- Tritonia, Home of Swords and Sandals
- The People
- The World Before
- Swords and Sandals: Pirate Lords
- Swords and Sandals I: Gladiator
- Swords and Sandals II: Emperor’s Reign
- Swords and Sandals Crusader
- Swords and Sandals III: Gladiae Ultratus
- Swords and Sandals IV: Tavern Quests
- Swords and Sandals V: Grail of Antares
- Swords and Sandals RPG : Constellation Mirror
Over many years of developing the Swords and Sandals series, a semblance of a story, characters and places has sprung up. All good RPGs need a setting, a cast of characters and so on – even something as simple as the first S&S had the island of Doomtrek, some pirates and 7 arena bosses with names like HeChaos and Wolfgang of Shackleford. While they seem random, there is actually more to the games than first appears – those characters and locations actually have more to them.
There is, in fact, a whole world behind S&S that was born in my mind but has started to ebb out into the greater community as the games increase in popularity. People sometimes ask me questions like ‘Does Crusader take place before S&S 3?’ , or ‘Did the hero from S&S 1 turn into Emperor Antares’ , and I find I have to stop and think about these things – because until now, the world has been pretty loosely documented and mapped out. This document is an effort to improve that, and of course it will expand further as the series does.
[Author’s Note] There is a Swords and Sandals wikia page online managed by some very dedicated fans. Please feel free to use information from this tome of lore to that wikia, with my blessings.
The events of Swords and Sandals all take place on the world of Tritonia, a small Earth-like world in a system of five planets surrounding two suns, a large yellow and a smaller blue sun. One large pale moon orbits slowly. Tritonia is dominated by 85% ocean and three continents that make up the rest of the planet.
- Brandor, the largest and only known settled continent. All of the Swords and Sandals games thus far have taken place here. Being home to the Constellation Mirror, it is here that the Precursors landed and all known civilisations can be found.
- Eldor Hath, a smaller, mysterious continent far to the south. Its borders are fiercely guarded and foreigners looked upon unkindly. It is said that Emperor Antares of the Itha peoples hailed from these dark lands.
- Segallis, a landmass that theoretically exists in the western hemisphere. Very few who have sailed across the Cycladian Ocean in search of it have returned, and their tales remain wild and dubious.
The game takes place in this central area of Brandor. To the north, the world is bordered by vast mountains. To the south, the heat of the desert keep all but the most hardy traveller at bay, and to the west and east, trackless oceans ( storms and winds will prevent you from sailing any further in any direction.)
Tritonia’s twin moons (Eoe and Uriel) make sea travel perilous – the tides are unpredictable and storms are many.
Future games in the Swords and Sandals series will introduce the other two continents of the world, Eldor Hath and Uveria.
Major World Locations (natural)
- Desert of Despair
- King’s Tear Mountains
- Greater Sledgia
- Galaxy Lake
- Blue Goat River
- Cavaldar River
- Grey Gauntlet Mountain
- Edden River
- Hela Haxxus Desert
- T’Kash Desert
- Plains of Handroth
- Terror’s Tale Mountains
- Green Shroud Forest
- Shark Tooth Bay
- Bay of Barons
- Ironspire Forest
- Falsewood Forest
- Thalassis Lake
- Gladiae Island
- Island of the Sorcerer
- Port Meade
- Spheracleon Island
- Itha Tuscus
- T’Kash City
- Suul’s Gateway
Phaetor is the largest city in Brandor. Set in a large field of green and bordered to the north and south by a large forest and to the west by a great lake . Clean, with wide streets lit by lanterns , gardens with fountains and well maintained homes and shops. Castle Phaetor lies at the city’s Eastern edge. The home of King Lionel.
A large port city in the east of Brandor, bordered by the ocean to the east, rolling golden hills , vineyards and farmlands to the south. Wide squares, statues and stately buildings can be seen through city, which also boasts tall marble columns and olive tree lined streets.
A grim cluster of red brick buildings surrounded by high walls and towers. The imposing Citadel of Turbulence dominates the skyline and the sounds of beasts echo through the streets. To the south, waves crash onto jagged cliffs. The home fortress of HeChaos.
[Author’s Note] Maps and much more information to come on this section. Here is a rough sketch of the realms of Brandor.
Precursor Races – These races were the first fleets to sail through the Constellation Mirror and settle Brandor. They came from four planets in a distant solar system escaping a dying sun.
Two of the races were lost very early on and a third vanished across the sea.
- Phaetorian / Kingdom of Phaetor
- Braxian / Free State of Braxis
- Eddites / Protectorate of Eddengarth
- Drakons / Church of Drakondier
- Vondroks / Vond Empire ( extinct within a generation )
- Tolots / Tolot ( extinct possibly underground)
- Uverics / No home city (sailed south on arrival and never returned. Their disappearance and some old Precursor books have led to the theory of another continent far to the south called Segallis.)
Secutor Races – Each of these races arrived through the mirror in the 600 years that followed. ( There are other, lesser known creatures who have come through the Mirror such as the Floralisks and Golems but they are not considered populous enough to be considered a race.)
- Klergish / Gelegrath Caverns
- Cycladians / Pilthian Coast
- Xantec / Xteltac Province
- Gunterians / Warmhaven
- Hexl / Hexalus
- Sledgars / Greater Sledgia
- Itha / Itha Tuscus
- T’Kashi / TKash Desert (Desert of Despair)
[Author’s Note] More detailed information to come on the peoples of Brandor.
Before the advent of the Constellation Mirror, Tritonia was a lush but mostly empty planet. Native fauna and flora of various sizes roamed freely, but no creatures of any particular intellect called the planet their home. Some six hundred years ago, everything changed. A great portal appeared, shimmering and black. Through it, the night sky could be seen, a lake of stars and galaxies.
The Constellation Mirror is a sentient wormhole that opens every half century and emits a beacon, pulling through it creatures and civilizations from other parts of the universe. The Mirror observes and learns from these creatures but thus far has remained neutral, learning of good and evil over the years.
