The History of Kalara

History of Kalara -- Summary

The Age of Legends

Approximately 6750 — 5550 BT (Before Taming)

Kalara’s many peoples all retain a remarkably cohesive origin story. In one form or another they tell of a prehistorical golden age, or Age of Legends, in which they were brought from other worlds to live in harmony with a race of beneficent deities. These gods cared for and watched over them, until their idyllic paradise was shattered by an invasion from the hell-realms of the demons.

  • Approximately 5750 — 5550 BT (Before Taming)
    The Great War
    Era beginning/end


    The Age of Legends came to an end when a trio of Demon Lords opened a hellgate from their hell realms into the world of Kalara. The story of the resulting apocalyptic war is told in the Legend of the Defender.

     

    The Legend of the Defender

The Age of Lost Empires

Approximately 5550 — 3750 BT (Before Taming)

According to legend, the gods established A’Lessa Kalar — The Covenant of the Children — with the peoples of Kalara that fought at their side in the Great War. This is the founding tenet of the catechism of the Church of the Divine.

Before leaving the world to return to the realms of heaven, the gods were said to have granted to their faithful the power, through their intercession, to call upon the Divine Magic. This is believed to have been the origin of the Priesthood of the Covenant, which lives on throughout Kalara to the present day. As long as the Children remain faithful to the gods and their teachings, the Covenant holds, their priests will wield the magic of the gods to sustain and defend them.

It was needed.

Though scattered and defeated, remnants of the demon armies and their allies survived the Great War. Even as the Children rebuilt their cities and expanded into the unexplored wildlands of Kalara, these dark forces also began to multiply and regain their strength. As a result, the relatively brief Peace of the Covenant that followed the Great War could not and did not last. It eventually gave way to a millenia of legendary battles that became known as the time of the Empire Wars.

  • Approximately 5550 — 4750 BT (Before Taming)
    The Peace of the Covenant
    Era beginning/end

    For eight hundred years, the peoples of Kalara flourished. The great civilization of Nuracinth had been all but obliterated, but humankind survived, and its numbers grew. Many settled in and shared southern Eldacinth, now Carlissa, with the elven peoples. Others pushed south to establish new realms in the then wild lands of Rayche, Landis, and Thressa.

    The elven civilizations spread across the continent as well. The Air Elves built great palaces among the peaks of the Nurian and Enduran mountains, which they shared with the Sky Dragons and Mountain Giants. The Earth Elves, or Earthen, delved deep beneath the same mountains, exploring and building their own underground realms in what came to be known as Subterranea.

    The Peace of the Covenant, however, did not last. Its ending led to what has come to be known as the time of the Empire Wars.

  • Approximately 4750 — 3750 BT (Before Taming)
    The Empire Wars
    Era beginning/end

    The dangerous and evil creatures that survived their defeat in the Great War fled from the lands of the Children. Few in number and fearing the extermination of their kind, most of them went into hiding in the bleak lands of Kalara to the far north and west. While the Children rebuilt Eldacinth in the east, and expanded into the rich and unsettled lands south of the Nurian and Enduran mountains and the Galerian Sea, they, too, slowly rebuilt their numbers and strength. It was inevitable that the two would eventually come into conflict once more — and they did.

    The period between The Peace and The Grim Times is known as the time of the Empire Wars. It was marked by a series of civilization-ending battles and massacres on both sides as the people and creatures of the Dark, and their rebuilt armies, renewed their campaign of conquest against the Children. Empires fell, and then rose again from the wreckage through great achievements in culture, magic, philosophy and technology — only to be dashed once more by war upon the rocks of history, their knowledge and works lost, their peoples slaughtered or scattered.

    The strongholds of the Children became like islands amid a raging sea of hostile monsters: demons, dragons, giants, ogres, Hellmen, undead, and many others. Time and again the surge broke over them, washing them away. Each time they took root again on another island amid the chaos, to begin the process anew.

    And so it continued for thousands of years.

The Grim Times

Approximately 3750 — 1750 BT (Before Taming)

By the end of the Age of Lost Empires, most of the vast and ancient knowledge possessed by both the Children and their enemies had been lost in a series of civilization ending wars.

