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Modified Thunder Rift timeline

by Belathauzer

[As far as where TR is located, after much hand-wringing I decided to locate it in Karameikos, northeast of Castellan Keep for my campaigns. However since I drastically changed the scale of the rift valley (1" = 10 mi vs 1" = 1 mi) I had to do some magic, akin to the "pocket universe" suggestion, to make it fit without taking up the whole area. Instead of a pocket Universe, the Monolith is actually a magical artifact that shrinks everything that enter the rift. As the shrinkage is gradual and applies to terrain as living creatures, no one notices the change. This gives the illusion of a "pocket universe" like Dr. Who's Tardis.
Excellent topic!]

I've done much the same with my game, though without the whole Tardis space/time warp. Since TR is its own community, un-beholden to any particular KW nation, it goes without saying that it does not need to be contained completely within any nation's borders. With that said, I have also placed it in the Altan Tepes mountains NE of Castellan Keep, but pretty much exactly on the border between Karameikos, Thyatis, Darokin, and Ylaruam. I felt this placement 'buries' it sufficiently within the mountain range, while also allowing for a diverse influx of cultures in both past and present.

The decision to place it here was based in large part on Håvard's Timeline of Thunder Rift, which I use in a slightly modified form. This location affords for logical migrations of humans of Traladaran, Thyatian, and Alasiyan/Ylari stock, as well as dwarves from Rockhome, elves from Alfheim and the woods of Karameikos/Thyatis. The halfling presence is a bit harder to explain, but Håvard has come up with a brilliant way of doing so (though I'm not too sure I agree with the timing of their arrival). This area also allows for a near-endless supply of humanoids, which was the original reason for the construction of Castellan Keep. With the King's troops patrolling the area and keeping the humanoids at bay, they may see the Rift as easier pickings.

Håvard's Hutaakan and Gnoll/Beastman connections are also brilliant and are kept pretty much intact in my version. I've also incorporated Phoenixmcl's (from the old Wizards Boards) take on the Dragon Quest material (again with minor modifications). This material gives good background for the presence of Lizard Men and Minotaurs in the Rift, as well as some more background on dwarves. I've just checked that old thread, and oddly enough Håvard had relocated the Rift to the same location, from its former location in Darokin.

Thunder Rift Project

The modifications that I have made to Håvard's Timeline are:

Humans arrive (500 - 400 BC)
In the east, the Nithian Empire is destroyed by the immortals. People surviving the destruction of that empire begin looking for new lands.
Humans enter Thunder Rift {Traldar/Traladaran}. They build castles and towns, taking over large portions of the valley. (Thunder Rift & Håvard)
Some small groups of Thyatian, Kerendan, and Hattian tribes, recently returned to the Known World, find their way into the Rift during expansion in the area that will someday become known as Thyatis. They bring their culture and religion with them, which eventually combines with that of the Traldar/Traladarans creating a homogenous culture. (Belathauzer)

The Second Rift War - a.k.a. The Orc Wars (400 - 300 BC)
I fleshed out the Orc Wars alluded to in the basic game box intro adventures Escape from Zanzer's Dungeon/Stonefast. I placed it during BC 400-300, a time after the humans had arrived and not much else had happened. This battle was known as the Orc Wars by dwarves and humans in the north, but was more commonly referred to throughout the Rift as the Second Rift War. The orcs and other goblins had greatly recouped their losses from the first Rift War in the intervening 300 hundred years, and the arrival and expansion of the humans only served to force them out into the open to compete for resources. Each of the major races was still mistrustful of each other since the last Rift War, but human leaders stepped forth at this time and provided a unifying factor of leadership.
Many lives were lost during this period and several settlements were utterly destroyed. The dwarven outpost/fort of Stonefast barely stands against an orc horde during this time. It is sealed shortly thereafter and the refugees limp back to Hearth-home. Its whereabouts are lost to all memory. After the humanoid tribes are dispersed back to the dark corners of the Rift, the alliance dissolves and the goodly races slowly retreat to their respective areas and try to go about life. (Belathauzer)

Post-War Era (300 - 0 BC)
Throughout the years, kingdoms rose and fell outside of Thunder Rift, and refugees from the wars of succession came to the valley. Dispossessed knights, master thieves, powerful clerics, and assorted mages came to Thunder Rift and found it to their liking. Several of them led followers here, and they built villages on the ruins of the old towns. Some of these villages prospered under wise rule by their leaders while others failed miserably. A few made their livelihood by raiding the goods produced by the other villages. There were even those who negotiated with goblins and orcs. (quoted verbatim from Thunder Rift by Colin McComb/TSR).
During this time more Traladarans migrate to the Rift, seeking better lands. Traladarans are instrumental in the formation of temples throughout the rift. The Church of Traladara holds sway. This will change with later migrations of Thyatians.
Thyatians migrate during this time as well, fleeing Alphatian oppression. They are instrumental in the formation of the Fighters' Academy.
Some Alphatians migrate to the Rift during this time as well. They will be instrumental in the formation of Wizardspire.

