A Brief History of the Empire of Tarsis

A Brief History of the Empire of Tarsis

A thousand years ago, the evil lord Ghul waged war against the rest of the world for three centuries. His armies contained demons, undead, and all manner of horrible monsters. The Prust marched west from Tarsis to help defeat Ghul and remained to help rebuild the kingdoms he had destroyed. The people of the western lands welcomed Prustan help and technology (the Prust and their Grailwarden dwarf allies had developed firearms, clocks, printing presses, and steam engines). The Vast Codex of Prustan law and their planned cities with sewer systems and postal services were also welcomed with open arms. In the end, the Prust faced little resistance when they established the Empire of Tarsis.

The Empire of Tarsis is actually two empires, one spiritual and one secular. When Delian Von Tessel became the first emperor, he also named himself Holy Emperor of the Church of Lothian and made Lothianism the official religion of the Empire of Tarsis. His successor, Radlov Von Tessel, abdicated the position of Holy Emperor soon after taking the throne. No one individual has ever ruled both empires since then.

The empire expanded for hundreds of years, until its reach covered the known world. Within its borders, one had few rights unless one was a citizen. All religions other than Lothianism were illegal. Eventually, even arcane spellcasting was outlawed. The last two hundred years have seen reversals in all of these areas. The effective reach of the empire is shrinking, a multitude of religions are once again practiced openly without fear of reprisal, and the Edict of Devilty has long since been overturned leaving arcanists to hone their art in peace. Even the empire’s grip on its own technology is slipping. The most complex mechanical devices are left to rust rather than repaired because no one remembers how they work.

Now three different people claim the Lion-Guarded Throne of Tarsis: Empress Addares XXXIV, cousin to the previous empress; Segaci Fellisti, councilor to the last six emperors; and Holy Emperor Rehoboth Ylestos. Empress Addares has already claimed Dohrinthas as her capital, and many fear that the Holy Emperor will soon make the same claim of Ptolus, where he resides with his son.


