The historical fork in the road between this Earth and ours occurred in 1192 at the end of the siege of Acre. The English King Richard the Lion-Hearted had won one of the first major victories against Saladin’s Muslim empire during the Third Crusade. With Acre back in Christian hands, King Richard negotiated the release of 3000 Muslim prisoners in exchange for pilgrimage rights throughout the Holy Lands and forfeiture of Saladin’s claim to Acre.
King Richard accepted the offer of aid in the negotiations from a local Muslim Imam, Abdul Alhazred. When negotiations faltered, Alhazred advised the 3000 prisoners be put to death in a mass execution as a show of strength. As the last prisoner was executed, it became clear that something was wrong. Alhazred channeled the deaths to finalize a ritual to bring fourth a great evil he was secretly an agent of. Multiple shimmering rifts appeared in the air around the city; thousands of spirits flooded through each, many demonic, some divine, the majority foreign, beastial or elemental in nature. The city of Acre was engulfed in its second war in a week. Few humans survived. King Richard was one of them. A Divine spirit had merged with him, protecting him and gaining his strength.
Rifts had opened all over the known world. Most spirits found they had to bond with a living creature to stay for long. Bonding changed the hosts; A bull might become a minotaur, swine and boar to an orc. Divine spirits bonded with the men and bent them to the will of God, allowing them to work minor and great miracles. Demonic spirits bonded with men of all types, granting arcane powers.
Saladin, King Richard and the Christian world, formed the Acre Alliance to shut the rifts and fight back the spirits and the resulting monsters and horrors created. Spain instigated the inquisition to strip them of their demonic or elemental spirits. The Teutonic order strived to eliminate all who had bonded with any spirit. Lithuania, in direct conflict with the Teutonic Order welcomed all bonded humans.
The first century was a losing battle for mankind. The First Dragon War (1234-1242) ended with the death of King Richard. The Second Dragon War (1307-1356) saw the last of the known Great Dragons slain, though there are rare sightings to this day. The Great Wizards War (1392-1424) saw to it that what little Necromancers and war wizards were left had fled into hiding.
The year is now 1498. Europe is still recovering, many inner lands are still in the control of evil humanoids, and bonded humans are still common day. Much of the coast has been recovered, but not all. And you? You have just wandered into a small Barony in what may one day become Germany.
Note: This campaign is a modified story line to Bioware’s “Lionheart”.