Originally there was the Astral Sea “above” and the Elemental Chaos “below”. The “gods” dwell in the Astral Sea along with other astral entities (angels, etc), and the Primordials dwell in the Elemental Chaos (with elementals and archons). The Primordials then created the normal world (which later became known as Earthynn). It was a very diverse world, with dizzying highs of color and vibrancy and deep lows of darkness and emptiness (and everything in between). The land grew and evolved as time passed. It was an ever churning, ever evolving landscape of the elements… (think of the primordials as huge elementals, with very “god-like” power)
The Gods of the Astral Sea looked down and were very intrigued by what they saw. The gods decided to expend their own power onto the world of Earthynn. (Tangent: One thing to understand about the Gods in order for my gods to make sense, is that they are, at their most basic state,”fonts of energy.” Energy that takes form over time, through their surroundings/beliefs/influence/specialty/etc… Energy that becomes more than energy through some form or another.) There were four gods, now referred to as the old gods or the “foundation gods” .. there was Eladryssa, Rostuun, Tiamat, and the Unamed God (later referred to as the Chained God – pure 4e here) The goddess of the moon/stars, magic and life, created a race first (Eladryssa).. Whilst the god of time, Rostuun followed with his own creations, as did Tiamat, the god of open spaces (yes, she is a dragon with many heads still). Eladryssa created a race capable of anything… she put great amounts of her own essence into “her people” – more so than any of the other gods. The name of her people has been lost and is not currently known (for sake of this discussion and explanation, we shall call them elves – though they are not elves as you know them). Rostuun modeled his creations after the elements of the world that would last the trials of time… the stones and mountains. He created Giants and Dwarves. Tiamat created Dragons.. dragons of all kinds, small, large, and of all colors and powers, some very abstract and ephemeral. The creations of the races isn’t so much a “molding of clay” to create a being and placing it onto the world.. but more of a “spark” given to the basic “stuff” that the world was made of.. and then the gods shaped/influenced it as it grew.
There were other gods at work as well. These gods were not yet fully formed (hence the Tangent I mentioned above) These young gods (four of them to be precise) populated the world with lots of varied and different races..basically, they threw their “sparks” out all over.. not really having a plan or design for what they were creating. Their energies mixed and blended at times.. and their peoples came to life without the direction and guidance of the gods. (since these young gods were not yet formed enough to really have much more of an effect on their creations.) Whilst in contrast, the older gods paid very close attention to their peoples and paid little heed to these “impure” creations of the young gods…For discussion’s sake we can refer to them as the “impure races” and they include such races that later become known as humans, orcs, and halflings (and many others) —Life also grew without the influence of gods.. the sheer primordial forces enough to generate these “sparks” of life. But these creatures do not often have an impact on history. Life also came from the Astral Sea in other ways.. some denizens of that place lacked the power to create life, so they chose to live their on their own…the world of Earthynn changed them drastically.. but the memories of their immortal selves sustained.. (thus the advent of Devas)
Eladryssa’s elves prospered and flourished. They were easily the most successful of the races to inhabit Earthynn. Their societies stretched far and wide, and there was little that they could not do. And constantly their goddess kept herself linked to her people guiding them the whole time. Rostuun’s people, the Dwarves and Giants.. from the beginning, had problems.. The dwarves heeded the wisdom of their god, while the Giants choose to make their own way, and chose to forsake their god and seek their power elsewhere. They scattered about the world.. the dwarves however, became a reclusive people, and chose to build within the rock the were formed out of. The Dragons were an untamed lot.. at times burning so full of life they would nearly explode. Dragons made of pure light, dragons made of cloud, dragons of every imaginable kind, spread across the world (including Dragonborn).. often at odds with others, often paying them no heed, often cooperating with others. There was nothing the “elves” could not do, and nothing the “dragons” could not be. While the dwarves were permanent and constant, unchanging. The impure races struggled to escape the shadow they dwelt in, the shadow cast by the creations of the older gods.. and at this time were nothing but scattered groups, simply seeking to survive (some did not survive).
(Tangent: Back in time a bit… before Earthynn came into being, the Unamed God rebelled against the Astral Sea, and was thus imprisoned in what eventually became the Abyss (as written in 4e).. thus he was known as the Chained God…and was all but forgotten. His power and influence gave birth to and shaped the denizens of the Abyss into Demon-kind. Through these demon-kind the Chained God could exert his essence/will, indirectly, outside his prison.)
