Winds of war: the maledictions of spiral


In Spiral, the Empire drives onward toward Ossuary. The Citadel Guard and Northern Eagle set the pace, smashing into the Grendel defenders with overwhelming force. The Dawnish forces of the Eastern Sky are more careful, with the Green Shield bring up the rear offering heroic support to the two armies on the front line.

In the south, the sky is rent assunder by thunderclouds as great waves and torrential rain pound the shores and cliffs … but do little to displace the magical fog that shrouds the northern Bay of Catazaar. While most of the magical weather is focused along the coast, a tumultuous tempest engulfs the region of Screed in the middle of the season - a roaring maelstrom of thunder, rain, and crimson lightning striking repeatedly down in the vicinity of the Black Plateau. Some scholars of the Plateau believe that dark locale is responding somehow to the violence in Spiral, and that these strange storms over Screed are a manifestation of its rage. It is as well for the Empire that Imperial troops are avoiding that malignant place - for now, at least, the Grendel are welcome to it.

The magic of the Urizen takes a further toll on the orcs. The Curse of the Ghosts of Winter has been unleashed to scour the territory, bringing misfortune and tormenting orc and human with equal glee. Things go awry; both sides find their supply lines are confused, and both Grendel plunder and Imperial rebuilding are equally complicated. The spirits unleashed by this magic are rarely visible, but this season in Spiral they are spotted in greater numbers than ever before. Emaciated almost skeletal shapes with twisted features whose lower bodies trail off into smoke or fog or shadow. At night, their eyes burn with an effulgent crimson glow as they greedily fly hither and yon seeking out more opportunities to cause suffering. Superstitious residents of Spiral claim it is the restless hatred of the Black Plateau that empowers them, but astronomancers frown at their words, and look up to a certain place in the night sky, and wonder…

In addition to storms and ghosts, scouts report that potent Night magic has catastrophically transformed the coastline of Apulus into a stinking, poisonous, sucking mire of treacherous quicksand and shifting sands. For the time being at least any Grendel naval forces are effectively neutralized - assuming any were present. The fog makes it hard to guess precisely what effect this new development may have had on the outcome of the campaign - assuming any Grendel ships were even present.

The power that transforms Apulus is short-lived - as Summer approaches the effects are fading and it is unlikely that the magic can be repeated without the assistance of another potent conjunction. In one regard, however, it will leave a permanent mark on Spiral; the port of Apulus is again reduced to ruins. Between the shifting ground and the thunderous waves, reports say that the entire town has effectively sunk beneath the waves along with the foundations of the Grendel fortifications under construction there. It has also certainly claimed the lives of a large number of orc civilians and human captives - including any of the Urizen children taken as hostages by the Grendel who were being held there.

The Grendel themselves are on the defensive, and if they are dismayed by their lack of naval support they barely show it. Even with the appearance of an icy citadel conjured from the realm of the Queen of Ice and Darkness, the Empire must fight for every foot of territory it claims. The Grendel cannot resist the Imperial advance entirely, but with additional support from the south they are able to keep hold of the Ossuary - if only just. There are garbled suggestions that a fresh force of orc soldiers has entered Spiral from the South-East, from Grendel lands.

It is perhaps no surprise that magic plays such a large part in the campaign in Urizen - and for the moment at least the majority of the magic is woven by the Empire. Yet for all that, magic can be a capricious tool - and the Black Plateau stands as a stark reminder that there are more things in the world, and in the heavens above it, than are dreamt of in the philosophies of humans, or of orcs.


The Empire has made some gains in Ossuary, but no regions have changed hands. The territory remains in the hands of the Grendel - albeit only just - and they still hold the Legacy.

There has been a lot of magic in Spiral as well, even leaving aside the various enchantments on human and orc armies. The curse Winter’s Ghost is one of them - anyone in Spiral over the last three months will almost certainly have encountered some of the effects which include crops failing, animals sickening and dying; humans and orcs alike suffering malaise and nightmares (especially in this case nightmares with themes of hate and fear); unseasonable weather that makes the unseasonable weather already created by the storm curse even worse; food and buildings and indeed everthing in between being ravaged by rot, rust, and mould. Misfortune, weakness, hunger, and dread run rampant. Tempers fray, and everything goes wrong at once. You may wish to include this in your individual stories of what you have done since the Spring Solstice if you are in Spiral.

Apulian is gone entirely now. Already damaged by the explosive destruction of the Lighthouse during the initial Grendel attack; then damaged again during the Imperial blockade-and-storm combination; finally sunk into the sea by a combination of floods, marshes, and pounding storms. This mostly effects the Grendel, obviously, but may be relevant if the Empire ever retakes Apulus. At the very least we are considering whether to give the region the Ruined quality.

While Apulus currently does not have the coastal quality, it will have regained it by the start of the Summer Solstice. The magic used to turn the entire shoreline of that region into a treacherous quagmire is unlikely to work again without another complex conjunction involving the Fountain.

Magic all over the shop! This photograph shows a band of Urizen with General Nicassia Avicia of Phoenix Reach Claire Sheridan front and centre (among others). It is one from Beth Dooner’s Spring 2016 album which you can browse here →

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