I’ve been running a Fourth Edition D&D campaign for about a year now, mostly with old college friends. It’s been both a challenge and a pleasure to keep it going. We live in different areas of the country (and our party cleric is soon going to move to another country entirely!), so we’re obliged to play over the internet. There’s tools available to play remotely, but they’re imperfect and we have problems. Scheduling difficulties add another layer of problems as well. But it’s just great fun to get together with old friends and hand them a group of orcs to kill.
My players are campaigning in a new homebrew world of my own design. Their characters are all residents of the Free and Independent Republic of Garod, which is a relatively small and unpopulated country in the backwater of the region. Hicks, in other words. The big players are the Kyrian Empire and the Principality of Rakand, both right next door. Up until five years ago, both Rakand and Garod were possessions of the Empire: Rakand as one of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities, and Garod as an afterthought that supplied timber, iron, and peasants.
Then, five years ago, in December 553, came the Quake. Capitalization intended. There was a day long series of earthquakes and aftershocks that caused massive damage across the whole region. The city of Kyre itself was the most badly damaged. Tidal waves destroyed its harbor, and what the flood didn’t wipe out of the city, the fires that started afterwards did. However, the royal family survived, escaping to high ground immediately. While Emperor Arsiman III slowly rebuilt his shattered capital, he sent his half-brother Pathir to Rakand, to act as governor and send some of Rakand’s riches back to rebuild. What the emperor did not yet realize was that after the Quake, some people had begun to manifest strange new magical abilities, or that his brother was one of them.
When Pathir realized what his new-found magic could new, he gathered up a fleet in Rakand, and sieged Kyre in an attempt to depose his brother and proclaim himself Emperor. When the siege failed after eight months at sea and four brutal landing attempts, he sailed back to Rakand and declared himself ruler of the independent Principality of Rakand. With Rakand no longer a part of the Empire, Garod took the opportunity to rebel as well, and form themselves as a Republic under the control of a ruling council of the thirty-two most powerful lords in the nation. But the Council is weak, as the local lords vie for power, only granting enough support to the Council to keep Rakand and Kyre from conquest.
Now the Council has instituted mandatory registration of all magic within the nation. They’ve seen what magic could do from the civil war and they want to make sure it’s under their control. There’s a lot of grumbling from the local lords, and suspicions that a number of them are withholding information, magicians, or items from the government. For various reasons, all of my players have decided to comply with the Council’s orders, and meet for the first time in the registration office in the capital.