The Eldritch Crusade

111 years ago, the civilizations of the world banded together to eradicate everything that lurked in the dark, that wielded twisted magics of wood and wild against them, that stole their children in the night. The humans, inhabitants of the four grand city-states of Delbach, Escella, Salassin, and Teyrwyn, each selected their four greatest minds to a council that would then choose a single man as the Arbiter, the commander of all four nations as a single fighting force and political body. The First Arbiter, General Herod Gerhardt of Delbach, entreated the disparate beastmen clans and the Huspheme Empire, and they agreed that the time had come to destroy the malign influence of all things mysterious and magical.

It wasn’t until a generation ago that the war finally came to an end. The city-states expanded their territory as they laid waste to the holdings of elf-lords and goblin kings, but by war’s end they had bloated to unsustainable sizes, and the lords and generals of the newly conquered regions splintered into many minor states such as Trollrout, Westholm, and Kesterhal.

The mostly nomadic beastmen clans of the Northern reaches covet the spoils and trophies of victory but hold no interest in any territorial gains, so they returned to the mountains and windswept steppes to fight among each other after the war was over and the alliance of the crusades had dissolved.

Similarly, the felinoids of the Huspheme Empire to the South found the green, frigid forests and moors of men and elves they helped conquer to be less than hospitable. Though their joint campaign with Salassin had conquered the dunes and oases sane folk had not dared to venture into for centuries, the husphem took these lands for themselves as their price for leaving all other territory for the humans.

Humans saw great theological change in the Eldritch Crusades, as well. The Grateful of Astolos, now the Veneratum of Astolos, went from a humble order of well-meaning, charitable priests to a veritable army of hardened soldiers and zealous proselytizers that defamed the other gods, of which there are many, as profane deities that monsters and fey worshiped by other names. A war-weary mankind was largely all too happy to accept the propaganda in exchange for several thousand capable swordarms, and now the servants of the rest of the pantheon have been pushed to the margins.

In the Crusades, war with creatures of dire strength and otherworldly power had become so commonplace an activity for the nobility and their armies that fighting one another seemed more of an amusing diversion than anything else, and this attitude has carried into the modern world. Routinely, the nations of humanity clash in small scale conflicts, border skirmishes and trade route disputes that are fought more for the chance at glory and honor than the actual gains of territory. Every ten years, these deeds are weighed and measured along with accomplishments of state and academia to elect a new Arbiter who will mediate disputes that blades will not solve.