Chronicles of Azoth
Timeline Of Events
As with almost everything else, the history of Alaria is greatly disputed. Between calendar issues, contradictory sources and simple arguments of scholarship, it is rare that any two sages would provide the same accounting for dates and events further back than the founding of the Empire and in the current era, perhaps not even then.
Still, the following provides an overview of those events mostly agreed upon by sages across the Successor States.
A NOTE ON DATING
The two primary dating systems used are the Avalonian and Imperial systems. Avalonian dates are expressed as AY (Avalonian Years) and are dated from the opening of Dwimmermount by the followers of The Pathway, while Imperial dates are expressed as YE (Years of Empire), and are dated from the Night of the Sorcerers, when the Covenant of the Black Isle took control of Candleton overnight.
There is significant argument in-universe as to what the proper conversion of Avalonian to Imperial years should be. The most common estimation is that the Night of the Sorcerers took place in 2833 AY. Given that the starting in-game year is 376 YE, by that reckoning the opening of Dwimmermount would be considered to be 3209 years ago.
~ Untold Years Ago
The First Ones
Depicted only in friezes and inscriptions in the oldest ruins and tombs, the first civilisations on Alaria appears to have included a race of Elves with crimson skin (known by modern scholars as Red Elves), the bird-like species known as Farahavar, and the sinister insectoid Khepri. A disaster is depicted in many such sources, which may account for their disappearance.
~ 10,000 – 15,000 years ago
The Age of Elven Dominance.
Scant records from the era describe human settlement on Alaria as being generally limited to the eastern regions, with the forerunners of modern Elves maintaining control of most of the continent. With little access to magic and a large and powerful Elven military maintaining control of the main portion of the continent, the human civilisations of the time were restricted in their growth by the need to shelter from the eastern storms.
~ 10,000 years ago
The First Age of Dwimmermount : The Ancient Alchemists
During a particularly insular time in Elven history, human explorers begin to delve into the various still-existing Red Elven ruins in the Eastern regions. Eventually, they locate the remains of Dwimmermount. Although the internal security systems act to kill many of those who explore the ruin, they eventually discover how to operate many of the systems and glean the secrets of the Corpus Arcane from the walls. A new human civilisation begins to arise from the area surrounding Dwimmermount, one which has command of alchemical secrets as well as access to Azoth refining.
~ 10,000 years ago
The Pacification War and The First Ascension
When the Elves discover that the humans have begun using the secrets of magic from Dwimmermount, they respond initially with an attempt at suppression. This succeeds only in enraging the human nations who respond by raising armies and assaulting the Elven lands.
The Elves become increasingly embittered in this conflict, coming as it does from an “uplifted” race, and begin a near-genocidal war of retribution against the humans. In the midst of this, a single scholar in an isolated tower far from the conflict underwent a transformation that was not noticed for many centuries; becoming the First Ascendant, better known in the modern era as The Pathway. Humankind loses the Pacification War most soundly, and the secrets of Dwimmermount are forgotten.
~ 9,000 – 10,000 years ago
For centuries, humans are kept on reservations in the Stormlands suffering quite severe deprivation and repeated outbreaks of disease. Elven commanders frequently perform cruel experiments on their “charges”, and it is believed that many types of beastmen find their origin in the “breeding camps”. The necessary political and ethical stances needed to maintain the ongoing cruel regime inflicted on the humans causes Elven civilisation to split into two distinct factions – the Oak Faction (which emphasised strength and dominance) and the Reed faction (which emphasised peaceful coexistence with the world). While the latter faction is implicitly unable to sustain a rebellion, it grows steadily in influence. Oak Faction mistreatment of humans gradually spreads into mistreatment of their other “uplifted” client races such as the Dwarves and Centaurs.
~ 9,000 years ago
The Uplift Revolt
The flashpoint comes when the Elves begin to make increasingly severe and unnecessary demands on the Dwarven settlement at Ash-garak (now lost in the North). When the Dwarven Lord refuses these demands, the Oak Faction sends a punitive army into the mountains… which is summarily slaughtered by the Dwarves.
The resulting war quickly spreads to the Centaurs, Gnomes and Humans, and the Oak Faction finds itself beset on all sides with a surprisingly large portion of their own civilisation (the Reed Faction) refusing to take a part in the conflict.
~ 9,000 years ago
Ascension of The Razor
During the Uplift Revolt, a human noted for extreme levels of personal self-control under stress undergoes a sudden and very public Ascension. Inspired by her example, a group of female warriors seeks to emulate her techniques and find themselves empowered by an external force, becoming the first Bladedancers. This forms the beginning of worship of the Ascendants in Alaria (though at the time it is considered a miraculous monotheism).
