The World of Arith
Mythology and Religion
Many powers far beyond mortal ken inhabit and keep watch over the cosmos. From the roiling depths of the darkest parts of the Elemental Chaos (or just The Chaos for short) to the divine dominions on the Astral Sea. From the Dark Tapestry between the lights of the night sky to the Court of Stars meeting unpredictably in the Feywild. Five great powers are thus known to mortals.
In the beginning of Time, the Primordials arose in the Chaos. Theirs is the power of the elements. Mountains were made and torn down, seas were filled with acid and fire and ultimately water. Air was made solid, then liquid, the gaseous. Then something happened in the Middle World, or First World. Life began. In all of its myriad forms, the First World came alive. Plants formed, and animals and ultimately sentient races. The Primordials looked upon the First World and were amused. They returned to the Chaos, for the Primordials have always considered the Chaos their plaything – forming domains called Loci and tearing then down almost as rapidly.
As the sentient races, which we will call man for now – meaning no disrespect to the other races, grew in wisdom and thought, they looked for guidance from above and found the Gods. Theirs is the power of thought and ideas made manifest. Erathis taught man how to form communities, while Melora taught them to respect nature. Bane taught them how to fight and Lloth taught them how to lie. Man thrived, and it seemed that some of the Gods chose a particular race to protect and nurture. This is why Corellon has always been considered the God of the Elves.
The Great Old Ones
Looking out from the Dark Tapestry at this First World, the Great Old Ones were angered, if any such emotion could be attributed to them. They reasoned, with alien and unfathomable intelligences, that the cosmos was theirs alone, and they had no wish to share it with any others. They and their alien spawn, things that were not meant to be, vomited forth from the Dark Tapestry, slaughtering several Gods and Primordials before those powers had time to react. It was said that one of The Great Old Ones drove his spear of madness into the heart of the Elemental Chaos, creating a tear in the Chaos that continues to deepen and grow larger even to the current age. The Pit spawned things of chaos influenced by madness, seeking only the ultimate destruction of all life. These creatures came to be known as the obyriths, and the Pit became known as the Abyss.
Combining their might for the first, and last, time, God and Primordial worked side by side to force the Great Old Ones back. The Primordials created an entire new Realm, empty of life and the Gods tricked the Great Old Ones into believing that that Realm was the true Cosmos, where they had successfully destroyed all life. When a vast majority of the Old Ones and their Spawn were tricked into that world, the Gods and Primordials together sealed it far away, thus creating the Far Realm. However, some Great Old Ones were not banished. The Gods and Primordials continued to work together to destroy those left in the world. Those they could not defeat, such as the great Cthulhu, were imprisoned. Yet even then, some of the spawn of the Old Ones hid away in the Darklands and escaped the destruction, eventually seeding the world with the words and lore of their Masters.
The Dawn War
With the Great Old Ones locked away in the Far Realm or in prisons forged by the joint might of Gods and Primordials working together, the world felt once again safe. Yet the war had brought the Primordials out of the Chaos, and they did not like what they saw. The Gods, led by Erathis, were creating a Lattice of Heaven in the Astral Sea to link all of their domains and grant them almost unlimited power. The Middle World, or First World, was sinking into pattern and predictability. So the Primordials decided to alter the canvas. Returning to the First World, they began again the work they had done so long ago, tearing down mountains and making rivers fly, bringing deathly cold and searing heat. Countless numbers of species and races were all but wiped out while the Primordials played.
The Primordials then found their way to the Astral Sea. The Gods responded by waging war on them. Bane ascended to leadership of the Gods, given council by Erathis and Ioun. Eventually, the Gods alone duplicated the feat that they accomplished with the Primordials against the Great Old Ones and defeated or imprisoned many of the greatest Primordials.
The Primal Spirits
It was during the Dawn War that the Primal Spirits let themselves be known. While the battles that raged in the Chaos or the Astral Sea had no effect on the Middle, or First, World eventually the fighting moved to the world of men. What neither Primordial nor God understood was that in creating the First World, they gave everything a spirit. After the fighting split the world into three, separating the Feywild and the Shadowfell from the World of men. The continuing conflict threatened to destroy the First World. The spirits interceded (see Stormhawk Takes Flight), and proved themselves capable of driving out Primordial and God alike from the Middle World.
After the Dawn War was ended, and the Primordials imprisoned and defeated, something happened that religious scholars still debate until this day.
The Gods Disappeared.
