The history of Praemal extends back more than ten thousand years, with many amazing and significant events. DMs will want to become familiar with this information, because it is rife with possible adventure hooks. What if the ghost-lich Kagrisos rose again, or someone found the secret to unleashing the Utterdark once more?

The history of the world is vast and complex, stretching back almost eleven millennia. The information presented here (timeline on the left, historical discussion on the right) is heavily skewed toward events important to the city of Ptolus, however. Whole civilizations rose and fell in some of the gaps left blank.

PREHISTORY

The early days of creation are more a matter of myth than history. It is widely accepted that a single creator god forged the world out of nothingness. In this primordial age, evil creatures known as the Galchutt waged war against man and god to destroy the world, but were thwarted at every turn. Eventually, the Galchutt turned on each other and ultimately retreated into a state of aeons-long sleep to await a time when they could better wreak their chaos and destruction. (For more information, see Chapter 4: Cosmology and Religion.)

History, according to most scholars, starts with Eslathagos Malkith. But even then, the details of a time more than eight millennia prior to the present day are sketchy at best. Most history books have little to say about it, and most historians know little else. One must find truly arcane texts to learn the truth of his story.

TIMELINE

BE = Before Empire; IA = Imperial Age

c. 10,000 BEPraemus creates the world as a trap for the Galchutt, the main purveyors of evil, chaos, and non-existence in the multiverse at the time.
c. 9,900 BEPraemus’ children revolt in order to free the intelligent races he created from servitude. The War of the Gods ensues. An evil goddess—one of the Vested of the Galchutt named Gorgoth-Lol—corrupts a tribe of Shoal elves, taking them deep underground.
c. 9,800 BEThe Galchutt—through one of their Vested servants, Mrathrach—attempt to destroy the world by imprisoning the Gilded Angel, an envoy from another plane sent to visit and judge Praemus’ creation. Mrathrach is thwarted by runebearer heroes. The Gilded Angel leaves safely (the last being to come to the world physically and then leave). The magical energies released at the time of the Vested’s death create the Pit of Mrathrach, which begins to convert any matter that seeps into it into ether that leaks out into the Ethereal Sea. The Galchutt then send a strange, magical virus to the Vallis moon to corrupt the Lords of the Seven Chains and destroy the soul of the world that they guard. Again they are thwarted. Finally, they rend the veil between life and death, allowing the dead to return to the world as undead creatures (which had never happened before). The gods, aided by heroes, seal the breach with a huge piece of the Vallis moon, but in so doing they catapult the moon into the distant reaches of space.
c. 9,700 BEThe War of the Gods ends, with Praemus and his children coming to an understanding; Praemus reveals the purpose of the world to them.
c. 9,600 BEWhat was once the Sinking Swamp around the Pit of Mrathrach, now entirely drained, has become a desert. The land mass begins to shift southward. The waters of the Southern Sea begin draining away, and the Northern Sea—eventually called the Whitewind Sea—moves southward.
c. 9,500 BEThe first city of Ptolus is founded, named after a scholar who originally explored the area. It is ruled by a number of noble families, and the Knights of the Golden Cross defend the city against evil. At this point, Ptolus is not yet a coastal town (the Northern Sea continues to shift south)
c. 9,000 BEThe Galchutt provide their servants with chaositech and begin to attack all areas of civilization. They assail Ptolus with the aid of the traitorous House Vladaam and destroy it all— except for the mysterious Castle Shard. Eventually, the Galchutt’s forces turn on themselves and destroy each other.
c. 8,900 BETheir schemes thwarted, the Galchutt sleep beneath what once was Ptolus, hoping that time will be their ally in their bid to escape this prison-world.
c. 8,000 BENi-Gorth, a priest of the evil Father Claw, rises up against his master in the hidden city of Shoggoth. He fetters Father Claw with the dragonchain.
c. 7,900 BENi-Gorth is killed by other priests of Father Claw but ascends to godhood, the first of the New Gods that one day would supplant the children of Praemus.
c. 7,500 BEA good cleric named Danar Rotansin builds a vault called Tremoc Korin in order to safely store all the evil artifacts and “banes” of the world, including any chaositech that has survived the centuries since the Galchutt went to sleep. He constructs this “Banewarrens” beneath his own fortress of Mosul Pearl. Danar’s wife, Parnaith—a powerful sorcerer in her own right—anchors the Seven Ethereal Islands around this fortress. These become known as the Seven Jewels of Parnaith and, along with the Wizard-Priests of Ni-Gorth, she builds great wonders upon each of the islands.
c. 7,450 BEBy now, the evil stored within the Banewarrens has grown so repugnant that the earth itself thrusts it away, forming the Spire. Danar repairs the damage done to Tremoc Korin by this upheaval. Mosul Pearl now rests atop the Spire.
c. 7,420 BEDanar grows corrupt thanks to the proximity of the Galchutt and the influence of the banes— particularly the Book of Inverted Darkness. He becomes the Dread One, taking the name Eslathagos Malkith. He calls forth the former servants of the Galchutt and many other evil beasts and demons from the depths of the earth. He changes the name of his castle to Jabel Shammar and begins using the banes he once strove to keep out of evil hands to create more wicked servants.
c. 7,300 BEThe Dread One creates a magical vortex of chaos within the Spire called the Entropy Sphere. He configures magical portals called the Gates of Delirium to regulate its power so that he may utilize it freely.
c. 7,260 BEEslathagos Malkith attacks the civilized lands, raining destruction down upon the world and all its inhabitants. Only runebearer heroes, blessed by the gods’ divine power, are able to stop him and his armies.
c. 7,200 BEThe Dread One’s invasion over, the world’s remaining forces—organized primarily by the Wizard-Priests of Ni- Gorth—attempt to destroy the Spire and its fell fortress. They fail. Instead, they seal it, shoring up the magic that Eslathagos Malkith (as Danar) created centuries ago. To maintain contact with the Seven Jewels of Parnaith, the wizard-priests create the colordoor nodes, places where the moving Ethereal Islands occasionally pass that one can access through particular notes of music.
c. 7,000 BEThe seas cease their shifting, and the land mass looks much as it does today.
c. 6,000 BEThe wizards of Kem build the city of Erish-aga.
c. 5,900 BEThe Solarr and Lunas elves finish construction of Dreta Phantas in the land then known as Theridae, north of the Spire along the coast. The line of the Dream Kings rules over the elves in an age of prosperity and peace. They are close allies of the followers of Ni-Gorth, who continue to maintain the Seven Jewels of Parnaith.
c. 5,600 BEThe cthorn, a strange and malevolent race of humanoids, prosper near the Gulf of Satran along the coast of Southern Sea. They terrorize those around them and focus on gathering magical lore, particularly black magic.
