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I’ve been getting poked from multiple sides to post the campaign world where all the dungeons, adventures and cities I’ve been posting belong. I’m finally starting to cave to the demand, and will draw up a hex map soon with a large number of the existing urban and dungeon maps located upon it.

But since I’m going to be giving away the geography of the New Kingdoms like that, I figured I might as well also give you the background of the setting.

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Adventures in the New Kingdoms owes a huge debt to two primary sources – the 1981 Moldvay Basic set and to Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. Over decades of play the setting has shifted away from and back towards the Moorcock feel, but it has always remained a staple of the background. More recently, Richard K. Morgan’s “A Land Fit for Heroes” series has also had it’s impact felt on the setting.

What Has Come Before

In the times before men the Kale ruled the land.

Their own tales speak of times of pure chaos constrained only by the elementals, entities of matter and law who formed the chaos into their own images. But in our modern times, few know of the Kale mythology, and fewer still believe it.

The Kale fought the other races and enslaved the elementals to their will. They formed a great empire based from their island home, and explored this world and the next to claim all lands in their name.

The Kale then returned to their island home and the surrounding regions and pursued their arts, sciences and explorations of the other worlds, seeming to forget the empire they had formed about them. It took generations for the neglect to be truly noticed, and for rebellion to spring up among the races of man.

But these rebellions were hopeless and lost before they began. The Kale were at their peak of power, with armies fielded in other worlds and the power of the elementals to support them. They brought their armies home and waged a war of conquest over their erstwhile empire, reclaiming it all again under blue steel armour and sword.

To this day, the memories and tales of the elven armies sweeping the known kingdoms killing all those who stood up against them is etched into the legends of the New Kingdoms, and it was only a matter of time before the race of man would stand up to the Kale again.

The Second Revolt

When the races of man stood up to the Kale again seven centuries later, the story was told in a much different fashion. The Kale had become idle in their empire, practising more arcane arts, torture and esoteric magics and looking ever inwards instead of examining the world around them, forgetting the lessons of the first rebellion of man.

This time the races of man wiped the Kale from the face of the New Kingdoms and dragged the lands into a new age, free of the grip of Empire. Even the Kale’s own magically engineered slave races turned against them during the dark days of the fighting.

Only the island nation of the Kale remains to them, a land where the elementals do not allow the ships of man to approach. Kale are also occasionally seen in the Islands of Hills, a group of four islands north of Kale. During the days of the Kale Empire, the Island Hills were where the Kale brought promising members of the races of man to learn their mystic arts. In time the islands became a hub of trade (because maritime trade to Kale proper was difficult at best) as well as the seat of mystical power amongst men.

Finally, the rare Kale can be found in the ancient colonial city of Khalis, now the capital of the city-state of the same name in the New Kingdoms. The largest city in the known world, Khalis is a metropolitan environment where all races and creeds are at least tolerated by day.

People of the New Kingdoms

The standard inhabitant of the New Kingdoms is of one of the races of man. Humans of every skin tone live in the new world, seeking to reform it from Empire to their own needs. The most prominent of the races of man in Adventures in the New Kingdoms are the peoples of the lands encircling the Kale. To the North of the Kale and the Hill Islands is Khalis, the centre of the New Kingdoms. The people of Khalis and the surrounding regions are most similar to humans of Northern European stock.

To the South of Kale are the swarthy men of Durin and the surrounding lands, a tall black people known for their ritual scarring of their warrior castes and for the fine steel of their swords. To the West are the deserts and the Ehr, a raiding nomadic culture with olive skin and dark hair known for their skill with bows and ponies.

The races of men are looked to with wonder for they have learned to channel their faith in ways none of the Kale ever have. Where the Kale have rubbed shoulders and shared meals with the alien things of other worlds, Man has transformed them into something greater and begun to worship them as gods – and to derive power from this relationship. While a few dwarves among the men have been turned to this mindset, it is a rare gift to turn faith into magical power, one that no Kale has, and few others either.

After the races of man, the most prominent race is the Kale. Tall, thin and fair, the Kale have been described as elves in the legends of man for generations. Their skill with sorcery is unmatched and their longer lifespans remain the envy of many human kings. The Kale are a sullen people now, their Empire destroyed, their arts falling into disuse. The Kale are the only race in the new kingdoms that can combine the arts of the warrior and mage – while some of the sorcerer-priests of the Hill Islands can cast arcane magics while armoured, there are no true spell-swords outside of the Kale.

Halflings are considered by the Kale and most other races to be of the races of men. They are a diminutive and heroic people, although not as adventurous as their brethren.

Finally of the major races we have the dwarves. Stories of dwarves exist prior to the revolts of man, but it was during the second revolt that the vast majority of the dwarves in the New Kingdoms arrived. Entire nations of dwarves came crashing through the planar boundaries digging through the earth in massive machines to fight with man against the Kale. After two hundred years of war, most departed, but some still remain. Some clans were exiled from the diggerships, others elected to stay. At least a few clans are the remnants of the crew of two diggerships that were destroyed.

Prior to the arrival of the new dwarves, the few that existed in the New Kingdoms were the protected children of Grome, the greatest of the earth elementals. There are tales of primordial dwarves, twice the height of a man and as heavy as a dozen that dwell deep within the roots of the world.