Valen: Shadow of the Empire
The Third Age…..
The First Age – The Sundering
Valen is a very old world and was once very different from modern day. Currently in its third age it has seen many great Empires rise and fall. In the first age the world was formed by the Primordials. They were looking to shape and create and then dominate and control. Great mountains and spouting volcanoes littered the landscape. Incredible storms raged across the lands and unfathomable temperature swings occurred continuously. The first races of humanoids on Valen lived in terror and agony.
The Gods saw this and took pity on the world. A great war, called the Sundering, ensued between the Gods and the Primordials. Both armies had humanoid followers who tried to aid in the battle and nearly all of them lost their lives. Mountains were smote to ruin, great chasms were formed from blasts of magical and primal energy and the great fortresses of the primordials were ground to dust. After nearly 100 terrible years the Gods proved victorious and banished the Primordials to a different plane of existence.
The Gods, wanting to remove themselves from Valen but not wanting to abandon the world they fought so hard for, decided to recreate the humanoid races and the beasts. The Elves, Eladrin and Dwarves were the first races created and are the longest lived of all races. Halflings, Gnomes and most of the other races were created next. The last race to be created was the humans. They were the most celebrated and yet the most flawed of all races. They are the shortest lived and subject to the greatest levels of joy and the greatest level of sorrow. They can be the most noble of races and the most cruel. The Gods charged the races with the responsibility of creating temples and worshiping the Gods so as to never forget the sacrifice they made in freeing Valen from the brutal Primordials. The Gods rarely visit Valen in physical form any longer but grant their most devote followers special access to their power.
The Second Age – The Age of the Dragon
During the original battle for Valen the land itself absorbed much of the magical energy that was unleashed during the Sundering. It carved huge caverns beneath the crust of the earth where the magical energies pooled together. The land could not contain such force, and as always happens, life endures. The magical energy coalesced into physical form and Valen herself spewed forth the first great wyrms. Much of the history of The Age of the Dragon has been lost or hidden but it is said those first dragons, The Ancients, were formed of pure energy. They sired all forms of draconic life on Valen including the race of the Dragonborn. Some historians believe it is the Ancients who brought magic to the world of Valen. It is rumored the elves were the first to receive the gift from a goodly silver dragon after they helped the dragon save her wyrmlings from a particularly malicious black dragon named Azreth the Cruel.
During this age dragons were easily at the pinnacle of power. No creature in all the world could stand against a full grown dragon. During this time the humanoid races were either servants of the dragons or lived in fear of attracting the attention of a nearby dragon. The newly created race of the Dragonborn were the generals of the dragon armies and commanded legions of kobolds and other draconic descendants. For nearly 1,000 years the Ancients ruled their domain with awesome power and were able to keep the rest of their dragon kin from warring with each other. The hatred amongst the races of good and evil dragons was intense however and they failed to see the Ancients’ vision of dragons dominating the other races for eternity. Both the good and evil dragons were akin to the Ancients in that they believed dragons to be superior to all other races. That however is where the similarities ended. The evil races of dragons believed the way to rule the lesser races was through fear, rage and brutality. The goodly dragons believed the other races of Valen would simply realize their futility and come to serve the dragons peacefully. They also felt some level of duty to protect the defenseless races from the cruelty of their kin. This divergence in basic beliefs forced the Ancients to use much of their power to keep the two sides from destroying the entire race. In the year 969 of the Second Age the Ancients simply disappeared. Historical records say that the Ancients had used too much of their magical life force to maintain peace and fell into a deep slumber. Prophets and doomsday evangelists say the Ancients will return one day to reclaim their place atop the throne of Valen.
Once the Ancients fell into their deep slumber there was no force great enough to stand between to the two sides of dragons. The rage of a thousand year feud was released in an earth rending time called The Dragon Wars. The humanoids allied on the side of the goodly dragons to fight against the evil dragons and their draconic army. For 50 years this war raged across the lands. The land was scarred and many dragons lost their lives in those bloody battles. Some regions of the world, notably the Dragonspine Mountains, are still stained red. For a time it seemed as if the evil dragons would win the war as their cruelty and anger could not be matched even by the goodly dragons. The tide turned however when human ritualists and cultists called forth Tieflings from the depths of the world to fight for the side of good. It is believed the Tieflings would have fought for whoever called them forth but as it was they entered the war and were asked to use their Eldritch magic against the formidable Dragonborn generals. This created a blood feud between the Tiefling and Dragonborn races that has lasted even until today. The calling forth of the Tieflings tipped the scales ever so slightly in favour of the forces of good and the war was finally ended as the last of the evil dragons were pushed deep into the dark places of the world.
The goodly dragons, their numbers decimated and the remaining members exhausted, retreated to the Dragon Isles far North of Valen in the Sea of Moving Ice. Every now and then one of the evil dragons will escape its dark prison and make it to the surface. If the forces of good act fast enough a solitary dragon in its weakened state can normally be dispatched before causing too much anguish but more often than not it escapes to establish a lair in some forsaken corner of the world. They seem to slowly be rebuilding some shadow of their former empire.
The Third Age…
After the Second Age had ended many left in the world cried out to their Gods. They felt as if they had been abandoned and forsaken. The Gods however were aware of the dominating power of the Dragons but chose to allow the Age of the Dragon to endure for several reasons. The Sundering had left them quite weakened and a battle against the dragons could have meant the end for several of the Gods and they also believed that because the dragons were formed of their own magical essence they were in fact their children as well.
Much of what is shown on the current map of Valen has been established over the last 1,200 years of Third age. Very few of the fortresses of old endured through both the Sundering and the Dragon Wars. Many of the current strongholds, cities, towns and villages have been built by man. The greatest empires now exist in the human regions of Kargan and Dakr. They control commerce on the continent and command the largest armed forces.
The Dragonborn population was decimated during the Dragon Wars and has converged in its largest numbers at their Fortress city of Ras’ Tars in the Ul’ Katar mountains. Their mortal enemies, the Tiefling, established their capital city of Ur’ Kahol on the opposite side of the same mountains. The two rival cities are separated by the high spires of the mountains but the hatred from the Dragon Wars endures.
Once the Dragon Wars were over the Elven race decided to separate itself from the rest of the world. They surrounded themselves on all sides with natural barriers in the South Eastern region of Valen and visit lands outside their borders very infrequently. Visitors are not openly welcomed in the forests of Numanesse.
For their part the Dwarves were more than happy to go back to their mountain stronghold of Valhak in the Krakkal’s Cradle mountains. Their relationship with the other races of the world is limited to that of commerce. They dig deeply in their mines and transport their wares down the Bjorra Estuary and Thulknott River for trade in the capital city of Thyatis. Their special forging and building skills are often in demand as well but come with a very high price tag.
The other races are scattered across Kargan and Dakr and can be found at least to some degree in most major cities.
This is the world and age in which you have been born. How will you shape its future…..