The Human Expansions (100-200 AC)
The human community grows. Sir Jameson the Defender establishes a fighter's academy south of the Farolas hills. Mages establish their sanctuary in the Upper Grasslands in what will be known as Wizardspire. Temples are built in Melinir, and Thieves' Guilds are established in Melinir and Torlynn (though only the one in Melinir would survive). (Thunder Rift - Håvard's Timeline)
More migrations of Thyatians occur during this time, mainly between AC 150 - 200. The new empire of Thyatis is in an expansion phase and has colonised into southern Ylaruam, enslaving, absorbing, and scattering the native populations. Thyatians and Ylari both find their way to the Rift at this time. It will be the last big influx of human cultures for several centuries. The Thyatians are instrumental in the creation of Academy. (Belathauzer)

The Goblin Wars (200 - 300 AC)
The Horned Hills, lower Great Grasslands, and the Melinir/Torlynn areas are overrun by goblins. The goblins are joined by hobgoblins which serve as lieutenants, ogres and minotaurs (Dragon Quest connection) which serve as generals and heavy infantry/tanks, and kobolds which are used as peon worker/slaves and cannon fodder. (Belathauzer)
The Castle of Barrik, near Torlynn is attacked by Goblin hordes and believed to be utterly destroyed. (Quest for the Silver Sword & Håvard)
After several failed attempts to build a fort on the edge of the Horned Hills, the humans begin the construction of Castle Kraal in the Black Swamps to combat the humanoid threat. (Knight of Newts & Håvard)
Also during this time, Alphatians begin to colonise between AC 250 - 300. There is great tension between the Thyatians and Alphatians, stemming from the Alphatian conquest of Thyatis 450 years prior, leading up to the first Great Thyatian/Alphatian War in BC 2 - 0 and the subsequent Crowning of the First Thyatian Emperor Zendrolion I Tatriokanitas. The Alphatians greatly influence the development of Wizardspire.

Post-Goblin Wars Era (300 - 400 AC)
302 AC: Castle Kraal has served dutifully for a century, but now rumours of decadence among Kraal's warriors begin to spread. (Knight of Newts & Håvard) The former commandant is exposed for the traitor he is and is banished to the southlands. (Knight of Newts & Håvard) His descendants will eventually join with the Black Knight centuries later to form the Assassins' academy. (Sword & Shield & Belathauzer)
309 AC: Rumours of magic being used against the warriors {of Castle Kraal} creates tension and distrust between Academy Warriors and Wizards. This is the seed of terrible things to happen between Warriors and Wizards centuries later. (Håvard)
Thyatians and Alphatians need little to fuel the fires of hatred. (Belathauzer)

A Fire Burns in the East (i.e. - Clash of the Titans) (700 - 970 AC)
728-729 AC: Thyatian survivors, fleeing the destruction of their colonies in Alasiya by the Alphatians, find their way into Thunder Rift while attempting to reach Flaemish lands in the west. Finding the Rift to their liking, they soon settle down. Other survivors continue to venture westwards, eventually settling in what will become Glantri. At this point in time, the original human inhabitants (Traldar/Traladaran stock) of the Rift are becoming outnumbered due to the Thyatian influxes (though the previous Thyatian migrations resulted in a near homogenous culture). A small minority of Ylari/Alasiyan slaves/servants enter the Rift with their Thyatian masters during this migration. Several are lucky enough to escape however, and pursue a nomadic lifestyle in the hills and grasslands.
730-800 AC: Thyatian settlers bring with them their culture and beliefs. The Cult of Vanya takes hold amongst the Thyatian population and infiltrates the religious sects of Melinir. The Thyatian colonists also bring with them the Brotherhood of the Grey Lady, an honourable fighting order devoted to the Immortal Vanya.
800-970 AC: The Thyatian Brotherhood of the Grey Lady joins with Jameson's Academy and succeeds in becoming the predominate fighting society in the Rift. It is considered a great honour amongst Thyatians to be the 'chosen of Vanya'. Thyatian (and specifically the Brotherhood's) natural dislike/distrust of magic, magic-users and the Alphatians further accelerates the Academy's eventual conflict with Wizardspire.

The Sword vs. Wand Conflict (970 - 971 AC)
970 AC: The differences between the two Giants (Thyatis & Alphatia) are never set aside in the Rift. In 970 AC, the tinder box of dissension erupts into a searing, hot flame.
The warriors of Jameson's Academy have never forgotten the incident of Castle Kraal, remembered now as "the pride of the Academy", and they have always since blamed the mages of Wizardspire for what happened. After centuries of hatred between the two groups, the mages of Wizardspire go to war against the warriors of Sir Jameson's Academy. The mages unleash devastating magic that turn their enemies land into what will be known as the Gloomfens. The Wizard believed to be mainly responsible for this dreaded spell is known as the Mad Mage. (Thunder Rift & Håvard)
971 AC: A debt repaid, an honour lost
One year later, a group of warriors {the last remaining members of Jameson's Academy} infiltrates the Wizardspire {disguised as apprentices} and kill every last Wizard there. (Thunder Rift - Håvard). The group is lead by a warrior known as the Black Knight. He flees into the southern swamps where he forms the Assassins' Academy. The Mad Mage is believed to have survived this attack, however. (Sword and Shield - Håvard)
The Black Knight and his remaining men join with the descendants of the former, dishonoured commandant of Castle Kraal when they reach the southern swamps. Together they form the Assassins' Academy and begin to attract human and hobgoblin mercenaries, which they use to form a fearsome force.

