Current Year = 998 AC (After Cataclysm)
Really Ancient History
(NOTE: The timing on this is very uncertain, what with gods sometimes not existing within time and all. Accounts of these events vary wildly, and some may never have happened at all.)
- Gods & Primordials have massive war over creation. In general, the gods do a little better, but many die (ex: Io died and became Bahamut & Tiamat)
- Nihilist God Tharizdun seeks to end reality with Outsider forces from beyond existence. Some of the surviving gods & more reasonable primordials team up to imprison him. He is forever known as “the Chained God”.
- The Great Crystal Gate is put in place by this tentative god/primordial alliance to help keep out the Outsider Aberrations (and their gods) that Tharizdun was trying to summon.
- Gods have their various fights (Corellon vs. Grummsh, etc) and various racial splits happen ( elf/ eladrin/ drow)
- Remaining gods will not be able to defeat primordials without dying themselves, but a deal is struck with those primordials who helped with the Crystal Gate creation: primordials will be imprisoned/banished from this world, but those who agree to leave will take some of the Gods’ power with them. Gods will not take direct action in the world, and those reasonable primordials (sometimes called the Xel’naga) will neither return to this world nor free their imprisoned allies.
- The Crystal Gate, at some undisclosed point in time, shattered. It is thought that this was recent (possibly as a result of the Cataclysm… see below), but nobody is sure. Shardminds have been showing up for at least a few hundred years in small numbers, but they don’t really know much more, and there are all sorts of weird wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey things related to the kind of magic of the Gate. It’s even possible that Shards of the gate were scattered throughout time, so a new Shardmind might show up somewhere tomorrow, even though the gate might have shattered millenia ago… or maybe it hasn’t even shattered yet. Who knows?
- The Raven Queen ascends to godhood (having once been a mortal) to take charge of souls that die. Prior to that, most souls had been at the mercy of gods of torture & undeath who also sort of oversaw Death. She was perhaps helped to this position by other gods who wanted the souls of their faithful to have an easy passage to an afterlife they deserved. There are also stories that she was a great sorceress who took the power by force. Who can say what is truth, though?
- Other godly “history” happens… like Zehir killing his daughter after she rebels and becomes a minor goddess of redemption. Vecna rises to power at some point, and the earthly remains of his hand and eye become epic artifacts.
- The various realms & dimensions have their borders solidified. Prior to that, there was lots of bleed-over, or maybe they were all one world. It’s hard to tell from the stories, but in general “night” and “Shadowfell” used to be interchangeable, “forest” and “”/campaign/joelastowski/wikis/the-feywild" class=“wiki-page-link”> Feywild", etc… though none of the other planes were that different from the prime material plane in those early days, so it might have been possible to walk from the fey to the prime to the abyss to the elemental chaos and not have thought anything of it. But that’s all changed now.
500ish years prior to the Cataclysm
Great nations like the Dragonborn Kingdom of Arkhosia and the Tiefling Empire of Bael Turoth hold prominence in the world. The Elvish Empires rule the Feywild, and their great cities such as Myth Drannor are the height of magical accomplishment (at least in their minds).
About 1000 yrs ago, something awful happened that destroyed both the dragonborn kingdom of Arkhosia and the Tiefling kingdom of Bael Turoth. Whatever inconveivable magics happened as a result put a huge void in the land that later became what is now known as the Sea of Cataclysm. Near the Sea there are also pockets of wild magic, which seem to be the source of any Spell Plague-type maladies even to this day. Echoes of the Cataclysm reverberated through the Feywild and Shadowfell as well, warping parts of those demi-planes in ways that are still felt today. Other large land shifts may also be the result of this Cataclysm… like “the Maze” west of the Sea of Cataclysm, or whatever horrid rotting created the Eternal Wasteland in the southeast. Then again, maybe they’re unrelated, but the Cataclysm is a great scape goat.
Nerath (300 AC – 600 AC)
A great human kingdom that fell some 400 years ago. Not as awesome as either Arkhosia or Bael Turoth, though it claimed to be better than both (pfft… humans and their arrogance). Nerath was located west of modern-day Ionia, in what is now the Nentir Vale. Nerath fell in an uprising of undead.
Ionia founded (550ish AC)
Empire of Atramor (600 AC – 875 AC)
The former land of Nerath was overrun by undead legions for more than two centuries after the fall of Nerath. They were lead by the vampire lord Atramor and his undead armies (who was also allied with several area orc & goblin tribes). Eventually an adventuring band known as the Silver Company took out the Lord Atramor (who was also said to possess both the hand and eye of Vecna), which allowed other forces to clear out the scattering, leaderless orcs, goblins, undead, and other forces that had served under the vampire lord. There are stories that some of the undead and affiliated necromancers escaped to the mageocracy of Thay, located far to the north, but these are unconfirmed.
Thay (700 AC – present)
The northern nation of Thay is formed by the heads of several magic schools. The mage-ocracy rules fairly, and citizens enjoy magical amenities unknown to most outside nations. Over the centuries, though, they become less open to outsiders, and are now seen as a mostly stand-offish, superior-minded nation with the magical firepower to hurt any who stand against them. There are also rumors that Necromancy is openly allowed and practiced by some of the Red Wizards of Thay.
Waterdeep, which will become the “City of Splendors” and largest metropolis on the continent, is founded on the Eastern coast of the continent. It is built as a port city attached to a dwarven keep in a mountain that overlooks the city. Because of the many nations in the east looking to do business with these dwarves, the city grows quickly.
