The Story of Norrath
The continent of Antonica and the other mighty lands of the world called Norrath are home to bold adventurers, wise kings, greedy warlords, cunning thieves, scheming sorcerers, and monsters and spirits both fierce and mighty. Adventurers plumb ancient dungeons and secret caverns, armies clash, and great magics are sometimes unleashed. It is said that anyone bold enough to study the sword, master the secrets of the arcane, or serve truly the will of the gods can win untold power, fame, and fortune. If the alternative is an unpleasant death in the jaws of some horrific beast or demon, then so be it — this is the time of heroes, when legends walk the land. But the pride of mortals grows too great, and in this time they seek to trespass in the realms of the gods themselves.
Here then is the history of the world known as Norrath:
In the Beginning
Before time itself there existed only a force known as the Nameless. This infinite, unimaginable power interacted with the emptiness of the void, creating the worlds, the planes, and the entire cosmos, in which whirled gleaming suns and worlds without number. To help create order in this new creation, the Nameless created the four “eldest gods” — Xegony, Queen of the Air; Fennin Ro, Lord of Fire; Tarew Marr, Master of Water; and Rathe, God of Earth. These four mighty beings gave order and substance to the world, and themselves created the other gods to aid in overseeing the new worlds that the Nameless had created.
The Age of Scale
The first of the new divine beings created by the four eldest gods was also the first to notice Norrath. Veeshan, the Crystalline Dragon, ruler of the Plane of Sky, cast her shadow upon this young world, for it was rich and lush, perfect for her purposes. She struck the world with her talons and claimed the place she struck as her own. Her claws raked across what would eventually become known as Velious, forming the Cobalt Scar. There the Wurm Queen deposited her brood upon the fledgling world, and dragonkind ruled the lands for an unknown length of time.
It is said that the mighty Age of Scale ended in blood as the great realm of the dragons tore itself apart. This fearsome conflict began when two dragons of different breeds mated and produced a monstrosity known as a prismatic dragon, a powerful being called Kerafyrm. Its birth had been prophesied as the “Awakening of the Sleeper,” and all later ages are dated from this fearsome event. A being of godlike power, Kerafyrm is said to have rivaled even Veeshan herself, and the war that resulted from his birth ended in the deaths of hundreds of true dragons. In the end, Kerafyrm could not be destroyed — only placed in a deep magical sleep and confined, guarded by eternal warders. For centuries, Kerafyrm remained the most powerful single being upon Norrath, with tales of his existence passing into the realm of myth and legend.
In the wake of this disaster, Veeshan decreed that dragons of different breeds could never mate, and that dragons could never slay other dragons. So it was that the Claws of Veeshan, the rulers of dragonkind, arose from the struggle with Kerafyrm. However, some dragons did not follow Veeshan’s will; these malcontents struck out on their own, forming a renegade faction known as the Ring of Scale under the leadership of the ancient dragon Jaled Dar, aided by several infamous wyrms including Trakanon, Phara Dar, Lord Nagafen, and Lady Vox.
Lord Nagafen Lady Vox Jaled Dar
Trakanon Phara Dar
The Elder Age
Veeshan would in time prove to be only the first deity to turn her attentions to the verdant world of Norrath. At some point, Brell Serilis, the Duke of the Below, took note of Veeshan’s handiwork and began his own machinations in the Plane of Underfoot. In secret, he crafted a gateway from his realm into an open chasm deep within the belly of Norrath. He then made many creatures and sent them through the mystical gateway into the twisting tunnels and passages of the deep underworld. The Duke of Below (Brell) then sealed the entry to his plane within a labyrinthine chamber of living stone.
Once finished, Brell Serilis gathered the foremost of the other gods and showed them the world of Norrath and what Veeshan had already wrought there. With choice words befitting him Brell, King of Thieves as titled by Veeshan, proposed a pact among Tunare, Prexus, Rallos Zek, and himself that would allow them to discuss the fate of the world.
They would divide the lands of this world among themselves, each creating races to watch over their chosen territories and to keep the Wurm Queen and her spawn in check. All agreed except Rallos Zek, the Warlord, who would declare no alliance with any of the other gods, for he could not bring himself to trust the others. Despite the Warlord’s defiant decision, however, he too would stake a claim upon Norrath.
