Welcome to the Shadowmarsh Age of Sigmar campaign, find the setting, factions and weekly goals here!
Week 1 Commences:
16/11/2020 18:00 GMT
The Story so far…
Located in a valley beneath the twin mountain ranges that form the Vipers Grin the Shadowmarsh is a dismal, bog laden region within a region of Ulgu oft referred to as The Grey, strategically situated outside of the deep mists within which the Shadow Daemons of the realm prowl, yet far enough into the Mists to have been spared the ravages of chaos that less fortunate areas endured. The region houses one of the few safe passages for Azyrite settlers from the Aqshyian realm into the Realm of Shadow, with its sole city of Beaconhill functioning as both governor and protector of the region.
With its proximity to the Aqshy Gate the Shadowmarsh is trapped between the cold front of Ulgu and the oppressive Aqshy heat pouring through the Gate, the resulting Storm system keeps the region at the eye of a volatile vortex of hurricane winds and arcane lightning. In contrast the stillness at the heart of the storm, the Shadowmarsh itself remains under a constant oppressive clammy heat, its mists clinging to the skin and sitting uneasily in the lung as the stench of the fetid waters fills every breath. The unique climate has produced a dazzling array of fauna here, prized plants for medicines, narcotics, arcane ingredients and more, though few in such fields are willing to risk straying from the dirt paths into the bogs themselves to secure such a prize. This profit and hesitance cultivate a thriving population of thugs and rogues in poaching camps within the mists of the marsh happy to plunder the regions resources and secrete themselves away through the Aqshy gate without ever alerting the city of Beaconhill to their presence.
Caught in night perpetual darkness the day cycles of the region are barely punctuated by slivers of light piercing through the mist and cloud cover above. Most often the deeper regions of the marsh find themselves lit by foul green flame sitting atop the waters as the volatile gases released by the marsh catch upon the heated Aqshy breeze and erupt into a destructive and malign explosion. Though bogs in and of themselves are an unremarkable feature of Ulgu, with the land itself often thought to be as treacherous as those who make their home here, the Shadowmarsh plays host to the broken nest of an ancient Godbeast known as the Mother of Spiders. Though legends of the beast herself are plentiful and rarely in agreement it is thought she has either perished or long since disappeared into the mists of Ulgu, leaving behind her broken monolithic shells of her lesser brood, each the size of a city and prized for their night impenetrable outer shells and alchemical fluids within.
The mark of the Mother of Spider extends beyond the nest however, across the many miles of the Shdowmarsh her web hangs in the mist and drags through the waters of the bog, forged in a time of Gods and Godbeasts every strand of the web the thickness of a mans arm, spun from lies and deceit into the Ulgan Realmthread. This unique compound strung from the very thread of the realm that houses it possesses startling properties, with those of particularly skilled mind and potent souls able to use it to convey messages and emotions across vast distances. The nexus point of the web lies within the city of Beaconhill itself, though many accursed soul has sought to finds ways to corrupt broken ends of the webs to spread their foul will across the lands of Ulgu. Scholars posit that the web could, if attuned, even be utilised to amplify the will of a powerful master across the region, theorising that it may well have been through strength of will alone that the Mother of Spiders would have subdued all those caught in her web for her children to consume.
MONSTERS IN THE MIST
To stray from the beaten paths of the marsh is to invite the litany of monsters in the mists to consume you, dark things often find themselves most at home veiled in shadow and the legends of the Mother of Spiders have drawn many profiteers and fanatics to the region. Grot tribes claim most of the lower caves of the Vipers Grin, their foul totem poles staked in the marsh as though claiming the area for their primitive god, to the west Gargant tribes ousted from the region gather their strength once more within the storms of the outer reaches and with every passing day more Orruks and Troggoths pour into the region as though sensing the destruction that is to come.
THE FOREST OF ESCASTY
To the darkest reaches of the marsh, the southern tip of the Shadowmarsh lay a fell forest, thriving in a region without life nor sustenance a dark magic sustains these trees. They sway and writhe in ecstasy to a wind felt by no other, their branches blossom with ripened fruit where little else could be cultivated and the hypnotic scent of the forest lingers in the mists for miles around. Yet the natives know better than the cross the boundaries of the forest, for at its heart a malignancy grows feeding the every pervasive roots to spread across the Shadowmarsh and seek the prize at its heart.
