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Introduction to the Fourth Age

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 PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2003 11:59 pm    Post subject: Introduction to the Fourth Age Reply with quote Back to top

Okay, by now everyone should be familiar with how Ardania was shaped (or at least the fragmentary account known to man), and its history up to Kingdom Age 1500. After that is a conjectural time, which ends with a bang in a cataclysmic war between a Krypta/Fervus alliance and the other gods. (Ask Archmage about this when he comes back.)
General History
Then there is the Imperial Age, a time which begins centuries ahead of our familiar Kingdom Age. It began with the War of the Gods, and technically ended when the Imperium collapsed. However, it is popularly extended to cover the dark age between the Imperium's fall and the rebirth of the new gods.
During the Imperium's reign physical might shaped Ardania, for the gods and their powers were gone and the Wizards had been chased into hiding. Warriors, Rogues, and Rangers were first merged into the Imperial Guard, then differentiated again, though renamed Imperial Elite Guard (Warriors), Imperial Enforcers (Rogues), and Imperial Explorers (Rangers). When the Imperium collapsed, they kept their new names, although they eventually dropped the "Imperial."
The wizards also came out of hiding. Alas, most of these were renegades, for all the legitimate Wizards had been destroyed by the Imperor Sian near the dawning of the third age. Evil and aberrant magiks were rampant throughout Ardania, and monster kingdoms long thought dead grew and thrived in the lawlessness.
Then the hero Ixmillian, a Wizard descended from the legendary (albeit mad) archmage Ixmil arose. Gathering companions - Sir Vith, Elite Guard of New Volencia; Master Chary, Enforcer of Shadowood City; Master Alpinus, Explorer from the North Coast - Ixmillian found the Orb wherein the gods were imprisoned and freed them. Thus began the Age of Expansion.

General Geography
Things had changed greatly in the Cataclysm that ended the Kingdom Age. The Hellfire Mountains sunk beneath the ocean, creating the Deathsea. Only the Isles of Doom and the Frozen Isles in the far north remained of the Northern Reaches. In the south, the land was upthrust, creating the Mountains of Sydrian around what had once been the Isle of that name. The only cities to be left even partially intact were Mayhew, now a port on the new North Shore of Ardania, and New Volencia, now bordering on a great salt marsh filled with treasures and minerals once sunken beneath the sea.
The Imperium grew out from a city pompously named "New Ardania," which had been founded on the ashes of Ravenswood. as time passed it became called the Imperial city, and, when the Imperium fell, Shadowood City.

