Insurrection grips the nation of Imperia! A mysterious warrior calling himself the Shadow Knight entered the court of Imperia’s Emerald Emperor Koslov and slew him in his own throne! Panic gripped the nation and indeed all of Wyrmshadow, as this assassination was but the first shed blood of a massive, sudden, and brilliantly executed coup. With Koslov dead, the Shadow Knight assumed his throne, forced his armies into retreat, and declared all of Wyrmshadow his sovereign Shadow Empire. Our story follows the Shadow Knight’s greatest generals, the Drao Strategist Morkhan Latmour, the enigmatic Living Polymorph known by many names, yet referring to himself as The Nameless, and the brutal Fiendish Troll, Traag.
Duskreign’s Note: I did not run this game. Because this campaign was run by Andy (Duffpool) and not me, I do not have a list of chapters or a solid story outline to document here on the Wyrmshadow Campaign Setting. What follows is my recollection of the events of Crash and Burn. Anyone who played this campaign that may remember things differently, please feel free to reply to this forum thread.
Nine months after the assassination of Emperor Koslov, the Shadow Knight’s armies have spread across much of the world, proliferating his Shadow Empire while suppressing any and all major attempts to halt their progress or usurp their enigmatic ruler. Much of the credit for the Shadow Empire’s military successes could be claimed by the Drao Strategist, Morkhan Latmour. In the first session of Crash and Burn, General Latmour is summoned into the throne room of Castle Imperia, where he was met by Princess Medrahna Nus’Naveidtra. Medrahna was forty years Morkhan’s elder, yet she acted like a giddy adolescent with a violent predisposition. However, due to her influence over the Drao, allies of the Shadow Knight, she was elevated to a seat of power within the Shadow Empire. She was, like Morkhan, a Shadow General.
General Latmour had no lost love for Medrahna, and he believed that her elevation to such a lofty position was an insult to his efforts in the Shadow Knight’s name. For Morkhan, the Shadow Knight was a great hero, a man whom he held with great regard, and a leader for whom he would surely die to protect. Medrahna held the Shadow Knight with no such regard, and she merely saw her attachment to the Shadow Empire as a means of attaining her own power and ensuring the Drao’s ascension from the Underdark to the surface world. In Morkhan’s opinion, this meant that Medrahna, now a Shadow General like himself, placed her own desires above that of the Shadow Knight. For this reason, among others, he hated Medrahna.
Entering the chamber to meet with the two Drao generals, the Shadow Knight was flanked by his mysterious shape-shifting agent, the Nameless. Unlike Medrahna, the Nameless was worthy of the Shadow Knight’s praise and deserving of the rank of Shadow General. Unfortunately, due to some secret history between the Shadow Knight and the Nameless, the ruler of the Shadow Empire would always look upon his doppelganger assassin as a potential threat, too dangerous to be fully trusted. In point of fact, the Shadow Knight seemed to trust no one, which, in Morkhan’s estimation, was both wise and necessary for a man with his power and influence. The Nameless crossed the throne room to stand alongside Morkhan. The two Generals nodded to one another and turned their attention to the Shadow Knight, who was approaching the throne of Emperor Koslov, The throne, like the Shadow Knight’s armor, still bore the blood of the dead ruler of Imperia.
Then, the large double doors to the right of the broken throne flung wide open, the familar creak of a wheeled elephant cage resounding through the chamber. The black armored hands of General Latmour curled into tight fists. IT was being brought before the Shadow Knight. This creature, the one that attempted to slay the Shadow Knight on behalf of some unknown Demonic foe, was now only separated from his would-be victim by eleven pairs of thick rune-iron bars and two under-prepared guards. General Latmour protested Traag’s presence in the chamber, but a single glance from the Shadow Knight silenced his words of dissent. The Shadow Knight had little tolerance of such things. In fact, intolerance was perhaps the Shadow Knight’s primary trait, which was part of what confused Morkhan about Traag’s continued existence, much less his purpose for being brought into this sacred place, within view of the great ruler of the world.
The Shadow Knight revealed that his four greatest Shadow Generals were being sent on a mission far to the north, where rumors had spread about a potential threat to his ultimate victory. Morkhan noted that the Shadow Knight included Traag as one of the Generals. He once again protested, saying there was no reason to honor that beast with such a title, nor to include him on this mission. The Shadow Knight reminded Morkhan of his place, to which the Drao responded that he was only attempting to understand why his would-be assassin was being granted a place among them. He was concerned that Traag would, if loosed, make another attempt on the Shadow Knight’s life. The Shadow Knight approached General Latmour, struck him viciously in the face, and told the Drao that his reasons are none of Morkhan’s concern, nor anyone else’s. Besides, the Shadow Knight said, this creature was powerful, and it would be a shame to waste its destructive abilities.
The four generals were dispatched north to the coastal village of Ceihl, where the rumors of a plot to defeat the Shadow Knight first took hold. There was a substantial rebel presence within the village, and the generals wasted no time in dispatching this meager threat. Using a tip attained from one of the village’s few survivors, the generals continued along the coastline, where they encountered a far more organized force of Koslov loyalists, holed up in this sleepy fishing village in order to await the arrival of someone called a Guardian.
