The Cosmoscape Chronicles
Cosmology and History
The Ages of History
Eons ago, before the written record, before living memory, before life itself, there were the mysterious Forces – the laws of the universe, the primordial fabric of reality from which everything is made, the math of existance itself. From their commingling and interaction were born the Elemental Chaos, the Astral Sea, and Aerth, and with them the first beings: the primordials in the Elemental Chaos, the gods in the Astral Sea, and single-celled organisms on Aerth.
Over the ages, the primordials began to take an interest in life and its evolution on Aerth. They began by coarsely giving shape to the landscape helping life in all its forms to flourish. Looking upon their work, the gods were fascinated. They began to give refined form to the discord of the primordials’ work, and to tamper with evolution of life itself creating beings that pleased them and reflected their disposition.
Enraged by their meddling, the Primordials began a war that consumed the cosmos. Countless Primordials and Gods perished, but in the end the Gods prevailed and the few surviving primordials withdrew to the shelter of the Elemental Chaos, leaving their work to the will of the Gods and in the forms they had shaped it in. From then on, the world and its creatures where shaped almost exclusively by the Gods and the Forces.
The Gods’ first great work were the Angels and it is the time that these creatures reigned preeminently that is called the Age of Angels. Angels were those creations closest to their Gods and their varied dispositions. No longer worried with the Primordials, each early god set about to establish itself supreme, and so great quarrels erupted between the Gods. These battles in the heavens were played out on Aerth as acted out between the various Angels. In the end, a race of Angels known as Demons, and their break-away chaotic counterparts known as Devils won Aerth. Many eons passed in which these terrible creatures dominated the Aerth. But, as with every age, this age came to pass and it did so with yet another great war.
Ignored by both Gods and Angels a small race of beings began to exert themselves – the Dwarves. Together with their Deva (semi-angelic humanoids) allies they waged war against the Demons and their allies the Rakshasas (semi-demonic humanoids). After innumerable years of bloodshed the Dwarves triumphed, and in the process discovered the art of magic. With their newfound craft, the Dwarves were able to conquer Demonkind by trapping them within that brilliant planet known then as Baator but has come to be referred to today as the Sun. For many years their kind flourished and this age was known as the Age of Mithril. But as their numbers increased in the great plains, another kind of creature began to flourish deep within the forests and jungles: Goblin-kind.
By shear numbers, sudden force, and ungodly frenzy, Goblin-kind overcame much of Dwarven-kind, forcing the beleaguered nations of Dwarves deep underground and ushering in the Age of Goblin-kind. Little is known of this mysterious age. What is known is that in total number no other race has ever been equally prolific (or even close). The remains of the great Goblin civilization litter the landscape all across Aerth reminding every creatures of this strange time. The heights of goblin architecture, art, and magic still dumbfound even the most erudite academics today, which makes the sudden near-extinction of Goblins and the total disappearance of their great civilizations so puzzling.
With the end of the Age of Goblin-kind comes the beginning of the Age of Dragons. During this age, a distant cousin of Dwarven-kind, Humans, evolved from the now subterranean Dwarves to walk and live on earth, rather than under it. At about the same time, the great Progenitor Dragons arrived from the Elemental Chaos, having been driven out by the Primordials, to claim large swathes of foresaken earth the Goblins left behind. As the humans slowly spread across the world, so too did dragons and their kind. Although peacefully coexistant at first, a great civilization of humans, the terrible ancestors of the Tiefling race, that called themselves the Taiflay would come to destroy that peace.
Allying themselves with Demons trapped within Baator and the 9 Hells, the Taiflay and their Kingdom, Mael Garath, would become infamous throughout the world. After learning the secrets of Demon-kind and acquiring much of their power, the Taiflay turned on their now former allies, summoning their kind to Aerth and enslaving them for their own ends. Before the great dragon races could prevent them, the Taiflay began their murderous campaign to conquer the world, quickly spreading like cold night over much of Aerth. This lead to the last great war – the Dragon Wars – that war between Dragon-kind and the Taiflay who were now a distinct race and known as the Teiflings.