Through this mirror, the first races stepped. They were the Precursors. They built cities, fought, explored and settled. Some of the Precursor races flourished, like the Phaetorians and the Braxians. Others vanished into antiquity. And still, at the height of summer every fiftieth year, the Mirror would blaze brightly and new creatures would step through and forge themselves a life in this brave new world. Some were terrible beasts like the giant Sledgars, terrifying giant men with mighty ice hammers. Others, great sailors like the one-eyed Cycladians, who would begin to chart the four mighty oceans of the world.
For over six hundred years, the Constellation Mirror has opened, each new arrival shaping the fortunes of the world.
SWORDS AND SANDALS: Pirate Lords
YEAR 585 – 588 CM
The years that kicked of the classic Swords and Sandals era were dominated by a great nautical struggle to control the four oceans of Tritonia. In the year 575 CM, the naval dominance of the Phaetorian Armada collapsed, when over 95% of its fleet was wiped out in a series of planet shaking storms.
A mad scramble began as islands rid themselves of Phaetorian rule and began to revolt. A generation of self-styled Pirate Lords appeared on the oceans and waged great and terrible battles against each other for control of the new ocean boundaries.
Such luminaries as Wolfgang of Shackleford , Sir Belgrave, Emperor Antares and HeChaos began their adventures here on the high seas.
After five long years, the land-grab was settled and Phaetor reclaimed control of the oceans, though many new individuals would rise to fame and power thanks to the great bounties of the sea. This conflict would come to be known amongst the people as the Four Oceans War.
Author’s Note: S&S: Pirates Lords is, in fact a forthcoming game from us will be launching in mid 2018. Similar in style to S&S Crusader, it follows a group of pirate lords as they try to divvy up the oceans amongst themselves.
In the 588th year since the opening of the Constellation Mirror, a sailor aboard the good ship Calamitious found himself adrift at sea after a terrible storm. Lost for days, he floated across the vast Uveric Ocean until chance found him at Doomtrek, an island home to the infamous Arena of Death.
Doomtrek and its arena had been established three years earlier by a charismatic but unstable young Eddite man named HeChaos. He claims to have won the island in a card game, though it is more likely the original inhabitants of the island were met with foul play. In any event, he then set up the arena for a considerable profit.
The sailor-turned-gladiator fought his way through a series of duels, rising in popularity and fame – he would come to be known only as The Gladiator. Eventually he found himself face to face with HeChaos himself. After a mighty battle, he defeated HeChaos and won enough riches to buy a ship and sail away. HeChaos begged him to stay, promising a command position in a mysterious ‘Legion’ he was assembling. The Gladiator declined – noting only that HeChaos seemed ‘wild and unpredictable’. His whereabouts remain unknown to this day, though some say he found his way to the fabled lands of Segallis.
There were seven notable gladiators ( better known as Arena Champions ) who took part in the gladiatorial games here.
- Wolfgang of Shackleford: The third son of a minor lord, he drank away his inheritance and found himself living as little more than a mercenary. Drawn to the Arena by the lure of fame and fortune, he rose to prominence quickly. After his defeat at the hands of the Gladiator, he continued to fight, until he happened upon a noble but troubled young knight known as Sir Belgrave of Drakondier. Belgrave saw potential in Wolfgang and petitioned him to fight for a greater cause ( detailed in the events surrounding S&S Pirates and Crusader). Wolfgang would also feature as one of the boardgames participants in Swords and Sandals 4.
- Bo’sun Smythe: A salty sea-dog and one of the first Arena Champions to become popular at Doomtrek. It was said he reeked of rum and barnacles. His longtime goal was to win enough money to buy a ship, but alas for him, he always drank away the profits from his victories.
- Nine Cat Jack: A cruel pirate lord who faced mutiny at the hands of his crew and washed ashore Doomtrek. He died from his wounds at the arena and was buried in a pauper’s grave.
- Stylonius of Southport: A narcissistic boor, though somehow wildly popular for his theatrics. A Klerg from the Gelegrath Caverns, he broke many Arena Championship records until his death at his own hand, tripping over his own ego and falling into a spiked pit. Surprisingly, his will and testament specified he *not* be resurrected on account of “There being no need, as nobody could ever kill me anyway”, but his legacy lived on in S&S 2, with his firstborn child, the aptly named Son of Stylonius.
- Lord Talah’udin: A great champion from the T’Kash Desert. Little is known of him, though it is said he lost his kingdom and his life when Arglaxx and the Beastforce conquered the Desert of Despair during the Crusades. Here at Doomtrek he fought with honour and compassion. His nephew, the Maharaja Sa’eed would make an appearance here in Swords and Sandals 2.
- HeChaos: The final, and greatest of the Arena Champions. Upon his defeat, he would lose his grip on the Arena to a mysterious stranger known as Antares, who declared himself the first ‘Emperor’ of Doomtrek and seized control. Antares enslaved HeChaos and forced him to fight for his own amusement but kept the games running. HeChaos’ story continued in Swords and Sandals 3, Crusader, Swords and Sandals 4 and Swords and Sandals 5.
Author’s Note: As you may notice, when you play S&S games, you actually *kill* the Arena Champions. For the purpose of story lore, it can be assumed that most Champions are either wealthy or popular enough to afford magical healing, and can be resurrected in the same way the hero can. Some Champions ( such as Nine Cat Jack, Pigsus or the Slave Driver ) are too hated by the general population to warrant resurrection and thus, stay dead.
SWORDS AND SANDALS II : Emperor’s Reign
YEAR 590 CM
Under the rule of the enigmatic Emperor Antares, the island of Doomtrek’s popularity and notoriety exploded. Antares had six new arenas built, each grander than the last. Gladiatoral combat took place day and night, drawing thousands to the island in search of glory on the arena sands. Even more were brought to the island as slaves, shedding blood and sweat building the mighty colosseums. These slaves were kept in terrible conditions in a catacomb of tunnels under the Imperial Colosseum.
With so many of Brandor’s greatest fighters dying on the sands so fast and so often, Emperor Antares pressed slaves into gladiatorial service with vague promises of their freedom. Each gladiator received some gold and a basic dagger, but most would die within days of their release.