Soon Brell created the dwarves, stout and strong, and placed them in the mountains and deep within their cavernous depths. On the world’s surface, among the beautiful and wild forests, Tunare made the elves as an embodiment of her eternal grace and beauty. In the water, Prexus made the kedge, aquatic beings of great mental prowess and stamina. Last but not least, Rallos Zek produced two races, the giants and the goblins.
As a whole, the elder races did just what the gods had planned: They fought the dragons and helped subdue the world, ending the rule of dragonkind. While the kedge, the elves, and the dwarves were allies in these early battles, the giants and the goblins fought only for themselves and their own glory. Still, the primary goal of opposing the dragons was met, regardless of the aloofness of the children of Rallos Zek.
Fortunately, internal conflict plagued the dragons as well, for the lovers Lord Nagafen and Lady Vox sought to breed and create another prismatic dragon, with whom they intended to overthrow Jaled Dar and take over the Ring of Scale. Their plans were discovered before they could come fully to fruition, though — Vox was forced to flee to the fastness of Everfrost, while Nagafen allowed himself to be captured and driven to the Lavastorm Mountains so that Vox could escape bearing the fruit of their union.
The other dragons soon discovered Vox’s hiding place as well, and Jaled Dar conjured mighty magics that transformed the separate refuges of both rebels into prisons, preventing them from ever seeing one another again. An elite group called the Drakota was formed, and these dragonkind were given the responsibility of watching over the two prisoners and preventing them from ever escaping.
The Age of Monuments
Legend does not state whether Innoruuk knew of Norrath before the other gods made their pact. Regardless, the Prince of Hate burned with anger against the other gods who had not included him in their pact — but most especially he resented Tunare, whom he desired for himself, for not including him in her counsel. His anger drew him to take the elven king and queen from the Thex palace in the elven capital of Takish’Hiz. Then, deep in his Plane of Hate, Innoruuk tormented and twisted them in both mind and body for hundreds of years.
In time, the Thex monarchs were transformed into the first of the dark elves, followed shortly by numerous other powerful elves who had entered his plane to rescue their sovereigns; eventually, Innoruuk cast these Teir’Dal out from his plane and into the underworld of Norrath to multiply and to sow the seeds of his revenge on the other gods.
Also during this age, Brell sought for ways to further his influence in the new world that had begun to take shape. When Fizzlethorpe, Bristlebane, and the dreaded Cazic-Thule entered the world, Brell saw yet another opportunity for an alliance. Still distrustful, but having seen Brell’s various successes, Rallos Zek finally agreed to the new pact. The gods of this second divine pact once again created races to represent them on the new world.
Brell now fashioned the gnomes, smaller cousins of the dwarves with a fascination for strange machines and exotic magics. Bristlebane made the halflings, those short, stubby, agile folk with their incurable tendency to meddle. He placed them carefully on a land away from the dragons and the giants. Cazic-Thule and Rallos Zek, perhaps in a competitive display of power, created two races each: Cazic-Thule, also known as the Faceless, created both the reptilian iksar and the brutish trolls in the swamps and jungles of Norrath. Rallos Zek, ever mindful of the possibility of conquest, made the ogres and the orcs to spread his values — by force if necessary.
The Shissar Empire
No one is sure who created the Shissar, and for their part the snake-folk have always rejected the notion that any race or being could be greater than they are themselves. In the middle days of the Age of Monuments, the shissar had somehow become the masters of a cruel empire. Many conquered races were deemed unworthy to serve even as slaves, and were wiped out utterly. One of few races that survived destruction was the iksar, whose reptilian nature apparently saved them from utter extinction. Of course, the alternative wasn’t much better — for centuries, the lizard-folk labored in servitude to the Shissar, under the merciless rule of the immortal Ssraeshza, Emperor of the Shissar.
In time, Shissar arrogance grew until at last they dared to wholly and vocally reject the gods, claiming that they, rather than Cazic-Thule, had created the Iksar as their servants. Enraged, the Faceless One unleashed a terrible vengeance upon the snake-folk. A strange green mist began to spread throughout the empire, slaying the snake people but sparing other races altogether.