The Post Sword/Wand Conflict era - A shadow creeps across the land (975 - 1000 AC / gazetteer era or 'present')
975 AC: A vampire named Lord Ursus Longmane moves into the Tower of the old Fighter's Academy Ruins. (Haunted Tower & Håvard)
980 AC: The Wizard of Barrik, last of the Wizards of Wizardspire {who remained neutral in the conflict} dies. He is a descendant of Baron Barrik who was spirited into the Hollow World centuries earlier, and the Wizard's Tower has been built on the ruins of his ancestor's keep, near Torlynn. Upon his death, the tower is left empty. (Quest for the Silver Sword & Håvard {Belathauzer}).
Barrik dies after suffering mortal injuries during magical combat with Zanzer Tem. Zanzer is an apprentice who begins to research forbidden magic (possible possession, at the very least compulsion by the dark side/entropy). After being confronted by his former 'master' Barrik he slays him. Zanzer then steals magic items, scrolls, and components and flees the tower, killing & injuring several other apprentices in the process. The sole surviving apprentice casts a spell on Barrik, buries the other apprentices in the tomb and then dies himself, becoming a ghoul. Eighteen years later, Keshute the wererat will enter Thunder Rift, discover the abandoned tower, and occupy it (with Zanzer's blessing). Zanzer should be considered a level 1 magic-user/wizard at this time. (Belathauzer)
981 AC: Agryl, son of the Black Knight, is born. He is the last scion of the Fighters' Academy. (Sword and Shield & Håvard)
Wandering the Rift for a year, slowly descending into madness, Zanzer finally finds his way to Wizardspire where he finds the Mad Mage is still alive (barely). The Made Mage had been using magic to keep himself alive, but needed another to help him with the final step. Zanzer assists the Mad Mage in becoming a Lich (21st level). The Mad Mage takes Zanzer on as his apprentice and continues his teachings of the 'dark arts'. Zanzer should be level 2 at about this time.
985 AC: His apprenticeship over, the Mad Mage sends Zanzer Tem into the Rift to become his hands and eyes. He is commanded to make allies with other evil powers of the Rift (he meets Nicholas Maybrush and his bandit crew at this time, as well as several humanoid that he takes on as his minions - Jerj the hobgoblin amongst them), secure resources, and to raise an army; with the sole intention of destroying the last vestiges of the Fighter's Academy (Assassins' Academy) and then taking control of the Rift. Zanzer should be level 3 at about this time.
990 AC: The Wizard Chambrin of Karameikos studies the ancient scrolls of the Witch-lord Aristicles, retrieved at Aristicles Red Granite Tower. He learns about the gate leading to Thunder Rift and discovers the gate itself, but finds that he lacks the means to activate it. Chambrin has for a long time been considered an enemy of the Callarii elves, and while examining the gate, he is attacked by a group of elves lead by Ezrathanawel "Ezra" the Elf-lord. The magic of Chambrin and Ezra interfere with the magic of the Gate, accidentally teleporting Chambrin to an unknown location in Thunder Rift. Chambrin begins looking for the Thunder Rift side of the gate and his activities soon earn him the enmity of the Dwarves of Thunder Rift. (Escape from Thunder Rift & Håvard).
Zanzer occupies the salt mines & Stonefast at this time, with the intention of discovering the lost treasure of the dwarves. He intends on using the treasure to build and finance an army to raze the Rift.
997 AC: The Wererat Keshute comes to Thunder Rift from parts unknown (most likely Darokin or Karameikos/Traladara), bringing his ratling clan with him. He discovers the abandoned tower of the Wizard Barrik. Lights spotted in Barrik's Tower in the spring. (Quest for the Silver Sword & Håvard)
Keshute is allowed to occupy the Tower by Zanzer, with the agreement that Keshute will supply Zanzer with intelligence and captives/slaves. {I was considering making Keshute an outcast member of the Rodemus family which would occupy an abandoned/haunted keep in the Horned Hills - based on the Dragonsfoot adventure DF23: The Haunted Keep.} Zanzer and Chambrin join forces (tentatively) at about this time as well. Chambrin is given the task of raising a force of orcs to eventually be led against the dwarves of Hearth Home (though he has his own hidden agenda as well). (Belathauzer)
1000 AC: The Thunder Rift Modules are set around this time. Gazetteer Era: The D&D gazetteers are set around this time. (Håvard)
At this point in time, the original human inhabitants (Traldar/Traladaran stock) of the Rift are becoming outnumbered due to Thyatian influx. The racial mix is quite similar to Karameikos, with some exhibiting a pure Traladaran look, some being pure Thyatian, and others being racially mixed. There is a very small minority of Ylari/Alasiyans as well. The lucky ones live a scattered, nomadic lifestyle on the open plains and in the hills. The not so lucky still live a life of servitude to Thyatian masters. Zanzer Tem should be at least level 5 at this time.