Welcome to Velitrium, home of the Velitar. This is an AD&D campaign that I created and ran in the mid 80’s. I have rewritten it as a GURPS campaign, leaving the original story line intact while translating NPC’s, monsters and magic into GURPS equivalents. This campaign will take place thirty years after the events of the previous campaign. The PC’s of that time, those that survived, are now NPC’s and their deeds are part of the campaigns history. What follows is an introduction to Velitrium and the Velitar and a brief history up to the present time.
Origin of the Velitar
The Velitar were one of seven tribes that made up the people of Calbazar, an empire far to the south of present day Velitrium. Calbazar was a ferociously warlike nation that aggressively expanded at the expense of it’s neighbors until it reached a point, some nine hundred years ago where it was hemmed in to the north by the desert called Nygg, in the south by the sea, the west by mountains populated with stubborn and equally aggressive savages, and the east by nations that were both large, well armed and more advanced. At this point the tribes settled down a little and began to pursue more civilized practices, like trade.
In addition to being warlike the tribes were extremely religious. The dominant faith by far was an ancient religion centered on the Sky God, Mitra. Worship of Mitra had been practiced time out of mind by the tribes that made up the Calbazar, indeed the legends indicated that the Church had existed since the creation of the world. The Calbazar believed that their distant ancestors came from another land, a veritable paradise on earth, created by Mitra for the benefit of Man, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and all good creatures. According to the legends, the ancestors were the Guardians of this paradise. They were warriors, knights, priests and wizards charged with protecting and defending paradise. Then came a great evil, war spread across the land and the ancestors were defeated in battle by the evil of the Dark Lore. This abomination is a cult of Demon worshippers that gained victory by corrupting many of the Guardians. Angered by the failure of the ancestors, Mitra swept away the paradise, drowning it beneath the sea, but not before he mercifully saved the best of the Guardians by giving them a magical ship that took them to a new land where they were commanded to prosper and multiply.
This happened ages and ages and ages ago, according to the histories. The Calbazar grew in numbers and spread across the land until they reached the present point of the narration. The seven tribes or clans are as follows.
The Velitar: Said to be descended from the priests and the holiest warriors of the ancestors, the Knights of Mitra.
The Savarn: Said to be descended from the wizards that defended paradise.
The Azar: Also said to be descended from the Knights of Mitra.
The Cabaal: Descended from the warriors who fought beside the knights.
The Katalla: Also descended from the warriors who fought beside the knights.
The Bremdin: Descended from the Faithful. Noncombatant followers of Mitra.
The Garnuchin: Also descended from the Faithful.
The rulers of the Calbazar generally came from either the Velitar, the Savarn or the Azar. At the time in question the Empire was ruled by the Savarn. In truth the clans were fiercely independent and the Emperor’s rule was based on skillful diplomacy, playing one against the other. The fortunes of the tribes rose and fell over time and the Savarn had been on top for a long time. Too long in the opinion of the Velitar Lords and they resolved to change that.
The Civil War
For fifty years, three generations of the Velitar leadership, known as the `Lords of the Velitar’ plotted and planned, until they were strong enough to overthrow the Emperor and place a Velitar on the throne. As part of their plans they hired several thousand mercenaries from the Katalla clan. The Katalla warriors had an ancient tradition of fighting for pay.
The Velitar had always prided themselves, and still do, on the traditions that say they were founded by the ancient Priests of Mitra and the greatest of the Knights of Mitra. For centuries on end the clan had produced the bulk of the priests and mystics that lead the Church, to the point where the Velitar were accused several times of having a strangle hold on the Church’s hierarchy. This is not to say that all the priests of the Church were Velitar, but at least half of them were, and the Velitar had long looked down their noses at the other clans because of it. This naturally bred resentment, to which was added jealousy as the Velitar built up their power and wealth in preparation for their bid for the throne.
Upon reflection it was clear that the Velitar leadership had under estimated this resentment and anger on the part of the other clans. They anticipated having to fight the Savarn and possibly the Azar, they did not expect all the clans to rise up against them.
There was another consideration, one that the Velitar rarely acknowledge except in their most candid moments. Just as the clan had over the centuries produced the bulk of Calbazar’s priests and mystics, it had also produced the bulk of Calbazar’s Demon worshippers. The Dark Lore did not die with paradise, it snuck out with the ancestors and found a fertile home in the lands that the tribes conquered and claimed. The Velitar, source of some of the most enlightened intellects of the tribes, was also the source of some of the most depraved.