The Shadowmarsh has long been home to cultures before the arrival of the Azyrite settlers with their heavy boots and industry, with the Aelves that call this region home having a natural affinity for the Shadow. It has been they who have kept the web of the Mother safe from harm for the long centuries, they who have steered all travellers from the Shadowmarsh or simply driven them from the path into the all claiming waters of the Bog. It is perhaps they, more than any other who have been affronted by the construction of the Watchtowers at Beaconhill and the desecration of their spiritual homelands within the Shadow.
The sole city of note in the Shadowlands Beaconhill sits in a naturally fortified position in the heart of the marsh, nestled in the remnants of a monolithic egg that provides the city with an organic wall and barrier against the fetid waters that surround it and those who reside within them. Some claim that the egg was formed in a bygone era by some dark god to brith the Mother of all Spiders, an arachnid the side of a mountain range that still lurks in the mists of Ulgu, others that the Shadowmarsh in its entirety is the Mother of Spiders nest, and the egg but one of many of her brood.
As the sole beacon of stability in a volatile region the city finds itself ever at risk from not only the local fauna, but a growing shadow of evil that thrives in the darkness of the Shadowmarsh. Even the Shadowhost that make their home in the region provide little hope of aid should the city become threatened, their xenophobic nature spurring a deep rooted mistrust of this fledgling city.
Beaconhill forms a cultural and information hub on the edge of the Realm of Shadow, situated in a strategic location within a days travel to the Aqshy gate it is a rare beacon of stability in a realm of ever shifting loyalties. It has stood as a solitary warning beacon against anything that might stray from the Shadow to threaten the city of Anvilgard beyond the gates boundaries, the seers of the city able to attune their minds to the network of robust webs that span the expanse of the Shadowmarsh to relay information near instantaneously across vast distances.
As such information has long been the primary value of the Beaconhill, yet travellers and traders travel vast distances to mine the residual tissues and fluids that still linger within the egg for the alchemical and medicinal properties, amongst their numbers a vast number of Duardin whose ability to mine the organic is as exemplary as their abilities with ore. This trade has cultivated the city as a centre of learning seeking to pull back some degree of the veil of shadow that lingers in the realm. The College Arcane have in recent years begun to establish an outpost within the city to better understand the properties of the webs used to relay information, drawing their number from Human and Aelfkin.
Though absent a Watchkeep Beaconhill provides a sanctuary to Stormcast in the area providing clear route through Ulgu to Aqshy and the keep at Anvilguard.. For this reason it has often been used as a staging post for incursions against the Hedonite forces amassing in the Realm of Shadow and bears strong ties to the Anvils of Heldenhammer.
The people of Beaconhill are an anxious and mistrusting sort, with the Shadowmarsh denizens disdain for the increasing numbers of outsiders their numbers are mainly drawn from Azyrite settlers, for these folk the near constant storms of the region coupled with the whispering that hangs on every breeze strains the psyche of even the most stable mind to near breaking point. Often families will work no more than a handful of season within the city before rotating out to the comparatively ideal setting of Hammerhal or Anvilgard.
Once ruled by a Council drawn from the College Arcane and Trading Houses of the city Beaconhill now hangs on by the merest of threads. A spate of questionable accidents and quite transparent murders have left the council in tatters with the local populations faith in the remaining members ever tainted by the belief it was they few who orchestrated their colleagues demise in a desperate attempt to cement their power within the city. Absent a ruling government and ever at risk the city’s trading union had elected a defacto spokesperson from a Trader of repute who was not in the region during the spate of murders in order to restore trust for the time being, the unfortunate bearer of such burden the duardin Jakkob Bugmansson.
Should Beaconhill fall dark, the eyes of Azyr into the Realm of Shadow might well go blind for good, and the city of Anvilgard would lose her sister city and watch post, this alone draws the eyes of allies and enemies alike to the city for its strategic position and assets in maintaining the Realmthread web of the region. With its people weakened and in disarray many feel their time has come to wrest control of the city from its Azyrite rulers and the unwilling Duardin who has been thrust into the seat of power.
