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Thoughts on Gods, Immortals, cosmology, and other random nibletsby Rick LaRue
Long! ago, the 'Old Ones' (i.e. Gods in the traditional sense) focused their attention primarily on Mystara. As time passed (and technology grew?), worship of the 'Old Ones' began to suffer. Concerned with the trend, the Old Ones sought worshippers in other areas of the multiverse. Not wanting to abandon Mystara, they hatched a plan. The Old Ones chose from their followers, mortals who most closely followed their personal beliefs and set them on the Path to Immortality. This was a test of their worthiness to gain incredible power. Most failed, but the few who succeeded became the first Immortals. They were charged with seeing to the Old Ones remaining worshippers and furthering their goals. The new Immortals, although powerful could not match the raw power of the Old Ones. Their powers worked differently. The power of the Immortals was originally linked to the number of Mystaran worshipers of their patron Old One. When the Old Ones were sure their new minions were ready, they departed to seek out new worshippers elsewhere in the cosmos.
As time passed, the powers of the young Immortals waxed and waned. Some of the religions devoted to the Old Ones disappeared, and with it the Immortal representative. The departure of the Old Ones increased the rate at which religions fell, and the Immortals began to fear failure of their task and their own deaths. They began to look into other sources of power. One Immortal, whose name is lost to time, discovered great sources of almost unlimited power. In all, there were five. They became known as the Five Spheres. The Forgotten One was the first to try to harness the power of the spheres, and died horribly due to a miscalculation. He/She attempted to harness the power of all the spheres at once. The remaining Immortals learned from him/her that they could most easily and safely harness power from the sphere that most closely matched their personal beliefs or goals. Thus was born the Immortals link to the Five Spheres.
With this new source of power, the 'Drifting' as they referred to the gradual loss of worshippers (and thus power) stopped. Only a few of the original Immortals survived, and now their power began to grow as never before. They learned that as the power of their Sphere increased, so to did their own power. This began the struggle between the Spheres. All knew that each of the Five Spheres was essential to continued life, but they disagreed on which Sphere was to be the 'first among equals'. They began to weave plots to further their goals and increase the power of their Sphere. Soon, they realised that with help, their job would be easier. They began to act as patrons to promising mortals who could be raised to Immortality and help strengthen their Sphere. Most of the mortals who achieved Immortality had be great leaders, and maintained that devotion upon ascension. This began the direct worship of Immortals as god-like being. Soon the Old Ones faded into legend. The Age of the Immortals had begun.
Time passed, and the number of Immortals increased to include all the ones we know today. The true fate of the Old Ones has been forgotten, since only a few of the original Immortals remain, and even they can't remember their own origins. Today, it is believed that the fate of the Old Ones is linked to the Vortex Dimension. The struggle between the spheres continues, and mortals continue to seek Immortality. The Wrath of the Immortals has passed, Alphatia is gone from the surface world, Alfheim is overrun with Shadow Elves and Thyatis is in turmoil. Recently, unknown to mortals, events have taken place that have caused great concern amongst the Immortals. The older Immortals sense that something is changing. A religion has sprung up on Mystara that indirectly worships the Five Spheres but no Immortals. The religion teaches that all things are connected by a powerful life force and that the unrestrained use of magic, particularly necromancy damages the life force. These Priests have spells and special unique powers identical to those granted by some Immortals. The religion is small, but many Immortals are becoming concerned. The formation of a council is being discussed to watch and learn about this strange new religion and determine the source of their power.
The truth behind the new Religion, is that the Forgotten One, thought to have been destroyed long ago has returned. He/She had not died as originally believed, but had had his/her consciousness scattered between the Five Spheres. It took a long time, but he/she has reformed, retained his/her link to all Five Spheres and now has power to rival the Old Ones. Quietly, he/she has been gathering followers on Mystara to help against the approaching danger. His/her link with the Five Spheres and to the Old Ones has allowed him/her to sense their impending return.
The Old Ones Have were not as successful in finding new worshippers as they hoped, and are returning to reclaim Mystara. When they get back they are not going to be happy about how things have changed. War is inevitable, with some Immortals siding with the Old Ones, others siding with The Forgotten One, and still others standing strong to protect their current positions. This will pit the mortal followers against one another and plunge Mystara into a time of great struggle and change. When the smoke clears, things will be very different.
I know this may seem like sacrilege to some of you and may go against some of the established 'canon', but that's OK, it's my Mystara. This won't take place in my campaign for a long time, and is planned to be the culmination of the whole shootin' match, when the players are very high level. You can bet that some things will change between now and then. I think it will be fun and have plenty of high level adventure and role-playing opportunities. :)