This synopsis focuses on the Heartlands of Avalon as it has been the focus of the campaign game, with very short excursions elsewhere, for essentially it’s entirely since the early 1980’s.
A Short Note
For all intents and purposes the recorded history of humanity starts about 6000 years ago with founding of the White Empire in the ruins of what had been the Second City. Before this the details are murky at best regarding the Diaspora and records of the Invoked Detestation, the War Without End, and the Second City, are derived almost entirely from Elven and Dwarven sources and there is very little detail that even the educated have. The Druid’s Isle is said to have some of the oldest records, as is the Great Library of Irem, while some others say that the Oracles of Sylentia have the most complete records. The Society of Light maintains excellent records of membership, tithes, and family lineage that go back to Enoch.
The Diaspora of Humankind (-4200 to -3700 R.A.)
In the wake of the Invoked Devastation there is the great Diaspora of the survivors of humankind throughout the now unmoored Mortal Realms, and even into the Shadowlands and even the Great Waste. Desperately seeking safety, over the next five hundred years humanity colonizes the continents of Thule and Avalon, Khem and Khitain, few finding themselves in the shattered remnants of the lands that surrounded the Second City, Atlan. It is out of this Diaspora that the modern human peoples can trace their ancestry, with many rich cultural groups – the Northmen, the Avalonians, the Kistathians, the Khitainese, even the Atlanteans who are the root stock of all peoples.
The White Empire (-3700 to -2600 R.A.)
Out of the Diaspora, in Atlan, an individual rises up who slowly forms what becomes known as the White Empire. A highly skilled and powerful mage whose abilities are said to rival those of dread Ilhiedrin, he does not age with the passage of time and becomes known as the Immortal Emperor. Within the safety of the White Empire and the High Law life flourishes for many, and the reach of the White Empire grows far with colonies and embassies far and wide, keeping the humanity in contact with each other. The Immortal Emperor rules wisely and justly for over a thousand years, and then disappears, revealing the rot hidden in the heart of the empire.
The Chaos Wars and the Age of the Black Empire (-2700 to -2500 R.A.)
While the White Empire survives for a time through sheer inertia, soon the Chaos Wars break out as the inheritors of the Immortal King’s power, the Lords of the Seven Darks, face rebellion and revolt to their goetic perversions. It is a horrible war that lasts only a hundred years, and was primarily a human one, terrible in its own way but it is only a minor skirmish in the War Without End. This time period is known as the Black Empire, and the Empire dissolves in fire and blood, the last of the great human empires to rule over or have significant control across more than a single continent.
Enoch the Patriarch (-2531 R.A.)
What speeds the end of the Black Empire was nothing as simple and as complex as the faith of single man. Enoch. Bloodied under the lash, bent under the labors of a slave, Enoch was a man of such compassion that the Sarim Themselves looked down with mercy at the suffering of his people when he prayed for help. The first Lightbringer, Enoch is the Patriarch of the Church of the Lords of Light and the First of the Elect in the Eternal City – and his service was the rock the Society of Light was built upon.
Dawn of the Society of Light (-2500 to -500 R.A.)
Taking his people out of bondage, Enoch led the members of the Society of Light away from the ruins of the Black Empire and fled into the wilderness of Khem. Here they founded the settlements that would eventually become known Kistath, a grand series of kingdoms and empires built for the most part on the bedrock that is the Church of Lords of Light.
The Trinitarian Heresy
An early, but significant, threat to the soundness of the Society of Light was a resurgence of an old issue. The lessons and offspring the Grigori still plagued the Celestials of the Eternal City, and within the Society of Light there began to come desire to be more than servants, more than helpmeets, of the Celestials and join them in a more perfect union both spiritual and physical. While the High Men are often considered among the greatest of the hero’s of the War Without End, they can often prove to be the most despicable of villains as well. As result, the mating of human and Celestial remained forbidden, and all such lines of worship and philosophy were declared heresy. Despite this, the flames of the heresy rekindle every few generations and must be ruthlessly stamped out.
Ishtarian Schism (-1694 R.A.)
In -1394 R.A. a group of conservative members of the Church of the Lords of Light fled Kistath, sailing across the sea to the rich northern Heartlands of Avalon to found Istar, the “Star of Heaven”. Successful though almost immediately in conflict with the native cultures which followed the Old Faith as well as several other cults, the Istarian Oligarchy lasts over a thousand years before ultimately falling to rebellion and conquest, creating a culture of sophistication and education. Existing in an uneasy relationship with the Council of Deva’s, the “western church” appointed one and then another “High Archon” to oversee their affairs and rarely seek guidance from the authorities in Kistath.
Rise of the Third Cities (-1000 to -100 R.A.)
