Old School Hack--the Fictive Way
An History of the Breathing World
Here is a history for both the Baffram setting and the Gothmagog setting (separated by about 6 months of travel.)
An History of Energy in The Breathing World
The sea was wild and untamed, and it was all. Then a rock emerged from the sea, formed of cold and heat and the screaming of night; the rock was Ugrophiak, in the First Language. The sea shattered upon it as the sea struggled to smash it, and in that shattering were the dragons born, of the first wrestling of shapeless strength and inflexible might.
The dragons betrayed the sea and chose the Rock. More land emerged, and the dragons claimed it and all that moved upon it.
Tribes of many strange creatures roamed the world, nomadic, and the world was “ruled” by dragons. They hunted, ate, mated, and traveled as they pleased. The world was still cooling, the seas were high, and the world breathed through the immortal dragons.
Birth of Civilization
Some dragons chose to rule, gathering clans of humanoids and establishing them in one place, and for amusement or spite sending them against the territories of other dragons. Thus were born cities, and of necessity, agriculture, currency, and division of labor followed in the places ruled by dragons. Those who venerated the dragons most fervently were given a portion of the dragon’s world-shaping powers, to aid them in managing the dragon’s will among the lesser slaves. Immortal and invincible dragons had little use for making a record of the passage of the centuries of their dominance; so it has been, so it will be.
The Power of Worship Emerges
Worshulia was the city state that venerated its dragon, whose name has ironically been lost to history. However, when the dragon was slain, they continued venerating the dragon’s memory, and their priesthood discovered that they retained their powers. The ghosts of dragons could be elevated to something greater by continued worship, and other dragons took note and established cults to worship them so fervently that the energy could sustain them beyond death, in case of the worst.
Barbarians and Belief
Unfortunately for the dragons, the many populations not under their direct command observed this phenomenon, and began worshiping what protected them; the sky, flame, the earth, and so on. Their organized beliefs began to elevate the latent energies in the wilds, giving them more strength and form, and eventually purpose.
Some of the more belligerent of these gods took exception to the dragons and the power they exercised over those who could be worshiping the new gods instead; also, dragons were one of the few forces that could slay a god, and the new deities fiercely clung to life, nurturing the cosmic flame that grew in them.
Saegrak, Goddess of the Winds, was the first to directly assault a dragonhold. She slew the dragon, and her human and elemental followers conquered the dragon’s followers, setting up the first divine city—Saegraxia. History began on that day—nothing was inevitable or invincible, things could change, and dragons were not the only ones who could shape the world.
The Draconic Wars [1-3400]
The gods attracted worship, and to compensate, dragons began granting ever more power to their followers, each dragon teaching a particular style of shaping the breathing of the world.
The world had been regulated by breathing through the dragons, but with the creation of the gods, that breathing became unsteady. Instead of the dragons regulating the energy flow of the world, now it also tumbled through the rapids of mortal spellcasters, and the gods. To their dismay, the dragons realized that the gods were unwilling to accept their dominance; either the dragons would diminish, or the gods would!
Three thousand years of war followed, as the gods swelled their ranks with new worshiped deities created from the energies of their fervent worshipers, and the dragons gathered the more pragmatic of the world to their physical presence, ancient history, and depthless violence. Cities rose and fell, weapons were crafted and shattered, gods and dragons were slain.
The Five Ascend
The gods realized that they could not win against the dragons if they were many and the dragons were many. So they began to consolidate, so a few gods would have the inexorable might to crush the scattered dragons (who wisely refused to trust each other and unite.)
Five gods ascended, taking the followers of other gods by force if necessary. Crusades were frequent and brutal. The leader of the gods was Saegrak, Goddess of Air. She was supported by four others. Dufell, goddess of the Deep. Geldurk, god of War. Thogro, God(dess) of the Sea. Urmia, god of Civilization.
In their desperation, the dragons created Scythia, Goddess of Monsters. They funneled draconian worship into a new model, destroying their ability to channel the breathing of the world.
