Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Evolving Timeline of Narya Part I: Ancient History of Narya

As I develop Narya, I have to think hard about world history. I think an important element to grounding a fantasy setting is to give a sense of scale of time and to ground the past in a meaningful series of events. This means that a historian should have a pretty keen idea of how many years have passed between events and it gives context to the motivations of the characters, both individuals and cultures, in the narrative. But that doesn't mean things have to be so concrete.

For perspective, Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and life on it is about 300 million years old. The universe, for that matter, is 14 billion years old. The scale of time on a cosmic level is baffling to comprehend. This might help you get how life fits into the greater scale of time:

With fantasy worlds, you have to couple the laws of nature with magic which, frankly, bends and breaks these laws. With that in mind, we have to assume that a fantasy world is not completely natural. It may have evolved from or evolve into a more natural world but, for the sake of simplicity, let's assume that Narya was created by a god.

Narya or "The World" as we know it is just one world in an an entire universe. It is safe to assume that it is part of a solar system, which is part of a galaxy, which is part of a universe, which is probably part of a multiverse (if you buy into that theory). This opens up all matter of infinite possibilties but let's focus on just this world.

There are multiple creation myths in Narya and, arguably, part of the fun of having so many cultures is that the gods may know the truth about creation (or not) but the mortals probably don't. Heck, the only one who really knows the truth is the in-real-life creator of the setting.

My goals for the history of Narya are: to set a baseline series of major events and to create a scope of time from the beginning of the world to current events. The history is very much from a Sublanaryan perspective and understanding. This means it leaves out details about unknown continents across the sea and on the other side of the world.

An important note about this article and every other article on this blog-- this is all a work-in-progress. I am still developing the multiple continents of this world, the cultures on them, and therefore everything is in flux. That in mind, if you're familiar with my worlds and history of dungeons and dragons, you will find I am trying to fit my best ideas into this setting. It is gonna be jam-packed.

This article is Part 1: Ancient History and covers before and during the first Epoch. The next article, Part 2: Modern History will cover the rest of history, or at least the history of Sublanarya, up to the default or current setting. In the future, I will probably add additional articles about the history of other lands of Narya.

Before Epoch I: Chaos and Creation
Epoch I: Ancient Narya
1st Age: The Mother & The Clay People 
2nd Age: The Primordials and the Old Ones
The Rise of the Titans
The Creation of the Elemental Planes
The Creation of the Heavens, the Underworld, and Oblivion
3rd Age: The Creation of the Twilight Realms of Dusk and Dawn
The First Empires of Man and Monster
The Fall of the Titans and Rise of the New Gods
4th Age: The Wyrd War
Ends with Grimnir Blue-Cloak Closing the Planar Gates

Here goes:
Before the 1st Epoch: The Cosmic Maelstrom

Before the world of Narya was formed, the space that the world inhabits was a cosmic maelstrom. Some astronomers and mages have looked into the dark reaches of space, beyond the Naryan System, and have seen such events in different stages of development and decay. It is important to take such reports with a grain of salt due to the dangers of looking into the Far Reaches of space beyond time and order. Many a sharp mind has been reduced to mush by witnessing the unwitnessable.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that in such space, time varies so wildly from relative position to relative position and therefore time before the epoch has no comparable or measurable value. During and in such a chaotic environment, time expands, shrinks, and dilates in such a way that is beyond reason. The varying value of time, as a matter of fact, is expressed in wildly different ways from period to period as the laws of space/time were and continue t be affected by the balance of magic and other cosmic forces.
Regardless of such theoretical rhetoric, it is believed that the space that the world inhabits was a roiling maelstrom of energy and thought. There are many theories about the nature of this thought; from whether it was benevolent, malevolent or benign to whether it was the thoughts of many or few or one to whether the thought took any semblance of order or chaos or where it came from. The dragons hold that the maelstrom came from the hatching of Io, the Imperium would cite the cosmic wonder as the miraculous genesis of their nameless god, but the Naryan core religion is more concerned with the belief that the maelstrom existed as the remnant of some dead world or god. For the purposes of a more scholarly concrete series of events, we will go with the Naryan core religion's version of the creation of the world. That being that the maelstrom was being shaped by the will of the Mother, the creator and parent to all the world, and that she shaped it and shielded it from the rest of space and time.