This village, like Ceihl, was left with very few survivors. Every time, just enough were left alive to spread word of the futility of resistance and the fate of all rebels and those who harbor them. Continuing their search, now knowing that someone, or something, called a Guardian was their target, the generals arrived at the marina town of Eastport. This town was a pirate’s haven, and as representatives of the new status quo, the Shadow Empire was seen as both a threat and a potential target by the pirates of Eastport. This made the pirates sympathetic to the cause of the rebellion, despite their previous histories with the Imperian aristocracy.
Unforeseen by the generals, it appeared that Eastport was the site of a massive trap laid out for them. a far greater loyalist force than they could have anticipated existed within underground bunkers erected beneath convincing approximations of real, purposeful buildings in the town. These buildings were in fact vacant, hollow shells that, upon the generals’ arrival at a vulnerable position, collapsed to reveal cannons aimed directly for the Shadow Generals and their armies. Once the trap was sprung, the generals had the first true test of their mettle as a collective fighting force. The test was, for the Shadow Empire, a rousing success.
The generals learned more of the Guardians, a secret society of powerful creatures from all walks of life. These Guardians seemed to have a singular goal, and the destruction of the Shadow Empire was considered one of their steps on the way to achieving that goal. A Shadow Empire soldier came to Eastport after the general’s victory, delivering to General Latmour a newly devised weapon called a Manslayer. The Manslayer an intelligent magical sword designed to augment Morkhan’s pure physical strikes with magical properties. The sword also acted as a long-distance method of communication with the Shadow Knight, and as his eyes and ears on the battlefield.
Via the Manslayer, the Shadow Knight received Morkhan’s report about their recent victories along the northeastern seaboard, and their discovery of a mysterious force, the Guardians, that were behind the plot to destroy the Shadow Empire. Morkhan also expressed his particular disdain for Traag, asking for the Shadow Knight’s permission to slay the foul Demonic Troll. He said that Traag killed nearly as many Shadow Empire troops as he had enemy forces, and his lack of insight or intellect made him essentially a malfunctioning weapon more than he was a viable wartime general. The Shadow Knight restated his orders to Morkhan, insisting that he make use of Traag’s substantial power. He considered the Demonic Troll to be his personal property. If he heard that Morkhan was responsible for destroying his property, there would be nowhere on Wyrmshadow that General Latmour could hide.
Their investigation into the Guardians was cut short by the sudden attack of a concentrated military force led by remnant Imperian Knights Sir Osar Argentix and Sir Drogyn Martok. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the generals, including the apparent murder of Sir Osar and his replacement with the doppelganger Nameless, the Shadow Knight was cornered by the Guardians and, soon thereafter, disappeared. Without his presence, the forces of the Shadow Empire dissolved, and the Shadow Knight’s insurrection came to an abrupt end.
Morkhan Latmour, realizing that Traag was no longer useful to the Shadow Knight, lashed out at the Demonic Troll and had the creature all but beaten. Then, suddenly, the Nameless betrayed Morkhan and allowed the troll to kill the Drao general. At the moment of his death, Medrahna offered to bring Morkhan back to life only to live as his slave forever. Turning down his offer, Medrahna instead used her considerable domination magics to ensnare Traag and, soon afterward, she disappeared into the Underdark and was not seen again for many years to come.
The Nameless gathered Morkhan’s body and the Manslayer weapon and delivered them to his master and creator, the Archangel Belthazar. Belthazar commanded that Nameless assume the identity of Sir Osar, returning to command his troops in eradicating the remaining Shadow Empire forces. He specifically wanted “Osar” to ensure that, when the time came for the Shadow Knight’s return, his armies would be able to return once more. Belthazar, who had intercepted the soul of Morkhan Latmour before it was excised from his deceased mortal body, made the same offer to the fallen Drao general that Medrahna had before. However, in this case, Morkhan’s acceptance would mean that, some day, the Shadow Knight would return, and he could once again serve his one and only true master. In this case, Morkhan accepted.
The Guardians had imprisoned the Shadow Knight within the Night Sword, the very instrument of his creation. They then shattered the blade and disguised the shards of the Night Sword in the shape of keys. Every member of the Guardians took one of the keys and hid away in secret, keeping knowledge of their whereabouts even from the other Guardians, content to keep the Shadow Knight sealed away for all time. This was Belthazar’s intention, as he was the bearer of one of the keys. He was one of the Guardians. However, if ever there was a threat that someone would want to reassemble the Night Sword and destroy it, Belthazar would seek the one man in all of Wyrmshadow whose blood ties to the Night Sword (and fierce devotion to the God of Justice) would make him easy enough to manipulate into unwittingly saving the Shadow Knight from destruction.That man was Sir Drogyn Martok, and that tale is told in Wyrmshadow: Good Intentions.