A Brief History of Krynn
(as known by the general population in The Age of Despair)
In the years since the Cataclysm and the departure of the Gods, the world of Krynn has become a much darker place. The general knowledge and education of the population at large has lost much, so few know very detailed accounts of the years prior to the Cataclysm.
What is known is that in the years prior to the Cataclysm that broke the world (some 346 years ago), there existed a pantheon of Gods that watched over and helped (or in some cases lorded over) the mortal races of Ansalon. Although most of these gods’ names have been lost to antiquity (a few knowledgeable individuals know more of the Gods), a few names have not been lost. Reorx, the God of the Dwarves and Gnomes, has not been forgotten and offerings are still made to him to this day. The Knights of Solomnia, created centuries ago and sanctioned by the Gods of old, have not forgotten their ancient divine patrons. In ancient structures and ruins, one can still find epic pictures of the likeness of gods, the most often depicting a radiant Silver Dragon doing battle with a nefarious Black Dragon deciding the fates of mortal souls.
It is believed that dragons (one of the first races of creation) flew in the skies above, both Metallic (Good) and Chromatic (Evil). Legend speaks of a Dragon War, when the Black Dragon God gathered all evil (Dragon, Man, and other races) to her side, and made war with Krynn. The Gods of Light and Neutrality gathered their forces and fought against the Black Dragon God, as she wished to fully enter the Prime Material Plane, and claim it as her own.
It is in this day that the single most well known Legend of Ansalon was born. A Knight of Solamnia, Huma Dragonbane, fought with his order against the forces of darkness. Although given the opportunity to leave the world and live in peace with his true love, Gwynneth (a silver dragon masquerading as an elf maiden), both chose to remain and do their duty. In their adventures, Huma uncovered the knowledge of the dragonlance, a weapon of good that could strike down the evil dragons. It was with one of these mythic weapons that Huma, in the last battle, pierced the heart of the Black Dragon God and forced her to leave and vow never return to the Prime Material Plane again. Although the day was won, both Huma and Gwynneth had sacrificed their lives to ensure that the terrible fate the Dark God had planned would never take place.
In the centuries that followed, the Gods of Light and Neutrality came ascendant, having more sway on the world than before (the Dark God, being so injured during the war, she made no efforts to wage a great war against Krynn). However, with the loss of evil, good began to become corrupted.
In the nation of Istar, with the best of intentions, a movement of purity and morality began at the Temple of the Light (a temple dedicated to all the Gods of Light). In time, however, their desire to ensure that no evil existed in their midst began to corrupt their vision. As the years past, the clergy took the reigns of government, and the office of the Kingpriest reigned in the new Theocracy of Istar. As the power of Istar rose, The Kingpriest began to see evil in all things, and could not understand why the Gods of Light allowed this to continue.
In his eyes, any affront to the Gods of Light (including the worship of Gods of Neutrality), was the gravest of sins. As the years past, certain races were labeled as “unclean” (a blight to the world of the Gods of Light) and were made war with (if they were neighbors), their populations turned to slaves. Also, magic that was not of the gods (the arcane magic of the Orders of High Sorcery) were considered affronts to the Gods, and Istar declared war on the Orders of High Sorcery (which removed their towers from Istar and retreated to the Tower of Wayreth). Actions were taken to monitor people, trying to actively spot those with “unclean thoughts” or “hidden sins”.
But even this came to be not enough for the line of Kingpriests. The Gods of Light tried to caution the Kingpriest and his followers, but their warnings went unheeded (even when several of the clergy loyal to the Kingpriest began to lose their divine powers for their unacceptable actions). In the end, the Kingpriest decided that to “save the Purity and Morality of Mankind,” he would have to grasp the power of the Gods and become one himself. His loyal followers, now quite numerous, flocked to his side, and quests were made, searching for the key of unlocking Godhood for the Kingpriest.
At this, the Gods of Light, Neutrality, and Darkness convened and agreed it was time to teach a final lesson. In the year to come, thirteen signs were unveiled to the Kingpriest, warning him of his actions and the repercussions of his continued defiance to the Gods. When this was ignored, in one night, all the Gods reached down from their homes amongst the stars and gathered all their clerics of pure faith and removed them from the world. The following day (the thirteenth day of Yule, third day of the New Year), the Gods made the sky burn, and cast a fiery mountain down from the heavens at the capital city of Istar. The impact of the mountain drug the city of Istar to the depths of the newly formed Blood Sea and fragmented the rest of the continent. The nation of Ergoth (far on the other side of the continent) was torn from the mainland to form two great islands. Waters poured into central Ansalon, forming the New Sea and shrinking the plains. To the south, lands rose and waters receded. Thousands perished for the folly of the Kingpriest, and the world of Krynn had yet to fully realize the payment for their sins.
