Founding and History
Built over three thousand years ago by the descendants of the First Men with the help of their dwarven allies in the dim age preceding the rise of the Bal-Shanaari Empire, Vargheim rises above the bleak and rocky foothills like a colossal bruise upon the earth, bristling with squat stone towers and walls arrayed in concentric circles, each ringed district more opulent and impressive than the one below it. A feat of engineering made possible with the aid of dwarven stonecrafters, the city was erected as a monument to the oaths of kinship sworn by the dwarven High Thane Gunnar Whiteshield and the human Grynn, chieftain of the Vargs, who united the other disparate Braeling hill tribes into a powerful nation and aided the dwarves in driving back a huge hobgoblin invasion spilling out of The Scar. The city was named Vargheim to honor the most powerful of the old tribes.
Vargheim enjoyed nearly a millenium of prosperous rule under the kings of Grynn’s line, until the rapidly expanding Bal-Shanaari Empire’s borders drew near. Vargheim held off the Imperial siege for nearly ten years, becoming known to many as the Free City of Vargheim. During this period, the dwarves of Zarak-Thrum were besieged themselves, once more by the hobgoblins of The Scar; when the humans of Vargheim failed to honor their vow of aid, the alliance between the two peoples ended bitterly. Eventually Vargheim’s good fortune ran dry and a terrible plague ravaged the city, decimating its population. Rumors persist to this day that the Bal-Shanaari were responsible, somehow slipping agents into the city covertly to spread disease and death. After a year of sickness, the king of Vargheim surrendered his city, opening the gates to the Bal-Shanaari generals, whose armies flooded the city and ruthlessly “cleansed” the city of contagion. Countless thousands were burned alive, including the king, his court, his retainers and his entire immediate family.
Vargheim was the last city to fall to the Empire, and the three Bal-Shanaari generals who led the siege were installed to rule jointly in the Sorcerer-Kings’ names. Vargheim is ruled by three Triarchs descended from the original three’s line to this day, despite the fall of the Empire, and continues to adhere to a harsh code of law and martial tradition as a holdover of the military leadership of the Imperial days.
The Vargheim of the current age is a strictly-governed Triarchy, with draconian laws and a strong military presence. Many petty noble houses vie for the favor of the Triarchs, with intricate scheming and plotting between these families being the norm. The three Triarchs are Amnytos Vidris, Tetro Vass, and Tychon Proxis. Triarchs Vidris and Proxis have ruled together for sixteen years, while the younger Triarch Vass came to power seven years ago after his father Xerus died of old age at the end of a forty year reign. The current Triarchy has governed with relative stability, with no major upheavals or civil strife; no doubt the harsh penalties for sedition have deterred all but the most dedicated rabble-rousers.
The Triarchs of Vargheim rule with absolute authority; each is the scion of an unbroken line that can trace its ancestry back to the greatest generals of the Bal-Shanaari Empire. As such, pride and vanity are chief traits among the Triarchs, and through the years many triumvirates have been sullied by petty posturing and disagreement, if not outright infighting. On more than one occasion in history has an especially stubborn Triarch died mysteriously, to be succeeded by a more pliant and agreeable son eager to heed the advice of his two older and wiser co-rulers.
Beneath the Triarchs is a gaggle of fawning, useless nobles and courtiers. This effete upper class is despised by the common folk and largely ignored by the Triarchs themselves. This of course does nothing to deter these noble houses from elevating themselves above the lowborn and wielding their limited influence (but great wealth) to enjoy lives of detestable leisure and shameful excess.
People of Note
Places of Interest