History Check

While there are plenty of sensational tales over in the Bard’s Tale section, let us not forget that many parts of history are not as flashy as performers might desire. While the History of the World page gives a general accounting of what any Ionian might have learned in their schooling about World History, this page covers things that you’d probably need some training in the History skill, as well as an interest in that area, to know.

Pretty much anyone can make a History check to have heard the stuff in the World History section, but you’ll need specific training in History to make checks about ancient empires that aren’t part of the popular media (like Arkhosia and Bael Turoth)… and even then, you’ll want training in History to be able to differentiate legend from fact when speaking of any ancient kingdom.

Arkhosia 1500ish BC – 0 AC
The Kingdom of Arkhosia was said to have grown both slowly and quickly. A nice way to define it would be to say that as dragonborn and others devoted to concepts of honor and valor forged communities that upheld those virtues, eventually those communities banded together under even more honorable and valorous leaders. A less nice way would be to say that as dragonborn tribes established themselves as powerful, another, stronger dragonborn united them through war, conflict, and direct challenge. Either way, by the time Arkhosia became an official empire, it was a nation ruled by dragonborn, the seat of the church of Bahamut, and had regular dealings with a group of powerful metallic dragons known as the Council of Wyrms. The leadership was divided into three kings/queens (whose scales changed color to gold, silver, or bronze upon taking each crown) and the “Platinum Emperor”, whose visage became one of platinum scales when he wore the Arkhosian Mantle (which was either a cape or suit of armor, depending on the history book you read, crafted by Bahamut himself). The first Arkhosian Emperor was Borysnikov Tyreskova, a powerful sorcerer who either united the disparate tribes through his shining example of Bahamut’s glory or conquered the disparate tribes through his demonstration of Bahamut’s power (depending on the history you read). Arkhosian society had strict rules for dealing with treachery, but was generally considered the greatest of nations (at least to those within it). The work Arkhosians did protecting other races and fighting back invading forces from the Far Realms also increased their reputation in the world. Some scholars of Bahamutian lore will claim that “Arkhosia” was the name of the first dragon Io created, though there is also a conflicting theory involving divine echoes (see Ayrkasha, below).

Ayrkasha sometime just after the Dawn War
It seems fairly certain that the nation/civilization of Ayrkasha did exist, however the theories about where it was, where its remains might have ended up, and what exactly happened there are about as varied as tales of Lost Atalantea. What is known is that it was a deva city, and that they were devoted to preserving memories and Knowledge, and that something called “Xanadu” destroyed it. There are rumors of artifacts that might lead an intrepid deva to find the lost library of Ayrkasha, but that is likely just another bard’s tale told to coax more coins from the pockets of deva longing for past-life connections. There is also a theory among archeological linguists that the name “Ayrkasha” is a variant of one of the Supernal Words of Creation spoken by the gods at the dawn of time, and that the echoes of that divine energy also caused the dragonborn to name their kingdom similarly (Arkhosia) when it came about thousands of years later.

Atalantea ?sometime overlapping with Arkhosia’s existence?
While there are hundreds of legends about this lost land, most are fanciful nonsense. The cold hard facts contained in the oldest Libraries of Ioun tell of an island with the name Atalantea. They tell of a clan of gnomes who used the island as a “safe place” for their inventions. There is some evidence of this in current gnomish parlance, as the phrase “Atalantea!” is kind of the most awesome word a gnome can exclaim when viewing a particularly intricate and amazing invention. While this does nothing to clear up what happened to the island, it does lay down that it did exist at some point. One of the three texts that mentions the island also references the kingdom of Arkhosia as an existing land, so at the very least that places some part of Atalantea’s existence as overlapping with that of Arkhosia.

Atramor 600 AC – 875 AC
The lands now known as the Nentir Vale were overrun by undead legions for more than two centuries after the fall of Nerath. They were lead by the vampire lord Atramor and his undead armies (who was also allied with several area orc & goblin tribes). Eventually an adventuring band known as the Silver Company took out the Lord Atramor (who was also said to possess both the hand and eye of Vecna), which allowed other forces to clear out the scattering, leaderless orcs, goblins, undead, and other forces that had served under the vampire lord. There are stories that some of the undead and affiliated necromancers escaped to the mageocracy of Thay, located far to the north, but these are unconfirmed.