It is said that the cosmic maelstrom absorbed, repulsed and ejected all manner of energy and matter until, finally, the rotations of the maelstrom would slow and form into material shapes. She created a sun and other celestial bodies to rotate around this world. The place was set until the finally set about her masterpiece. The world was formed of three discs:

Two large discs with a smaller disc sandwiches between them formed the foundation of this strange and unique world. Upon it she formed the plates of molten rock together so the two outer discs called "Anarya" and "Unarya" rotated in opposite directions, using the center disc as a central axis, as it spun around the sun. As it cooled she would create the first inhabitants of this world and, upon the mantle of Narya, the Clay Peoples, the "Lurians" and the "Murians" would be made from the very clay of the world.

The 1st Epoch: Ancient Narya (DY 1 to WW 7777 or 0 AD
The first epoch is the definitively ancient period of Narya, taking place from over 5,000 years before current to as long as over 20,000 years ago. 

But that is an over-simplification because time dilated during this time period, some "years" were shorter but the majority were actually much longer than those of the current era but "felt shorter" to the occupants of that age than to those alive during that time. Time during the Clay Age is unmeasured by any comparable standard of mortals, the Primordial Age took place over billions of years and the accounts from the other periods is difficult to parse out. The following ages, after the Clay Age and Primordial Age, are divided into two and measurements:

The Divine Years (DY) follow the rise and fall of the and Titans, respectively, and each Divine Year averages 1 DY =  Appox. 10.27 solar years. This means that while their respective rules took place over 6,016 "divine years", these years are approximately 61,620 of our current years! But it is important to remember that the time span of an individual year during the period could vary wildly and each DY is the expression of one cycle of seasons during this tumultuous period.

The Wyrd Wars (WW) took place after the fall of the Titans and each "year" of this period is an individual conflict, battle or war. This is a result of the difficult task of trying to measure time during this period-- as the death of Kronos damaged the passage of time and it would not be repaired until the last Wyrd War was one and Grimnir Blue-Cloak's family reclaimed and repaired the Hourglass of Kronos. The gods of the core pantheon and other surviving immortals, who were able to witness this time from outside it, describe the fascinating horror of watching civilizations rise and fall in compressed time and the never-ending dread of being forced to wait out a war in which individual mortals fought in a series of battles that normally would take generations to resolve. This was especially distressing as the mortal inhabitants experienced this time crunch or stretch as naturally as living people experience the modern passage of time. This means that any one WW date is not necessarily measurable as a solar year but are rather cover the beginning, middle and end of a particular conflict between two notable parties. So, while there are 7,777 WW during this period, that is hardly representative of individual years.

Hopefully that helps to introduce you to the sort of period we're getting into in this description: the first epoch or "ancient times" is a period of epic upheaval and conflict with gods, mortals, immortals, other-worldly outsiders and alien horrors, duking it out for dominion of Narya and the surrounding solar system created by the Mother.

1st Age: The Clay Age (???)

It is not know why the Mother created the first peoples. Perhaps, she didn't know why herself. But, using divine magic, she carved humanoids. She added water to the earth, she molded it, she cooked it with the heat of the sun and she then gave it first breath. These were the clay peoples.

The clay people, the Lurians of Anarya and the Murians of Unarya, were crude and simple. They resembled clay golems but, unlike those automatons, they had consciousness. The Mother had imbued them with the immortal soul, the divine spark, and they desired purpose. And so she allowed them to live and build and create. And the two tribes, independent of each other, set about mastering these tasks in equal measure. But the clay peoples did more than master the world. They dominated it.

The Lurians and the Murians took the barren discs of Anarya and Unarya, separated by the center disc, which was submerged in the Sea of Ginnungagap that kept them independent of each other's existence, and they built the largest cities even imaginable. The endless cityscapes of Aum and Mua were insanely complex, endless maddening wonders of geometrical architecture, with the earth being constantly dug up and new structures burying the old, creating waves upon waves of stone towers, pyramids and barracks farther than any mortal eye could see in any direction. Mortal minds would find such complexity claustrophobic to experience, but the clay peoples were not mortal. They had endless time to build and create.
And in this time, from the first generation of clay peoples, came generation after generation of increasingly durable, complex and specialized peoples. No Lurian harmed or hindered another Lurian and no Murian harmed or hindered another Murian. Each clay person seemed to live in a would-be harmony. Conflicts were resolved so easily that violence was not a concept understood by early clay peoples. There were in a paradise, a stark and beautiful paradise, but a paradise nonetheless. This utopian scenario would fall apart in three stages.

The clay peoples still desired a greater purpose. They sought perfection, they sought dominion, and they sought something else: to create life as the Mother had. And they did. With their mastery of the elements, they built new life forms, life forms like those today, sculpting them and experimenting as they had built each of their own predecessors until they created the first humans. And immediately enslaved them. Their cruelty towards different life forms concerned the Mother. But that was just the start--the first stage.

