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Here is a long project that is coming to an end. I've sent to the list a small portion, the Pachydermions, but now I'm finally ready to present a long History of Damocles, the planet that exploded in AC 1010. It is a loose timeline, which accommodates many events taking place of Mystara, and provides a framework for a mini-campaign setting on Damocles (taking place somewhere in the past, of course).
Before going on with the actual stuff, some credits:
*Marco Dalmonte, for work his Kingdom of Emerond *Andrew Theisen, for the Patera Files
People who have contributed to this work through discussions and ideas: *James Ruhland (aka Porphy/Evil Genius) for discussing the possibility of basing Emerondian "biotech" on Dark Sun's "life shaping" *Jacob Skytte, for pointing out the inconsistencies between this timeline and Northern Reaches canon history *Giulio Caroletti, for discussing with me the whole timeline, and pointing out confusing or inconsistent points.
History of the Grens & the Emerondiansby Giampaolo Agosta
The Beagle's Shipwreck, circa BC 4000
The Beagle shipwrecks on Mystara. A number of scouting parties which had landed on Damocles are stranded on the surface of that planet, as their "Flying Eggs" are unsuited for star flight.
The Eggs' crew is mainly composed by experienced scouts and biologists, sent on Damocles to analyse the local life forms and capture interesting specimens. There is a number of ebots on Damocles, too. Damocles is a verdant planet, devoid of highly developed sentient life forms, but holding a small number of primitive non-human races (choose suitable, non-Mystaran primitives).
The officers in charge of the Eggs contact the Beagle, and are ordered by Capt. Riesling to avoid contact with the locals and wait the rescue teams from the Federation. However, the officers are both removed from the control of Capt. Riesling and unable to adopt his policy of reducing the impact on the local environment by sending the crewmen to the stasis pods. In a few weeks it becomes clear to all that survival will become impossible, unless some means of gathering food is obtained.
The Federation aliens use their technological skills to modify the ebots programming to change them into useful hunters-gatherers, while a small number of ebots is reserved for the exploration of the planet.
In the next year, it becomes evident that the Beagle is unable to leave Mystara, that Bork Riesling is loosing his sanity and that Damocles hasn't plenty of metallic minerals. The stranded aliens are locked in a stalemate, as they have the knowledge and tools, but not the materials, to start building a self-supporting village, and are forced to rely on their battery-powered tools and weapons instead.
In the following years, things only worsen as the Eggs' batteries are drained to recharge those of the commonly used tools and weapons. The alien crew is now unable to leave the surface, and most ebots are inactive.
Rise of the Life Shapers (BC 4000-3800)
At last, the alien biologists manage to achieve a degree of success in a project they have been working on during all of these years: they have modified one of their Eggs to work as a bioengineering laboratory, and have modified some native creatures of Damocles to become producers of useful tools, like arrow heads. During the next decades, most technological items are replaced by bioengineered creatures or tissues. Blasters, medkits and the like are now kept locked in one of the three surviving Eggs (the other having been dismantled and cannibalised for replacement parts).
Meanwhile, a new generation of aliens grows, and is taught in the techniques of bioengineering more than in any other branch of Federation's science. During the next few generations, electronics, computer science and astrogation become "sage knowledge", limited to the few keepers of the Eggs.
The need for the Egg-laboratory ends as soon as fertile life-shaped creatures and mother-creatures for tissues are created. The keepers, knowing that the batteries are now able to power only one Egg, store all of the remaining energy in one of the Eggs, and lock all of them in a secret underground room in their compound.
The Pyrithians (BC 3500)
The aliens start loosing their historical memories, having already forgot all of their scientific knowledge, save for lifeshaping. Contact with the Beagle has been lost after only two centuries, and the historical records in the Eggs' computers are not accessible, as even the Keepers' lore is no more clear enough to make them work.
The nebulous remains of the Federation's history and the early settlers history merge into a corpus of legends. The descendants of the Beagle crewmen call themselves Pyrithians, as they believe their ancestor have arrived on the planet riding a flaming meteor. They have built an ancestor cult, and their cultural level has dropped dangerously, as they have been unable to write properly, deprived of their technological devices. They have slowly developed an alphabet of rough, geometric symbols which they carve on bark.