~ 4,000 – 9,000 years ago
The Age of Battles
After the Uplift Revolt, the remaining Elves of the Reed Faction sue for peace and retreat into the northern forests. Humans and Dwarves quickly spread across much of the Greensward and eventually into the Broken Lands. Gnomes mostly settle into Dwarven lands, while the Centaurs mostly remain in their ranges in the grasslands to the east.
Once much of the continent is conquered, the history of Alaria becomes an endless succession of battles between innumerable empires, small kingdoms, city-states and other dominions as would-be conquerors arise over and over.
~ 4,000 – 9,000 years ago
The Rise of Zahar
At some time during the Age of Battles, a being known as Zahar is the first to glean the true secrets of Necromancy. Accounts are fragmentary at best, including whether Zahar was human, elf or some other kind of creature, but what is known is that it raises a city of the dead in the far North and is only prevented from overrunning the whole continent by the most extreme and desperate measures by the other races. The dead city of Zahar still stands in the Elven Lands, near the Elven citadel of Watch-Hold.
~ 6,000 years ago
The Ascension of The Shield
During one of the particularly vicious conflicts in the Age of Battles, a lone warrior protecting a village of non-combatants underwent spontaneous Ascension in the midst of battle. In the aftermath of this Ascension, the first Paladins began to appear across the nations – a useful benefice indeed, as the then-monotheist followers of The Razor unleash a holy war which lasts decades. In the aftermath of this event, religious syncretists begin noting similarities between the accounts of the two Ascensions and the first Clerics and Priests begin to appear.
THE AGE OF AVALON
3,000-4,000 years ago
The Second Age of Dwimmermount: The Age of Avalon
At some point during the Age of Battles, the region surrounding the ruin of Dwimmermount was reconquered and the ruin actually built over by a warlord known in the history books as the Tumblestone Lady. However, the entrance to the underground portion of the ancient site was not recovered for several hundred years afterwards until a sect of believers in the recently discovered “Third Ascendant” (who was in truth the first – The Pathway) received clues from their Supernal patron as to the way to gain access to “untold riches beneath”.
In the aftermath, the nation of Avalon became the dominant force in Alaria. The combination of the Divine potential of the followers of the Pathway and the sheer mystical might granted by the facilities at Dwimmermount granted the Avalonians a vast advantage over every other dominion, and soon enough for the first time the entire Greensward was united under a single ruler – the first All-Queen, Ava-Maria.
The Age of Avalon lasted for over a thousand years and provides the first documents in the Avalonian language that scholars commonly read. While it was neither a peaceful nor a kindly dominion, it succeeded in maintaining and even growing human civilisation far longer than any other in history, and had it not been for a single catastrophe it may have lasted longer still.
A large series of earthquakes runs through Alaria, causing some of its volcanoes to erupt and cutting off most passages into the Great Mesa while a vast (and disastrous) landslide opens up what became known as Gelldrin’s Pass. The population of the Great Mesa, cut off from the main Avalonian civilisation, steadily undergoes a cultural shift into what is later known as the Mesa-Folk. The earthquakes also completely destroy the city of Kalar, at the time the primary Avalonian city in the West.
~ 450 AY
The Ascension of The Toll
A prophet known as Ascar the Unknowing travels Avalon, preaching a remarkably bleak message describing a clockwork universe controlled by a wholly uncaring Fate. His message reaches a great many people over the course of the following few years, and after undergoing a pilgrimage to Dwimmermount he emerges to the surface, says goodbye to his loved ones, then Ascends.
(In what must be a grand celestial irony, the exact date of this sequence of events is disputed and may have fallen between 430 and 480 AY. Most scholars place the date at 450AY for convenience.)
~ 800 AY
Invention of Gunpowder
Gunpowder has been independently rediscovered countless times over the centuries by alchemists all across Alaria. The earliest known reference to gunpowder sadly lacks a clear date, but is believed to have been the work of a writer that lived early in the 8th century of Avalon.
The Disaster at Dwimmermount
An unknown event causes some form of alchemical chain reaction in, above and surrounding Dwimmermount. The facility itself, the city of Avalon above it, and a vast area spreading for hundreds of miles in every direction is rendered incapable of supporting life. Hundreds of thousands die within a matter of hours and many thousands more stream into the surrounding area, only to carry a hideous and infectious malady to the surrounding region. The disaster completely tears Avalon civilisation apart and in the aftermath the entire north-eastern region of Alaria becomes an unliveable Wasteland.