New Heroes and Buildings in the Fourth Age
The gods came back to a changed world. No relidious heroes, the general heroes' backgrounds changed, and the Wizards insanely powerful and insanely corrupt. In order to drive back the darkness, the gods empowered new heroes or breathed fresh life into old ones.
Barbarians: Berserkers and Shamans - The children of Krolm remained faithful to him during the dark days of the Imperium. Hunted like animals for centuries, they became furtive and syealthy, using guerilla warfare to nibble at the fringes of the empire. When the All-Father returned, he kindled their hearts with his own burning rage at his and their dishonour. These became known as Berserkers, as unstoppabable as any force of nature. Further, he appointed Shamans to channel the energies of the earth in order to aid his people in their quest for revenge. Even with the new strength imparted by their god, however, the Barbarians as a whole retain their heritage of living and fighting in stealth.
Flammifers - The race of the Solari was annihilated in the war preceding the Cataclysm. When Helia returned, her grief consumed her, causing the sun to darken for three days. When she recovered, her grief to white anger. She took a band of female brigands and infused them with her wrath. Now they are clothed in living flame, a mere touch being enough to start a blaze. Wings of fire bear them above the earth, lest they torch the entire land. They wield armour-melting flame-spears in close combat, and a plethora of fire-spells at a distance. The most powerful are capable of summoning powerful elementals to fight for them and their goddess.
Brotherhood of the Night - Lunord took the alteration of Ardania far better than his father or sister. Secretly he began training a cadre of skilled warriors from both the Human and Elven races. He made them into perfect assassins, more skillful than even the most dreaded Rogues of old. Armed with poisoned daggers and the powers of teleportation and invisibility, the Brotherhood appears at a location, swiftly eliminates its targets, then fades into the mists and night.
Monks and Templars - Dauros revived the order of the Monks of Dauros apparently unchanged. However, now their magiks are offensive rather than defensive in nature. They can petrify an enemy with a gesture, and disrupt chaotic spells with a word. Their mere presence weakens undead and similar vile things.
The Templars are mounted warriors wielding long stabbing spears and javelins in defense of the law. Though they use no magiks themselves, their superior skills coupled with the use of enchantry weaponry makes one a formidable foe.
Paladins and Priests - Dauros gave his sister Agrela the feminine order of Paladins. Under the patronage of the Good Mother, the Paladins have gained the ability to heal others and dispel evil enchantments. Their presence grants serenity to their allies and at the same time imparts terror to the foes of life.
The Priests started as Wizards who had been practicing healing magic before Agrela's return. These good-intentioned men touched agrela's heart, and she expanded their power to heal. Now they are telepathic, able to read minds to best tend the wounds of body of spirit. The most skilled can actually transfer the pain of their subject into themselves, relieving the suffering and bearing the burden on their own noble spirits.
Krypta and Fervus were mortally weakened in the Cataclysm. Though they, too, returned, they had not the power to support heroes. In time, their powers waxed, but Krypta preferred to hang back lest she provoke the other gods' wrath. As for Fervus, he disappeared, thoogh lately reports of strange magi wielding the powers of chaos are trickling out of the Isles of Doom.
After the gods returned and drove back the darkness, technology advanced quickly. Enterprising Wizards fused magic with technology, becoming known as Alchemists. Although branded as heretics by traditional Wizards, Dauros and Lunord took them under their protection, and the new discipline of alchemy flourished.
Alchemists - Wizards who built upon the magical advances of the past by adding technology to wizardry. Though at first despised by their fellow Wizards, the Alchemists made incredible bounds in science. a hundred years into the Age of Expansion, they had landed explorers (mostly Dwarves) on the Moon and built several so-called "Star Fortresses" in orbit about the Ardanian planet. The Alchemists are feared on the field of combat, using among other things automatic crossbows and magical explosives to ward off their foes.
Out of the astonishing lunar landings came enormous changes in Ardanian society. Most astonishing of all was the new friendship forged between Elves and Dwarves, as both cooperate to explore and exploit the mystic surface of Lunord's sphere.
Dwarven Flamcarls The Dwarves are ardent supporters of the projects of the Alchemists - many of the stunted race joined the ranks of the heretical Wizards. They developed a new weapon, a sort of hollow rod the base of which is filled with enchanted fire. In order to protect themselves from the flames spouting from their weapons, they wear durable armour made from nevryl fused with rubber from the Yf tree. The Dwarves armed with these devastating weapons are known as Flamcarls (or simply "death"). The Flamcarls form the backbone of the expeditionary forces on the Moon and in orbit.
Blade Sorcerors - The Elves have also taken advantage of the lunar expansion. A skilled Elven sorceror traveled to the Moon, where he uncovered a strange, magical ore. He named the new metal within "artemite."
He had it shipped back to Ardania, were Dwarven smiths forged it into swords according to his design. As each was produced, he engraved it with Elven runes. The runeblades thus produced were mystic weapons, each with a different power. In addition, the unqiue structure of the weapons allows them to be played as instruments, their sound resembling nothing else on Ardania.
The sorceror sold his runeblades to other Elves, who soon became known as Blade Sorcerors. Wielding both runeblades and Elven magiks, the Blade Sorcerors are heroes dreaded by monsters and law-abiding citizens alike - after all, they're still Elves.
Alchemists' Guilds - The Alchemists, since they were barred from the Wizards' Guilds, built their own where they could pursue their technomagiks in peace. These Guilds replaced the Magic Bazaar of the Kingdom Age, as the Alchemists made their wide collection of potions and tinctures available to the public. Both the Alchemists and the Flamcarls are trained in the use of their powerful weapons here.
Aerodomes - The massive structures known as Aerodomes serve to manufacture and produce the aeroships, the strange flying ships built and manned by the Dwarves. These range in all sizes from one-man machines to the powerful vessels capable of flying to the Moon and back.
Halls of the Blade Sorcerors Blue tiled, with the banner of sorcery flying overhead, these halls are the abode of the Elven Blade Sorcerors. The Elves within are eager to train those less skilled than themselves - for the right price, of course.