After the end of the Chaos Wars and the Black Empire there came the rise of the Lesser Kingdoms and the High Men. This was the time of the Third Cities, built across continents and realms – Silverveil, the City of Radiance, built by the Tudarin and an alliance of other races; El-Obeid, the Cynosure, built in a crossroads of time and space where it still exists today; Chorazin, the City of the Darkness, eventually damned by the Sarim; Harrow, Gate to the Shadowlands, home to the Black Watch and the Vault of Tears; Dolmen, the Necropolis, now lost to the Lords of Dearth; Ys, the City by the Sea, decadent in its trades and appetites; Ebionstark, the Citadel of Shadows, the stronghold of the Witch-King; Irem, the City of a Thousand Pillars, lofty in ideals and knowledge; Ringhold; the Clockwork City, stronghold of alchemists and science; Carcosa, the City of Seven Essences, now fallen to the King in Yellow; and Ryl Shantor, the City of Kinship, built by the Pendragon. There was a insularity to this time period of nine hundred years that had never quite existed before, a flowering of various cultures and races marred little by major war or other conflict other than small border conflicts as various countries established themselves.
The Wars of Binding (-200 to 100 R.A.)
The Wars of Binding were a three-hundred year long series of conflicts on the continent of Avalon and were marked relentless warfare against the dreaded Witch-King and his lieutenants, the Lords of the Seven Darks, also known as the Dark Apostles, who served him in the mistaken belief that he was the reincarnation of the Thrice-Cursed, Ilhiedrin. Fought primarily in Avalon, the conflict reached as far as Thule and Khem, even south into Ith, with the Witch King winning until Tobin I of Albion formed the Grand Alliance of humans, elves, dwarves, and gnomes and carrying the fight to the Witch King himself in the Shadowlands. The Wars ended with the siege of Ebionstark, the Witch-Kings citadel, and the raising of the Veil between the Shadowlands and the Mortal Lands. The Witch-King was slain by an avatar of the Godling Tyrmic, the Silver Fist, in the final battle within Ebionstark itself.
Formed in response to the threat of the Witch-King as well as the hostility of the Church of the Lords of Light, the Circle was a organization devoted to preserving the natural order, thwarting the Lords of Dearth, and providing inspiration to all those inclined by way of both words and deeds. A select organization, it’s members were originally all members of the Old Faith, though it gradually came to encompass many cults and even select members of the Society of Light if they deemed worthy. Comprised of mostly of humans, half-elves, elves, and gnomes, it was based out of Silverveil and it’s members were often rangers, bards, druids, and mages. It was instrumental in the Wars of Binding and throughout the history of Albion it was an important, though secretive, force for good in the world.
Tobin I, Darktreader and Dragonlord, Founder of Gwynarch and Albion
The son of a clan-chieftain of Oss, Tobin was trained as a ranger of the Old Faith and pursued this career across the Heartands for years in the early parts of the Wars of Binding as a member of the Circle. It was not until he visited Lady of the Singing Fountain in the Great Realm of Faerie, and trained to be a mage that he grew to see his true calling though over the years he also studied as a druid as well. Gathering companions around him of many races, he founded Albion, formed the Great Alliance with the help of his friends, and fought the trolls of Black Hills, the giants of the Wall of the World, and united the kingdoms of Brittit and Lorewood with his own realm of Gwynarch to create Albion – ultimately standing against the Witch-King and prevailing.
Albion (0 to 1377 R.A.)
Founded by Tobin I towards the end of the Wars of Binding in the Heartlands of Avalon Albion and was a multi-racial center of learning and civilization. While not having the size or the breadth of the White Empire, most agree that Albion had all the depth of that great civilization and perhaps more. Home to the fabled University of Art in Dinas Fforan, Albion was a haven of tolerance and scholarship in lands that had become known for suspicion and close-mindedness during the trials of the Wars of Binding. While the ruling family and much of it’s nobles were of the Old Faith, they not only tolerated but welcomed all other faiths. Over time these both resulted in stronger ties and better trade with Kistathians, Northmen, and even the Ithians and Sh’dai. Similarly, while tensions rose with their main rivals, the Iron Court of Tierna, Albion ruled over a period of magical and technological expansion that remains unrivaled for the most part.
Dulain the Archimage and the Veil: (42 R.A.)
Born the son of a minor noble, Dulain the Archimage grew in power during the crucible of the Wars of Binding. A genius, his skill came not from the Mouth-to-Ear teachings of the Elder Races, not through careful study over time, but because his innate understanding of the arcane arts was perhaps the greatest there ever was and he ruthlessly pursued every potential advance he could find to expand his skill and power. The Veil was his creation and it is the greatest magic ever cast by mortal mages and it casting was at the sacrifice of a generation of mages and the aid of the Celestials, Archfey, Fiends, and Elementals alike. The Veil is a marvel, a living enchantment that spread across the Mortal Realms and the even into the Shadowlands and it bound and limited Undead, Fiends, Elementals, Abberations, and Creatures of the Dearth among other things.
The Cult Wars (152 to 277 R.A.)
After the Wars of Binding there was a time period of relative peace and prosperity. The hero’s of the Wars slowly died off and the there peace – until the Cult Wars. The dread Arch-Lich, Shator, He whose name should only be whispered, manipulated the Society of Light and the Druidic Order into open conflict and it was only the sacrifice of King Tobin I of Albion in slaying the Arch-Lich and the creation of Crown Peak that brought the Cult Wars to an end. The Cult Wars wreaked an incredible amount of havoc as a result of the use of horrific weapons left over from the Wars of Binding. The city of Ryl Shantor was lost during the Cult Wars and legend has the people scattered to the four winds and the seven realms in sorrow and shame.
