Abs & Axes
History and Cosmology
The Four Planes of Existence
The world of Ilyenor exists at the intersection of four planes, the Prime Material plane, the Wildlands, the Shadow World, and the Luminous Domain. The general populace of Ilyenor lives in ignorance of this arrangement, but some researchers of particularly obscure arcane lore understand the intersection of the four. Barely a handful of those have ever experienced a glimpse of what lies beyond the Prime Material and even fewer have travelled beyond its edges.
The Prime Material plane is the plane of “Reality,” it is where all the people of Ilyenor have been born, lived and died since the beginning of recorded history.
The Wildlands are the realms of the Fey and the Green Man, Elad. The shape and placement of the land echoes that of the Prime Material, but the Wildlands are greener, more lush and vibrant. Home to more wildlife and Fey spirits and all but lacking the trappings of “Civilization” from the Prime Material plane.
The Shadow World also mirrors the Prime Material but in a dark and desolate manner. There are some cities there, many carved of strange stone with shapes and structures unknown to the mortal races of Ilyenor. The largest structure in the Shadow World is the city of Kirr, which stands in the middle of a blighted plain in the space occupied by the Great Bay in the Prime Material plane. Those who have heard of the city have almost always heard it referred to as “The Prison City of Nightmares.”
The Luminous Domain is a place of light and an intense sense of glory. It echoes the Prime Material plane but in the ideal sense of perfect order and shining light. A shining city with towers of shimmering gold and silver stands here in the area occupied by the Grey Wastes in the Prime Material.
The Dawn of Life in Ilyenor
Precious little is known of the beginnings of life in Ilyenor, there are two facts that are considered beyond doubt. The first race was the Elves, and they were followed thereafter by the Dwarves. The Dwarves claim that they were the first race to claw their way to sentience, but they were ignored in their mountain homes.
The Elves were the first to learn to bend magic to their will, and it was from this manipulation of the arcane that they began to assemble their society, lifting themselves from a hunter-gatherer or agrarian culture to one with an undercurrent of magical energy.
The Dwarves, on the other hand, being more practical and rooted in the Earth took to working the rock of the mountains, carving out a home for themselves in a quite literal fashion.
The Age of Nightmares
While the Elves and Dwarves were in the early stages of their societies a third race appeared. In the city of Kirr (within the Shadow World) there was a diminutive race doomed to live their lives as slaves to the powers that ran the city. Over time they were able to steal enough bits of magical detritus from their masters and use their growing knowledge of the dimensional machinery their masters wielded to make their escape. They managed to create a rift allowing them to escape to the Prime Material plane where they founded a city of their own. They continued to study the machinery and what they could of magic, trying to seal the rift behind them, but it continued to open wider and wider over the years following their escape. Eventually they founded the city of Ar-Neta, a center for research dedicated to trying to close the rift that had allowed them to escape, while all manner of beasts and horrors slipped through to the Prime Material plane from the beyond. Eventually a final plan was enacted to close the rift, but its execution caused a cataclysmic explosion that destroyed the city and the plain it stood on creating a tremendous crater that was rapidly filled by the waters of the Sea of Dreams. And so, the Great Bay was formed.
Some small bands of survivors from the freed-slaves of Ar-Neta managed to escape, homeless and without a direction they formed into three general factions. The first were the researchers, the technologists who understood the dimensional machinery. The second were those that thought that they should abandon the ways of their old masters and embrace the life force and nature of the plane they now called home. The third was vindictive and blamed the others and all life from the Prime Material plane for the loss of their home. As time passed the three groups underwent change (as all things do), the first eventually becoming the ancestors of what is known in the Unification Era as the Rock Gnomes, who sought refuge with the Dwarves. The second became the Forest Gnomes and took residence in the forests of Adrindest, becoming peaceful neighbors with the Wood Elves that lived there. The third retreated to the dark places and became self-consuming in their spite and hatred, over time they became the Goblins of the modern age and gave rise to the other Goblinoid races.
The Old Elven Era
With their mastery over the powers of the arcane the Elves were able to multiply and spread throughout the lands of Ilyenor, eventually forming a huge empire across the known lands. It was in the third eon of the Elven Empire that following a period of strife known as the War of Spells the High Elves and Wood Elves decided to part ways. Ultimately the two races were able to maintain a friendly relationship but with clearly diverging interests and beliefs the Wood Elves declared their independence within the great forests of Adrindest.
The High Elves maintained their Imperium until (following the Thirty Days of Darkness and the self-sacrifice of the Mage-Queen Egiolin herself) they found their ability to maintain the extremes of their empire crumbling and were forced to draw their borders inwards, eventually leaving them with only the Holy Dominion of Egiolin of the present day.
Throughout the known lands it is still possible to find the arcane-forged remnants of Old Elven settlements. Their reach is often found among the ruins of temples, roads, and the occasional dungeon. The original purpose of each lost in the river of time.
The Rise of Men and the Unification Era
As the Old Elven empire receded the races of man were able to come to power, establishing a series of nations of their own. Largely geographic in nature and organized around those of similar ethnic makeup the Humans of the known lands eventually settled into a collection of five nations.
It was slightly over two centuries ago that King Aros of Thellerg sought to unify the human nations into a single kingdom under his control. When the word was sent to the other nations the men of the Plains and the Southern Reaches forged a treaty and joined this new unified kingdom peacefully. The raiders of Arad and the islanders of Helladhil refused the offer and it was only after several years of war that they were eventually conquered and brought into the newly unified Kingdom of Thellerg with representatives of the Thells instituted as new overseers of these territories and inserted into the ruling families of those territories through a system of arranged marriages.