Dark things have long since made their home in the Bogs of Shadowmarsh, the heavy mists that hang low over the fetid dirt have formed veil behind which evil has been allowed to foster and grow. The undisputed Queen and patron of Depravity that has made her throne of thorns within the Shadowmarsh is known only as Our Lady of the Harvest, a malevolent sprite or daemonic entity appeased by the local populace by a seasonal sacrifice that she might endure what little crop they can foster to grow within this blighted region.
The Ladys influence is not unseen even within the shielded walls of Beaconhill, there is a perfumed scent that lingers on the mist along with the foul bile smells of the bogland around them and what little fruit they grow is sweet to the tongue and pervasive to the very soul. The local populace have consumed the harvest of the Lady for long enough that no other food can sate their hunger, they crave the sweet juices of the fruits of the Shadowmarsh whilst all others taste like ash and rot to their corrupted tastebuds.
For centuries now this Daemon has lurked in her kingdom of shadow and mist, content to feed off of the sacrifices of the city to sustain her as goddess of nothing, though now even she is stirred by the tremors that resonate across the realms. Her rallying cry screeches through the ether through realms both living and dead calling all to her fell banner that she might expand her reach beyond this lost region and into the realms proper once more to gain the favour of her sleeping god.
What fallen souls would answer the call of Our Lady of the Harvest, what corrupt entities would find her honeyed words a salve to a wounded would, what murderers, liars, addicts and rogues now form her Chaotic host.
First Beaconhill, then the Realms….
Monsters in the Mist:
Like many of the denizens of the Shadowmarsh Torgit is an abomination even to his own kind, a runt of a Shaman who had the misfortune of falling into an Arachnarok nest he got wedged into one of the eggs within. Over the coming days he was devoured below the waist by the creature within, with the foul enzymes mixing into his blood stream the spiderling grew around him before the pair emerged as one foul abomination.
Torgit claims that the high walls of Beaconhill are formed of the remainders of the egg of the Spider Godbeast Morur, that deep within the catacombs of the city there may still be some of her essence remaining to raise her anew. Perhaps this is madness, perhaps this grot is… a grot, but these are odd times where madness and prophecy often come to reality far more than reasoned thought. To his banner come many tribes not only of his own Greenskin Ilk, but those who would claim the seed of Morur for themselves for their own dark ends.
The Monsters in the Mist lack the cohesion of the other forces swarming into the Shadowmarsh, but what they lack in strategy they make up for in fanaticism and numbers drawing their armies from the savage tribes of man, grot, orruk, ogors, gargants and even the most ravenous forces of death who seek to claim the Morur for Nagash.
For lifetimes walking the roads of the Shadowmarsh has proved a constant competition between the realm itself and the monsters in the mist trying to pick you off, though in modern days the Monsters are not content to sit merely within the mists…
Before one may conquer the Shadow they must first face the Daemons within their Soul. To invite the unworthy is to invite destruction
All that is taken from the Shadow must be repaid in kind. For the Shadow is his domain, and to steal from him is to steal from the Host
No Door to the Void may be opened, for a door once opened can never truly be shut, and such a door would consume the Realms.
All power is for the Host, to give ones life in service of the Host is every souls duty. To refuse such honour is to insult the Host.
The Path is for the Host alone to walk, to invite an Outsider upon the Path is to risk all who walk it.
For centuries the Shadowhost have been content to lurk in the darker regions of Ulgu, working as spies and assassins for the courts of Morathi and Maelerion alike. They court the darker sides of Order, spreading disinformation and removing key players from the board for their masters will to shape the Realms anew to suit their ancient creed.. Of late though these broken souls haved been stirred like a hornest nest, spurring into increasingly volatile acts against the populace for offenses against their ancient creeds. Now they march under the banner of Ulgu, rallying those of the Shadowed Realm to their number seeking to reclaim the land of Shadow for their new unseen master.
Brewmaster, Admiral, General, Resistance Leader? These are odd times indeed when it falls to the outsiders to rally a defence of the Realms, though some say there is nobility in his heritage leading back through the ages as a deep root of heroism just waiting to be unearth. Beloved in Karak, Lodge and Skyport alike Jakkob is also no stranger to the settlements of mankind though his ales are perhaps a touch robust for their constitutions.
