I feel it only fitting that I begin the A-To-Z Challenge with A for Aerth.
Aerth is the name of the homebrewed setting I created in association with my homebrewed Dungeons & Dragons variant, Dungeons & Dragons AD.
Numerous campaigns with and without titles have been run in this setting. Among them are such titles as The Winghorn Guard (original), The Chronicles of the Winghorn Guard (sequel), The Black Omen Saga and many others. As all are set or related to the same world, I collectively refer to these campaigns (which share a continuity and 'canon') 'Aerth'.
System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition (Modified), Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and 3.5 (Modified very little) and Dungeons & Dragons AD (A homebrewed variant of AD&D 1st and 3rd, merged and then simplified).
Circa: First Campaign - 1982-83-to-1985. A number of short campaign spinoffs - 1984-88. Second campaign (New campaign with elements that essentially made it a direct sequel to the original) - 1998-2004. Another short campaign - 2010-2011.
Player Base: Originally there were six or seven male players, 14-15 years of age. Over time there have been many players of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and genders.
My ex-wife created a character for the Second/Sequel Campaign to the original as her first D&D character ever.
Characters: The majority of our Aerth campaigns have had the PCs as members of The Winghorn Guard, a multi-national, multi-species order of heroes sworn to protect the people of Aerth from all manner of evil, injustice and threats to the sanctity of life. The heroes (and setting) are styled after Superhero comic books more so than Fantasy literature.
Imagine the Winghorn Guard as a medieval Legion of Superheroes or Justice League Unlimited (the animated series).
Synopsis: About 50 years prior to the first campaign, a group of adventurers saved the world of Aerth from a dire evil, the entity known as The Great Chimera. These heroes were than visited by an Alicorn, a Winged Unicorn, and told they had been chosen as guardians and protectors of the planet. They were instructed to find and train others to join them, and if approved by the Winged Unicorn, these brave beings would aid in the constant struggle to prevent chaos and evil from consuming Aerth.
By the time of the first campaign, the group is nearly 250 members strong and protects the world regardless of the borders of Kings, the decree of Churches and the whims of the petty, the wicked, the frightened and the unjust.
The Winghorn Guard knows only one allegiance...Aerth and the Winged Unicorn, thought to be the spirit of the world or an avatar of Mother Nature and Father Time. Others believe the great Alicorn to be a god itself, perhaps a one, true god or the herald of such. The truth is not yet known.
The first campaign dealt with a being known as Neuron, The Neutral Man, an entity from the Concordant Opposition, the realm of true neutrality, who had come to Aerth to warn a particular group of Guard members of a terrible evil from beyond the stars that threatened the world. Neutral in their outlook on all things, the Neutral Men are charged only with observing and recording the events on the Prime Realm they are assigned to (like Marvel Comics' Watcher). Neuron, realizing the threat he viewed was a danger to law and chaos, good and evil alike, felt the need to take action.
He would assist the Winghorn Guard numerous times in the following years, until his fellow Neutral Men felt he's been tainted with 'Good' and imprisoned him. Similarly, this particular team of Winghorn Guard members were accused of treason, as they had been working with and following an outside entity (Neuron) while serving with the Guard.
Eventually they disobeyed direct orders, travelled to the Concordant Opposition, freed their ally and friend and gave an impassioned speech on the nature and purpose of what it means to be 'good' and subsequently left the Guard, going their separate ways.
The sequel campaign, set 25 years later, deals with a mad Elf named Shadowhaunt who is amassing arcane power in an attempt to rewrite history. He is a member of the now extinct Pale or Ash Elves and seeks to alter time and space to bring his people back. He is being aided by a secret organization known as The Circle of The Shattered Rainbow, which also seems to periodically help members of the Winghord Guard! Hmmm. Is Neuron the enigmatic leader of The Circle?
Appendix N: The Chronicles of Narnia novel series by C.S. Lewis, The Fantastic Four comic books from Marvel Comics, Folklore and Myths from all over the world, The Hobbit, Justice League Unlimited animated series, The Last Unicorn novel by Peter S. Beagle, Legion of Superheroes comic books from DC Comics and the Vlad Taltos novel series by Steven Brust.
Bonus Features: Games set on Aerth are among my most successful and popular campaigns. A bit of a bittersweet victory as I am not a D&D fan and would prefer to run something other than Fantasy 9.5 out of 10 times.
Much of the material from the early campaigns was generated by combining several separate campaigns together. Many of my players were involved in campaigns at school and when we met at Summer Camp to run The Winghorn Guard, I merged all the stuff from each of their school games into one world (Aerth) and than modified it as needed.
My ex-wife is largely responsible for much of the cultural elements of the Elven people, based on the historical information I provided from the campaigns' background.
One down, 25 campaign universes to go!