c. 5,500 BEThe Charad Titans arrive in Theridae in great ships. They establish trade with the Solarr and Lunas elves of Dreta Phantas.
c. 5,300 BEThe Charad Titans discover the sleeping Galchutt and vast caches of chaositech. Some of them become corrupted by their discovery, and the titans begin to fight among themselves.
c. 5,000 BEAs the religion of Ni-Gorth fades into obscurity, the wizard-priests abandon the area surrounding Jabel Shammar and the Spire.
c. 4,800 BELast of the Earthsingers, the third overclan of dwarves, dies.
c. 4,600 BEThe cthorn diminish, undone by their own corruption. The wizards of Kem steal many of their secrets.
c. 4,200 BEThe Charad Titans leave in their great ships, ultimately repulsed by the evil of the area.
c. 4,000 BEThe Wars of Fire. Wizards from the west and those from Kem meet on the Plains of Panish and fight horrible magical wars.
c. 3,400 BEThe dark elves surface for the first time since their Shoal ancestors disappeared for their long subterranean exile. They wage wars with the elves of Theridae and Dreta Phantas.
c. 3,000 BEMuch of Kem is consumed in the Metalstorm, unleashed by wanton magic. Ochremeshk the Demon God is imprisoned in a magical rune.
c. 2,800 BEThe dark elves are driven back down underground by the armies of the surface elves. More Shoal elves settle in Theridae than ever before, having come to the region to help fight the dark elves.
c. 2,000 BEDwarves settle in the area near the Spire and build the fortress-city of Dwarvenhearth. Most of the city lies underground, but portions extend to the surface.
1,554 BEThe dark elves launch a massive attack on the surface elves and use a powerful spell, channeled directly from their goddess Gorgoth-Lol, to steal the entire city of Dreta Phantas, which they hide deep below the Spire. They settle in nearby areas even below Dwarvenhearth. The surface elves of Theridae are dispersed.
c. 1,500 BEHumans settle in Theridae, founding the Kingdom of Palastan. They establish friendly relations with the dwarves of Dwarvenhearth.
c. 1,200 BEThe Wintersouled undead come to the area around the Spire, led by the King in Yellow. They find themselves drawn by the power of the sleeping Galchutt. Being undying creatures, they silently wait for the evil ones to awaken.
c. 1,000 BEThe Circle of Green, a powerful group of druids, forms in Palastan.
c. 800 BEUraq establishes itself as the world’s major power economically, through its control of the Southern Sea.
c. 700 BEThe Metalstorm in Kem completely fades.
c. 600 BESeeking the Black Grail held within the Banewarrens, the half-demon wizard Sokalahn builds an underground fortress near the coast by the Spire. He eventually uses a powerful spell to shatter one of the Gates of Delirium and breach the wards around the Banewarrens. This causes the Entropy Sphere to spin forth great energies, which twist into pools and eddies called the Pits of Insanity. They dot the interior of the Spire and nearby subterranean locations, playing havoc with physical laws and magical powers.
c. 500 BEUraq’s influence begins to decline.
477 BELothian the wandering preacher is crucified. The Kingdom of Prust collapses when an earthquake and floods kill thousands, including the king and his entire court.
443 BEThe first of the dwarven wars with the dark elves begins.
c. 440 BEGhul the Half God, the Skull-King who claims to be the resurrected son of Eslathagos Malkith, slays the last of the cthorn.
436 BEThe first dwarven/dark elf war ends.
399 BEGhul slays the Circle of Green.
376 BEThe human wizard Alchestrin takes over Castle Shard.
351 BEThe second of the dwarven wars with the dark elves begins.
350 BEThe dwarves notice that someone has moved onto the Spire and has begun building a fortress. Their spies reveal it to be Ghul. This fortress, which he calls Goth Gulgamel, is built by orcs he created: the tribe of Toruk-Rul (which means “closing fist”). The war with the dark elves is too costly for the dwarves to do anything but seal off Dwarvenhearth’s entrances to the surface.
347 BEThe death of Caliph Ulrazed marks the true end of Uraq’s position of power and influence.
343 BEThe second dwarven/dark elf war ends.
330 BEGoth Gulgamel completed, Ghul sends his armies down to attack the dwarves.
319 BEGhul’s forces drive the dwarves from Dwarvenhearth.
292 BEGhul begins an invasion to conquer the surrounding lands that history has termed the Ghulwar. His forces include Toruk-Rul orcs, dark elves, tribes of evil men and dwarves, and monsters.
291 BEPalastan falls to Ghul. Ghul slays King Rissathion upon the King’s Stone.
290 BEThe Sea Kingdoms fall to Ghul
289 BEEastern Rhoth falls to Ghul, cutting off the realm of Cherubar from the rest of the continent.
288 BEGhul conjures forth a magical darkness called the Utterdark, which covers the lands he has conquered.
285 BEThe elves of the northern Moonsilver Forest fall to Ghul. They are taken to Goth Gulgamel en masse and filter out again slowly as Harrow elves—the blighted ones.
282 BEThe Elder Elves of Theridae stop the advance of Ghul’s armies near the River Tonam.
281 BEThe Cold Quiet begins. Few pass in or out of the Utterdark.
152 BEThe Cold Quiet ends. The armies of Ghul issue forth from the Utterdark, composed of Toruk-Rul orcs, the newly spawned Sorn-Ulth orcs (meaning “bleeding breath”), ogres, trolls, and worse.
150 BEThe Elder Elves, now allied with the Stonelost dwarves (descended from those who fled Dwarvenhearth), drive back Ghul’s armies.
c. 100 BEThe dark elves drop their alliance with Ghul, concerned now with matters in the under-realms. The zaug begin a series of aggressions known as the Deep Wars.
87 BEThe elf wizard Khelaeson banishes the Utterdark.
86 BEThe elves and dwarves invade the realm of Ghul.
85 BEThe invaders take back the Moonsilver Forest and most of Palastan from Ghul.
84 BEGhul calls forth the Squirming Horde, also known as the Shrieking Horde, and defeats the elves and dwarves. The horde follows the Elder Elves back to their homeland of Theridae and razes it.
c. 75 BEThe dark elves drive their zaug enemies back from Dreta Phantas but grow sorely depleted in power.
74 BEGhul attacks Dreta Phantas in order to wrest it from the dark elves. He hopes to gain control of Koth, the dream tower fabled to guard the path to the many worlds.
71 BEThe Pact of Brightfather’s Day. The Stonelost dwarves, the Shoal elves, the halfling tribes, the Grailwarden dwarves, and the Prustan humans of Tarsis from the east forge a pact to ally against Ghul.
c. 70 BEThe dark elves seal Dreta Phantas so that no one can enter (or so they think).
61 BEWeakened from their battles with the dark elves, the foul hordes of Ghul fall to the combined forces of the Stonelost dwarves and the eastern Prustan forces. This marks the end of the Ghulwar.
59 BEGoth Gulgamel falls. Ghul flees into the Jewels of Parnaith.
55 BEThe Great Seven hunt down Ghul and destroy him.
50 BEWith the help of Tarsis, the people of the once-dark lands begin to rebuild.
43 BEThe dwarves begin construction on Dalenguard, a fortress for the Tarsisans.
41 BETarsisan outposts and garrisons dot the landscape, providing security and maintenance on the roads.
40 BEConstruction of Dalenguard completed.
9 BEDelian Von Tessel becomes ruler of Tarsis, naming his seat of power the Lion-Guarded Throne after his family crest.
1 IAThe Lion-Guarded Throne proclaims Imperial control over the lands all around it. The Age of the Empire of Tarsis begins.
15 IAAfter a short conflict, Rhoth falls to the Tarsisan armies and becomes part of the Empire.