Political Makeup
In the Kingdom Age, Ardania was comprised of dozens of small city-states, most of these owing allegiance to one of the Great Cities, such as Mayhew or Valmorgen. The High King ruled over all, sometimes actually and sometimes nominally. This arrangement came crashing down in the Cataclysm. Afterwards, first the Wizard Council and then the Imperium rose to power. The Imperial Age, in its beginning, was marked by extreme centralization, with all power resting in the hands of the Imperor. When this system fell apart, Ardania reverted back to the days of the city-states, with each lord claiming the Imperial mandate.
In the strife and confusion the Wizards, who had been outlaws through most of the Imperium's life, came forth again. Many of them were renegades, evil Wizards who set no bounds to their pursuit of arcane power. The most powerful of these became the Magelords, mighty archmagi who fought for control of various regions of Ardania. To aid them in their mad bids for dominance, they created armies of supposedly super-human power through the forbidden art of teratogeny. With the lords of every village proclaiming himself the Imperor, when not under the heel of one or another Magelord, and the Wizards themselves concerned only to rule the disentegrating Imperium, it was not surprising that monstrous races such as the Ratmen and Goblins arose once more from secret corners of the land, establishing large kingdoms for themselves.
When the gods returned, their first order of business was to break the power of the Magelords and their teratogenic armies. This done, they and their followers overthrew the monster realms.
Now, Ardania was ready for a new order to be built. The wise among gods and men realized that the Imperium could never be resurrected, nor was it wholly desirable. But the old days of feuding city-states and tenuous power vested in the High King were not desirable either. The answer was presented to them when the Alchemists broke off from the Wizards, setting up their own Guilds. The wise quickly came to realize that the Guilds were becoming the dominant force in Ardania, and with a little help would achieve this role. Their interests would balance each other out, and the lords would retain their socereignty in order to prevent the Guilds from becoming all-powerful as the Wizards' Council or Imperium had done.
Thus the Parliament was formed. The higher house, the House of Guilds, was comprised of one representative elected by each Guild organizaton. This included the Guilds of various craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, who were enjoying far more prosperity thanks to the advances made by the Alchemists. It also allows for representastives of the Temples, though these are not elected but rather appointed by their gods, who are taking a more active role in Ardanian history in order to reestablish civilization. The House of Guilds presently makes all decisions not directly affecting the towns, cities and villages of Ardania, and all laws must be approved by them before enacted. Below the House of Guilds is the House of Lords, comprised of all the nobles of Ardania. They exist primarily to advise the Guild Council of the desires and interests of their towns. They can originate laws, even ones pertaining to the cities, but these must be approved by the House of Guilds. When not in the Parliament, each lord retains in theory absolute power over his demesne, but in actuality is bound by the laws passed by the Parliament.
For hundreds of years Ardania languished without the gods who had given life and meaning to the land. When Ixmillian released them, the people answered with a great rush of religious fervour most gratifying to the gods, who were accustomed to the infidelity of the masses. The poeple were ready to worship all of them, save for Krypta and Fervus who were so devastated by the effects of the distant Cataclysm that they went into hiding.
The tide of religious enthusiasm on the part of the people was enough to dissolve the enmity between Helia and Lunord, at least partially. In the common interest the two siblings reconciled, signing a celestial truce for the foreseeable future. Their Temples no longer hold vendettas against each other; their rivalry is productive now. Krolm alone stood aloof, for his people had been sorely abused by the civilized people of Ardania. Thugh he himself was secretly touched by the people's willingness to be reconciled, he hardened his heart for the sake of the Barbarians.
It has become common practice, therefore, to hold Helia, Lunord, Dauros and Agrela in equal esteem, with Krolm feared as the Lord of Vengeance. Out of the four almost every man has chosen a patron for himself without becoming a religious. Some civilized men, sympathetic to the Barbarians, have also taken Krolm as their patrons.