One such slave, a recent capture known in popular folklore as The Nameless, won his freedom when he showed potential as a fighter. A stoic gladiator with a quiet disposition and great gift for battle, he advanced quickly through the ranks and won fame by defeating local meat merchant John the Butcher in combat in his third day in the Arena.
Not so The Nameless. He would quickly rise, winning renown by defeating Arena Champion after Arena Champion. Early on, he befriended a local candlemaker who told him tales of Doomtrek citizens being pressed into slavery, forced to dig tunnels under the arena. Investigating further, The Nameless discovered a vast subterranean labyrinth of crypts, stone pits and dark altars – though he could not guess as to their true purpose. When Antares’ thugs killed the candlemaker and burnt down his shop, The Nameless realised he was being watched.
Soon after, the noble young knight Sir Belgrave of the Templar Church arrived in Doomtrek. Seeking audience with The Nameless, he explained the Church’s suspicions of Antares. They had been tracking him since his mysterious arrival from Eldor Hath several years before. Antares had come alone, but within weeks, had amassed a larger and larger following of armour clad warriors and moving north through Brandor. Belgrave theorised that Antares had come to Doomtrek in order to use the Arena and its inexhaustible source of gladiators for nefarious purposes. Through his powers of necromancy, Antares had raised these poor souls from the dead and kept them imprisoned in great chambers deep under the ground.
Fighting in the arenas by day and exploring the tunnels by night, Belgrave and The Nameless made their way deeper underground until they discovered vast halls of skeletal warriors – at least eighty thousand or more. Belgrave, sensing the worst, implored The Nameless to somehow gain audience with Antares and bring his evil schemes to light. The knight then travelled to Brandor’s capital Phaetor to warn good King Lionel to prepare for war.
Through his many arena victories, The Nameless would rise in power and skill. After defeating one of Antares’ more powerful lieutenant’s, the demon prince Zeerzabahl, he would come to the attention of the Emperor himself. When confronted about his plans, Antares gloated. His army would soon be complete and unleashed upon Brandor. Antares sought not just to conquer the realm, but to make his way to the Constellation Mirror itself and use it as a gateway to unleash his terror on other unsuspecting worlds.
Sensing potential in The Nameless, he offered him a position in his newly formed Death Imperium. When The Nameless refused, Antares merely laughed – for he knew as soon as Nameless fell in battle, necromancy would press him into service – a choice every Arena Champion before him had faced. Antares dismissed Nameless, warning him the time to choose would soon be nigh.
At this same time, the sorcerer Bargle appeared in the Arena. Using powerful magic, he convinced everyone he was indeed an Arena Champion and organised a battle with Nameless. Though Bargle was infinitely more powerful, he would throw the fight and upon defeat, hand The Nameless a message in a scroll before disappearing. This would not be the last time Bargle would meddle in the affairs of the realm, though his purposes always remained a mystery.
Inside the scroll was a declaration of aid from the great sorcerer. Bargle had devised a plan to negate and contain the skeletal army, but the sorcerer also knew Antares could negate his magic if confronted directly. If somehow the Emperor could be distracted by combat with a worthy foe, he could indeed be vulnerable. All The Nameless needed to do was to engage Antares in battle – Bargle would do the rest.
With a choice to make, The Nameless wrestled with a decision. He had secretly craved power himself – for before he was a slave at Doomtrek, he had been a lawless buccaneer on the high seas of Tritonia’s oceans. By his own admission, The Nameless’ life had been less than heroic. Emperor Antares offered the chance to bring the world to heel, the muscle to enforce his will upon any who stood in his way.
On the other hand, Bargle’s choice involved sacrifice and an almost assured death. Victory here would end his days as an Arena Champion and thrust him into an uncertain world. The Nameless was on the verge of accepting Antares’ offer when the Archangel Sandalphon, a powerful envoy of the god Suul the One, appeared before him. Sandalphon warned him his actions would end in a world forever changed and inhospitable to life as he knew it. The Nameless fought Sandalphon to a standstill on the Arena sands before the Archangel, in frustration, returned to the Heavenly Plane.
With the Archangel vanquished, the Nameless was invited to the Emperor’s Royal Palace to do battle against the greatest gladiators in all the realm as Antares himself looked on. In secret, the sorcerer Bargle made his way to the palace and saw for himself the inner struggle The Nameless faced. Through a powerful spell, he created an evil mirror image version of The Nameless which represented all that was flawed in the heroic champion. When The Nameless overcame his evil self, he saw the error of his ways and resolved to defeat Antares once and for all.
Finally, that hour came. Emperor Antares invited The Nameless to a private audience and demanded his loyalty. When The Nameless once and for all refused, a great battle took place. With Bargle’s aid, he was able to defeat the mighty Emperor in one of the greatest gladiatorial duels the world has ever known. As Antares fell, his essence disappeared into a terrible black cloud and a darkness fell over Doomtrek, before disappearing into the ether.
Bargle and The Nameless raced to the catacombs beneath the arena, where the sorcerer saw the vast undead army begin to stir from their eternal slumber. Using all of his magical powers, Bargle cast a Void Gate spell on the army, entombing them in a shimmering opaque prison, shielded from Antares’ mind control. For indeed, Bargle had discovered one of the secrets to Antares’ power. The more souls under his thrall, the greater his own essence grew. With the army cut off from their master, Antares grew too weak to maintain a corporeal form. The army would be held here, not indefinitely, but long enough to give the leaders of Brandor time to raise their own armies and do battle against this terrible new threat.
Both heroes knew in their heart Antares was not defeated, for both of them had seen his essence disappear, both had heard his mocking laughter in their ears. Bargle returned to his tower in the Cragenbach mountains to study. Word was sent to King Lionel of the Kingdom of Phaetor Lord Vraynes Galrin of the Templar Church to prepare for war ( a war, of which, would be later known as The Crusades )
It would be several years before he used his magics to send word to The Nameless, who had since wandered far and wide, exploring Tritonia for his own inscrutable purposes. He was now to buy passage on a galleon ship and sail north to Suul’s Gateway, where he was to meet with Sir Belgrave of the Templar Church. Rumours spread of a dark presence under the vast mountains there, and it was there The Nameless himself would disappear.
