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It’s been two years. Two years since the Tenebran Empire subdued us all. Its elite soldiers, known as the Black Masks, took over our divided kingdoms one after another – swiftly and efficiently. Our resistance was futile.

Our former countries were pronounced Imperial Provinces and Imperial governors arrived to rule them with an iron fist. Several attempts at overthrowing the oppressors were smashed with brutal expertise. Our monarchs are wanted and on the run.

Eventually our resistance forces managed to coordinate. We realized that we need to act together. To act as a team.

But every team needs a leader.

Now, in 2025 A.E, two years after our defeat, we gather in Belitsa under the false pretext of honoring the memory of the fallen in our last domestic war. All able people are called to help prepare the insurrection – with their strength, skill, wit, knowledge or eloquence. Our true purpose is to prepare a conspiracy and determine who shall lead the insurgence. Which question will you choose to seek an answer to: whom will you support, or who will support you?


The Old Empire

Two millennia ago an Elf called Jarn was crowned Emperor. He managed to unite the chaotic tribes and proto-state formations under him and ruled for almost 1000 years. Those were times of law, order and prosperity.

Mages were an influential caste in the Empire. Their Mage Academy slowly turned into a decision-making centre rival to the official imperial institutions.

Thus, the original Order of the Seventh Path came to be – founded by the emperor as a counter-weight, providing him with the opportunity to keep mages in check – and not always with legitimate means.

Then the Emperor was assassinated, and the Mage Wars began. After a somewhat chaotic purge, later known as “The Night of the Longswords”, the Order of the Seventh Path was almost annihilated. The Mage Wars led to a Cataclysm and The Fog appeared. A small remnant of Seventh Path fugitives fled to a place somewhere northeast of Pontus Sea (The Black Sea), referred to as Tenebrae.

Black Masks

The fugitives who survived the purge were an elite regiment of trained special operations combatants. Once in Tenebrae, they focused on finalizing their latest experiment aimed at making a person fully immune to magic. It was a complete success.

While magic works by changing the way and course of things by manipulating the magical energy of the world, the Seventh Path works by absorbing that energy using devices. The device they managed to create, shaped in the form of a black mask, creates a bubble where change is practically stopped. All change, whatsoever. The person behind the mask is not only immune to magic. They are immune to life. Immune to humanity.

Slumber and Awakening

The Black Masks were too few at that time though. The Mage Wars continued for about 100 years, and, at some point the Order lost their headquarters and had to retreat. They set up a secret base in the desert, built a few bunkers, hid some equipment, and put themselves in hibernation. In 2016 they were found and awakened by accident by people from a strange race, who lived in the desert in isolation. Skilled warriors waiting for some kind of second coming from their mythology. The well-educated and also inhuman Black Masks completely satisfied the requirements of the position. Thus, the Tenebran Empire came to be.

The Tenebran Emprire

The Tenebran Empire flourished as the most successful and efficient state in history. One people – united, militant and exalted with their religious prophesies come true. Led by one Order – competent and efficient, unsusceptible to human weaknesses and therefore completely and utterly uncorrupt. The Order slowly increased their numbers, recruiting the Tenebran’s best and brightest to accept the greatest possible honor – joining the elite by putting on a Black Mask. One people, one Order, one Emperor.


In 2019 a reconnaissance squad re-appeared for the first time in the former lands of the Empire’s heart of power, clearly in preparation for restoring the Old Empire. It was made to retreat, however not without collecting invaluable information about the local ways. Then the meteorite hit. We were in shambles and completely forgot about the Tenebrans. They were only delayed a little.


It happened fast.

The Tenebran attack was thoroughly planned based on accurate intelligence gathered during a number of reconnaissance missions. One of them was revealed back in 2019.

The invasion itself started with a special covert operation, in which assassins eliminated up to 80% of the high-ranking officers in all armies. This let the armed forces in disarray, creating panic and preventing quick deployment of reinforcements internationally.

When the full-scale offensive started the next day, the enemy had the element of surprise and unified armies, unlike the local states’ forces – scattered across their respective territories, because no one expected such a massive, coordinated attack, nor believed it was possible.

The Tenebrans opened two fronts: to the South and to the East. The Southern army with personnel of about 60,000 quickly captured the divided states of The Southern Lands and joined forces with sabotage groups already deployed on Sevenhillean territory. From there the main group headed for Plovdiv and several divisions were sent to take over Noldor and Gargavran. The Eastern front began with a landing of about 20,000 soldiers, who immediately headed for Dobrich.