Desperate, the emperor and his advisors sought refuge in their Grand Temple, eventually casting a mighty spell that allowed them to escape from Norrath altogether. For several ages to come, the Shissar would survive in secret on the Moon of Luclin.
The Iksar Empire
The Iksar thus survived the fall of the Shissar, eventually founding several powerful city-states on the perilous continent of Kunark. These city-states were eventually united under the ruthless necromancer, Venril Sathir, whose undead legions helped him carve out an empire that rivaled even that of the vanquished Shissar in sheer cruelty. The Empire of Sebilis conquered and brutally enslaved many races, as the Shissar had done to the Iksar, including even households of giants and the normally peaceful Frogloks. Under Venril and his son Rile, the Iksar empire grew powerful, conquering almost all of the vast continent.
Soon, the Iksar had become so powerful that they threatened all of Norrath. The Iksar ruler Atrebe, son of Rile, used foul magics to interbreed dragons and iksar, creating the hybrid race called the Sarnak. Appalled, the great dragon Trakanon urged Jaled Dar to go to war with the Iksar, for the more conservative and traditional dragons of the Claws of Veeshan continued to remain neutral and refused to oppose the lizard-folk.
So war between the Empire of Sebilis and the Ring of Scale began. The emperor Rile perished when his fleet was destroyed by the mighty dragon Trakanon and his allies, but the Iksar fought on under the rule of Rile’s son Ganak. In the end, Jaled Dar, ruler of the Ring of Scale, was himself slain by Ganak, yet even this victory availed the Iksar little and the war dragged on.
When Ganak eventually perished in a reprisal from the Ring of Scale, he was replaced by a council called the Emerald Circle. Soon, the Ring of Scale struck again under the leadership of Trakanon, shattering the weakened and divided empire. Slaves across Kunark revolted, and soon the great state had been utterly destroyed. Trakanon did not have much time to relish his victory, however, for he was exiled by the Claws of Veeshan for his part in the unsanctioned war against the iksar.
Following the flurry that was creation, the many races of Norrath, both old and young, began to develop their scattered cities and outposts into larger nations and empires. Some races also developed an eye toward expansion and conquest, but none so well as the ogres, whose great strength and mastery of magic allowed them, eventually, to control most of the continent of Tunaria.
In time, when they felt they had mastered virtually all of Norrath, the ogres sought new conquest. They eventually learned of other planes and mounted an invasion upon the very Plane of Earth, waging war on the denizens therein until turned back by the ancient god of power called the Rathe, whose rule there was absolute. Rallos Zek swelled with pride at his creations’ achievement, and when the ogres were finally turned back, the Warlord personally led a second assault into the Plane of Earth. The heavens themselves trembled, and the other gods allied against the Warlord and his creations, sending the defeated armies back into the world of Norrath — for if he had succeeded there, what could stop him from entering their own planes and enslaving their peoples?
As a final and fitting punishment, the Rathe scattered Rallos Zek’s children across the world. The ogres were slain by the thousands and their empire crumbled to ruin. The Rathe also cursed the giants and the ogres with dim-wittedness so that they could no longer grasp the magic that had brought them to such heights of glory and conquest. A few ogres, sheltered from the Rathe’s curse in a region known as the Islands of Mist, carried on unaffected by their cousins’ handicaps, but they were always few in number and their power never rivaled that of the old empire.
Cold and ice pummeled the once-lush homelands of the giants. Some say that the goblins were also cursed, and that their curse was so terrible and thorough that no one knows what it was to this day. Having thus crippled the children of Zek, the Rathe and his fellow elder gods then erected a barrier to the Planes of Power (those of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth) so that mortals and lesser gods could not access them again.
Though imprisoned within the Planes of Power he sought to conquer, Rallos Zek would wait, ever-watchful, plotting his revenge against the gods that imprisoned him.