After a seemingly unwinnable hundred year war, the Dragons and their kind, known now as the Dragonborn, finally prevailed but only after the demise of the great Progenitor Dragons and the collapse of the civilization they founded. With the destruction of the Tiefling capital the shattered yet merciful Dragonborn allowed the few Tiefling survivors to live free, but forbidded them to ever settle again. And so they wandered – a nomadic tribe of corrupted humans without a home, turned away wherever they sought refuge, pariahs of Aerth.
The vacuum left in the wake of the the Dragon Wars ushered in the last age: The Age of Men. Those early human nations nearly wiped out by the initial expansion of the Taiflay recovered during that great war, and began slow to expand with trade, diplomacy, trickery and war. The versatile Humans began to work closely with the battered and nearly extinct newcomers, the Eladrin, who had just now arrived through the Fey Gate from the Feywild narrowly escaping destruction by the Formorian armies. In exchange for their arcane knowledge the humans protected and taught the fragile Eladrin about the manifold and novel dangers of Aerth. With their newfound arcane power the Human nation exerted fuller control on Aearth.
During these long years a schism ruptured the Eladrin dividing the new nations of the Elves and the Drow from their Eladrin counterparts. What was originally a division of family clans became over many years to be a separation of races, but this was yet to come. This left the Eladrin nation weakened. During this same time the Human peoples’ prospered and divided itself into many nations. They began to war and quarrel with one another until one powerful kingdom by the name of Tamar unified them all.
Through political maneuvering and arcane dominance the Tamarians unified all 10 humans nations into a body known as the Confederation of Tamar. Though each human nation had representation in the Confederate Court, the Tamarian kings had de facto tyrannical control of the nations as well as near total dominance over the now weakened Eladrin, still suffering from the Great Schism. It began a campaign of expansion, which expressed itself over the entire continent of Seath. Soon even Seath was not enough and the great confederation even began exploring other continents ever lustful of resources.
That state of things continued for hundreds of years until Lavender Day, the last day of the Age of Men and the first of the Age of Uncertainty. Seven hundred and four years ago the world shook and the skies were turned a deep violet; this was the Lavender Day – the day a great blast scarred Aerth. At the centre of the blast was the kingdom of Tamar. The blast shattered the earth, sent great shock wave around Aerth, ripped at the fabric of the planes itself, and left a swirling and powerful magical orb at its epicentre – an orb that sank into the the earth and created a vortex that twists till this very day.
Teeming with arcane energy that vortex, the Maelstrom as it came to be known, violently stripped huge segments of the continent off, splintering the borders of several countries, and shattering the entire cosmopolitan kingdom of Tamar into thousands of pieces. Gargantuan chunks of land plunged downward creating a new sea. Other pieces were infused with arcane and interplanar energies, and remained hanging, suspended in mid-air beneath the dark iron-grey clouds that flickered with red lightning overhead; a never-ending tempest that remains even today, forever swirling above the Maelstrom. These days, the supernatural floating pieces of detritus are known to the people of Seath as the Maelstrom Isles.
In the wake of that day, history flowed completely anew, nearly severed from its roots. Almost everywhere the effects were great and in some, total. For most the impacts of Lavender Day are still being felt to the present day.
As the inter-planar energies rent the world, spaces separated by countless miles suddenly overlapped, and giant leaps of distance were possible all at once. In the great tumult, creatures from Aearth’s sister planets, the Elemental Chaos, and the Astral sea suddenly found themselves on Aerth and vice versa. The great intermingling of energies even produced new races and changed some forever. A new race known as the Kalashtar, hailing from the Realm of Dreams, were now real; no longer were they in a state of permanent flux and semi-corporeality. The Genasi were born – humans fused with raw energy from the elemental chaos. New races from the Astral Sea came to settle themselves on Aerth, most notably the Githyanki and Githzerai.
Although more than seven hundred years has passed since Lavender Day, the world is still reeling from the blow. Everywhere great upheavals continue as the world struggles to reorganize itself into some kind of balance.
