When we were talking about the setting’s magic and cosmology, we decided that the Gods had once been more active and communicative, but were no longer, and that’s one of the reasons why there are so many monsters running around tearing up the countryside. Let’s expound upon that a little.
The History of History
Just to be clear, what we’re dealing with here is what’s actually happened, not how it’s remembered. Remembered history, oral or written, is a matter of culture. Different people may have more or less accurate recollections of what’s happened. The Elves are probably the closest, though the Dwarves keep the best records.
In the Beginning
In the beginning, the various humanoid races wandered the world in loose bands, knowing neither civilization nor magic. Barely more than beasts, they were largely nomadic, though those in especially fertile regions might settle down for decades or even centuries.
The spirits that would eventually become the elves, the Alvar, were immortal and unaging spirits of nature, manifestations of the earth’s life force, serving to nurture and protect it. They were the stewards and guardians, largely immaterial but able to manifest physically as needed.
The gods existed as the primitive races saw them, rough manifestations of natural phenomena and cycles. The world was simple, if occasionally savage.
The Fall of the Elves
The Alvar eventually became addicted to the sensation of physicality, spending more and more time experiencing the world as flesh and blood, and less time as spirit. Eventually some made the choice to give up their true immortality for a life of pleasure and pain, becoming the first elves.
The First Civilization
Four-hundred thousand years ago several tribes of humans banded together into the first true civilization of Atlantis. They were advanced in both science and magic, mastering metalworking, writing, and agriculture on a scale unseen in the world. They were a true magiocracy, where political power was tied directly to magical might, and over time their pantheon grew broad and complex. The wonders created in those days have never been equaled.
The elves watched with growing concern, but by the time they were moved to act, the Atlanteans had far outstripped the power of the Alvar.
The Fall of Atlantis
While the elves were unable to stem Atlantis’s ambition, no empire lasts forever. Twenty thousand years ago the ruling mage-priests fell to factional bickering that soon blossomed into civil war. Great magics were brought to bear against the different factions and the gods they championed, some bargaining with strange entities from beyond reality. In the end the power was too much for the humans to wield, and the world was threatened with destruction and dissolution.
It was left to the Alvar and Elves to preserve the tattered remains of reality. The remaining Alvar sacrificed themselves to power a massive spellwork to seal away the most powerful wizards, trapping them in the space between space, the time between time. Atlantis itself sank below the waves, abandoned by its gods, failed by its masters.
Elven über alles
It became clear to the Elves that the humans and other mortal races could not be trusted to gain so much power. To preserve the world, they had to dominate it, bringing the scattered tribes to heel. While they felt the need to regulate the action of all, they were harshest upon the humans, enacting strict limits on their population and limiting their exposure and understanding of magic and technology. The shattered remnants of Atlantis could offer up no resistance, and the rest of the world never had a chance.
The Elves Fall. Yes, again.
This Elven dominion lasted for almost five-thousand years before the humans managed to overthrow their yoke. The elves had never been very numerous and largely kept to their own island of Avalon, ruling at a distance by decree rather than force. Many of the earliest legends of Adventurers date back to this resistance, and this is at the point where the earliest of human written records begin. The elves themselves were exiled to their island, which itself was mystically sealed away. The few that remained were only the ancient order of Rangers, who had rejected the formation of the Elven state, instead choosing to remain true to their origin as wanderers in the wilderness.
A New Beginning
Free from elven suppression, human civilizations rise across the globe, mostly independently. While there was some benefit to be gained from Elven and even older Atlantean ruins, for the most part it all had to be discovered again.
So far, the world we’re describing is not yet far from Earth’s own neolithic age, but with a few monsters, nonhuman races, and active gods. Next time we’ll delve into more recent times, with the return of Atlantis and the Elves, the fall of the Gods, and World War Wizard.