All these factors contributed to what came next. The Lords of the Velitar, led by Vathak Wingsten, launched their attack against the Imperial City. The plans were carefully laid and well thought out. Seventy thousand Velitar warriors and seven thousand allied Katalla warriors advanced on the city, concealed by the combined wizardry of Kistotain Tortrix and Andrid Thestorina, both Lords of the Velitar. At the same time a small group led by another Velitar Lord, the renowned thief Rother Korbric, entered the city secretly in order to generate confusion by starting fires and opening gates.
Unbeknownst to Wingsten and most of the Velitar Lords, Korbric and another of the Lords, Menakem Kudrun, were secret supporters and followers of the Dark Lore. They had their own agenda which they pursued under the cover of the attack.
Korbric assassinated the Emperor, as well as the High Priest of Mitra, and stole several of the holiest artifacts of the church. Meanwhile the Velitar Lords were learning the extent of their unpopularity. As the battle for the Imperial City raged the other five clans rose up and came to the Savarn’s aid. The Velitar were hopelessly out numbered and began to withdraw.
As the host fell back the extent of the Velitar’s crimes were revealed. The Emperor’s death was the least of the sins. Temples had been plundered, clergy murdered, priceless artifacts stolen or destroyed. The clans were outraged! Most of the Katallan mercenaries deserted but perhaps three thousand remained loyal, bound by their ancient tradition of never breaking a contract. It was useless for the Velitar leaders to plead innocence or ignorance, the Leaders of the other clans would hear none of it. Several attempts to reach a peaceful solution failed, the fighting continued and the Velitar were in danger of annihilation.
The Velitar had fought battle after battle, winning most and inflicting terrible losses on the other clans. All this accomplished was to further enrage the people and whip them into a frenzy of bloodlust that would only be slaked when the clan was no more. The Lords decided that the clans only hope was to flee the empire, but where to go?
To the south was the sea, the Velitar were not seafarers so there was no hope there. To the east were many powerful nations, allies of Calbazar that would be delighted to score points with the new Emperor and give him the heads of the men who killed his father. To the west were the mountains, high, frozen and inhospitable in the winter that was already closing off the few passes. But between the Velitar and the mountains lay the whole vast spread of Calbazar, the homelands of five of the clans already seeking Velitar blood. Add to this the mountain tribes that had no love for any of the Calbazar, and who would cheerfully block the clan into some narrow pass with avalanches and allow them to starve. To the north was the Desert of Nygg. Here was a vast trackless waste of shifting sands, rocky mesas and scattered oasis. Not very hospitable but the only chance the clan had. All that lay between the Velitar and the desert was one clan, the Bremdin, the weakest of the seven. The Velitar went north.
The march through the territory of the Bremdin was swift and bloody. It culminated in the Velitar’s passage through the Vale of Quorl, a place of abbeys and cloistered monasteries. After the clan had passed, agents and followers of Menakem Kudrun turned back and attacked the abbeys and monasteries. When the army of Calbazar arrived Quorl was a place of smoking rubble and horrible death. The Calbazar went berserk. The army followed the Velitar into the desert and the two forces fought skirmish after skirmish as the pursuit dragged on for weeks. The Velitar’s horse archers repeatedly interposed themselves between the Imperials and the clan, their efforts kept the army from closing with the clan’s main body which was composed of thousands of noncombatants. These highly mobile missile troops were both shield and sword for the clan, but their numbers were being winnowed by the constant skirmishing and there was no end in sight.
The Lords of the Velitar had at last despaired of escape and had resolved to find a place to fight one last battle. If they could defeat the Imperial Army perhaps they would be left in peace. No sooner had they resolved this, when the next day brought from the desert a mighty sandstorm, the like of which no one had ever seen before. Like a miracle it settled onto the encampment of the enemy and showed no inclination to move on or die out. The people rejoiced, seeing it as a sign of forgiveness from Mitra. The Lords of the Velitar saw it as an opportunity to escape the pursuit. The clan moved off as quickly as it could using the storm to hide its movement.
The sand storm lasted a week, when it finally cleared the Velitar were long gone. The Imperial Army was in sad shape and there was no choice but to return home empty handed. That was the last that Calbazar heard of the Velitar.