The two big capitals fell in under two weeks and the enemy continued the offensive. The consolidated Southern army quickly captured Sofia and headed North towards Bdin, the latter being pressed as well by the rapidly advancing Eastern army. In the meantime, the Tenebran sabotage groups took over the cities of Guild of the Sand Blades as well.

The enemy armed forces were made up of well-trained Tenebran soldiers lead by elite Black Mask officers. Several units, consisting solely of Black Masks, formed the sabotage groups and special ops platoons.

It was a well-coordinated offensive lead by competent and highly motivated commanders, in charge of a disciplined army of professionally trained soldiers believing their officers were gods. There were no information leaks, indecisive commanders or delayed supply convoys. Nothing went wrong. The only reason it did not happen even faster was that the Tenebrans did not immediately find the locations of the portals to send messages through them – due to the fact the portals were only recently revealed and activated.

The invasion did not go without resistance. Countless acts of heroism, both recklessly brave and well thought out, were performed by the defenders of the homeland in all states. Yet unsung heroes charged headlong into enemy formations in the hope to get a much-needed advantage or remained and died alone on their posts to allow their allies to retreat. Some tried and sneaked behind enemy lines to sabotage their supplies. Alas, all in vain.

Тhe Tenebran professionalism was also manifested in the attitude towards civilians. Not a single case of atrocities, pillaging or mistreatment by enemy soldiers during the invasion is known. Control over the civilian population was established politely… but firmly. There is much to be said about that firmness. But this is a story for next time….


From the farthest Southern regions to Vlachia in the North, from Vanor in the West to the Black Sea in the East a new order was established. The new government was built on one supreme principle: efficiency. We were, you see, considered rather inefficient.

All state structures were officially disbanded and Imperial Provinces were formed in their stead, bearing the names of our former states. Tenebran military governors were appointed to rule by edicts.

Massive population displacements between and within the provinces took place to “optimize labor force distribution”. Many families, friend and support circles were broken, as decisions on relocation were taken based solely on efficiency-related arguments. Furthermore, traveling between provinces was possible only through check points showing a permit, certified by the local governor’s office. Everyone was designated a “unique imperial identification number” (UIIN) to keep track of the paperwork.

The Special Imperial Police Force (SIPF), known for short as “The Operators”, took charge of the law enforcement and became prosecutor, jury, and executioner. There were basically two punishments – hanging with revoked resurrection privileges, and flogging. Hanging was reserved for crimes showing “disloyalty to the interest of the Empire”. Many people were hanged for being late for work – it was a crime against efficiency and as such was regarded as sabotage, hence disloyalty to the interest of the Empire. Almost all other crimes were punished by flogging, somewhat surprisingly including infringements such as insults to the state, as those were considered to not affect efficiency, as long as they did not happen during working hours.

If the actual offender was unknown to the force or had escaped, they did not bother to waste resources on a search. Two random people connected to them would be punished every day until results were achieved. Luckily, that did not apply to the former heads of states, who were continuously hunted by the new order. Officially, because they formally fled before the law was introduced and the Tenebrans did not like to break their own laws. Rumor is, they decided against it to avoid the potential risk of public failure that would encourage resistance.

Curfews were established and any unauthorized presence on the streets after curfew was punished. Prohibition was imposed as alcohol was found to be disruptive to work efficiency. Small amounts of alcohol were produced by a few certified breweries in central cities to be distributed per capita during officially permitted celebrations. The latter were considered beneficial for the recovery of the workers and therefore authorized on regular basis.

Former officials who did not flee, had a slightly different fate than the general population. They were offered a choice: either to stay on the job with lucrative salaries and benefits, or be relocated to other provinces and serve as low level clerks in agriculture. Those who chose the first option, were closely monitored and any disloyalty was severely punished, even only based on a suspicion. With time a social stratum of administrators of local origin more or less loyal to the new order was formed – if not loyal, at least bound to them.

Captured military were decimated and survivors were relocated and engaged in raw materials extraction.

International organizations were also disbanded, including The Mage Academy. In addition, more than three mages were forbidden to be together at any given place at any given time. A delegation of four mages officially went to ask for interpretation of the words “at any given place”. They were arrested, one of them got their spark broken to reduce their number to the legal one. All of them were flogged and warned that the rules were to be followed to the best of their common sense if any such existed. However, mages in general were allowed to do magic, as long as it was “individually” and “in the best public interest”.

