Seven Realms: The Weight of History
Lots of fantasy worlds attempt to build a history, or at least the sense of history. They start with the big bad of the piece, add some ambitions of lesser beings to thwart on the side, and then they step back to figure out how things got this way to begin with. The problem is, that most of the time, unless there are a cadre of writers on deck, this historical wondering stops at the kingdom border.
I have attempted to give the Seven Realms more history. I do it in a similar way, but I also write in events which have nothing to do with modern politics in the setting. Still, history is written by the victors, ancient lore is lost all the time, and even though the bad guys have to come from somewhere the players rarely see that link.
I think that the links should be there if the heroes want to find them. So let’s take just one character and wind things back. I’m introducing Darkmoon now. He is an unaging magician supreme who comes from otherworldly non-human stock, and seeks a kingdom to rule with his own hand, a human kingdom.
He is unafraid to throw the rest of the realm under the iron boot heel of an invading force as long as he gets what he wants in the end. So just like other famous tricksters, he makes outwardly questionable alliances, challenges heroes for seemingly low stakes, and instigates chaos wherever he feels necessary. That it’s all in the name of his master plan, which the heroes will likely never fully grasp, is not important.
First, he is a Yoccabian, a non-human humanoid with chalky gray skin, fluted ears, fangs, a pronounced chin and a pug nose. There is also a pronounced ridge of bones which runs from his brow along the back of his head and down his neck to the base of his spine. His eyes glow a somber red, which increases to a bright crimson when emotionally agitated.
He hales from the Inferno, as do all of his people. He is a consummate sorcerer with knowledge that human archmages wish for, having spent nearly a millennia honing his craft, a natural bond to the white element of light, and a channeler bond to a demon lord.
So where do the Yoccabians come from then? They fled into the inferno when their ancestors the Nameless Ones failed to take control of the continent of Arn, and they learned a great command of all magics, especially sorcery, in order to survive there. Darkmoon himself was one of the sorcerers who summoned and made a pact with the demons in order to give his people a taste of immortality.
So who are the Nameless Ones and how did Demons come about? The Nameless Ones are a people who physically resemble Yoccabians, although their features are less angular, their skin tone is much ruddier, and they lack the bone ridge. Few escape some form of physical change when they make such grand deals with demon lords.
They were a native race of Arn which had isolated itself while the humans were still enslaved by the Ancients. Like the Ancients they were more interested in scientific applications of magical power, its key benefit being predictability, than individual command of magic. They tried to take over the continent, giving artifacts of great power to tribes of nonhumans they entered into pacts with. Their minions were defeated, the deal uncovered, and the fight was taken to their homeland.
In the end, nearly a ten thousand of them fled to other realms and continents, while the remainder were frozen in a trap that was laid around their homeland. They are literally trapped in stasis by the power of their own power source which was disrupted by human heroes in the final assault. Afterwards, their race’s name was stricken from history in order to keep people from attempting to find them and revive them for perceived gains.
The demons are spirits of great power which first rose to existence in the Void, a world outside the realms. There are other things that still come from there to plague the mortal realm, but demons are the most famous because they have such power, personality and true immortality to interfere if they so choose in mortal lives over many generations. They entered this reality over 20,000 years before the present day.
The first demons which entered this reality did so under the aegis of the gods nearly 6000 years before that. It was this action which spurred the demons to consume one another, stealing power in the doing until a new class of demon, the Fell Lord, gathered enough power to punch a hole into this reality and drag itself through.
So whenever the heroes must madly rush to stop Darkmoon from instigating tragedy so he can takeover and rebuild from the ashes, they really have the demon lords he made bargains with, and his overly ambitious ancestors to thank for it all, and both of those threats are hidden in the history of the world. I attempt to weave many of these threads through the cultures of the continent, crossing as many borders as I need to, because none of these nations existed when the clock began tens of thousands of years ago.