The Prior History of Therafim - Archived for sake of historical preservation.
Table of Contents
Part Three: The Third Age of Therafim, the Elemental Wars, the Rise of Umnos, and the Fall of the Giants
Part Four: The Fourth Age of Therafim, the Age of Gods, the Rise of the New Elder Races, and the War of Division
Part One: The Creation of Therafim, the First Age, and the Morrigan
In the beginning there was darkness, all-encompassing and all-devouring. The darkness was primordial chaos, without form, an ever-shifting void from which all things could be created, but from which nothing could escape to retain a form long enough to find true existence.
Then, from Chaos, came order. From darkness, came the Light.
The Light was the embodiment of divine creation, a force of good and order so perfect and so powerful that it was able to draw the powers of Chaos into itself, and then shape them into the fastness of reality. As the Light defined itself, being of both sexes and neither, creator of all things, so Chaos was forced to take on some semblance of form as well as its endless possibility but equally endless immutability was carved out by the Light to make the whole of creation. As Chaos gained awareness, it lashed out at the Light, its tormentor.
This first blow, and the counter thrown back by the Light in perfect tandem, created the dichotomy of good and evil, chaos and order, and all other differences that are used to create definition to the whole of reality. At the same time this definition was created, so too were the Light and Chaos split apart, to opposite ends of reality itself. The Light drew itself to the heights of the highest upper planes, while Chaos sank into the depths of the realms of the lowest pits of the hellish realms, each of these vast, creative entities generating and also becoming embodiments of the planes that they spawned. As they separated, driven apart by the raw force of their first impact, all of the rest of creation took shape in the space between them.
First and most powerful of the new creations of Chaos and the Light, formed from the moment of their impact, were the Divine Dragons, Bahamut and Tiamat. The Divine Dragons were lesser forms of their progenitors and embodiments of the most essential opposing principles: male and female; creation and destruction; positive and negative; light and darkness; pleasure and pain; good and evil. Though these two primordial gods have diminished somewhat with time and separation from their initial divine spark of generation, they were still the first and are still the ones with the most power among the gods, and it was their initial struggles that led to the creation of all. At first Bahamut and Tiamat were lovers, and their love created a perfect paradise for them and their offspring to live, but this soon changed into a vastly more complicated relationship as they grew more established in their chosen paths. Their first offspring, born at the moment that their love turned to conflict, was the Morrigan, conflict personified. Being a creation of the act of conflict, rather than being direct issue from the loins of the two draconic deities, the Morrigan is without prejudices and without concern. All that matters to the Morrigan is that conflict continue unabated.
As Bahamut and Tiamat grappled in an embrace at once creative and destructive, the other first deities, their children, soon arose, as well as the first primordial draconic beings from which the races of dragonkind would arise, and soon these first sentient beings made choices of which parent they would follow, and they began to form sides. The very forces of eternity themselves rebelled against such unending, all-annihilating conflict between these primordial children, and, before they could destroy all of reality with their conflict, cast them out of paradise. They fell to Therafim, a world which came into being to contain the divine beings until they had either learned to harness their passions or had destroyed each other. It is said by some that it was at this moment that Umnos, embodiment of boundaries and of time itself, and Matra, embodiment of life and the processes of nature, gained their first inklings of existence, though they would not achieve true self-awareness until much later.
Thus it was that Therafim was forged of conflict and trial itself, and this has been the lot of the world from that day to this, as a practical proving ground for eternal matters. The fall of the grappling Bahamut and Tiamat, writhing together in love and hate at once, struck the newformed world, and shattered the single landmass which had been sitting atop of the many waters, forming the disparate continents and causing them to drift. At first the many landmasses were still close together, despite cracks that had formed, though they would in later ages form the continents of the world as they are presently known. Their impact also created the Underdark of Therafim, a gulf of endless night shaped below by the first aftershocks of Bahamut and Tiamat when they struck Therafim's surface. The underdark of Therafim has been steadily growing from that day to this, making room for the vast swelling hordes that live beneath the crust of the world, growing ever more numerous in each succeeding age.
As they adapted to their new world, the first races of the dragons soon spread to the many parts of the lands of Therafim to take up the old conflicts that had begun in the time and place before there were times and places. The draconic deities at first took an active part in these conflicts, but soon realized, now that they were in a mortal realm where it was possible for them to die, the dangers of open conflict, and futility of constant warfare in which their own lives were put at stake. When they realized the dangers of direct conflict in a mortal realm, the gods of the dragons withdrew from the world, having learned a valuable lesson. Instead, then, the draconic deities turned to indirect intervention in the mortal realm through mortal servitors whose actions would cause less rampant destruction than direct divine action. For, after all, what is the point of warring for a treasure if it was destroyed in the process of battling for it? These first gods, however, had not reached a resolution of their initial conflict, which still rages today - the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, law and chaos - and so they were denied any return to the paradise from which they had been cast. Thus the conflict continued to rage among mortals, pushed by the machinations of the gods.
With the withdrawal of the first gods and their overwhelming divine essence from the world, the creatures lingering behind were left to their own devices in this strange new mortal world. Not even the eldest of dragons have any direct memory of this time, it was so long ago, in the primordial days, when all was new, but it is said that the creeping things, the vermin of this day and age, were the rulers of the land, walking upright and wielding tools. The mortalborn dragons were few in number at this time, and their plans of continued battle in the age-old struggle of their divine forebears were left unattended for a time so that they could do battle with the many strange and horrific invertebrate creatures that filled this beautiful but savage world into which they had been thrust, trailing the dust of the stars in their wake. The antfolk, the beefolk, and the mantisfolk were the most powerful land empires of this time, the octopusfolk the most powerful in the sea and the coasts, and the spiderfolk always watching from the shadows in this, the First Age of Therafim, when time was first recorded, and they built vast and magnificent cities. Most of these are now fallen into the dust and their peoples scattered and turned to barbarism, but many still remember those days in tales, and even now long for a return to the old ways. Great were their adventures, terrible were their wars, and astonishing was the height of culture and civilization that these creatures attained, which today are considered mere vermin or close thereto.
The First Age ended with the rise of the dragons and their kind. For the dragons were not idle in their centuries and millennia of conflict with the deadly beings of this first world, still shrouded in the steaming mists of first creation. From out of those mists came the hordes of the strange beings fashioned by the dragons as their lesser servitors. The lizardfolk and the kobolds, two of the many scaled creations of the dragons, are mere shadows of the mighty races that they used to be when they were first made, with the dread nagas and their kind to lead them, storming out of the shadows to seize for themselves what they felt in their hearts was the world that had been made for them, if only they could take and keep it. The good dragons sought to live peacefully with the invertebrate creatures of the time, but the evil dragons were more aggressive, more firm in their determination to overcome all. Their first great work was to raise up not only reptilian servitors, but also amphibious ones, the natural enemies of the invertebrate folk that ruled the earth, and this was their manner of attack for many centuries. Their masterwork was to burn and freeze and blow away the steaming air that shrouded the earth, working terrible magics in secret enclaves to accomplish this mighty and horrible deed.