The Fall of Scythia
The Five first swept the other minor deities that survived the war out of the way and took their followers, then they dedicated three hundred years to hunting dragons; they became less and less corporeal, with more and more infrequent avatars, as the worship filled them with energies not easily contained on this plane. At last they closed in on the Slythrik Mountains, their followers systematically crushing hatcheries and lairs that had stood for untold ages.
They faced Scythia, Goddess of Monsters. Scythia was cast down and disemboweled by the other gods, who found they now managed the breathing of the world. Scythia slew Saegrak, who proved her ascendance by being reborn through the energies of her followers, who stubbornly refused to accept her death.
The dragons remained powerful in physical might and mystic prowess, but were no longer truly immortal (though their life spans still stretched over thousands of years.) They were cut loose from the primal bones of the world, and became creatures living upon the earth.
The Age of the Gods [3400-7000]
The gods ruled according to their natures, but they were victims of their own success. The energies poured into them during the war with the dragons rendered them ever more abstract and ever more dependent on working through their followers. It became more and more difficult for them to manifest avatars. They worked more and more through the leaders of their followers.
The Divine Fraying
The temples and theocracies were vast now, and prone to factionalizing. Increasingly, individual and factional interests mixed with worship, diluting and dividing it. The gods, formed of worship, were vulnerable to this diffusion of interests
As the gods became embroiled in civil wars within themselves and within their factions, the earth groaned and cracked. The world struggled to breathe through the fractured and factitious gods.
Also, Scythia was defeated but not destroyed, and she screamed her rage as she peopled the world with monsters. The skies grew thin, the earth troubled and restless, civilizations fell to war and to ruin.
Some gods that had been assimilated for the war with the dragons struggled free of their bigger siblings, asserting pockets of worship here and there to gain enough strength to survive and act in the world.
Rule of the Avatars
Desperate, the gods began to weaken themselves by breeding with their followers, putting cosmic energy into mortal hands. Demigods walked the earth, slaying monsters and ruling in the name of their divine parent. As time passed, they spread their cosmic energy wider through the mortal population. Also, powerful avatars were slain, and the cosmic energy was lost, only some returning to its source.
The gods found they had diffused the focus of worship on themselves through use of avatars, and the avatars were not themselves immortal; over five centuries, the gods became increasingly desperate, dismayed as in some cases avatars led factions in theocratic civil wars.
The Questing Age
The gods could feel the labored breathing the world managed through their congestion, and realized that everything was at stake; they would discover a way to clear the congestion, or all that lived might suffocate. They inspired a mighty quest, sending their greatest warrior priests through the world to find a solution. The world wanted to survive, and would speak to their followers as it could not speak to them.
A quest to the Slythrik mountains discovered the hideous ancient rituals the dragons used to create Scythia; at first the gods thought to use it to unbind her, then they realized what they had to do.
As the dragons gave up their ability to channel the breathing of the world to gain their ongoing survival, so too did the gods; they followed a version of the draconic ritual, giving up a portion of their cosmic essence and the worship of their follows to create a Most High God that would be unified enough to channel the breathing of the world.
Their sacrifice did not have the intended effect.
The Awakening [7000-9800]
The Most High did not take on the worship model that the gods were accustomed to; instead of taking a tithe of their energies and ruling through proxies (including the gods themselves) the Most High dove into the world itself—for the first time since its creation, the world breathed for itself.
The lakes, trees, clouds, mountains—everything burned with a cosmic spark.
Fresh energy was available for those who had manipulatic draconic energies, their magic gaining new potency. Those who worshiped the gods still had divine power to draw upon, but it did not regulate the breathing of the world. Most surprisingly, a new creative power emerged.
The Fey are Born
Humans who lived closest to the earth found energy swelling through them, reshaping them, prolonging their lifespans, connecting them to a new energy. Some seemed humans touched by fey energies, some were shaped to something new, and some seemed to blend with nature itself.
