The Dawn War
In the Beginning
In the beginning, the first thinking things were the Primordials, vast creatures of elemental might, the Uncreated. No one knows how or why the Primordials came into being, only that they were the first to find themselves in the Void. They spent a time together in the the nothingness before Creation, but soon tired of one another’s company. They began to argue, to squabble, and to fight. As they battled all together in a terrible commotion, their exertions threw off pieces of themselves that became a seething mass of primal matter, flooding the Void with hectic matter and energy. When the Primordials noticed this ruckus, they stopped fighting and began to explore, their brutish imaginations shaping the mercurial chaos into permanent forms. From this chaos, the Primordials fashioned the world to fill as much of the Void as they could imagine. They pushed the boundaries of Creation to escape one another, and spent a time going about their strange, solitary pursuits.
The First Ones
In time, the Primordials grew mad and lonely and begin to craft for themselves new creatures to be their companions, minions, and playthings. These were the First Ones, plastic and horrible creations of profound ugliness, crude and unfinished minds, and base goals. The Primordials enjoyed them for a time, and even pitted them against one another’s creations to amuse themselves. However, even the Primordials knew the First Ones were flawed, and so they were sent away, banished beyond the edge of Creation into the Void. There, using the spark of Creation that existed in them still, the First Ones began to make their own destiny and fashion a place for themselves in their own warped image: The Far Realm. The Primordials became vaguely worried by the First One’s ambitions, and set the boundaries between worlds, setting Creation afloat in the Astral Sea, buoyed on the still-swirling Elemental Chaos. The Far Realm was soon forgotten and the Primordials set their hands to making a new creation, something better than the First Ones.
Working together for the first time, the Primordials labored to make something beautiful that would serve and adore them. They liked when the First Ones had groveled for them, and felt the first thrill of their own power when they warped and changed them, made them battle, or denied them happiness. One by one, drawing on power of the Elemental Chaos and the shimmering strangeness of the new Astral Sea, the Gods were crafted. No one can say for sure the order of their making, but most agree that Chroma, Mother of Dragons, was the first. After her, it becomes unclear. When they were finished, the Primordials set the Gods on the world they had created and retreated into the Astral Sea to make fine new realms for themselves. The Gods were commandeded to worship them, and to make the world an interesting place filled with beings of every kind to worship the Primordials.
The Gods set about their task with a will, shaping every other living thing into being to serve the Primordials. At first, it was easy to keep track of everything, but as the world was filled, the Gods found even their great powers tasked to their limits. It was decided that some of the responsibilities of Creation would be given to the new races, and they were taught the art of shaping and reshaping what is and what could be: the dragons named this gift “magic”. Using magic, the new races could reshape and reorder the world to their liking so as to better worship those above them. There was, however, a problem: most new races chose to worship the Gods that shaped them rather than the distant, unknowable Primordials.
In time, the Primordials learned what the races had done. Word spread across the Astral Sea, and the Primordials emerged from their private realms to walk upon the world again. They saw the temples, grand and beautiful but built to glorify their children and not themselves. Enraged, the Primordials summoned the Gods together in the Court of Stars that make the heavens and demanded an accounting from their children. When the Gods could offer no explanation that satisfied them, the Primordials made a terrible demand: “Kill all that you have made and start again. This time, be sure they worship us and not you. You are not worthy, for we made you; we are greater than you and we always will be. Do as we command.”
The Gods were greatly dismayed, and pleaded with the Primordials. They saw the world and its multitude of living things as parents see their children, not as works of art or playthings. They begged to change, not destroy, what was made.
“No,” said the Primordials, all save one. Veddun, the Mountain That Walks, had been fonder than most of some of his First Ones, and had come to miss them. He understood how the young Gods felt. When he spoke on their behalf, he was silenced by the others and threatened with destruction. “We will show you how we feel,” said the Primordials, and they reached out into the world and at once touched every member of the first race, the strange and wonderful dragons that had hatched from Chroma’s eggs. “Be like us,” the Primordials said, “Feel what we feel.” And all at once, every dragon everywhere was filled with greed and resentment. Chroma shrieked in rage when she saw what had been done to her offspring, and she attacked the Primordials. After a shocked moment, the other Gods joined her, and drove the surprised Primordials back into the Astral Sea. Veddun remained with the the Gods, and they retreated to the world to ready the many races for battle. The other Primordials called upon their vast outrage and hatred to make elementals and demons to destroy the world. The Dawn War had begun.
