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A Natural History of Mystara: Many Hidden Secrets Revealed

by André Martins

I have been reading all the posts about how the species developed in Mystara from the saurials and this made me think. I have always wondered why there would still exist normal animals in fantasy worlds, where magical ones would be so much more efficient in their hunting or evading their predators. It would be just a matter of a few generations and the normal, less-equipped ones would have gone. My explanation for this was simple: the organs of the magical beasts have magical properties and, this way, they are hunted by every intelligent being capable of magic, keeping their numbers low.

Now, how would that apply to old Mystaran history? Here comes my personal view on old Mystara natural history (I am still thinking about it and suggestions and criticisms would be most welcome):

In the very old times, there were no intelligent beings in the surface of Mystara, just normal animals, that evolved slowly into other forms of life, as per the usual evolutionary theories. From time to time, one magical being would appear, but not transmit its characteristics to its descendants, when it had them. Then, around 500,000 BC, the first magical species, capable of reproduction and the transmission of their magical abilities, developed in Mystara. For obvious reasons, they were very successful and soon, a whole continent was populated by them.

The ability to access the magical energies from the planet also made their mutations more probable. In a few thousand years, that original species (is this the right singular form?) had evolved into many different forms, with several different abilities adapted to different niches. Predators and prey soon had to have magical abilities to survive. Soon, more powerful species were developing in a fast spiral.

That was the era when Ka, Protius, Ixion, Thanatos and other ancient Immortals whose pasts are unknown or very ancient were born, as mortals. The first intelligent species were also appearing by then. At that time, there were no rules to achieve Immortality as there were no Immortals (just the Old Ones watching, maybe).

The most powerful beings started to develop their abilities beyond what nature had given them. Some learned how to avert death, becoming immortals through their magic. After sometime, the planet had many of them, each controlling their territory, some just wandering and collecting knowledge. World-shaking wars started, with continents being razed and too many species being destroyed. Most of those immortals were killed then, they knew nothing about home-planes and have elected Mystara as such.

Those wars lead to alliances between the Immortals and many betrayals. After thousands of years, just a few great houses remained in the planet, but none more powerful for that. All their resources were consumed in the wars and nobody was happy. War makes odd allies and five great houses decided to settle things right, making some rules. They were able to win and the 5 spheres as we know them today are the offspring of these VERY powerful house. They created a powerful spell, that restricted access to Immortality and cast it. (we could even explain the fairy history about being immortals and then cast out, they belonged to a 6th house who didn't get into the alliance but managed to survive until today with their immortality, but no Immortality, intact).

Some of them had already discovered the other planes and they moved their headquarters to other planes, modifying or creating them in the process. Soon, they realised that the same process that had spawned them in Mystara, could also create other Immortals elsewhere. Once more, they researched to improve the potency of their spell, so that they could make immortality difficult in the whole Multiverse. But the Vortex Dimension was inaccessible and that was when they started believing some more powerful beings could exist.

Back in Mystara, things were starting to stabilise. Immortality was still achievable, but very hard to get, only through extensive researches and lots of power a creature would get it. The Carnifex appeared then as the dominant intelligent species, under the tutelage of many Immortals of those times. They eventually get almost as powerful as the old immortals, some of them achieving that status by themselves. That was when they challenged the Immortals' power in another Great War, as someone else suggested, lost and were banished.

But they got close to the victory, with many Immortals siding with them and almost complete destruction to everyone's favourite world again. The history in the Dragonlord Trilogy (SPOILER WARNING) tell us of how the dragons believe they are descendants of the Eldar, who tried to achieve Immortality and got transformed into dragons. Some went further, being transformed into the gemstone dragons. I'd suggest these are old legends with some truth in them. It is basically true, but for the fact they descend from the Carnifex, not from the Eldar. Maybe the Eldar descend from the Carnifex also, though, and that's why they are in such good terms with the dragons. (END OF SPOILER WARNING)

Also, I'd place the old carnifex capital or one important city of theirs in the Wallara country.

Finally, after so many problems, a Council of Immortals happened in Matera, where Pandius were to be built. After some discussion, they decided for the rules that govern their behaviour nowadays, as well as to make access to their status even more difficult. They agreed on the basics of the procedure: looking for a sponsor, trial, testimony, etc. and left the details up to each Sphere.

They also erased all the knowledge about reaching Immortality by oneself from the world and those few who survived the war with the carnifex vowed never to reveal it again. That's why they are not willing to talk about their pasts. And maybe one extra reason for Ixion hate Rad's researches, he won't have Immortals appearing with just one successful spell cast, as in the old times. But he was not willing to discuss this with the "new" Immortals who were not there to see all the destruction Immortals popping everywhere might cause.

Incidentally, this theory also states that Mystara was the origin for most fantasy species in the other worlds, as well as their gods. Their gods are Immortals who gave up their home planet and decided to populate and control easier targets :)