With the loss of this protective mist, which allowed invertebrates to grow to large sizes with impunity and the new amphibious races to roam freely without restrictions, the end of the First Age had begun, for then the might of the invertebrate rulers of the world was truly crushed, and it was only a matter of time before their beautiful cities were overrun, save for a few well-hidden instances, and the survivors were forced to sink into barbarism and savagery to survive where they could. Some, most notably the beefolk, have tried to retain some semblances of their former civilization, while the antfolk fled in large measure into the Outer Planes, where they became the first Formians. There are still giant invertebrates even today, still retaining the greatness of the magic of the primordial mists that covered all the world in those days, but they are the exception and not the rule. Now the lesser invertebrates are the standard in the world, so long as no foolish meddling wizard interferes with the natural order.
Part Two: The Second Age of Therafim, and the First Dragon War
The amphibians now subdued along with the invertebrates, the only masters of the world that were left were the reptiles, with the dragons as their rulers and proxies for the gods on earth, and soon great new cities and glorious empires sprang up once more to fill the vacuum of power left by the exit of the fading invertebrate races. At first the dragons had unquestioned power over all the lesser reptiles. Soon, however, the dragons allowed the greed and hubris that is a natural part of their being take command of their senses, even the metallic dragons listening to the soft whisperings of Tiamat in their hearts, and they soon began to try and gather the world like they gathered the other treasures of the earth, making Therafim a mere bauble in their horde. Thus began the first Dragon War, a conflict of surpassing horror, bloodshed, and destruction so fierce that it echoes today in the racial consciousness of even the most recent newborn hatchling. It was at this time that the dragons finally and fully broke free of the constraints of good and evil, law and chaos, that had been imposed upon them by their first parents, gaining the full ability to choose their paths for themselves. Most still choose their natural paths, but this is more a matter of tradition than requirement.
In the midst of this terrible fighting, dragon against dragon, the reptilian races rebelled. The kobolds were undaunted in their loyalty, even in the midst of mass rebellions, but while they were higher in culture then than they are now, they were still physically insignificant, save in cunning and numbers, and so no match for the strength of the lizardkin and the magical powers and subtle minds of the nagas. Thus it was that when the chromatic dragons they served most fiercely were struck down, one by one, by the might of rivals or rebels, that the kobolds were trampled over and almost utterly destroyed, the few who managed to survive being the most cowardly who fled into the depths of the earth, into reaches where only the invertebrate folk had gone before, making them the second set of sentient people to take up residence in the Lower Reaches of Therafim, and sinking them into a state of barbarism and ignorance from which they have yet to recover. There many of them found other gods to worship that better suited their needs, though they never gave up their reverence for the dragons, and still claim to have the blood of that great race flowing in their veins.
It is likely that the unending conflicts of the dragons, which only mirrored the desires of their divine forebears, would have continued unabated for all eternity with periods of conflict and restoration in endless waves, if it were not for the direct intervention of beings from the realms of primordial Creation. These beings were called down by the cries and twisted, forbidden rites of the most ancient and power-mad of the dragons, as well as the most desperate of the lesser scaled beings, all of whom desired most of all either to dominate all of creation or, failing that, to destroy it.
Up until this time, Therafim had been merely floating in the magic-rich ethers of the endless void of unformed creation that is the cosmos, which allowed the unfettered creation of a mighty host of creatures, many sentient, but none of global importance in the face of the might of the dragons. This meant that there was nothing to protect the glittering jewel of Therafim from the assault of the Fallen Ones, the Abominations, and the horde of other nightmarish entities from beyond the pale of the mortal world, things that could cause even a dragon's mind to reel with the stuttering waves of insanity that come crashing in when faced with things that should not be.
With the arrival of these monstrosities, the world was very nearly laid completely to waste, and the continents were caused to split apart to a faster degree, forming coherent landmasses at last rather than a cracked but unified whole. Many dragons and their kin fled the surface of Therafim at this time, fashioning strange and magical craft and using great and powerful magic that could carry them through the stars, using these craft to escape to the moons of Therafim, where many of them dwell to this day. The dragons might have been able to prevail if they had been unified, and had the might of their servants and creations to back them up, or had called upon the other, younger children of Therafim who were not of their making. But they did not, and so the world of Therafim was in danger of losing even its most frail ties to bare existence in fragile reality to the forces of uncreation incarnate.
It was in this time of ultimate crisis that the gods convened for the first time as a unified whole. This council included the newer gods who had risen up alongside the rise of the many new races, and even the gods of the invertebrates, weak and frail though they might have been. Together, these divine beings created a vast barrier, calling in their desperation upon the Light itself to fashion it from the fires of creation that had first formed Therafim. With this wall now holding back further assaults from the forces of ultimate destruction and madness, and keeping those within trapped and unable to escape divine retribution or call upon their most powerful dark magics, the gods acted. The Abominations are the stillborn remnants of what might have been gods, terrible things made from the mad, twisted remnants of reality itself. To battle these, the gods created first the Tarrasques and then the Leviathans, the prototypes of mighty, destructive forces of land and sea given physical shape. These forces of destruction were formed in large numbers, drawn from bits of divine essence and pieces of the Abominations themselves given a new, true life. Thus was the battle met, and in the end, the Abominations were destroyed where possible, or captured where it was not, and then caged in places outside of time and space, the seams of their imprisoning realms sewed up behind them, sealing them off from the mortal realms. After the battles with the Abominations, there were only a rare few Leviathans and Tarrasques left, and these the gods wished to save in case they were needed once more, sealing them away in the depths of the earth or seas or setting them specific tasks of guardianship lest these mighty beasts run amok in the world without anything equal to their eternal battlelust to challenge them.
This left the Fallen Ones, the souls of creatures that would never be born, which had rebelled against the plan of creation and life itself and sought to draw all things after them, setting themselves up as faux-deities so that they could tempt all living things, and in time perhaps bring about the destruction of all that was, is, or will yet be. The Fallen Ones were a power that the gods themselves feared to face, for these twisted beings began to introduce Ur Priests among the peoples of the world, strange users of divine magic, named after the first city where they were allowed to flourish, that could leech away the powers of the gods themselves, stealing it in pieces to weave their own faux-clerical magic. All over the world, the sentient races were turning to the Fallen Ones, who offered a surcease of the horrors of the endless conflicts of the gods that had wracked the world. The gods themselves were put to the test, and many of them were destroyed in the conflict. The gods that remain are only a shadow of the hosts of deities that used to roam the heavens.