THE CHAOS ERA
The Slow Fall
Lacking in Avalonian stewardship, the Greensward gradually descends into barbarism. Alchemy and magic are blamed for the disaster and numerous libraries are burned, knowledge itself being considered a route to further ruin. Warlords begin to appear again all across the continent.
Meanwhile, the Centaur civilisation which has endured in the eastern plains begins to collapse. While the Wasteland malady no longer seems to spread between humans, it seems to do so amongst centaurs; those that do not die are turned into violent shadows of their former noble selves. Soon enough, desperate human settlers in regions near the plains are forced to begin hunting down centaurs until eventually they are considered nothing but beastmen.
The Dead Prince and the Ascension of The Bringer
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Avalonian civilisation, various warlords seek for advantage against one another. One, known as the Dead Prince, becomes an Ur-Draugr by means of terrible necromantic secrets, and gathers to himself a coterie of necromantic hangers-on. With his awful battle-prowess, undead potency, and the ability to transform captured enemies into haugbui, he becomes an undying terror to all that live in the region.
Fortunately, this era also saw the second “named” ascension, as the Mesa-Folk leader recorded in the histories as Mahari led a group of holy warriors in a crusade against the Dead Prince and his minions. Upon finally putting the corpse of the Dead Prince to rest, she bid her followers “never to tarry, never to tire, never to cease, never to halt” in their efforts to keep down the dead, and then Ascended. In the aftermath, she became known as the Bringer of Peace.
~ 1600 AY
The City of Candles
With the East now mostly ruins, the West becomes ever more important. The town of Candleton at the mouth of the River Ala on Candler’s Bay becomes the most important trade centre in the world, and over the course of the next few centuries it grows to completely dominate the Western Greensward.
Birth of the First Eld
The first recorded appearance of the Eld (humans granted power by the Supernal without need of an Ascendant intercessor) with the appearance of Sarro the Scholar.
The Time of the Three Plagues
With their numbers reaching historic highs in the absence of concerted efforts to thin their populations, beastman incursions become a major problem for human settlements across most of Alaria. This reaches a peak when the Three Plagues, an alliance between three particularly dangerous beastman leaders (a Hobgoblin Matriarch, an Gnoll Gorgefiend, and a Great Troll), creates a horde easily capable of destroying any of the petty human kingdoms and city-states in existence during this period.
Fortunately for humanity, the Three Plagues primarily turn their focus northwards toward the Elves and Dwarves, and in the era known as the Years of Broken Lives by the Elves, a number of Elven Courts and Dwarven Vaults are overrun, including the ancient and powerful Helzen Vault. This period sees the peak of Elf and Dwarf cooperation, culminating in the Mythril Treaty.
The Rise of Harald Adagir
The Time of Three Plagues came to a slow and stuttering end, with the death of the Blood Queen at the Battle of Torn Beards slowing the alliance down significantly, and the Devourer King being slain by the legendary Elven Nightblade known as Sessenin the Quiet. The last of the Three Plagues to fall was the Great Troll known as the Terror; dangerously cunning even by the standards of Great Trolls (which are vastly smarter than their primitive cousins), the creature survived lost battles and assassins alike and always returned to seek vengeance.
Harald Adagir discovered his famous blade, Blood Thorn in a barrow near the edges of the Candler’s Bay swamps. With this in hand, he led an army against the Terror and laid the beast low, destroying many dozens of trolls in the process, before suffering a crushing blow from a Giant in the monster’s employ. Although the battle was extremely costly, the remnants of the Terror’s army dissolved into disarray and cannibalism without their leader, and the Three Plagues finally came to an end after decades of fear and blood.
The Geniuses of Herist
After gleaning Avalonian secrets from mouldering tombs, a group of adventurers takes over the town of Herist in the west and begins utilising alchemy and advanced mathematics to assault and overcome neighbours in the face of numerical superiority. They become known as the Siegelords due to their ability to storm even walled cities.
Black Isle Covenant
The Siegelords of Herist face a problem; while their populace hates magic, the Siegelords themselves wish to have access to magical weapons and the strategic possibilities of magic use. In order to resolve this issue, they establish the Covenant of the Black Isle on the uninhabited Onyx Isle, across the bay from Candleton. The Siegelords are brought down in a popular revolt not long afterward, but the Covenant remains.
THE IMPERIAL ERA
2833 AY / 0 YE
The Night of the Sorcerers
The Surgent Council (formed from the magi of Black Isle Covenant) uses Charms and other magic to take control of Candleton in a single night, beginning what will in time become the Onyx Empire.