Bael Turoth 2000ish BC – 0 AC
The cities of Bael Turoth arose when tieflings first started to throw down the chains of their demonic ancestors, when they chose to rise above their origins and become something greater. There are legends of the many battles they fought against demonic hordes to secure their place in the Prime Material world, but the truth of such tales can certainly be debated. What is known, however, is that as tieflings began to appear in the World, the other peoples did not generally like them. Though they had fought long and hard against their demonic heritage, other races did not see them as any different than demons. As a result, many tieflings gathered together in communities away from other races. Still, they sought to prove their worth to the world, and eventually began teaching magic to other races. While Elves were fantastic wizards and Dragonborn had mastered a certain type of sorcery, Tieflings introduced the powers of Warlocks to the world. They also showed races different sources of sorcerous power, and different ways to focus their wizardly studies. This new knowledge made tiefling tutors a hot commodity, and the church of Ioun was the first to embrace the risen race of tieflings and call them equals. Others followed suit, though some only in name. As a “nation” or “kingdom”, Bael Turoth was not as traditionally structured as other empires… but more of a collection of states that agreed to certain rules and had local rulers who agreed to common goals with other local rulers. Initially the Turathi High Council of Mages ruled with progressive, though often suspicious, hands, trying to simultaneously push the cause of integration while protecting tieflings from plots of untrusting other races. In the end, who can say whether or not they succeeded? (See also the story of Maelbrathyr in A Bard’s Tale). By the time of the Great Cataclysm, the Council of Mages was not the highest Turathi authority, as a council of four Sorcerer Kings (actually 3 kings & 1 queen) had risen up to deal with the increasing threats from the north (Arkhosia). Though it seems odd to say, Bael Turoth became a more united nation as a result of Arkhosia. Without the unified threat of a dragonborn invasion, the Turathi states would have likely continued in their loose collective.

Borovia 580 AC – present
While the nation of Borovia has had a love of Kord since the followers of Bane in the Dragovar Empire were defeated (see below), they were not always ruled by a council of weaponmasters, as the nation is currently governed. The first king of Borovia was a military veteran with vast riches, a human named Count Strahd Von Zarovich. Strahd’s rule was strict, but beneficial. The general ruled for more than 50 years, when he finally stepped down from the throne to pursue “an investment opportunity across the oceans.” Though he must have been more than 70 at the time, he invited the generals of his armies to put forth champions to fight him in one-on-one combat. Though he defeated them all, he chose the top 5 who had performed the best to be the new ruling council of Borovia. The Council has continued in one form or another since that time.

No one heard from Von Zarovich after he departed for the sea, though he took a relatively small ship when he left. Popular belief in the nation is that the King (who was such a swell ruler) knew he was going to die, and decided to go out in some great battle, likely against a sea monster or against Umberlee herself. Others believe that he sailed off to join Kord at his side as an angel of battle. And still others say he may have gone to Umbria to fight an endless battle against the undead there. Strahd is a great figure in Borovian culture, though, and his stories are many and varied.

Cappodocia 50 AC – 170 AC

Soon after the Great Cataclysm, in the general area that is now known as the nation of Coventry, there was a nation of humans & elves that had a unique relationship with Death. Well, actually, they had no relations with death whatsoever. In the wake of the near world-ending Cataclysm (whatever it actually was) and all the thaumaturgic, psychic, primal, and other reverberations and aftershocks, the people who founded Cappodocia, many of whom were adherents to a rather elitist sect of the church of Ioun, decided that the world’s unpreparedness was due to a lack of wisdom from deceased ancestors. As a result, they made Ioun their official church, but forbade the worship of the Raven Queen. In addition, they passed laws that anyone who died would be raised as an “undead equal”. In this way, they never lost the Knowledge of their elders.

Of course, every other nation around thought this was an atrocity. Nevertheless, the breadth of knowledge the Cappodocians could bring to any problem made them almost impossible to invade, and the skills of their arcanists, who could study forever, were unparallelled. However, little is known of life… er… existence in Cappodocia. The facts are relatively well-documented… but no one today can say what it actually felt like. What were their hopes & dreams? How did they make a dual-life society function? Were there class barriers between the living and the dead?