Realizing the need to counter the lure of the Fallen Ones, who had drawn so many worshipers after the perfect, stangating, damning order that they offered, and also realizing their own present weakness, the gods that had survived the conflict to that point sought to form new creatures to take the place of the many that had fallen either to corruption or to death. These were powerful creatures, rough and raw in their elemental fury, drawn from the very stuff of Therafim itself. Recognizing that the heyday of the dragons was now at an end, the gods did not create more scaled races, and instead let these new creations take on forms as suited them best. These were the first giants, with the Titans set to rule over them on Therafim. They were given an inbuilt distaste for authority so that they would resist the lure of such abominations as the Fallen Ones. The giants set forth in large numbers at that time and laid siege to the Fallen Ones and their many minions. These battles were long and harsh, but in the end they were victorious, and the world of Therafim was now theirs to command as they desired, their great size allowing them to roam freely over the whole of the fractured land, using small islands as stepping stones between the continents.
With the end of the conflict, the Fallen Ones were taken by the gods and sealed in great hollow lamps that now circle Therafim, giving light like stars, where only their softest whisperings could reach into the hearts of those below. The ancient dragons, some of them the oldest and most powerful of the first gods' offspring, who had first called down the horrors from beyond the stars, were cursed, transformed into the linnorms - twisted abominations of dragonkind, never able to die naturally, but never able to increase further in power, and with wealth that always seemed to slip through their talons, no matter how much they might acquire for a time.
With the dragons and the reptilian races now reduced in numbers after the terrible wars that had wracked the surface of Therafim, their great cities and mighty empires in ruins and their greatest minds in hiding or dead or mad beyond recovery, the Second Age was truly over. The gods themselves were weakened and weary from the conflict, and withdrew to rest and recover, leaving Therafim to its own devices. Now it was the time when giants walked the land.
Part Three: The Third Age of Therafim, the Elemental Wars, the Rise of Umnos, and the Fall of the Giants
When the divine barrier was erected, large quantities of raw creative energy had been trapped inside of the solar system where Therafim floated in pristine splendor, concentrated where once it had been allowed to ebb and flow like a divine tide. These energies have never diminished with time, and for this reason Therafim is a much sought-after prize by forces from beyond the pale of the Prime Material world. The first of these otherworldly forces to notice Therafim and make their presence known were the Elemental Powers, mighty beings born of the building blocks of creation itself, though they were just shy of being deities at that time. The giants made pacts with these beings of raw elemental existence, and they were allowed free sway in many places. There were great and terrible creatures that roamed the world in those days, the dinosaurs, as well as many of the giant invertebrates and primitive oozes and jellies that had managed to survive preceding Ages. This Age also saw the rise of the first massive dire animals, mammalian life gaining power for the first time as the sentient reptilian races fled either deep into the Underdark, or into the swamps, jungles, and deserts.
The giants were the mightiest of the beings that lived in this Age, and they ruled their territories with iron fierceness. Being formed of rough elemental forces to begin with, the giants were as they are, with little subtlety to their culture, openness and simple trust quite common in their dealings. Caught up in their own passions and primal desires, the giants subdued any rising race of smaller size (for there were many races that were given life by the creative energies unleashed in the world at the end of the Second Age), that might have been a threat to their dominance. Though there were benevolent ones among the giants, by and large the rule of might made right, and strength was expected of all who wished to keep their thrones in the vast sky castles of the mightiest giant rulers and the realms of the Titans, who considered themselves godlings to rule over the face of the earth and the vast creatures that lived therein. While lesser giants such as the ogres and the trolls made their first appearances at this time, they were of minor importance, filling much the same role that goblins do in the hordes of orcs and hobgoblins today, surviving mostly by their great fertility and ability to choose their battles with the crude, simple cunning that they exhibit even today.
This Age might have been surprisingly stable and even peaceful, save for the minor battles between clans of giants - though even minor skirmishes between beings of such incredible, indescribable size and power become conflicts of epic proportions in comparison to similarly-sized battles of the present Age - if it were not for the appearance of the Elder Elemental Eye and his countless minions, the coming of the Dark One from out of the void between the stars, and the rise of the new gods, which signaled the end of the Age of Giants and the start of the Age of Fey.
The Elder Elemental Eye was a monstrous entity that desired the ultimate supremacy of the raw forces of elemental chaos over the order that kept the world of Therafim held together. Forces that were useful when controlled by strict laws would run amok if the Elder Elemental Eye had his way, and all of creation would, in time, run like wax in a furnace. But the lure of ultimate freedom without restraint was very appealing to many, including many of the giants, who were beings of barely-contained elemental forces themselves.
At the same time that the Elder Elemental Eye was gathering his forces, another, more subtle threat stalked the land. This was the Dark One, a figure as large as a human (puny, compared to the vast size of the giants), always garbed in a dark robe of alien, shimmering cloth. His strength lay not in physical might (though no mortal strength seemed able to hurt him), but in the strength of his words, luring and tempting and cajoling all those who would give him ear into works of darkness and foul perversion. The Dark One was an embodiment of the ideals of the Fallen Ones, those unborn creatures cast off from the rest of creation for their rebellion and nihilistic desires, and it might be said that he was their god. He knew secrets, and could even foretell the future, in small measure, as well as always being aware of the darkness that lurked in the hearts of all those around him, knowing every sin committed by others in the greatest detail, as though he had been a part of that sin in the first place. Many, when they learned of what the Dark One could do for them with his powers, fulfilling their most dark and hidden desires, if only they would give him their allegiance, bowed down and worshiped him.
There was a conflict coming now, as these forces of evil worked on the world, gathering their forces in preparation to attempt total domination, one seeking to unleash the destruction of creative chaos without limitations, and the other seeking the perfect order of ultimate nothingness. In the middle were caught the titans, those that did not turn to one side or the other. They had largely rejected the gods because of the endless conflicts that had arisen in the past from divine conflicts and set themselves up as the new rulers of the world, taking direct power where gods only worked behind the scenes. So it was that these two forces of burgeoning perverted divinity went unchecked in the growth of their power, in these times when the creative powers of Therafim were utterly without the forces of any god to hold them in sway.
When the storm finally broke, it was indeed terrible to behold. Whole cities of the giants, massive and almost indestructible, were laid waste by powers beyond mortal reckoning. Skycastles plummeted to earth, the ground shook, the searing heat from the world's core erupted in violent explosions, the seas rose, and the winds blew in gales that not even the mightiest of the titans could withstand. This was the first assault of the Elder Elemental Eye and the godlings under his sway. Then the Dark One struck, and with his coming was the first appearance of the undead and the first golems, which were elemental spirits that were enslaved from the forces of the Elder Elemental Eye and trapped in a rough automaton that forced them to serve the will of their new master. Where the Dark One's army walked, there walked the stillness of death, and the wailing of the doomed and the damned trailed on the edges of his wake.
