THE DARK AGE (3,000 BSC – 1,200 BSC)

Legends garnered from ancient races and scraps from hoary tomes are all that is known of the mythical times before the Dark Age. It is said that Mortals of those legendary ages built mighty and decadent civilizations and turned away from their gods – the Asrae. In their hubris, the fallen men worshipped false deities, sorcery, technology and demons. These wicked and arrogant empires were struck down by the wrath of the Asrae in a series of cataclysms known as The Nine Woes.

How long the world wallowed in the squalor of barbarism following the collapse of civilization is unknown, but many believe that the Dark Age lasted 2,000 years or more. Those Mortal nations which existed before were swept away, and many peoples reverted to hunter-gatherer cultures. In this new world, force was king, and none possessed more brute force than the Troglodytes – the elemental race of Shadow.

During the Dark Age the ancient race of Troglodytes flourished, reclaiming much of their ancestral lands, which had been stolen by the greedy empires of men. On the Island continent of Krutsk, the Shadow Troll Graythrone Empire experienced a shadowy renaissance, becoming the most powerful nation on the world of Calydorn. Crusading armies carried the Secrets of the Merciful Shade across the world and beyond, intent on bringing about a new age of elemental balance in which the elemental Plane of Shadow dominated all. The Noxal rite of psychomorphosis was conceived to transform the souls of mortals into elemental spirits of Shadow. At first the Twilight crusaders employed persuasion to gain converts, but those who could not be persuaded were transformed by force, creating a generation of Darkmen. The Troglodytes power waxed as they rebuilt their dark cities of basalt and towers of obsidian, enforcing their typical feudal society upon all nations they conquered.

In many cases, Troglodyte domination proved preferabla to the alternative due to the protection it offered, for during the Dark Age twisted and evil forces multiplied unchecked by the previous order, and only the Troglodytes possessed enough raw violence to keep them at bay. Demonkings raised-up realms of horror subjugating mortals in nightmarish kingdoms of insanity, ruthlessness and sin.

Nature’s wild predators and monsters from ancient ages flourished, feeding upon Mortal refugees – djinn, dragons, giants and many others; truly was mankind humbled and broken. Yet this was the plan of the Asrae Gods – to smash their tainted blade in order to re-forge it, and create thereby worthy and noble protégés who would do their bidding faithfully.

By far the greatest threat posed to all races during the Dark Age, due to their staggering numbers was the Banebrood – mutated hybrids of beast and mortal. Men call them Minotaurs, Centaurs, Harpies, Mongrels, and Lycanthropes but their ilk number far fouler beings better not named. Some say they were once men, cursed by ancient gods, but their true origin is now only myth. Amid the chaos of the Dark Age, the Banebrood thrived, overrunning most of civilization on all continents and in many cases, Mortals welcomed Troglodyte domination.

In the north of Ghorn, one kingdom survived the Dark Age relatively unscathed – this was Nordgaard, called the Eternal Kingdom by some, for like the mountains, the elemental stone-folk of Dwarves were insulated from outside history behind their giant walls and within their mountain halls.