The Fall of the Rankan Empire is a D&D 4e game modified for a more Sword & Sorcery feel (few arcane/divine classes, minimal magic items). The DM draws inspiration from the Thieve's World novels and the works of Robert E. Howard to create a setting about the monsters attacking a crumbling empire and the monsters who defend it.

Book I: Chapters I through XIV

Battle rages across the Rankan Empire. The Beysibian army have returned their snake-gods to the world and intend to destroy everything in their path. The Barbarian lands of the Yssge have not gone untouched, either. Long have they hated the Rankans and are marching toward the kingdom, as well.

It would seem all is lost, save for the help of a few mercenaries and street rats...

Book II: Chapters XV through XX

Thanks to the courage and stubborness of the heroes, Sanctuary was retaken and the Warlord Rathamon was destroyed. However, all is not well. Barbarians still march on Ranke, and the Beysibian army has not been routed. It is up to the heroes of Sanctuary to find a way to battle back both enemies while they receive still no help from the Emperor.

Book III: Chapters XXI through XXIX

It began with a group of thieves, slaves, and murderers trying to aid their city in distress. They are slaves and thieves no more. Garr has become Thane of the Yssge; securing alliance with Ranke. Tristan Farron was exonerated of his charges and granted knighthood. The ranger, Gaelen, now commands the Eastwatch. Titus Garibaldi leads the soldiers of Sanctuary as the Infernal Strategist and Lord Protector. But most surprising may be Balthasar, the orphaned murderer turned Herald of the Raven Queen. He married Emperess Jhaelent, helping her secure the Rankan Throne and legitimized his claim to the Azurian kingdom.

What stands before them now is a vast wave of snake-men and wickedness. However, they stand alone no longer. They are now backed by the full might of the Rankan Empire and its allies!

Book IV: Chapters XXX through XL

The heroes, destined to save the world, died. Fire and poison brought Prince Balthasar Karyth, Lord-Protector Titus Garibaldi, Ser Tristan Farron, Thane-Garr the Earth-binder, and Lord Marshall Gaelen-Dragonbane. With their failure, Skather-Sol brought forth the vast armies of the Yuan-ti and bathed the land in the blood-of-Zehir.
Whoever stands against Zehir now stands alone...

Book V: Chapters XLI through XLV

Thane Aase, Tristan Farron, Kal-Dawn, Janus Farron, and Anthony Garibaldi journey through the depths of Hell to rescue their companion, Hobart. Meanwhile, Skather-Sol's minions continue to dominate in the land of the living. Without the heroes, will there even be a world when they return?

Book VI: Chapters XLVI through XLVIII
Through perserverance and unity, the heroes succeed in escaping the clutches of Hell. They found the lost library and, at the cost of Anthony's life, recovered the ritual of binding. Heading back to the Northwatch, they found the Rankans in dispair and the Yssge conquered by Dispater.

Book VII: Chapters XLIX through Chapter LIII
The heroes battled the devils both physically and mentally. Though they succeeded in saving the primal spirits, they lost both Hobart and Janus to the promises of hell. The heroes face the final chapter with fewer allies than ever.

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Prophecy: Janus Farron
You are persistent my brother, I will give you that. It was only a matter of time before you decided to come north in search of me. I did not expect you to bring the might of your entire army. The Bane sworn you command have done an efficient job of routing my army so I must give credit where it is due. You Tristan Farron are truly the champion of Bane, you have earned your title well, and have to be one of the best generals of this age. Your god would be proud of such a worthy disciple. However your greatest weakness is that you are a Farron.

You will overreach in your attempt to destroy me, putting everything at risk for one final fight. A battle so vast and epic, the heavens themselves will be watching. Your ego will be appeased with nothing less than Armageddon.

So I sit back in my frozen kingdom, reinvigorated by the challenge that awaits me. The Brothers of blood pitted against each other in a final fight. Your have the stronger army brother… superior numbers, and the best tactical minds of the Realm, and yet you do not know what I have become….

I am an enigma even to myself, not fully understanding the powers I posses. The divine energy has overtime distorted my human shell, tearing rivets in my body trying to release its self. Light leaks from open wounds illuminating the darkness of my solitude. It doesn’t hurt anymore, and maybe soon I will no longer have to contain it.

Either way I accept your challenge. I will send what is left of my troops to meet their bloody end at the hands of the Bane Sworn. I will watch you cut my army to ribbons, hopefully giving you a sense of glory before you face me.

