This land to the north someday shall fall,
And Evil will reign supreme.
A trumpet shall sound: The Seal is broken;
The gates of Hell shall hence swing open.
Inn’cent blood will run free
Four must ride the land across and back
And ever pray for hope.
The Dark One waits at ev’ry turn
With the chill and eyes that burn.
From eastern coasts to mountain slopes
They’ll be under constant attack.
Each race will have a gift of life
To bestow upon the four.
The elves have passage to the rift,
The Halflings add the gift of thrift.
Dwarven knowledge—limitless store,
And man offers life by gift of strife.
But final battle will not be waged
In the north, or all would burn.
The Dark One must be driven out,
Cast to Hell for the deadly bout.
In the flames the tide shall turn.
One must fall for evil to be caged.
My thoughts about me mill;
The world is changed
For good or ill;
All is rearranged
And remains so still;
‘twill seem so strange,
But such is god’s will.
The Legend of the Dread King:
Maltovion was a wizard who graduated from the Academy three hundred years ago, circa 450. While pursuing his Journeyman’s quest, the mage came across ancient texts on necromancy. The writings within detailed the process of attaining lichdom, an act forbidden to students of the Academy.
Academy diviners soon discovered Maltovion’s machinations, and efforts were made to stop his descent into darkness. When the High Mage’s forces arrived, Maltovion’s experiments were nearly complete. Later research showed that he may well have succeeded in perpetuating his life for centuries, possibly millennia. For fear of lingering dweomers, Maltovion was sealed away forever. Magical wards were laced over his tomb, keeping his spirit bound within and trespassers locked without.
Peasants have expanded on the story of Maltovion, concocting the legend of the “Dread King” over the centuries. One truth, however, is that the High Mage refused to allow any of the slain wizard’s text to return to the Academy. Thus, it is believed that they still remain, buried with their owner until a powerful enough mage locates the tomb, risks the wards, and unlocks the Dread King’s secrets.
The Knights of Whitestone
By Belgeran of the Lute
(WARNING: This Legend Contains Spoilers for the First Campaign)
Elindil the Bladesinger
Who danced with his sword;
He destroyed Cereno
With the help of the Lord.
Zenith the priestess
With magic and with faith;
Her knowledge and goodness
Defeated the wraith.
Sir Kryl the archer
Faced the lich as his foe.
Cereno stood no chance
‘Gainst the archer and his bow.
Sir Cecil the shadow
With his father’s curse;
Defeated the lich Cereno
By stealing his magic purse.
Tiara the ranger
From the woods of the north;
She killed a beast from Hell
Though she doubted her worth.
Jonas the soldier,
The constable’s son;
He survive through Hell
Before the battle was won.
They met in a tavern
In old Loralon.
They fought through the mines,
And from their journeyed on.
They found a cursed ring
On Cyrus Bloodsnout.
Cereno the lich
Was trying to come out.
They traveled to Linkshire,
A sage there to find.
He told them of Greyhawk
The land the lich left behind.
He sent them to Tradecenter
The ring to remove.
The archbishop began,
How quickly he moved!
Denninger, a lawless man,
Ran right into Kryl.
He grew angry with them and
Sword that every one he’d kill.
The church then exploded
The steeple crashed down.
Demons ran out from
The smoke into the crowd.
The most powerful mage
In the known world appeared.
He closed the portal and
He never was afeared.
Zenith he approached
Presenting her with
The Staff of Parting,
A most powerful gift.
The staff would allow
Safe passage to all
Who Traveled with Zenith
Down the vilest of halls.
“The knights must receive
A gift from each race;
Sword, Coin and Arrow
To put the lich in his place.”
He caught them in Crownholm
Paralyzed them with his glare.
He took the Staff from Zenith
And then vanished into air.
They traveled to Deephold
And fought through Hell’s hounds.
They fought that foul Rath
And the Arrow they found.
The Arrow of Knowledge
Dwarven Wisdom held.
With it one creature
Could instantly be felled.
