Mysteries of Larsil
Creation of the World
While mythology and religion rarely hold much sway for historians, certain legends are echoed in so many Larsil religions that they have become accepted as fact. Thus, the history of Larsil began when Lord Ao created the universe that now holds the world of Larsil. After this creation came a period of timeless nothingness, a misty realm of shadows that existed before light and darkness were separate things. Eventually this shadowy essence coalesced to form beautiful twin goddesses, polar opposites of each other, one dark and one light. The twin goddesses created the bodies of the heavens, giving life to Calewyr, the embodiment of the world Larsil. Larsil was lit by the cool radiance of the goddess Maldi and darkened by the welcoming embrace of the goddess Jacquith, but no heat yet existed in this place.
The War of Light and Darkness
Calewyr begged for warmth so that she might nurture life and living creatures upon her form, and the twin goddesses disagreed over whether this should be done. The two fought, and from their divine conflict the deities of war, disease, murder, death, and other fell forces were created.
Maldi reached beyond the universe to a plane of fire, using pure flame to ignite one of the heavenly bodies so that Calewyr would be warmed. Jacquith became enraged and began to snuff out all light and warmth in the universe. Desperate and greatly weakened, Maldi tore the divine essence of magic from her body and hurled it at her sister, tearing through Jacquith’s form and pulling with it similar energy from the dark twin. This energy formed Erlena, the goddess of magic. Composed of light and dark magic but favouring her first mother, Erlena balanced the battle and established an uneasy truce between the two sisters.
Jacquith, who remained powerful, nursed a bitter loneliness in the darkness and plotted her revenge. Maldi waxed and waned with the light, but drew strength from her allied daughters and sons, and even interloper deities from other planes. Their battle continues to this day.
The Creator Races
While the deities battled, many intelligent beings arose on Larsil. Modern scholars call the five greatest the creator races. The first of these was a saurian race that built an extensive if short-lived civilization. Its survivors eventually became the nagas, lizardfolk, troglodytes, and similar creatures.
Supreme among the creator races were the dragons, powerful enough to raid large cities of the other races with impunity. Dragons dominated the surface world, claiming vast areas of territory and battling each other for land, mates, and status. The great drakes suffered setbacks only when lesser races mastered magic, and they remain influential today despite the advances of such rabble.
An aquatic race of shapechangers that became amphibious developed late during the saurian civilization and crept onto the land, building proud cities. These creatures contributed to the downfall of the saurians, but they themselves eventually fell into barbarism under pressure from sahuagin, merfolk, and tritons. The survivors of this race are the locathah in the sea and doppelgangers on land.
Least known of the creator races are the sylvan people that populated the forests and other wooded areas, living in harmony with nature and leaving few traces. It is believed that their civilization fragmented after a great plague created by a draconic or demonic power. Their descendants are the sprites and other small woodfolk that populate secret parts of Larsil today.
The last creator race, and the one that spent the longest time in a primitive state, is the humans. Always adaptable and ingenious, humans made advances with incredible speed and efficiency when circumstances allowed for their rise to prominence. Of the five creator races, only the humans truly survive as a cohesive civilization form today. The individual dragons war with each other, and the others have vanished from the world or splintered among their subraces.
The First Flowering
With the discovery of magic by the creator races, talented individuals began experimenting with planar travel, contacting and visiting other worlds. Through these early portals came natives of these other worlds – dwarves, treants, efreets, and mind flayers, in that order. Other races appeared, either through crossbreeding, planar immigration, or transformation by magic.
Halflings, gnomes, and giants arose on Larsil. The mighty giants built great kingdoms and battled the dragons, although the giant civilization was never great enough to merit inclusion as one of the creator races. Goblinoids migrated to Larsil in small waves when they discovered portals. Nonhumanoid creatures such as beholders, wemics, and centaurs established territories, while pegasi and winged creatures such as aarakocras filled the skies while the dragons slept.