May your gods be with you Tristan Farron and bare witness to a truly terrible war…
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Epilogue of a Champion: Tristan Farron
Tristan sat behind a desk overwhelmed with documents and papers of import. All of them relaying various forms of information from supply lines to troop advancements to his own army’s moral. Tallyn stood in front of him talking in a matter of fact tone regarding what their next plan of attack should be, but he blocked it out. He turned his gaze towards Dierdre, who was going through training motions in the courtyard with some of the new recruits; she loved to punish those poor fools, especially the ones who didn’t learn quickly enough. Tristan couldn’t help but smile, anything that brought her pleasure equally did the same for him.

“Ser?...ser!” Tallyn snapped,” you’re not listening, if we moved he-“

“Yes, yes Tallyn, if we moved south and blocked off the road from these savages then we would be able to deal a nasty blow to them, capture their supplies and potentially claim all the territories north of our position. I’ve heard the story before.”

Tallyn pursed her lips, a definite scowl adorned her face and continued to darken with every word that Tristan spoke.

“You are the champion of Bane…m’lord. Not some simple warmonger or second son of a rightful heir-king. You are destined to conquer…to rule those weaker then yourself.”

Tristan nodded absently, and glanced at the map of his domain. He traced his fingers along the border of his ill-gotten kingdom, already vast compared to what accomplishments most men had made in these lands in their own lifetimes. While the heat of battle and the quickening that made his blood race was always inciting him to move from one skirmish to the next he never felt quite the same that he did that day with Skater….with Janus.

“Send a truce, and a messenger Tallyn.” Tristan said, turning away from his general as he spoke.

Tallyn simply blinked. “A…messenger…ser? Surely you jest?”

Tristan stopped abruptly and sighed, a deep heavy thing that racked his entire body. “No, Tallyn I do not. The lord of battle loses favor with me. Though I send fresh souls to the underworld daily, it as if I am leading lambs to the slaughter. These warriors hold no challenge for me, and I do not feel that I claim ownership of the title while I kill so easily. “

Flashes of his almost death at the hands of Sather and his brother crossed his vision. “I am to conquer… conquer. What good is such a thing if I sit atop a horse and watch as I carve out a kingdom for myself with the blood of others? No more.”

Tallyn raised an eyebrow, but Tristan could see that she was beginning to understand.

“I’m getting older Tallyn, and I do not wish to die a fat drunkard. War is the only wife I shall know… “ Again his gaze was cast towards Dierdre but broken easily as thoughts of a true conflict entered his mind. “I need a challenge; I need a true offering to Bane…but what? The world has grown soft in the absence of strife; shall I be the man who brings it back to this world? Is that the cost of my thirst being sated?”

Tallyn said nothing although Tristan knew the answer.

“So be it. Let us find a true war then Tallyn…what say you?”
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Tags: Retirement
Becoming a God: Janus Farron
I watched from afar as Tristan delivered the final blow to Scather. His sword being the focal point for a bolt of white lighting that burnt and scattered the mass that was Scather. It was over; I had seen it through to the end. The sun had risen, and Scather was nothing but ashes.

Upon his death, power rippled forth and exploded across the battlefield. It whisked past Janus, circling around him , teasing him like that of a lovers caress. Whispers played upon his ears, speaking of power and control. Speaking of even greater revenge to those who had wronged him… Janus reached out and wrapped the threads of power around his hand and pulled them close.

Ironic… They never seemed to figure it out. Scather had known that it is extreamly difficult to kill an immortal, the best solution is to simply imprision them. Otherwise the power will find someone else willing to accept it.

The threads of force wrapped tightly around Janus as two sources of energy tried to unite. Primal force and hellish rage bound into one being. They twisted around each other, only touching slightly at first, testing one another. Then suddenly they formed, gathering together in a pattern that only Janus could see. Bright vivid colors of charcoal black, emerald green, and blood red swirled together. In a rush they entered back into his body leveling him to the ground.

In this body the two sources would be at home. Both raged through Janus’s mind like a storm, burning away what was left of any conscious or remorse. He was empty, no regrets. He would no longer be bothered by the betrayal of his comrades, or the harsh reality of his failure… He just didn’t care anymore.

Janus stands up and grabs Exodus. He walks from the edges of the battlefield toward the throne that awaits him. Borghilder is not that far away..
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Chapter LI: The Fall of Zehir
The eve before the battle was met with cautious optimism. They had their armies. The Warmaster, Titus Garibaldi, had returned. Banesworn, Rankans, and Hawkmasks stood together. And a new army approached from the east. Their leaders entered the camp and approached the heroes, “I see a number of wyvern’s on the horizon. The way I hear it, rangers are a dragon’s bane.” Titus was dumbfounded, “Gaelen..how?--” “Pov, the Hawk. I am Gaelen’s brother, come to honor his pact with you. Our leader wishes to speak.” An older man lifted his hood, “I am no longer a mere kittykat. My mongoose rangers are prepared to finish this war.” Prince Kafen Theron, heir to the Rankan Empire stood before them. Titus was renewed with confidence, “We welcome your aid, old friend.”