In this time of ultimate crisis, when it appeared that all would be lost, the titans themselves, realizing for the first and only time in their entire immortal lives their need for assistance beyond themselves, looked to the heavens, and cried out for aid. And out in the vastness of the vault of heaven, there was an answer. Thus came Umnos, the Watcher, into existence, called forth by the desperate desire of Therafim's inhabitants for order to tame the unchecked chaos. Along with Umnos came the return of the ancient gods, called forth to do battle.
Umnos was less a representative of a single race or being, and more an embodiment of creative organization. He was the divine barrier erected between worlds given sentience and life. With power over barriers and boundaries given to them by their new-formed divine ally, the dragon gods grappled with the forces of the Elder Elemental Eye, and Umnos locked their master away forever, sealed off from Therafim and from all of reality in a place of that foul being's own making, a realm of raw chaos, contained only by the boundaries set by Umnos himself. Facing powers that could undo even his twisting abilities, the Dark One went into hiding, leaving his followers to their fate. He is still in hiding to this day, still waiting and watching from the shadows, ever ready to lure in those sinful ones that are willing to sell themselves for power.
After the ages-long conflict was over, seeing that they were needed once more, lest worse horrors than even the Dark One and the Elder Elemental Eye arise to take the place of those that were cast down, the ancient dragon gods returned in full power and majesty, and set to establishing their rule upon the world of Therafim. They had been called from their dormancy by the cries of the titans to establish peace, and they were determined to do just that. The titans, however, were still as fiercely independent as ever, and most of them would have nothing to do with the gods, even after their lives and the world they called their own had been saved. In their ultimate hubris, the titans, save for a rare, wise few, declared war on the gods, and many of the giants followed them into battle.
At the start of their new reign over the world of Therafim, the gods walked the earth itself and could be struck and injured by the might of the titans and their allies, just as they could be injured long ago, before they had learned to act through proxies instead. But the gods were not without allies, for they called upon the creatures of the Outer Planes, the souls of those who had come before on countless other worlds, and those who had turned to them after departing their lives on Therafim. They also sought the aid of the Elemental Powers, turning these traditional allies of the titans and giants to the side of the gods by offering them the power to become gods themselves. With this mighty army backing them, the gods soon subdued the titans and the giants, driving them back through sheer might in a war that was, surprisingly, almost bloodless. After the long years of conflict and battle, the titans and giants were much reduced in number, and their great civilizations were almost completely in ruins. Seeing the futility of further resistance, the titans retired to more remote locations, seeking to escape the sight and rule of the gods, finding new places to live where they could rule without interference by the meddling deities they had summoned to Therafim.
Now that the forces of raw creation were finally subdued by the laws of the gods and Umnos, the Watcher, the gods ascended to direct dominance over the world, and the Third Age of Therafim came to an end.
Part Four: The Fourth Age of Therafim, the Age of Gods, the Rise of the New Elder Races, and the War of Division
With the failure of the titans and their allies to resist the gods, the race of giants sank into obscurity and isolation or barbarism. The gods realized that they would need new inhabitants on the earth if they were to establish peace. Much of this was already completed, for as the cruder, less refined giants and elemental forces receded from the world, new races sprang spontaneously from the world itself to fill the gap left behind. These children of Therafim were the first fey, which included the beings that would eventually become the gnomes, and they soon spread across the world, creatures of refined creative energy given near-mortal shape. Like the giants, they were beings born of the forces of primal creation. Unlike the giants, however, the fey were far more refined in their formation, filled with life and endless vitality, able to appreciate the more subtle things of the world that were beyond the more crude sensibilities of giants.
In those days the gods walked the face of Therafim, and so did their allies called from the Outer Planes. While the souls of the dead generally remained in their eternal rewards, they were more easily called to the world, though usually only for short durations, as the laws of Umnos were firm, and the dead could not and can not stay in the land of the living without unnatural intervention or divine miracles to work within the strict rules Umnos had set up. The dragon gods were not the only divine beings who walked the world at this time, for of the titans, those incredible creatures gifted with creation's own light, many had aided the gods in subduing the world, as had the Elemental Powers, and the dragon gods rewarded them by unlocking their inherent potential for godhood. These former titans soon busied themselves with fashioning new people to fill the world of Therafim, using the Great Races that had come before - the dragons, giants, and fey - as templates.
Thus it was that the new Elder Races came into being, chief of whom were the duarga, eldar, hurks, gobbas, and hobbs (called dwarves, elves, orcs, goblinoids, and halflings in human tongues). The dwarves were formed from the power of the earth itself and the deep, hidden fires that lie at its core, making them close cousins to the giants, as they are made from similar stuff. Elves were formed from the power of the dragons and the refinement of the fey, filling them with both strength and wisdom, and also giving them strong ties to both of these greater races. Halflings were born of the desires of the gods for safety and the peace of home, which had been much lacking after the great upheavals of the war against the Elder Elemental Eye and the Dark One. The orcs were made by the gods with the aim of creating beings that would be able to survive and thrive in even the most harsh of terrain, while the goblinoids were made as an army to overwhelm any foes of Therafim that might arise in times to come. However, neither of these races developed a strong sense of morality or restraint, and they have been forever seeking to test the strength of the other races of Therafim ever since, ensuring that conflict will keep Therafim's people strong and ready to face any future conflicts that might threaten them all.
These first races - the dwarves, elves, goblinoids, halflings, orcs, and others - soon divided up the world among themselves with the aid of the gods that had created them. The dwarves were given the mountains, where the treasures of the earth could be claimed and shaped into things of beauty and wonder by those who were willing to work with diligence and skill to obtain such glorious things. There they grew into a strong, steadfast people, hardened by battle with the many creatures that were already lurking in the Underdark who sought to steal from the dwarves, and against the giants, many of whom were the sworn racial enemies of the dwarves, and constantly sought to keep the dwarves pinned underground and out of sight. However, among those who delved deeper into the darkness of the Underdark, there were some who turned wholly to greed and cheerless, endless toil, These became the duergar. Worst of all, there were a rare few who delved too deep in the quest for the hidden secrets that lie beneath the surface of Therafim. These were found by the Nightmare King, the forbidden god born of Umnos' nightmare, and flung themselves headlong into the madness of unbridled magic. They became the derro, and the other dwarves, not even duergar, do not speak of them, except in terms of revulsion.