The Pyrithian population has raised from the original 50 or so to a nation of 100.000, growing around the capitol city, Pyrond. The nation of Pyrith is ruled by a council of elder lifeshapers, who decide over internal matters, as no contact as been established with the other sentient race of Damocles.
The Great Rain of Fire (BC 3000)
By this time, the Pyrithian civilisation has grown so much that it is no more united in a single nation. The Keepers' Council still rules the old Pyrond, but a number of warlike kingdoms have been created at the border of the Pyrithian land.
A catastrophic event on Mystara is witnessed by the Pyrithian lifeshapers. They consider Mystara the land were the ancestor went when they left Damocles, so the sudden increase in apparent magnitude of the planet is subject to all kinds of interpretations. Many link the celestial event with the recent discovery of other civilisations on Damocles, or with the divisions among the Pyrithians, starting a time of conflict both internal and with the bordering Damoclitean nations.
The lifeshapers start creating grafts, in addition to the other kinds of lifeshaped items.
Birth of the Pyrondians (BC 2000)
By this time, Damocles is evenly divided between the Pyrithians and the other surviving races. Thanks to their lifeshaped equipment, the Pyrithians have slowly got the upper hand and are dislodging the other sentient species, conquering them. Their march is hindered only by the internal struggles, as warrior-princes fight among themselves for power.
Meanwhile, the Keepers have worked to widen the genetic pool of the Pyrithians, who all descend from a small number of individuals. At the same time, they are trying to induce useful mutations in their own race. Their main concern are the side effects of grafts, which limit their usefulness. To overcome them, the Pyrithians of Pyrond lifeshape themselves, adding plant-like physiologic traits.
The Pachydermion Wars (BC 1000)
By this time, the Pyrondians have gone a long way from their ancestors: they are now solid green in colour, and have pointed ears; moreover, they now reproduce by planting a cutting into a "mother". They are rather different from the common Pyrithian of the colonies, which now extend over more than three quarters of Damocles.
The other civilised races of Damocles have mostly died out, save for the Pachydermions. This ancient species had already reached pinnacles of culture and clerical magic far before the Pyrithians managed to contact them. They had established a number of large extra-planetary colonies, reaching the asteroid belt around Damocles first, and Mystara's invisible moon, Patera, next.
When the Pachydermions finally realised the extent of the Pyrithean expansion, they were almost alone in their defensive war. But they had the resources to fight against the invaders, who where forced to bring the war to the asteroids in order to block the influx of resources to the mainland.
Age of the Pirate Kings (BC 900)
The Pyrithean civilisation suddenly start its decline. The war with the Pachydermions has been short but very intense by Damoclitean standards, consuming much of the resources of both nations. The Pachydermions are unable to take advantage of the Pyrithians' retreat from the border lands, and a wide buffer zone is formed around the Pachydermion land.
The Pyrithians space troops, mostly hailing from the ranks of mutated Pyrondians, start a new life as pirates in the asteroid belt, depleting it from its already scarce resources, and forcing the local Pachydermions to flee for Patera.
A new subrace emerges from the piratical Pyrondians, as power-hungry pirates use dark magics to contact outer planar beings. The new race has darker skin, and bright silvery hair, combined with sharp features and shining red eyes.
The main evolutionary step is actually a "regression" to the animal realm, justified by the need to survive in the deep space for long times. These Dark Pyrondians conflict with their cousins for supremacy.
Also, their ability to influence living creature is stronger, and they become adept at extracting the quintessential qualities of the living and absorb them for their use, or to bind them to lifeshaped items. The process is always lethal for the subject, unfortunately.
By this time, Damocles is nearly isolated. The space pirates are now forced to search plunder in their own homeland, causing the tensions between Pyrond and the other nations to grow. Pyrond's leadership has been taken by the Pirate Kings since the time of the Pachydermion war, and Keepers have nearly disappeared.
The Dark Pyrondians are defeated, and most leave with their dark knowledge, reaching the region of Mystara that would become the Northern Reaches. The imperfect mutation processes and the fiendish blood have by now given a long life span to the race, at the cost of a much reduced fertility. A few Dark Pyrondians remain on Damocles, working secretly to bring the downfall of Pyrond.