The Order of the Seventh Path was disbanded as well. No special restrictions were imposed on the former members of the Order, but their devices were confiscated, each of them was invited to a stern talk at the respective governor’s office and warned they were to be treated as any other imperial subject in case of any infringement and not allowed to possess any devices.

The Alchemy Guild was disbanded; however, alchemists were allowed to do their professional work.

Over time the measures were somewhat loosened. Curfew was lifted and subjects were allowed to carry small weapons and even swords for utility and self-defense.

Resistance started to form timidly – by otherwise complying subjects. But this is a story for next time.


Help us create amazing stories by developing your own characters’ compelling arcs. There are three main guiding principles for that we would like to remind you:

  1. It’s been two years
  • All your characters have at some point been registered and live some kind of а “front-end” life which is more or less convincing in the eyes of the authorities. It could be for example because they chose to lay low for a while, it was unclear if any resistance would start, or to gather intel and try and fight the invaders from the inside, or some other similar reason. More information about the resistance will come in the next setting update.
  • Faction leaders are the only exception to the above. Being wanted by the authorities, they have been underground only, and have been living in hiding – either in friends’ safe houses, or in the forests, or both. Any other VIPs – such as mage academy and other guild leaders do NOT fall in that category. The Tenebrans don’t care about them that much.

The Resistance started with mistakes and several noteworthy failures. There were also some collaborators. For a while many commoners thought, that the new regime might actually be good.
“Finally, an efficient government that actually did solve some issues swept under the carpet by the previous rulers.”
“Finally, those corrupt nobles and administrators got what they deserved.”

The repression was an inconvenience, of course, but also a necessary evil.
It was all supposed to get better when some honest rulers who actually cared for the people took power, wasn’t it?

But even the super-efficient Tenebrans couldn’t change the universal rule that people are always unhappy with whoever is currently in power. Then they made the huge mistake of interfering with people’s everyday lives.
Soon, the absurd efficiency rules and various restrictions began to tip the scales back.
More and more people started to realize that the old rulers might have been sons of bitches, but they were our own sons of bitches.

Then, the most decent and freedom-loving individuals began to gather themselves together.
And soon got support from all the rest. Cells of resistance formed independently in every country. They all had their own heroic moment of a failed uprising or riot.

Failed because the enemy was hard to kill. The familiar Seventh Path devices were only a shadow of what the Tenebrans had. Their empire was built on the well-guarded secrets of the old Order. They had some powerful apparatuses, limited in number and not available to soldiers, but all new governors and officials had them – some kind of protective force field that made them practically untouchable.

While some resistance cells were exposed and crushed, others thrived. In their quest to get stronger and gain more support and resources, they created international partnerships previously quite unlikely. Solidarity between both former allies and former enemies grew. It took the form of long secret councils. But it was some kind of beginning.

And then suddenly, a new hope appeared. A diligent scholar loyal to the Resistance found a document on the history of the enemy’s land of origin. It consistently spoke of a weapon that could penetrate the protective force fields. Deliberations on whom to send to investigate took weeks.

One determined man hit the table and just went.


Solidarity between the conquered nations grew, but with it came new competition. The sporadic rebel acts, chaotic activity and endless meetings were leading nowhere.
Consolidation was necessary so a plan was made and set it in motion.

The Resistance leaders filed a request for a joint commemoration ritual in honor of Belitsa War victims.
The Tenebrans granted the request, presuming that it would only remind us of the new regime’s advantages that prevented us from foolishly fighting each other over irrelevant jingoistic reasons.

So far, they seemed to not suspect the real reason for the gathering – a cover for a resistance meeting.

The meeting was to establish one of the former nations as an undisputed leader for the forthcoming rebellion through a complex system of trial and election.
A leading nation that would show equally tolerable competence in all fields that the movement had to operate in – warfare, plotting, organization, intelligence, eloquence, and charisma to unite allies behind them.

The participants in the event were expected to demonstrate their prowess by simultaneously participating in the trials (or supporting their chosen leading nation), while maintaining the pretense that it was a commemorative occasion in front of the supervising Governor and their guarding entourage.
They were also to protect the wanted former nation leaders from being arrested and wait for the outcome of the Weapon mission.
A Resistance Supervising Committee was formed to oversee and coordinate the event. Their first message was simple.

Good luck! For the Resistance!