When the elves looked around the world to decide upon their place of dwelling, they saw the sea and the great forests that grew just beyond the seashore and were enchanted. Whereas dwarves tend to live a long time out of raw toughness and their incorrigibly stubborn natures, elves have the gift of long life so that they can properly develop, and so that they can grow alongside the trees that would be their homes, taking joy in the pleasure of the passing ages. There were some among the elves who took to the sea so much that they soon stepped right into the waves, giving rise to the aquatic elves. As a race infused with so much ancient magic that it is a part of their very beings, it was only natural that many elves would turn still more cerebral and become the high elves, a haughty and removed people who consider themselves the aristocracy of elfdom, and look down on other elves, let alone other races, as somehow inferior for being less intelligent and adept at the workings of magic and for their shorter lifespans. Sylvan elves were and are the most common of the elves - a relative term, since no elves are especially fertile, a state which was imposed upon them by the gods so that they would not imbalance the natural world, and so that they would remember the importance of every child that was born to them - and chose the middle path, gaining great and high culture and forming contacts and deep friendships with other races, unlike their shy or aloof cousins, while at the same time retaining a deep respect for nature, and living in a state of careful balance with the world around them. They are given at times to some aloofness from other races, but this usually results from their long lifespans and the knowledge which they acquire over their long lives, and not from any innate haughtiness. However, there was a race of the elves who did not just embrace the extremes of haughty aloofness and magical might that are elven stereotypes - they reveled in it. These were the drow, who first accepted the temptations of an ancient and evil goddess that had once held power in the First Age of Therafim, and sought it once more, waging war against the other races of elves, seeking to dominate them all and suck the life from them and in time from the gods themselves. For her blasphemy in stealing away the hearts of the drow in the jungles where they had once ruled, and in trying to usurp the power of all the gods, the spider goddess was smitten and cast out, into the depths of the Underdark, taking her people with her, leaving a vast waste behind where once was their mighty empire.
The halflings quickly became a people of duality, caught between the ideals of hearth and home and the lure of the open road. Many of the first halflings were a primitive tribal people, living in great jungles. These were the same jungles where the drow once ruled, however, and soon the drow took many of the halflings as slaves, while the rest were forced to flee from the people of the dark goddess, either traveling still deeper into the jungles, far from any civilized races, or being driven out into the sunlit world beyond the jungle, where many established peaceful little farming communities, right on the borders of the lands that had been their first homes. When the gods smote the land where the drow had once lived, turning it into a desert waste, the original homeland of the halflings was forever destroyed as well, leaving them as a race without a land to call their own, nomadic and ever wandering. Some halflings still establish their peaceful farming communities in places of great stability, and here they revere hearth and home above all else. But halflings also have a roguish side, a light-fingered instinct that comes so naturally to the dexterous halfling people, giving them an edge among the big folk that rule the rest of the world. Among their own communities and with their deepest friends of other races, halflings can be the epitome of the hearth defender and staunch supporters of the weak and the defenseless. But when faced with a hostile world filled with larger beings, most of whom would happily take advantage of the physical weakness and small stature of the halflings, they quickly turn to the dark half of their dual-nature and strike out as only they can, with nimble fingers, cunning words, winning smiles, and blows from behind when least expected.
Gnomes were a part of the fey world from the start, and they often act as go-betweens for the world of the fey and the world of the other races of the world, too stable for one world and too mischievous and clever to really fit into the other. Stereotypically, forest gnomes, the most common sort of gnomes, prefer to stay at home, forming pleasant little communities that are very often nearly impossible to find unless one knows where to look, the inhabitants of these communities living in burrows in hills and beneath the roots of trees. They often act as the crafters of the fey, making clothes, shoes, gems and other objects with incredible skill, and also are known as some of the best alchemists and inventors in the world. Gold gnomes are more social gnomes, and while they are a less fecund race than forest gnomes, they are the sort of gnome most likely to be encountered by other races. Loving urban life and the excitement of large communities, gold gnomes are a natural product of the rise of cities and the primal creative energies that are found in such places. Of the gnomish races, skull gnomes are the least understood, least populous, and most feared. Skull gnomes are a strange, quiet folk that live in the most remote, isolated places. Rather than having ties to the benign powers of more nature-oriented fey, skull gnomes instead draw on the terrible powers of such fey as the wendigo and other horrors of the unseelie realm, and while they are not generally evil, they often make use of necromantic magic to protect themselves. In ancient times past, goblins and kobolds filled similar niches to gnomes, driving these races in a brutal conflict. The gnomes drove the goblins and kobolds out, but they have retained a strong enmity to this day.
The orcs, reveled in the world of might making right, much like the brutish giants who had once ruled Therafim's surface. While the orcs will tell the story that the other races took all the good places on Therafim for themselves, leaving the orcs with nothing but what they could take, this is not completely true. Much as the orcs tell the tale, it is true that the elves and dwarves were the first to choose homes since they were created first, and while there were still many places left to choose from which were very good, they were not the best. Unlike the stories they tell, however, the orcs, rather than seeking to share or to make due with the good lands that remained, were seized with a fierce jealousy when they saw how these seemingly weaker races got the first choice of lands, soon becoming prosperous and largely peaceful, making the places where they lived even better. The orcs especially loathed the beauty and grace of the elves, and coveted their place of dwelling most of all. So they struck out at the world, and blighted places on its surface, turning them rough and dark and dangerous, or choosing locations in the Underdark that were already in this state, and then becoming strong enough to adapt and grow mighty from adversity and constant conflict. Burning inside with hatred and jealousy against the other races and a loathing for things refined and beautiful, thus began the constant round of orcish warfare that has plagued Therafim from that day to this, with orcish tribes battling each other constantly, gathering power, spoiling the lands where they dwell. and swelling their numbers until they spill forth in a torrent of raging, howling, battle-crazed savages, who rampage across the face of the land until they are either crushed by the raw might of a more organized, more numerous, or more powerful foe, or the horde is caught up in internal conflicts and collapses on itself, splitting into different warring tribes that return to the lands where they can battle each other without interruptions from other races.
The goblinoids were the last of this set of new races to be created, and the last to establish their people on the face of the world. They chose as their domain the Rimevast, a frigid land to the far north connected to many others by narrow bridges of land and ice at varies times of the year. From this harsh and forbidding land, all the goblinoids have spread out through the whole world, though they have never achieved the power in other lands like they have in Rimevast. Here the goblinoids rule unchecked, save for the white dragons and a few other especially mighty denizens of this chilly region of the world. The hobgoblins are the rulers of this vast goblinoid empire (vast because nobody else wants the Rimevast), where every free hobgoblin citizen carries a rank in the army, where they will serve for life if they wish to remain free. The stronger goblinoids, such as the bugbears and varag, serve as mercenaries and slavemasters, as do the ogrish allies of the hobgoblins, with ogre mages forming a strong faction of their own that allows many of the lesser giant races to live in goblinoid lands, such as athacs, hill giants and ettins, so long as they prove useful in maintaining order, and show no weakness, while not proving too great a threat to the hobgoblin High Generals. Goblins are the lowest of the low in Rimevast, slaves and less than slaves, spending their lives dominated by the larger, stronger races. Goblins are the goblinoids most likely to be encountered elsewhere because of this, seeking for other places where they can live and perhaps dominate somebody even weaker than themselves, with bugbears a close second, their fierce independence and predatory natures making them seek out new places where the prey is easier and the rules are less strict. While other races have grand mythologies with gods engaged in epic struggles and titanic battles, the goblinoids feel a strong sense of isolation from not just other races but from the gods themselves, an isolation only heightened by the vast wasteland of Rimevast that is their original home. Because of this isolation the goblinoids must make their own legends, carving out names for themselves as opportunities are presented.