The Civil War (BC 400)
A civil war, engineered by the Dark Pyrondians, destroys Pyrond, marking the end of the Pyrondians. Barbaric kingdoms ruled by the descendants of the generals of the Pachydermion Wars continue the fight for control of Damocles. The Pyrithean civilisation falls completely within a few generations.
The last three Keepers gather a small flotilla of like minded individuals and leave Damocles, trying to reach the Ancestors' Land. The refugees make landfall in the northern Davanian jungles, and start establishing a new colony.
The Dark Pyrondians on Damocles are by now reduced to a handful of individuals, mostly powerful lifeshapers, whose unnaturally long life span brings to them great knowledge, but induces mental imbalance.
Emerond (BC 150)
The Mystaran colony founded around BC 400 is now large enough to be considered a kingdom. The political structure is formalised by the first three Protectors, who name the first King of Emerond. A policy of isolation is established, and stubbornly kept for the next millennium.
The Protectors are the direct descendants of the Keepers, and have changed their names to signify their modified goals, as they are now going to protect not only their nation's culture, but also the nation itself and its land.
On Damocles, the Pyrithians are reduced to a cultural level varying from Stone Age to Bronze Age.
Each of the nine surviving Dark Pyrondian on Damocles has established himself as a powerful, nearly immortal "sorcerer". Some retreat to hidden refuges, creating servant races or attempting experiments with their techniques to increase their personal powers.
Pheazar, one of the Dark Pyrondians, a master of life-binding rituals, manages to contact his Mystaran relatives. They have by now established a mostly subterranean culture and a kingdom.
The Dark Pyrondians are in contact with the Modrigswerg, a clan of exiled Dwarves in the Northern Reaches, and have had some encounters with Shattenalfen or Shadow Elves. Noticing the similarity of their likenesses, and legends of the Modrigswergs about a mysterious elven people, the "Svartalfen", they start naming themselves "Dark Elves", in order to establish a false history of their race on Mystara, and achieve some degree of respect among the Modrigswergs, whom they see as suitable allies or minions for their plans.
The Dark Elves (AC 100)
By this time, the Dark Elves have assumed a complete "elven" façade when dealing with native humans and humanoids. Pheazar, now known as Feasar in the Elven tongue, guides them from his refuge on Damocles.
A number of cultists of the an Entropic Immortal, reach the Dark Elven court [These may be Alphatian renegades or an offshoot of the Nithian followers of Thanatos]. The Dark Elven King Heltharm, or Eldalomë in Elven, allies with them, in an effort to dominate the world by summoning a number of fiends, binding them to powerful construct created by the Modrigswerg, and using them to conquer the neighbouring nations.
In future Antalian legends, these cultists will often be confused with the followers of the "Father of Demons" from the Modrigswerg legends.
Pheazar comes to Mystara, thanks to the sacrifice of a captured creature endowed with natural teleport ability, perhaps a fiend of some kind.
An Antalian army, alerted by omens from the Norse Gods, storms the fortress of the Dark Elves, destroying it before the summoning ritual is completed.
The attack is successful only because of the help of the Modrigswergs, Brokk and Sindri, who take advantage of the turmoil to sacrifice Pheazar, Heltharm, and seven other Dark Elven sages to create their masterwork, the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen.
On Damocles, a clone of Pheazar becomes active as the safeguards set by the Dark Pyrondian sorcerer are triggered by his death.
On Damocles, the Pyrithians have recovered to a Medieval cultural level, though many regions are still in a Dark Age.
By this time, Pheazar is back in control of his powers and resources, and has discovered what has happened on Mystara more than a century ago. Enraged, he strives to find a way of avenging his previous defeat. Luckily, the Dark Elves are now so few that they cannot be of any use, so Pheazar must search for more suitable allies.
Pheazar discovers that part of his spirit is bound to the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen, as the "Feasar" command word is used by a power-hungry frost giant wokan. During the next century, he his slowly driven mad by the telepathic link with the bound spirit.