The Dawn War
The Gods had little time to gather the faithful and make them ready to face the Primordials. Each God took and trained groups of the many races, imparting them with secrets, tactics, and weapons to suit their unique skills and natures. Magic became widespread, and many strange and wondrous artifacts and relics were created at this time. Cities were transformed into foundries and training camps to prepare the people for the coming battle. Nations rose under the guidance of the Gods and out of the necessity of cooperation.
When the Primordials tore open the walls of reality and stormed the world, they brought with them legions of elementals and demons. On huge battlefields all over the world, the young races of the world clashed with these beasts while the Gods and Primordials waged terrible combat all around. Countless thousands of beings perished in the chaos and terror of the Dawn War. The might of the Primordials at first seemed irresistible and unstoppable, but the faith of the people charged the Gods with strength and great resolve. The prayers and devotion of the people healed the Gods, who in turned gave their divine powers to the races of the world to aid others as well. The contest seemed less hopeless, but it still seemed that the Primordials might win with their greater personal strength. They had learned to wipe out the people that supported the Gods to weaken them, and the bloodshed and massacres threatened to break the Gods. One by one, the Gods had to choose whether to continue the fight, to submit to the will of the Primordials, or to flee into unknown exile. Most Gods chose to stay, forming the Pantheon, while a handful fled the world, becoming known as the Exiles. After countless years of battle and swings back in forth of ascendancy, both sides were shocked and dismayed when aberrant hordes of First Ones erupted from the Far Realm and started the terror of the Long Night.
The Long Night
Forgotten by the Primordials and unknown to the young Gods, the First Ones burst forth from the Far Realm in an orgy of horror and nightmarish violence. The First Ones extinguished the sun on the Day of Darkness when they returned, slaying the Primordial of Light in an unprecedented orgy of destruction. They killed without qualm or side, but spread like sickness among the armies of the Primordials and Gods alike. Every manner of aberrant being laid waste to those that had made them and those that had supplanted them. In the chaos of the First Ones’ attacks, the Gods saw a glimmer of hope. They used their the ability to work together and coordinate their efforts to follow up on the seemingly random assaults of the First Ones to destroy the Primordial’s servants and finally to weaken and even destroy the Primordials themselves. The renewed hope of the people flooded into the Gods as praise and further strengthened their attacks. The Primordials could not sustain the battle against the Gods with the addition of the First Ones. One by one, the Primordials were beaten. A few were slain and their powers absorbed by the Gods. Others were driven into the distant depths of the Astral Sea, where the Nine Hells were fashioned to contain them and the god, Dom, made their jailer. A small number were shackled within the world itself, buried under mountains, seas, swamps, and vast deserts. Even in victory, though, the Gods still battled with the First Ones. In the end, Sunastien assumed the role of the God of Light and the sun was rekindled. The Long Night was over, and most of the First Ones were driven back into the Far Realms or destroyed. Many, however, made their way deep into the world’s depths and dark places, establishing themselves in what became known as the Underdark. Only Veddun remained free in honor of his service with the Gods, though some believe it was because he had become too great to contain.
The Astral Realms that once belonged to the Primordials were taken by the Gods. They retreated there from the world, for they had come to see how much their presence disrupted what they hoped to protect. Their divine servants would carry their words, and they left behind legacies of magic and knowledge to keep the races strong. Two new realms were created, the Feywild and the Shadowfell, places where God and mortal might mix more safely than on the skin of the world itself. These realms became in-between places, and only the most wise, holy, arcane, and daring could cross the boundaries. The Gods vanished from the world, and in their absence, mighty kingdoms and nations began to rise.