim the hills were a common burial ground for their Caerthielian Empire. By contrast, the few dwarven lore-masters who have studied the question claim that the origin of the tombs is not mentioned simplybecause it was unimportant, and thus is the result of some minor kingdom long since forgotten.

Not nearly as old or reliable are the legends perpetuated by the Crushbone orcs. Ancient maps in the possession of the orcs of Crushbone — written in an ancient orc dialect known only to a handful of scholars today (none of whom are among the Crushbone orcs) — call this region the “Land of Hungry Mountains.” These orc maps also show a temple to Rallos Zek, a druid stone circle, and two teleport pyramids, as well as a pictogram of a shissar, although one needs to read Ancient Orc to know this. Crushbone prophets claim the area as forbidden to any but prophets of Rallos Zek and they sometimes journey to the hills to seek guidance and visions, yet they seem to have no real idea about the region’s history.