Of these arrivals, elves and dwarves proved the most resourceful. Each race began to acquire cultural, technological, and commercial power, establishing strong kingdoms across the face of Larsil add other continents. This event, known as the First Flowering, heralds the ascension to civilization by races that still exist in great numbers today.
The friendly gnomes worked as go-betweens for the dwarven and elven stations, trading rare goods and exotic weaponry for magic and lore. During this time, the kingdoms of the benevolent humanoids developed a social structure of clans, houses, or families, each focusing on certain arts and ideals. These factions would eventually develop rivalries that would result in the downfall of their great kingdoms.
The Crown Wars
The elves colonized the islands of the Dragonshaes, taking the first steps toward what would someday be known as elven high magic. This powerful arcane knowledge allowed the elves to contest with and finally drive back the dragons for the first time in history. With strong magic and many allies, the elves built great cities and mighty kingdoms. Little did they know their greatest threat was to come from within their own race.
The actual spark that set elven tempers ablaze is unknown. The conflict known today as the Crown Wars involved all the existing elven nations and lasted three thousand years. Entire kingdoms fell, and countlesselven lives wert wasted in battle. Punished for their loyalty to the corrupt elven goddess Araushnee (now Lolth), the dark elven nation of Ilythiir fell with her, banished to the Underdark to become known as the drow.
At the end of the Crown Wars, only two elven realms emerged with their civilizations intact. The High elves, inhabiting their namesake forest, wearily settled into a much-needed peace. Unfortunately, they would soon come into conflict with a new human nation to the south. The Old Forest, an elven nation near the Spine of the World, made peaceful contact with nomadic tribes of elves and human settlements. The elves traded the knowledge of magic to the humans for food and trade goods. This event signalled the beginning of the age of humans.
The First Great Empires of Man
With the decline of the elves and the discovery of high magic, ambitious leaders of men saw their chance to gain power, land and glory. While many kingdoms were formed in this time, the lands were dominated by three great empires.
The Empire of Ice in the North of Larsil, Zampur in Central Larsil and the Empire of Nesseril in the south.
The Empire of Ice
The Empire of Ice was forged in blood and steel. It grew over many centuries, encompassing Northern Larsil south of the Spine of the World from including the lands of Coldhaven from the west to Icedagger Dale to the east and extending as far south as the Dagger Mountains. Only the combined forces of the elves of the High Forest and the Empire of Zampur stopped the Ice from spreading further south.
The Scourge of Fire
The Empire of Ice seemed set to last for millennia, so vast and strong its armies and peoples, but this dream was never to be realised. A few centuries after its inception, the Empire was assaulted by a powerful Red Dragon, Golgynax.
Golgynax awoke from a deep slumber to find most of his kin destroyed or fled the land, and his once great hunting grounds infested with humans and other ‘inferior’ races. So enraged was he by this that he swept down almost immediately on the cities of the empire.
Despite the high magic available to the empire, they were taken off-guard by the ferocity and power of the mighty dragon. Half the empire fell within a week, perhaps as much a victim of its own self-confidence as the victim of the dragon’s wrath. The disarray of the empire’s armies proved opportunity enough for disillusioned provinces and orcish raiders to take advantage of the situation, leaving the empire in tatters.
Golgynax continued his devastation south, and would have threatened the empire of Zampur were it not for the actions of the remnants of the Imperial army, dwarven warriors and the massed aid of the elves (who had not forgotten the evil of the dragons). A great battle ensued in the north of the Dagger Mountains and and although he had succeeded in destroying the Empire of Ice, Golgynax was ultimately vanquished.
Zampur began as a collection of fishing and logging villages east of what are now called the woods of Zampur. The Empire of Zampur and its central Twelve Cities of Swords grew quickly along the land and sea, and soon came into conflict with Empire of Ice when its borders approached northern tips of the Dagger Mountains. The two nations finally reached a peaceful settlement when they both agreed to abandon expansion across their borders.
In time, the logging of the woods of Zampur greatly angered the elves of that forest, and war between the races began. Within twenty years, all the elven cities in the forest except one had been destroyed, and nine out of ten elves in the wood had been slain. In retaliation, the surviving elven wizards used elven high magic to summon,a great wave that scoured all of the empire from the face of the world and reshaped that area into the current coastline of Zampur.