The second stage came in their discovery that their flat worlds had two sides, when they managed to travel beyond the waters that bordered each disc, and onto each other side. The Lurians and the Murians discovered each other and, from that moment, the sibling civilizations, so astonishingly identical, began conspiring, identically, to destroy one another. Their prayers for success in building their projects, their prayers that had always been answered, changed to prayers for destruction of their counterparts. And those prayers went unanswered. The Lurians and the Murians grew dissatisfied with a Mother who ignored their prayers.

It was at the realization she would not destroy their enemies that they sealed their own fates. They began building something greater than life. They began to build gods in their own image, just as their Mother had created them in her image. They built them to replace the Mother and destroy their enemies. This mad pursuit, to dominate, to commit genocide and to replace their Mother, would lead to the end of Aum and Mau. The Mother was overwhelmed with grief.

Her grief washed over the world as a great flood; the water barrier sea of Ginungagap between Anarya and Unarya collapsed and flooded Narya. The clay peoples, all of their work and schemes and evil, were washed away in a tidal wave of sadness. Unarya and Anarya were washed clean of the sins of the clay peoples. Their civilization was snuffed out like a sand castle at high tide, returning to the earth in all but memory, and leaving the discs crashing with waves of anguish and sorrow.

The first iterations of life form, the Primogenitors, were seemingly all but snuffed out by the flood, save those that survived being washed off the world and falling, into the crevice between Unarya and Anarya, onto the surface of the strange between world known as Ginnungagap. Their they have toiled in the strangled twilight between the two discs and some say the clay peoples bide their time there.

The Mother left the world. And, shortly thereafter, the gods that the clay peoples had been building awoke and began reshaping the Narya.

 2nd Age: The Primordial Age (???)

The Primordials awoke to a world flooded but were so massive and powerful that they were able to wade through the tears of the Mother as if through a pond. They were beings, pure and potent, made in the image of the clay people, with plain but somehow wondrous features. They would be the first generation of gods on Narya.

The first to awaken was Void (Chaos) who grew mad with loneliness and traveled to Ginnungagap and the cosmos looking. Tartarus (Underworld) awoke and found himself alone but did not wander.

After that, Gaia (Earth) awoke and, finding her husband-to-be Void had left her awoke Eros (Love), Ouranus (Sky), Ourea (Mountains) and Pontus (Sea) to look for him.

Then, dwelling in the darkness with Tartarus, awoke Erebos (Darkness) and Nyx (Night). Together, in the darkness, they parented Aether (Light) and Hemera (Day). Later, Nyx would alone give birth to the plethora of lesser Primordials.

The Void would never return. Instead, the primordial world would be assaulted by an otherworldly menace from beyond the stars and the nothingness, from beyond dreams and nightmares, and time and space: Old Ones and the Elders.

The Old Ones are outer gods, insane and malignant, who sought to enslave and/or destroy all sentient life in the Universe. Their counterparts, the Elders, are the eternal and immortal enemies of the Old Ones, seeking order in the Universe. They are generally distant from the concerns of mortals and lesser immortals but can be drawn out in conflicts between the Old Ones and the lesser residents of the Universe. It is believed that Void wandered into the Far Realm, where he went mad and was captured by the Old Ones, attracting them to the world of Narya.

The Primordials were forced to make battle against the Old Ones and fend off the Elders who were willing to destroy the young world of Narya in their war. Eventually, the Primordials managed to put many of the Old Ones to sleep and forced others away. The Elders left rule of Narya to the Primordials and their predecessors.

Victorious, Ouranus declared himself ruler of Narya and Gaira his queen. Together, they would parent the next generation of immortals, the Titans.

The Titans were created in the image of their Primordial parents and the first humans that the Clay Peoples had created. Together, with the Primordials, they continued the work of the Clay Peoples and primitive life began, once again, on Narya. It was peaceful except for the envy of Kronos, the Titan of Time, who envied his father's throne. This envy may have gone on indefintely, but Ouranus drew the ire of Gaia.

After she gave birth to the Hundred Handed Ones, the first One-Eyed Cyclopes, and other strange creatures, Ouranus reviled them and hid them from the beautiful vision he had for Narya. It was then that Gaia gave Kronos a great sickle and told him to punish his father. Kronos waited in ambush, attacking his father, and struck him down. He then freed the Hundred Handed Ones and the Cyclopes to force the Primordials into submission, putting them to sleep as they had done the Old Ones, and making them literally part of their domains, with Gaia becoming the earth and Ouranus becoming the sky, before he took the throne of Heaven and reimprisoned the Hundred Handed Ones and the Cyclopes in Tartarus, which became the Underworld.