61 IAThe noble houses of Palastan swear allegiance to the Lion-Guarded Throne.
110 IADespite magical aids, Delian Von Tessel, first Emperor of the Lion-Guarded Throne, dies.
180 IAUraq falls to the Empire after a series of bloody conflicts.
223 IAA conclave of divine beings appoints Emperor Rudolf Von Tessel the Main Purveyor of Law. They grant him vast power, which he uses to strengthen the Empire.
301 IAThe Great Earthquake devastates much of Tarsis. Rebuilding takes almost fifty years.
386 IAFollowing the assassination of her husband, Empress Addares (Von Tessel) X makes it illegal to own a firearm without official Imperial dispensation.
413 IAThe second city of Ptolus, named after fragmentary information regarding the distant past discovered by the loremaster Gerris Hin, is founded. It is built near (and eventually encompasses) the fortress of Dalenguard. The Church of Lothian opposes the founding of the city but takes no overt action. It does not explain its opposition.
417 IAAfter years of labor, the artificial shoreline for the docks of Ptolus is finished and the harbor opens.
418 IAThe Brotherhood of the Sword is founded in Ptolus.
c. 420 IASensing that the Galchutt would awaken within a few hundred years, the Wintersouled begin granting soldiers who fell in the Ghulwar the gift of unlife. They build the Dark Reliquary on the cliffs overlooking the sea. The Wintersouled manage to keep their undead servitors from drawing too much attention by residents of the growing city.
420 IABased on the research of Gerris Hin, Shay Orridar recreates the Knights of the Golden Cross to stand against evil and bring back the worship of the Elder Gods.
c. 431 IAThe noble families of Palastan relocate to Ptolus and begin building estates. Some of these are descendents of the original noble families of the first (but nearly forgotten) city of Ptolus.
440 IAThe Commissar of Ptolus grants each noble family a seat on the Assembly of the City Council as a way of placating the people of the region who have for so long looked upon the noble houses as rulers and thought-leaders.
444 IAConstruction of the Pale Tower is completed.
449 IAAs it is wont to do every thousand years or so, the tarrasque rises in Nall and ravages the countryside. It is eventually defeated by the half-orc warrior Brusk. After this, half-orcs are afforded a little more tolerance across the land.
c. 450 IASewer workers, gravediggers, and construction workers begin to spread stories of the vast underground structures beneath Ptolus. Ghul’s Labyrinth, Dwarvenhearth, dark elf tunnels, and natural caverns make for an complex system of interconnected subterranean spaces unlike anything anywhere else.
512 IAThe Brotherhood of the Sword disbands.
513 IABy Ptolus’ centennial, it has spread beyond its original bounds, the area that is now called Oldtown.
514 IAConstruction of Ptolus’ Arena begins.
519 IAMaven Balacazar consolidates many of the criminals in Ptolus for the first time. The Longfingers thieves’ guild begins to lose its influence.
520 IAThadeus Koll discovers the Shadow of Ptolus and brings the box of shadows he finds there to the Malkuth.
532 IAA drought in the north leads to food riots in Ptolus. The Sisterhood of Silence helps maintain order.
533 IAThe Sisterhood of Silence builds the Priory of Introspection in Ptolus.
554 IAFleeing the Empire’s growing distaste for arcane magic (due to the influence of the Church of Lothian), the mages’ guild known as the Inverted Pyramid relocates to Ptolus, in the hinterlands of the Empire.
560 IAThe Edict of Deviltry is issued, adding strict laws prohibiting arcane magic to the Vast Codex.
562 IAThe First Inquisition terrorizes the Empire. The “Days of Blood” begin.
563 IAWith sponsorship from the First Inquisition, the Keepers of the Veil forms in Ptolus.
564 IAThe First Inquisition ends.
590 IAThe wall around Ptolus is finished.
598 IAThe Second Inquisition begins. Its main goal is to find the Inverted Pyramid.
601 IAThe Order of Iron Might warriors’ guild is founded in Ptolus.
602 IAThe ghost-lich Kagrisos rose from beneath the city streets to cast a spell that would spread a plague throughout the city. Before he could complete this horrible act, the great hero Abesh Runihan struck him down. However, Runihan died in the process.
609 IADespite tortures and horrible massacres, the Second Inquisition ends in failure. The Edict of Deviltry falls into disfavor. The “Days of Blood” end.
615 IAThe Commissar of Ptolus, Norrid Favanar, officially declares the city a safe haven for arcane spellcasters. Both Emperors officially reprimand the Commissar but make no move to actually stop the action. More and more wizards and sorcerers come to Ptolus.
617 IACommissar Norrid Favanar begins to make use of spellcasters in the City Watch.
618 IAAelian Fardream, an elf wizard, creates a number of clones of himself, including the one that will one day call itself the Shadow Eyes.
620 IADerrin Darkbirth establishes in the Guildsman District an asylum that will one day bear his name.
633 IAThe Imperial Census records the population of Ptolus as fifty thousand people.
c. 640 IAPtolus begins in earnest to incorporate existing underground structures as usable parts of the city. The Prison and other underground locations are established.
640 IAThe Brotherhood of Redemption finishes development of a magical process to redeem evil creatures and compel them to turn to good.
641 IAThe Edict of Deviltry is officially overturned.
643 IAHealers of the Sacred Heat begin their work in Ptolus.
651 IAYrkyth Vladaam creates the Enigma Engine, which he hopes will tap into the power of the Dread One’s Entropy Sphere. He fails.
657 IAThe Prince of the Church is permanently stationed in Ptolus. The Prince at the time is Lukas Mikolic. The Church of Lothian is secretly concerned about the underground activity in Ptolus.
688 IAThe Keepers of the Veil move their headquarters to Ptolus.
690 IAAfter almost two centuries of working unofficially to help keep order, the Sisterhood of Silence gains official Imperial sanction to enforce laws and deal with criminals in Ptolus.
693 IAThe first incident of Faceless Rage is recorded in Ptolus.
695 IAPrince Lukas Mikolic dies of a degenerative disease called the Rotting Fester, which even magic could not permanently cure. The new Prince is his cousin, Rehoboth Ylestos.
696 IAThe Gnoll War rages in southern Rhoth. General Igor Urnst leads Imperial troops to victory there.
700 IAHoly Emperor Palabosh dies, and Rehoboth Ylestos becomes the new Emperor of the Church.
700 IAThe Eastern Hordes unite under the barbarian King Oulgas.
703 IAIgor Urnst is appointed the Commissar of Ptolus
706 IAEmpress Addares XXXIII and XVIII dies (see “The Imperial Line,” page 78). The Empire is in chaos, with ultimately three different people claiming the Lion- Guarded Throne. Empress Addares XXXIV attempts to move the capital to her home city of Dohrinthas.
707 IAThe Commissar assembles the Twelve Commanders in Ptolus.
708 IAThe Urthon Aedar begin to appear in Ptolus, prophesying doom and performing enigmatic deeds.
709 IAThe Eastern Hordes lay siege to Tarsis. Eight-year-old Prince of the Church Kirian Ylestos arrives in Ptolus.
710 IATarsis is overrun by barbarians from the Eastern Hordes. Holy Emperor Rehoboth of the Church of Lothian flees to Ptolus to stay with the Prince of the Church.
712 IAThe Commissar recruits willing volunteers to be polymorphed into trolls to guard the King’s River Bridge from all threats.

