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 Post subject: Return to Ulgrotha
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:26 am 
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Cardinal sin in one... two....
***

Once upon a time, Ulgrotha was a usual, fairly unremarkeable world, full of life and mana. World-sages rightfully called this plane "the garden" or "the sanctum", a prosperous land inoccent to the conflicts of the wider realms of the Multiverse.

But this was not to last.

Two planeswalker factions battled across many worlds, eventually finding Ulgrotha to be just another battleground. The ensuing war on Ulgrotha was their last, as during a siege a powerful and deadly artifact known as the Apocalypse Chime was given to Ravi, who, in desperation, rang it.

She managed to hide herself in a sarcophagus, just as the world ended.

Mana drained from the land, leaving it a vast desert, known as the Dead Zone. Anything that so much as stepped into the Dead Zone would see itself siphoned from all life force. Mages were burned by colorless fires, and leylines crumbled into dust. Only the oceans remained largely unharmed. However, a rift created during the planeswalker wars allowed a small terrestrial area to be charged by mana, and thus remain alive. This area was to be known as the Homelands.

In this "oasis", civilisation arose. Tribes of nomadic humans travelled the plains, while goblins, kobolds, minotaurs and orcs settled in the mountains. Dwarves brought from another world by a planar portal established the first great city, New Freedom, followed by the castle of Morning Light. They further took to the seas, the first attempts at exploration in the now dying world, and began gathering as much information about Ulgrotha's past as they could, while keeping the existence of other worlds a secret.

Then came the arrival of Baron Sengir, a vampire summoned to Ulgrotha in a planeswalker conflict. He conquered the castle and renamed it Sengir before taking over New Freedom, taking the dwarf princess Irini and converting her into a vampire, now his own twisted daughter. He found Ravi's sarcophagus, hosting the insane and amnesiac product of centuries of loneliness, and took her as his own derranged "grandmother", an echo of their childhood friendship.

Soon after, the planeswalker Serra arrived, having left her realm in grief due to its phyrexian corruption. Nevertheless, she united the plains people, forming the nation of Aysen, a theocracy that worships her to this day. The nascent theocracy was quickly terrorized by Sengir, and hostilities between the planeswalker and the Baron commenced.

Not long after, the planeswalker Feroz arrived. He met Sandruu, a minotaur with a latent spark, and both became close friends. Soon after, he met Serra, whom he fell in love with at first sight, and Baron Sengir, whom he didn't. The three planeswalkers quickly realised the threat the vampire posed, leading to increasing involvement with the local populations. Serra improved Aysen's defenses and military might, while Feroz founded the Wizard's School in Floating Isle, previously occupied by dwarves and quickly converted into Ulgrotha's center of knowledge.

Sandruu left Ulgrotha for the vastness of the Multiverse. Serra and Feroz fell in love and married , only to have their friend reappear, battered and bruised by the planeswalker Taysir, who banished him to a remote plane. Furious, Feroz chased Taysir off Ulgrotha, at the cost of many minotaur lives.

Serra and Feroz realised how dangerous planeswalkers could be, and together casted a barrier spell that shielded Ulgrotha from the rest of the Multiverse. This spell, Feroz's Ban, kept planeswalkers outside, but also had the side effect of granting sapience to the very soul of the plane, embodied as Autumn Willow. She in turn founded the city of An-Havva, housing those discontent from Aysen's fanaticism. On the mountains, the immortal former thief Eron became the goblin king, and Sengir continued to raid Aysen.

For years, this balance was maintained, however precariously, until Feroz' tragic death. Heartbroken, Serra was vulnerable to the Baron's machinations, who convinced her to leave Ulgrotha, never to return. With Feroz's death, his ban began to fade, allowing planeswalkers to come in once again, as well as the bizarre Timmerian fiends, creatures of pure nightmare seeking artifacts for their unknown master.

However, what remained of the enchantment allowed Autumn Willow to remain alive, and with two options at her disposal: either she could let things be and let Ulgrotha die, or she could reignite the leylines, undoing the Chime's effects and restoring Ulgrotha, at the expense of all who lived there.

For centuries, she pondered on this, growing dangerously weak, waiting for a champion to enforce her final decision. Over four hundred years after, Sengir's troops marched unopposed, witnessing the brief battle of the planeswalkers Nicol Bolas and Leshrac. Either as a wasteland or at the heels of a vampire, Ulgrotha seemed dead.