The few survivors fled to the colonies along the northern coast of the Summer Sea. In time, other scattered survivors and folk from its old colonies returned and formed the country of Yoredon, which rose to become a mercantile power but was broken again by wars and plague. The Yoredon of today is only the palest shadow of its former greatness.
Before the empires of Zampur and Ice were in ascendance, the great empire of Nesseril arose in the south of Larsil. Originating as seven fishing villages that came together for mutual protection, Nesseril was destined to become incredibly powerful and doomed to overwhelming arrogance. Taught the basics of magic by their elven neighbors, the Nesseril made moderate progress in the Art, bolstered by frequent contact with the elves. The four peoples engaged in trade and fought against the orcs that swarmed from the Dagger Mountains every few years. Nesseril weathered the war that erupted between its elven neighbours, and through one fortuitous discovery was launched onto a path of greatness and ruin.
The Nesser Scrolls
An unknown adventurer discovered a set of magical writings that held vast secrets of the Art. These Nesser Scrolls gave insight to spellcasting, the creation of magic items and constructs, the relations and structure of the planes, and even the making of artifacts. Although all of the Nether Scrolls were lost or stolen over the next two thousand years, the information changed the entirety of Nesseril society.
The fledgling spellcasters of Nesseril studied the scrolls and invented types of magic never before seen in Larsil. The Nesseril wizard Ioulaum created the mythallar that gave power to nearby items, negating the need for expenditure of a spellcaster’s energy to create magic items. The mythallr also allowed spellcasters to create mighty buildings that defied logic, towering high over their cities. Every citizen wielded minor magic, and the Nesseril traded with nearby elven and dwarven nations, expanding the reach of their empire greatly.
The Fall of Nesseril
Karsus, an incredibly talented archmage responsible for bizarre advances in magic, felt it was his duty to bring ultimate power to his people. Casting a spell he had been researching for a decade, Karsus created a link to Erlena so that he could steal her power and become a deity. Upon completing the spell, his body swelled with divine power and his mind expanded with unimaginable knowledge – including the knowledge of the horrible mistake he had just made. Having stolen the divinity from the one being capable of constantly repairing the damage to the Weave the magic-gluttonous Nesseril caused, Karsus threatened the existence of magic on larsil, since he was not prepared for such a task.
Erlena sacrificed herself to save the Weave before the damage was irreparable. This severed her link to Karsus, petrifying him and temporarily negating all magic in the world. The Nesseril towers plummeted, and Karsus’s stony form, still containing a fading omniscience, watched as all he knew and cared about was destroyed because of his folly. Despite this catastrophe, sages know Karsus as the one being who attained godhood with a single spell.
The goddess of magic Erlena was not completely destroyed in this sacrifice however, and she was able to reform and recreate the Weave. This new Weave had stricter requirements for spellcasting, preventing the heights of power and potential for destruction the Nesseril had attained. Clerics of Erlena were told the truth of the fall of Nesseril as a warning so that such a thing might never happen again.
With the destruction three great empires, many smaller nations grew in response to the threats posed by raiders and bands of demi-humans. Thought shadow of the former kingdoms, these nations were at least stable enough to provide a kind of peace among the lands of Larsil. This calm was to be short lived, however.
Second Age of Empire
The start of this age can be traced back to arrival of a powerful mage in the Gold Coast in Northern Larsil. He and his fellow adventurers quickly gathered power, wealth and influence which they then used to unify the city states into a single, organised kingdom. From here, he was able to establish The Aureolus Empire across much of the North. The Empire was not alone in this expansion. Seeing his success, both the nation of Westerfell and a warlord of the north saw an opportunity to expand, slowly absorbing many smaller nations in their wake.
The North was not the only region to see such action. In the south, the Kingdom of Yoredon clamouring for its former glory solidified its minor provinces and began making designs on the former lands of Zampur.