This is an ongoing series of posts within the world of my D&D campaign setting, Avo. Peruse the wiki.
The Divine Wrath, also known as the Wrath, was an multiverse-spanning event which occurred at some point in the distant past, often colloquially described as “1,000 years ago,” though no one knows how many years for certain.1This is akin to ancient Jewish tradition of saying “a thousand years ago” to mean “a very very long time ago.” It is called the An-Çevelt’a Sorus Kama, or the Seven Day War of the Gods, by the elves2An referring to the number seven, connected to cevelt’a, which comes from cevelt, which is “day” as it refers to an amorphous concept of time. (This is opposed to ceve, a common elf word used by mariners and merchants which still means Day but refers to the strict 24 hours encapsulating a day. Thus, cevelt would be used to describe a passage of time in a mythological or abstract sense, whereas ceve would be used to describe how long it would get from Point A to Point B.) The hyphen connecting the first two words means that the number an is quantifying or acting as an adjective to the word cevelt (to not confuse it with being separate from cevelt). The ‘a afterward is an honorific; specifically, it honors the word kama, which means Gods in this case. (Kama refers to a god, singular, in an informal case. Kamao means gods in an informal sense; c.f. Sen kamao! a common elven phrase that means “By the gods!”. Kama, when coupled with an honorific, often means Gods plural.) The honorific is in effect letting the listener know that the next part of the phrase is referring to someone or something very important. Lastly, sorus simply means War, as in a very long or very important war; sorusi means War or Battle of a smaller scale or importance–the -i suffix is used as a diminutive by the elves. though, again, the actual time scale is unknown. The time after the Wrath has been called the Dawn Era, while the time before the Wrath is usually called the Times Before or the Gray Era.
Not much is known about the Wrath other than that it was a war, perhaps seven days long (though that may be a more symbolic reference to time), which pitted the gods of the Outer Planes against the primordials of the Inner Planes. Prior to the Wrath, the primordials were chained or otherwise imprisoned by the gods inside the roiling Elemental Chaos which manifests at the outer edges of the Inner Planes. The titans, created of the primordials and who lived in and were bound to the Material Plane, found a way to escape and, in turn, unchained their progenitors. The war began shortly after, as the primordials ripped through the planar boundaries like they were paper, advancing on the Outer Planes to enact their revenge. The gods retaliated, and the so-called seven day battle ensued across the multiverse.
The Wrath decimated life on Avo and likely on most of the worlds of the Material Plane; an estimated 90% of the population on Avo was killed collaterally by the battles between the celestial and primordial forces, with more perishing in the chaotic Sovereign Wars afterward. In addition, either during or shortly after the war, all historical record of Avo prior to the Wrath was destroyed or erased from existence. A vast majority of scrolls and tomes from the era were found to be blank, and the elder elves of Avo were cursed (and then reverse cursed) with ossification by an unknown force, thus unable to hand down the elven oral tradition.
The Wrath fundamentally altered aspects of Avo, though the extent of these alterations is unknown, aside from obvious ones such as the Ashlands, which is the result of a massive volcanic explosion from the Kalemva Mountains. The multiverse in general, too, was changed in radical ways. It is known that, in times past, the Material Plane was a separate entity from the other planes. However, after the Wrath, somehow the Material Plane commingled with the Astral Sea, or vice versa, and now the Space Between Worlds, once a lifeless vacuum, became filled with the Astral Sea and the strange denizens therein.
Likewise, it is believed that, prior to the Wrath, the echo planes of the Feywild and the Shadowfell were connected somehow, but the Wrath split these planes into two sovereign entities. Also, a divine gate known as the Prism, which once prevented the deities from entering the Inner Planes, was destroyed, and then reconstructed around the Outer Planes, to act as a barrier against the Far Realm.
The world of Avo saw a rise in the levels of the seas, enormous mountain ranges rise and fall, and the land devastated by volcanic explosion and long, deadly storms. In addition, numerous “divine orbs” exist in Avo which are thought to be the remnants of gods who were killed in battle. Much of these tidbits of information are known only by the most dedicated of scholars, who spent their entire lives trying to dig up or insinuate scraps of historical information.
The history of Avo following the Wrath is hazy at best, but it is known that for a period of time (around 100 years or so), the remaining population of the world fought for dominion over the remaining lands. This is known as the Sovereign Wars, which further eradicated the people of Avo before settling down and ultimately ending. The outcome of the Sovereign Wars is not fully understood, though it seems that the wars simply fizzled out due to the sheer lack of populace to engage in them.
The world post-Wrath has changed in significant and insignificant ways. Some of these ways are detailed below.
The Written Record. As stated earlier, the vast majority of written texts and historical records from before to the Wrath were erased or destroyed. It is known that in ancient times, a group of historians called the Storybearers kept extensive records of history; all of these texts have been destroyed or erased, and most Storybearer libraries have been razed to the ground. In addition, around 500-600 years of post-Wrath history is also unknown to modern scholars; dedicated written records were not really seen again until 612 DE, with the Kalemva Accords, which helped established Oneotona as the cultural capital of Avo at the time. The few extant texts from before this time came from scholars who survived the Wrath, hastily writing down what information they could remember. These texts, funnily enough, are called the Hasty Texts. Some of these texts are dated to a point thought to be within the Sovereign Wars, which has led modern scholars to believe that the erasing of historical record was not a result of the Wrath, but of the Sovereign Wars themselves. This cannot be verified with 100% accuracy, however, as most of the Hasty texts are not dated (or are dated, but in a historical context; i.e., referring to the past).