The Arrow to take.
Kryl shot it at him,
That was a mistake.
The Arrow missed its mark.
To the forest it did fall.
Then Cereno killed Kryl
With a little black ball.
They tried to reach Whitestone
To return Kryl from the dead.
In the Shires they found
There King William had fled.
Kryl’s life was restored
And soon they took wing
To find the holy Sword
In the tomb of a king.
The Sword of Sacrifice
Could defeat any foe,
But before it was over
They had a long way to go.
Upon their return
The halflings gave their gift:
A most wondrous coin
From the race of thrift.
The Coin of Passage
Gave unlimited wealth
And protected from weather
That threatened your health.
Then Cereno appeared
Demanding Coin and Sword.
Our legions faced his;
The tide turned in the war.
During the fight, Shadow stole
A pouch containing his hoard;
Then Cereno was banished
From there by…the Lord?
They traveled the north
And Ergosia as well,
Searching for Cereno.
They found a portal to Hell.
They saw a huge devil;
Elindil prayed to his sword
And behind the creature
With the help of the Lord.
They discovered Cereno
Had taken Whitestone.
They traveled most swiftly
Across the Plains of Bone.
From the eys of a portrait
They spied on Cereno
Till he got a message
To the Academy he’d go.
They traversed the North—
They thought for the last time.
For facing Cereno could be
The end of their line.
During the journey
Cereno plagued them with dreams.
He showed their worst fears
As part of his schemes.
Elindil was convinced
He had to be gone.
He left the Sword to Kryl
In hopes he’d carry on.
At the Academy
Kryl killed Cereno;
Then the High Mage informed them
To Hell they must go.
Cereno could return
Unless his soul was destroyed.
In his phylactery
It stayed. In Hell, ‘cross the void.
And then they were told
How to open a gate
To Hell with their weapons
And meet with their fate.
They traveled through Hell
And fought many a beast.
Elindil they found,
On him devils planned to feast.
Soon they saw a mountain
With Cereno at the top.
Elindil grabbed the Sword and
Charged before he could be stopped.
Cereno was destroyed
By the Sword of Sacrifice.
The battle was won, but
Elindil had given his life.
The other five escaped,
And returned to their home.
A year after this tale began,
They became the Knights of Whitestone.
The Story of the North:
(WARNING: This Legend Contains Spoilers for the Entire Ergosia Campaign)
Our story has its beginnings seven and a half centuries past, but the land in which it takes place has been around far longer than this in the minds of its people. It was the land known as Ergosia, situated just above the seedy southern continent. In the beginning there were the dwarves, the only race of humanoids indigenous to the land. They were a sturdy mountain race who believed in hard work and harder play. Their society ranged all through the mountains men would later dub the Great Wall. It was in the reign of King Vladimir Axerock that the elves came on their white ships.
With the elves came new customs and a way with which Nature could be harnessed that dwarven witchdoctors could not fathom. The great elfin shamen amazed and concerned the dwarves, but the new race came in peace. Treaties were quickly forged that allowed for the two peoples to live without conflict; the dwarves in the mountains and the elves in the forests which occupied the majority of the remainder of northern Ergosia. This crude truce between two peace-loving nations lasted for a century or more before the halflings arrived on their shores.
These commercial folk were welcomed by both races, and they settled in the grassy hills between the forests and the Great Wall. The land carried on in a near utopia for another century or more, until the beginning of the first year of the Barovian Calendar.
It was January 1, of the year 0, the date commonly believed by the races of northern Ergosia to be the day on which King MacDouglass set sail from his homeland, that Azzazzul revealed himself to the first of the three kings. He chose to appear first before the elf king, whom he perceived to be the greatest threat. Having never seen such an ominous figure, the elf king was understandably cautious with the coweled man. For some reason Azzazzul was impatient and demanded that the king yield. The elf’s refusal came in the form of a conjured acid storm.