The middle world – Aerth – is a world where cosmology affects everyone, from the lowliest of peasants to the mightiest of beasts. It sits on the border between two infinite and fundamental expanses: the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos. Within the first sit astral dominions – pockets of order (or disorder) created by powerful beings, most often the gods. These pockets are generally large, but can be of any size, and will usually reflect the wildly different whims of those powerful beings who created them. Within the second sit the elemental realms – domains where some powerful being has claimed a portion of the chaos and shaped it to match its will. Although, like astral dominions, these places can take any shape (depending on the will of their creators), they are most often described as being more crude and primitive then their Astral Sea counterparts.
Rotating around the middle world, between both the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea, are five celestial bodies: the Sun, the Feywild, the Shadowfell, the Far Moon, Tel’Moray, and Baator. Each celestial orb has important and unique effects on the middle world. Perhaps the best known and most perceived of these orbs is the Sun.
As Aerth rotates on its axis, its surface spins under the illumination of that brightest and most brilliant of heavenly bodies: the Sun. The time spent under its dazzling rays is known as daytime, as opposed to those dark intervals when its light is hidden, nighttime. During the day its searing light is filtered through the atmosphere creating the cerulean sky the people of Aerth have become so familiar with. During the nighttime the sky is filled with either the blackness of the Astral Sea, with its many dominions shining like specks of diamonds on a canvas of silken onyx, or the Elemental Chaos, with its vibrant multicoloured ribbons – nebulae made from the pure stuff of creation. The cycle of night and day governs those races living atop of the world, the over-races, as well as those creatures they share the surface with. Besides the cycle of day and night, the seasons are governed by the Sun as well. The Sun’s apogee is accompanied by winter, and its perigee with summer. Most life on Aerth would not exist without the Sun, one of the truly unique characteristics of this place.
Equally as unique as the Sun, and almost as important, are the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and the Far Moon – planets created from the formation of the world. In the beginning, when the world’s formation had just begun, the primordials found that some pieces marred their great work and discarded them. Those that were too bright and vivid coalesced into the Feywild, those that were too dark and turbid came together as the Shadowfell, and those pieces that the primordials were most displeased with, that were too strange and alien, cohered into the Far Moon.
When the gods began shaping life and the world the primordials and created, ebbs of creation energy rippled through the cosmos passing through those discarded pieces. Each mountain, ocean, forest, or creature that was worked upon had it’s echo manifest itself on the Feywild, Shadowfell, and the Farmoon, although each planet’s manifestations of these echoes greatly differed. Thus the world was born with three siblings: the bright Feywild, the dark Shadowfell, and the strange Far Moon.
The Shadowfell is the dark version of the world. Although vast expanses of space separate the Shadowfell and Aerth, in places of deep shadow sometimes a residual connection exists. In these places it is possible to pass from one planet to the other in the blink of an eye. Although not completely evil, the Shadowfell is generally more wicked and often has a sinister side. When mortals die, their spirits first travel through the Shadowfell before reaching their final destination.
The Feywild is the surreally vibrant version of the world. Arcane energy radiates from its core, suffusing everything in it with a measure of power and wildness. Colours, vistas, and the air are all somehow more real – they’re experienced more strongly here. The beauty and majesty of this place is often said to be unparallelled in the entire cosmos.
The far moon is a place where the unnatural rules. Twisted blasted landscapes are pummelled by strange aberrant weather. Uncertainty and queerness are the feelings this place evokes. Creatures often behave brashly and oddly, without apparent pattern. Those with a measure of coherence in their actions have evolved to exist in world where destruction and lunacy are normal – a place where only the strongest survive, where “destroy or be destroyed” is oftentimes the only motto that ensures survival.
As with the ebbs of creation energy that took form on the Far Moon, the Shadowfell, and on the Feywild, so too do the energies of dreams manifest themselves in the cosmos, and that place is called Tel’Moray – the realm of dreams. The raw psychic energy emitting from every creature on Aerth coalesces itself into the semi-substantial and everchanging world the Kalashtar hail from. Because of it’s strange origin, the Forces act least strongly here. The rules of the universe are suspended in some places and greatly weakened elsewhere. Everything from locomotion to breathing can no longer be taken for granted on this unintelligible planet. The only guiding and coherent force on Tel’Moray is the mind, which can go as far as to probe the very essence of Tel’Moray and alter substance itself.