((with spaces to be filled in by Gabe, at his liesure))
The Merge League
The biggest nation in Merge, spanning both habitable worlds, comes out of White Cell pretty well, actually. In fact, for a nation that started out as a mid-tier power, by the end of White Cell it’s verging on Great Power status entirely by virtue of having stood up to the Guardians (of course, any Guardian patriot would argue that the Merge League benefitted from Guardia’s preoccupation with a civil war on its home soil, and greater engagement across the core with Scande, and will also point out that, in the end, they accomplished their main objective of taking back the Balian homeland… but be that as it may, the Merge League still scored impressive victories throughout the Guardian-lead Coalition incursion into the dimension).
The Mergers lost no real territory throughout the engagement; the only major losses were suffered by Merge League puppet regimes in Surgate (which fell to a force lead by the Balian exiles), and Quelb (whose hold on the Balian heartland was loosened by the Guardian coalition). The Merge League was even able to score a powerful victory against their long-time nemeses, the DSE, when they liberated Tycoon very late in the war. One stinging loss to Merge League forces, however, was delivered in the Worus river basin, where a team of heroic mercenaries turned back a massive Merge League army lead by several of Alkar the Black’s elemental fiends. Where Alkar was hoping the dimension-wide conflict would end up expanding his influence across the entire dimension, he’s pragmatic enough to accept that the conflict has elevated his status in the Web dramatically: he is not only the most powerful political leader in the Fringe now, but he is also a major player in the Web at large (not that his political capital was lacking prior to the war).
When White Cell emerged and the GA civil war began, Merge was still picking up the pieces from the invasion. While the Fringe may have briefly flirted with being sympathetic toward White Cell’s goals, Alkar the Black never came close to considering capitulation. Using a mix of diplomacy (through the few remaining moderate mages left in the League’s leadership) and strong-arm threats, he cobbled together an alliance of all the Merge nations to oppose and resist White Cell. While no major battles ever reached the Merge Dimension’s space, this alliance became the foundation upon which the post-war relations between Merge’s nations was built. Irony of ironies: the GA Civil War (easily the most destructive war since the Leviathan) served to help stabilize Merge – a dimension that had been frought with tensions ever since the days of Shane Lile.
Speaking of Shane Lile…
One of the sad consequences of all of the fighting was what Alkar the Black managed to do to poor Shane Lile. Though the Merge League failed to conquer Worus, they did succeed at stealing Worus’ crystal of water. Combined with the crystal of earth from Lonka, the crystal of fire (stolen early on from Karnak), and the crystal of wind (gained after the liberation of Tycoon), Alkar and his elemental fiends performed a ritual to recorporealize the Dark God Chaos through transpossession of Shane Lile’s mortal body.
Though Chaos was perfectly happy with his life in the suburbs of the Place Which Is No More, he is well-pleased by the resurrection performed by his loyal servant, Alkar, and now seeks to advance his own schemes in the Web of Worlds through the resurrection of the other Dark Gods. (first on his list, of course, is his wife Maitreya, followed by his sons Francis and Chaos, Jr.)
Can the Kuper Heroes stop Chaos’ evil plans? Will the Kuper Heroes ever hope to succeed if they find themselves having to face villains like Francis and Chaos, Jr.?!
The Kingdom of Bal
King Calleis Galgadon, the son of Kururu, now rules as the Golden King of Bal, having restored the exiled power of the Baldesion Dynasty. He wears Galuf’s circlet, which grants him the powers and class abilities that were possessed by both his mother and his grandfather before him. Together with his retinue of heroes and allies, Calleis gathered the Twelve Sealed Weapons and embarked on a quest to recover his homeland from the treacherous Yellow Wolf, Vodon.
Just prior to White Cell’s emergence, the Balian heartland was recaptured from the Quelbans, and Calleis personally slew Vodon at the Battle of Bal Castle. He now wears Vodon’s golden pelt as a cloak – a move that sort of disgusts and horrifies a number of people across the Web (whatever Vodon’s crimes, and whether or not he was guilty of them, he was a sapient being, and you just don’t wear the hides of sapient beings [not even furry ones]).
Calleis remains a close friend and ally of the Kingdom of Guardia, and reluctantly joined Alkar’s little alliance in defense against White Cell. Within the alliance that currently presides over the peace in Merge, Calleis is a strong opposition voice against Alkar. He just won’t let the whole “He resurrected a Dark God!” thing go.
Calleis and the Balians are ever eager to reclaim the Quelban province from the Merge League-backed government that still rules there. Heroes willing to take sides and earn the appreciation of a King will find themselves welcomed in Calleis’ court, so long as they embark on some action that will weaken the Quelbans.
The Moogles of Kuzar
General Kunominous, long an ally of the Balians, was given full powers as governor over the entire Kuzar province after Bal was retaken. Kuzar remains independent from Bal, because Calleis has learned something of “hegemony” from his Guardian allies. Together, Bal and Kuzar stand monolithic in almost every matter that comes before a meeting of the leaders of Merge’s little alliance.
The Republic of Karnak
Mideron “Mid” Previa, Prime Minister of Karnak and Guildmaster of the Tinkers, has managed to hang onto power throughout the tumultuous period of the Merge League’s attempted wars of expansion and conquest, as well as the GA Civil War. Though the League managed to secure Karnak’s fire crystal, the wondrous devices of the Tinker’s Guild helped keep the kingdom at large safe from Merge League domination.