Change is afoot, and Jakkob Bugmansson and his Specials have been caught up in the middle of a maelstrom of forces of Order and the clamour of emergencies occurring upon them. The sudden death of Beaconhills Lord of the Guard and summary chaos has left this unlikely leader at the head of the hosts of Order in Shadowmarsh.
Beaconhill and its proximity to the Aqshy gate have long since been a strategic route between the Ulgan Marshes and more hospitable Aqshy climates, it also provides one pivotal end to the string of warning beacons that trade their way across the Ulgan landscape in troubled times. It is said that if word can reach Beaconhill then it could in a matter of days reach the watch towers of Azyr.
What forces of Order can be rallied to the flag of Beaconhill must fall in line behind this Duardin Brewmaster-General if they are to find footing in the tempestuous time, though many find themselves instead drawn to other masters who promise reward beyond hearty ale and the gratitude of the Duardin.
WEEK 1 – THE RESISTANCE
Though the fighting in the deep marsh had been intense, with many of the courageous souls who ventured beyond the walls of Beaconhill having been lost to the mists progress has been made. The settlers of Beaconhill had ventured force in a motley assortment of man, duardin, Stormcast and beast following the snaking tendrils of the mothers web from the city’s nexus. Through the noxious bogs of the Shadowmarsh, fetid waters and grasping reeds the web had spanned out, time and time again the intrepid travellers found bloated corpses snared upon its expanse.
Their faces had been contorted, twisted death masks of agony made all the more hideous by the litany of spider bites that lined seemingly every inch of flesh. The venom had turned what remained of once soft skin into a hideous yellowed leather, pulled tight across the skeletal frame in a visual assault of agonising demise. Yet worse still came as their torches illumined the victims abdomens, here the leathered skin had been rent outwards, whatever foul creature had been incubated within having long since abandoned its fleshy cocoon to find darker places in the mists to dwell.
With heavy hearts it fell to the heroes of Beaconhill to put the victims to the flame that the might restore some degree of purity to the defiled web and restore their connections to the greater realm. With every soul restored back to the aether and unshackled from the great web the halls of prophecy in Beaconhill became filled with an agonising wail of these departing souls final cries.
The nights dragged long in the Shadowmarsh, with too many souls combined to the agonising demise upon the web it had taken strong wills and stronger stomaches for those loyal to Bugmansson to deliver the victims unto peace. It was on the first moon of the Season of Reaping that the last obstruction to the Mother Web was cleared, and for the first time in weeks the prophets of Beaconhill screamed their garbled message into the nights sky.
Fire on the Water, Blood in the Dirt
Most stalwart of allies, the deepest of hurt
Through darkness and shadow, through lies and pain
Breaks promise and spirit, city and chain.
The Kraken and Serpent, The Hammer and Shield,
Lay thousands of voices, now lost in the field
The Beacon was restored to the city that formed its name sake, though the tidings it spilled out were far less comforting than the populace would had hoped. And as messengers from Anvilgard spilled in it would seem the tidings might soon turn from bad to worse.
WEEK 1 THE SHADOWHOST
With the web blinded to their advance for the first time in a generation the tendrils of the Shadowhost had sought to coil around the city, filtering in through every open port, every window, every door. They would be your neighbour, your priest, your loyal guard and every present friend and here they would hide themselves to ever feed information back to the Lord of Shadow and enact her will upon the up-starter interlopers into the Realm of Ulgu.
The plans had been laid years in advance, yet every meticulously woven thread seemed to come undone, had too much weight been placed on the affinity of their aelven cousins for their own kind, had the ignorance of Azyr been overestimated in the calculations of the ages. It would seem every hidden agent secreted unto the city was delivered back to the shadow either by cart or blade, time and time again the Aelven rune for “Shield” carved upon the corpses of those loyal to the shadow as they were cast from the city high walls.
For now at-least there were those Aelves who walked the shadow and yet held no loyalty to it, though in time perhaps that too would change…
WEEK 1 MONSTERS IN THE MIST
The air surrounding the copse that had formed the Spider Kings camp hung heavy as brightly colours vapours from fungal brews danced hypnotically with the mists of the Realm. The fetid stench of the bog seemingly waging a constant war with the Shamans concoctions to seem which could turn the stomach faster, yet the fanatic within the clearing were either ignorant to the stench or worse revelling in it. As the fires leapt high into the sky the wailing cries of the gathered shamans rose with it, their cruel mouths twisted into hideously tooth grins of malign intent that showed all too many yellow fanged teeth for any civilised soul to be comfortable with.