New Races
In the dark days between the fall of the Imperium and the return of the gods, Magelords fought for control of the land. They utilized their powerful magiks to warp and twist the denizens of Ardania, creating new monsters and elite warriors.
One such Wizard, a man from the distant East named Cao En, captured several of the fugitive Barbarians. Using his vast knowledge of teratogeny, he spliced their genetic code with that of the Dragons. Next he injected their already tortured bodies with a serum derived from blood of werewolves. The resulting creatures were tall, powerful beings, resembling humans in appearance, but with whisker-like tentacles rising from their foreheads, grey-green like their hair, and with yellow eyes as keen as a Dragon's. They lived only for battle, quickly mastering the arts of fighting and war-magic. The Lycolongi, as En dubbed them, soon became the most feared of all the teratogenics, for they were skilled, strong, and quick to heal, regenerating even lost limbs or sensory organs. Rumour has it that the amorphous properties of the lycanthropic virus originally injected into their veins is still present, and that if they are subjected to extreme stress they will grow into something even more powerful.
When the gods returned, it spelled the end of Cao En and the other Magelords. This left their teratogenics in aquandary. Spawned ffom accursed magiks, yet still with human feelings and desires, what were they to do? The gods took pity on them, granting them amnesty and offering those who wished it asylum. The Lycolongi accepted the amnesty, but scorned the idea of hiding in a Temple for the rest of their lives. Their in-born desire for battle led many to become bandits, mercenaries, or assassins. They could not join any Guilds, for the normal poeple of ardania looked on them as monsters, and even the gods began to look with disfavour on them as they disentegrated into lawless disorder.
But one Lycolongus was wiser than his brethren. Tarac by name, he founded the city of Sanctuary for his people. The centrepiece of the city as the great Coliseum, where the Lycoes, as they were coming to be known, could battle each other in mock duels or melees. As Sanctuary became settled, Tarac began hunting down the rogue Lycoes and other evil teratogenics. He offered them all a chance to reform and return with him to Sanctuary. Over time, the lords of Ardania heard of him and his deeds. They recognized his true desire for peace between his race and the other races of Ardania, and also the great fighting prowess inherent in the Lycolongi. First one, then another began hiring Lycoes to be their elite bodyguards and protectors. The Parliament itself took notice, and invited the Lycolongi to form their own order in Ardanian society. Tarac accepted, and so the Lycolongian Sellswords' Guild came to be, headed by Tarac's wife Regina.

So Ardania grows again, all darkness apparently banished to the far fringes of the world. But it is just the calm before the storm, and the next catastrophe might not destroy just civilisation, but the entire world.

[ 05. August 2003, 12:42 PM: Message edited by: Falotar ]
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 PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 9:21 pm    Post subject: Introduction to the Fourth Age Reply with quote Back to top

None at all. The Cataclysm is described by Archmage in his The Dawning of a New Age: Darkness Descending. It details the destruction of the Gods and the rise of the Imperium.
Of course, I'm not the final authority on this; Archmage is. How the war between Krypta/Fervus and the rest of the gods started is unknown to me. Perhaps, if and when he returns, you can take it up with him.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 9:59 am    Post subject: Introduction to the Fourth Age Reply with quote Back to top

I don't mean to be negitive or anything, but I don't think Archmage is coming back, he has been gone since late(or was it early) 2001. I was thinking of joining, but I don't think my character would be allowed. He is a lte WoD, the last ione left, and I was thinking of renaming the WoD Fighters of Fervus(FoF). Is that possible that I could join as a FoF? And if I do join, I'll have to catch up, because, Falotar you write a lot and you write often, when you have something going in your mind. Thats how I function, it's just I don't write as much as you do. Oh, yeah, when I started to read it, I wanted to say:
"One of the first contenders for Best Story, in next years Best Tales Awards!" Galen rants.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 2:32 pm    Post subject: Introduction to the Fourth Age Reply with quote Back to top