As the pellets burned Azzazzul’s flesh, though, the land was similarly wounded. As great wounds opened in Azzazzul’s back, the heart of Ergosia sunk into the ocean, tearing a gash that still exists today. As his flesh melted away, blood began to pour from melting stones and a torrent of gore rose from a crevasse at the elf king’s side. His opponent never needed to retaliate. Seeing what he had wrought, the elf king nullified his spell and swore his allegiance to the dark lord of the land.
Nevertheless, Azzazzul did not openly reveal himself yet. He decided to remain behind the scenes, work through the actions of the elf king. As the first winter carried on, a group of dwarven miners were kidnapped in secret and taken across the land to Fen Isle. A group of hand-picked shamen were present to oversee the construction that the dwarves were forced to complete. It was a dark shrine to the evil bat demon to which Azzazzul swore his devotion. The builders could not be allowed to live, though, so the lich forced the shamen to lead the dwarves along a path through the heart of the land, a path that would some day become the main stretch of Man’s trade route through the Great Wall. There, in the desert, he had the elves mummify the still-living dwarves and entomb them in a hurriedly built dungeon. As a final bit of irony the lich placed the plans for his shrine in the tomb with the dwarves.
Azzazzul did nothing to the shamen. It was obvious that their consciences would lead to their deaths in quick fashion. As the years progressed, all but one died from insanity or suicide. What the lich was not aware of was that one of the dwarven builders had survived the trek. Young Yrag had fallen from a sharp hillside in the Great Wall and was left for dead. But enough dwarven determination remained in him to crawl all the way home. There, he found the deepest holds of the clanhold and hid away, muted by the horrors he had experienced.
As the doors slammed on the damned
dwarven builders, the fabled ships of the human king MacDouglass were landing
on the sandy shores of what would soon become the city of
For Azzazzul’s part, he saw the weak-spined dwarf king as the perfect unwitting pawn. The dwarves were pulling away from their expansive mountain kingdoms as the humans began to hack their way westward. It would take years for the human trade route to be finished, but it would take a similar amount of time for the dwarves to complete construction of their immense fortress known as the Deephold. The halflings would greet the humans as they had everyone else, with open arms and filling purses. The elves, however, would not be swayed. This new race was ruining their homeland, slashing and burning through the forest and putting the timber to frivolous uses. War ensued.
MacDouglass was a fearless and ingenious leader. His aides included the elfin archer Kyle Elvenblood and the sorcerer Greer the Magnificent. Kyle was able to second guess the foreign elves’ tactics well enough to prepare the exploration parties for impending attacks. Greer enchanted wands of defoliation with which they could expose the elfin raiders. What resulted was a lengthy, slow swath cut across the land, leaving a wake of bloody human and elfin corpses.
By the time the expansionists reached
the halfway point, the walls of Haven were finished, freeing a large force of
human soldiers to come and assist. The
meeting place of these two forces was settled and would soon become the great
At some point along this terrible battle, a cowled mage appeared and offered his assistance to King MacDouglass. This fellows name was Jacana, a wizard who supposedly followed the humans from their native land. In his moment of need, the king accepted the offer, and thus the lich Azzazzul acquired his position as the first Royal Sage. At first the elf king did not realize the identity of this newcomer, believing that he was actually just some previously unrevealed human wizard. When the lich revealed himself later, it marked the decline of the elfin offensive, though not the end of it.
The next major event occurred around the year 115. MacDouglass’ son was overseeing the construction of Castle Whitestone. His father’s companion Greer has recently died of an aneurysm quietly inflicted by Jacana. Of course, the human nation believed that this was nothing more than Nature taking her toll, as Greer had been quite ancient at the time of his death. Jacana had also become aware that the fallen dwarf Yrag had not died, but was in hiding deep within the confines of the dwarven complex.