In 712, the Commissar, having fought against monsters throughout his career as a military man, wanted monsters on his side when planning the defense of Ptolus. So he employed Inverted Pyramid mages to polymorph willing volunteers into appropriate monsters. The lack of volunteers limited the program to merely the use of polymorphed trolls guarding the King’s River Bridge. One can see these trolls there today, garbed in Imperial military uniforms and serving a human commander. The Commissar still really likes this plan and, should the defense of Ptolus ever become an issue, would conscript “volunteers” for polymorphing.

713 IAExplorers plumbing the ancient reaches beneath Ptolus discover great treasures and begin bringing them to the surface.Tacheron Kint gains fame as tales spread of the strange underground treasure troves he has found, reportedly dating back to the days of Ghul.
714 IAThe barbarians leave Tarsis. Emperor Segaci Fellisti attempts to re-establish the Empire from its traditional capital.
717 IAPtolus becomes the center of much attention as more and more would-be treasureseekers plumb the depths below the city.
718 IAThe Delver’s Guild is established. Thoy Champous, paladin of Ahaar, disappears exploring the regions below Ptolus with the famous bow of Ahaar.
719 IASheva Callister, a famous delver, uncovers the Crown of Ki-Lias, an artifact of the Charad Titans, below the city. She retires after she sells it.
720 IAMinor outbreaks of Scarlet Death spread throughout Ptolus. Future crime lord Kevris Killraven arrives in the city.
721 IAToday.

ESLATHAGOS MALKITH (THE DREAD ONE)

After the Galchutt retreated into their hibernation, the balance tipped in the favor of light and order. A wizard-priest named Ni-Gorth put the great and mighty Father Claw in chains. Goblins, undead, and other fell creatures retreated into shadowy holes to hide. Cities grew, civilizations prospered, and new gods came to light to fill the void left by those who had retreated. For fourteen hundred years, the forces of evil were quelled, and during most of that time, the world knew relative peace. Then, a powerful and benevolent cleric set upon a well-intentioned plan.

With malevolence on the wane, the cleric Danar Rotansin sought once and for all to rid the world of its remaining evil influences. This powerful figure began to gather up all the evil artifacts, objects of dark power, trapped essences of vanquished fiends, demonic relics, and even the last vestiges of particularly horrible diseases. Condemning all of these things as “banes,” Danar imprisoned them. He believed that, if destroyed, the banes would simply release their evil into the world to wreak more havoc and bring about other darknesses. Destroying banes begat new banes.