The War of the Broken Crown
The last of the old races to suffer decline was that of the elves. The Elddar Forest at this time spread across the entire southeastern quarter of Tunaria. For reasons none has ever been able to fathom, Solusek Ro, son of Fennin Ro and ruler of the Plane of Sun, raised up the Serpent Mountains, cutting off the ancient wood from the northern lands that provided its rainfall and causing the heat of the sun to burn the lands therein. The rivers soon ran dry, and not even the mighty elven druids of Tunare could stop the destruction of their forest as it wasted away into a vast desert wasteland. By the time Rallos Zek’s armies had taken over the rest of Tunaria, the great city of Takish’Hiz, like the lands around it, had begun slowly but irrevocably to fall.
Meanwhile, the Thex monarchs, long ago corrupted by Innoruuk, by this time ruled a dark elven empire that claimed, through the authority of King Naythox and Queen Cristianos Thex, to rule over all elves. This empire was plagued from its outset by internal strife and political skullduggery. Still, the king and queen of the dark elves tried one last time to claim vested rulership over all elves, seeking thus to forcibly convert their subjects to the worship of the Prince of Hate(Innoruuk).
The far provinces of light elves rebelled, of course, led by young King Tearis Thex, son of the corrupted monarchs. This internecine war raged for many long years, until at last the dark elf Xanit K’Ven, a follower of Rallos Zek who had fought for many years in the Rallosian armies, was declared Overlord of the dark elf armies and was given permission to invade and raze Takish’Hiz. The Elddar was no more, and those light elves who remained fled Tunaria altogether, following Queen Elizerain, who acted as regent for the young Tearis Thex, across the Ocean of Tears to found a new home on Faydwer.
Before the elves departed finally, however, a force of elite light elf warriors and spellcasters fell upon the dark elf city of Caerthiel — which had formerly been called Wielle and would eventually be rebuilt and renamed Freeport — destroying it utterly.
The Age of Blood
Perhaps drawn by the furor of the battle for the Planes of Power and the resulting punishment of the Rathe, the twin gods Erollisi Marr and Mithaniel Marr came to Norrath. Asking no permission and forming no pacts, the twins created the savage race of humans in the frozen north of Tunaria, near one of the bands of giants. These barbarians were willing to fight with virtually anything or anyone they encountered, including each other. Wherever they spread, they brought a willingness to enter into conflict. Their conquests and the other fierce wars that raged in those days caused this era to be known as the Age of Blood.
The Fall of the Kedge
The enlightened aquatic race known as the kedge had long dwelt in peace beneath Norrath’s waves. Powerful and learned, the kedge were limited by their creator, Prexus, who decreed that their numbers could never increase — they were effectively immortal, and a young kedge was born only once an old kedge died of violence, disease, or some other unnatural cause.
Seeking to overcome his people’s “curse,” the kedge wizard Phinigel Autropos sought a way to allow his people to grow and prosper as did the land-dwelling races. Phinigel led a crusade against the dwarves of Kaladim, seeking to steal their knowledge and magic and turn it to his own uses. After slaying the hero-king Dagnor Butcherblock, Phinigel carried off the monarch’s mighty hammer, and kept it in the sunken palace known as Kedge Keep.
At length, Phinigel hit upon what he believed was a way to overcome Prexus’ curse — he researched and then undertook a ritual in which he called up enormous magical energies designed to free the souls of the kedge and allow new souls to be created. The ritual went disastrously wrong, however, and the kedge were wiped from the face of Norrath. The collective mind, soul, and memories of the kedge were drawn into Phinigel, driving him mad. For centuries, he dwelt alone in the ruins of Kedge Keep, tormented by his failure, seeking futilely for a way to restore his people, slain by his own hand.
A handful of hybrid kedge, unaffected by the disaster, lingered on in the region known as the Islands of Mist, where it is believed that they continue to dwell today.
The Swords of the Orcs
In the days following the elven exodus to Faydwer, the Crushbone orcs of that continent began to move out of the region known as the Loping Plains in a great and seemingly unstoppable horde, at last entering the forests of the Faydark and assailing the wood elf kingdom of Kelethin. Hard-pressed, the wood elf ruler Carandril turned for aid to the high elves of Felwithe. Under the leadership of the high elf hero Edril, cousin to King Tearis Thex himself, the high elves marched into battle, defeating the orcs in a surprise assault and driving the survivors deep into the shadowy forests of the Faydark. There, they remained for centuries, brooding and plotting vengeance against the elves.