As his followers danced and revelled around him the Spider King himself sat still, his red beady eyes turned up to the webs above the revelry and the prey snared upon it. The spiderlings had ofcourse been too small to snare such mighty prey, no it had been the Spiderfangs and those who worshipped the Mother who had gathered such prime meals, plump villagers, hardy farmers, travellers with all the meat and softness to feed the young. His forelegs slowly stretched out in anticipation, disgusting tongue running over his lips as his eyes traced dozens of glittering spiderlings finding their way across the web toward the freshest meat.
Balor had been a simple man who had lived and worked most of his life in the bakeries of Beaconhill, yet when the call went out to help save the Web he had seen a possibility for a life beyond the flour-drenched chambers that had become a prison to his ambition. He had volunteered to aid the Bugmansson Resistance, set out with a party of valiant but equally poorly trained souls to the eastern reaches of the marsh. Yet now strung high upon the web himself, his once “heroic” companions dotted around him snared on high branches tethered to the webs tendrils his life choices had once again come into question. In the beginning they had all thrashed, they had screamed for aid that had never come but these seemingly only drew the spiderlings faster, drawn to the motion and sound upon the web, he had only been able to stare onwards in silent trembling agony as one by one his companions had been ravaged by the bites of the spiderlings.
Now though they came for him, the trembling of his fear the only vibrations on the web as the last of his kin had fallen still, though he tried to contain the distressed whimpering there was little he could do to prevent it spilling forth. Yet for a moment there was a reprieve, new vibrations on the web had halted the spiderlings advance and despite himself Balor hoped for a moment a fresh victim had been added that might buy him a reprieve until help could arrive. As his eyes flickered around he saw it, a companion that moments earlier had fallen still now shifted in the web… perhaps he had been feigning demise, perhaps salvation was at hand?
Hope is a fickle thing in the Ulgan mists, and as his companions contorted body shifted Balor stared deep into the lifeless eyes that greeted him. For seconds it seems like his could not break the stare into the eyes of the dead yet when he did his eyes shifted down to the victims abdomen, now grown bulbous it shifted, skin pushing taut as something sought to claw its way free. With a wet crunch thats send what remained of the victims innards spilling down onto the grot revelry and spidering erupted forth, not the tiny ones already filling the web. This new born stood the size of a gryphhound as it uncoiled its legs, its manyfold eyes flickering over the web before it too locked eyes with Balor.
As his new predator approached Balors resolve finally gave, and his scream echoed out through the mists of the Shadowmarsh.
WEEK 1 THE REAPING
“I can do better….” came the whimpering cry, Arcotast had once claimed himself High conductor of the Agony, it had been his plan to thread the agony across the mother web, to tune it to the ecstatic pain that lurked in the mists themselves to create perhaps the greatest instrument the realms had ever seen. Yet the weakness of his followers… yes their weakness not his own had failed the Lady of the Harvest, it was they not he who had failed to gather the agony of the populace, they not he who had wasted time threading it time and time again in the wrong place. The result was not the beautiful cascade of elation and pain that he had promised but the tepid thrum of a mild ache.
He had watched as anticipation in the Lady’s face had turned into disappointment, he had tried to make fast his escape ignorant to the tendrils of the forest that had already found they way wrapped around his legs. he had cried out when they threw him to the dirt and the sensation of a needled fingertip of the great beast of the forest ran down his hair.
“Shhhhh” murmured the Lady of the Harvest, her soft crooned voice sending his every muscle in to an agonised spasm “It was… beautiful, but not all beauty should last. Sometimes it is in the…. Ending, we find beauty” To punctuate her words, with the slightest tensing of her wrist the fingertip erupted through his skull spilling brain matter upon the dirt. With a disturbing smile she raised her gaze to Arcotast’s followers, licking her fingertip clean and showing racks of perfectly pearlescent teeth.
“Varanite….” She mused. “Bring me Varanite”