Very little is known about this world in ancient times. The tomes, tablets, scrolls, scriptures and remnants of various texts from that era are scarce, difficult to translate, and in some cases hidden away in secret - as if they were too powerful and might possess mystical powers. Nothing is known of the origin of the gods or the primary source of their seemingly infinite power. All we know is that eons ago, the gods descended upon the lands. They created this world and man out of nothingness. They then transformed themselves so that they too could walk and live among their mortal followers. They provided for the nourishment, protection and education of man for many generations, if not centuries, which were a shining example of peace, happiness and prosperity.
The gods did not have formal names, but some of the greater entities included the god of the Sun, god of the Moon, god of the Stars. Others examples might be gods of Fire, Wind, Water and Earth. If someone worshiped the Sun (an intangible deity), they also worshiped the corporeal embodiment of the God of Sun and any effigy or representation of the same (statues, symbols, etc). The exact teachings and belief system of each god is something lost to time but one can imagine that the god of Sun would be representative of warmth, light, life, and nature among other things. The god of Sun would likely be similarly vehemently opposed to many other things including darkness, death, fear and cold. In some cases, two worshipers of the same deity might disagree as to what, exactly, is expected of them - but common sense prevails.
It is commonly held, even today, that the gods harnessed a certain amount of power through their followers. Not only their measure of power but their rank and influence in comparison to the other gods was proportional to the intensity of their follower's faith, not to mention the size and fervor of their overall following. While some are much less heard of, there were literally hundreds of gods and some of the lesser entities included the god of Thunder, god of Love, Fame, Fortune, Snow and Wisdom. Every person tended to follow a single god; however, a polytheistic ideology allowed for giving homage to another deity if the situation warranted the same. A follower of the god of Sun, for example, might have done well to give homage to the god of Stars during an evening voyage at sea, attempting to navigate.
Eventually, the gods grew tired of how easy things were for their mortal children. Mankind was never tempted, tested, or forced to face eventual hardship. The growth and propensity of man was limited, if not hindered, by the inability to overcome obstacles. One writer of ancient text described the disdain of the gods as being akin to a small group of giant children frustrated with their little boring toys. It was as though mankind was but one experiment among many in which these gods had played games, basically toying with life on any number of worlds across the itherverse. The greater gods were the first to ascend into their mystical heavenly abode. They did not abandon mortal men altogether, but would lend only the occasional eye and ear to the world and its inhabitants now. They left Kings to rule over their Kingdoms. They anointed Priests to continue their unique teachings and covenants. They left artifacts imbued with their power, to be used by the faithful. They left shrines, temples, and other grand structures in which they pooled much of their magical energy, for use by those who would know how to harness it. They also left the lesser gods to take control, which was either a grave mistake or perhaps a clever part of the master plan all along.
The power vacuum created by the departure of the greater gods left a void that was quickly filled by numerous lesser gods, each posturing and positioning in hopes of taking the larger share of control. This power struggle quickly lead to conflict among the mortals, which precipitated into all-out warfare. This drew the attention of even more of the lesser gods that would now be in a position to benefit from the chaos, such as the god of War, god of Strife, Death, Treachery and Shadow. Surprisingly, during this long period of social decline, the world actually made much progress in the way of industry, mechanics and even technology. Great inventions and innovations were realized, discoveries in the sciences were numerous, as great buildings and constructs were created. This continued so long that even the lesser gods became board and eventually they too ascended, one-by-one, leaving the war-torn world to its own vices. Alliances of man and god were formed and battles fought, only to eventually lead to treachery and deceit. For centuries on end, this war waged, sometimes in vast fields of battle and other times in subterfuge.
THE GREAT CATACLYSM
Then one day, it all came to a violent abrupt end during what is referred to as the Great Cataclysm. Stories say that the greater gods had grown so disgusted at their failed experiment and the depravity of man that they returned to the world, summoning forth a horde of mythical beasts. Out of nothing they formed gargantuan scaled, horned, beasts to thrash upon the land with mighty swinging tails and gaped maws big enough to swallow small buildings. Winged armored dragons of enormous scale descended upon man from the skies. Great serpents with plated scale armor arose from the seas and sands to lay waste to everything once created. Hundreds of smaller beasts were summoned forth to join in the fight, each with its own unique nasty armor, teeth and scales, spitting acid, breathing fire and destroying everything. There is no way to know how many centuries these creatures ruled the world, in that only a handful of mortal men survived the initial onslaught - quite possibly spared only long enough to record the history of what had occurred. Today, presumably, thousands or even millions of years later, a few fossilized skeletal remains have been unearthed, demonstrative of the scale and power of these titan beasts, but that is all we know of their existence.
In one of the last known writings of that period a starving, tired, sole survivor contended that the gods spoke to him in a dream, giving both warning and promise. They appeared in sequence and collectively told him that they would again return one day, after no man or beast was left, and the world had been given enough time to heal itself. They would again seed the lands with mortal children; however, this time things would be very different. They would not walk among the mortals but would leave the world to learn from its own mistakes. They would watch and listen from on-high but more importantly they would give voice to the mortals, rendering limited aid and punishment as needed, but only through prayer, sacrifice, song, tribute, praise, ceremony and ritual - each god to their own design. Each god would imbue their own tribes and clan of mortal children with certain racial attributes and abilities unique to their cause, in hopes of creating diversity. Finally, the would hope that the greatest of their children might seek out and find the ancient artifacts and sources of power left to those who abused them in the ancient times, albeit those items and locations would have been trampled into ruin beneath the scars of the Great Cataclysm and would prove difficult to find or reach. This is the end of recorded Ancient History.