The gladiator games would continue in Doomtrek, as John the Butcher took up residence as owner and overlord of the island, but for now the Arena there would play no more part in the Swords and Sandals tale.
There were 20 notable Arena Champions to feature in Swords and Sandals 2.
- The Fearful Prisoner: An old man who had been a slave so long he had forgotten everything about his past. He had the misfortune of being chosen by The Slave Driver to match up against SS2’s protagonist, The Nameless – who took it easy on him and in fact, freed him from his servitude after Antares’ defeat. Having a taste for combat, the Fearful Prisoner would later train as gladiator and find fame and fortune as an Arena Champion at the Cliffs of Carnage in Swords and Sandals 3.
- John the Butcher: A self-styled ‘pillar of the community’ and owner of the popular Woolridge’s Meat Emporium, John the Butcher was also a musician in his youth. He had a minor hit song many years ago, “Every Time You Go Away (You Take A Piece Of Meat With You)”. After the events of Swords and Sandals 2, he would take over management of the Doomtrek arenas and become fabulously wealthy. He would also go on to make an appearance as one of the boardgame participants in Swords and Sandals 4, and had a quick cameo in S&S 5, buying the carcass of the giant minotaur Big Moo off the hero.
- The Evil Ninja: This sneaky gladiator was actually two people; a father and daughter duo from Drakondier who took turns donning the infamous black ninja outfit and competing in the Arena games. It was a long held rumour that the daughter was the fabled Princess of Drakondier, who vanished one stormy night many years ago – but in fact, this is false as Drakondier has not had a royal family in several hundred years. The father ninja, out of disguise, sang in the Doomtrek Village Choir, and his daughter was a local chess champion too. After the arena games, they stayed on in the arena for many years.
- Son of Stylonius: The son of legendary Klergish gladiator Stylonius of Southport, and if possible an even more boorish and egocentric braggart. Also a world reknowned food enthusiast, he wrote a popular column in the realms’ favourite newspaper, the Brandorian Herald. Son of Stylonius claimed to be avenging the death of his father – which is curious because his father in fact died by accident when he tripped and fell over his own ego. Son of Stylonius, too, would meet the same fate. His young son watched on from the stands, and it is possible the Grandson of Stylonius is out there somewhere, waiting to avenge his ancestors.
- Lieutenant Dantus: Dantus rose to infamy in the early days of the Arena, being instrumental in helping HeChaos overthrow Doomtrek’s first inhabitants. He was a famed lothario and sleaze, being blessed with good looks and charm – but he also a ruthless commander and a vain man. It was rumoured he was the brains behind HeChaos’ Legion of H – HeChaos himself being far too volatile to be a good military strategist. When Antares took over from HeChaos, Dantus was enslaved and forced to compete in the Arena games. He would escape with HeChaos mid tournament and go on to play a significant role in the Crusades, eventually being killed in battle by Sir Belgrave.
- Wizard Sagan: The former star pupil of legendary sorcerer Bargle, the wizard Sagan was a spectacular showman and incredibly talented conjurer. He also had a chronic gambling addiction and was a notorious cheat – two traits that saw him kicked out of Bargle’s Wizard Academy at Arkmagius. Penniless and with a heavy price on his head, Sagan found himself fighting at Doomtrek somewhat reluctantly. When Bargle visited the Arena, he took pity on his one time apprentice, gifting him with a sizeable amount of gold. Sagan promised to mend his ways and returned to his studies. He would go on to be one of the leaders of the Wizard Academy in later years.
- The Great Beast: A huge, hulking minotaur-like creature, the Great Beast first appeared in Tritonia over three hundred years ago when it stumbled through the Constellation Mirror. There were other Great Beasts, but they died out – this one made its home in a cavern in deepest Eldor Hath and until the games at Doomtrek was believed to be more myth than real. Antares subdued and enslaved the Great Beast, transporting it first by land and then by sea to the Arena with no small difficulty. Eventually the beast would be killed in battle by The Nameless. Its skull would later become one of the prized possessions of HeChaos, adorning his throne room at Eddengarth. HeChaos would always claim he himself killed the beast, though the 85,000 fans that witnessed the battle knew he was not even in Doomtrek at the time.
- The Pharaoh King: A charismatic charlatan who arrived at Doomtrek clad in a strange, exotic costume and claiming to be a living god. He quickly gained followers and what became as a small cult quickly spread to a powerful religious faction on the island. Eventually, Antares tired of the Pharaoh King’s influence and had him enslaved in the Arena. Many cultists died trying to free their lord and saviour, but to no avail. The Pharaoh King himself would die on the arena sands, but his cultists returned him to life through dark necromancies. His current whereabouts are somewhere in the T’Kash Desert, where his cultists slowly try to spread his Word.
- Spheracles: One of the last of a race of giants known as the Titans ( though their true names were the Enclaenids ), Spheracles was a jovial and thoroughly entertaining character. Famous for carrying around a giant marble pillar, he was a marvellous juggler and storyteller. He claims to have been punished by his gods to forever juggle, but this seems to be a ficticious tale. Once a year, he would travel from his home across the sea to the Arena to entertain the great crowds and do battle. He seemed to care little if he won or lost, seeking only the pure joy of an adoring crowd.
- Gaiax: A giant, dimwitted shepherd from Pilthia, Gaiax was tricked into competing in the Arena games by an unscrupulous snake-oil salesman called Antimidas. Antimidas told Gaiax the games were a farmer’s market, and when the dim one-eyed brute arrived at the arena after several months at sea, he was dismayed to find it was not so. He took his rage out in the arena, proving to be an unstoppable force for quite some time. Eventually, he would be subdued. He would appear again in Crusader, fighting alongside the Sons of Frost; though later he would grow to such a size as to be considered one of the eight legendary Colossi of Brandor.