The Chained God had a plan. He had little notion of what was going on when Earthynn came into being, but through the eyes of his demons.. he gleaned what he could. But, he had an ally…
The Nine Hells are exactly as they are in 4e… I am not changing their history or design any.. however I am creating a connection between Asmodeus and the Chained God. Asmodeus was an angel/divine servant who rebelled against the gods of the Astral Sea, and actually struck down the god he was serving. He did this through coercion and guidance from his ally, The Chained God, who saw the untapped power in Asmodeus’ evil soul. Asmodeus and his minions were cursed for their actions and imprisoned within the (now dead) god’s domain, which becomes the Nine Hells. This would have occurred long before Earthynn’s creation, and not long before the Chained God himself became imprisoned. When the Chained God himself was cast out and placed within the Abyss, he remained, albeit very distant, in contact with his ally in the Astral Sea.
During this time of races flourishing and growing, hiding and surviving… the Primordials became increasingly angered.. the world they made was being overtaken by the gods.. and these gods imparted onto the world a permanence that the Primordials despised. As time went on, they could stand it no longer… and war erupted. The Gods and the Primordials fought across the breadth of the planes… armies of angels battled armies of archons, and the great beings themselves clashed. In the end, the Primordials lost. What happened to them is unknown.. some are thought to have perished, others slumbering, others left to travel to other realms, some simply disappeared. But their influence ended.
The races on Earthynn continue to evolve and expand.. The giants began to wage war with their kin, the dwarves (a war the dwarves eventually lose) The super elves made great cities, all over.. oceans, forests, valleys.. they prospered everywhere. The impure races still struggled but failed to gain a foothold. The “elves” power was ever oppressive and expansive, the dragons ever chaotic and uncontrollable, and the dwarves and giants focused on their own struggles… When the great war in the outer planes was done, the gods resumed their vigil.
Everything seemed fine… time passed… but things were not well… the world began to exhibit strange happenings… bright areas would dim, and then return to brightness… areas of darkness would come and go… then as time drew on… it became apparent that the world, without the Primordials influence, could not hold itself together… Eladryssa seemed to not notice, her attention so focused on her people, her lifeforce so strongly connected to them…she was practically blinded to all else. Rostuun saw it coming, but he sees the timeline and cannot interfere.. but he originally prepared his people to weather such storms. Tiamat was a god that never dwelt in the same place, she did not reside in the Astral Sea and instead flew constantly from one realm to another, never staying in the same place. Her dragons prospered and evolved on their own, using what bits she pulled from all her travels. She was away at this time…
And then… chaos/calamity/catastrophe/cataclysm ! ! The world itself.. SPLIT. The world of Earthynn fractured and became three worlds. The deepest parts became the Shadowfell and the brightest parts became the Feywild. The wold itself was torn asunder…The “elves” suffered… they spilt along with the world… their essence and Eladryssa’s essence broke apart.. and the race was divided and was pulled into the three realms… Feywild, Shadowfell and Earthynn. They became three distinct races – over time they became known as Eladurin = Elves the fragment left on Earthynn, Eladrin = Eladrin those pulled into the Feywild, and the Eladrow = Drow, those pulled into the Shadowfell. The elves on Earthynn were a fragment of their former selves.. and the fled to the forests.. their cities falling apart without the magic that sustained them.. Their goddess was struck down and barely held onto life… she herself was broken when her people were. The dwarves withstood the storm in their stone and metal fortresses.. and when the dust cleared, they continued on as normal. The Giants however, did not heed their god’s warning of the peril; however, they devised ways to withstand the splitting of the world.. and they even grew more powerful because of it.. they became closer tied to the forces of Earthynn, embracing fire, ice, rock..and it changed their very beings. The Dragons suffered the far worst.. their forms were more ephemeral.. more abstract.. and many just vanished or perished… whole species simply ceased to exist, the majority of Tiamat’s creations were lost. The Dragonborn.. suffered what became known as the “curse” and their forms shriveled and became primitive.. Kobolds.(thanks Josh!) Few true Dragonborn remain.. and wander lost in the world.. Upon seeing the calamity that struck Eladryssa, the other gods saw a danger in creating such a strong connection to Earthynn.. and opted to remain more distant, exerting their power more discreetly or indirectly. Divine intervention became a rare gift.