Borys Greyblight’s policy of seclusion would keep the dwarves from interacting with the other races. Even the majority of the trade normally carried on between the dwarves and halflings had been stopped. He learned Yrag was in the care of the witchdoctors, so killing him could be risky to his present situation of relative calm. After all, the elves were the only remaining offensive people, and they were only making some sparse raids. So he would let the still-traumatized dwarf keep his life. The halflings were not a threat. The dwarves were under control. The elf king was cowed and thus his people would be little more than a nuisance. Jacana sat as the most powerful man in the human kingdom, so the humans would be looked after personally. All seemed perfect, and then a man named Morphyris Taelon came along and made everything better.
Taelon’s goal was to create a hub for learning. He wanted a place where the wizards of the world could come and share their knowledge of magic. It would be a place where the deepest secrets could be freely given to other practitioners of the art. Jacana saw this as the opportunity to put a lock on all magical traffic in his land. He convinced MacDouglass to grant the wizard his request, on a plot of land in the Great Waste. A bit confused, Taelon took this as a bittersweet victory, and moved to the desert at once to begin construction of the Academy.
Jacana contacted the elf king and explained the responsibilities which were about to befall him. He would put Taelon in temporal stasis and lock him away within the ground of the Academy. He would then claim to be the founder and ruler of the school, to which all practicing mages would become a member. Those who id not comply were hunted down by the Royal Sage’s Guard and executed. Within five years, all magic in northern Ergosia was in the hands of the elf king under the guise of the High Mage of the Academy, and, therefore, in the hands of the lich Jacana.
When he was creeping up on Taelon, the elf king found the wizard writing a scroll. It was a copy of a prophecy that Taelon had been shown in the form of a vision. He wrote it out in a complex rhyme and sent a copy to the dwarf king. He was writing a second copy for the elf king (and presumably would have sent a copy to kings of other nations as well) when he was put into stasis. The prophecy told of the impending doom of the land, unless a band of valiant heroes would gather four magical artifacts and descend into Hell to do battle with a minion of ultimate darkness.
Unsure of the value of this rhyme, the elf king kept the scroll sealed away in the vaults of the Academy and went about his business, as the stringent ruler of the only school of magic in the north. In the Deephold, King Greyblight took the prophecy to heart and sealed it away with the artifact that he believed the scroll stated his people were to provide the coming heroes: The Arrow of Knowledge.
For the next five centuries, the status quo would be maintained. No one knew the true ruler of the domain. Elf raiders continued to run their attacks whenever human settlers cut too deeply into the forest, but the majority of the elfin nation retired quietly to their allotted northern forest. The dwarves, Halflings and humans saw the rise and fall of kings. Only the elves remained unchanged, and that was how Jacana wanted it. Time brought ignorance to all but those he desired remain aware of him.
The year 741 arrived. A weak truce had been signed by the Duke of
Tradecenter and the elves of the neighboring forest. The two races formed the hybrid community
The lich Cereno, a servant of the devil queen Tiamat, entered northern Ergosia through a gate from the world of Greyhawk. With him came thousands of new species of creatures, nearly all of them in some way malignant. Immediately, Hondynrex felt his power slipping away. A creature of such terrible evil needed to be stopped at once, but Cereno had too many allies, including a great wyrm red dragon.
The heroes of Taelon’s prophecy did as they were intended to do. The elf king granted them the possession of his magical staff, the Staff of Parting. In the Deephold, the heroes were able to retrieve the Arrow of Knowledge and the long-hidden copy of the prophecy. King Stormbraugh of Whitestone revealed the hidden tomb of King MacDouglass so that the heroes might recover his magical sword, the Sword of Sacrifice. And the king of the halfling shires gave them his magical Coin of Passage, which had ensured safe travel to the original group of halfling merchants who arrived in Ergosia centuries before.
In a climactic battle at the Academy, the heroes defeated Cereno’s material form and banished his soul to rejuvenate in the first circle of Hell, Avernus. Just before this battle, the heroes found a newly revealed study long buried beneath the great library of the Academy. Therein, they awoke Morphyris Taelon from his slumber, returning the most powerful wizard of the domain to activity.
