Friday, February 8, 2013

History, Part 1 Ancient History

I’m finally ready to move on to the final “real” section of the World Builder’s Guidebook—History.  There’s a bit after this, but it’s more about general advice and picking which optional or house rules to use and the like.  After this section, I’ll be more or less done.

As I went through each step of the world creation process, I also developed bits and pieces of the history of the world.  For example, the rise and fall of the Elven Empire, the destruction of the Dwarves, the coming of the barbarian humans, and the like.  But this is the point where we start giving things dates and figuring out what else has happened.

The WBG divides history up into three sections—Ancient, Middle, and Recent.  Ancient are the events that took place millennia ago, so far in the past that no one can truly verify what did or did not actually happen.  Only the greatest and most significant of events are still remembered even by the learned sages of the modern day.  In our world, this would be the events like the Fall of Rome, or Egypt, or Atlantis.  Middle history is more reliable, dating as far back as reliable records exist.  These are generally hundreds of years ago.  Finally, Recent are things that occurred in the past 20-40 years, things the players were actually around for.  At each stage, the history becomes closer and more relatable—Ancient deals with planet spanning empires and massive wars, Middle is the formation of the Kingdom, while Recent is the rebellion that is currently happening.

There is of course a nice series of dice rolls and random tables to determine how many events occurred in each era, and how far apart they were.  As such, I’m going to use my already determined history as a “plus.”  I’ll use the randomizers in the book, but I’ll add my already determined historical bits in as extras where they seem appropriate.  Anyway, here’s what I rolled up, in fan favorite chart form!

Ancient Historical Events

Middle Historical Events

War, Racial

Cataclysm, Man-Made


Supremacy/Golden Age

Discovery,  Technological
Supremacy/Golden Age

Discovery, Technological

Empire Rises

Discovery, Magical
Legendary Character

War, conquest
Cataclysm, Man-Made

Religion, Temple Supremacy
War, Epic

Religion, Cult Activity

Recent Historical Events
War, Foreign
War, Internal
War, Foreign
Weak Ruler

There’s quite a bit there to chew on, to say the least.  Obviously a full history of all these events would take up a decent sized book at the very least, so I’m just going to go over the very basics of what I’m thinking right now.

Part 1: Ancient History

Year 0—The Gods War.  Since the dawn of time, Man was trapped under the dominion of the Old Ones—vast, ancient and terrible beings the ruled the world for eons.   But the gods heard the cries of Man, and came to their aid.  A vast and horrible war unfolded, spanning centuries.  Certain men were unwilling to trust the Gods, and instead turned to the Old Ones, who granted their servants foul magics to aid them in the war.  After a terrifying and heroic battle, the Old Ones were defeated, but the world itself was shattered in the battles (Cataclysm, Man-Made).

Hundreds of years pass, as Man spread around the world, always battling with the horribly minions of the Old Ones that still stalked the land.  Over time, the Elves slowly expanded from their ancestral homeland, and set about exploring the world (Expansion/Exploration). They fought many battles against many foes, but eventually they brought all the lands under their rule.  The result was a Golden Age of peace and prosperity, as all the races were united under one rule.  Eventually, the Elves explored beyond the edge of the world, building great ships that flew through the ether, and expanded their realm to the very stars.  With the secrets they learned from these voyages, they were able to build vast and glistening cities, and to create the powerful Elven Blades and other relics (this is how I’m justifying the random +1 swords laying around the world).   

But the Elves were not the only power in the world, and while their ships flew in the sky, the Dwarves were building their own vast Empire beneath the surface (or perhaps they had always been there, and only in 3500 did they become known).  The two empires feuded and sparred for centuries, neither able to gain an advantage. 

Until the coming of Atlantes.