The Treaty of the Goatstone
A treaty signed between the Surgent Council and the cities of Ganost and Khalzad formally establishes the Onyx Concordat and its allies as the dominant power on Alaria.
The First Emperor
An Unleashed Eld known as Eldrasti leads a popular religious uprising against the Surgent Council, who respond by offering him the throne of the Onyx Concordat. The beginning of the Imperial Age proper begins.
The Dabi Cleansing
Eldrasti personally leads the forces of the Empire in destroying a cult to the Outer Beings in Hadabir Province. Hadabir becomes the most loyal province in the Empire for centuries to come.
The Storm Helm
A group of adventurers brave an ancient tomb complex in one of the lost Avalon cities to recover numerous powerful artifacts. One of them, the Storm Helm, is believed to be over three thousand years old and is capable of controlling weather to the point where it can be used as a weapon.
Conquest of Kalar
General Tirea succeeds in clearing out the insurgents, bandits and beastmen from the ruins of Kalar and establishes the province of Tirea.
The Golden Revolution
The extremely popular military Governor of Sallorn Province mounts a rebellion and manages to turn 5 full Legiones Onyx against the Emperor. The Empire responds first with powerful magicians, and secondly with a hideously pernicious diplomatic solution – the new Sallorn Protectorate becomes a cruel feudal state where the peasantry are crushed beneath the Empire’s heel while the nobility live in Imperial splendour.
Yet the disruption to the Empire’s stability proves a dangerous precedent, and semi-regular uprisings begin across much of the Empire’s territory for the next few decades. Much of the Empire’s border is increasingly unguarded and at times overrun by the increasing numbers of beastmen and raiders; this is known as the Diminishment.
Empress Eldanisa takes the throne in this year and sparks the official policy of Retrenchment. The Empire begins intentionally concentrating its forces in its central provinces of Sallorn, Habadir and Candleton itself. Left to their own devices, the more western regions slowly depopulate as people flee for the cities in the face of the endless beastman raids.
The First Great Exhibition
The city of Green Basin holds a great festival and succeeds in drawing performers, artists and craftsmen from across the Greensward, a pair of acrobats even travelling from far Aramas. In the wake of the great success of the Exhibition, the fractious merchant princes of the Western cities begin making plans for the future, as well as agreeing to hold the Great Exhibition every 5 years.
The Bargainer’s League
In the aftermath of a second successful Great Exhibition, the merchants of the Western cities formally institute the Glorious League of Independent Merchant Princes, which becomes known as the [[Bargainer’s League]].
The Bringer Uprising
The faithful of The Bringer and The Shield burn the Unsleeping Legion in its barracks at Bund. The Empire mounts a rapid and brutal response led by Emperor Eldagusto himself, bringing the rebels to battle near Bund. In the ensuing Battle of the Bringer’s Grace, Eldagusto is slain by a farmhand wearing the Bringer’s insignia.
The Third Legion (the only one to have any remaining command structure) burns Bund as it retreated into the marshes towards Candleton.
The Ends of Empire
The Third Legion is reinforced in the marshes by the Patrons and the mages of Candleton, and halts the raging advance of the Bringer’s devout at the Battle of Six Terrors (named for the six sources of death on the field: The death-muds, the burning disease, the spears of the Legion, the pitchforks of the Bringer’s devout, the swords of the Shield-brethren, and the terrible power of the Storm Helm).
Yet despite this victory, the power of the Empire is broken. The Chosen take control of the Bringer faithful and form the Mahari Dominion, and the other provinces rapidly begin to break away.
The Battle of Tireli Hills
The Hobgoblin warlord known as the Pale Death destroys Turas Kalar, the Imperial fort guarding the Kalar Ruins in Tirea Province. When the Pale Death lays siege to Tireli City, he is slain by the archer Hendir and the beastman horde falls apart.
In the aftermath, Tirea Province declares itself as the new independent kingdom of Estiria, with Hendir the Marksman as its first King.
The Shadow Death
Without warning, Candleton and Five Galleys fill with a mass influx of refugees from Black Isle. The refugees tell tales of the sudden appearance of shadowy spirits that slay with a touch. The Isle is lost to humanity, along with the Covenant of the Black Isle itself.
The Fall of Green Basin
An Ogre Chieftain calling itself the Prince of Screams leads an immense force of raiding beastmen to overrun the defences of the northernmost city in the [[Bargainer’s League]]. “Greening” refugees fill the other cities and panicked merchant princes look in relief as the Prince of Screams takes his prisoners and his loot and disappears back into the forests.