What is well-known, though, is how the Cappodocians were destroyed. Many zealous forces from all around the nation decided that unlife was an abomination. Armies lead by paladins from many faiths, scores of mages from every nearby school, a collection of every grand druid on the east coast, a flight of silver dragons sent from the Draconic Council of Wyrms, and even a force of angels from the Raven Queen herself attacked simultaneously, wiping the nation of Cappodocia from the map, making clear to the world that the dead and the living did not belong together.

The Dragovar Empire 20 AC – 579 AC
A nation of strict laws, harsh punishments, and devastating armies, the Dragovar Empire rose to an efficient height just after the Great Cataclysm. The forces of Bane saw the chaos as a chance to finally implement their god’s long-held desires, and began conquering every smaller nation they could control. Their land stretched over much of the center of the continent, covering areas that are now Travailia, the Great Plains, (most of) the Yew Woods, and the western half of Tethyr. This land was ruled by a Caliphate, and the string of rulers were all strong of body and ruthless of demeanor. The Dragovar empire was named for the first of Bane’s Generals to establish the nation: Harim Dragovar, a goliath of unnaturally large size (some say he had significang giant blood in him) who commanded armies of both frost and fire giants to attack from the south and north.

The Dragovar Empire is known for such policies as imprisoning & executing dragonborn for the crimes of dragons with the same color scales, mandatory child sacrifices from families that would not join Bane’s armies, and a near genocide of the Wilden race (which likely fueled the eventual response from Melora’s followers).

The elves & eladrin who escaped the fall of Myth Drannor fought a long guerrilla war against Dragovar from the Yew Woods and the attached Feywild realms, but they could make no headway. It was not until the church of Kord gathered together his followers into what would become the nation of Borovia, and assaulted Dragovar head-on, that the Elves were able to effectively sabotage Dragovar’s response, weakening their defense. The Hierophant Druid of the time then lead an army of nature’s soldiers north from the Druid Woods and the Hollow Swamp, in Melora’s name, to flank the Dragovar empire, and together they were able to crush the Caliphate and end these many centuries of tyranny. The prisoners became Borovia’s first prisoners, and the loyalty oath to Kord was implemented to give these evil creatures a way of redemption by choosing the better of the two battle god brothers.

The Great Cataclysm 0 BC/AC

Nobody knows what exactly happened here. It did take out both Arkhosia & Bael Turoth, though, and sent ripples across the parallel planes, knocked magic out of whack in a lot of ways, and may have caused other major shifts in the world. One of the difficulties of getting an accurate historical perspective (besides the fact that most who witnessed it were destroyed when it happened), are the (sometimes violent) beliefs of tieflings and dragonborn that it was the other’s fault.

Helmsgard c. 100 AC

When the Clan Helmsgard dwarves had the fortune of slaying several dragons with lairs near one another in what is now the land of Kislev, they followed up with something unexpected: an idea to build a city with all the gold they’d found. Most of the stories you’d hear bards tell about Helmsgard will give the general ideas of a city where all were respected. What they won’t give you, though, is the historical perspective of what was going on in the rest of the world at the time. With the Dragovar Empire promoting ideas of conquest, and Cappadocia allowing the dead to walk freely, many felt that the Great Cataclysm had actually been the first sign of the end of the world. The dwarves of Clan Helmsgard were a last ditch effort to foster good and understanding in the world. So many flocked to this idea because there weren’t that many other “good” things going on in the eastern world at the time, and the western half of the continent was still reeling from the Cataclysm.

The failure of Helmsgard is another thing that bard’s will often over-simplify. While awful things did happen to those many who died there, that tragedy served as a rallying cry for good forces all over the world, convincing them that if they did not join together to fight evil, they would all end up like Helmsgard did. Many historians will cite Helmsgard as a major turning point and reason the forces of good survived after the Great Cataclysm.

