In The Beginning
In the beginning there was the Astral Sea, where the gods dwelled in their domains, and the Elemental Chaos far below, where the primordials writhed in eternal conflict amongst the roiling elements.
But in the chaos there could be no permanence, no ground won or lost, no victory or defeat. And so the primordials came together for the only time in history to create from the chaos a world. Hidden in the deep darkness beneath the Astral Sea, the elements were combined to create a battleground for the primordials, a place where fortresses could be built and battles truly won.
Though they could not set foot on it themselves, the primordials sent their spawn, their avatars and exarchs to rule the world in their stead and fight their battles. These primeval avatars created their own spawn and servants. Whole races were created to make war in the primordial night, the world lit only by the glow of rivers of lava, fitful flashes of lightning, and the pyres of the dead.
The Coming of the Gods
The relentless suffering of the world below eventually drew the attention of the gods, and they came down from on high to see what new horror the primordials had wrought. When the gods shone their light on the world they were horrified at what they found. While the darkling races and their primeval masters scurried from the light, the gods set about remaking the primordial’s flawed creation. They calmed the clashing elements of the world, and at the same time soothed some of the savagery of it’s beasts, bringing balance to the world. Then the gods took up some of the primeval’s twisted creations and remade them in their own image and set them to rule the lands bathed in their light.
The First Age of Man and the Long Night
So began the First Age of Man, the Empire of Dawn, where gods and men walked side by side. The Empire spread spread across the world wherever the light reached, and it’s wonders were numberless. But the primordials were enraged at the gods interference with their creation, and the light did not reach everywhere. Their children gathered in the dark places of the world and multiplied, and then they surged across the world in a dark tide while the primordials rose up against the gods themselves in savage fury. The gods were forced to retreat from the world lest it be destroyed, and their children fell to darkness. Thus ended the First Age of Man and began the first Long Night.
Not all the gods creations were destroyed though, and despite the rising dark some men still fought to maintain the light. Without the gods to guide them, though, they could not reclaim the world from the primordial’s children. There were other powers afoot in the world, though, and the remnants of the races of man sought them out. Some bound themselves to the great dragons, immortal children of Io, and so gained a portion of their power and were remade as dragonborn. Others sought to rekindle their connection to the gods, but the war between gods and primordials raged on, and none of their strength could be spared for their children. Others dwelled in the Astral Sea, though, others no involved in the war. Traitors and outcasts from the domain of the gods, they were all too happy to offer their power to the races of man in exchange for their service, and so were born the tieflings.
The Second Age of Man
With their new found power the races of man at last rose up and pushed back the dark, eventually even managing to imprison many of the primevals within the earth. Weakened by the loss of their progenitors, the darkling races retreated again to the dark places of the world. So began the Second Age of Man, and the Reborn Empires spread once again across the world.
The new golden age was not to last. Their borders secured, the kingdoms of man squabbled and then fell upon each other. The mighty empires of Arkhosia and Bael Turath clashed again and again, eventually drawing the lesser kingdoms in to their struggle, and would likely have destroyed each other had the dark not risen again. Even without their primeval masters, the darkling hordes were able to overwhelm the armies of man, weakened by their long wars, and once more the world was plunged into the darkness of the Long Night.
The End of the Dawn War and the Third Age of Man
When at long last the gods triumphed over the primordials, they imprisoned them deep within the darkest reaches of the Elemental Chaos. In sealing them away, however, they were forced to retreat from the Chaos and from the mortal world as well. But with the war over they were at last able to reach out to their children again and grant them their blessings again, along with some small measure of their power. And so the races of man rose up again and pushed back the dark and divided the land according to the will of the gods. So began the Third Age of Man and the rise of the Holy Kingdoms.
Though not so full of wonder as the Dawn Empires nor so powerful as those of the dragonborn and tieflings, the kingdoms of the Third Age were prosperous. With the forces of darkness weakened, the primevals safely imprisoned and the magic of the gods to guide them, the races of man spread across the world, forming diverse kingdoms in every corner of the earth. But it was not to last. Peace bred prosperity and prosperity bred complacency. Castles became palaces, and fortifications made way for villas and meanwhile the darkling races gathered and bred. Once again they rose up, this time wielding the channeled power of the primevals in mockery of the gods’ priests. Across the world kingdoms crumbled and the races of man were scattered. The dark rose like a tide until only a few lights remained, fortified cities not yet so prosperous as to have pulled down their walls. And then, just as it seemed that they too would be snuffed out, the dark faltered. Chaos reigned in the darkling ranks, and the forces of light rallied and fell upon them, driving them back into the wilds.
Four hundred years later, as those remaining points of light slowly push back the darkness, scholars still argue whether this is the dawn of a new age, the twilight of the old, or simply a setback for the glory of the Holy Kingdoms. All agree that the struggle is far from over, and while many rush to declare the Fourth Age of Man many others ponder why the dark faltered in it’s moment of triumph and when it will rise again.