Ascending to a different existence, the Gods became something beyond knowing. Some say that Erathis succeeded in finishing the Lattice of Heaven. Though their angels, demigods, chosen and champions continued to interpret their portfolios and administer their domains, they did so in the name of their respective Ascended, not under the direction of those beings. In the ages that followed, the faithful became fractured, with different followers of any Ascended pursuing different ends. Yet scholars also point to the fact that the Ascended’s enemies, those Primordials and Great Old Ones still left, have been greatly weakened.
And so, in the Gods absence, other beings rose to command their legions, direct their followers, and in many cases be worshipped as their masters once were.
The Court of Stars
Hailing from the Feywild, the Court of Stars is a loose affiliation of Fey Lords, some of whom remember a time when they accompanied Corellon and Sehanine on grand hunts and into thrilling battles. The greatest of the Court are the Archfey, beings of near limitless power who sometimes trade favors and grant powers to mortals and immortals alike.
When the Gods left this world, some reacted with horror and some with rage. The First Archangel, whose God was destroyed in the War, felt the most betrayed. He gathered his followers, a multitude who were scattered among all of the Gods’ domains and declared war on the heavens. He would create a perfect society and replace the worship of the Gods with his order. Renaming himself Asmodeus, he took his lord’s domain as his own, slaying all who clung to the outmoded worship of beings who no longer existed. He reshaped the domain and called it Hell. Together with his eight greatest followers, former angels who fell from grace, he rules Hell and wages war against all who would follow the Gods or their servants.
The Demon Lords
When Tharizdun created the Abyss, that tear in reality gave birth to horrible new creatures know as the obyrith. Creatures of chaos and madness, they sought to destroy all. When the war against the Old Ones finally ended, Lloth entered this tear to combat the obyrith, who had become numerous beyond counting. Coming to rest at the bottom of the funnel, like a colossal trap-door spider, Lloth used the energies of the Abyss to lay eggs. The first child that hatched she named Demogorgon and each of her children were terrible to behold. Knowing that they would need armies to command, she layed billions of eggs as her children commanded the Abyss itself to grant them domains. Calling her children demons, she sent them against the obyrith.
The Shattering of the Lattice
In the Arvanoran year 2280, the worshippers of Tiamat drew together and formed the Cult of the Dragon. The purpose of the cult was to exalt Tiamat as first among the Gods. To do that, the Cult launched an outrageous plan, they sought to bring Tiamat into the world of the living again.
Gathering together five Dragon Masks, powerful artifacts that granted some influence over chromatic dragons, they succeeded in joining the masks. With the masks joined, Tiamat was reborn, but not in her full glory as the cult had wished. Bahamut, always his sister’s keeper was also reborn and the Lattice of Heaven was shattered.
The Ancient Goddess Istus, Lady of Fate, who had disappeared before the Ascension, now wove the fates of the Gods once more and from the Lattice itself, arose the fallen Goddess Mystra, Goddess of Magic, slain during the Dawn War.
Many Gods returned to their courts. Corellon and Sehanine returned to lead the Seldarine, leaving non-elven clerics bereft of powers. Moradin returned to the Halls Under the Mountain, although he still listens to and answers the prayers of non-dwarves.
The Shattering of the Lattice brought with it other changes. Rao, God of Peace, Reason and Serenity returned to prominence after being forgotten for so long, while Kord returned as the God of Strength and Competition, having lost the power of Storm.
The greatest changes however were reserved for the Gods of Evil, Chaos and Destruction. Gruumsh had long been worshipped both as the God of Orcs and as Erythnul, God of Hate, Envy, Ugliness and Slaughter. When the Lattice shattered, both Gruumsh and Erythnul returned as separate powers, with the orc god returning to his people, leaving his non-orcish worshippers to Erythnul. Ascendance had destroyed the rest of Torog’s mind and he now calls himself Tharizdun, God of Entropy. Lolth returned to the Abyss and works her will through her children, the Demon Lords, while Bane returned unchanged.
Vecna and Zehir returned in a much weakened state and lost much of their influence over the forces of creation, while the reborn Tiamat lost most of her divine powers.
Among the Gods that had not Ascended, several rose to prominence during the Shattering. With the loss of Bahamut, his Inheritor Torm the True became God of Honor, Valor and Duty, the perfect paladin, while the Evil Gods Incabulos, God of Plague, Nightmares and Disasters and Ralishaz, God of Ill Luck, Misfortune and Insanity, took their place among the greater Gods.
While the Ascended had returned, they were still distant, unbodied forces. They interacted with their courts of Lesser Gods, Demigods and Hero-Gods (Mortals who had risen to the ranks of the divine) by forming Avatars and the rare interactions with mortals were mostly through signs, omens and portents or the sending of a Herald or Chosen.
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