deathrattle Life and Death - Possible background for my Deathrattle army
I have an idea on some background fluff for the Deathrattle army I'm considering making.
Here's are the very basics. There is a human tribe, somewhere in Ghyran. They are fairly primitive, or at least very ignorant, and little connection to the realms at large. In fact, they are completely unaware that there are any other realms than where they live. However, they have some major strength, I'm leaning towards the idea their rulers are natural casters, or perhaps they are great craftsmen. They are a tribe full of vibrant ritual and dress. Colors, dies, beads, and such are prized, and there isn't a season which goes by without a celebration... They are all too aware of their mortality, to not celebrate their lives.
Their territory is near an ancient ruin, set within a canyon. Deep within the ruin is a very powerful realm gate to Shyish. The ruins mean very little to them, and they avoid the place except during certain rituals, as in their culture, it is (very literally) a gate to the underworld. The power of the gate within the ruins, causes the area around them to be abnormally cold, and dark. When the sun shines it appears dim and distant, and the moon(s) hang low and overlarge in the sky. (If you look closely, you may even notice the skull like mien that the patterns of that celestial body take on. Colors seem faded, and anyone who enters the ruins is drained of emotion during their stay. To stay too long in the ruins, is to loose the will to exist. Little seems to grow here, and what does is sickly, and dies quickly.
There is a legend. That long ago, this tribe, was pressed hard by foes, diseases, and natural disasters. They were a failing people, doomed to be removed from the face of the realms and even from the memory of their conquerors. Their priests and wise men beseeched their gods, to no avail. Finally, their king, turned to the most enigmatic of the their gods, (Insert name of underworld deity here ). He traveled to the ruins, and through the realm gate contained within. What happened there is unknown. What is known, is that when he returned, it was at the head of a column of skeletal infantry and cavalry, supported by towering gargant skeletons, and two unknown creatures, that radiated an aura of death, their wings crackling with undeath magic. But, most disturbingly, he was accompanied by a silent sorcerer, clad in blue raiment and a golden, faceless mask, graven with strange symbols. The sorcerer never said a word, and though his mask had no eyes, his gaze chilled the villagers to their bones. The army of undead quickly and wordlessly defeated the tribes enemies, and at the end of the battle, the masked figure wordlessly commanded the dead of both armies to rise and follow him, and they did. Soon after, the diseases that had plagued this community lifted.
After this, the army of dead marched back through the ruins and into the underworld. The King remained. He explained the nature of the deal which had been struck with their god of undeath. That the the villagers would never again need to worry about invasion, as their god had heard their call, and had mercy on them. However, he required a sacrifice of them in turn. Their dead must be delivered to the gates of the underworld (perhaps even through), and under certain conditions or times, the lords they now owed their fealty to, would require of them a live offering. Someone to come through the gates of their own will. They must not be forced, but they must be of good health, or superior skill or trade. Then the king turned and left for the underworld, becoming the first such sacrifice.
This is where things get a little tricky story wise. So I was listening to the Mortal Realms Blog about the Nagash/undead/shyish based audio drama series, and it sounds like my idea may be somewhat similar to a plot point in that story. Something about a city of humans in Shyish, owing a clan/brotherhood of vamps fealty for saving them. Unfortunately, having not heard the story myself, I'm not sure exactly how close my idea is to what they did there. I think the biggest differences here, that I can see, is that my human tribe has no idea what they've been wed too. Heck I'm not even 100% sure who they are serving. But they are likely terrified of it. I know the king has submitted himself to another power, and that the necromancer/lich (Nyarlathotep in my head, for those of you who know.) in the golden mask is only an agent of this power. I know that he has been given land and a hold to protect the valuable realm gate on the Shyish side, and in return for his services he is allowed to commit a certain portion of his power to defending his descendants. Those descendants then in turn provide him and his lord with the raw materials (their dead and possibly trade goods of some sort. Must be something in Ghyran that they need in Shyish...) to continue to grow their forces in Shyish. What the living are used for, I don't rightly know yet. Perhaps, if the King, who is certainly now a wight, is serving a vampire lord, they are to be his progeny. I don't think enough come through the gate to be his food source though. Also, they could also be used for other things. Such as armorers, or laborers. Or, they could be used for any one of these things, depending on some sort of evaluation. My reason for them needing to come of their own will, is because the lord (again whoever that is) wants their fear to keep them in line, but doesn't want to use force, as it could lead to a counterproductive uprising, and an end to the resources he has access too through the realmgate. In the MR podcast, it sounded more like the people delivering themselves into the arms of the vamps were paying a debt of honor, and were proud to do so. I'm more interesting in contrasting life and death in my story. At some point, I think I'd like to flesh out an army to represent the mortal side of this equation as well, but for now, I'll be focusing mainly on the deathrattle side.
Ok, this post is getting super long at this point. Please share thoughts if you are so inclined. And, at some point, if I can come up with a story for the TK version of the army, I'll share that here too. Assuming I don't just decide to get carried away with this idea.
Also, I plan to add some pics eventually. I'm working on a test batch of skellies and a necromancer/lich to see how he comes out.