Items in [Parentheses] are part of the Secret History – events that happened but are not general knowledge. Some are known only to a very few researchers, historians and priests. Highlight to read, unless you are possibly going to play in this world. (The observant may notice some elements taken from the excellent scenario Hammers of the God by James Raggi. Don't read the Secret History if you intend to play this. Here's the Grognardia review.)
Comments are welcome and may well be incorporated.
There are four worlds with four stars and four moons that revolve in complicated fashion around the Sun, or perhaps the Sun revolves around them (no-one is quite sure and astrologers and other wise men argue about this incessantly). In one world, Kanosza, gods ruled – the gods of the celestial bodies and the Afterworld. In another, Jaruusz, a seemingly omnipotent principle, The Infinite, governed the mundane world and the Ether. On Ghildra, spirits roamed the world and the Guinee, the spirit’s home. On Ehlaar, the goodess Ehla and her children were the creators, ruling both Ehlaar and the Dreaming, until her children rose up and imprisoned Ehla in the Dreaming, which became the Nightmare World. [The Afterworld, the Ether, the Guinee and the Nightmare World all share characteristics, and otherworldly beings can seemingly operate through all these planes, even if they do not interact with each other.]
Kanosza is a world of continents, Jaruusz a water world with a giant archipelago, Ehlaar is a Pangaea, with just one continent, while Ghildra is a desert world with no seas, few lakes and many oases.
On each world existed a major species of humans and another intelligent species: on Kanosza, dwarfs, on Jaruusz elves, on Ghildra dragonmen and on Ehlaar trolls.
After the Rebellion of the Children and the imprisonment of Ehla, the intelligent species of Ehlaar learned how to summon and negotiate with her grandchildren and, in some case, her children directly, for magical boons. Her grandchildren became known as Demons and her children as Demon Princes/Princesses.
One Prince, Lord Vazo, soon became pre-eminent. He left the Nightmare Realm and raised a mighty fortress called Doomtower.
At some point, the people of Kanosza discovered the secret of travelling between the worlds. Many arrived in Ehlaar and brought with them the worship of their gods. Dwarves also arrived with them, together with their earth god. The humans of Kanosza became known as Colonists as opposed to the Natives.
Kingdoms began to form, each with their own patron Demon Prince. Some colonists began their own kingdoms, although there were never enough to be a major force. The dwarves began to delve into the mountains.
Doomtower sent out armies to demand tribute from these kingdoms. All complied but the city of Zyman. Prince Azra, patron of the city, stood up to Lord Vazo and formed an alliance. Vazo reciprocated by gathering his subjects. Azra’s army laid siege to Doomtower, finally toppling it after a hundred years. Many legends are told of the siege of Doomtower but no-one now knows where it stood.
Time of the Ancients
Slowly at first, then quickly, the Kingdom of Zyman, began to absorb or conquer its neighbors. [The first emperor, Guto, had made a major deal with Prince Azra that involved massive sacrifice in return for great temporal power for Guto and his successors.] While Azra allowed pacts with his brothers and sister to continue (indeed, his favorite siblings were allowed to keep their kingdoms), he asked for the destruction of the theist cults that the Colonists had brought with them. The Colonist kingdoms were systematically exterminated and their temples thrown down. In the absence of organized religion, the Colonists were forced to resort to Blood Magic.
The Ancient Empire discovered the route to Ghildra, and brought back slaves – both human (who quickly became known as Brutes) and dragonmen. They brought their spirits with them, but the Demon Princes did not regard them as a threat and tolerated them.
The Dwarves shut themselves in their mines, content to wait for more tolerant times. [They also took the Trolls to their heart following widespread famine and empire attacks in troll lands, and shared their tunnels with them.]
After the defeat of the last independent kingdom, the Empire ruled unchallenged for a thousand years [which was the terms of the deal with Prince Azra.] Over the last few hundred years, however, central rule began to collapse [because Emperor Bebb, last of the descendents of Guto, died without issue.] Local Moguls became de facto rulers of local kingdoms and began to war with each other as Princes demanded more from their conjurers.
The end of the Empire and the coming of the Outsiders was presaged by a series of natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and whirlwinds.
Time of the Outsiders
[A thousand years to the day after Guto’s deal with Azra,] the Outsiders came. From the world of Jaruusz, the Outsiders were on a holy mission to conquer worlds in the name of The Infinite. They had already conquered Kanosza and Ghildra (to the extent that the latter world was able to be ruled) and brought slave armies with them too. Their strange weapons and powerful sorcery swept the Ancient Empire aside. They destroyed many cities, and erected their Ziggurats in the center of others. Demon summoning was outlawed, and the Outsiders proved to have powerful magics to prevent summonings as well. The Natives were enslaved just as they had enslaved the Colonists. The new Colonists despised their Blood Magic-using predecessors, and were often appointed their masters, and cruel masters they proved to be.