Using the artifacts they had earned, the heroes descended into hell and destroyed Cereno’s phylactery. In doing so, three of the artifacts were destroyed, leaving them only the Staff of Parting. Due to the actions of Tiamat, though, they were not able to come straight home. Instead, they were cast about the Lands of Mist, learning the grimmest truths of the world in which they lived. As they traveled they came across another incredibly evil artifact, Daoud’s Wondrous Lanthorn. When their education was complete, they returned to their home and were rewarded as saviors of Ergosia. They were the Heroes of Whitestone.
The new year brought the heroes to
Hodynrex himself felt his grip over the land waning. There were several forces at work now, whose combined evil made Cereno’s long-banished threat seem meaningless. Darien Darkstone was performing experiments that were too foul to be recorded, and he was well on his way to becoming a lich himself. The Lanthorn was a sentient device of singular evil, which was slowly consuming the will of its possessor. A bit more time passed and the heroes were caught in a minor conjunction that explained the them the origin of the creature Strahd von Zarovich, and also presented them with another artifact of surpassing evil, the Timepiece of Klorr.
What truly forced him to take action, though, was the new expansionist mentality of King Duncan Swiftfiste. After the war with Cereno, many dwarves found themselves standing in the sunlight and rather enjoying it. The humans and Halflings were more than glad to welcome the hardy folk, who has provided the thrust needed to overthrow the humanoid armies. Somewhere with the Deephold, Hodynrex was certain that Yrag was still alive. Someone still lived who knew of his evil. Someone who still knew his secrets. The dwarves needed to be put back in their place.
So the War of 741 was followed one season later by the War of 742. The heroes of Taelon’s prophecy found themselves torn between allegiances as the King of Whitestone forced the demi-humans of northern Ergosia into a union against humanity. Through lies, misinforming spies and mental assaults in the night, Hodynrex succeeded in convincing King William of something he knew to be untrue, that the dwarves were hideously evil demon worshipers. The internal conflict unhinged the good king, leaving him unable to make a rational decision by the time he sent the human armies into the fray. It would be a slaughter, but Hodynrex secretly knew that—while the elfin armies symbolically stood against Whitestone—the elfin shamen were working behind the scenes to ensure the human victory
The lich’s plan involved the assassinations of the human, dwarven and halfling kings, and their replacement with people who would much more easily manipulated. Through the bounty hunter Denninger, Hodynrex was also able to clean up the loose ends he had left lying about: He saw the death of the remaining elfin shaman who had mummified the dwarven builders of the shrine on Fen Isle. He was finally rid of Yrag the Venerable, who had well outlived any other dwarf to date. But all was for naught. The heroes would not be stopped.
Despite royal orders to the contrary, the Knights of Whitestone, the heroes of Taelon’s prophecy continued on their journey to speak with King William. On the way, they met Yrag, just before Denninger’s arrow ended the dwarf’s life. Given sketched maps of the shrine on Fen Isle, they were suddenly armed with knowledge and given direction in their wanderings. The remaining dwarven witchdoctors led the heroes to Fen Isle. En route, the Lanthorn and Timepiece destroyed themselves in a titanic battle.
After a brief rest, the heroes explored the
bat-god shrine and sought Hodynrex’s phylactery. Before the party could find it, though,
they encountered Darien Darkstone, now a lich himself. With the new power garnered from his
transformation, the invoker claimed to have found a way to a new world. He said it was like the heroes’ home, only
slightly skewed, He begged his pupil
Zenith to accompany him, but she refused to abandon her friends in their time
of need. So
As the heroes exited the shrine, though, they found themselves confronted by the lord of Ergosia himself.
At this point, Hodynrex teleported the heroes around the borders of Ergosia. At every turn, they found themselves facing a wall of Mists. He explained his position as the lord of the domain, and that the land itself was an embodiment of his evil. As he had learned long ago in his battle with the elf king, his death would result in the destruction of the world.
