This area of the world is known as the Circle of Strife. It's a ring-shaped area of land full of tiny kingdoms who are often at war with each other. In the centre of the circle is a haunted moor, and at the centre of that is the ruined ancient city of Godchester. The Circle of Strife is surrounded by, starting at twelve o'clock and going clockwise, the Forest Sauvage (to the north), the Chopped Lands (northeast), the Furious Ocean (east), the Starving Swamp (southeast), the Towering Wolds mountain range (south and southwest), and the dragon-infested Ashlands (west and northwest).
You, the player characters, live in the kingdom of Goodfountain-and-Oakpledge. That's actually two kingdoms stuck together, which only happened recently. Goodfountain had been a relatively prosperous kingdom, partly because of its lucrative port on the Furious Ocean. But Goodfountain's enemies went to war against it, and won. Goodfountain had to sue for peace, and gave up the town of Goodport.
The loss of Goodport put Goodfountain in a very disadvantageous position compared to their enemies, so the king, Rixard II, had to do something to strengthen them. So he negotiated a marriage to the queen of Oakpledge, Arazandra, far to the west, on the edge of the Forest Sauvage.
During the wedding ceremony, the officiating priest of Omno had a visitation in which he spoke with the voice of the god. He commanded the king and queen to move their court to Leafehold, one of the minor castles of Oakpledge, right by the forest, and to found a new order of knighthood there to carry out Omno's will in the world.
So the king left his seneschal, Sir Benisor, in charge of everything in Goodfountain and moved everyone to Leafehold. Leafehold is a big sprawling castle that has been almost abandoned for a long time. The only one living there was an old castellan who lived in the gatehouse and who got a few local lads (the castle is right across a small river from the hamlet of Leafethorp) to oil the gates every now and then and keep the rat population down. You all moved into this castle a few months ago and are still working to get the place in shape.
One of the towers of Leafehold is connected to the rest of the castle by a long arm of curtainwall reaching to the east; it commands one the only place where the river's fordable. This tower is larger than it needs to be and the king has given it to the new order of knighthood for use as a chapterhouse. Sir Aglorak, the commander, has named the order, "The Knights of the Bull Mirror", after the unusual altar to Omno they found in a little chapel in the tower.
2. Languages Spoken in the Circle of Strife.
- Omnic (aka Common), spoken by most people
- The Old Tongue (aka Halfling), spoken by halflings and some people in way-back-in-the-hills villages
- Piraque, spoken by the people of the coastal town of Kirok, settled by dark-skinned refugees from a distant land
- Batja, spoken by the northern barbarians of the Chopped Lands
- Omno - the principal god of this part of the world, worshipped by basically almost everyone
- the Green Singer and the Lord of Ants and the Lady of Autumn and the Winter Darkfish - this is the Piraque pantheon worshipped by the people of Kirok
- Isole, the Lady of Sorrow - this goddess was wronged by Omno long ago and this is why the curse of endless strife lies on the land. The people of the Circle know of Isole but few worship her
- Crim, the Red King - a new god to the area; he's the patron of power and tyranny. The kings he wins to his worship become known as the Red Dukes. It was an alliance of Red Dukes who defeated Goodfountain in the recent war
- the Celtic pantheon - the same kinds of humans who speak the Old Tongue may also worship the Celtic pantheon, Dagda and the Morrigan and all that; look 'em up yourself
Player Characters in the Circle of Strife are human, halfling, or half-orc.
They can be of any class. It is expected that all PCs will be members of the Knights of the Bull Mirror. Here's how that works for the different character classes.
The church of Omno has various orders of service that people can enter. They include:
- the Order of St. Celot - warriors sworn to fight for the church, such as fighters, rangers, barbarians, or soldiers
- the Order of St. Bretalia - holy warriors. Paladins, basically
- the Order of St. Dare - artisans, tradesmen, or anyone else sworn to serve the church through mundane skills... but this can also include rogues, bards, fighters, rangers, barbarians, or spies
- the Order of St. Jacovar - scholars, friars, monks of all kinds; this can also include wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, or druids
- the Order of St. Plenin - clerics, both adventuring-type and non-spellcasting
Note that cleric and paladin PCs most likely came with the king from Goodfountain, while ranger and druid PCs most likely were already in Oakpledge. PCs of other classes can choose freely where they're from.
Clerics of Omno can choose from the domains of Life, Light, and War.
Player characters who don't fit into this Arthurian theme are also possible; they could be from the town of Kirok, or they could be travellers from much farther away. It is expected, though, that all player characters will be Knights of the Bull Mirror, from one order or another.