This was what the Chained God had been waiting for… a moment of weakness. The Chained God had grown ever more vengeful, and his soul focus became revenge. His plan formulated… the demonkind that he spawned in the Abyss were growing in power, and he cultivated them for their eventual invasion of Earthynn. A link was needed to give the demons the connection to reach Earthynn. Tieflings become that link. Tieflings were needed to be the link that allowed the demons to cross over into Earthynn, but from deep within the Abyss, The Chained God was unable to reach Earthynn. This is where his ally Asmodeus comes into play.. and where we tie this a little more closely to the origins of Tieflings in core 4e. Asmodeus is extremely powerful, but he was not a god (and still is not a god, unlike he is now in core 4e) so creating a race was beyond him.. though he did have the power to corrupt a race already in its infancy.. he selected humans. They seemed to be the most malleable of the races crawling over the land. And so it was he began seeding dark forces into them, changing them into what he needed them to be..
He exerted as much of his will as he could from the depths of his prison.. putting his plan into motion.. through the Tieflings on Earthynn, a connection was created to the Abyss. Their Abyssal-tainted blood and the worlds in a state of flux allowed for a passage to be opened for Demon-kind to surge forth. And untold war erupted… darkness engulfed the land. Giants made uneasy alliances with the demonkind… and used the leverage to finally defeat and subjugate their dwarven kin. The elves in the former state could have withstood anything.. but now they were lost and directionless. The dragons that survived were the same.. and not able to fight back, too weakened from the shock. Even from his prison.. the Chained God’s evil could not be contained.
The Chained God made two big mistakes though…
The first was a mistake all of the older gods made. The paid no heed to the “impure” races. The shadow that had been hindering these other races had been cast away… the oppressive majesty of the great races that had outshown them was gone. They were able to make their own place in the world. They rose up.. and made their presence known. At the forefront were the Humans. They expanded rapidly and made allies with many other races.. spreading across the world like a wildfire. Their combined forces were enough to stand against the tide of demons.
However the “malleability” Asmodeus selected the humans for in the first place, kept the Tieflings from becoming a wide spread race. Many of the Humans denied and rejected the corruption that Asmodeus was “peddling” on them.. and stayed true to themselves… Others who became Tieflings rejected the control he exerted over them… and did not follow his lead. This gave Asmodeus pause… he investigated them further… He foresaw these humans having a great destiny.. and this intrigued him.. so he stretched his vision wider.. and saw equal power and promise in many of the “impure” races scattered about Earthynn… as they say… he saw the writing on the wall. He saw this invasion could not succeed. Asmodeus then made a singularly defining decision… he chose not to share this wisdom with The Chained God. So when I said before that the Chained God made two big mistakes.. he actually made three.. his third was trusting Asmodeus. The rest went as written before.. through the link created with the Tieflings the demons invaded… they were expecting the Infernal powers to aid them, but the devils did not show up.. and the “impure” races fought the war and the demons were defeated. I pictured the Tieflings as a race that was made for an evil purpose, but one they themselves chose to rebel against…
The last mistake the Chained God made was the amount of power it took him to reach out from his prison.. it took massive amounts of his energy, more than he had anticipated.. and he found himself weak. In contrast, the demons he had spawned were thriving and growing vastly in power… he could no longer control them. The demons saw themselves losing the struggle on Earthynn, and realized they no longer had to follow the Chained God’s orders.. and withdrew. Without the backing of the demons, the Giants fought to continue their control on the Dwarves, but the Goliaths were equally as stalwart as the dwarves and were instrumental in the freeing their new allies. The Giants scattered…
The once “impure” races prospered in time.. forming communities all over Earthynn. Not all got along… but many formed alliances and even the elves reached out from their forests and shared their knowledge with their new neighbors. Things began to stabilize…
Eladryssa slept for a time, to attempt to regain her strength. During this time her people were left to themselves. The Eladurin sought solace in nature, and befriended the other denizens of Earthynn. The Eladrin embraced the wildly beautiful and magical nature of the Feywild. The Eladrow followed suit.. but they had been thrust into a dark and foul place.. by necessity, they became experts at hiding. When Eladryssa she attempted to restore her connection to her people.. and found that reaching out to the three realms was too difficult.. she called upon all of the powers she could muster from the Astral Sea… in an attempt to unite the three realms back into one, and restoring her people to their former glory…the great conjunction of the three realms began. (unknown to the denizens of Earthynn) but it all went horribly wrong…
The combination of the three realms was not a quick process.. and during the lead time, the races on Earthynn reached new heights of culture. A veritable renaissance spread across the land.. science, art, magic.. through interaction between the races, nothing seemed impossible. Arcana became the most pervasive “science” that was studied, and magic-users who mastered this art/science quickly became leaders and figures of power.. either advisers to great lords and rulers, or rulers themselves. Great cities sprang up (there were four that were the most expansive and grand.) A select few of these powerful scholars/mages (“mage” being the common word for anyone who uses arcane power in Earthynn) studied the realms outside Earthynn, believing there was great knowledge and power to be had there… They formed a loosely organized group to share information, lightly referred to as the Parliament Arcane. During their studies they noticed the movement of the Feywild and Shadowfell… over the years it became a hot-button topic for those “in-the-know”.. the Parliament Arcane combined their efforts to try and figure out what exactly was going on… and they realized the realms were colliding.. (not knowing it was Eladryssa at the helm) and they began to brace for the worst… They traveled to several of the large cities to attempt to warn people about this pending cataclysm… A lot of folks did not heed the warning.. (think of it as a the “global warming” of the time)... some of the mages took matters into their own hands.. they constructed towers within the largest cities and began to devise ways of protecting the people. (some, not entirely for the best reasons).. other mages left the world to their fate.
