Summary: The first (zoomed out) introduction post to the setting I'm working on and the initial words spoken to my players during a one-shot game that I ran some weeks ago. Eventually known as Quassus, this is a continual work-in-progress, a setting based on an alternative history of Medieval Serbia.
|"Don Quixote" by Gustave Doré|
1390. is a dark year on the European continent. The flames of what will eventually be known as the Hundred Years War are engulfing the West, despite the relentless Black Plague which still devours and drools over the land. The Papal Schism and the crisis of faith caused by this turbulence is making various church orders distance themselves from the Catholic crown and become entities of their own.
Faced with death, the lack of religious comfort and endless wars, it is becoming all too frequent for the common folk to turn to the “old” religions and to seek refuge in the wilderness, away from the cities of western and central Europe. Many desperately seek asylum in the Kingdom of Hungary which slowly becomes bloated and on the brink of collapse due to the pressure of cultural differences and the rapid depletion of resources.
The focus of our story moves further down, beyond the south-eastern borders of the Hungarian Kingdom. Deep in the center of the Balkan peninsula lies a nigh nameless empire in ruins. The Great God-Emperor and father of the Serbian Empire, Tzar Dusan, marched with his troops towards Constantinople, poised to conquer the Byzantine capital. Yet before reaching their goal, the entire army vanished. The power vacuum left behind the Emperor and his 80.000 soldiers slowly filled with a handful of knezi, magnates and princes, who only craved personal power and petty wealth. The once powerful Empire has shattered into dozens of disharmonious shards.
Decades later, the strongest enemy Europe dared face is thrashing at her door, closer than ever, and it was the Despotate that was the vanguard of Christendom. The hanging doom of demonic armies of the Ottoman Sultanate is the sole cause of reforging of old pacts, friendships and brotherhoods. The final call for heroic deeds and sacrifice under one banner and a unified cry. Even though the small Serbian army mounted towards the great battle on the Kosovo field, the epilogue of their story transpired not with a bang, but with a whimper. Months have passed since the troops departed south, yet since then there has been no trace or word, neither of defeat, nor victory. The only thing that remained was the wasteland on the north and a remorseless feeling of dread that the eastern demons crushed the defense and that they will devour what little remains behind the unified Serbian army.
Welcome to Serbia of the Late Middle Ages, a shattered and twisted Empire.
Tenebris Terram Anathemate.
The Land Twice Cursed.