The Compact and the Hall of Tears (300 R.A.)
Following the Cults Wars the University of Art gathered mages from across the Heartlands together and in the 300th year in the Roll of Albion singed the Compact and laid the foundation for the Hall of Tears. The Compact bars the teaching of certain magic and the creation of a host of magical artifacts. The Hall of Tears is a repository for magic that is deemed too dangerous to be allowed to wander around loose, guarded by the organization known as the Black Watch which had been set guard the borders to the Shadowlands.
The Great Horde (450 to 600 R.A.)
The nomads and barbarians of the Tawill Plains began incursions raiding more and more frequently in the Heartlands and over about one hundred years these grew in intensity until the Horde invasion. The Horde swept up through the Petty Kingdoms and into the southern realms of the Heartlands (then known as Cathalia). There the Horde was stopped by the mixed forces of the southern realms, the navies of Albion (both air and sea) along with the various armies stopped the Horde in it’s tracks in 747 R.A. and the next 50 or so years saw the gradual end of that threat for the time being.
Flight of Dragons (521 to 603 R.A.)
Known only in lore there was one Flight of the Dragons in the Ancient Era, when the great Wyrms flew forth from their hidden lairs and caused much calamity and sorrow. This lasted for around 100 years overall, rising, peaking, and then falling off. The great Dragon of Mithril Hall took up residence there at this time and the dwarves have desired to return there ever since. The Green Wyrm of Halstor’s Tower also appeared at this time and no-one has managed to slay either one.
The Nightfall War (627 R.A.)
In a foolish attack, Tierna attempted to take capture the Hall of Tears in what has become known as the Nightfall War. The Masters of the Black Watch, faced with an armada of Wind-ships, were forced to open the Vaults of the Hall and use the items there in it’s defense. Not one ship survived and the Masters were reminded of the old adage “Call not up what you cannot put down again.” The City itself was almost destroyed in the process and spent years in recovery, trying to regain the trust of the lands around it.
Seven-Day War (652 R.A.)
After a series of provocations on both sides, Albion and Tierna clashed for seven days and six nights in the air above Oss and the Bay of Iasrod. The navies of both countries were savaged by the magical fury that both unleashed in an effort to win what was ultimately a draw. Tierna and Albion both withdrew, neither having gained more than a slow and expensive process of rebuilding shattered windship navies and equally damaged wet navies.
Rebellion and Reformation in Albion (659 to 705 R.A.)
Attempting to take advantage of the aftermath of the Seven-Day War, the Duchy of Bria tried to rebel and separate from Albion. While unsuccessful, this marked the beginning of bad relations between the nobles of Bria and the Crown of Albion. Many families have blamed their current status on actions that date back to this time and while the now Grand-Duchy of Bria is almost a separate state in many respects there is great deal of animosity. The separate nature of the Grand-Duchy of Loren (formally Lorewood) also dates back to this time. The commonly held reason that Bria has not rebelled again is the magical might of the Crown of Albion and the continued vigilance of the Wardens.
Zymora and the T’zarr Border States (689 to 822 R.A.)
In 1689 R.A. the realm of Zymora was found out of the old realm of Prythain. Well-regarded, Zymora was often counted as an ally of Albion and the two nations are good trading partners. The T’zar Border States were formed at this time as an answer to possible northern expansion of Zymora. In fact, the Border States became an excellent trading partner of Zymora and while not allied in any military sense there were numerous intermarriages between Zymora and the various Buffer States. This time period included worsened relations with the Ossian Clans of the Tanglehills with both Albion and Tierna. Factions within the Society of Light within Cathalia resurrected the Inquisition and the cities and towns of that country and various of the Petty Kingdoms and other small nations were gripped with fear as a result.
Alkenzamier the Dark and the Lords of Dearth
Though the Wars of Binding were past, evil remained in the world – much of older than any would wish. When Ilhiedrin brought forth the Five Demon Emperors into Creation again, he was far from their only servant. The Lords of Dearth are the most powerful among those, and they have sacrificed morality for power, life for unlife, doing their utmost to subvert all that Creation is. Alkenzamier the Dark was foremost amongst the Lords of Dearth and chose his moment to strike most carefully.
The Tearing of the Veil (1042 to 1043 R.A.)
As the years grew long, the wonder and magic that was the Veil grew strained, tattered, and it was at this moment that the Dearth chose to strike. Divining that a living enchantment needed a living anchor Alkenzamier abducted that anchor, the direct descendant and incarnation of Dulain, and slowly tortured her to death, ripping apart the Veil beginning the deconstruction of Creation as well. It fell to a group of heroes, old and new, to save the Multiverse, some at the cost of their lives. Ancient of days and mere saplings with their greatest deeds still to come, they sought out Alkenzamier in the depths of Abyss, on the edge of Creation itself, and Called the Gods Themselves to heal the Veil, awakening Old Powers that had long slumbered.