Nentir Vale (895 AC – present)
Pretty much as written in D&D products, with Silver Company dates adjusted to match above. The dwarven city of Hammerfast in the Vale is founded by Jadzia Hammerfast, a former member of the Wheels of Progress (see below).
Pax Humana (850 AC – present)
Towns and strongholds in the CN of the continent rally around a vibrant and wealthy leader, Fyur Stalin, to form the nation of Pax Humana. Their central creed is that humanity deserves to rule the planet, though they are not aggressively military about this (at least not outside their borders). Half-elves & Half-orcs are welcome in PH, so long as they denounce their “lesser halves”. New Nerath, the capital of the nation, hosts what will become the greatest museum of artifacts from the fallen human kingdom of Nerath.
875 AC – “The Build-Up”
Hearing of the Silver Company’s success, the dwarven King of Ionia rallies his nation to prepare all military forces to sweep through the remains of Atramor, wiping out all the undead. Their first main objective will be Dismalin, where Lord Atramor’s head necromancer, Ssaz Tam, has withdrawn to re-marshal his strength. Western Ionia (largely dwarven) is 100% behind this effort. Eastern Ionia (more elvish) is not. Many bad words are said and opinions are formed as a result.
876 AC – “The Visions”
On the Spring Equinox, every seer and oracle in the feywild realms near Ionia begins having nightly visions of the doom that will befall the nation should King Ironhammer’s plan continue. When telling the King does nothing to dissuade him, some Elvish forces go so far as to try and sabotage the military-industrial complex in Western Ionia. A team of 5 eastern Ionians is caught, tried, and hanged for their treason. They call themselves the Necessary Evils, and their name becomes a cautionary tale to any who would oppose the king.
880 AC – “The Great Ionian Army”
A large force from Ionia, lead by the Dwarven King Bator Ironhammer, marches on Dismalin. None survive the battle. But it’s not even that none survive. There is ABSOLUTELY NO SIGN of either the undead forces or the Ionian army. It is as if they both just disappeared. The complete loss of so many soldiers and the king throws Ionia into economic and political chaos. To this day, dwarves of western Ionia will swear that the defeat was due to elvish forces of eastern Ionia failing to participate or perhaps sabotaging things. Elves will argue that their mystics foresaw calamity, but the stubborn Dwarven King would not listen.
885 AC – “The Withdrawal”
Many Elvish forces in eastern Ionia, upset at the turmoil in the west and fearing a greater catastrophe as the seers’ dreams get worse, retreat into feywild realms bordering the Yew woods. Many fey forces try to limit contact with material world, especially with Western Ionians. A new leader for Ionia has yet to be decided upon, though a dwarven & human council from Western Ionia has claimed the right to govern the nation in Ironhammer’s absence. Things are on the verge of collapse, as the withdrawal of Elvish taxes puts further strain on the already struggling economy. And then… near the end of 885 AC, Dragon Mountain appeared.
Dragon Mountain (885-930 AC)
A dimension-shifting massive peak ruled over by the Great Wyrm Infyrana and her legions of loyal followers, the arrival of Dragon Mountain in an area typically spells the demise of that area. The denizens of the mountain will raid and pillage the surrounding towns, bringing any potent magical items to the Great Wyrm herself. Infyrana found much to plunder and lord over in Ionia those decades, and she was well pleased… that is, until the Wheels of Progress arrived.
An adventuring company of some renown, The Wheels were an Erathis-based team that sought to save failing civilizations and bring order to the world.
Together they defeated Infyrana (when Titus Imperius jumped down, impaling her head with his famous sword The Blade of Civility) and her legions of lizardman, kobold, and elemental followers, while the Wheels’ wizard, Malachi, managed to understand enough of the maddening inter-dimensional magics to still them and freeze the mountain in place. With the vast riches they found in Infyrana’s horde, the Wheels decided to call together East & West Ionia to rebuild the decrepit capital city. They then set about using more of the money to improve roads throughout the region, build embassies to other nations, and set up a public education system, all of which drastically improved the economy and essentially saved Ionia from collapse.
Jadzia Hammerfast leads a force of dwarves to the west seeking the lost army of Ionia. They eventually found the dwarven stronghold of Hammerfast, where Jadzia retires as a respected elder among the dwarves there.
Titus Imperius is overwhelmingly elected King of Ionia. He and his advisor, Alexia (who becomes the Prime Minister), have a recount done, but the results do not change. Thus begins what is known to many as a golden age for Ionia.
Facing increased threats from orcish hordes in the north (bolstered by the undead island-nation of Umbria) and horrors from the Eternal Wasteland to the south, nine separate nations of the east form the great Alliance of Eastern Nations, banding together to fight off any threat they might face, north or south. They are, essentially, the European Union, and also The Alliance to those WoW players out there.
Mount Hotenow, in the northwestern corner of the continent, erupts, destroying much of the city of Neverwinter, which had been known as the “Jewel of the North”.
Alexia Do’Arten dies peacefully of old age. In her honor, King Imperius puts forth a referendum to the Parliament to rename the capital of Ionia after her: Alexandria. The vote passes unanimously.
Gilraith Featherin, a male half-elf and favored son of Altair, goes off to the Northeast with a band of local militia (possibly including some PCs) to answer a desperate call for aide from the Alliance in the wars against the Orcish Horde.
General Featherin returns with his men as a hero. He and his men return to their homes, though they maintain positions in the Ionian military, which is at peace (sort of an Army Reserves situation).
The game begins with the marriage of Gilraith to the Eladrin princess Christania.