Atlantes was an Elf of minor noble stock, fascinated with the history of The Gods War.  He dedicated his life to the gods and to knowledge, and became one of the holiest Men to ever walk the world.  He spoke with the gods frequently, and travelled with them to their palaces in the skies.  Over time, he and Cybele fell in love, the first time she had taken a lover besides Adoni. But so great a friend was Atlantes to the gods that even the High Lord blessed their union.  Cybele showed him the ancient sites, the forgotten ruins of the Old Ones.  But as he learned more of the gods, his jealously grew.  Soon, he desired the power of the gods for himself, and tricked his lover to taking him to the Old Ones prison.  There, they whispered their secrets to him, and taught him their ancient power.  When Cybele saw what he had done, she tried to stop him, but he turned on her, and struck her down.  He stormed the Gates of Heaven, seeking to battle the gods.  But the gods were too powerful, and Moloch defeated the upstart and cast him back to the world.

Atlantes had become too powerful, though, and he survived the fall.  He hid deep in the ancient places, and studied ever more.  He took on students and disciples, who spread his teaching throughout the Elven Empire.  More and more elves took up the study of Atlantes magic, and turned their powers against their Dwarven enemies.  As they became more powerful, they became more arrogant, and callous with their magics.  Eventually, they unleashed power they could not understand, and devastated the world—their foes had been defeated, but the very world was broken.  The Dwarves were shattered and scarred, and the Elves, though exhausted from the war, arrogantly proclaimed themselves masters.  The gods, terrified and ashamed, turned from the world. 

But as time went on, the lesser gods clamored ever more loudly for the destruction of the world, but Adonai and the Three Goddesses would not countenance the destruction of those who had helped them defeat the Old Ones.  Eventually, Baal came up with a solution—the gods would neither help nor harm the Elves, but if the Elves were to unleash their own destruction, the gods would not intervene. 

Disguising himself as an Elven navigator, Baal claimed to be the sole survivor of a crashed ship that was exploring the furthest reaches of the stars.  He planted clues and tricks, and the Elves followed his trail, ignoring the warnings of Sol and Silvan.  They found a realm populated by ferocious beasts, vast and powerful, like the Old Ones.  They had found the Dragons.

These great beasts destroyed most of the Elven explorers, but allowed one ship to escape.  They followed this ship across the void, until they came upon the world.  A vast and epic war broke out between the Elves and the Dragons, while the gods watched from the heavens. Using their stolen magics, the Elves were able to finally defeat their foes, as they had so many before.  But their empire was exhausted, the eldest and most powerful of them were dead, and their fortresses and fleets had been ruined.  The gods, realizing that not even the Dragons could bring the Elves back to them, turned their attention to humans.

1 comment:

  1. Some tweaks:

    I do like the idea of "proximate" and "ultimate" evil. As in, Baal and Moloch are awful creatures but they are in a team with "good" deities.

    Could we tweak Atlantes a little bit? I want to see more of a philosophical split between the elves and the gods and less a "domination versus Evil" idea. You're leaning in this direction already, but I want to push you further.

    Can I suggest this, which is I think just an extension of where you're already going: The gods represent hierarchical power. You follow because it's your place, and you cede power to the gods because they know better. You don't know - you CAN'T know certain things - and you shouldn't even try. Instead, you trust in the gods to put their plan forward, even though it might seem repressive.

    In other words: the triumph of expertise. We do this all the time. You don't argue with a doctor over your treatment (usually). My students don't stand up and contest what I have to say (although I try to make them do this). We trust certain people to be superior to us and we cede to them the power.

    And then there's the elves. Knowledge wants to be free. We should teach all, educate all, and throw down the self-inflated centers of authority. The gods make this hierarchy just to keep themselves in their place. If something is forbidden, we want to know WHY. We will not accept being told that we cannot do this or that because we are who we were born. We all have the potential for greatness within us...

    Baal's lesson there - "you want to discover a thing? Here, go discover it..." - is an important rebuke. But as you iron it out, I'd like it to take the shape of two equally morally right ways of seeing knowledge in the world. It's feudalism (technocracy, really, in the poli-sci sense of "governance by those with the skill") versus democracy.

    Also, fix this:
    "and tricked his lover to taking him to the Old Ones prison."
    "Old Ones' prison".

    "More and more elves took up the study of Atlantes magic"
    Even though it looks weird, it should be "Atlantes's"


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