Cambria is a wild place, torn by constant warfare. Three generations ago, the charismatic Garrick the Forger led his armies in a quest for world domination, expanding the borders of the Thrannish Empire from sea to sea. His time never knew peace, as the conquered tribes were unruly; his army was constantly on the move quelling one rebellion after the next.
Upon Garrick’s death, his son, Royce the Quiet, ascended the throne. The son, however, had neither the force of personality nor the taste for bloodshed that his father did. Royce tried a different tack with the rebellious outlying provinces: diplomacy. Taking a wife from three different provinces, Royce tried to quell the problems by providing each with a potential heir to the throne. While several regions welcomed the overtures made by the new emperor, the furthest province, Dharta, broke away from the empire. Royce’s neglect of the army, however, opened the borders of the Thrann to attack from outlying barbarian tribes and the sinister arctic gnoll empire.
On his deathbed, Royce was faced with a problem that had been growing for years. He had taken three wives, and produced an heir by each of them. Who now was to inherit the throne? Rather than name a single heir and cause civil war, Royce called his three children into his room, along with the finest maps of the Empire. He told each of them to pick a region – all three would serve as co-regents.
The eldest son, Bryce the Game, chose the mountainous and mineral rich lands to the southeast. Katrionna chose the mercantile center of the empire along the rivers of the western coastline. Royce’s youngest son, Alden the Dark, looked at the map long and hard before choosing a small area in the northern grasslands of the empire. Each heir left their father’s deathbed and moved immediately to their chosen portion of the empire to build their castle.
Within days of their father’s death, however, Bryce and Katrionna were at each other’s throats. Alden tried to intervene and preserve the peace, but the rivalry between his older siblings was too strong. One week after Royce was buried, Katrionna declared her provinces’ independence, and established her kingdom of Redwater. Furious at his sister’s impudence, Bryce declared himself the true Thrannish Emperor and declared war on the breakaway provinces. For the first year of war, Bryce leaned heavily on Alden’s fertile provinces for supplying his troops. Alden, though, shared his father’s hatred for bloodshed and also declared independence from Bryce’s reign, allying himself with the earlier rebellious nation of Dharta.