Divine pursuits were also expanding, not just the arcane. The four young gods began to come into their own.. their forms taking more specific directions, influenced by the myriad of races who directly or indirectly paid them homage. They became known as the Patheon of Four. They are thought to be brothers and sisters (2 female, 2 male), and they are each linked to a different point on the “alignment compass”. It was not long before their names were known as well… Unyssa (f. Chaos), Rothn (m, Evil), Aryn (m, Law), and Teyah (f, Good). The Pantheon is worshiped all over Earthynn, and by lots of different races…and since they are still “young”, their forms are not solidified… they appear in different “guises” to different people.. and the interpretation of the gods profile also adapts itself depending on the followers.. Example: Humans, Halflings and Orcs are all original “impure races”, and they all (if they choose to follow a god at all) pay homage to the Pantheon of Four. Take Unyssa, Goddess of Chaos. A Human may view the goddess as a beautiful woman who often changes her face, donning masks and representing deception. An Orc might view her as the “Monstrous Mother”, a woman whose body transforms into different monstrous parts and represents destruction. A Halfling might see her simply as a Halfling traveler, constantly wandering over the landscape, representing travel and exploration. Different views of “Chaos”, different personifications and images.. but the same god. It is not uncommon to find a different depiction of the same goddess in different cities… the Pantheon of Four are nothing if not adaptable and accommodating. (the only thing that seems to remain the same is the gender of the god in question)
During this time, the Dwarves were unable to partake of the surge of culture.. they still struggled under the yolk of their Giant-enforced subjugation.. but the seeds of rebellion were growing, and a new allies to the Dwarves, the Goliaths, were making plans.(after all, the Goliaths lived in the mountains as well, and the Giants were a thorn in their sides…) The Dwarves still held faith that Rostuun knew what was to come and had prepared them, though he spoke less to them than before. Many stayed true to Rostuun, but their new allies spoke often of a goddess they worshiped, one called the Earth Mother. The belief spread through some of the younger Dwarves generations and eventually led to a schism in the Dwarven religion. (Today dwarves choose to follow Rostuun or the Earth Mother, and both have become accepted). The Earth Mother is unlike any other god for she does not dwell in the Astral Sea, and seemingly arose suddenly, out of great need… it is thought her “dominion” is within Earthynn itself. The Goliaths are not the only ones to worship this “new” god, other more primal species often pay her homage, and even humans living on the edge of society, farmers and such, will often say small menial prayers to her…
Time passed and the conjunction of the three realms drew closer…
Eladryssa called upon all the power from the stars that she could muster.. and (over time) brought the three realms together. They did not however, combine in the way she intended.. Instead of recombining, they “overlapped” and the elements from the three realms poured into one another.. causing tremendous disasters to sweep the lands.. tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanoes, cats and dogs living together.. mass hysteria! The realms had solidified in their separation, and the primordial forces in each realm could not reconcile with each other.. and destruction tore across the land. The denizens of the Feywild (the Eladrin, Gnomes, and other fey creatures) and the Shadowfell (Eladrow and other types of foul things) were pulled into Earthynn. But the three “elven” races remained separate… the Eladrin and the Eladurin bonded almost immediately and saw the benefits of living communally, the Elves sharing their knowledge of nature and the forest and the Eladrin sharing their knowledge of magic and the fey. The Eladrow however, immediately sought to hide themselves, they had become as dark as the world that came from, and fled underground… Eladryssa herself.. was driven insane by the catastrophe.. her mind fragmented but her soul remained intact (think multiple personality disorder, one god with 3 faces).
