Here we go – a concise setting history. This one won’t be near as long as some of the others as those have had time to “mature” while this new campaign is just that. New. I’ll likely add more to this as the campaign progresses.
The History of the Middle Kingdom
The world of The Middle Kingdom is our world. Everything that has happened here, with us, has happened there as well. But there are several key divergences. An alchemist known as Wei Wulin stumbled across a powerful mystical secret allowing him to distill the very essence of chi from the surrounding environment. The Emperor Qin Shi Huang heard of this miracle and commanded him to come forth. Wei in his pride showed the Emperor what he’d done and how he’d done it and Qin Shi Huang proved to be an apt pupil in learning the secrets of Taoist alchemy as the two studied together for over a year. Eventually, when Qin Shi Huang had learned all he could from Wei he let him stay at his court, but no longer spent long nights with him plumbing the depths of ancient knowledge. At least until the Emperor noticed Wei’s daughter, he was smitten with her and bid her father to let him pay a bride price to have her as his concubine. Wei refused and though the Emperor tried to tempt her with gifts nothing worked. Finally, the court sorcerer, the Emperor’s own son was bid to ensnare her mind for the Emperor but even that failed. Eventually, Wei’s daughter opted to kill herself than become a concubine. This broke Wei mentally as he sought out a way to bring the dead back using the Elixir of Life. The Emperor funded Wei’s research and continued draining chi from the land leading to all sorts of natural disasters.
The horded chi ended up in great stores underground as the Emperor used them to fuel black sorceries and commit atrocities across the land. The Emperor knew it was a matter of time before the people rose up against him so with his horded chi and the dark arts he learned from madmen and demon kings he cast a potent spell, but not before a band of heroes made him pay for his wicked crimes. The horded chi was spent all at once to create a dimension where his kingdom was duplicated. Dozens of villages and hundreds of thousands of people were sucked into this other place as were all manner of mystical beings who were attracted to all the ambient chi.
He retreated to this place and here he could not be touched. But one of those who made him pay for his crimes enacted a powerful curse: he nor any under his command could not leave the dimension he created. Instead, their flesh would turn to stone and they would become still. He ruled long (over two hundred years) in his new home, but realized he had created prison for himself. Eventually, he died and passed his crown to one of his many sons. This land would eventually be called the “Inner Kingdom” by those who journeyed there from the Earth. As the untold years passed by more and more magic, monsters, gods, and demons left Earth (now called the “Middle Kingdom” or Zhōng Yù) to go to the chi-rich lands of Nèi Yù. There was still some chi left in the Middle Kingdom, but not much and those who knew of it horded it as more precious than gold. Eventually, discovering ways to access their own bodies’ chi in a way that was tiring, but effective. This created what would become the first Wū (the warring clans or houses) who would fight over dominance of the dragon lines (the last vestige of “free chi” in the Middle Kingdom) and dominance over one another as well as society itself.
Fast forward to modern day and the Wū are more numerous, the roads to Nèi Yù are seemingly shut, and chi is ever more precious. The Wū fight shadow wars amongst themselves with whatever weapons they have at hand and use ancient powers and mysterious abilities in addition to modern methods all to achieve their goals: power and supremacy over all others. Meanwhile, the learned but houseless do their best to not upset the the Wū.
Picking Over the Bones
And that’s the history – so far. Pretty simple by my typical standard but it hits all the right notes. Next up I’ll chat about the Wū of the Middle Kingdom.