No one knows how long the races huddled in their own kingdoms and domains, before they decided to emerge and explore the lands. We do know that their individual nations and cultures were quite vast already when they began to start encountering each other for the first time. The dwarves emerged from the cave-like underground kingdoms, worshiping primarily the Gods of Fire and Stone. The elves came forth from the deeply wooded forests, most of which giving honor to the Gods of Water and Nature. The gnomes were the first inhabitants of the great grasslands and plains of the world, tending to follow the Gods of Sun and Rain. The humans arrived on water vessels having come from the kingdom of islands and having a propensity to worship the Gods of Wind and Sea. The halflings came from the vast hills and vales preferring to follow the Gods of Earth and Sustenance. These were the greater and more common civilized races of the lands, but there were other lesser and still civilized races that originated from the clouds, lakes, swamps and deserts. These races were only lesser in population, geographical imprint and influence on the world - not meant to imply a lesser ability or racial attribute in comparison to the others.
Upon first encounter, each race typically distrusted the other, wanton to appear superior; however, unable to communicate, making relations very challenging. Most engagements, regardless of the scale, always deteriorated to confrontation and conflict. Cultures and beliefs clashed, giving rise to bigotry and hatred. Even as a common tongue developed, skirmishes turned into battles which turned into a lengthy and sad period in history referred to as the Race Wars. While no universal system of timekeeping or calendar had yet been established, it is widely held that this period lasted at least a couple of centuries, but it too ended abruptly on what is now the very first day of our current calendar. This day, day one, was the day of the Second Great Cataclysm.
SECOND GREAT CATACLYSM
Quite suddenly, the earth quaked with such violent amplitude that the effects could be felt in every corner of the world, simultaneously. In some regions the crust of the earth opened to create giant cracks, spewing forth hot gases and flame. In other regions where once stood a mighty mountain, the top had erupted raining down angry molten destruction and ash. In yet other regions of the world, entire curtains of side-by-side tornadoes plowed wide paths of destruction and despair. Elsewhere, gigantic broiling boulders of death rained from the heavens impacting and leaving craters. The wake of colossal tidal waves left desolation along many coastlines. Corrosive rains poured down, salting parts of the earth and leaving scorched tracks for miles. These and many other disasters plagued to world, all day long, simultaneously, but they did not touch every inch of the world. While some settlements, villages, towns and entire cities were utterly destroyed, other like sized populations were spared all but the quaking, the sounds of distant destruction - but were untouched.
The gods did not take credit, openly, as they rarely spoke to anyone - and when they did it was only through the elders and clergy. Still, every culture knew, and to this day agrees, that the gods spared the majority of each race that day, if only to be taught a lesson. The world would now be plagued by what may be the worst of all the abominations to come from the Second Great Cataclysm. From all of the blights that now covered the earth came hordes of monsters to plague mankind (note: the words man, mankind, people and other generic words like that now refer to all civilized races - not just human).
Even today, from the fissures in the earth, the bubbling tar pits, the smoking geysers, the volcanic caverns and every foul scar of the Second Great Cataclysm now springs forth creatures bent on destruction and evil. Some are feral, wild and vicious in their love for the taste of flesh, while others are more organized into clans and tribes. There are hundreds of types of monsters, but among them are creatures such as goblins, trolls, ogres, giants and even dragons. To make matters worse the dead have started to rise. Zombies, skeletons and vampires lurk in dark unholy places.
TODAY: THE AGE OF GUILDS
If anything good came from this, it was a sense of fellowship that developed between the races. While there are still, centuries later, strong animosities and distrust on some level between the races, it became important to work together and pool resources. Thus began the current age, the Age of the Guilds. Those of similar craft began to band together and learn from one another. Wizards of all races formed into conclaves. Orders of Protection formed within the ranks of warriors. Bands of like skilled trade and craft now form Guilds and study together to improve their art. Some conflict arose between guild trades and as fear of a Guild War era arose, it was swiftly put to rest by the ruling families of each of the races. While there is very limited government or royal oversight on much of the world, these influential families were able to mend things by encouraging and sponsoring the creation of Guilds that were based on a unified purpose, not just a like trade. The first was the Protectors Guild, tasked with scouting and watching for any uprising from the monsters that plagued the world. This and other guilds often consist of a mixture of mercenaries, mages, healers and a wide variety of other trades and races. Still today, this and other Guilds will form parties to venture forth on missions, working together with a common goal.
The world today is a very dangerous place Each pocket of civilization is relatively safe, depending on size and fortification. The vast lands between each small civilized retreat are entirely ruled by the monsters and the sinister inhabitants of the planet. Travel is dangerous even along the explored trade routes, as some citizens have turned pirate or brigand, having been tempted by evil to prey upon the less fortunate citizens of the world. Nonetheless, this world still has many baronies, shires, vast cities, and various villages and towns of all size and shape, not to mention centuries if not eons of buried ruins, caverns, and untold dungeons of ancient history.
Our adventure begins here...