Even as the fey energy pulled at those close to it, it also formed avatars; spirits of water, trees, air, darkness, and so on emerged. Wildly unrestrained creative energy spilled through the world. The resulting creatures quickly organized into groups; those close to humanity organized courts based on human governments. Others formed wild packs, others took up solitary existence.
Elves settled themselves near the sea, or the forest, or mountains; they chose places close to nature that would keep their fey energies blazing. Humans gave ground to them, after a few abrupt clashes that were more costly than expected.
Now, in addition to the monsters continually shaped and released by the embittered Scythia, the wilds were full of capricious and energetic magics the likes of which the world had never seen. Arcanist inheritors of dragon lore were wary, divine channelers of the cosmic energy of the gods hesitated, and the fey ascended to rule the wild places of the earth. The gods managed to hold desperately to their specialties, but all between was newly energized by the Most High.
The Second Questing Age
Too much energy flowed into the earth. Stones took on fanciful shapes. Doorways began opening to other dimensions. Anything natural or formerly alive could animate without warning. Humanity was forced back towards cities as the world was overgrown with a strange new wildness that was, perhaps, not in its own best interests.
As weather grew strange, the first demons appeared. The borders of the world were barely regulated, and other more determined realities discovered the ease of access to this fresh and energetic world.
Life began gushing out into the void beyond the borders of the world, and as it did, negative energies also found death to be a two-way door. Intelligences beyond human comprehension, thirsting in the void, sent their energies and lusts into the world to settle in dead matter and raise it once again to murderous power. The first undead rose, and soon armies marched across the tormented lands.
Sobered, the gods realized that their survival was not yet assured. If the world was conquered by demons, the dead, or others, the gods themselves would eventually cease to exist. They knew they had to do something, but they lacked the raw power to take decisive action to seal the boundaries of the world.
Once again they inspired champions to go out into the writhing dangers of the world, through the awakened wilderness, against demon enclaves that began settling into the barren places of the world, into territories of freshly emboldened wizards, through the haunted battlefields where the dead rested uneasy.
The Birthing and the Shaping
They discovered how the unbridled desires of the world had been shaped into iconic races that managed those desires. So, together, the gods and their followers desired a limiting, shaping, forming, protecting influence to emerge from the Most High in its unbridled creativity. They focused on mountains, desiring the boundaries mountains represented.
From those mountains emerged a powerful force called the Ghim, humans called them dwarves. Fey energies blended the mountains with the overshadowed humans that lived among them, they became more and less than human. Compacted by their own focus, sturdy as the stone, they crafted the doors and walls both in reality and beyond it, shaping a protective barrier to limit the surging creativity of the Most High and give it useful form, also denying access to that which lurked beyond reality, thirsting for the blood and power of the world.
In only a century, the world was again stable—more stable than it had been since dragons ruled.
The Age of Steel [9800-11000+]
The Gods had undeniable power, within the limits of their followers. The dragons still roamed the world, but mostly slept or schemed from the shadows. The wizards that inherited their magic still worked their will with arcane might. Scythia, though humbled, still raged under her mountain tomb, spraying monsters out into the world.
The Breathing Earth was the result of the Most High infused through it, and fey influences abounded. Elves and dwarves and fey creatures flowed from the energies of the earth, while monstrous influences twisted humans susceptible to their tastes. Variety proliferated across the land in abundance not seen since the Age of Dragons. The Ghim worked to seal the doors to the void beyond, and forces there (now with a taste for the life energy of the world) found weak places to claw their way in.
Now was the Age of Steel, where the various supernatural energies that had focused the breathing of the world found themselves countered, checked, and the humans had something like freedom for the first time in their long history. While some chose to embrace the influences that guided and shaped them in the past, others strove to carve out nations and empires to wield real power through steel, not alien eldritch energy.
The current year is 11312.
Updated December 30, 2011