In those days, as has been mentioned, the gods lived on the face of Therafim and ruled and acted directly in mortal business. This state of affairs endured for many long years, allowing great tales to be told of their acts, and great conflicts between deities to take place directly between the champions of each race, all things ultimately overseen by Umnos, the Watcher, and of course the Morrigan. However, things were not to remain in this state. Soon the servants of the gods, the native beings of the Outer Planes, began to face each other, and started to square off in lines of battle. The endless Blood War between the Baatezu and Tanar'ri soon began once more, and besides this, the ages-old conflict between good and evil planar creatures quickly grew out of hand. The numbers of Planar creatures might have kept this conflict in check, except that mortals from all sides soon began to join in the conflicts as well and worked to open gates so that more Planars could come to Therafim. This was the start of the War of Division, and its horrors remain etched into parts of the landscape of Therafim to this day. The war lasted for centuries, and sunk an entire continent beneath the waves, besides spreading rampant devastation across the whole of the land. It was not until the dragons of old, roused from the slumber into which they had sunk at the end of the Second Age by the world-shaking nature of the conflict, rose once more that any end was in sight. Then the dragons looked out over the world, as the armies of infernals and celestials and every creature of the planes in between grappled for dominance, shaking the fabric of reality itself once more, and they lifted up their voices to the heavens, to the Light, the benevolent co-progenitor of their first parents, and to Umnos, guardian of boundaries. And the Light and Umnos answered. The dragons were filled with the power of these great gods, champions among their numbers being given special powers and the commission to go forth and do battle with the unchecked forces of the gods. Some of the mightiest of these dragons were even given power to smite the gods directly, and even slay them with sufficient effort and skill. Thus ended the War of Division, and thus began the second Dragon War.
As dragons breathed out death on all sides, fulfilling their divine commission from the First God, the maker of all, and Umnos, the Watcher and guardian of balance and boundaries, the oldest gods, the Divine Dragons, looked up to the heavens, where the Light dwelt, and then upon the gods that were their children by birth or adoption, and saw what they must do. Though they had been called back by the titans to bring balance to the world, they had forgotten their true purpose. They were not the creators of Therafim, nor its true rulers, and neither were any of the gods. The world was meant to be ruled by mortals so that they could try themselves and find their own paths through the twisting ways of life and have a chance to develop understanding of the Great Mysteries of the realm of creation. Realizing this, the Divine Dragons reached out to their forces on both sides of the conflict, and called an end.
Humbled at last, some of the gods only brought to this point by the threat of ultimate destruction before the might of the armies of the second Dragon War, the gods closed the gates to the Outer Planes, sending their servitors back to their proper realms, and creating a greater gap between the living and the dead that kept the two realms more organized, giving Umnos power over these barriers between all planes. Besides the power to bar the way between worlds, as well as between life and death and time and space, Umnos was given the service of the Inevitables, the divine constructs who carry out the will of Fate, to ensure that his will was made reality. Because he is a construct, albeit one of divine purpose and powers, Umnos is impartial and utterly devoted to his tasks, though he often requires the assistance of others to carry out the needs of divine law lest he break the very rules he is devoted to upholding. The gods that walked through Therafim were then given realms of their own in the Outer Planes that suited them best and similarly removed from the world. Finally, the Divine Dragons, Bahamut and Tiamat, reached into themselves and drew out a portion of their own powers. Taking this, they mingled it with the combined divine essence that had been infused into the great once-sleeping dragons that had brought them to their senses, and from this divine power and the blessing of the Light itself, they created Matra, the World Mother, the embodiment of Therafim itself given form and will. And so the World Mother is to this day, maintaining the balance of nature through the subtle exertions of her powers and the energies she imbues into her many servants.
In this new state of affairs, Matra, the World Mother, Umnos, the Watcher, and the Morrigan now took their places as the undisputed powers of Therafim, with the dragon gods below them in influence, and the titan gods below them. With the removal of the gods from the Prime Material Plane, the Age of Gods had ended, and the First Age of Mortals had begun.
Part Five: The Fifth Age of Therafim, the First Age of Mortals, and the Rise of the Young Races
At the rise of Matra, the World Mother, an upswelling of creative powers swept Therafim, and a new host of races came into being, bringing to end the few scant centuries of peace that had come between Ages. Thus appeared the beastfolk among the races of the world for the first time, each animal which stood on two legs instead of four now stepping out into the wide world to find their own places in the vastness of creation. The most notable of these races, in terms of their world-altering abilities, were the wolfen, the catfolk, and the turos. The wolfen were mighty warriors who would roam the more forbidding reaches of the world in vast packs. Their ranges very often brought them into direct conflict with the goblinoids and the orcs, and so their primary role in the world was to stand as opposition to these other warlike races, until it became almost second nature to them to revel in conflict and the glory of battle and conquest over a hated foe. From the arid plains of the Summer Country rose the first catfolk, and they soon dominated these dry plains and the jungles nearest to them, gaining great power and ruling with an iron fist carefully padded by a velvet paw. The grand turos were a race of bovines originally, though they soon lost the docile, herbivorous nature of their progenitor species, and grew tall and strong and powerful, determined to set out and dominate a true empire upon the face of the earth, their might centered in the Autumn Land continent. Their former greatness is reflected today in the worship of sacred cows and bulls found among some of the peoples of Heaven's Tear, and their former fearsome might is to be found in the minotaurs, a barbaric and cursed offshoot of what was once a mighty and highly advanced people. Perhaps the rise of these three races to such power should have been expected, as they had ancient titan gods watching over them from the start, each acting as direct patrons of a beastfolk race.
It was at this time that the neogi first crawled from their stinking holes in the ground, this strange and twisted hybrid species a result of the ghastly energies that flow through the Lower Reaches of Therafim. They were a frail race, and yet they were cunning, and they were experts in the art of taking and bending slaves to their will, first dominating the umber hulks and later other creatures to aid them in building their strange, alien citadels below the crust of the world, where no natural light ever shines. But there were worse to come, drawn by the leakage of creative energies into the Underdark, and the still-unstable barriers between worlds that had only recently been erected. Among the creatures from other planes of being that escaped into the Prime Material Plane of Therafim were the illithids, or mind flayers, fleeing the wrath of their former gith slaves in the Astral Plane, and the kaorti, a strange and twisted race of fleshcrafting monstrosities from a realm where the laws of physics functioned very differently. These are only a very few examples of the many creatures that came to Therafim at this time from out of the depths or from the far reaches of alternate worlds.