Illefarn 500 BC – 5(ish) AC
In the area of present day Neverwinter, there was once a great Elven kingdom in the woods of that region. Illefarn was known for its protective magics, and their bladesingers were especially skilled at banishing demons. With the fall of Myth Drannor, Illefarn became the largest Elvish city in the Prime Material Plane. When the Great Cataclysm happened, most of Illefarn’s forces went into rescue mode to help victims in Arkhosia. While the majority of their forces were off in Arkhosia, though, something dark attacked the city of Illefarn (general academic consensus says it was likely a demon group that had previously been defeated by Illefarnians). The attack was enhanced by the chaotic energies released by the Cataclysm, which disrupted protective magics around the kingdom. Eventually the survivors fled to the Feywild, where they founded the smaller city of Illiyanbruen (an elvish derivation of “Illefarn”). When the Illefarn rescue forces in Arkhosia returned, they saw that their former home was no longer safe. Many went to the Feywild as well, though a number of others scattered to other regions of the world (some of those wanderers, it is theorized, eventually formed the Gnarly Rangers).

Impiltur 580 AC – 920 AC
Initially, Impiltur was a great nation of hope that rose from the ashes of the Dragovar Empire. The plentiful forests and major rivers allowed for great trade, which fueled the economy of the new nation. Its rulers were a council of clerics & druids, all of whom were above reproach. “Holier than thou” might have been a better term. As the years turned into decades, which turned into centuries, the specific players in the government changed, but their policy of purity did not. This all came to a horrible end when it was revealed (by an adventuring party whose paladin had been sentenced to death for violating a minor law) that most of the government was comprised of undead, rakshashas, doppelgangers, fey tricksters, and others who were defiling their offices and clerical titles in much worse ways than any of the nation’s so-called “criminals” had ever even considered. Revolt was pretty swift to follow. The nation of Travailia arose in Impiltur’s place not long after the old government fell.

Krynn 2000 BC – 1200 BC

Krynn was a great empire of minotaurs, most of the tales of which are now lost to antiquity. It is believed that Krynn was located somewhere in the region of the various cities & baronies west of the modern-day Alliance of Eastern Nations. It is also believed that the worship of Baphomet caused this once great nation of good-minded minotaurs to fall into chaos. Eventually, it is said by some, they all went insane, digging mazes into the ground, eventually hitting the Underdark.

Myth Drannor 1300 BC – 5 BC

The stories of Myth Drannor always have a sad undertone to them. Even the survivors of what eventually happened to the city could not agree on what actually occurred. Some say multiple dragon strikes, some say Underdark invasions, some say extraplanar god rampage, some say awoken primordial, and dwarves usually say that it was probably the elves failing to do practical things like pay attention to safety when doing crazy magic experimentation.

What is known is that the greatest elvish city of all time, Myth Drannor, was centered around a Mythal (a permanent magical portal) between the Prime Material Plane and the Feywild. The city was vast in both dimensions, and the greatest of magical academies were found there (including the Arch Magirium). There are rumors of many impossible magical experiments done in this city, including magics to alter time, magics to control/manipulate dragons, magics to control aging, blood-based magics, and magics that altered the shape of The Weave itself. Whatever awful thing(s) happened to the city, it is clear that it had fallen and that the forest around it had become unnaturally violent just prior to the Great Cataclysm. Whether or not this tipped some cosmic/magical scale and began events that caused the Cataclysm is unknown.

Nerath 300 AC – 600 AC
The mostly human kingdom of Nerath rose up after the Great Cataclysm, supposedly when several human tribes and/or cities decided that they were upset with the chaos that they claimed was caused by dragonborn & tieflings (whom they blamed for the Cataclysm). While they had people of all sorts of temperaments, it appears that most of the Nerathi kings were not hostile to other races, but not exactly friendly, either. Early Erathan records from that nation suggest that humans were granted automatic citizenship, but other races had to “earn” their citizenship. There are other records of minor racism along those lines, too. What Nerath was very good at was taking ideas from other races, making them more human, and pushing them to the limits. Gnomes had created crossbows, but the Nerathi engineers took them and created Ballistae. Eladrin could teleport short distances due to magic in their blood, but the Nerathi created a guild of wizards to form permanent teleportation circles around the world (the remnants of this still exists today, actually, as the International Cartographer’s Guild, which rebuilt and still uses many of the original Nerathi portals). You get the idea. Human ambition pushed them to create many wonders, and other races had to quickly get over their “we did it first” mentality when they saw how much more effective and/or larger-scale the human versions of their ideas were.