Aase was not as confident as his companions. He slipped into the forest to commune for a time. Iceclaw and Lairleaf approached to speak, “I owe you an apology, earthfriend. I believed you were no better than the monsters you fight. You have proved me wrong time and again, and I thank you for that insight. My brethren will fight for you in this battle.” Aase shook his head at Iceclaw’s promise, “No, my brother. You may fight alongside me, but you do not follow me.”

All was well until Janus' arrival. His lust for vengeance was palpable. He could sense in Dawn the glow of Pelor, “You. You took it from me. You betrayed me!” Dawn shook his head, “I am sorry you feel—“ “YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT I FEEL! Each of you have betrayed me. Aase called me friend, then labeled me a thief, only to hand you the power that you craved—“

“ENOUGH”, Tristan stepped out of the tent, wielding Achra, “Janus, your whining is not welcome here!” “Brother. You, most of all, betrayed me. You killed our…my mother and did nothing to atone for it. You said nothing when the truth was revealed. I tire of this talk. I am the path to victory. You are pebbles in my way. Dispater! Let us end this!” Dispater appeared, sending leagues of fiendish warriors to attack the army. Njoror rushed from the portal, “Aase! Fight me!”

Janus acted with deft precision, locking down Tristan, drawing Titus into fire, and ultimately felling Dawn, “Bow to me, or Dawn dies. I am vengeance!” Tristan saw in Titus the doubt that nearly took him, “No! Titus, do not give in!” He leapt forward, slicing the ring from Titus’ finger. Titus gasped in agony, “Thank you…old friend..I never told you that…” Exodus plunged into Dawn’s chest, drawing the light from his body, “You should have bowed. I have succeeded!” A flash of light blinded Janus, and before him stood Raylos, Ohderik, and Sarah

Raylos
No, Janus, you have not succeeded. I failed. I failed to be there for you. Failed to raise you up and give you the life you deserved. Your path is my greatest failure…my legacy.


Ohderik
I failed to be the father you needed. I was too frought with lust to be honest with you. I trained you in a lie and set you on this path. I failed you. You are my guilt.


Sarah
My boy. I sought, in you, vengeance. I failed to protect you and nurture your love. You never knew kindness or love. You only knew my vengeance. You are my greatest sorrow.


“No! You’re wrong… You are all wrong! I am vengeance! I am the scion! I will…”, Janus looked at Dawn’s lifeless body, “No…. this was never my goal… Dispater, I must think. Finish this, and then seek me out.”

Aase continued to struggle with Njoror while Tristan fought Dispater. He retreated to a nearby river crossing, hoping Njoror’s weight might send him down-river. Titus lay dying on the ground. He reached for his old sword, “Sol… you think you have enough in you to save that kid? I should have died many years ago. Thanks to you, I saw my wife once more. That was more than any man should hope for.” “You were a worthy celebrant, Titus. It was an honor to serve you.” The sword drew Titus’ soul from his body and poured it into Dawn’s corpse. The monk drew in breath. He could hear the sound of battle. Hobart spoke softly, “Get up. I will see you in a moment. This was never your time.” “Get your sorry ass up and help, Dawn!” He could hear Tristan loud and clear.

Dawn sprang into action, assaulting Dispater with a flurry of blows. In a moment, it was over. Dispater made a desperate strike that was easily deflected by the monk, “You deserve so much more than death, but you’re not worth the effort.” With that, dawn crushed the Lord of Deceit’s throat beneath his boot. He then rushed to aid Aase against Njoror on the bridge.

“Raaaugh!!”, Njoror bellowed, “I shall kill you like I did your bitch of a woman! Say hello to Aggrona for me!” Aase’s eyes narrowed. This was no time for tears, no time for sorrow. The behemoth had to die. An assault of strikes left Njoror stunned for a volley from Dawn. With Dispater dead, Njoror was weakened… The final strike sent him over the bridge and into the river.

It was over, for now. Melerra rushed through an open portal to see her husband’s body. Tallyn and Kafen entered from the main camp to see the slaughter, “We suffered heavy losses, but the devils were defeated.” Tristan turned to Tallyn, “Prepare the troops. We march now.”