So Danar used powerful spells and magical items to accomplish his task, working tirelessly to bind these legacies of evil. As his collection of banes grew, he began to bury them beneath his tower, Mosul Pearl, located near the sea. Danar constructed a vast catacomb, well warded and sealed, deep underground, and he called it Tremoc Korin, the Banewarrens. He also found allies to aid him in his cause. Among them were the dragon known as Saggarintys the Silver King and a number of celestials.

But Danar’s goal was folly. Concentrating so much raw hatred and despite—so much darkness and evil power—in a single place was a terrible mistake. The earth itself, no longer able to tolerate the concentrated evil that the banes represented, thrust Tremoc Korin away from it, creating a tall, impossibly high and narrow spire atop which Mosul Pearl stood.

Danar’s actions also drew the attention of sleeping Galchutt. These secretive forces manipulated events (perhaps even time and space) to ensure that the Book of Inverted Darkness fell into the hands of this well-meaning cleric.

The Book of Inverted Darkness is an artifact older than the world itself. Scribed by gods and demons, its pages contain vast lore (only The Book of Eldritch Might contains greater lore, it is said), all of it dreadful. Unfortunately for Danar Rotansin—and the world—the book presented this horrid knowledge using supernatural techniques that gave it an irresistibly seductive quality.

While he intended to seal the book away with the rest of the banes, Danar lingered over its pages for an instant too long. Its cunningly crafted words beguiled him to keep the book by his side. Soon, he read more. And more.

And still more.

The book consumed Danar. He neglected his quest to gather the remaining banes. He withdrew from his family and comrades. The book’s dark lore corrupted his spirit and twisted his mind. The allure of the dark power and forbidden knowledge was too much, even for him. Danar Rotansin became Eslathagos Malkith—the Dread One. With the vast resources of the banes he had gathered and the knowledge he had gained from the Book of Inverted Darkness, the Dread One withdrew into his tower, also renamed: Jabel Shammar.

He emerged only a few years later, launching an attack so devastating, it threatened to tear the world asunder. His might knew few bounds, and with his magical aid, the armies he created or summoned conquered the surrounding lands with ease. From his fortress atop the Spire, its former pearly hue now turned black as night, the Dread One could survey the world—a world he desired to conquer or crush entirely.

Only the actions of all the mortal races, led by powerful and stalwart heroes—many of whom had been friends and companions of Danar—stopped the forces of Eslathagos Malkith. It is said they carried the battle into the halls of Jabel Shammar itself. When it was over, the Dread One lay defeated, the world’s greatest heroes sprawled dead and dismembered all around him. Most of them had lost not only their lives but also their souls to their foe’s magic and the banes he wielded.

Some bit of Danar—the good and true man he had once been—still remained, however. His spirit, now free of corruption, managed to seal the Banewarrens once again. Although his quest remained uncompleted, and some of the banes were released again when he became Eslathagos Malkith, Tremoc Korin still contained vault upon vault of evil artifacts, foul creatures, and vile relics that must be kept away from the world at large.

To this day, priests and scholars still debate whether Eslathagos Malkith, at the height of his power, was truly mortal or had become divine.

THE AGE OF THE ELDER TITANS

Almost two millennia later—over six thousand years ago—strong, powerfully built sailors calling themselves the Charad arrived on the shores of Theridae north of Ptolus in huge vessels made of wood and, curiously, stone. The Charad looked much like muscular, regal humans, but on a grander scale: The shortest stood over eight feet tall, the largest at least twice that height. The Charad, called the Charad Titans by the Lunas elves they first encountered, wielded powerful magical might as well as physical puissance. Their vast lore far outstripped even that of the Elder Elves.

Theridae is the ancient name for the region now known as Palastan, so named and governed by the Elder Elves.

The Charad never told their new elvish allies exactly where they hailed from, although they clearly came from across the sea. Speculation at the time suggested that they originated in the north, in the area now known as the Endless Sea of Ice. In those days, the theories profess, the ice did not cover that entire land, and the Charad thrived in those cold climes. If this is true, their homeland was long ago swallowed by ice as the world grew colder and is now forever gone.

A few years after arriving and conducting the first trade and information exchanges with the elves, the titans built the fortress Ar-Nampur on an isolated cape north of present-day Ptolus, near the site of their landing. The huge structure’s existence remains unknown to most people in modern times. Most sailors simply call the area the Fogbottom, because it is perpetually shrouded in mist. Due to the rocky coastline, ships always avoid it.

Eventually, after spending more than thirteen hundred years in Ar-Nampur and interacting with the native elves, most of the Charad decided to return to the sea. Presumably they sailed for their homeland—a homeland, of course, they had never seen, for this was not the same generation of titans that had come to Theridae originally. Truth be told, the Charad sensed a slowly growing evil in the land and wished to leave its presence. A small number would remain, having grown accustomed to the area and developed an affection for it.

They never told their brethren, as they waved good-bye to the departing Charad fleet, but those who stayed were drawn to the Spire and the lands around it. They built large fortresses surrounding it, and from them delved deep below the surface. The titans had no idea at the time, but they were compelled by the Galchutt, drawn to their immense power like moths to a flame. Through eldritch processes, they tapped into the sleeping Galchutt’s power and siphoned it into themselves. But such potent energies come at a price. The Galchutt’s evil nature tainted the power the Charad took, corrupting them into aberrant mockeries of the noble beings they once were.

Today those few who even know of the existence of the so-called Elder Titans think of them only as terrors and evil beings that lived in the area around the Spire for a thousand years. But because this time was almost four thousand years in the past, their very existence is hardly ever mentioned in today’s history texts. The corrupted titans spent most of their time underground. For a time, a small number of them conquered and ruled over the dark elves. Another group lived among the zaug. Still others spent their lives hoarding chaositech. It is unknown whether any of them still survive today.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the Charad came from some other, still undiscovered land to the east or west, accessible only by sea. Elvish sailors, however, will tell you that no such land exists.