Edril and the Gnomes
Since the gnomes’ arrival on Norrath, they had lived both among the dwarves and in the wilds near the edge of the forests now occupied by the wood elves; while they were not disliked, they were regarded by most dwarves as second-class citizens or poor country cousins. At last, the famed gnome Biddyn appealed to the wood elf ruler Carandril to be granted an independent kingdom of their own. Carandril agreed, giving the gnomes a portion of the barren lands beyond the Steamfont Mountains. A party of gnome explorers and surveyors immediately set out to map the new region, now called Akanon (Elder Elvish for “gift”). Unfortunately, the land proved cursed, and only a single explorer returned with tales of a fearsome plague dragon that had slaughtered his companions.
Once more the elf-lord Edril, Champion of Tunare, rose to the occasion. Together with the brave Biddyn and a group of hand-picked companions, Edril journeyed to Akanon, where he faced and slew the plague dragon in single combat. For centuries, the skull of the slain dragon stood above the gates of the gnomish citadel of Fortress Mechanus. After the dragon’s death, Biddyn, Edril, and their companions fought tirelessly, ridding the place of the monsters that infested it, making the land safe for gnomish settlers. Soon, Akanon was a thriving settlement, the permanent home that the gnomes had so long desired.
War of the Seven Tribes
Long ago abandoned by Cazic-Thule in favor of his chosen people, the iksar, the trolls were forced to fight for survival in the wilds of the Tunaria. After countless generations during which they alternately gathered into something approximating a troll empire and then inevitably splintered apart, the trolls regressed to brutal savagery for good and turned on each other as never before. Their once-prosperous lands were torn by the civil conflict that came to be called the War of the Seven Tribes. This watershed event did not last long. In a relatively short time, only a single troll tribe remained, led by the ancient, cunning troll warrior and visionary Nalikor, who by strength, guile and outright treachery succeeded where all the past attempts at troll empire had failed. Instead of allowing the existence of squabbling tribes that would later fracture his empire, Nalikor simply decimated all the other trolls.
After some years of gathering their strength, the trolls met the ogres of Oggok in battle, and soon won their foes’ respect. Nalikor and the ogre rulers reached an accord, and Nalikor gave them his magical sword, which was kept for many years at the sacred spot known as Broken Skull Rock. With the ogres’ help, the trolls founded the city of Grobb, where they began once again to grow in numbers and power.
The Lost Age
In what some call the last act of divine intervention, several tribes of barbarians were molded by Erollisi Marr into a new race that was more thoughtful and kind than their forebears. (That goddess herself, once revered as a warrior deity, had taken on the new aspects of love and partnership.) At this time, the race of humans as they are known today at long last took their place in Norrath amid the elder races.
More quickly than anyone would have thought possible, the fast-breeding and quick-learning humans spread throughout Norrath and created the Combine Empire. Eventually, though, as quickly as it had arisen, their mighty empire fell to treachery when the evil General Seru betrayed his emperor in a bid to seize the throne for himself. Those still loyal to the Combine Empire escaped from Norrath, founding the city of Katta Castellum on the Moon of Luclin, but Seru and his minions were quick to follow, building their own city, Sanctus Seru.
After Seru departed Norrath, the Combine Empire was truly dead, and to this day almost no known records of the first and last human empire exist, though its relics and ruins are found scattered throughout the world.
The Age of Enlightenment
Though their empire lay behind them, the humans still possessed great power and resilience. They founded two great cities on Tunaria, Freeport and Qeynos, and renamed the continent “Antonica” after one of their leaders, Antonius Bayle II, the Great Defender. As humans from other continents streamed to the newly established human twin capitals, they brought magic and new learning back from their many homes.
The knowledge and stories of faraway lands and magics inspired a malcontented minority of humans. Wanting this magical knowledge for themselves and forswearing the warlike ways of their predecessors, these humans followed their leader, Erud, across the sea on a pilgrimage to found an enlightened society. Landing on what they named Odus, they succeeded in developing their own society based on magic and knowledge.