Chainmail- The Sundered Empire
The Demon War opened gateways from the Abyss into western Oerik, through which swarmed hordes of fiendish troops alongside minotaurs and gnolls.When the gray elves defeated the Abyssal forces, sealing the portals, the surviving gnolls scattered into the mountains. There they nursed their wounds, and their grudges.
Yeenoghu, demonic patron of the gnolls, still nurtures red dreams of power. Fiends yet mingle with his children, whose numbers have grown again in their remote mountains. And forty years ago, a mighty demon fathered Jangir with a gnoll woman. The half-fiend rose to become high priest of Yeenoghu—and now he wields the flail of Stratis. Jangir, self-styled Priest-King of Naresh, sees two paths to victory. The first is to win the game the rest of the factions are playing: Collect more of Stratis’s divine panoply and attain the power of the god. The second is uniquely available to Jangir: Achieve Yeenoghu’s favor by opening the Abyssal Gateways within the elven lands once more and letting chaos loose upon the world in a full-scale demonic invasion.
Since Stratis’s flail came to him as a gift, brought by a gnoll child who had seen it fall from the sky, Jangir thinks of himself as chosen by the gods. He was already an exceptional warrior and commander who led his followers against the elves of the former Dragon Empire. Victory comes naturally to him. Now all the gnolls and most of the demons follow his banner and that of his deadly patron. Some other warlords possess Stratis’s weapons, which makes them troublesome, but Jangir expects to acquire more of the dead god’s panoply—if not as gifts from commanders, then as personal spoils of war.
Invading Ravilla directly has been a thornier problem. Jangir’s demonic allies are ferocious but undisciplined. Instead of massing to attack Ravilla’s weak spots, they tend to prefer the short-term satisfaction of hunting individual elves and slaying them messily. So for now, Jangir follows the first strategy, attempting to increase his personal power until he can guide masses of demons as effortlessly as he motivates tribes of gnolls.
The days after the Demon War were dark ones for the gnolls. Yeenoghu and Baphomet became enemies, each blaming the other for their defeat. As if fleeing from vengeful elves was not enough, the gnolls also found themselves in constant skirmishes with their minotaur allies. Crossing the mountains with few supplies and no native guides only added to their misery. As a result, many of the gnolls perished before they ever reached safety beyond the mountains. The gnolls arrived in a lawless region well away from civilization. Yet even with reduced numbers, the veteran gnoll warriors were able to claim a section of the forest as a new base. Once established, they sent out rangers to survey the area. They discovered that several humanoid warlords were operating in the wild and that a strong nation rumored to be ruled by dragons dominated the south. The gnoll tribes, having little to offer anyone but their battle experience, began to hire themselves out as mercenaries to the various warlords. They quickly established a reputation for bloodthirstiness and ruthless efficiency. Once a warlord became completely dependent on gnoll troops, he would be overthrown and his lands added to that of the tribes. Every year, gnoll numbers and territory grew, and they dubbed their new land Naresh, meaning “far home” in their native tongue. The gnolls showed little interest in Western Oerik, and it is unlikely they would have turned their attention that way if not for the minotaurs. The servants of Baphomet had settled deep under the mountains, away from both elves and gnolls. When the demon lord deemed the time right, he unleashed his minotaur bands against Naresh. Baphomet, it seemed, continued to nurse a grudge against Yeenoghu, and he wanted his rival’s worshippers to suffer. A vicious war ensued. Surprised at this onslaught from an unexpected quarter, the gnolls initially gave ground. Under the skillful leadership of their rangers, however, the gnolls “ceded” more territory to the minotaurs and lured them deep into the forest. This was the invaders’ undoing. Being masters of irregular warfare, the gnolls began whittling away at the minotaur forces with traps and ambushes. Eventually, the sheer number of gnolls began to take its toll on their attackers, and they pushed the minotaurs back into the mountains.
With their enemies retreat, the gnoll tribal chiefs were in favor of declaring victory and ending the war. The priests of Yeenoghu, however, insisted on a counter invasion of minotaur territory. They claimed that their demon prince demanded vengeance, and faced with the word of Yeenoghu, the chiefs had little choice but to acquiesce. The war raged on. This time, the minotaurs had the advantage of fighting on their home turf. The gnolls fought through endless underground labyrinths, and while they were ultimately victorious, the price they paid was terrible. Another period of rebuilding followed, and the gnoll tribes once again regained their strength. With the former minotaur territory now under their control, the gnolls found themselves, almost by accident, near Ravilla. As time passed, gnoll rangers reported that the eastern defenses of Ravilla were eroding. The elves had never faced invasion from the mountains, and convinced that an attack from this direction would never come, they had grown lax. In light of these reports, the priests of Yeenoghu once again demanded action—here was an opportunity to take vengeance on an ancient foe. Spurred on by the priests and aided by demons, a coalition of gnoll tribes attacked Ravilla’s eastern defenses. With ease, they rushed through the elven lines and then pushed on out of the mountains. Here, they met their match. In a series of bloody battles, the elves and their centaur allies stopped the gnolls and established a new border for Ravilla. Nevertheless, the elves were in shock—the gnolls, gone for so long, had returned with a vengeance.
Knowing that if the gnolls ever succeeded in breaking open the Abyssal Gateways at the heart of the gray elf cities all would be lost, the elves expected the worst. After their stinging defeat in the forest however, the gnoll tribes began squabbling. Some wanted to attack again, others wanted merely to enjoy the spoils they had already won. Lacking a strong leader, the gnolls ultimately mounted no major campaigns for over a hundred years. Some forty years ago, a powerful demon fathered a son with a gnoll woman. This boy was called Jangir, and from a young age he proved a mighty warrior. He joined the priesthood of Yeenoghu and quickly rose through its ranks. With strength, charisma, and the power of demonic blood, Jangir dominated the priests of Yeenoghu and became high priest by the age of thirty. When Stratis was slain, Jangir had already decided to take the tibes to war. Several weeks after the death of Stratis, a gnoll child came to the temple with a gift for Jangir. It was the flail of the slain god, which had fallen from the sky after the final battle. Here was an undeniable portent. With the flail in hand and Yeenoghu’s blessing, Jangir was unstoppable. He united the gnoll tribes under his own leadership and declared himself Priest-King of Naresh. Now Jangir and the gnolls march to war with summoned demons at their side. If the Priest-King has his way, the Abyssal Gateways will be torn asunder, and Yeenoghu’s legions will once again terrorize Western Oerik. The elves ask and grant no quarter. They know they are one step away from annihilation.
Homebrew Options for Chainmail: A Decade Into The War
One of the most powerful factions a decade ago, Naresh has fallen far. Frustrated by the stinging defeat handed to him by the dwarves of Mordengard, Jangir sought to unlock more of the divine abilities of the flail of Stratis- and was driven mad as a result. Gathering his most loyal troops, he assaulted Yeenoghu at the seat of his empire. The flail was powerful, and Yeenoghu was actually forced to do battle with Jangir- albeit briefly. The victory of the demon lord was decisive, and although he slaughtered the wretches that followed Jangir, he decided not to slay his traitorous servant. He had divined the reason for Jangir’s assault and decided that he needed closer observation instead of death. Dragging his body back to Oerth, Yeenoghu made Jangir’s remaining forces watch as he devoured the greater part of Jangir’s soul and replaced it with a fraction of his own, changing their relationship from master and servant to ventriloquist and puppet. Satisfied that the mortal half of his forces had been cowed but still wary of treachery, Jangir/Yeenoghu doubled the abyssal contingent of his forces. His demonic army now fights Ahmut’s Legion with renewed vigor.