- The Daughter of the Blades: A legendary swordswoman from the Ak’Kash steppes, she appeared in the Arena one sunny morning claiming to be the greatest wielder of the sword in all Brandor. She spoke little, and when she did it was with a lilting rhyme. Proving undefeated in the Arena for several months, she eventually faltered in battle when the glare from her blade blinded her temporarily. After her days in the Arena, she went on to defend her people against the onslaught of the Beast Force during the Crusades.
- Ultra Flavius: A professional wrestler from Braxis, he was best known for his staged, choreographed battles and musical prowess. He claimed to be the first to harness the power of lightning to play an instrument, creating an incredible, searing noise. A hugely inflated ego proved his undoing, his showmanship unable to make up for a lack of basic fighting techniques. After a crushing defeat at the Arena, he retired and turned heavily to drink and decline. In his latter days he would cruelly be referred to as Regular Flavius.
- Luminesca: The sorceress Luminesca is credited for being the creator of the popular spell Orb of Luminesca, a beacon of light to many adventurers in dungeons deep. One of the greatest young wizards of Arkmagius, she was banished from the academy for her willingness to endanger fellow students during her spellcasting. In her years in exile, she competed in the Arena to perfect her magical abilities. She eventually returned to the Wizard Academy some years later, older and wiser and took Sagan Z’s place as head of the Academy ( in Bargle’s absence, of course).
- Tutuki the Volcano: Tutuki the Volcano was a loveable and gregarious gentle giant from the Vau’i islands in the Uveric Ocean. Best known for forging his own armour in a volcanic crater, he was also famous for his infectious smile and brilliant impromptu dance routines. He fell in with the wrong crowd in his time in the arena, racking up significant gambling debts and living well beyond his means. After a chance encounter and heart-to-heart conversation with the Daughter of the Blades, he saw the error of his ways and turned his back on fighting. He returned to the Vau’i islands and lived out his days in peace.
- The Slave Driver: A great, hulking brute who stank of sour mead and dressed in dark leathers, he would hide his face in an executioner’s mask – many say it was because he was secretly ashamed of his nasty ways, though the truth was sadder. He was once a kind, gentle child who loved nothing more than tending to wounded animals in the forests near Sharpsdale. One particular winter, he was riddled with a pox and nearly died. Though he recovered, his face was badly scarred. Years of merciless teasing followed, and as a teenager he donned the mask to make them stop. He grew larger and filled his heart only with hate. As the world had treated him cruelly, so he would return the favour. He grew mean and mocking, with a nasty, sneering laugh. He found himself in Doomtrek some years back, and found himself overseeing the slaves constructing the arena. He treated them badly, denying them decent food and even the smallest of comforts. By day he would fight his slaves in the arena, by night he would whip them mercilessly. One such slave, The Nameless, would not be quelled. In one off the great fights of lore, The Nameless would rise up and kill him in the arena.
- Daimyo Katsumodo: A legendary general from Drakondier’s storied past, he originally hailed from an island in the Cycladian Ocean. He was instrumental in the Templar Church’s rise to power some years ago, and as an older man would travel to the Arena to test his formidable sword skills against the best the realm has to offer. A quiet and reflective man, he kept a travel journal of his adventures, Katsumodo’s Guide To Brandor, which became a bestseller. He would go on to fight one last time in the Crusades, winning many great battles for Drakondier before falling in battle in Eddegarth, the victim of a Legion of H phalanx charge.
- Archfiend Zeerzabahl: Zeerzabahl was a mid ranked Demon Prince from a plane of existence way beyond the mortal realm. Ambitious and calculating, he worked his way up through the demon ranks and was the first to make contact with Emperor Antares, offering him a deal that would guarantee eternal life in return for Antares agreeing to help bring Zeerzabahl’s master through the Constellation Mirror. Their pact led to Antares’ terrible rise to power, and Antares would summon Zeerzabahl to Tritonia on several occasions to do his bidding. Eventually, Antares began to toy with the Demon Prince ( having outgrown him in power) and used him as a spectacle in the Arena. Zeerzabahl, powerless to stop, reluctantly fought, and eventually was slain in the arena – but he returned to his own plane, somewhat lesser in power but filled with a terrible rage. There he waits, plotting a revenge on Antares. Giant, red skinned with black bull horns, he naturally reeked of sulpher and radiated with an intense heat.
- Bargle: The legendary wizard Bargle is probably Brandor’s most famous citizen, more myth than man. All youngsters know of him through ‘The Travelling Tales of Bargle’ , a wonderful collection of stories. The truth of Bargle is even stranger. He has lived for hundreds of years, being in fact one of the original Precursors who came through the Constellation Mirror. He possesses magical powers and technology long forgotten in the realms, and has meddled in the affairs of men for many years. His purposes on Brandor are still inscrutable. He aided The Nameless in defeating Antares during a small cameo in Brandor, and would go on in Swords and Sandals III to forge an alliance with the powerful cybernetic race of Automatons, before disappearing into the stars. He would return in Swords and Sandals V, aiding Sir Belgrave and HeChaos in vanquishing Antares once more.
- Archangel Sandalphon: A Primarch of the Heavenly Halls, he was not of Tritonia, but from an entirely plane of existence. When demons started appearing in Brandor at Antares’ behest, he intervened and aided Bargle in countering them. He gave his strength to The Nameless to defeat Antares, . Known as the archon of justice and retribution, he appeared in Brandor each year to judge those who may be worthy an event he called only The Great Crusade. He fought alongside King Lionel during the Crusades in Swords and Sandals 2: Crusader, though many believed this was not the crusade he referred to, as rumours of a battle in the stars have long existed. He was the younger brother of the incredibly powerful Archangel Arcturus. At this stage, she has not entered our story, but will be a major player in the RPG Swords and Sandals: Constellation Mirror in the far future ( some years until I make this game, though the plot is in development!)
- The Nameless Shadow: A magical being created by Emperor Antares to test The Nameless. It embodied all of The Nameless’ strengths and flaws, and only though knowing himself fully, was the Nameless able to vanquish his shadow self. Foolishly, Antares, in a way, made The Nameless stronger – for by conquering his demons, he gained the courage to fight the Emperor himself.