The disasters swept across the land and the great cities of the world braced for it… some of the cities had the arcane protection brought by Parliament Arcane.. sometimes it was enough, other times it was not… entire cities and communities were destroyed. Three of the great “capital” cities survived the initial onslaught. One did not and was washed away by the sea, only ruins remain along the coastline, the arcane protection failed. Many races flocked to the surviving cities for protection, depending on the ruling “mage or government” some were welcomed or turned away… even monstrous races sought aid and some were able to enter the cities secretly or forcefully… elves who were far from their forest homes also became integrated into the cities (this bringing about the historical “high point” of half-elf and half-orc populations)... Most small communities could not withstand the turmoil and were destroyed or scattered.
The Eladurin had a home built within the bowels of a vast evergreen forest (the city is though to be built upon the surface of a lake, deep with a great forest) and they prayed to Eladryssa to send them a way to protect their home… the Eladrin arrived just in time. When the Eladrin came through into Earthynn, they sought out the forests, the lush areas most like the Feywild homes they just left, this new world they had been thrust into was a being ravaged and they sought safety like everyone else. they instantly recognized their kinship with the Eladurin. The Gnomes, who held a deep Feywild kinship with the Eladrin, followed the Eladrin into the forests, though some chose to wander elsewhere… The Eladurin and Eladrin together were able to protect the city using their combined gifts.
It was at this turbulent time the Dwarves decided to make their revolution, their Goliath allies attacked with ferocity form the mountain tops whilst the Dwarves fought back against the giants from below. A long and bloody war erupted for a time until the Goliaths and Dwarves met in the middle. The Dwarves, so driven by their freedom, continued to fight the Giants until they destroyed many of the Giant’s fortresses and scattered them from the mountains. Many Giant castles and cities remain ruins in the mountains, the dwarves choosing the leave them that way to serve as warnings and reminders of the past. The Goliaths and Dwarves share communal homes to this day. The Goliaths are a more tribal people and often wander far from the Dwarven cities, but it serves as a “base of operations” for them when the need it and trade is strong between the two races.
The Feywild and Shadowfell eventually passed off, repelled by each other like magnetic poles… but they now exist much closer to Earthynn than they did before. Travel between the realms is not easy.. though some have found ways to pass through the realms for short times. There is thought to be gates leading to the realms, but if they exist, they are well guarded and kept secret. The conjunction also brought about another unexpected side effect.. it fractured the planar structure.. and created a rift to another plane, one that was not known to exist. To the people of Earthynn, it exists only in rumors or stories.. though to some scholars (and others who have managed to tap its power) it is called the Far Realm. The only proof of its existence are the foul creatures that are now seen to pop up all over Earthynn… they are so alien and evil, it is thought that they could only come from another dimension (aberrant creatures).
The world outside the cities became hostile, alien and dangerous. For a ling time the cities kept to themselves, lacking any contact beyond their borders. Xenophobia became rampant, and outsiders were always seen as trouble. The three great surviving human/mixed cities existed on their own, in isolation during these times…they were still shaken up quite a bit by the disasters, and rebuilding became the priority. As time passed people began to leave the confines of the safety, trying to reestablish the homes they once had.. agriculture began anew, although much closer to the city walls. The world was now a much more savage and dangerous place. The cities are still pretty much independent from one another, travelers eventually arrived from the other cities, sharing information of the people who survived. But regular transportation and trade between the cities was impossible. The roads had been lost, and even travel by water was too dangerous to consider. Contact with the continent across the sea was lost completely. (the prevalent belief is that particular continent is completely lost, a realm only of death.) No ships or travelers ever arrive from across the sea, and no one who attempts to reach those far shores ever returns to tell tales of what they find.
Our campaign will begin sometime (roughly 75 years) after this point.. people have begun to adapt to the new world, but the great cities are still isolated from one another. Other communities have begun to grow and emerge, away from the cities, attempting to start over. One such community will be the start of our story.. a small town that has grown along the coastline, scrounging most of its life out from the sea. The community exists across an expanse of water from the ruins of one of the great cities, the one that didn’t survive the Conjunction. Your characters will need to be from this community, or recently traveled to it, or perhaps lived nearby on your own.. I would prefer that no one originate their characters from one of the three big capital cities, as I would prefer those to be explored/revealed “in game” and not just in someone’s background text (Dwarves/Goliaths can be from the Dwarven city though) though you will have an “inkling” of what they are about.. news does travel..