BE = Before Empire
IA = Imperial Age

350 BE The dwarves of Dwarvenhearth observe that someone has moved onto the Spire near their city and has begun building a fortress. Their spies reveal it to be Ghul, also known as the Half-God and the Skull-King, who claims to be the son of Eslathagos Malkith, an evil lord of the long-distant past. Ghul calls his fortress Goth Gulgamel and uses the labor of his own creations, the Toruk-Rul orcs.
319 BE Ghul’s forces drive the dwarves from Dwarvenhearth.
292 BE The Ghulwar begins in earnest. Ghul’s forces invading the surrounding lands include Toruk-Rul orcs, dark elves, evil men and dwarves, and all sorts of monsters.
291 BE Palastan falls to Ghul.
290 BE The Sea Kingdoms fall to Ghul.
289 BE Eastern Rhoth falls to Ghul.
288 BE Ghul conjures a vast magical darkness called the Utterdark which blankets all lands he has conquered.
285 BE The Moonsilver Forest is conquered by Ghul. Many elves are taken to Goth Gulgamel where they are changed into Harrow elves.
282 BE The remaining Elder Elves of Theridae stop Ghul’s armies near the River Tonam in northern Palastan.
281 BE The Cold Quiet begins. Few pass into or out of the Utterdark.
152 BE The Cold Quiet comes to an end when the armies of Ghul march forth from the Utterdark once more, now bolstered by mighty Sorn-Ulth orcs, ogres, trolls, giants, and undead.
150 BE The descendants of the dwarves who fled Dwarvenhearth at the beginning of the Ghulwar, now calling themselves the Stonelost, ally with the Elder Elves to drive Ghul’s forces back into the Utterdark.
87 BE The elf wizard Khelaeson banishes the Utterdark.
86 BE The allied army of elves and dwarves invade Ghul’s lands.
85 BE The Moonsilver Forest and most of Palastan are reclaimed from Ghul.
84 BE Ghul calls up the Squirming Horde, also known as the Shrieking Horde, which defeats the invaders and razes Theridae to the ground. The horde is mainly composed of minor demons, lycanthropes, and incorporeal undead.
71 BE The remaining Stonelost dwarves, the Shoal elves, halflings, gnomes, and Grailwarden dwarves and Prustan humans from the east make the Pact of Brightfather’s Day. Some of the aram and Cherubim elves join the pact as well.
61 BE Ghul’s armies prove to be far weaker than expected, perhaps because of battles with some unknown foe. Ghul is defeated.
59 BE Goth Gulgamel falls. Ghul flees to a mysterious place known only as Orr.
55 BE The Great Seven hunt down Ghul and destroy him.
50 BE With help from the Prust of Tarsis, the people of the western lands begin to rebuild.
43 BE The dwarves begin construction of the fortress of Dalenguard to allow Prustan forces to keep a close eye on Goth Gulgamel.
41 BE Prustan outposts appear across the lands, providing security and maintenance for major roads.
40 BE Construction of Dalenguard is complete.
9 BE Delian Von Tessel becomes ruler of Tarsis. He commissions the construction of the Lion-Guarded Throne.
1 IA Delian Von Tessel proclaims himself Emperor of Tarsis.
110 IA After a life prolonged by the best magics available, Delian Von Tessel finally succumbs to old age.
386 IA Following the assassination of her husband, Empress Addares X makes it illegal to own a firearm without official dispensation.
413 IA Ptolus is founded as a small port city serving Dalenguard. The name is chosen by the loremaster Gerris Hin from fragments of ancient histories about the spot where it lies.
c. 500 IA The demon prince Raguel brings his demonic host into the world. They settle in the Dark Reliquary with the undead-loving Forsaken.
560 IA The Edict of Deviltry adds strict laws prohibiting the practice of arcane magic to the Vast Codex.
562 IA The First Inquisition hunts mages and other “devil-worshippers.” The time of the inquisitions comes to be known as the Days of Blood.
564 IA The First Inquisition ends.
598 IA The Second Inquisition begins. Its primary target is a secretive group of arcanists known as the Inverted Pyramid.
609 IA The Second Inquisition ends, its massive campaigns of torture and murder having failed to uncover the Inverted Pyramid’s leadership. The Edict of Deviltry begins to fall out of favor, and the Days of Blood come to an end.
615 IA The Council of Ptolus declares the city a safe haven for arcane spellcasters.
641 IA The Edict of Deviltry is officially revoked.
657 IA To the surprise of all, the Prince of the Church of Lothian takes up permanent residence in Ptolus.
706 IA After the death of Empress Addares XXXIII, three different people claim the Lion-Guarded Throne. Empress Addares XXXIV declares her home city of Dohrinthas the new capital.
708 IA The mysterious and ornately armored Urthon Aedar begin to appear in Ptolus, prophesying doom.
710 IA Tarsis is overrun by the barbaric Eastern Hordes. Holy Emperor Rehoboth begins an extended visit to his son in Ptolus.
713 IA Explorers looking for the ancient city of Dwarvenhearth discover great treasures hidden beneath Ptolus.
714 IA The barbarians return to their own lands. Emperor Segaci begins rebuilding Tarsis.
717 IA Ptolus sees an unprecedented increase in activity as more and more delvers enter the city seeking their fortunes underground. Chaos cult activity is also on the rise.
721 IA Present day.

Important Historical Figures

  • Abesh Runihan: Defeated the lich Kagrisos before he could unleash a magical plague on Ptolus. Runihan died in the battle. A statue of him stands in Delver’s Square (previously known as Runihan Square).
  • Eslathagos Malkith: Also known as the Dread One, he created the fortress at the top of the Spire, Jabel Shammar.
  • Ghul: Called himself the Half-God and the Skull-King and claimed to be the son of Eslathagos Malkith. He created Goth Gulgamel, the fortress halfway up the Spire.
  • Parnaith: Created, with the help of the Wizard-Priests of Ni-Gorth, the seven Jewels of Parnaith. Her husband Danar eventually became the Dread One.
  • Yrkyth Vladaam: Mad wizard who attempted to destroy the world using some powerful magic lying beneath Ptolus.

A Brief History of the Empire of Tarsis

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