Knights of the Black Lily is what we call dystopian black fantasy, a distinctly flavored form of dark fantasy. The darkness in dark fantasy may come in many forms but for us none of them is as interesting to explore as the darkness that lies within ourselves. And as you will discover in the blogpost below, Knights of the Black Lily has more than its own fair share of demons and other common elements of horror. To us, however, none of those even come close to the terror induced by the things we do – or our own kind. That is why we have chosen the makeup of Ilethrean inhabitants the way it is and as it will be outlined to you below.
The bleeding edge
Once upon a time there were the elves. The splendor of their sophisticated realms reached from coast to coast and remains, to this day, the stuff of legends – to be told to kids with shining eyes at bedtime. But do not be mistaken here – these are not stories meant to uplift but generally end up as cautionary tales that parents tell their children to instill fear of the dark gods into their hearts (for the legend of the elves is not a happy one). For, you see, once upon a time, Mankind served within the elven realms in all their might and beauty. Theirs was not a happy lot but it served to make do. But then one day, without forewarning to Elfkind, the dark gods had grown tired of the elven rulers and their kind and they decided that Mankind’s time had finally come (or at least that is what you can overhear often being told). As servants turned on masters, a short but bloody civil war erupted and the elves had to suffer the horrifying realization that all their sophistication, grace and skill were not enough in the face of the dark gods’ will. Struck by tragedy and faced with an enemy that seemed to be able foresee their every move, even mighty elven armies were eventually routed. What followed cannot be called anything else but slaughter. Today, Mankind reigns supreme while the elves are largely extinct. A few still exist within human society in the form of outright slaves, while a few others have withdrawn deeply into the forests of lands that have fallen into disuse. These wood elves are, for the most part, the last free elves and are a wild, even if heterogeneous, lot.
This was by no means the first genocide on the bloodied lands of Ilethra by any stretch, however. Nor would it be the last. Exactly 220 years ago much of dragonkind fell to an event that nobody truly can comprehend, commonly only called The Hunt. Today, dragons still exist but most of them are of the black-scaled kind, as they continue to hunt their own kin.
Misery loves company
Mankind isn’t alone on Ilethra by any stretch of the imagination – starting with the halflings, who have been complicit in the rise of the humans and their warrior caste. Things are not all rosy for Mankind, however, for centuries or millennia of involvement with the dark gods and (Elfkind before them) has been unleashing an ever-swelling number of a stunningly large variety of demons onto the continent – to the point where they have become members of Ilethrean society, for better or for worse. This is markedly different from, for example, the orcs who form a rival, if more primitive, society within wild and more or less untamed splotches of land – complete with their own, rival set of dark gods. So, while Mankind reigns supreme over the civilized parts of the Ilethrean landscape (and any stretch it wants to take hold of), there are significant portions of land that have either never been cultivated or lost in the aftermath of its ascent. There’s also a vast array of other fantasy creatures (monsters) that originate in Ilethra, instead of any infernal worlds beyond, sprawling its wilderness and interacting with Mankind in various ways – many badly so, but by no means all of them.
There is much more that could be said here but there is one main takeaway that is ponder-worthy and should not be overlooked: in a world filled with demons, monsters and the undead, a place full of treachery and tragedy, Mankind is the one species that is and remains at the top of the food chain. Also, a quick word on half-breeds: they do exist very much so and if they make you uncomfortable, all we can say is – good, for they should. They certainly make Ilethreans uncomfortable, likely much more so, even.
Finally, what about the dwarves? Are there no dwarves? Well, sadly they have been extinguished a long, long time ago, having become mythical creatures along the way. And yet, Knights of the Black Lily is meant to be explored at a moment in Ilethrean history in which the dwarves are set to make a comeback in some shape or form. And it just might not be the way you may now think it is…
In the next installment of this multi-part series on the background of Knights of the Black Lily, we will finally get to talk about the one big elephant in the room: the Dark Pantheon. We’ll get a glimpse at what they are like, their involvement in the life of mortals and how it ties into gameplay. Also, one of the dark gods might seem eerily familiar to you, for better or for worse! It’s gonna get tricky!