Ruins of the Old Empire
Curse on the World
The coming of the dragonborn inadvertently led to the fall of the Ilmand Empire and so to the present day. Prior to their appearance, the people of the Empire were content to extend worship to gods both good and evil. The latter were not welcomed, but were acknowledged as part of the pantheon and forces that needed appeasing.
With their stringent emphasis on loyalty and honour, however, the dragonborn inspired an ever-growing movement within the Empire to focus on Amaunator and Pelor. For 101 years, the Empire prospered under the new direction before the most evil triad of the dark gods—Nerull, Torog, and Beltar—had their revenge. Unlike the other evil gods they had marshalled their strength for that time, and in one great magical cataclysm demonstrated why they were to be appeased. The fickle humans were punished with a world that grew colder, and the Tomb Horde appeared to scourge them. Crops failed, lands to the north froze over, and everywhere the dead refused to stay dead. A thousand-year-old barrow king or a farmer who’d died the day before could haunt the land, leaving chaos (and so divine punishment) wherever he went.
The good gods bolstered their worshippers however they could, but in the face of a century of accumulated malice unleashed in an instant they could only prevent the complete destruction of the world. Within a generation, and despite the best efforts of Ilmand’s knights and wizards, the empire collapsed. The end finally came when both the Crown Prince was killed in a surprise attack by undead north of the Teissen River, and the Emperor himself fell during a punitive campaign made reckless by his grief.
The north became heir to a dozen petty kingdoms and more than a few unaligned settlements that managed—just barely—to stay afloat as the Tomb Horde slowly subsided. In the south, the nomadic tieflings asserted their independence in the cooler, but still no wetter, sandy wastes of Sarakri; the coastal settlements engaged in a loose league to defend their own interests, which did its job at the cost of murderous rivalries based on commercial strife.