Mid lies squarely in Bal’s camp, standing to oppose the machinations of Alkar the Black. Like Bal, Karnak is closely allied with Guardia, and their Guild of Tinkers enjoys exchanging technology with the advanced Gatians. The Tinkers, in fact, are more than just a collection of engineers and inventors: they “tinker” all across their dimension, insinuating themselves into the affairs of other nations and preventing the advancement of evil. They were unable to prevent the rebirth of Chaos, but they have sworn to prevent the ascension of any other Dark Gods, and to that end agents of the Tinkers (along with their impossibly marvelous gadgets) have spread out across the Web of Worlds, seeking out the conspirators of the Dark Gods’ fellowships and working against the advancement of their plans. Where ever you find evil cults whispering long-forgotten names, you’re very likely to find either a Tinker or one of their listening devices. (and they could always use the help of Kuper Heroes, while you’re at it)
The Kingdom of Surgate
After the Balians toppled King Meldin Hasami (a puppet of Alkar’s), they replaced him with his niece, Lady Selphin the White, daughter of Grand Master Kellsig the White of the Merge League. Safely out of the Merge League’s grasp, Selphin is now the Heiress of the Matias Dynasty and Queen of Surgate – which is good for her, because for years she had been providing Stantalias the Red with intelligence from deep inside the Merge League’s most secret circles of power. As if to add a personal insult to Alkar, Lady Selphin and Lord Stantalias are now wed, making Stantalias the King of Surgate (and a peer of Alkar’s once more).
Even moreso than Bal, Surgate (under Selphin and Stantalias) seems to exist only to put a damper on Alkar’s scheming. Where once Surgate served as one of the Merge League’s more reliable vassal states, it is now among Alkar’s most implacable foes. Alkar is likely (if he hasn’t already) to seek redress of the longstanding grudge between himself and the Red King by sending Seeder agents to infiltrate Surgate. Such agents would then attempt to topple (or assassinate) Stantalias – unless a Kuper Hero were to foil the plot, that is.
The Kingdom of Worus
During the Battle of Worus, King Tytien Liquodius VII was killed by his trusted advisor, the senior priest Kamatlan (also known as Kamatlan the White, one of the Merge League’s Seeders). Fortunately, this did not engender the instability that Alkar would have hoped, as the mercenaries who arrived to defend Worus were also able to return the Shark Prince, Quisqon, to his rightful place in the capital. Quisqon Liquodius I is now the King of Worus, styled the Shark King, Scion of the Werejaguar, Favored of Chacmul, Bringer of Rain and Appeaser of the Leviathan. (titles, titles, titles)
While Quisqon and his Jaguar Knights believe they have expelled the majority of Kamatlan’s Seeders from their lands, it is possible that a sleeper cell of Merge League loyalists remain. If the Shark King should ever suspect that these agents might prove a danger, he knows he can trust Kusader and the Kuper Heroes to come to his aid.
The DSE (suggestions for Gabe?)
I imagine that Dack and the Dwarves would sorta be down with White Cell – expecting, of course, that they’d be able to fenagle an exemption from the “disarming” requirement in exchange for their service. Maybe they attempted to prove their worth by re-launching their war against the Merge League’s cities along the coast of the Inner Sea, only to be beaten back and repelled from Tycoon by the Merge League’s fearsome General Goethus the Black, of the Brigade of the Icy Heart.
The Dwarves’ status right now is probably rather bleak; pariahs in the Web, cut off from all outsiders, they remain an existential if relatively impotent threat within their own subaquatic domains.
Tycoon (tag Gabe)
Freed by the Merge League, likely Lenna and Faris were allowed to return to their realm and pick up the pieces after the Dwarves’ long occupation. Strange bedfellows: Lenna and Faris (two of Merge’s Light Warriors) are allies with Alkar (the guy who used Merge’s crystals to resurrect Chaos).
The Island of Istory is still ruled by the Revenants – the angry undead created by the orbital bombardment of their city.
Currently there is an ongoing battle (much like a World of Warcraft battleground!) raging over Istory Falls (a mountainous mainland location, directly north of the Revenants’ home island) between two camps. On one side are the undead of Istory, who have allied themselves with the necromancer Promaro (banished long ago by the wizards of Merge for practicing black necromancy [which I guess even Alkar isn’t totally cool with]). On the other side is the “Avenging Axe,” a loose coalition of sea dwarves and paladins lead by the rogue templar Rykkos Zertre.
Control of Istory Falls is seen as vital for both camps: for the Avenging Axe, it would be an important staging ground for an invasion aimed at wiping out all undead in Istory, and for the Revenants it’s a much needed buffer zone to protect themselves from extinction. Although it is the location of a violent and brutal ongoing struggle, none of the nations in Merge publicly acknowledge its existence in order to preserve the stability and peace that currently pervades the dimension (although, secretly, the Merge League sends support to the Revenants, and Bal, Karnak and Surgate all send support to the Avenging Axe)
Heroes willing to take a side would likely be handsomely rewarded in magic and treasure; for those aiding the Revenants, many powerful necromantic secrets and artifacts lie in store, while those aiding the Avenging Axe would surely earn powerful holy relics and weapons from the paladins.