It was likely that human ambition that eventually allowed the forces of Atramor to convince/tempt certain Nerathi rulers into setting things up so that the undead could take over… but those details have not been recorded for any to read. But with Atramor himself being a master vampire, it’s not hard to imagine how he gained control of most politicians in the nation. What is known is that many of the non-political warriors of Nerath tried to fight the undead, when they were finally revealed, but by then it was too late. While the battles were massive, the results were unavoidable.

Nessecar. 700 BC – 10 BC
The Eladrin nation of Nessecar was one of the many great Eladrin kingdoms in the Feywild back in the days before the Great Cataclysm. Known as “the Kingdom of Reflected Beauty”, they specialized in magics that would enhance the beauty and power of those around them (i.e., buffing spells). Near the end, Nessecar became the target of multiple attacks from Fomorian armies. In the last great battle, when three separate Fomor forces attacked simultaneously, the Nessecarese tried to open a portal to Myth Drannor to get reinforcements. They cast the portal through their greatest mirror, in the hopes of simultaneously enhancing the power of the reinforcements as they arrived. Unfortunately, the fomorian warchief Morgkash shattered the mirror before the teleportation was complete, killing all the eladrin reinforcements and trapping fragments of their souls within the mirrored shards. It is theorized that the loss of these forces weakened Myth Drannor forces, leaving them open for whatever it was that destroyed that city 5 years later.

Netheril 500ish BC – 0ish AC.

Very little is known about the nation of Netheril. They were separatists who lived in the middle of a desert before the Great Cataclysm. After the Cataclysm, the landscape got more and more inhospitable, magic started behaving strangely, and even thoughts of Netheril disappeared. To date, every expedition that has gone off into the Eternal Wasteland looking for signs of the lost kingdom has disappeared.

There have been some interesting bits of scholarship done by a group of nethermancers, however, on lingering connections to Netheril in the Shadowfell. It seems that whatever else they did there, the Netherese were masters of shadow magic (nethermancy), and perhaps more clues to their history can be found in the Shadowfell. Unfortunately, the shadowfell reflection of the Eternal Wasteland is even less hospitable than the actual Eternal Wasteland, so few archeological groups have dared to attempt the trek.

Perugia 200 BC – 45 AC
Very little documentation of this nation remains in existence. What does can be found in the section on Umbria.

Sembia prior to recorded years, prior-to and during the Dawn War
There is one recorded text, which now resides in the Swan Tower, supposedly given by an archangel of Ioun to Ioun’s first exarch (a humble human schoolteacher), that tells the tale of Sembia, the first human kingdom. There are perhaps 10 copies of this scroll in circulation at Grand Libraries of Ioun throughout the lands, so it’s pretty rare. Many of the details of Sembia are similar to what you’d hear in bard stories in the Sankh Kingdom (see “the Name of Pax Humana” for more). They were super ambitious, and super successful, but also tempered by a spirit of cooperation, curiosity, and respect. After the death of their daughter, the princess, the nation of Sembia fell into disarray, as its leaders accused the heads of many of the other racial groups of the murder, and thus began the first true war between the non-evil races. This war, known in this single text as “The Sembian War”, was largely overshadowed by the Dawn War, so no records of the exact forces and sides remain. However, it did spell the first failure of a human nation, and perhaps colored the efforts of other human nations to follow in the future, making them always distrustful of other races and more likely to try and rule than to cooperate. The text never says who actually killed the child, and that assassin will likely never be known… but those were the days before Lusemnee made her infamous betrayal of Zehir, so it’s entirely possible any assassin from the Dark Slayer or her father could have done it, or perhaps it really was someone from one of the other races, jealous of the humans’ quick rise to prominence.

