Caelistis (3.5e Campaign Setting)/History
A Poet's Introduction
- There used to be a time when the gods kept to themselves, to each his own realm and his own beings. Gods were not "evil" or "good", for no-one knew of such things. One god may ponder, much to his or her delight, the form of his beings, curling horns and reddened skin, in the deity's ideals fighting day and night to discover which being is the strongest. Or perhaps another creates their own works of art, leaving them to frolic and thrive among the beautiful flora. Another god loves the way things work when he puts them together, creating spanning masterpieces, all clockwork and perfect order. Perhaps a fourth divine being delights in seeing how the world works in more obvious ways. Rather than set everything up himself, he creates a start, a seed, a bud, and watches it grow and expand, wildly taking over everything in the realm, until it creates other things itself, which in turn grow. These beings lived like this, unaware of each other, never musing what else exists aside from what they willed. At least, until one moment. A fifth god, one of immeasurable ability, created a world full of beings that seemed otherwise unremarkable. But something about them, and about this world, drew the attention of the other deities.
Suddenly, something else existed. At that moment, there was time.
The first of the deities to visit this realm was Ior, the creator of the wild growth. He felt the capacity for growth in these beings, and saw their ability to spread and change so dramatically, and was in awe of their ability to be so different from each other, yet so similar. Ior knew that he had to have these beings, this amazing chaos.
The second of the deities was Amannar, creator of the clockwork topia. In this realm he found amazing order. Seasons were scheduled, and everything happened in set cycles. It became dark, then bright, then dark. Things thrived in the dark, after which they returned to their homes and things thrived in the light. Everything took turns living. All things were made of smaller pieces, which could be taken apart and put back together. He knew, that there was so much to learn and discover in this realm. He had to have it, this incredible puzzle.
The third of the deities was Ebnaya, creator of the immaculate flora. She saw the subtle beauty of the world, all the different beings, and their ability to think and imagine. The sky, earth, and sea all held such graceful creatures. Amazing artwork filled the world, buildings of amazing structure covered the land, and where they weren't, plants and other flora lived, growing in tandem with the animals. It all had a subtle pull to it, and it pulled her in, deep enough that she could not bring herself to leave. She had to have it all, this attracting expanse.
The last of the deities was Kelsh, creator of the indelible war. He saw the ability to become strong in these beings. Their ability to accomplish whatever they tried at any expense. How they were able destroy so easily, and it would all come back to be destroyed again. They could be molded to be the strongest beings ever... Even stronger than his own. This what what Kelsh needed, this invincible battlefield.
Over the course of an unknowable amount of time, these beings sent their beings to this land. Ior made halflings, in shape of the beings that lived there, but smaller, quicker, and luckier. Ammanar made the dwarves, beings made hardy and lawful, creators of the highest degree. Ebnaya made elves, artistic, poetic, and beautiful. Kelsh made orcs, strong, brutal, and loyal. Each was similar to the beings there before, but yet strong in their own ways. Still, they lacked the adaptability, the ability to be so diverse, yet so similar. They lacked the kind of inspiration to grow as those there before did.
The deities spoke to each other, learned the ways of the others, and often got together to create others like themselves. Gods of similar, but lesser power. Those gods made other beings, and those lived, too. The populace grew, each based on the god that made them, although as time passed, many decided to leave their gods for other gods. Dwarves would go to Kelsh for power, Elves went to Ior for freedom. Halfings went to Ebnaya to love and flourish. Orcs went to Amannar for structure and strength of law.
Jealous of the others, war began to spread. Churches would battle each other over the right to have followers. Lesser gods joined in the fight, and some won out over their original creators, if only for a finite amount of time. Eventually, from so much war, history was lost. Documents destroyed, and the world had to start anew.
The Greatest Four, in such a weakened state, could only watch as they were forgotten in place of the gods they created, and in this time wondered... After all the time had passed, who had made this realm that each so desperately coveted? They looked throughout the planar cosmos, searching far and wide for another divine being, but they could not find anything else. As they felt their existence fade, they left the world they each desired, returning, wounded and dieing, to the places they had forsaken, to find them destroyed by neglect. Each cursed their greed, but knew they still desired that one prospect, the Material Plane.
Unknown years passed, and eventually existence recovered. Those gods left standing came down to the material plane, and walked among their followers as divine beings. They were material, but ineffable. Worshipers flocked to them, and the gods rewarded loyalty with bits of divine essence-- Magic. For each deity had control over an aspect of reality, and granted those who would fight for them slivers of their power. They built empires, each keeping to themselves, but greedily hording the material plane. Tensions grew as borders reached each other and met with threats of war. And just as it seemed like another holy war would occur, the gods vanished from the realm.
Many panicked, their otherworldly kings and queens gone. Holymen, however, knew what to do. They continued to follow their gods teachings and orders, acting as they believed their gods wanted, living and fighting in the names of their divine leaders. Divine soldiers, those inhuman beasts created only to fight for their gods, were branded "good", "evil", "chaotic" and "lawful", as black and white lines formed to separate those with different beliefs. Walls grew, some physical, some social, and the world has lived that way since.
The Current Period
It is the year 957, of the Godless Era. Caelistis is home to several continents, each of which has separate currencies and governments. Each government is based on a god, and those who live there worship said deity, living in its name and waiting for the day it shall return to the material plane. The only magic is god-given- Or at least that's how many would prefer. Arcane magic, magic which comes from the self as opposed to a divine entity, is considered stealing from the gods themselves, for only those who worship the god and ask its permission should be able to alter reality in such ways. The god Astaroth is believed to have a connection to Arcane magic, having been foolish enough to give too much power to humanity and teach them to create magic themselves. Many people who use Arcane magic claim to be his followers. Many other churches though, hate Astaroth for not being frugal with his powers.
As such, Arcanists are hunted down as heretics, often hiding in small groups in underground caverns, or hidden away in the mountains. Each god works to further its agenda, and while several are allies, many are enemies, their followers constantly in conflict. Others still hide in the shadows, waiting to strike and gain power.