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Thursday, September 2, 2010


It is said, that somewhere far to the South lays the Sea of Tears, also sometimes knon as the Great Dark Sea. The coast of that sea is known as Demonlands. It is said, that a long time ago, the South, at least, was ruled by a great kingdom, which ruled by witch craft and demon worship. In that kingdom were cities that floated in the sky and great ships, which sailed among the clouds. And there were mountains, in the depths of which toiling demons were chained, which spewed fire and smoke, and which kept that great ancient kingdom afloat. Something went wrong, and the great cities crashed on the ground, and the demons broke loose and to this day haunt that land, driving the inhabitants insane.

To the North in Leonia, an acient realm ruled by the mother church with its bishops and its papacy and the divine right of its kings and nobles. It is said that all of the known land is Leonia, and that the church is fighting the glorious battle to rid the land of the demons. It has strived to ban all sorcery on the penalty of death, and has instituted entire orders to fight witch craft, but the wizards were needed to help Leonia survive among the other kingdoms, which practiced magic, especially the driven Kraitland knights to the East, and the barbarian hordes from the West, which were said to be doing both, following the maddened vision of theit insane shamans and following the edicts of the Prophet Mohammed.  Life is comfortable, and relatively safe for its peasants, who are bound to their land by serfdom, not so for its nobles, who have to contend with the encoachments of the clergy and rival aristicratic families fighting for ascendancy to the Leonian throne. Leonian politics are deadly. A simple peasant drinking at a tavern might utter the wrong words about the prists, the King or the nobles, will be taken away from his home in the middle of thenight, never to be seen again, so common folk are wise, and never speak of such things. Life goes on from day to day the same way that it always did.

To the East of Leonia is Kraitland. It is known for its mad knights, who have unparallelled skill with combat and who have traveled the world to improve their fencing prowess so as to prevail in various combats and jousting tournaments back home. Krait is also the name of a brightly colored snake with a poisonous bite that will bring its victims an agonizing death in a matter of minutes. Some say that the tade mariners and merchants plying the spice routes had the misfortune of first encountering this snake have named it in the honor of the infamous warriors, the name also matches, because of the bright colored jester-like outfits, which Kraitland nobility wears at their Court, which macth the snake's bright gaudy colors. It is said by Leonian Bishops, that Kraitlanders practice witchcraft and devil worship. Kraitlanders themselves laugh and shrug, saying that the world's deadliest snakes were created by God to prey on and to feed on other poisonous snakes.

Midlands is the territory in the middle of it all. Several times Leonian bishops have called forth Crusades to exorcise the demons from the South and to fight the South's insane inhabitants. Crusades were swallowed without a trace. Those that came back either were incoherent in their madness, or have never actually ventured into the Demonlands, instead remaining on Leonia's Southern frontier. These individuals have proved more effective at halting the northward spread of the chaos associated with the Demonlands (known as Twilight) then the crusades. Eventually the Leonia's Terras Australus, as the Southern frontier became known, started to attract a certain kind of a settler. Secret magicians, philosophers and dissident clergymen wandered South to be awa from the strict ideological control of the Leonia proper. Serfs tired of their overlords sometimes fled and moved southwards, adventurers and impoverished noblement also ventured South in hopes of finding plunder and means of substinence derived from swordsmanship. The spread of Twilight northwards was enough for Leonian kings and vassals to look the other way and let the free spirits serve as cannon fodder in the battle agaisnt the unknown. Eventually the region became unruly and rebellious. Serfs became homesteaders and refused to recognize the authority from the North, as did all sorts of outcasts, warlocks and adveturers. Representatives of the Church and the King were widely mistreated and agents of the inquisition murdered as the local lords looked the other way. Practitioners of witch craft gained influence with the local powers. Eventually a rebellion occured at the outbreak of the border skirmishes between Leonia and their neighbors to the East, Kraitlanders,a dn their neighbors to the West, the Barbarians, Leonia was on the verge of having enemies penetrate deep into its interior, has offered Midlands independece and freedom to expand Southward into its former territories in exchanghe for aid agaisnt its traditional enemies. Midlands quickly emerged as a successful fronties kingdom, with a ruling confederation of Barons instead of a king or traditonal nobles. Unlike in the North, anybody can become a Baron, who could wrest control of a sizable portion of the Demonland and provide for the safety of a village or town to allow for enterpise that can be taxed and make the Baron wealthy enough to sit in the Council. This happened about three generations agom and today the Kingdom of Midlands has slowed its Southward exploration to a snail's pace. Part of it is te politics, in which the Landlords of the Southern Marches, the very frontier with the Demonlads aere highly reluctant to let other's establish landholdings South of them, thereby takign the frontier torch away from them. Within the assembly of barons is the Council of Defence, whoch consists of the Baron's of the Frontier holdings banded together into a semi-secret alliance, where they make the key decitions for Midlands. It is a powerful and prestigious club, or
klicka, and nobody wants to be forced out of it, because some upstart has taken the torch and established froentier holdingfs further south. That seems to be a part of the explanation, and the other part may be that the Demonland has started transforming the settlers themselves into its aberrations, known as Children of Twilight.  At any rate, our heroes have found themseves in the part of the Midlands Marches, knows as the Blacklands Barony. More on the Heores' microgeography later. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Greetings, Heroes!
Greetings, chance visitgors!
This is an inaugural posting of the Blog to support the Midlands first edition Advanxced Dungeons and Dragons campaign. By this I mean to make the gaming experience more vivid and the texture of the game more tangible for the players, though I hope the visitors also will enjoy the beauty of the art what glpses of the game may be seen.