Serenity 5-50 AC
In the chaos after the Great Cataclysm, a group of arcanist Elves, Eladrin, & Half-elves from Perugia decided to form a more elf-centric town in the midst of the vastly wild and orc-infested lands to the west, cutting ties with their allies in Perugia and also taking many of their magical experts with them (which may have contributed to what happened in the region that became Umbria). They crossed the Icey Straits and forged a magic-heavy town on the edge of a large lake. Stories say that they were experts in defensive magics, but they also freely killed orcs whenever they had the chance. The orcs (who were not yet united) did not like this, but their attempts to breach Serenity’s magical walls & defenses would always fail. Eventually an Exarch of Gruumsh named Broxigar (who was also some kind of storm warrior) lead an attack on Serenity, calling upon his god’s power to shatter the walls and slay all the inhabitants of Serenity. The nearby lake was dubbed “Elf Kill Lake” and the orcish tribes united for the first time under Broxigar, creating what we know today as The Horde and claiming those lands which are today called The Hordelands.

Tamoachan ?-800ish BC?
There are tales and the occasional relic that speak of an ancient empire in the jungles of the south, bordering the lands of Chult. The details of this empire, the Olman Empire, are lost to the sands of time. What is known are not even popular enough to be called legends. Though the word “Tamoachan” does arise in other texts, and may either describe a god of the Olman’s or an Olman city, or nation, or mountain, or island, or concept, or magic, or demon. Like I said, there’s not much “good” info out there about the Olmans in general, and what does exist is lost beneath miles of the densest jungles in the world.

There were reports some 50 years ago, though, of an adventuring group that had claimed to have found a shrine deep in the jungles that indicated the site of Tamoachan, a northern capital of this once great empire. They disappeared, however, as did the evidence they claimed to have of a city of gold, a fountain of eternal youth, and other supposed wonders of the Olman Empire.

Waterdeep 246 AC-present
Known as the City of Splendors, Waterdeep actually started out as a dwarven settlement in the mountain (called Mount Waterdeep). The dwarven clan who founded it, Clan Malarken, soon realized that the mountain was full of many ores. There were so many, in fact, that they had to invite other dwarven clans to come help them mine them. Eventually the city built-up around the dwarves, with many merchants creating a seaport and getting very rich off the trade deals for the various ores. The three greatest heroes of what became the Malarken Collective were named Orc-Slayer, The Iron Warlord, and The Heartless Dwarf, though little survives of their history now besides tales of their legendary shields, the Sentinel Shields. At some point, though, these great heroes decided there must be more ore underneath the mountain, and began digging what would become the world’s largest dungeon: Undermountain. Over 20 different dwarven clans each dug at the heroes’ bidding, though each forged caverns in their own way and laid traps of their own devising to ward off thieves. Eventually, though, they dug too far, and encountered several awful things whose names are etched on the souls of the mad dwarves who remained after these things were found. Though initial losses to “whatever” was down there were heavy, the dwarves were not scared. They theorized that they must have broken through to some awful corner of the Underdark in their digging, and they decided (after walling off the immediate danger) to simply hire an arch-wizard to seal the awful things away for good.

Stories of how they found Halastair Blackcloak and what his credentials were vary greatly. However, it seems clear that his methods somehow invoked a great madness in the various dwarven clans, who each became suspicious of the others. There are tales of Halastair making the dwarves suspect their brethren to the point of casting them aside, then slaying the friendless dwarves as they wandered through the dungeon he claimed as his own. The three dwarven heroes were very old by this time, but when stories of Halastair’s effect on the clans came to light, they each journeyed down, one at a time, to investigate. No one knows what happened to them.

The surviving dwarves made it to the surface and found themselves at the mercy of the many other races who’d built-up the city around their mountain. When Halastair’s monstrosities tried to crawl up out of Undermountain, it was a new group of dwarves, Clan Sturmhammer, who lead the fight against them, rallying the other races of the city behind them to seal the monsters below. Sturmhammer Dwarves (whose clanhall is in the Castle District of the city) still patrol the city as “pest control” checking known passages into Undermountain to make sure nothing from below comes up.

There are still a few small dwarven clans in the mountain itself, but all passages to Undermountain itself from the mountain have been sealed off. The most notable dwarven settlement in the mountain (to history buffs, anyway), is Malarken’s Rest, a small clanhall in the upper mountain that is also a remembrance shrine for those who died in Undermountain and an Iounic library of dwarven history. The few surviving remnants of Clan Malarken live here, though they haven’t been pure-blooded Malarken for centuries.

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