The Grim Times that followed saw little change in the endless conflict that raged between them. Reduced to a primitive state unthinkable to their ancestors, they nevertheless continued to battle for dominance over the continent. Legendary weapons and magic gave way to swords and arrows. Relentless raids and periodic invasions eroded or swept away the often ephemeral realms of the Children, and no land was safe.

  • Approximately 3750 BT — 1750 BT
    The Grim Times
    Era beginning/end

    The Grim Times of Kalara lasted for thousands of years. This was a bleak, history-less era of near-barbarism and perpetual misery, in which the pursuit of personal joy was nearly extinguished from the lives of the Children. Instead they turned more and more to religion for the comfort and strength to endure the challenges of bare survival.

    They embraced with fervor the catechism of the Covenant, which taught that true happiness and an everlasting spiritual life were to be found only through the surrender of self in a mystical union with the Divine. And this, they believed, could happen only through the intercession of the gods. Their time in the world of life came to be regarded as a trial of suffering and duty, a term of service in a holy war against the gods’ supernatural enemies.

    This turn to religion, combined with the collapse of secular authority and the loss of the ancient knowledge, led to the rise of Church of the Divine as the dominant and unifying force among the Children. Despite the trials of the Grim Times, the promise of the Covenant held true. It remained the one source of magic that never waned in their endless battle for survival, and their greatest weapon against their enemies. It was the one constant that the people could always count on for succor and inspiration, and they did.

    Despite the trials of the Grim Times, the Children endured. Ever regrouping, rallying again and again around the might of their warriors and the magic of their priests, founding new colonies and new cities, they eventually wore down their enemies.

    Those enemies, while powerful, were rarely able to match the Children's resilience. Living ever by predation, the demons and their allies often fell upon each other in the absence of easier prey. Their devotion to The Way of the Will — a philosophy of unrestrained ambition that embraced personal whim-worship — was too often at odds with the long-range organization and discipline needed to win the long war with their opponents. As a consequence, they slowly gave way over the course of millenia to their eternal rivals.

The Taming

Approximately 1750 — 0 BT (Before Taming)

The gradual weakening of the dark forces led to the dawn of a new era of Kalaran civilization. Disorganized by relentless discord, their ancient ability to muster armies of once overwhelming power began to decay. Eventually they lost the capacity to sustain the endless cycle of violence that had characterized the battle between Light and Dark during the Empire Wars and the Grim Times.

As a result, permanent settlements of the Children began to take hold across the land. These grew over the centuries into cities, and then into nation-states, each with distinct and enduring cultures. Literacy flourished, and the recording and passing down of history — which had been nearly impossible during the chaos of the preceding millenia — once again became became the norm. The slow re-learning of knowledge that had been lost since the Age of Legends began.

The Taming officially came to an end with the defeat and scattering of the armies of the Dark in The Battle of Mandor, the last battle of the Enduran War. Remnants of their forces still controlled the periphery of the emerging nations of Kalara afterward, especially in the lands to the north and west. Occasional raids and skirmishes with them continue in these border lands even to the present day.

Despite the survival of these remnants, however, The Taming represented a devastating loss from which the armies of the Dark never recovered. As a result, by the beginning of the next age of Kalaran civilization, conflict with these age-old enemies had finally ceased to control the destiny of the Children. And without that ancient threat to unite them, they were about to discover a new foe: each other.

  • Approximately 1750 — 0 BT (Before Taming)
    The Taming
    Era beginning/end

    If the previous ages had been like a raging storm at sea, then the early years of the Taming were more like an ebb tide. Attacks by the maleficent creatures that still roamed the land continued, but the developing islands of civilization began to find themselves able to withstand them. Travel beyond their defended boundaries, however, still remained dangerous. It was a hazard undertaken only by the boldest of adventurers, and inter-city trade continued to be uncommon. As a result civilization was reborn in Kalara in a fragmented and isolated form, and it remained so for many centuries.