DM TIPS

Kadavalus, the Ageless Titan, dwells in Goth Gulgamel and guards the entrance to the Gates of Delirium and the Entropy Sphere (page 499). He allied himself with Ghul long ago and exists today in undead form. For details, see page 497.

THE UTTERDARK OF GHUL

The man (or creature) known as Ghul claimed to be the son of Eslathagos Malkith and some dark, unnamed demon goddess. He called himself the Half God and claimed the Spire as his birthright.

These were all lies.

He was indeed a half-demon, but he had no blood relation with the Dread One (who never had children). Ghul was a mighty sorcerer with incredible natural talent and an innate aptitude for utilizing and shaping power toward his own ends. Originally from the land of Kem, he searched the world for sources of power to exploit. When he came to the Spire, he knew he had found what he sought.

Ghul had discovered the Entropy Sphere, anchored in the middle of the Spire but not truly existing in that space— its wild, chaotic energies created their own spatial location. Ghul tapped into its almost limitless power to expand this supernatural space and found that it existed within a realm of complete blackness, which he named the Utterdark. He built his fortress, Goth Gulgamel, at an access point halfway up the Spire.

So did Ghul admire the Dread One, he even assumed his symbol of a black skull (below right) and took from it the name “Skull-King.” Most historians don’t even recall that the symbol originally belonged to the first master of the Spire.

The paths within Goth Gulgamel stretched to points that magically joined with warrens that his servants quickly carved out of the living rock surrounding the Spire, all the way to the sea. These burrows provide the basis for most of the underground labyrinths that lie under Ptolus today, although many have been significantly altered, partitioned, or incorporated into other subterranean structures. In these chambers, Ghul constructed breeding pits and laboratories where he created all manner of foul creatures that became part of his so-called “Squirming Horde.” It was here, too, that Ghul tortured and twisted Elder and Shoal elves into Harrow elves as well as into the elves that became the Urthon Aedar (the latter a fact not widely known).

By 288 BE, Ghul had so mastered the power of the Entropy Sphere that he drew the Utterdark out into the normal, physical world. This darkness covered the lands for almost two centuries, until an elf wizard named Khelaeson finally banished it. Khelaeson was instrumental in Ghul’s eventual downfall, as he also helped engineer the Pact of Brightfather’s Day, wherein a unified army of elves, dwarves, humans, and halflings gathered to fight against the Squirming Horde. Eventually, the unified armies were victorious and laid siege to Goth Gulgamel. A group of heroes known today as the Great Seven pursued Ghul who, upon seeing that his defeat was imminent, fled into the Jewels of Parnaith. It was there they slew him.

With Ghul dead, champions of the unified armies entered Goth Gulgamel, slaying every creature they could. Khelaeson used his knowledge of the Utterdark to sever many of the branching corridors from their anchors within the darkness, sending them to be lost forever in the void. Some of them, however, he left, claiming it was not within his power to destroy all of the fortress—but this was a lie. In truth, he knew that if they annihilated Goth Gulgamel, they might lose contact with the Entropy Sphere for good, and Khelaeson had the foresight to realize the sphere would have its uses. In fact, Khelaeson became the first of the Urthon Aedar, seeking and eventually finding a way to use the Entropy Sphere to reach the stolen elven city of Dreta Phantas.

When Khelaeson and the other champions had finished with Goth Gulgamel, they left nothing alive (or undead). The place still reeked of evil, though, and the Brightfather armies did not want to risk another dark lord arising from the foul puissance of the Spire. So, under the guidance of the dwarves, they built Dalenguard to protect the location from intrusion. Thanks to that move, Goth Gulgamel lay quiet and vacant for centuries.

The Great Seven “Slayers of Ghul”

The slayers of Ghul are: Dionys, a human fighter-druid; Eriskal, an elf rogue; Kam, a halfling monk; Runshallot, a human cleric; Saerth, an elf wizardrogue; Uthegos, a dwarf fighter; and Yllistro, a half-elf sorcererranger. Statues of the Great Seven stand in the Hall of Heroes in the Temple District (page 372). For more on Ghul, see Chapter 24: Goth Gulgamel.

RISE OF EMPIRE

Although a powerful alliance already existed among the Prust and the Grailwarden dwarves, it would be incorrect to refer to their creation as an “empire” until after the Pact of Brightfather’s Day, the building of Dalenguard, and, of course, the rise of Delian Von Tessel: first Emperor of Tarsis.

It is the genius of Delian Von Tessel (page 78) that he created the “Empire of Tarsis,” rather than the “Prustan Empire.” This subtle but important move appeased the noble families of Tarsis while still giving the conquering Prust what they wanted.

Unlike the previous chapters of history, the last seven centuries or so are extremely well documented and detailed. This is the history that schoolchildren know.

The Prust were humans who had originated in the southeast. Dark haired but fair skinned, from the earliest days they were ruled by authoritarian kings who organized them into an efficient, regimented society. Their traditional enemies were the peoples of the northern lands such as Nall or the tribes beyond the Grey Mountains to the east.

When the Prust and their Grailwarden allies took control of Tarsis, reputedly the oldest city in the world and certainly one of the largest, they developed a bond with the place. They called it the Eternal City and soon began to believe that it had always been theirs. From there, they would plant the seeds for their eternal Empire. After the Pact of Brightfather’s Day, they knew the time had come.

However, the Empire almost collapsed before it could really form, amid dissent from squabbling nobles and numerous powerful factions. It took the charisma and drive of one man—Delian Von Tessel, son of the human signer of the Pact of Brightfather’s Day—to unite the people of Tarsis. He was crowned Emperor.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Empire of Tarsis was that it was not born entirely of conquest. Resistance arose in some places, to be sure, but other lands had been so devastated by Ghul that they welcomed Imperial control—and the Imperial wealth, organization, and goods that came with it. Life was simply more stable and safe in the Empire, and so Imperial armies often were welcomed at city gates with open arms. (This was certainly true at first in Palastan, one of the most ravaged lands.) By 100 IA, the Empire had spread from the Grey Mountains in the east to Cherubar in the west. That done, the Emperor next annexed all the lands beyond ever known to exist, literally claiming rulership over the entire world. Of course it took years for the distant lands to the south to even know this had happened, and by the time they did, it was simpler to send a minor tribute and words of fealty than to argue. At its height, the Empire of Tarsis controlled lands so distant that no actual Imperial soldier ever set foot there. The rulers of Panogolan and Buneir in the far south were simply declared Imperial governors and left to rule as they had always done.