- Emperor Antares: Brandor’s greatest villain and the scourge of many a gladiator, Antares story is long and dark and will be told in more detail soon. In the days of Swords and Sandals 2 , Antares used the Arena at Doomtrek to enslave, kill and create and army of undead warriors with the purpose of unleashing a great crusade on the realm of Brandor. Antares’ early years are mostly unknown, though it is believed he came from the dark lands of Eldor Hath, far to the south. He first made his name in Swords and Sandals: Pirate Lords, unleashing a small skeleton army on the small island nations of the Four Oceans. He grew in power in this land grab, and did battle with the young knights Sir Belgrave and Baron Wolfgang on numerous occasions, though he himself was not the power he would become. In the year 589 CM, he arrived in Doomtrek, overthrow the Arena’s former master HeChaos. His plans would eventually be undone by The Nameless and the great sorcerer Bargle. Upon his defeat, he could not be killed – for he had a demonic pact with Zeerzabahl, but he was greatly weakened in the form of a magical mist. In this moment, Bargle captured his essence in the first thing he could find, a jewelled chalice. The chalice shattered into 5 pieces, which Bargle buried under the mountains of Suul’s Gateway.
Though many outside of Doomtrek had not heard of Emperor Antares, his downfall at the hands of The Nameless would have great ramifications on the continent of Brandor. In the year 591CM, Brandor had enjoyed thirty years of relative peace. Most of the action in the last few years had been during the great naval conquests colloquially known as the Four Oceans War. With Phaetorian forces stretched thinly across both land and sea and recovering from a series of terrible naval disasters, rival powers saw fit to attempt a power grab.
There were eight major players in the Crusades.
- The Kingdom of Phaetor, ruled by King Lionel IX
The major military and political power in the realm, it has been King Lionel Injade and his ancestors’ rule that has seen the many citizens of Brandor exist in relative peace. Their capital city of Phaetor has stood for over 400 years. King Lionel IX himself is a wise, fair man beloved by his people. His rule is just, his mercy great and his courage unquestioned, but he tends to overestimate the goodness of humanity and can be somewhat idealistic and naive.
- The Templar Church, led by Sir Belgrave Rhykier
Drakondier is a Kingdom ally, a solid and stalwart champion for a unified Brandor free from tyranny and slavery. The Templar Church is the spiritual heart of the realm, and if it falls, many believe all hope is lost. Commander of the armies of the Templar Church, and fresh from five years at sea and a spell in the Arena of Doomtrek, Sir Belgrave Rhykier is fearless in battle, honourable to a fault and a powerful knight. He lives and fights by a strict code of honour, but has become jaded and world weary.
- The Free States of Braxis, led by Baron Wolfgang
Phaetor’s largest ally in the realm, an independent collection of towns and cities unified under the one banner. Their capital city of Braxis is even older than Phaetor, having been first founded by the Precursors shortly after the events of the first opening of the Constellation Mirror. Baron Wolfgang of the Free States of Braxis, is a charming rogue and a skilled politician, although his struggles with the bottle are well documented. A dear friend of King Lionel and the knight Belgrave, he is a loyal and trustworthy ally of the Kingdom. A bold if somewhat reckless leader, he has been known to lead his forces perilously close to the edge of oblivion.
- The Iron Republic, led by Celen Helmguard
Gallowstones, capital of the Iron Republic is a grey and foreboding city of great function and little charm. Lord Celen Helmgard is a brutal and violent man, once an ally of King Lionel. In a recent coup, he seceded from Kingdom rule and established the Iron Republic, under the socialist pretenses of equality and community. However, the republic under Celen’s stewardship has become as self-serving and bitter as Celen himself, traitors scrambling over barren lands and limited resources. He seeks to overthrow both the Kingdom and the Death Imperium and bring Brandor to heel under Republican rule.
- The Sons of Frost, led by Bors the Mighty
In the grand spirit of ‘Let’s make do with what we have…’ did the Sons of Frost appoint Bors the Mighty their leader to conquer the world. Situated in the frozen north of the world near Suul’s Gateway, the blue skinned Sons of Frost are a nation of hundred barbarian tribes who exult in battle and the call of adventure. A shrewd opportunist and great warrior, he is also a poor and impatient tactician. Bors seeks to take advantage of the chaos sweeping the land. He sees the south as a land ripe for the picking, a realm of weaklings to be relieved of their wealth and farmland.
- The Beast Force, led by Arglaxx
Arglaxx was once Battle Master of the Arena at Eldor Hath until Emperor Antares was toppled. Fleeing to the lands of Taj Brandhir in the south, he quickly rose an army of animals, mercernaries and vicious beast men, seeking to take advantange of the chaos in the realm. Arglaxx is a fierce fighter, great tactician and inspiring leader. If he has a fault , it is his inability to show mercy or weakness, and the unpredictable nature of his simian troops.
- The Legion of H, led by HeChaos
The Legion’s home city of Eddengarth is a vast maze of red brick and iron. What superlatives can possibly be added to the legend of the nefarious HeChaos the Scourge? He is a madman and a tyrant in control of a legion of fanatical supporters. Long has the fiend wished to wage war on the realm and his years of scheming and subterfuge have finally led to this moment. Though he is a vastly overconfident and certifiably insane, his underhand tactics are not to be underestimated. The Legion of H is loosely allied with Antares and the Death Empire.
- The Death Imperium, led by Emperor Antares
Emperor Antares, recently defeated at Doomtrek, is but a shell of his former self. His essence trapped by the sorcerer Bargle, Antares now uses what little magic he has left to inhabit the skeletal remains of one of his former Royal Guards. Though weakened, he remains a formidable and terrifying force. Antares only apparent goal to return the Malevolence to Brandor through opening the Constellation Mirror. Antares commands a soulless fighting force made up of warriors who died in gladiator combat in his brutal colosseum. The undead never retreat from battle, fear nothing and will not stop until Antares’ dark plan is realized.
