Fall of Man
Approximate Total Casualties: 40,000,000.
Recap of Events as follows:
Around 10 months before the events of the Campaign, the Elves of Corimar reported a sudden spike in the numbers of the usually scattered and bickering Orcs. Most dismissed this as being the results of an exceptionally good breeding season for the greenskins and largely ignored the news. The true scale of the threat was thus not realised until the Orcish Horde, numbering in the millions, annihilated the Elves and spilled westwards – despite the best efforts of heroes such as Sir Roger Forsyth – as if driven by something…or someone.
The Dwarves of Kelanis were the next to fall, slaughtered not because of their ineptitude in combat, but because their fortresses, built into the very mountains themselves, prevented any form of retreat. Their citadels and vast underground cities, impenetrable and secure, had ironically been their downfall. With this proud, ancient race fell Sir Marsoul of Anbar, the favoured of Emperor Tomas Matthias II, who had come to defend his trade interests with Kelanis. With almost the entire Elvish and Dwarven races rendered virtually extinct, it was the vast human Empire of Ballur to which the pitiable rabble of survivors fled, bringing with them tales of the suffering they had faced at the hands of the Orcish Horde.
The Balluran Army, fragmented under its feudal system, initially stood no chance against a force which outnumbered them at times 20:1. It has been conjectured that even if the Balluran Army was a centralised force under a single commander, it would have been in no shape to resist the Horde, damaged as it was during the Civil War a year prior. Rapidly losing ground, and millions of lives, the Emperor declared any lands beyond the Great Hills to be abandoned and issued a general order for the marshaling of forces along the Forsyth Line, as it came to be known, effectively dividing the Empire in two. Any civilians or troops who were unfortunate enough to be situated beyond the Line were on their own against the Orcs.
Thanks in part to the local terrain, the concentrated Balluran Army was able to hold its own at the mountain passes to the north, and via large field formations in the open fields to the south. They were joined by the few survivors from Kelanis and Corimar, and even reinforcements from the splinter Kingdom of Eluhm, forming the United Front. This led to an almost 6-month-long-stalemate, with hundreds of thousands losing their lives each day, to be replaced like common objects by fresh conscripts from the few cities left unscathed by war. Realising that the Orcs couldn’t be matched on a man-by-man basis, the Balluran leadership sought a way to end the conflict without directly engaging an enemy which still outnumbered them, eventually culminating in the formation of Decapitation Squads. Convinced that the Orcs were all of an inherently lower intelligence, the Ballurans believed that by removing leadership elements from the field, an offensive push by the main body of the United Front would be able to send the Horde into a rout.
One such Decapitation Squad was under the direct command of Aurius the Indomitable, and his friend and lieutenant, Balador Greenwood. The squad was composed of Eidolon Earlscastle, the brother of the late Sir Marsoul; Thaenia the Ranger, who survived the final battle at Corimar and witnessed Sir Forsyth’s desperate attempts at victory; E. Vintaire, the reclusive mage; and Elgaraf Galanodel, the conscript Drow.
This particular squad entered a tournament of sorts hosted by a Cleric, besting two battle-hardened squads and somehow defeating Sir Roger Forsyth, the mightiest warrior in the cosmos, himself (this was clearly a fluke, as no one even comes close to Forsyth’s power and technique. Forsyth was clearly having a bad day – probably the flu or a stomach-ache).
Following this, the squad reported to Aurius as instructed, when a giant boulder smashed into the tent, killing an aide. The squad rushed outside in time to see the camp gates smashed open by yet another boulder thrown from a catapult. The Horde was attacking in full. Aurius and Balador joined the squad in executing their plan: cutting their way through the rabble and assassinating the War Chief of the local area. With the Chief dead, the Horde fell into disarray and began to rout.
Suddenly, a glowing, humanoid, being clad in floating pieces of armour flew over the battlefield. It blasted the celebrating Balluran soldiers before flying down to Balador and knocking him out with a single blow. Elgaraf and Eidolon attempted to strike it down, but were in turn blown away. Aurius, however, was able to damage it to a point where it was forced to fly into the sky to stay out of his reach. Thaenia and Vintaire were able to force it the retreat, however, and when Vintaire delivered the killing blow, the being exploded, knocking both squad members out.
The party woke up at night, buried under a pile of corpses which appeared to have been flung on top of them by the force of the explosion. The camp was set ablaze, and it was clear that whatever battle had occurred since the encounter with the glowing being had long since ended. Balador and Aurius were nowhere to be seen. Wishing to avoid any run-ins with Orcs, the heavily wounded party headed north to Stonewall, the nearest military installation.
Walking until dawn, the party entered the Forest of Dyn’es, where they encountered a merchant’s caravan being raided by a group of Orcs. Upon defeating the Orcs, the party agreed to help the merchant get the essential supplies to Stonewall.
The Party eventually arrived at the Dyn’es Lieh Bridge spanning the River of Tears. They also discovered that it had been destroyed. After debating various ways to cross the river, it was decided to head upstream to a bridge long since abandoned due to the presence of a Troll. Camoflaging the wagon and hiding it using prestidigitation, the party headed before the second bridge, which they crossed without incident. As it turned out, the troll had been killed, most likely by Orcs.
Gaining entry into Stonewall, the party learned from Maia the Healer that Constable Nelly, the leader of the local garrison, was comatose, under the effects of a strange curse. They also learned that the abode of the local mage Kane would most likely have something which could cure the Constable. Aurius was also discovered to be alive, and he informed the party that mages had been disappearing all over Ballur, and ordered them to investigate further by heading behind enemy lines. Aurius himself would join them later, first moving to warn the Emperor of the danger of the mysterious glowing beings. The party also learned of the complete decimation of the Balluran Army and the collapse of the United Front as the Eluhmians headed home.
Additionally, the party learned from Baron Killgrave that the residents of Smithtown were supposed to have evacuated to Stonewall a week ago. After delaying, all contact had been lost three days ago. The Baron tasks the party with finding out what happened to the residents, and to locate Sir Roger Forsyth, whom he had sent out the day before the party had arrived with the same task. In the meantime, the Baron had ordered his troops to retrieve the supplies the party had hidden, after being informed by the merchant of their whereabouts.
The party rested up for the day, and moved out under cover of darkness. Upon reaching Smithtown, they discovered the town guards crucified in the square, and all the buildings ransacked. They decided to search Kane’s Sanctum, encountering many traps (and loot) along the way, culminating in them accidentally freeing an Oni from captivity. In the ensuing battle, Vintaire and Eidolon were knocked out, but Thaenia was able to trap the Oni in a Portable Hole she had found.