It is from the bodies of the defeated Primordials that the Titans would build Kronos grand vision: the Titans created the elemental planes of Fire, Water, Air and Earth, from which they could control the elemental forces of the mundane world.

They then created the Underworld, to send the wicked that died, and Oblivion for the space between. In each, three states were infinite and yet rand into each others borders:

In the Heavens, the home of the righteous, absolved and innocent dead, there lies Paradise, the glorious wilds, and Celestia, city of the gods, with Elysium, the peaceful and pleasant fields, in between. The forces of this realm generally act on their best interests of the material plane and against that of the Underworld.

Between Heavens and the Underworld, lies the neutral realm of Oblivion. The three kingdoms of Oblivion are the endless blackness between known as Terra Nada, the chaotic storm of Limbo where a single thought can move mountains and the mechanical and ordered Mechanis.

The Underworld, home of the wicked dead, contains two realms pitted against each other in an ancient Blood War. The Abyss, with infinite 666 layers spawning mad and cruel Demons, and the Nine Hells, producing the cunning and exploitative Devils. Between them lies the ashen desert of Hades, where lost souls wander forever, seeking salvation, and the cruel Yugoths who feed off of their suffering.

As they established their planarscape, the aftereffects created the twilight realms of Dusk and Dawn. In the negative plane of Dusk, shadow and darkness would reign and it became a dark reflection of the material world of Narya . In the positive plane of Dawn, light would reign and it became a brilliant, beautiful reflection of the material world of Narya and the home of the Fey.

With the creation of the planes completed, the Titans would reign and the first civilizations would arise on the various planes.

3rd Age: The Titanic Age (DY 1  to DY 6016/0 WW)

The Titanic Age is defined by the rise of the earliest civilizations of the ancient world and the fall of the Titans.

The first civilizations to rise were not on the material plane, but on the outer planes. Inhabitants of those planes influenced the primitives of the material plane but would return to their home plane when necessary.

The first race to defy this pattern were the iaur, or elves, led by prophecy and escaping a war between the fey courts, who colonized the Isle of Saesun. There a magical paradise was created with the aid of the metallic dragons. Over the course of this period, groups of elves would leave the isle and seek their fortune elsewhere. Each time the elves left the isle, they would build a new civilization and change to fit it. This means there are highly distinct elf subtypes throughout history and geography.

Like Corellon led elves into forming civilizations on the material plane, so did the racial gods of the other human-like races lead their followers from primitive states to build the earliest civilizations. Durn led the dwarves to build the first mines and forges of their kind, Gnoldo led the gnomes to mischief and engineered ancient machines, the Hearthmother taught her people the ways of the hearth, and so on. And then came the humans.

Humans were late to civilization, requiring some inspiration by the Titan Prometheus and his mysterious brother who many believed to be the Unnamed God of the religion of the Holy Imperium, but quickly rose to prominence. Humans seemed to lack the distinctive qualities of other races but made up for it with adaptability. Human civilizations spread across both sides of Narya. There are many famous ancient human civilizations, such as the fey-touched Tuathans who mysteriously disappeared after a civil war, but unlike the cultures of the other human-like races most of human history was lost in the following Wyrd Wars.

It was also during this time period that orcs and goblinoids would first rise from the muck and challenge the world for dominion, beginning a rivalry that would last for millenia, only to be defeated time and time again by each other and the forces of good. The orcs and goblinoids seem to have advanced little as they rely less upon building civilizations and more upon consuming the civilizations of others.

Meanwhile, more monstrous rivals for domination during the earliest period were the reptillian, amphibean, and avian races of humanoids that built their own empires during this and the following period that would mostly fall to ruin by the end of the Wyrd Wars.

The reptillians, such as the serpentine Ophidians and three-eyed Tuatarans, and their successors, are particularly known for the cold and calculating nature. They sought dominion over all terrestrial territories. They experience the world in a more primal way, thinking of everything into how it relates to the survival of first themselves, then their mates and offspring, and then their respective peoples. The reptillian races remain a threat to civilization across the world.

The amphibians, such as the shape-shifting Shalar and warty Bupho, and their successors are known for their lethargy and tendency towards madness They sought dominion on and by the sea and other water-based environments. They see the world in terms of gain and loss, often exploiting those around them, in order to satisfy their desires. While the successors of the reptillians are a threat, the Bupho's influence over the world is largely unnoticed. Some historians theorize the Bupho escaped the world during the Wyrd Wars and reign in some corner of Limbo and/or have been transformed into the Slaadi.