The First Age of Mortals was for the longest time a period of great upheavals as these new, young races sought out their own niches in the world around them, either learning to adapt and fill roles that were open, or carving out new roles and empires for themselves where they could. In addition to the great cities, above and below, built by the dwarves and the elves, the catfolk established a dynasty of their own, and the turos hacked a bloody swatch across the Autumn Lands until there were none who dared oppose them, and peace and stability reigned in their newforged kingdom, enforced by the rule of the axe. The neogi and the illithids formed alliances between themselves and the drow, and battled often with the other races of the Underdark in their quests for power and dominance.
Once the boundaries of the races were finally established once more, life settled into a centuries-long routine, and a state as close to peace as can be found came once more and lasted for a long time. This allowed many great and now-forgotten realms to be established, their treasures and wonders and ancient, lost lore waiting even now to be found, lying somewhere, out there. However, at the end of this time of peace, something changed in the world, and all things were reshaped to accommodate this great change. Thus came the last of the great younger races into the world of Therafim. Thus came the humans, and their arrival heralded the end of one Age and the dawning of another.
Part Six: The Sixth Age of Therafim, the Second Age of Mortals, and the Third Dragon War
On that great and terrible night, the whole of the heavens was wracked with a titanic explosion of sound greater than thunder, sending a series of gleaming cracks running through the entirety of heaven’s vault. The divine barrier holding back the fearsome evils of space was well made, however, and so the cracks quickly mended themselves, and the night sky was once more made whole. But though the order in the heavens of Therafim was soon restored, the world was about to see the coming of a strange new race that would change the order on the surface of Therafim forever.
The humans came from another time, another plane, another world, so vastly removed from the world of Therafim that none of those who landed on Therafim remembered it, save in legend. They had strange and powerful devices that defied the laws of the natural world and the laws of magic at the same time, and these devices gave them strength that made them a match for any of the other races of Therafim.
Additionally, the humans were not alone on their great ships. With them came the strange sentient constructs who had once been intended to fight in the humans’ wars and serve them on their ships, hence their oft-used name of warforged, and the sirius, or dogfolk, who the humans had designed with their technology along similar lines to the natural development of the wolfen of Therafim.
The arrival of the many races of humanity (who already had the strange blood of a variety of odd species running in their veins from stops on their many travels through the realms of reality before their journey ended on Therafim) upset the entire power structure of the world. Not only were the humans as fecund as halflings, they were more physically powerful, more organized, and had many of their old technology left over from their point of origin (much of which is still to be found in the ancient ruins of their first settlements, though most of it is now broken or otherwise inoperable). Added to this, the humans seemed to have a tiny spark of godhood planted in each of them, despite their short lives, which meant that they were able to choose for themselves how they would act to a far greater degree than any other race, leading to all manner of inconsistencies in their behaviors as individuals, and no great cohesion to their species’ culture as a whole, so that they remain to this day largely a mystery to the other races of Therafim.
At first the humans made terrific headway into the world, their technology the equal of the magic that the native-born races of Therafim could pit against them. But the humans did not know the laws of Therafim, and paid them no respect, and for this they were punished, and eventually brought to equality. Umnos, troubled by the disruption of the barriers of time and space, took a hand in this effort, reaching out to the warforged, and granting them their freedom in the form of full sentience, and also giving them an opportunity to convert themselves to the use of more stable, divine energies as a power source rather than the ever-uncertain power sources provided by technology. Thus Umnos became the patron of all warforged, and most of them departed the service of their original human creators. Additionally, Matra drew upon the powers of Therafim itself, and began to leech away the power supplies of the techology of the humans, rotting them at the source until they failed or went dormant.
Forced to deal on even terms with the other races of Therafim as well as its hostile terrain and creatures, the humans ceased to expand their empires, and instead began to adapt to the laws governing their new home. Humbled beyond all measure, the leading humans of that first time were brought to stand before the council of the gods themselves, as well, as before the council of mortals commissioned to act in the name of the gods, to account for themselves. During their brief stay on Therafim up until that point, however, the humans had made friends of the halflings and also of the ratlings. Thus, mortal representatives of these two races stood up to call the gods to welcome humans into the fold of the peoples of Therafim. The other gods agreed, and thus humans began to worship these new gods and were accepted into the fold of Therafim's races.
In the following period, which lasted nearly two thousand years in all, the humans had many great civilizations that rose and then fell, leaving only a few that remained into the present Age. While there were many more human civilizations than are listed, only extant ones are mentioned here.
As the humans set about carving out lands and empires of their own, they met and often clashed with the other races. Battles with the hobgoblins and minor skirmishes with the wolfen tribes (who largely preferred to avoid the advances of human civilization rather than confront them directly) led to the creation of the Coldlanders, a band of humans who have adapted to the harsh life of the Rimevast.
In the unstable Shatterrealm, where Umnos' power is at its lowest point, the humans who settled there, just like all the races who settle there, initially came as outsiders and outcasts, and soon melded with the strange beings and elemental entities that occasionally visit this continent of wild, untamed energies, and the dragons and dragonkin who live there, forming a host of part-human beings - the planetouched and the dragonblooded - who by their nature tend not to form cohesive societies, and often immigrate to other continents from that dangerous land.
In the pleasant climate of the Autumn Lands, the humans faced and almost utterly defeated the vast and glorious empire of the Turos, a conflict which caused the creation of the Minotaur subrace as many of the Turos turned to barbarism and savagery, descending into the Underdark of Therafim and becoming changed by the strange energies they found there. From the territory carved out from lands once owned by dwarves, gnomes, elves, and Turos, either by diplomacy, war, or de facto rulership, the humans formed the stalwart Empire of the Iron Throne, and also the Freeholds, where a host of outcasts and enterprising empire builders could take any land they could hold and build upon it, forming a loose confederation of mostly allied states that are more unified in keeping off all outside conquerors than any single nation could be. The last remnant of the turos empire is also to be found in the Freeholds. clinging with desperate tenacity to the territory of its twin city states, though there is a reasonably strong turos presence in other parts of the world, albeit lacking the grandeur of their fallen empire.
On the continent of Hydra, no species has ever truly been able to dominate the vast and untameable jungles of that wild place, not even the humans, though they did form alliances with the wise coatls to form the Kingdom of the Sun, who worship the heavens and their glory above all else. It was in this land that humans were first contacted by the dark, old god who first lured away the now-evil nagas into rebellion against the dragons, before being sunk into obscurity as his own former worshippers forsook him for other deities. These humans made dark pacts with this strange and evil god, and from the powers gained from these horrible bargains of blood and perversion, the first of the yuan-ti were created, spreading in secret across the world, but acting in open upon the continent of Hydra, ruling over humans and others unfortunate enough to become their subjects in their lands beneath the Cobra’s Hood.
As far as the humans of Crescent are concerned, power is obtained through wealth, and their greatest city on the coast of that vast continent is the Grand Bazaar, where anything can be bought and sold for the right price. Alongside this decadence and opulence, however, has also arisen some of the most devout and faithful worshipers of the gods to be found anywhere, creating a strange and often volatile mix of devotion and banality, from which arose the first assassins, sacred killers who acted out of their fanatic beliefs, though the practice has since become more profane.