For months the clan wandered the Desert of Nygg, moving from oasis to oasis, staying until the water was depleted then moving on. The desert nomads that relied on these pitiful water holes, mounted attack after attack on the thirsty horde that descended like locusts to consume their precious resources. The nomads had nowhere near the strength of the Velitar who had entered the desert some forty thousand strong, and though thirst, battle, heat and disease had taken their toll, they still numbered over thirty thousand. It was clear to the leaders that something must be done. Going on like this meant that the clan was doomed.
Some suggested breaking the clan up into smaller groups that the oasis could support, but this would make them vulnerable to the nomads. Others suggested splitting the clan in two and going in separate directions, but Vathak Wingsten was against that. It was he who decided that the clan needed to slim down, but not in people.
When the clan left Calbazar the people took everything they owned that could be loaded onto wagons, carts, oxen, horses and mules. The nobility were the worst by far. They had some two hundred and fifty ox wains loaded with treasure looted from the Imperial City alone! This had to go. When Wingsten announced his decision there was trouble. A group of the nobles, led by Menakem Kudrun refused to abandon their wealth. The clan’s High Priest, Krevos Calpernis, a Lord of the Velitar himself, sided with Wingsten, but many did not. It came to blows. Rother Korbric tried to assassinated Wingsten and Calpernis and was killed in the attempt. Kudrun was taken prisoner and stripped of his rank, along with other nobles who chose to stand by him. After much debate the treasure was buried in a secret place using slaves as laborers, the slaves were then executed to keep the place secret, and maps were made so that some day it could be recovered.
The only issue was what to do with Menakem Kudrun and his supporters. In the end it was decided to let them go their own way. This group, numbering about six thousand, led by Kudrun, set out across the desert and were never seen again.
Searching through Rother Korbrics possessions led to the discovery of many holy artifacts of the Church, stolen from the Temples and monasteries sacked by Kudrun’s followers. Hence forth the Velitar always referred to Menakem Kudrun as, `The Traitor’.
Five months after the revolt, the clan crossed a particularly nasty stretch of desert called by the nomads, `The Anvil of God’ some distance on the other side the clan came upon a lake of water at the base of an immense cliff.
The cliff was at least five hundred feet high and stretched for miles and miles in either direction. A stream of water fell from the top of the cliff and plunged into the lake below. Seeing the waterfall and the lake in the shadow of this wall the people sang and rejoiced for their deliverance. That is until they tasted the water. The water was foul and brackish, tasting of strongly of salt it was undrinkable. Cries and lamentations rose from the clan and the people despaired of ever escaping the desert. Lord Wingsten possessed a magic item, all of the Lords had items of great power his was a small box that on command turned into a boat. Wingsten used the boat to sail out to the waterfall, he found that the water falling from the cliff was sweet and fresh, it didn’t become foul and salty until it entered the lake. Returning to the people he announced his findings and told the clan that their salvation lay at the top of the cliff.
Wizards of the clan magicked scouts up onto the cliff and they reported a lush green land of forests and rivers, a veritable paradise. The clan set about getting up there. A suitable site was found and construction began on a ramp, a road that would climb five hundred feet from the desert to the top of the cliff. It took the clan nine months to build it, it’s still there today, nine months of back breaking toil to lift themselves out of the desert to their new home.
The wizards used their powers to survey the new land, they found that it was a broad, flat valley between two large mountain ranges. The valley was between three and four hundred miles wide, and perhaps six hundred long. At the southern edge, where the Velitar were encamped, it narrowed down to about two hundred miles and was hedged by the great cliff almost it’s entire length. At it’s northern end, the valley narrowed down to about a hundred miles across and then broadened out into a vast forest of low hills and small lakes. In roughly the center of the valley was an enormous fresh water lake and in the south east corner was a great swamp that fed the river that flowed over the cliff edge. The soil seemed rich and well watered, there was much forest but also some extensive open lands, game was plentiful and the diviners believed that there were minerals to be had. The clan celebrated it’s deliverance, Lord Wingsten declared that the valley would henceforth be known as Velitrium. When the clan at last reached the valley one of the first acts of the priests, after a prayer of thanksgiving, was to crown Vathak Wingsten the first King of Velitrium. Everything was perfect. There was only one hitch, someone else was there first.