    A kind of archipalego of city-states eventually emerged. In each a single large city served as the nucleus around which a collection of smaller towns and villages organized. The city and its larger towns were walled, and the surrounding villages and farms densely packed to minimize the area requiring defense. These early centers of civilization were often widely scattered, developing in locations with particular advantages, such as naturally defensible terrain or highly fertile soil to support their high population densities. There tended to be few inter-city roads, and little contact between them. By thus taming their local environments, they created stable pockets of civilization from which larger societies were gradually able to emerge.

    The social isolation of the early Taming led to the emergence and perpetuation of several distinctive aspects of Kalaran culture. One of these was a trenchant conservatism that came to be known as the Way of the Homeland. It was characterized by an intense loyalty to the land and local community of one’s birth. Traditions developed according to which travel beyond the safety of the well-defined borders of one’s home city-state was subject to significant social disapproval. Those who attempted it — assuming they survived the still dangerous lands of the outside world — often came to be shunned as outsiders themselves.

    This in turn led to the development of one of the most unusual of Kalara’s traditional professions: the ages-old Path of the Adventurer. Despite the conservative traditions promoting the safety and security of devoting one’s life to one’s local community and city-state — or the honor of defending it — there were still tremendous rewards to be gained from risking the dangers of travel and trade with other peoples. The Age of Lost Empires, in particular, had left the remains of advanced civilizations — both light and dark — lying scattered across the continent and ripe for plunder. A handful of the strongest and boldest chose to leave the protection of their Homelands, as they came to be called, to escort caravans of trade goods, or to find and brave the ruins of Kalara in search of treasure. Although many did not survive, the goods and spoils brought home by these adventurers became a significant driver of the renaissance of Kalara during the Taming.

    Civilizations preceding the Grim Times had only flourished, despite the endless wars between light and dark, because of the great knowledge and magic handed down from the Age of Legends. The slow rediscovery of even some of these ancient secrets, and their dissemination throughout the lands, helped to finally reverse the millenia-long decline of the Children — and gave them a growing and decisive advantage against their enemies.

    The steady progression of these developments constitute the central history of the Taming. The realms of the Children gradually grew in strength and size, their city-states merging into larger nations as the dark forces were driven relentlessly from the lands between them. Gradually, over the course of centuries, a robust civilization emerged in a patchwork of flourishing realms connected by newly founded routes of burgeoning trade.

  • 47 — 0 BT (Before Taming)
    The Enduran War
    Era beginning/end


    The Taming officially came to an end with The Battle of Mandor, the last great battle between the forces of light and dark known as the Enduran War.

The New Age of Empires

1 — 1450 AT (After Taming)

The years of the Kalaran calendar have come to be counted from the beginning of this era (or more precisely, from the end of the Taming). The year 1 AT (After Taming), is marked by the final battle of the Enduran War, the Battle of Mandor.

By the end of The Taming, much of the world of Kalara — from Elde in the northeast to Thressa in the southwest — had been made safe (at least by historical standards) for the growth of civilization. Although the years since have come to be known by the more idealistic as The Age of the Children, the more cynical tend to call it the New Age of Empires. It was notorious primarily for the rising and falling fortunes of the various realms of the Children as they strove against each other for dominance over the continent.

Despite these conflicts, the re-building of Kalaran civilization from the devastation of its previous ages continued at a slow but more or less steady pace for over fourteen hundred years. In recent centuries, however, its direction has changed dramatically. To understand this change and the events that precipitated it, we must turn to the Modern Age of Kalaran civilization.

  • 1 — 1451 AT (After Taming)
    The New Age of Empires
    Era beginning/end

    By the beginning of this age the individual city-states of Kalara had begun to consolidate into broad nation-states. These were by no means homogeneous, and often possessed distinctly regional cultures and customs. The political ties binding them were still feudal, however, and their borders fluctuated with the passing of the centuries and the changing of their fortunes.

    Empires once again rose and fell, this time owing not to conflict between the Light and the Dark, but among the Children themselves. Lacking a strong enemy to unite them, their differences — exacerbated by their historical isolation and the insular traditions of the Grim Times — often turned them against each other. The rediscovery of lost knowledge and magic accelerated as well, although punctuated at times by setbacks and often interrupted by conflicts leading to wars for power and plunder.