Since he is unable to travel to Mystara, Pheazar cannot destroy the Ring. He focus is efforts on gaining more power, by gathering knowledge and life energy from any source.
Currently, on Damocles the Pyrithians are the dominating race, making up more than 70% of the sentient population. The few remaining Pachydermions (an insular, semi-nomadic culture devoted to religion and clerical matters) and Pyrondians (now deprived of their cultural heritage and reduced to a race of druidic woodland beings) are tolerated by the dominant cultures.
The fiendish servant races of the Dark Pyrondians, more than a dozen in total, make up the remaining 20% of the population.
Pheazar has by now a complete knowledge of magic, though he is unable to use it himself (except for powers deriving from his demonic ancestry), an heritage of the Federation Aliens blood and the mutations induced in order to control lifeshaping powers.
Since the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen is lost, and cannot be used, the telepathic link is somewhat disrupted by the dormant state of the Feasar spirit, and Pheazar is able to recover some degree of sanity, and accomplishes great feats of lifeshaping.
Age of Wizard-Lords (AC 600)
Pheazar creates a lifeshaped head graft, which can confer to a Pyrithian the ability to learn wizardly magic. Up to three graft can be used by a single Pyrithian, each allowing three levels of spellcasting power.
Pheazar begins a campaign of conquest, sending his wizards to submit Pyrithian nations. The Pachydermions and the Pyrondians are the strongest opposition to Pheazar plans, as they are to everything done by the Dark Pyrondians. Nations fallen under the sway of Pheazar outlaw and prosecute the two races, and welcome the servant races of Pheazar in their armies.
Wizard servants of Pheazar storm the fortress of the Dread Prince, one of the other Dark Pyrondians, capture him and sacrifice him in order to create a powerful device that will allow Pheazar to acquire wizardly powers.
Pheazar is nearly ready to come back to Mystara, when five of the remaining Dark Pyrondians ally against him, drawing with them two powerful Pyrithian nations. However, Pheazar's new magical power grows fast and proves decisive.
The conflict lasts nearly half a century, leaving three more Dark Pyrondians dead, and Pheazar severely weakened.
Pheazar has recovered his power. This time, no one is going to attack him while he teleports to Mystara, since he has allied with two of his former enemies, revealing them the secret of magic-endowing grafts.
Meanwhile, on Mystara, the Ostman jarl Storverk recovers the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen, and uses it in an attempt to wrest power from the House of Cnute. As a consequence, Pheazar suffers of violent crisis of madness, and causes much destruction in his own lands.
Storverk is killed by Hord Dark-Eye's father, and his treasure is confiscated by the King of Ostland.
Pheazar begins recovering from his madness. He is even more enraged, and starts a new plot. He starts collecting life energy, in order to cast an extremely powerful enchantment that will power him so that he will dominate the Ring, and its user. To do so, he is required to reach a power level equal to that of demigods.
The Last War (AC 960)
The four surviving Dark Pyrondians meet with the Grand Druid of the Pyrondians, the High Trunk of the Pachydermions, and the Emperor of Pyrithis, and the High King of Damoclides, the major Pyrithian nations. They ally to counter the mad actions of Pheazar, who is going to sacrifice the entire population of Damocles in his bid for power.
A great war begins between the Damoclean Alliance and Pheazar.
The Doom of Damocles (AC 1010)
Alliance intelligence reports that Pheazar is ready to cast is spell. The clergy is convinced that he will ultimately fail, not having gathered enough life energy. However, his power is sufficient to destroy the whole Damocles. They propose that all resources are pooled to create a sphere of protection that will preserve the planet, and limit the power of Pheazar's enchantment. The Dark Pyrondians don't trust the priests, and decide to attack Pheazar and stop him instead, but utterly fail.
As Pheazar loose control of his own spell, the magical energies that held Damocles together are released, and the planet explodes, resulting in complete destruction.
On Mystara, the Ring of the Nine Svartalfen is affected by the destruction of the Damoclitean part of Pheazar, so that the Pheazar spirit bound to the ring is now completely insane, and quite dangerous, if invoked. Luckily, the Ring is hidden in King Hord's treasury, so there is no immediate effect on Mystara.