Until the Mending happened.

Rebirth

The Mending had immense and sometimes devastating effects across the many planes of the Multiverse. In Ulgrotha, as elsewhere, it shattered the planar portals in the Koskun Mountains and the Dwarven Gate, causing untold destruction in both regions. The Mending altered the planeswalker spark of Ravi, and she was instantly set ablaze, most likely having ended her life. The rift that sustained Ulgrotha's civilisation was closed, but the effects of the end of its life-giving infusion unto the Homelands weren't felt for long.

With the Mending, Autumn Willow could truly restore Ulgrotha.

Leylines once again pulsed with mana, bringing life to the desolate deserts of the Dead Zone. Mages and mana-based creatures were burned by vibrant fires; unlike the previous instance, however, this did not always lead to death, but empowerment. The same could not be said of artifacts, which burst and melted, their magics scattered in these oceans of mystical energies.

Ulgrotha was truly alive, its lands becoming more vibrant day by day. And so, for a period of sixty years the lands were restored to their former glory: vast savannas, great volcanoes, kelp matts that resembled swamps in the sea, forests where dawn never sets. If Ulgrotha's races had died out, this would have been the ideallic new Eden, full of promise and of abundance.

But the tragedies had survivors, and their grievances were severe.

The Baron's Missing

Last seen commanding his undead army, the Baron was among the first to experience the mana explosion that consumed the plane. Bright like daylight, it weakened him substantially, but worse of all was the loss of the ring that kept his shade servant Ihsan under his control. Formerly a paladin of Serra, Ihsan was plagued by visions of his death by Sengir's hand, and unwittingly fulfilled them.

Now no longer tied to the ring, and empowered by the tides of mana surging through the plane, Ihsan was free to battle the vampire. Sengir was caught off-guard, but the ultimate out-come of the conflict is unknown. Ihsan insists he is still alive and has fled, while Irini and Floating Isle claim he is dead.

With him missing, his forces were decentralised. Worse yet, his seat of power was gone, destroyed by the explosion of the planar portal under it. His most trusted advisor also vanished, leaving only Irini at the chains of command.

Ihsan returned to Aysen, and soon after lead an offense against the weakened Sengir forces. In the effort he managed to push them back, purging the Dark Barony's lands and rescuing the villages enslaved by it. Irini and her forces managed to survive, however, and retreated, having no shortage of refuge in the new restored Ulgrotha.

The absence of Baron Sengir after centuries of imposing his power over Ulgrotha has shaped the attitudes of the various factions. Aysen under Ihsan remains the most vigilant for the Baron's potential survival, while Autumn Willow's forces and Koskun remain wary but focusing on more direct threats. Both Floating Isle and the New Dark Barony operate under the certainty he is dead, perhaps non-surprisingly being among the most proactive of factions.

Expansion

With the rebirth of Ulgrotha and the end of the Dead Zone, the matter of expansionism was naturally at hand. With previously unavailiable territory now ripe for the taking, each faction has made their claim.

Koskun are the most rapid expansionists. With devastation to the mountains, its people felt a greater need to find new resources, and as such pushed further inland, taking over previously dead mountain regions as well as arable lowlands. Following closely are Autumn Willow's forces, which simply followed the expansion of the Great Wood to the west and south, and the New Dark Barony, which has gained several new footholds at the edges of the known world and continues to try to conquer the other factions' lands.

Aysen has mostly kept to its former territory and what was once the Old Dark Barony, focusing on defending its borders over expanding. However, it has nonetheless gradually acquired some new domains along the coastlines and steppes to the north and east.

Floating Isle has settled some trading ports all over the plane, but otherwise does not exert a physical presence. Continuing its tradition of espionage and subterfuge and developing a new propensity for commerce, its influence is more subtle in nature, influencing politics in Koskun, Aysen and even the New Dark Barony alike. It is engaged in an ideological Cold War against Autumn Willow's forces, its different philosophies holding different paths for Ulgrotha as a whole.

Factions

Aysen
Floating Isle
New Dark Barony
Koskun Federation
Great Wood

_________________
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Planeswalker's Guide
The Story

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