Elves also arrived. They were ancient rivals of the Outsiders and had been running a guerilla war against them for centuries. [They joined with the dwarves, who aided them in their struggle.] Their greatest triumph was a Brute rebellion, where thousands of the primitives escaped into the Great Desert of Ehlaar, whence they organized many debilitating raids on the Outsider’s Holy Empire.
The Outsiders were ruled by The Great Theosophist from the Holy City of Infinity. He brought in many more Colonists and Outsiders, leading to a massive population in the Khultan river plain. Natives were the majority only on the fringes of the old Ancient Empire.
[The Dwarves began to be jealous of their allies and started to move against them. The priests of their old Earth God protested. The Dwarves made new gods to replace him and called the Old God a demon prince. They shaved off their beards and changed in appearance and nature.] Wars erupted between the Dwarves, Elves, Trolls and the hereto peaceful Giants.
[The Great Theosophist became intrigued by Demonology and began to dabble in it. Slowly knowledge of demon summoning spread among the Hierarchs. The Name of the Infinite suffered a secret schism.]
A Native conspiracy set about a plan to free the creator goddess Ehla. It succeeded, and a massive, continent-wide earthquake set off another series of natural disasters. Ehla took her place in the sky as a bright star, visible in daylight.
The Grand Theosophist died [slain by a Demon Prince]. With his death and the new presence of Ehla, the ability to travel between worlds disappeared and has never been rediscovered. Brutes and elves invaded the empire. Natives and Colonists alike rose up in rebellion. The Outsider Empire collapsed.
Time of Chaos
[War erupted between Ehla and the Demon Princes]. A further disaster afflicted Ehlaar – the Chaos Plague [unleashed by Ehla]. This killed most people and animals it infected. Most of those who survived became tainted by chaos. Farmers and their animals merged to form the hated Broos and other beastmen. A small number of survivors gained in health, intelligence and stature, gaining a golden hue. They are the Chosen. With the massive number of deaths, whole dioceses of the old Outsider Empire were laid waste. Successor Kingdoms rose in other areas, less affected by the plague, and fell just as quickly.
The Cult of Ehla spread quickly through the Natives, as did resurgent Demonism. The human races began to interbreed of necessity, and a final race, the Halfbreeds, was the result, and quickly became the majority.
A strong Kingdom arose centered on the port city of Endeavor. Dominated by the Colonist gods, a trinity of the War God, Healer Goddess and Fire God became important owing to their powers in fighting Chaos and the Plague. This became the Kingdom of Endeavor.
A horde of Brutes and Dragonmen riding dinosaurs swept in from the Wastes. Led by Ngezhor the Brutal, they established order of a sort, demanding tribute in return for protection from chaos. The Brutal Horde rules over a host of petty vassal kingdoms.
The Outsider province of Trasis had managed to retain its territorial integrity, but found itself at the mercy of dwarves who ruled mountain fastnesses in the Iceteeth range. Successful negotiation between the Lady of Trasis and the Dwarven Emperor led to the formation of the Empire of Dwarves and Trasians.
Along the Iron Coast and the banks of the great River Vaun, Native and Halfbreed cities formed a great trading league, which was able to hire mercenary forces that soon gelled into a mighty army. The Iron League and its prime city of Millanea became the richest lands of Ehlaar, owing much of their success to their patron Demon Princes.
The Cult of Ehla established a series of matriarchal Queendoms in the valleys of the Vaun headwaters and along its tributaries. The great Queendom of Gla remains the center of the cult.
Lord Providence rules the Kingdom of Endeavor and directs operations against chaos from his stronghold, Castle Might. The lords of Endeavor worry about the waste of military spending and dream of rivaling the Iron League for trading riches.
The Brutal Horde has settled down somewhat. While still possessing a formidable force, the descendents of Ngezhor have settled in the City of the Gilded Hides on the edge of the Wastes, and some other forms of worship than totem spirits have begun to spread, much to the disgust of the Shamans of the Horde. The Qaghan Zayakhagu has reached out to the Dwarves and Trasians but has received little response.
Parsyatis is the Great Queen of the Dwarves and Trasians. Her father, Meti, reversed the dominance of the Dwarves to become Great King, leaving the title of Emperor to the Dwarf Gad-Kazun. Parsyatis is building a great new capital at Metiapur. She looks to the Iron League to the north with dreams of absorbing its cities.
The Iron League and its demon patrons continue their intrigue with one another, secure behind their mercenary legions. Ukhaantu the Brute commands the armies, but many believe he has gone soft.
The Queendom of Gla and its associated lands conduct an ongoing magical war and an on-again off-again physical war with the Iron League. The Queen offers citizenship to all Chosen [and is secretly breeding a new super-race, with the aim of exterminating all non-native races and returning Ehlaar to its original state].