Major Events in the History of Karyst
The Hidden Ones
Many long centuries ago, before the rise of the known civilizations of Kryos and Taeryhs, a pantheon of powerful beings contested with the gods of Karyst for divine dominion over the world. Known now as the Hidden Ones, these immensely powerful entities were worshiped far and wide by all manner of mortal beings. Whether they truly were divine beings, or simply mortals possessed of vast power is unknown. Only fragments of myth and legend have survived the long ages, leaving much for scholars to debate. Many civilizations, great and small, were wrought in their name by all manner of beings. The ruined remains these lost civilizations can still be found, scattered across the lands of Karyst. Inevitably, the Hidden Ones and the true gods fought for dominion over Karyst. This titanic struggle lasted decades, perhaps even centuries, wreaking havoc upon the world. At the end the true gods had won, and the Hidden Ones were cast out of this world, banished to the nether realms. But the world bore a terrible cost, the lands thrown into upheaval and torn asunder.
The aftermath of this terrible conflict left the world in a chaotic state, marked by savagery and barbarism as the survivors struggled to find their way in a drastically changed world. Some scholars believe that the true gods withdrew from the world during this time to recover from the divine wars. Others believe that the gods sought to punish the world for its transgressions. Karyst was plunged into a long darkness. Giants, goblin-kin and other vile denizens swelled in number, dominating much of the world. The civilized races, for their part, likely dwelt in subjugation if not out-right slavery. Some escaped this fate, dwelling in small, isolated communities, or living as nomads, constantly on the move to avoid capture and enslavement. Their lives would have been harsh and often brutal, ever fearful of the goblin- and giant-kin hordes that covered the lands.
The Rebirth of Civilization
Long after the fall of the Hidden Ones, after hundreds of years dwelling in darkness, the civilized peoples of Karyst began to recover and to regain their strength. Slowly, they formed larger communities, built stronger settlements, and expanded into new territories. Legends of this era often tell of the direct intervention of the gods, who favoured the civilized peoples, and struck down their oppressors. Whether through divine intervention or merely growing numbers, the humanoid peoples posed an increasing challenge to the giants, goblin-kin and other denizens who until then had dominated the lands.
Tales of this period feature heroes and champions leading victorious battles against their enemies. At least one such hero, Tohlveg the Stout, is known to have actually existed. A great champion and war chief, Tohlveg established the throne of Osgorin, the first known dwarven kingdom, around 1,800 YBP. According to legend, Tohlveg ruled all of known dwarfdom from the Halls of Osgorin in the heart of the Korrok Mountains for more than 150 years.
Settlements grew rapidly, as did trade, promoting the establishment of travel routes, and increased collaboration. Suuldaerymis, the first and greatest of the elven cities, was founded during this time, roughly 1,600 YBP. In the heart of the Daerymis Forest, Suuldaerymis became more than just a centre for trade; at its peak, Suuldaerymis was the epitome of elven culture and society, and one of the greatest centres of knowledge ever known.
In the west, the first known established nation was that of Heshemmon in northern Karsim. Forged of an alliance of gnomish and halfling settlements, Heshemmon was a loosely organized nation with little central authority. While this arrangement did afford greater protection, raiders and marauders continued to threaten the realm. In particular, large bands of roving gnolls and troll clans posed a considerable danger to the realm. In response, Heshemmite mages raised powerful enchantments to guard against further incursions. From that moment on, the borders and lands of Heshemmon were protected by magical barriers and illusions which served to misdirect and confuse would-be invaders.
It was during this early period that the Maerediin civilization flourished throughout much of Karsim. Little is known about the Maerediin, who appear to have died-out before the Taeryhsians settled in Karsim. Ancient legends describe them as ‘dwarf-like’ beings, but whether they were dwarves, humans of small stature, or an entirely different race is a mystery that remains unanswered. While the Maerediin do not appear to have developed any large nations, their settlements were typically large and wide spread. They built sprawling complexes of stone and iron that featured intricate, even bizarre patterns and designs. Referred to as the “travelers”, they seem to have been able to move over great distances within short periods of time, although the manner of their transportation is shrouded in myth. While not exceptionally war-like, the Maerediin city-states often contended with one another, as well as other races, for territory and resources.
The heartwood elves of the Delanith woods are also believed to have been well established even in these early times. As today, they were often reclusive, isolating themselves from the rest of Karsim, with only intermittent dealings with outsiders. Thorn elves, however, were well dispersed across not only Karsim, but the rest of Kryos and Taeryhs. Because of their nomadic culture, they had frequent dealings with non-elves, although not always of a benign nature. Silverleaf elves also had a strong presence in the world, particularly in the west. The towers of the elven mage-lords were the focal point for their small but well-protected settlements. Most shunned outsiders, although there were those who traded and negotiated more openly with other communities.