Sunday, May 8, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign, Background

The Annals of the Winter War

"The events of the winter of 951-952ia (1), known collectively as the Winter War, begins not at the first frost, but a full 9 months prior. The Kings of the Iron Crown (2), with their Necromancer allies (3), invaded the Southern Freeholds two weeks before the Spring thaw, in Latewinter (4), 951ia. They gained ground steadily over the course of the Spring, taking five major cities, numerous towns and manors, and uncounted villages by Vernal.

The Southern Freeholds were in desperate straights and called to their most friendly neighbors, the Northern Kingdom, for relief. Troops, funds, and, more importantly, the Knights of Iridia streamed south, halting the advance by the end of Planting . For the next four months, from Flowers to Leaffall, the battles raged across the Southern Freeholds, with neither party gaining nor holding much ground.

The Kings of the Iron Crown were wily but when faced with the strength and resolve of the Knights of Iridia, they often fell back. But there were many places along the battle lines where there were no knights, and so they made advances in some parts while losing in others.

The introduction of the undead on the invaders' side in Flowers, 951ia, changed the tide for a time. Undead, previously unknown to the people of both Northern Kingdom and the Southern Freeholds, had a terrifying effect - once staunch allies who fell in battle returned the next day to fight against their former comrades - that was horrific as well as demoralizing.

Again, in the face of these overwhelming odds, the Knights of Iridia rallied the defenders of the Freeholds and fought both living and dead enemy at all opportunities. The brief advances the Kings of the Iron Crown gained in Flowers, with their undead creature "Zombies" and "Skeletons" (5), faltered in Summertide and the battles raged all the more fiercely.

Not only were the defenders fighting for their lives, lands and peoples, they were also fighting for their eternal rest with the goddess Iridia. It became common practice to burn the dead (6), all the dead from both sides, rather than leave them as fodder for the necromancers.

At the end of the fighting season, the battle lines stretched all across the Southern Freeholds, from the Ashford Mountains to the shores of vast Lake Betian. Fifty miles north and south of this line was a no man's land of ruined villages, bloody battlefields and burned farms. The few Freehold cities that remained free were depopulated as the armies of the Northern Kingdom, including many Knights of Iridia, marched home for winter quarters in Autumnal. Some northerners remained behind for a variety of reasons - local loves, desire for gain, in gaol, out of faith or revenge, to name a few - and mixed with refugees from the occupied Freeholds. It left many of the cities in quite a state.

Cities and towns completely turned out their gaols, hanging the worst criminals (7) and giving pardon to others - as long as they continued to fight against their hated enemies, the Kings of the Iron Crown and the Necromancers.

These rag-tag warbands of deserters and thieves, brawlers and drunkards, laze-abouts and losers, with some few Knights of Iridia who stayed, were let loose on the ruined piece of land to wage the war as they saw fit, either to become Kings of the Iron Crown themselves or die against them. Many towns instituted policies to prevent the former and few regretted the latter (unless their corpses went unburned), with the hope that in the Spring, they would have caused more damage to the enemy than to the Freeholds.

Neither side expected what really happened."

From the Annals of the Winter War, Volume 1, written by Columbanus, Monk of Iridia, Abbey of the Western Pines, Great Northern Kingdom, 975ia.

(1) The 951st/952nd year since Iridia ascended into the heavens. ia is the common abbreviation of Iridia Ascendant.
(2) Kings of the Iron Crown is a Southern Freehold colloquialism for bandit chieftains.
(3) "Necromancer" was a new word at the time, as Undead were heretofore unknown prior to 951ia. The provenance of the word is unknown but many believe it is the name of the first wizard with these powers over the dead. The few Necromancers or Kings of the Iron Crown that were captured during the time were either unwilling to explain it's true history or unable due to lack of specific knowledge.
(4) The new Iridian Calendar is made of of 12 months: Deepwinter (January), Latewinter (February), Storms (March), Vernal (April), Planting (May), Flowers (June), Summertide (July), Highsun (August), Leaffall (September), Autumnal (October), Firstwinter (November) and Nightal (December). The old Iridian Calendar consisted of four seasons and a dozen or more feast days but became difficult to delineate sufficiently and fell into disuse by 397ia.
(5) "Zombies" and "Skeletons" were a colloquialism that developed during the Winter War. While "Skeletons" are an accurate description of that type of undead, it is unknown where the term "Zombie" came from, though it could be a bastardization from an Old Iridian phrase "Chom Bes" (to eat voraciously). Unfortunately, no one has provided any support for that possibility.
(6) A practice still in observance in many areas of the Southern Freeholds and Northern Kingdom.
(7) According to scant records of the time this mainly consisted of murderers and rapists.


  1. Wow. This is a thing if beauty. I am so excited to read further installments!

    I love focused campaigns like these, where the parties involved are clearly defined, the campaign scope and purpose clearly detailed and every PC has a goal to achieve from the outset. So great!

  2. Thanks, Christian!

    The campaign wrapped up Session 7 on Friday (with the PCs coming to blows over a very difficult moral choice) and we're still going strong.

  3. It's so interesting that you say that. We were just talking today about how one character killed another regarding the looting of the body of a fallen Knight of Iridia. One character wanted the knight's sword and signet ring, while another PC wanted the items to be carefully wrapped, placed in a chest and returned to the man's family. Tempers flared, steel was drawn and the would-be looter lay dead.

  4. The moral choice involved what to do with a close friend that is being "converted" to a necromancer by a magical metal coffin.

    Several in the group were for mercy killing her rather than let her become evil. One thought to find some way to reverse the conversion.

    It ended with two people attacking the coffin with ballistas and one person attacking one of the shooters to protect his friend. But then the coffin started making "Hi, I'm a 30 second time-bomb" noises and they shoved it off their ship not quite in the nick of time.

    The ensuing explosion raised a skull-shape mushroom cloud, bathing the ship with evil eldritch radiation and knocked four of them out, including the one who attacked the other PCs.

    I had finally achieved the dark, dark feeling in the game that I was going for. Excellent!


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