The events of the Crusades were complex, and historians have divided them into eight Acts, as follows.
Act I: Lion of Phaetor
Our story began far to the north, where good King Lionel, noble lord of the Lion Kingdom, was awoken by an envoy from the Wizard Academy. Sagan Z, star pupil of Bargle Yarg, came with a message. The wizard informed the king that a great undead army was lying dormant under the arena island of Doomtrek. Bargle’s hold upon them was weakening, and soon the realm would have to prepare for war. Lionel was skeptical, but rumours of skeletons rising from the grave and ghosts gliding across the moors late at night seemed to verify Sagan’s word. Donning his battle armour, he sought to learn more.
After many years of relative peace, a weary Kingdom fresh from the Four Oceans campaign had disbanded their standing army and let the realm enjoy a breath of peace. But in the days that followed, rumours began to grow in the lands of the dead rising from the grave, of skeletons entering houses and ghostly horses galloping along the King’s roads. At first the King dismissed the talk as superstitious prattle, until his own royal chamber was entered by the spiritual form of the sorcerer Bargle who told the king the sorrowful tale of Antares and the many souls harvested at the Colosseum. Bargle had entombed the gladiator army in a Void Gate, but the spell could not hold for much longer – already souls were returning to the world of humanity.
Newly rich from the great bounties of the sea campaign, Lionel began to reassemble the Kingdom Armies. Over the months that followed, ghosts and skeletons continued to be seen wandering the moors, killing cattle and scaring villagers, in greater and greater numbers. This was deeply troubling for the superstitious folk of the north, who have not seen a war in years. Not only that, but the barbarian lord Bors saw an opportunity to add to the chaos, dressing his men up as spirits and revenants and plundering local villages. This continued until Lionel was forced to take action, sending more and more soldiers north to quell the troublesome horde.
Though they would fight many small skirmishes with the Kingdom, Bors grew bolder and his attacks more reckless. Soon entire villages were put to the torch and the northern city of Suul’s Gateway fell to Bors’ armies.
Soldiers armed and ready for battle, Lionel realised he needed to send a message to Bors and his Sons of Frost, whose forces now numbered among them mighty Polar Barbarian troops, brutish cavalry troops who ride great polar bears. With much of Lionel’s forces still returning from the Four Oceans, he was outnumbered, but in a decisive battle at Ettania, the Kingdom was able to send Bors back to Warmhaven with a taste of Kingdom bravery and resilience.
Late in the month, Silver Circle Knights returning to Brandor via the deserts in the south brought tales of wild tales of beastmen and great apes. Arglaxx, former overseer of the gladiatoral arena of Doomtrek was himself raising an army to seize power in the south. The Knights also brought with them the fabled Book of Sandalphon, a holy relic which may allow the Kingdom to petition the mighty Archangel Sandalphon to fight for them should the need arise. Lionel contacted Vraynes Galrin, leader of the Templar Church, sending him the Book.
Templar Church priests from Drakondier studied the book for some time before eventually making contact with the Archangel Sandalphon. For his own inscrutable purposes, Sandalphon agreed to join the Kingdom cause. And not a moment too soon, for Arglaxx and the Beast Force began massing in great numbers on the vast dry Ak’Kash Steppes. Rumour spread about a mighty colossal ape, some seventy feet high. Arglaxx, it is well known, was an ally of the fallen Emperor Antares. It fell to Kingdom and Templar Church forces to muster the army and march south. Only by confronting Arglaxx would they discover the reason behind such warmongering.
In a battle for the ages, Sandalphon and the Prime Ape meet on the field. The heavenly warrior was victorious, and a mighty cheer was raised as Arglaxx surrendered to the Kingdom. He was taken to Drakondier’s dungeons for questioning, and although he said very little, he would famously utter three words that perplexed and scared the King. Antares Has Returned.
Act II: Swordhand of The Knight
The Beastlord’s words echo long into the night. Antares had returned. The news was dire. Many in the kingdom had lost a relative to the sands of the arena, but few yet know of Antares attempts to raise an undead army from the souls of the thousands of fallen gladiators. How he had returned from death is a mystery, but it did not bode well. King Lionel, unfamiliar with the dark arts of necromancy, sought council with his allies the Templar Church. Upon his arrival at the Holy City of Drakondier, however, Lionel walked into a political storm. High Marshall Galrin, head of the Templar Church, had died and the knighthood had erupted in chaos as rival factions and families fight for control of the Church. Our story continued with Lionel’s childhood friend, Sir Belgrave Rhykier, freshly returned from the Four Oceans campaign.
With the death of 85 year old Vraynes Galrin, a power struggle erupted in the Templar Church. Many knights had long been waiting for the High Commander to die, and heated debate and discourse filled the Hallowed Cathedral of Light. Knights such as Thordan Byrine, Ultravaine Hubertus and others all began their campaigns, for in a month the Templar Cardinals would vote upon the next Commander.
As one of the most promising young knights in the order and a friend of the king’s since their youngest days, Sir Belgrave was a favourite to realise his ambition but until this day had been too humble to put his name forth. King Lionel implored his childhood friend stand for the leadership. Belgrave knew he had raise support quickly and set out on his horse with a small, loyal retinue. They rode all through Drakondier and won the support the crucial voting chapters of the Templar Church. With a majority swearing loyalty, Belgrave was elected to the exulted position of High Marshall.
Upon his swearing in, Sir Belgrave was summoned to the court of King Lionel IX, his trusted ally. In recent weeks, the BeastlordArglaxx escaped from his cell at Phaetor and had stolen crucial blueprints on both Castle Phaetor and the Holy Citadel. If these documents were not recovered quickly, the Templar Church and its allies faced grave danger. Led by Lionel and Belgrave, Kingdom forces rode out and fought Arglaxx at the Battle of Falsewood. In defeat, Arglaxx proved to be a slippery character. He fled into the desert lands, shadowed by simian archers, but not before the Kingdom could wrest the battle plans from his simian paws.
