Back Story for the campaign
Long, long ago, long before the land that now houses Malchanceaux was inhabited, a group of Priests of Wee Jas settled here in the virgin forest and created a series of underground lairs used to further their magical work. While little is known of what work was done or why they chose this area, there were several 'cells' of experiments laid in individual secure underground 'pods' which were essentially bubbles in the earth far below the surface, with no access to the surface at all.
One such cell / pod had as it's main focus the raising of awakened creatures at it's base. This story is the story of that pod and what happened to it.
The Woken (the awakened animals) came from every part of the world and featured many, many different kind of animals. Everything from common cats, dogs, squirrels and owls to more complex, exotic or fierce creatures like alligators, bears, tigers, leopards, ... nearly every kind of animal save those which were magical in nature. At first, the creatures that were awoken did not know why they were awoken or what would happen to them. They noticed however, that some of the creatures would disappear and never come back.
Clearly, the mages that were their cruel overlords were doing something with their brethren. One day, some of the animals with extreme hearing made out the words that started the most direct change in their lives. The animals were being bred as magical components, and nothing else. Fearing for their lives, the animals conspired to destroy their jailers and set about finding a way to do just that
While not much is known of those tumultuous days, even in the animals' own oral traditions, the Magicians that had imprisoned them were summarily vanquished and presumably eaten. Then came the startling discovery that their world was one large cavern. Fortunately they knew enough that they could feed themselves and water and air were plentiful and recycled, so they went about their lives, reproducing and learning and evolving at Higher and higher levels than even their jailers had expected.
While the creatures had absorbed the civilization of their now gone sapient masters, the habits were not hard ingrained, and the society slowly descended into a much more barbaric one… one where groups ruled over individual areas of the monumental underground place.
Natural selection, intelligent breeding, and the exigencies of survival toned and shaped the physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of their lives, and the tenuous hold to life they had maintained a shaky, but doable balance. Then, just recently, there was the Releasing.
On that momentous day, the whole cave began rumbling and grumbling, and pieces fell from the cavern ceiling. Loud cracking sounds echoed in the space, and even the large carnivores were afraid. When the shaking and rumbling and falling had stopped, a pile of rubble in one corner of the cavern led up to a bright, bright light.
Some of the creatures thought it was their afterlife calling. Some thought it was something burning and some could not guess what it was. One of the barbaric clans that lorded it over the smaller animals flew up and inspected it and found a whole new forested world.
The Lorded clans met, while the other animals cowered. They talked of going up and finding every last one of the "hoomans" that had tortured their poor ancestors and eviscerate them, and then ruling over the large tracts of fertile land as the ruling species. As a group, they ascended the rubble and were gone.
When it was clear that the lorded clans had left for good and that they had left the opening unguarded and unwatched, the other animals met, trying to decide what to do. The consensus was that someone must go up and find out what was happening, and possibly warn the Hoomans of what was about to descend on their world.
Due to their general statures, most animals slunk off and escaped one by one into the world, seeking merely to escape and survive. A small band of animals decided to go up as a group, depending on each other's skills, intelligence, cunning and courage to support each other as they tried to ascertain and defend against the Clan's threat.
This then is the story's beginning. How it ends… is yet to be written…