    Thanks to a growing suspicion and hostility among the fledgling nations, the expansion of trade that had characterized the Taming actually slowed significantly during this time. Many of Kalara’s adventurers, however, continued their traditional role undaunted. They did so to a still mixed reception in their homelands, where they often became outcasts despite the knowledge and wealth they brought back with them. Others turned from the Path to the life of the mercenary and the soldier, for which there was an ever-growing demand.

The Modern Era of Kalara

1451 — 1642 AT (After Taming)

As with many of the too often unsung achievements of its history, the Modern Age of Kalara owes its genesis to a find of ancient knowledge and treasure. This particular tale, however, turned out to be anything but "unsung." It begins with the story of a Carlissan adventurer named Aldran Killraven. He and his companions discovered the ruins of Janthala, the legendary capital of one of the greatest realms of the Age of Lost Empires.

In addition to great wealth, Aldran and his companions also returned from their expedition with magical artifacts and tomes of ancient knowledge. Most of these were written in the now dead languages of the Age of Legends, or employed forms of magic unknown even to the most powerful of Kalara’s priests and wizards.

Aldran dedicated years of his life to studying these finds and to divining their secrets. He finally succeeded in creating the Janthala Codex, a magical device that could actually translate the Janthalan alphabet and language. This permitted access to the city’s tomes of lost knowledge by the modern world, some of which went back as far as the Age of Legends.

These ancient writings covered not just practical and magical knowledge, but philosophy and religion as well. As perhaps might have been expected, many of its ideas ran counter to the millenia-old traditions of Kalaran culture, and were not always well received. A reactionary resistance to its "new ideas" quickly grew as a result, leading to a major civil conflict that came to be known as The Codex War.

  • 1451 — 1478 AT (After Taming)
    The Codex War
    Scientific achievement

    The central figure of The Codex War was a Carlissan adventurer named Aldran Killraven. Aldran led a team of companions deep into the Northern Plains, on an expedition in search of lost cities from before the Grim Times. In the foothills of its northern mountains they discovered the ruins of Janthala, the legendary capital of one of the greatest realms of the Age of Lost Empires.

    Unlike most of the ancient ruins that had been picked clean over the millenia by adventurers of light and dark alike, Janthala’s remains were nearly pristine. Remotely located, protected by magical defenses, and hidden by wards of invisibility, it had lain undiscovered since the city’s fall nearly eight thousand years earlier. Its wards had finally begun to weaken over the ages, however, and Aldran — an accomplished mage and scholar — succeeded in penetrating them.

    The enormous wealth they brought back from Janthala gave great power and influence to Aldran and his companions. (Indeed, some of the noble houses of Carlissa — the royal family included — trace the rise of their names to this time.) More importantly, however, they also returned from their expedition with magical artifacts and tomes of ancient knowledge. Most of these were written in the now dead languages of the Age of Legends, or employed forms of magic that proved to be beyond the comprehension of even the greatest of Kalara’s priests and wizards.

    Aldran dedicated years of his life to studying these finds and to divining their secrets. He also shared many of his findings with Carlissa’s other mages and scholars. As a result, his homeland’s already highly developed institutions of learning developed a reputation that was second to none in all of Kalara, led by the prestigious Grand Academy of Lannamon.

    Had the Janthala find been limited simply to a store of wealth and magic, however, it would not have had the profound effect that it did on the direction of Kalaran civilization. That was due to Aldran’s development of the Janthala Codex. This was a magical device that succeeded in translating the Janthalan alphabet and language, finally permitting access to the city’s ancient tomes of knowledge.

    Among these tomes were an extensive set of writings by the ancient Narranic philosophers. These were written by Janthalan sages in an attempt to codify and preserve the core knowledge handed down to them from The Age of Legends. Profoundly different in key respects from the cultures or beliefs that had survived the intervening millenia, their re-discovery lit a fire of new ideas in the minds of Kalara’s thinkers. Copies of the Janthalan works and discussion of their ideas spread like wildfire across the continent.

