After the Aberration War: Tomb Cities of the West
The History of the Earthly Realm from the War of Aberrations
The shadows lengthen, and the sleeping gods stir.
Four hundred years ago, creatures from beyond all known planes came into the world bearing their dark gifts of corruption. But, the Earthly Plane had its protectors, in the Fair Realm of the Gods, and even in the Plane of Hells.
The war raged for seven weeks of the year nine thousand and sixty-four of the Second Turning of Time’s Wheel. Boccob, the god of the First Spells wrote its events, and his steady hand did not spare the parchment. I know, for I write only of what he has written.
For three days, all gods fought in the war as brothers and sisters against a common enemy. But, on the fourth day, the cries of his people broke the Gnome-father’s gilded heart. Fearing the end of all joy and wandering for the gnomes, as it came to those creatures left in the Realm of the Fey in the First Turning of Time’s Wheel, Garl Glittergold gathered about him those most faithful to his path, and abandoned the war.
Seeing this betrayal, the other gods began to plot. Factions arose. By the end of the first week, Bahamut flew from the field of battle in disgust. His friend, Fharlanghn, had fallen by the hand of his fellow god, Nerull of the Scythe.
Nerull fell by the hand of Kord, and Kord fell by the power of the Hungry History, the strange not-god from outside all Planes. And this happened in second week. But, on the third week, the Hungry History was bound and cast back into the emptiness outside the worlds by Heironeous, the god of men and their heroic justice.
The Laws of Undoing broke upon Moradin’s warhammer, but the fight wearied the Dwarf-father. By the end of the fourth week, he covered himself with a cloak, and disappeared down into the depths of the mountain caves of the Fair Realms of the Gods. Heironeous soon fell into sleep, as well, but beneath the Earthly Realm. The dwarves and humans wept long. But, in the end, the elves wept longer.
The fair lord of the elves, Corellon Larethian, Ehlonna of the forests and streams, and Pelor, master of the Sun, fell in battle. They fought until the bitter end, and locked the Planes to all who would defile them, but they paid the price.
The death of a god is no simple matter. The gods are too great, their souls residing in many things and places. Fharlanghn’s soul resided in roads and horizons, and when he died, every road became the carrier of plagues and lost souls. Nerull’s death doubled the number and strength of the undead. For all his evil, the Death-maker stood for endings, not drawn-out half-life with no purpose, and his destruction brought that doom upon many a creature. Kord’s death brought pain into every act that would raise a mortal higher than his brother, and cast shadows in every hall of merriment, even as it brought each mortal closer to the aberrations waiting outside the worlds.
Pelor’s death made the Sun wild—a quarter of the Earthly Realm boiled as the god died, and since then, each year it grows cold for a week in mourning for its lord, serving as a gate for the evil beyond all evil against its will. Ehlonna’s nature grew twisted, and many of her avatars which survived the war became gods of evil wilderness and freakish birth.
The worst came with Larethian’s death. Darkness threatened the elves and the great Crescent Moon which was once a plaything of the Elf-father. In a rare moment of mercy, or perhaps a hatred so deep it could be mistaken for mercy, the deity of the orcs, Gruumsh One-Eye, adopted the elves, and henceforth, the people were known as Urkinil, the orc-brothers. Gruumsh, too, changed and became more graceful, even kinder, as a result of accepting into his being the qualities he once most despised. Gruumsh White-eye, he was named then, and he grew to be one of the strongest of gods.
Boccob wrote no more of the war after that, leaving the task to the hands of mortals, who forget much. Centuries passed, and the races of the Earthly Realm toiled to restore what was once lost, climbing up from scattered tribes and broken cities.
But, the shadows lengthen, and the sleeping gods stir. History is a wheel within wheels, turning and returning to strange days.
Of the Races
The dwarven kingdoms, carved from stone and forged of metal, stood much as they always have, if they still stood. The mining is tough and the forging difficult, but Moradin still lives, if only in sleep, and the dwarves await his return and easier times.
The elves, Urkinil, embraced the ways of violence, but never forgot their songs and love of the natural world. Dwelling in cities of trees grown by savage magic, they welcome few but their orc brethren. Half-elves are rare, now, and their gifts welcome in the world of humans.
Humankind, for their part, rebuilt their cities in ways welcome neither to Urkinil, nor the dwarves. They cut down forests and cut stone with little skill, but did so with speed. From a few hundred huddled around fires, the folk of the hills became thousands.
Orcs, with the transformation of their god became hunters and nomads, looking with disdain upon any dwelling not grown from living wood by their elven brothers. Still, they destroy towns they come upon on their travels between the homes of the Urkinil, and leave half-orc children in settlements which they spare.
Gnomes are a rare sight in the Earthly Realm. Elves and dwarves still remember their father for his desertion, and humans think them tainted by some aberration or another which came through on the Week of the Cold Sun.
Halflings remained hidden, and their creator god was among the only good or neutral deities to never enter the war. Indeed, the Invisible God, whatever his true nature, hid so well that no halfling knows what happened to him. Despite the apparent abandonment, halfings remain optimistic opportunists.
Dragons and their gods are gone, but a few of their homes still stand from the war, and their hordes were claimed by the goblins, kobolds, and other, stronger beings.
It is said that adventurers existed before the War of the Gods. They fought and died by the hundreds to protect the worlds. But, when the dust cleared, the remaining mortals created the Guild of Returning to aid in reclaiming and rebuilding the Earthly Realm. Some found fortune with its support, and it grew on the gold squares of old kingdoms before the War of the Gods. Now, the Guild of Returning is paid for by the nobles and kings of every city in the hopes that it will earn yet greater riches for its patrons.
Paladins and clerics of the surviving deities bring back relics of the previous ages to fortify civilization. Sorcerers and wizards travel to find great spells and perhaps awaken the sleeping gods themselves. Rogues and barbarians use the Guild of Returning to escape from the law and soft living, seeking wealth of one sort or another. Monks and bards travel for reasons of their own, though since the War of the Gods, their goals include regaining old traditions and fame. Fighters, too, seek fame in the Guild, but more often than not, they are mercenaries bought with the Guild’s gold squares. Druids of the Guild of Returning know that the natural world is still suffering from the destruction of its deity, and strive to raise up Ravisah, the Mother of Rats, one of the last pure avatars of Ehlonna, to control nature’s violence and limit the evil of Lamashtu, the monstrous mother of goblins and most corrupt of Ehlonna’s avatars.
Of Rundil-tep and the West
Rundil-Tep was the only human city to survive the War of the Gods. Built with the help of the half-elves and the dwarves, it stood up to the Hungry History’s assault, it endures to this day as the center of the arts, and has the most diverse population.
Its Guildhall is also the beginning of many an adventure, with nobles commissioning the brave and the foolish to travel westward, into the deep wilderness.
Outside Rundil-Tep, to the west, the plains of Rund hold a few ancient guard towers and Kal-tep, a dwarven city and hall of maps from before the War of the Gods.