The avians, such as the mysterious owl-like Stryg, the feminine Sirins and the four-armed Garuda, and their successors are known for their ferocity and passions. They sought dominion over the high places and skies of the world. They sought the superiority to command the world and create orders. They built great flying cities. Their downfall came at the hands of several tragedies and their sky-cities were destroyed by dragons.

But these are just some examples of the predecessors to the more monstrous races of Narya.

Among these early civilizations many primitive races were created and/or bred for various purposes, most often as slaves. The Yuan-Ti and Lizarfolk likely able to link their inception to the Ophidians and Tuatarans, the Bullywugs and Grippli probably related distantly to the Bupho, and the Haemir may have once lived in sky-cities alongside the other avian races. The more mammalian Beastfolk likely trace their existence back to the creations of specific gods or events in history. The Catfolk and Phinx, for instance, trace their existence to the feline goddess Bastet worshiped by ancient Hamutians.

Other impressive empires from this period include the first Giant empires, Bjergfolk crashed from the cosmos, dragons that escaped the Prison of Bahamut before the modern Epoch, and so many more that rose and fell. This all happened under the watch of the Titans, who were worshiped, and would seem to continue to be worshiped forever. Or so Kronos hoped.

Kronos, after striking down his father Ouranus, was told a prophecy that he would be struck down by his own creations. And, no one is sure the impetus of the war known as the Titanomachy, except perhaps it was was result of the cruel demands of the Titans upon civilizations, particularly humanity, but it begins with the New Gods. Some mortals from the outer, inner and material planes rose to the level of gods through their deeds. They achieved immortality, they had their own cults, and they began challenging the Titans for dominion. Eventually, this would resolve with a war with the Unnamed God, & Grimnir Blue-Cloak leading the New Gods to fight the Titans.

Eventually, the Titans were defeated and slain, and whether it was the Unnamed God or Grimnir is disputed, with some religions celebrating or damning the event, the New Gods struck down Kronos.

Shortly thereafter, it is debated the events that would lead to the Wyrd Wars. It is believed that Grimnir Bluecloak and the other New Gods turned on the Unnamed God, with the help of the archdevil Asmodeus, and either killed, imprisoned or banished the patron god of humanity. Somewhere between the death of Kronos and the defeat of the Unnamed God things went catastrophically wrong.

Time broke and the Wyrd Wars began.

4th Age: The Wyrd Wars (WW 1 to WW 7777 /0 AD)

Each of the 7,777 "years" of the Wyrd Wars are not years. They are individual conflicts, some overlapping, as the gods witnessed the material plane exist in a broken time spiral. Time seemed to shrink and expand, contract and explode, and entire civilizations would rise and fall in the blink of an eye or what seemed like an eternity. The devastating nature of this period meant that history, as time, was difficult to comprehend for even the gods. The history known is that the Wyrd Wars created a devastating reality in which the outer and inner planes bled into the material plane.

During the Wyrd Wars, Old Ones would awaken to attempt to annihilate the world, Clay Peoples would invade and be driven back, new gods would rise up and fall alongside their worshipers, the Blood War of demons and devils bled into the mortal realm, the Princes of Elemental Evil waged war on each other, even the gods were brought into the conflict as reality was twisted by the after effects of the Titanomachy.

Then would arise the great conqueror Mal-Dorig, empowered by the trickery of the shadow diety Darkheart, who brought all the forces of evil under his banner, seeking to bring about the Gotterdamerung, and rule the world in darkness. It was only by uniting the forces of good behind the gates of the Heavens itself that they slowed his progress. A hero, by the name of Bellerophon, would ultimately be the one to defeat Mal-Dorig, piercing his armor, even as Mal-Dorig crushed the life from his body. The gods defeated the forced of evil and destruction, sending Mal-Dorig into retreat, and saved Narya.

Finally, things seemed clear to Grimnir Blue-Cloak and he managed to restore time in the material plane. He used his mastery over magic, weaving new ward and glyphs, that restored the progress of time to a manageable pace. Furthermore, he restored and strengthened the barriers between the outer, inner and material plane. After this point, the travel between planes would become increasingly difficult and dangerous, even for outsiders. The mortals were released from the safety of heaven and, from the ruins of antiquity, would arise a new world. The modern world of Narya.

To be continued in "Part II: The Modern History of Sublanarya."

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