The journey ended in the ruins of a sprawling city on the western border of the domain, at the point where the Waste and the misty border connected. Hodynrex had summoned his minions on the off chance that the heroes would choose suicide over slavery. Present were such characters as the elf king, Cereno’s red dragon, and the bounty hunter Denninger. Also present was an old man named Morphyris Taelon, traveling under an illusory disguise with the party. While studying at the Academy, the founder of the magical school had pieced together what had happened in his absence, and he was looking for revenge.
A battle ensued, and, as Hodynrex had predicted, his death meant the end of the world. Ergosia simply ceased to exist. As the lights dimmed, the heroes found themselves in a new place. It was brighter and cleaner than the world they had always known, but the name of the first town they came to was strangely familiar…
The Legend of Titan’s Oak:
The people of the area around Loralon, Daufin and Saltmarsh whisper of a curse on the massive tree known as Titan’s Oak. It lies where the road out of Loralon splits, heading northwest to Saltmarsh and east to Daufin. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of the dead Sir Marius Plumb of Calimshan. Betrayed and murdered, the once noble cavalier died full of bitterness, cursing all who would outlive him.
This emotion—and some say the fact that Tymora was eclipsed in the heavens that evening—led to his return as a ghost. Now, he returns each night to haunt the area around Titan’s Oak, waiting for fresh victims for his legacy of murder and spite.
From the Final Journal of Morphyris Taelon:
The harvests will grow brighter over time,
As men learn to be servant and master
Of Nature, and, ceasing to commit the crimes
Of their ancestors, avert disaster.
I see grass of greens never before seen;
Crops of golden wheat will break all famine.
Kingdoms will rise where dreams have never been,
The rise of uneasy peace slowly will begin.
The Dales about Myth Drannor will become home
To more than our City of
Among out gleaming streets crude beasts will roam
That pay no respect to struggling man nor elf.
Time will pass, ever useless to resist,
Man and elf will grow together in faith.
Our Drannor will be forgotten to mists,
Our aspirations gone without strength.
The skies will be blue, bluer than sapphire
Glittering in the dawn’s living light.
With pride, knights will take to arms their squires,
Warring against the dark of fest’ring night.
My visions show all will be as it should.
Our god looks down with pride and says, “’tis good.”
The future is bright with hope as any would
Desire, and filled with more faith than many could.
I almost wish I could see these Years of Gold,
Shown to me like the Apostles of old.
To live so long, to see heroes so bold,
But, alas, my blood must needs be long cold.
I awoke from dreaming my dreams of sight
With cold sweat soaking my sleeping mat.
The future, ever seen secure and bright,
Could never be further, in truth, from that.
A Queen shall rise to conquer our land
She already held for a moment, elsewhere.
She knows well the Waste to the left hand,
And the water that forms our eastern border.
I pen this feverishly, knowing well
That my fate is called southward. A demon
Clothed in flesh the war has nearly won.
It falls to me to drag his soul to Hell.
The Queen I saw precedes her Prince,
Though of him I know no more. She will flow
From the night, summoned from far Below;
She will not be defeated by mere chance.
The Shining South will fall without a fight,
The screams will only shortly fill the air.
To survive, all must rely upon the might
Within the children of no one and nowhere.
My vision blurs, I grow still more perplexed;
The battle will not be waged on Toril.
‘Tis truly a moment by darkness hexed;
It makes the very senses spin and whirl.
For ten long years they will suffer all.
Their strength will be put to test.
Yet all but one refuse to fall,
Despite the Dark Queen’s savage best.
The Queen will fall, but her carpet is laid;
A legacy of hate will linger an Age.
All should fear the price be paid;
The half-elf son with no lineage.
And now I go. I close my book.
This humble prophet sheds a tear
To leave this world with one last look.
Will I be forgotten within a year?
My heroes stand tall within my mind,
I pray they lend me strength. Yet unborn,
They drive me on when fear would leave me blind,
And I am brave thought soon my flesh is torn.
A hero is such that won’t be forgotten,
Cannot be driven down or lose his will.
One lurks in any shadow, with the moon at its zenith,
Ready to dispense any brand of good, but not to always kill.