In the Summer Country live many scattered tribes of humans, some large and powerful and some small and weak, and many of them nomadic. The greatest of these tribes is the Coutraman Confederacy, named after the great and wise chief who first established the rules by which the many member tribes of this confederacy would live, protecting each other and living in relative peace.
The last continent where humans became a major factor of power that has lasted into the present Age was Heaven's Tear. Here the humans were at their most orderly, and also their most chaotic, creating the Golden Empire of Cho-Lin, and clearing vast swaths of fertile jungle and forest for farms and mighty cities, and also living in traditional, noninvasive lifestyles in tiny peasant villages that dot the life-teeming lands where humans must live side by side with nagas and dragons and sometimes their own ancestors.
It was near the end of this new and startling shift in power, as all the world was in motion, adapting to the arrival of the humans at the same time that the humans adapted to the world of Therafim and its peoples, that the dragons looked up, wherever they were, and were enraged. The reason for this was not immediately clear, though it would become so in the passing years. Many centuries had passed since the first arrival of the humans, but in all this time, none of them had noticed the horror that they had brought upon Therafim with their initial arrival. In breaking their way through the divine barrier of space and time and planes (and even though the barrier had resealed itself, thankfully preventing further and more ghastly harm), the humans had unwittingly released several Fallen Ones that had been imprisoned in the great lights set in the firmament of heaven to orbit Therafim forever.
These Fallen Ones were four in number: Mask, Noden, Flense, and Khan. They were weak in their natural forms, being creatures mostly of spiritual and mental abilities, but lacking much substance in themselves, requiring them to take on a host body if they were to succeed. The Fallen Ones did not even have names of their own, instead taking the ones by which they were called from the hosts that first housed them. Noden had fallen into the seas, and descended into the most hidden places of the Sunken Continent, where she merged with the greatest kraken ever to have lived, at first acting to aid this mighty beast in her plans for short-term conquest in the realms of the deep, but soon crushing the kraken’s psyche entirely and taking control forever. Khan fell into the mountains of eastern Autumn Land, and crept far and deep through the cracks of the earth until he came upon a foul abomination: a great and vast Hellfire Wyrm of immense size and power who had once tried to face and defeat Tiamat herself and take her place, only to be imprisoned in the Underdark for his heresy, and millennia later to be awakened and merged with the Fallen One who took his name, the Fallen One allowing the Hellfire Wyrm to overcome the limitations of Tiamat’s imprisoning curse, and the Hellfire Wyrm sharing its immense power with the Fallen One. Mask took control of an object: a simple mask of metal that reshaped itself to suit the wearer it was intended to dominate, allowing Mask to rule among the humans, changing bodies as was needed to preserve his power, ruling vast hordes of undead, goblinoids and human barbarians in the Rimevast. Finally, Flense fell upon Crescent and made a bargain with a low-ranking assassin, merging with her blade to give her immortality and the power to deal out death to her enemies, and eventually reshaping her body and her spirit so that her blade was a part of her being, and every surface of her strange, subtly metallic skin was razor-edged and lethal.
The Fallen Ones had come to Therafim originally because of the vast creative powers that flowed through the world in a great and ever-swelling tide. Their first plan was to take this world and use its inborn might to strike at the gods against whom they had first rebelled, as part of the first steps to unmaking everything – their ultimate goal. Through the powers of their mortal hosts, these four beings of great evil subtly worked their way into every society on the face of Therafim, using the temporary chaos brought by the spread of the human race as the perfect cover for their efforts. But though none of the younger races noticed, save for a few wise and watchful individuals, the dragons noticed, and heard the voices of their divine parents calling out to them in desperation. Where once there would be the occasional Ur priest who followed the Dark One still wandering the face of the world, now these power-stealers began to spread across the planet like a plague, weakening the very powers that held all of creation together as many mortals were inspired by the very temporary but very alluring freedom from consequences that came with worshipping the Fallen Ones instead of the gods. So the dragons came tearing down from the mountains and out of the forests and the deserts and the swamps and the vast cold reaches of the world and even from the twin moons on Therafim, blasting all before them, set upon cleansing the world with the might of their all-consuming wrath.
No continent went unscathed from this vast flight of dragons, and soon the Fallen Ones were forced from their subtle ways into direct action just to keep their power from being utterly destroyed, as any organization that supported them, however unknowingly, was blasted by the might of the dragons unleashed upon the world in this, the third and greatest Dragon War. It was when the Fallen Ones revealed themselves, almost three decades after the start of the Third Dragon War, that all the races of the world realized the danger they were in, the humans finally gaining a true understanding the all-consuming evil of what they faced for the first time, as they lacked the lore of ages past which the other races had, and so had been easy prey at first for the cunning of the Fallen Ones. But now, forewarned and forearmed, the lines of battle were drawn up, those who stood with the dragons and the gods on one side, and those who stood with the Fallen Ones on the other.
This battle raged for almost two centuries across the whole world (though not always in every part of the world at the same time), ending many dynasties and shattering the power of many kingdoms and realms, leaving only those that have been mentioned above and a scant few others with enough power to stand at the end. At the end of the battle, Khan was bound once more beneath the great mountains of the Autumn Lands, Noden retreated deep beneath the waves to be hunted by the leviathans forever after, never to gain any peace, Flense was transformed into a statue that cuts whoever is foolish enough to touch it, gazing down from the highest minaret of the largest temple in the Grand Bazaar, and Mask’s host was slain, and the possessed metal mask lost to the passing of ages. With the end of these horrendous battles, the Great Dragon War was at an end, and so was the Sixth Age.
Part Seven: The Present Age
The time is now, and the place is here. After some initial aftershocks from the many wars and contentions that had shaken the face of Therafim, the world has finally started to settle down, both politically and physically. The nations of the world are fairly stable at the present time, and the continents are as well, and so there are planted the seeds for growth. However, this stability only extends to the hearts of each nation, in their major population centers, and only really applies to broad political and economical strength. The hordes of ragged barbarism, the numerous monstrous threats, the constant dangers of the things from the Underdark and wilderness of Therafim, and the dangers from the many great evils in the world, ranging from the subtle machinations of the Dark One and the Elder Elemental Eye to the overwhelming force of the might of the goblinoid armies and Tiamat's dragonblood forces all threaten at every turn, and so each nation and city requires constant effort simply to maintain its present holdings. Many dragons still roam the world, though many more have returned to the moons or gone to ground, watching and waiting and gathering treasure where they can as an offering to Io at the last day, when all treasures will be gathered together once more in the paradise that they lost, so long ago.
This is a time of change and a chance for great adventure. Now is the time to seize the day and make your fortune in the vast world of Therafim.