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The Elder Isles

An Early Modern game of weird fantasy, witchery, alchemy, clockwork, and guns

The Elder Isles (Hybras and the archipelago of smaller islands surrounding it) was a near mythic land long shrouded in mystery. In the days of the Milesians and Uther Pendragon it was said to have lain off the coast of Armorica and Cornwall, just beyond the horizon, but as the roll of years passed the existence of the Isles became less “certain” and increasingly difficult to access from mainland Europe.

In the years after its disappearance, sailors would tell tales of a dense fog that arises in the Cantabrian Gulf and those ships unfortunate enough to be enveloped by it are never seen again. All of that started to chang a dozen years ago when the Dutch Ship-of-the-line Gelderland bound for the Spain, disappeared into the mist and foundered into Port Falmouth, Cornwall six years later. The crew claimed to have been gone for only three fortnights, but spoke in awe-hushed tones about their stay in a land full of primeval forests, sun-drenched vineyards, and gold. They also bore a strange brass clockwork box full of fine gears and gyroscopes. The captain claimed to have “liberated” it from the bow of a Carthaginian trireme. When wound with a key and mounted on the helm of his ship, its dial plotted out the intricate bearings needed to navigate the fog-shrouded shoals that hem in the Isles on all sides.

This device found its way to the Emperor Karel V in Vienna, whereupon he set his natural philosophers and engineers to studying the apparatus. After several years of intensive study, the device’s secrets finally yielded themselves and it was hastily reproduced a hundred times over. Armed with this device the Emperor commanded his admirals to assemble an expeditionary force and claim the Isles in his name. Three months later, 100 ships laden with Landsknechte dragoons and pikemen and Imperial marines sailed around Tawzy Head, down the Narrow Sea and slipped into Oaldes Harbor under cover of night and captured the Duchal seat of Ulfland without firing a single shot.

The last ten years have been a strange time for the Isles. For the first time in a dozen centuries, war on a scale not seen since the fall of Arthur Pendragon has returned to the Isles and the tenuous peace between the Petty Kings, Dukes and Margraves of the island has been broken as new alliances are forged and the delicate balance of power shifts.

Now you are thrust into this morass of intrigue where ancient traditions meet ambitious conquerors, where magic and natural philosophy contend, and over it all the vast and dismal Tantrevalles Forest broods and tempts the foolish and brave alike full of ancient wonders and treasures. Are you a native or newcomer? A noble knight, or ruthless mercenary? Perhaps you are a power hungry alchemist come to Elder Isles in search of ancient knowledge, or maybe you are a scheming witch intent on thwarting these outlanders?

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