Ah, Cooker, I was referring to Galen in my latest post. He was speaking about my story based on the Fourth Age, and asking me about how he should inject his character into it (if he makes one). Your comments pertain directly to the Fourth Age, and so should be posted here.
I believe I already answered your question. Whatever the Dragon/human alliance was, or was developing into, before the Cataclysm was detroyed in the war between the gods.
Now, it is true Archmage does not mention Dragons in his introduction to the "New Age" - the Third or Imperial Age. But it is to be assumed that what remnants of their race survived the Cataclysm became once more hunted by Men, precisely because of the previous alliance. The world was nearly destroyed be the feud between the gods; do you think mortals, most of whom aren't too bright in such matters anyway, would like the creatures who gave such devastating power to the gods? And it doesn't matter which.
Furthermore, both the Wizards' Council and the Imperium which succeeded it appeared to be jealous of their power. No monster race would have been tolerated at all under their dominion, especially the Dragons; being powerful, intelligent beings, they would have been seen as the greatest enemies to human ambition, which would of course have ruled unchecked in that era without gods.
Now, after the gods returned, what would have happened to the Dragons? Well, consider. Gold/Silver Dragons were once aligned with Dauros, and were champions of goodness. They would welcome back the gods as the return of order. However, since they were few to begin with, suffered heavily during the pre-Cataclysm wars, and finally were as symbols of a power higher than the Imperium hunted ruthlessly, they would be so few and scattered and wary of humanity that they would do little for the next hundred years or so after the gods returned.
The Black Dragons, familiar with hiding and working in secret, would perhaps have fared the best out of all. They would not suffer the traumatic psychological upheaval that the good Dragons would have; firstly because they were always hated and feared by humans, secondly because although Krypta had gone the realms of the dead from which the Blacks draw their power were not.
As for the wild Dragons, fire in the South and ice in the North, they would not have been upset overly about either the disappearance of the gods or the renewed hostility of Men. However, the natural upheaval would have affected them greatly. Most of the Northern Reaches sank beneath the sea; the few Ice Dragons left would have retreated to the Shattered Isles in the far north. There they would sooner or later come under the influence of Fervus, who made that desolate region his secret home. The fire Dragons, on the other hand, who are accustomed to living in mountainous regions, would have retreated to the Mountains of Sydrian. Not only are they the only true mountains left in Ardania, they were are close to Shadowood City, once the capital of the Imperium and as such a choice target for raids.
So, on the whole, this is the position of the Dragons: The Golds are glad to see the gods of goodness return, but are unwilling to risk themselves for an ungrateful humanity. The Blacks don't really care about the gods of goodness or neutrality (remember that neither Krypta nor Fervus are truly evil); they have grown independent int thier new, underground fastnesses. As for the wild Dragons, they are much the same as they ever were throughout Ardania history, though fewer in number. Also, some of the Ice Dragons have disappeared (in the Temple of Chaos, though their fellows are ignorant of this.)
There you have it, Cooker. I hope you don't disagree with my vision of the future of Ardania too much. And I remind you once again this is the far future of Ardania; a thousand years or so have passed since the Cataclysm which marked the end of the Kingdom Age.
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 PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:04 pm    Post subject: Introduction to the Fourth Age Reply with quote Back to top

Hmmm. Well, this discussion ought to be moved to the "about" topic. But I will cover more background information on Fervus post-Cataclysm, so you'll know where the Lord of Chaos and his followers stand. (This information is not known to the rest of Ardania, which is why it's not in the general section above.)
Fervus himself is not in the Celestial Realms, nor in the Netherworld. He has been in hiding from the other gods, and has sought refuge on the mortal plane. Specifically, he now dwells in ethereal form in the Temple of Chaos, a monumental structure on the northernmost of the Shattered Isles (the remnants of the Northern Reaches).
The Temple itself is manned by Cultists, which are more or less the same as before save that they control the chaotic elements of wind and water. An extension of the new, secretive Cult of Fervus is operating in the Isles of Doom (near Ardania's new northern shoreline; they used to be the Mountains of Doom). These rather sinister characters are known as the Chaos Mages. They adore combining incongruent factors together, such as combining the power of fire and water to create towering, unstable geysers. They are centered in the Tower of Fervus, in the Anvil of Krolm (now an island north of the Isles of Doom and southeast of the Shattered Isles). There they attempt to increase their power, partially by creating chaos in Ardania proper. They also are experimenting in an attempt to recreate the ancient Warriors of Discord, the secret of their creation having been lost in the Cataclysm.
Then, of course, there is a ragtag bunch of insane guerilla fighters who are dedicated to Fervus wandering somewhere about the North Shore of Ardania. They don't know anything more about Fervus or his whereabouts than the rest of Ardania, but unlike the others they are eagerly anticipating his triumphant return. The Chaos Mages are attempting to locate them, thinking perhaps they would be the perfect test subjects for making new Warriors of Discord.
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 PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I had better bring this back up too.
"Death awaits you!" - Maester Seymour, from Squaresoft's Final Fantasy X[i]
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