I decided to start the first posting with some of the llustrations of what the Midlands campaign world looks like.
Leonian Crossbowman
The first mage is of a Leonian Crossbowman. I think that it captures the spirit of the Midlands campaign. For a time, a warbow compted in medieval Europe for supremacy with the crossbow, until the perfectio of the Arbalest and the advent of the gunpowder. Each weapon, however, had its own place in history and in battlefield. While the longbow belongs to the high and mighty Elf of Tolkien's LOTR and the free spirited English Yeomen, who spent their lives practicing high archery, the humble crossbow, primitive and inferior in the beginning, and deadly efficient towards the end, signalled the end of the age of Chivalry, when a mighty knight can be brought down by a mere conscript with one week's training with an arbalest. In the beginning however, crossbow was the weapon used for defense of towns and castle walls, often given to the young and the old in a last ditch effort to save the home. It is in this spirit that a crossbow appeals to me as the spirit of Midlands.

 Midlands Crossbow soldier.
This to me best exemplifies the Midlands soldiers, who have finally conquered the region and who are its rulers by the time the Heroes arrived on the scene. The raging intensity and dedication to battle on the face of the soldier, functional armor modern in its spirit, combination of sword and magic driven to its extreme effect drivig the tradition bound defenders behind the walls and then turnign the foundations of those walls from stome to mud by means of arcane magics, and then laving the defenders buried alive, rletless in their pursuit to unify all under the banner of Midlands.

Satilla River
This is the river along whose muddy banks the Heroes have been trudging northwards for the past couple of game sessions.

Stonecutter Knights
Stonecutters were people who initially invaded the native inhabitatnts of the region, and then themselves were invaded by Midlanders. In their arms and armor similar to Anglo-Saxons, this knight is pondering the fate offered to him by the Marker Stone - Move forward and lose your life, go left and lose your horse, go right and lose your way!

Left Behind
First settlers, Volgans and Stonecutters, left on the fiedls of battle that would eventually become the fertile fields of the Blackland Barony, where our heroes find themselves adventuring.

Flying Carpet Ride
This wizard is dressed as a nobleman and is likely flying along the river Hob from the great trading cities up North towards the frontier regions of the South, towards the occult mysteries of the Twilight and possibly as far as the shores of the Demonlands, a Ruined Empire, where whole cities once floated among the clouds, all came crashing down to the ground one day, leaving roaming demons and arcane mysteries in its wake.

Kraitland Fencers
Immideately to the north of Midlands are the lands of the Ancient Realm. Kraitland is but one of its many and varied lands. It is known for its aggressive swordsmen, and its fencing instructors, who prefer to duel with great two-handed swords and fight without any armor, so as to show their contempt of death. Our Heroes are part of a group that formed around a wandering fencing instructor named Gristaad, a giant hulk or a man in faded finery, who showed fencing tricks to the drinking men at arms during county fairs, and who has gathered a body of students, who decided to seek their fortunes on the dark edge of of the Demonlands, where the land is free for those who can control it.

The paintings above is the work of Viktor Vasnetsov, a 19th Century Russian painter, who drew the mythological landscape of the Great Rus', if you like it, I strongly urge you to check out the rich colors and the awesome detail of his work in Wikipedia, where you can see all of his major paintings in good size and full resolution!