Finally, when all was done, the Gods departed the world. They granted no more divine spells, and left the mortal races to their own ends. Of all the Gods, only the three Gods of Magic (Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari) have remained, their three heavenly bodies (the three moons over Krynn) displayed in the night sky. Although they have no priesthood, and offer no divine spells, they oversee and guard over the practice of Magic over Krynn.
Thus ended what historians call the “Age of Might” and began the “Age of Despair”.
The Age of Despair
In the “Age of Despair,” a phrase has become common amongst the people; “Steel and might are valued over gold and knowledge.” Divine magic no longer exists, so the days have past when the Clergy of the Gods would heal the masses as they needed. Disease and death are common place in the world. Most of these diseases are common to any region hit hard by flood, earthquake, tidal waves, or other natural disasters, as the unburied dead rot in the streets, vermin multiply, and water supplies become contaminated. Although artifacts of the Gods of old exist and function, they are few and their value has increased tenfold (if one can come across them at all).
Due to the loss of Divine Healing, those who have come to the fore are those who have knowledge of herb lore and skills in doctoring both people and animals. Such healers are generally found in small towns and villages that did not have access to clerics on a regular basis prior to the Cataclysm. Such is the desperation of the times that these people are the target of kidnapping – hauled off by bandit kings to aid their followers or stolen away by desperate citizens of a plague-ridden village.
Wizards can still use their magic in this Age, as the three Gods of Magic still watch over the world below (but remain aloof in this Age). However, Wizards are not popular in this age, as the Wizards have retained their power and clerics have not. All wizards (including those of the White Robes) are generally disliked by the population, and therefore tend to remain out of pubic view. Most still remain at the only assessable Tower of High Sorcery (the High Tower of Wayreth), where they continue to teach, train, and test more wizards in way of arcane spellcasting.
The Knights of Solamnia have had fallen from their place of nobility in the Age of Despair. Always searching for scapegoats, the people of Solamnia have given increasing credence to a rumor that the knights were presented with the opportunity of preventing the Cataclysm and let it pass by them with no action taken. Add to this the fact knights in general are viewed as being wealthy and powerful in time when many are starving. This is not true for the majority of the knighthood, many of whom have impoverished themselves in their efforts to help their communities. But it is easy for those who have nothing to mistrust those who at least have the appearance of wealth. All over Solamnia, angry mobs rise against the knights. Castles are attacked and razed, and knights and their families are killed or driven into exile.
In this age, however, those whom have really benefited are the lawless folk who have been waiting for such an opportunity. No sooner do the commoners drive away their lord and tear down his castle than robbers and bandits pay the village a visit and steal what little they had left. Some towns hire mercenaries and adventures to help them defend their holdings. Others go begging, hat in hand, to ask the lords and ladies they treated so ill for help. Such is the nobility of many of these knights that they ride to the defense of those who, only weeks ago, pelted them with stones.
Knowledge of the Gods of old has been lost as many people, angry at the gods for abandoning them, sacked, looted, and destroyed their temples. Both Good, Neutral, and Evil temples are ransacked, making no distinction amongst the three. The gods had already removed their faithful clerics, but those who had anything to do with a cleric (friends, family, servants, etc.) were the targets of “mob justice.”
The Gods are not only judged guilty by the world. The elves blame the humans, the human blame the elves, as well as the dwarves and the gnomes and the kender and anyone else they can think of to hate. Racial prejudice, always simmering just below the surface, bubbles up and boils over from time to time. Elven lands are attacked by human raiding parties, who burn, kill, and rape. The elves retreat farther into their wildernesses and, by disappearing, increase the suspicions of their neighbors. All races become suspect in the eyes of the others. Anyone who is strange-looking or different or “not like us” is at risk in Ansalon these days.
In the absence of the Gods of Old, several false religions have sprung up. A few of these were started by people who were quite sincere. Unfortunately, most of these religions are started by those who are eager to take advantage of the weak, the gullible, and the desperate. Such charlatans are sometimes renegade wizards, who resort to the use of magical spells in order to perform “miracles.” Certain of these religious orders actually grow quite powerful, such as the Seekers of Abanasinia (a group originally dedicated to finding the Gods of Old, but eventually created a pantheon of their own “Gods” to appease the masses and find arcane magic to simulate “miracles.”) Although in general the Seekers have come to abuse their power, there are several amongst their order whom have not abandoned their original hopes, and continue to search for signs for the return of the Gods of Old.