    Although a detailed discussion of the nature of Narranic philosophy is beyond the scope of this brief history, a few points are relevant to understanding the events that followed its rediscovery — and its inevitable clash with Kalara’s existing social institutions. It viewed all people as individuals with dignity and fundamental values in common, ones that should be pursued through cooperation rather than conflict. This went against the post-Taming dynamic of perpetually warring states, in which most of the Children’s rulers had become heavily invested to maintain political power.

    Another clash with the culture of the time was religious. Kalara’s philosophers had settled over its long history into a somewhat fatalistic view of the world as driven by mysterious forces and directed by a divine plan. Events were typically explained by reference not to natural forces and magics, but to the will of the gods and the Childrens’ fidelity to the Covenant. The Church was the official diviner and representative of these mysteries, and played a central role in disseminating these beliefs throughout Kalaran society.

    This tradition maintained that magic was a gift from the gods -- and that, properly, it was wielded only (and in their name) by the priests of the Divine. (This was yet another reason why Kalara’s adventurers had always been viewed with suspicion, as had its relatively rare mages.) The secrets of the Codex, however, suggested a very different kind of world, one where magic and knowledge existed apart from the will of the gods and were accessible to the Children without their intercession.

    As long as these remained only hints of a different view of the world — ones that the priesthood could, and not always gently, discourage — they constituted little threat to Kalara’s established social order. The rediscovery of the Narranic philosophy changed all of that. It expressed, explicitly, a systematic worldview in which natural, and not divine, forces played a fundamental role in the nature of life and in the shaping of events. Magic existed independently of the gods, running counter to the prevailing view that the powers of wizards and other spell-casters had to be divine (or demonic) in origin.

    Although many in the Church welcomed these new ideas, the more traditional among its adherents regarded them as threatening and blasphemous. Determined to exterminate these "dangerous heresies" before they could spread any further, the Carlissan King Andros Dargon formed an alliance with many of the noble families of the time, and with representatives of the Church. Without warning their soldiers swept across the realm, arresting or killing anyone who had been exposed to the new learning, and burning their books.

    At the top of their list of planned arrests, they had expected to take Aldran Killraven and execute him. The adventurer wizard, however, had actually been predicting their move, and had prepared for it. The forces sent to seize him were killed to a man in a massive explosion that destroyed his estate. The same happened when they came for several of his key allies. These included the High Priest of Carlissa, who advocated reform in the face of the new discoveries.

    Aldran and his followers escaped, retreated to a series of hidden strongholds they had prepared, and organized a revolt. The details of the civil war that followed are unimportant, except that the revolt succeeded, and Aldran became the first of the Killraven Kings of Carlissa. The elven realms of the Nurian mountains also helped turn the tide by siding with the rebels, beginning a two hundred year friendship between the thrones of Lannamon and Mount Cassandra. The mountain elves had been in military conflict with the Dargon kings for centuries, and eagerly embraced the idea of having a more cooperative relationship with their neighbors to the north.

    Aldran’s store of secret magics and knowledge helped, in no small part, to bring about his victory. They also helped to begin the first Carlissan folk-legends of a Sanctum of the Archmage.

Kalara Today

1642 AT and beyond

Though accepted to varying degrees in different lands, the rediscovery of the knowledge of the Janthala Codex has had a significant influence on the development of Kalaran culture for the past two centuries. Its ideas could not be suppressed, and they led to a widespread questioning of many traditional beliefs and values. The Church slowly began to reform some of its doctrines, promulgating a view of the Magic and of the Divine as two separate sources of power. A slowly growing movement advocating peaceful co-existence between the realms of the children grew, promoting a culture of cooperation and trade over one of war and conquest.

  • 1642 AT (After Taming)
    Dweomer Technology
    Scientific achievement

    Janthalan knowledge revolutionized the practical arts as well as the philosophical. Magic, once reserved for the rituals of the priests or for battles with the Dark (the Covenant strictly forbade its use in wars between the Children), found increasing use as a tool throughout all of society. A class of Artisan Wizards or craftmages developed, who used it in the creation of a wide variety of products — from structures of unsurpassed size and beauty, to items of convenience that could be purchased in the local marketplace. The knowledge that magic could be combined with practical craftsmanship to improve the lives of Kalara’s people led to the development of an ever expanding dweomer technology of inventions that continues to the present day.