The New Gods. The relationship between theology and the pre-Wrath beings of Avo is incredibly varied. Each land had their own set of gods, and some of those gods were not even considered real. Post-Wrath, the gods delivered unto Avo the pantheon of deities which would look over our world. This was part of a larger concept known as the Grand or Divine Division, in which the gods split themselves from the Divine Essence, becoming individual deities, rather than aspects of the Divine Essence. This was thought to be done to protect the Essence from Entropy by not allowing it to be completely tainted by it; rather, Entropy could (and did) corrupt several independent gods, forcing them to be reliant on worship in order to survive.
The new gods will be described another time.
The Final Curse of the Elves. It is known that elves pre-Wrath were effectively immortal until killed. However, at some point, either during the Wrath or shortly thereafter, all of the elder elves (or those older than 800 years) were turned to bone, in a process called ossification. In west-central Kalemva, the entire ancient elf civilization there was ossified, including the cities and the woods as well. No one, not even the ancient scholars, know why this occurred. What is known is that somehow that curse was lifted and even reversed (likely by the new gods), because elves now, when they reach their 7th or 8th centuries, begin to transform into what we call the estwyr, or “star elves.”3Wyr meaning “elf” and est being short for esteri, the elf word for “star.” This process is almost exactly like the transformation of larvae into butterflies or moths; the elf’s skin begins to harden, resembling bone, a process which takes around seven to ten days. The cocoon then remains motionless for around two to three years before it splits open, revealing the amorphous entity known as a star elf.
At this point, star elves are no longer humanoid, but celestial in nature. They shed all previous incarnations of their life, including their name, material goods, and relationships, and most then begin their journey out of the Material Plane to find their final purpose, which is unknown to us, as leaving the plane causes them to dissipate into nothingness (or perhaps shift into some other, unknown plane of existence). Some, however, remain in the world, such as Xevix the Keeper of Starlight. These star elves still dissipate, but at a much slower rate, and many (including Xevix) do not speak or interact with mortal beings.
Why this change occurred is unknown, even to the elves themselves. It is believed that, during the Wrath, the titans, primordialkin, cursed the elves with ossification as revenge for the gods creating elves in their own image. But who, or what, reversed this into the estwyr we know today is a mystery.
The Fear of Magic. One of the curious things about the centuries following the Wrath is that, while historical records perished, communal knowledge and oral tradition tended to remain in tact, though over the centuries, the information passed down became muddled and confused. A worldwide aversion to magic is one of these confusions; most of the people of Avo are afraid of magic, or downright hate it. It is seen as devilry or dangerous arcane greed by the spellcaster. As such, magic fell out of favor early on in the Dawn Era and is rarely seen today.
This is likely a response to the so-called “Magic Age” described in the Hasty texts, in which beings had access to powerful magics which ended up being their downfall. The texts indicate that the Magic Age occurred thousands of years before the Wrath, and that the oral narrative for events pre-Wrath merely compressed the timeline of ancient events. Regardless, many have tried to convince the populace that magic can be used for good, but agrarian revolts continue to bring down even the wisest of wizard. As such, magic study and use has become isolated to particular locations in Avo, such as the Floating Isle of Gharanhall.
The Villainous Adventurers. Another conflation was that of the adventuring lifestyle. The Hasty texts refers to the profession of adventuring, moreover that adventuring was common and that many guilds for adventurers existed all across Avo. A few texts relate stories of adventuring, including delving into dangerous dungeons, fighting dragons, and looting great hoards. It seems that after the Wrath, people began to conflate adventuring with danger, and with adventurers as being those who bring danger, rather than prevent it. “If adventurer ye see, then danger there’ll be,” goes one of the old sayings. Many even believe that adventurers are the reason the Wrath occurred in the first place. Thus, the adventuring lifestyle fell out of favor very quickly post-Wrath, and in modern times, being an adventurer is seen as akin to being a sinner. However, this has not stopped villages and people from hiring adventurers, as dangerous tasks still pop up. But the beings who take on these tasks are not viewed with admiration. Rather, they are seen as necessary tools to defeat evil, even if they are the cause of the evil as well.
These are just a few of the repercussions of the Divine Wrath. The world of Avo changed drastically after the gods and primordials fought, and no matter how hard we try, it is unlikely that we will ever get to truly understand our past.
- 1This is akin to ancient Jewish tradition of saying “a thousand years ago” to mean “a very very long time ago.”
- 2An referring to the number seven, connected to cevelt’a, which comes from cevelt, which is “day” as it refers to an amorphous concept of time. (This is opposed to ceve, a common elf word used by mariners and merchants which still means Day but refers to the strict 24 hours encapsulating a day. Thus, cevelt would be used to describe a passage of time in a mythological or abstract sense, whereas ceve would be used to describe how long it would get from Point A to Point B.) The hyphen connecting the first two words means that the number an is quantifying or acting as an adjective to the word cevelt (to not confuse it with being separate from cevelt). The ‘a afterward is an honorific; specifically, it honors the word kama, which means Gods in this case. (Kama refers to a god, singular, in an informal case. Kamao means gods in an informal sense; c.f. Sen kamao! a common elven phrase that means “By the gods!”. Kama, when coupled with an honorific, often means Gods plural.) The honorific is in effect letting the listener know that the next part of the phrase is referring to someone or something very important. Lastly, sorus simply means War, as in a very long or very important war; sorusi means War or Battle of a smaller scale or importance–the -i suffix is used as a diminutive by the elves.
- 3Wyr meaning “elf” and est being short for esteri, the elf word for “star.”