The Kingdom continued to pursue Arglaxx south, but meanwhile factions in the Templar Church demanded Sir Belgrave take action against the heathen barbarians in the north. The Sons of Frost had long mocked Suul The One, god of the Templar Church. Missionaries in the north were often killed and churches set aflame. Bors the Mighty himself had in recent times called Suul a weakling and a bedwetter. A crusade was declared against the Sons of Frost,with the edict that those who will not be converted would be put to the sword. In a matter of weeks, the Church had Bors and his forces surrounded at Warmhaven. Decimated by siege, the cowardly barbarians broke rank and abandoned the city, fleeing northward rather than facing the judgement of Suul.
Later that night, a vision came to Othello Hardcastle, a Templar Cardinal. In the dream he saw a golden chalice in the desert, wreathed in light and pulsing with a vast aura of power. Othello recognised this chalice as the Grail of Suul, a legendary artefact which he believed would summon to the Templar army the awesome power of the great colossus, the Grail Knight. He petitioned Belgrave to search for the grail, knowing that other colossi were stirring in the realm. After a long search, the chalice was found in the TKash desert and the Grail Knight pledged its allegience to the cause. Othello and Belgrave wept with joy as they raised the Grail of Suul, for they knew that the enemies of the Church would kneel before the glory of Suul.
Meanwhile, the evil Beast Force had rallied around their own colossus, the mighty Prime Ape. Indeed, the Grail Knight had arrived with nary a moment to spare, for Arglaxx’s forces marched upon Drakondier and laid siege to the city. The two great colossi met on the fields outside of Drakondier’s walls. The ground shook and men wept to see the mighty conflict. but eventually the Grail Knight was victorious, slaying the Prime Ape. Once again, however, Arglaxx’s forces broke and they fled into the desert once again.
Act III: Baron of Wishful Drinking
As Sir Belgrave and King Lionel pour over the tomes seeking clues as to Antares’ whereabouts, our story turned to the east and the port city of Braxis, centre of the Free States. Somewhat incredulously, Baron Wolfgang, notorious rogue and drunkard and former prisoner in Antares’ arena, has risen to General of the Free States after a remarkable showing at sea during the Four Oceans War. With the vast wealth from the sea, the Free States had of late enjoyed great prosperity, but it would not last. HeChaos of Eddengarth, an old rival of Wolfgang’s, had begun recruiting new soldiers from Free States lands while the Baron was away summering at an island in the Cycladian Ocean.
The nefarious HeChaos, a tyrant in control of a legion of madmen, had done battle on the high seas against Wolfgang time and time again but when the Four Oceans War ended, had largely kept his mischief confined to his own lands. The latest, however, was that his army is on the move and actively trying to recruit forces to the Legion of H. Wolfgang and HeChaos, in fact, went back many years. They were childhood friends, until they fell out over the affections of a girl. HeChaos, known back then as Hector Carolis, never forgave Wolfgang and plotted against him time and time again over the years.
Knowing the danger Legion infiltration in the Free States would pose, Wolfgang knew he could not let HeChaos succeed in drawing new legionnaires from disgruntled Braxian citizens. Such a move would greatly destabilise the area. Putting down his tankard and kissing his lovers goodbye (for now), he caught the first ship back to Braxis. Quickly marshalling the Free States armies, he launched a surprise counterattack on HeChaos and sent the Legion reeling. Discouraged, HeChaos retreats to his fortress at Eddengarth with many fewer new recruits than he had hoped for. Naturally, Wolfgang celebrated the victory with a rather messy night in Braxis’ Port District.
Incensed by the defeat, HeChaos began to step up his attacks. Spies from Phaetor reported Legion forces crossing the Kingdom into the Free States. The gates of Eddengarth were open and legions had gathered in large numbers. Several villages in the surrounding area were reported burnt to the ground and HeChaos seems to moving northward. Wolfgang chose to meet the army head on before he could gain a foothold in Braxis. At Sharpsdale, two great armies clashed and once again the legion were routed. With the defeat, serious damage had been done to the strength of the Legion, and although HeChaos escaped, it would be some time before he threatened the Free States again. Wolfgang celebrated by turning the local Templar Church into a makeshift tavern for the week.
Act IV: Heart of Tempered Steel
Act V: Thawing of the Frost
Act VI: Age of Beasts
Act VII: Scourge of Eddengarth
Act VIII: The Battle for Brandor
Tome of lore on this game coming soon!
This game is set during the events of Swords and Sandals 3: Gladiae Ultratus.
The sounds of the Arena rang out. Screams of swords cleaving into bone, day and night. Arena champions rise and fall. Only the rare few could defeat all challengers in the mighty tournament that is the Gladiae Ultratus. For the vast majority of gladiators who escape battle unmaimed and alive, life would be challenging. Wounds took time to heal, armour and weapons weren’t cheap and camaraderie was hard to come by in a town of scoundrels and fiends. The Ye Olde Tavern, on the edge of town, provided the ordinary gladiator with a welcome respite, a few brief moments of solace and entertainment in a brutal world.
A glass of ale, a loaf of hot bread and a good roast chicken to fill the belly and the world seemed a better place just for a few hours. A popular new game had spreading throughout many taverns and pubs throughout the lands of Brandor. A game of chance, cunning and skill, where even the lowliest knave could be a hero, where the weakest fool could survive a battle without injury and the cheapest miser would share pots of gold. Created by a small, rotund entrepreneur known only as The Little Fat Kid, Tavern Quests was the smash hit game of the year.
Author’s Note: Swords and Sandals IV was very much a spinoff game to the series, and one I wish I hadn’t given an official ‘numerical’ title. Much like how Crusaders was not an arena based fighter, neither was Tavern Quests and thus should have just been Swords and Sandals: Tavern Quests. It is unlikely this game will ever be re-released. I didn’t enjoy the development process and was very much at odds with its creation ( commercial interests, a quick sequel etc, getting in the way of true quality ) , but there are some longterm and loyal fans that speak to its entertainment value, so that provides a little comfort for me!
Tome of lore on this game coming soon!
An Ultima VII style classic RPG through the world of Brandor. Coming one day… in the far future!