The spread of Empire brought with it the spread of innovation. Grailwarden firearms, clockworks, and steam-powered machines were as much a part of the Empire as Imperial laws, bureaucracy, and garrisons.

The Main Purveyors

The idea of the four Main Purveyors, each a single being charged with representing Good, Evil, Law, or Chaos, is a concept unknown to most people. The most famous of the known Main Purveyors, Emperor Rudolf Von Tessel, was the Main Purveyor of Law throughout his unnaturally long lifetime. These individuals, each a shining of example of the concept they embody, are said to be chosen by a conclave of the gods. They are always mortals, and obviously they are always enemies of each other. There is not always a Main Purveyor of every alignment at work in Praemal at all times; they arise only when worthy individuals answer the call.

With the mantle comes extra long life and special powers— mostly involving influence over like-minded creatures. Thus, the Main Purveyor of Chaos gains the power to command creatures of chaos.

THE DECLINE

Some blame the Church. Some blame greedy or shortsighted Emperors. Some blame the forces of evil, whatever they may be. Some simply blame time. But after more than seven hundred years, the Empire of Tarsis is coming apart at its very seams.

At the height of the Empire, the power it wielded was supreme—both temporally and spiritually. The Emperor issued the Edict of Deviltry in 560 IA, declaring arcane magic akin to diabolism. The Edict made arcane spellcasting illegal, and worse, it gave the Church the power to punish, incarcerate, and even execute someone for violating Church doctrine. During the First and Second Inquisitions, the Church wielded supreme power in the Empire, both in the spiritual realm and the secular. And it is difficult to describe what Church leaders did with that power, beyond simply stating that they abused it. They may have thought they were reforging the world in Lothian’s name, but today that period of inquisition is called the Days of Blood, and most people in the Church look upon it with shame and regret. In 609 the Second Inquisition ended, and in 641 the Edict of Deviltry was overturned (although most regions were ignoring it long before that).

By then, people’s faith in the Empire had been quite shaken, and the Inquisitions stirred up anti- Imperial sentiments in every jurisdiction. Further, the technological advancements that had been the backbone of the Empire slowed to a halt. Over time, people found it harder and harder to locate someone who could repair or maintain their firearms, clockworks, or steam engines. Even among the Grailwarden dwarves, the number of technicians declined with each passing year.

In 706, Empress Addares XXXIII and XVIII died, leaving no direct heirs. Her cousin in Dohrinthas, calling herself Addares XXXIV and XIX, declared herself empress and moved the capital to her city. But many opposed her claim. An imperial advisor named Segaci Fellisti, who had counseled many emperors and empresses, decided that only he could save the Empire. Soon after, Holy Emperor Rehoboth claimed that if there was no clear successor to the throne, he—the only person in the Empire officially holding the title “Emperor”— should rule, as the first and greatest of the emperors, Delian Von Tessel, did, wielding both religious and secular authority at once.

No one knew whom to follow. Everyone seemed to choose a side, including factions of the Imperial army. Taxes were split among all three, depending on the allegiance of the various governors or commissars. Thus, Imperial finances were in terrible shape when in 710 barbarian invaders from the east stormed Tarsis and sacked the city. Upon leaving the city four years later, King Oulgas, leader of the united Eastern Hordes, said he had conquered it simply because he could. Resentment of the Empire had finally taken its toll.

For more information on the state of the Empire today, see Chapter 2: The World.

THE IMPERIAL LINE

When Delian Von Tessel established the Lion-Guarded Throne in 9 BE, he forged a dynasty that lasted more than seven hundred years. Only until very recently, with the death of Empress Addares XXXIII, did the line come to an end—of course, Addares XXXIV claims that it never died but continues in her.

Delian Von Tessel was a Prustan noble and general with a distinguished career. He used his reputation and political clout to get himself named Emperor, promoting the idea that a true Empire would bring peace and prosperity to the known world under his guiding hand. His wife, Addares Von Tessel, was a strong woman well suited to serve as Empress next to her husband. It was Delian who decided that Tarsis, long considered the oldest city in the world, would be the seat of Empire rather than some city deep in the Prustan Peninsula. Tarsis was also where he had been born and raised; his Prustan ancestors took control of the city long before his birth. Delian enjoyed the deep respect of the Grailwarden dwarves, which ensured that they would support the Empire with their fantastic innovations in technology and that Imperial soldiers would be backed by dwarven cannon.

The Succession

Delian lived a very long life, enhanced by all the magical aids the Empire could provide. He died at the age of one hundred fortythree, after outliving his wife and even his children. Though she died nineteen years before he did, and thus never actually ruled directly as Empress herself, his wife Addares accomplished much for the Empire and its citizens during her life. She was so influential, in fact, that by the end of her rule it had became commonplace for parents of the Imperial line to name their girls Addares. Later it became tradition for any woman actually ascending to the throne to take the name, even if it was not hers to begin with.

Further complicating the naming convention is that one distinguishes the Empress’ name both by the number of Addareses that came before her and the number of prior Addareses that actually ruled as Empress (as opposed to being the wife of the ruling Emperor). Thus, each Addares has two numbers associated with her name. The most recent fully accepted Empress was Addares XVIII and XXXIII, meaning that she was the thirty-third Addares of the Imperial line but only the eighteenth to sit upon the Lion- Guarded Throne. Males in the Imperial line have no parallel; each male emperor has a different name.