-=-=-=-


The armies met on the plains of battle. Thothamon offered them the chance to surrender and leave for the North. “Not this time. It ends here. Skather dies, or we die; nothing less.” The heroes nodded at Dawn’s grim words, “If you wish to avoid needless death, we’ll challenge Skather and his champions to a duel. Winner takes all.” Skather appeared, all too suddenly, “I accept your offer, Monk.”

The heroes united against Skather, Thothamon, and his Ssarpacala. Hobart arrived to aid in the battle, “She has an interest in the outcome. Tristan broke the lines of fate, thus she has asked me to intervene and aid you.”


Hobart struck true against Thothamon, watching him bleed out on the battlefield. Aase and Melerra dominated the Yuan-ti, while Tristan and Dawn struck telling blows against Skather. Skather, however, was a formidable enemy. Between his spells and Thothamon’s power, Dawn fell, Is this it? Is this where I die, Kalnor?

Kalnor
It is possible. You have done much. Some might say too much. Death does not mean you failed. No one expected more of you than you gave.


No, that’s not true. Anthony believed we would succeed; he gave his life for it. Aase believed we would succeed; he gave me the tear to do so. Tristan believed we would succeed; he lost everything but his convictions. Even Janus, for a brief moment, believed we would succeed; that is why he asked me to take his place. No. Failure is not an option; not here, not today.

Kalnor
Then get up.


“Get up, Dawn! We’re almost through!”, he could hear Aase’s words. Lightning struck his chest, Huh…even Bane thinks I have a chance…

Dawn stood, “Let’s dance.”

Tristan struck true with Achra, plunging the blade into Skather’s chest, “You fool. You have no idea what you’ve done.” Skather laughed, and then unleashed his true form, a mountain of snakes creating a beast of unspeakable horror.

Hobart watched Thothamon. His eyes began to wander, “It’s time, Thothamon. Follow the spirits. Go home.” Life escaped Thothamon with his last breath. His body hit the ground, never to move again.

All turned their attention to the vassal of Zehir. Each took a flank and began hacking through the endless mass of snakes. Tristan screamed in defiance and clambered atop the pile, “You die here and now!” Lightning struck his blade before he sundered the face of Skather.


Skather lay destroyed. The power of Zehir was fading. Was it possible? Did they actually succeed? Without Zehir’s dominance, the yuan-ti lost their lust for battle. With a nod from Thariss, the yuan-ti began their long journey home.

The Raven Queen was almost sated. Only one more immortal remained. Dawn turned to go home, “I promised I would release the power. Can I do so where it all started?” Hobart shook his head, saddened, “I am sorry, but she demands the line of immortals ends here.” His blade dove deep into Dawn's chest, releasing the pact with Pelor.

As he lay dying, he had one request, "Tristan...Take me home."

Quote: Dusk
[color=”cyan”]
You are home, my brother. Our fate was sealed the moment we were born. With Skather defeated, we can return to the sky. You as protector of the Sun, scion of Pelor. Me as protector of the Moon, guardian of Selune.[/color]



Aase picked up Dawn's body and began walking east. Iceclaw moved beside him, "This is not a burden you will face alone. Allow me to carry our savior for a time." Aase tried to smile, “I welcome your company, my friend. By the way, where was Bastigen in all of this?” The wolf chuckled and shrugged, “She sleeps through winter.”

Melerra looked down at the lifeless body of Thothamon; Wizard; Blue Star Adept. Though dead, his thoughts lingered....A way into the Quorum laid only a few leagues to the south.

Tallyn addressed Tristan, "There are more battles to fight, Champion. You seek an empire; we are the blades you will carve it with." "And you will do it with me at your side", Dierdre, no longer a devil nodded to him, "I believe it is time you let down your guard and kissed me."

Hobart smiled. Had he known all along that he was destined to kill Dusk, he probably wouldn't have apologized.
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Janus Farron: Exodus
Memories are like sharp daggers in my back.
They replay through my mind like the ever turning pages of time, allowing me to only see the “what could have been”.
A future once illuminated, now darkened and consumed by hate and failure

The dagger which killed me is a blackened ugly thing.
Composed of my closest friends and family.
The armor that should have saved me was trust, but it rusted and fell to pieces long ago.

Now I ride in this new world with my head held high.
With regret as my steed, and she never tires.
The cobblestone path we follow is my faith, which crumbles beneath us with each step we take.

My world is now a song of vengeance.
Doubting any chance for Penitence.
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DnD 4E Core Setting (4E)
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