Delian was not only the ruler of the Empire but the spiritual leader of its official religion as well. Serving as the head of the Church of Lothian, he directed all matters of the Church, interpreting and creating holy doctrine as easily as he interpreted and created Imperial law. When Delian died, his heir—an elderly nephew, Radlov Von Tessel—abdicated the position as head of the Church and created a position known as the Emperor of the Church. In theory, this individual would be a co-ruler, handling all spiritual and Church matters while the secular Emperor dealt with more worldly concerns.

In truth, the Emperor wields a great deal more power than the Holy Emperor. But that is not to imply that the Holy Emperor is not a personage of vast influence. Being the second most powerful figure in an Empire that rules the known world is nothing to ignore.

The Von Tessel family was known as the Lions of Tarsis, and thus the Imperial seat was founded as the Lion-Guarded Throne, which it has remained ever since. The line of succession, although complex, is gender neutral. When an Emperor or Empress dies, the oldest living member of the immediate family (spouse or child) takes the throne. If there are no direct heirs, a complicated line of succession involving siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins, and so forth is traced until an appropriate heir is found. (It should be noted that the succession of the Holy Emperor does not work this way but is focused on males and male heirs.)

The Three Emperors

Of course, as the Empire stands today, there are no clear heirs to the Von Tessel line. The current claimants to the Lion-Guarded Throne are as follows:

Addares XXXIV:

A distant cousin of Addares XXXIII and XVIII by marriage, this native of Dohrinthas had never even been to Tarsis before the Empress died. Far more interested in pomp and wealth than actually ruling, Addares XXXIV has a reputation for throwing incredible parties, wearing amazing magical gowns, and stringing along a list of lovers too long for even her advisors to track. She is no fool, however; knowing her links to the throne are tenuous at best, she has put into motion plans to discredit her rivals. She also has the support of two influential generals in the Imperial Army. They have moved their legions to the lands surrounding her new capital, Dohrinthas, where she has promised to construct a new Imperial fleet greater than any that have come before.

Segaci Fellisti:

With no legitimate claim to the Imperial line, Segaci is perhaps the unlikeliest of the three Emperors. He contends that, great as it was, the Von Tessel line finally has come to an end. An advisor to the last three Emperors, Segaci feels that only he can restore order to the Empire and bring back its quicklyfading greatness. Segaci, a very old man, has the support of much of the Imperial Court due to his experience as a diplomat and skill as a ruler. Segaci will to do whatever it takes to restore the Empire, and this single-mindedness has led him to forge some strange and perhaps ill-advised alliances, including one with Kevris Killraven (see page 121). Segaci puts much of his faith in an organization known as the Shuul, which promises to restore the technological might and innovation that made the Empire strong so long ago.

Holy Emperor Rehoboth:

The reigning Holy Emperor, Rehoboth Ylestos is a power-hungry man interested in joining back both “halves” of the Empire under himself. His claim to the throne is simple: Only one person in the Empire today legitimately possesses the title “Emperor,” and it is he. The fact that he fled Tarsis when the barbarians were coming, making a prolonged “visit” to his son in Ptolus, has earned him a poor reputation among the influential of the Imperial government. In return, ignoring those who belittle him, he plans to declare Ptolus the seat of the Empire. This has caused nothing but outrage among the citizens. Even the Commissar of Ptolus is unlikely to support Rehoboth when the time comes for him to pick a side.

Possible Futures

Obviously, the Imperial Line—and the Empire itself—stand at a crossroads. The shape of the future likely depends on which Emperor finally takes true control of the Lion-Guarded Throne. If Addares takes the throne, she obviously will keep the seat of Imperial power in Dohrinthas. Such a move will be wildly unpopular in the Empire, and she likely will not have the support or the ability to hold the Empire together. Should she take the throne, one could expect the Empire of Tarsis to truly begin to fall apart within ten years, and possibly collapse entirely during her reign, or that of her successor. The various lands of the Empire—Nall, Rhoth, Palastan, and so on—would declare their independence. Ptolus likely would become an independent city-state.

If Segaci becomes the true Emperor, one might expect him to attempt to reinstate the technological glory of days gone by. And with the support of Shuul advancements in machineworks, this might actually be possible. In such an Empire, Ptolus would become a hub of industry with a commissar who was nothing more than a Shuul puppet. Imperial troops, armed with firearms as in days of old, would strengthen the Empire’s hold on its lands and deal with the barbarians in the east once and for all. Segaci might even decide to expand, setting his sights on Uraq and the south.

If Rehoboth gains the throne, the Holy Emperor would once again be the secular Emperor as well. The Church would be strengthened to the position it held during the Days of Blood, although Rehoboth would not allow such inquisitions to begin again—he is no reactionary theologian, and he would be too interested in earning and keeping the goodwill of the people to renew the witch hunts. Ptolus would become the new Imperial capital. However, in his obsession to become a beloved emperor and to promote goodwill for the Church, he likely would make concessions that would greatly weaken the Empire, and slowly it would collapse from within.

PLAGUES AND DISEASES OF NOTE

Faceless Rage

Faceless Rage is a magical disease of evil and chaos that affects only humanoids. It transforms its victims by erasing their face and turning them into murderous savages.

Fortitude save (DC 18), infection by contact, incubation time one day, damage 1d6 Intelligence and 1d6 Wisdom, plus transformation. Only magical treatment can save a victim, namely a remove disease spell followed by a regeneration, greater restoration, wish, or miracle.

Rotting Fester

Rotting Fester is a magical disease once contained solely within the Banewarrens. It causes its victims to deteriorate physically over time.

Fortitude save (DC 16), infection by contact, incubation time 1d3 days, damage 1d3 Constitution. Magic cannot restore Constitution damage, and a remove disease or similar spell only suspends the progress of the disease for 1d3 days.

Scarlet Death

Scarlet Death is another magical disease spawned by chaos. Its victims turn red and die very quickly. Some say the appearance of these diseases is actually a re-appearance that points to a festering cyst of chaos and darkness beneath the city that is seeping slowly to the surface.

Fortitude save (DC 15), infection by contact, incubation time one hour, damage 2d6 Constitution and 1d6 Strength.