Rise of the Twilight Empire
The Nentir Vale was once part of Nerath, and they still use the calendar system set by the Nerathi Emperor to this day, centuries after its fall. Nerath marked years from the founding of the empire, known as the Common Year (C.Y.). Years prior to the founding of Nerath are marked B.F. (Before the Founding). The calendar itself uses the Gregorian calendar in use in the real world, because if it was good enough for Tolkien it’s good enough for me.
The Primordials forged the world from the Elemental Chaos, and the Gods were birthed in the Astral Sea. They did battle for control of the multiverse in a cataclysmic conflict known as the Dawn War. The Abyss was opened in the deepest part of the Elemental Chaos, and the surviving Primordials were cast into the pit. There they were warped and corrupted into becoming the first Demon Princes.
After the war, the heavens were not free from conflict. The Raven Queen overthrew Nerull, the original God of Death and took his throne in the shadowfell. Khala, the original Goddess of Winter waged war on the other seasonal gods for control of the weather plunging the world into a devastating ice age. When she was eventually slain, the Raven Queen once again stepped in to take her mantle.
Asmodeus, chief angel of the God of Loyalty, Azuth, betrayed his master and slew him, a feat thought impossible. He then led a number of angels in a war of independence against the rest of the gods. They were defeated, and imprisoned in the Abyss. There they warred against the demons of the pit, and hollowed out a home for themselves called the Nine Hells. They were corrupted by their new home and became the first Devils.
Finally, Lolth, the Goddess of Fate abandoned her loom ventured into the Abyss. Her reasons for going are lost to time. Some say she was tricked by one of the many Demon Princes. Others say she went of her own accord because she knew it was her fate to fall. Regardless, she was corrupted and became a fearsome Demon Lord in her own right. Ever the opportunist, the Raven Queen took the Loom of Fate back to the Shadowfell with her and claimed Fate as her own.
The Age of Giants (10,000+ B.F.)
On the material plane, the Giants, originally servants of the Primordials, kept the first mortal races as slaves. The dwarves, goliaths, humans and halflings prayed for salvation, and after thousands of years of bondage finally overthrew the yoke of the giants and drove most of them into the Elemental Chaos.
The first Fey races cross over from the Feywild onto the Material Plane. These become the first elves and goblins.
The Age of Darkness (10,000 B.F. – 4,000 B.F.)
The Giants, having been cast from the Material Plane, breed the first Beastmen and unleash them on the Material Plane as revenge.
The first human empire of Yuan Ti is formed. They worship Zehir, God of Darkness, and he bestows his favor upon the ruling caste, granting them the form of serpents, his most favored animal.
The Drow eventually overthrow the Yuan Ti and establish domination over much of the world. Some mortals flee to the Shadowfell for refuge. Their children become the first Shadar Kai. The Drow are finally driven underground when they are cursed by Pelor to fear the rays of the sun.
The Age of Fire (4,000 B.F. – 1,000 B.F.)
In the south, dragons form the Empire of Arkhosia. They crossbreed with their mortal servants and create the first Kobolds and Dragonborn.
In the north, humans form the Empire of Bael Turath. They grow and prosper until their border meets with Arkhosia. Then a bloody war, lasting centuries ensued, known as the War of Fire. In a desperate move to gain enough power to rival a dragon’s, the ruling families of Bael Turath made a pact with Asmodeus, letting a number of his Devils out of Hell. They took the Devils as their consorts and the first Tieflings were born.
The War of Fire is finally brought to a close when in their desperation, both empires unleash countless magical weapons of mass destruction upon each other, resulting in mutually assured destruction. The world is plunged into an ice age that lasts for centuries. Numerous unremarkable petty kingdoms rise and fall, until…
The Golden Age of Nerath (0 C.Y. – 695 C.Y.)
Arthur Drakewing, once the cast off bastard son of an ambitious warlord named Uther Drakewing, is gifted a legendary sword named Caliburn by the Goddess Erathis. With its aid and the guidance of his tutor, the wizard Myrddin Emrys, he unites the disparate human kingdoms and forms the Empire of Nerath. Arthur founds the White City, a place of justice and learning, of fairness and equality as its capital. He founds the Temple Knights, an order of paladins charged with keeping the peace and safeguarding the land from evil. Blessed by the Gods, mankind knows nearly 700 years of unrivaled peace and plenty.
The Fall of Nerath (696 C.Y. – 701 C.Y.)
The divine protection of Nerath fails for reasons scholars still debate to this day. The Demon Lord Yeenoghu manifests on the Material Plane with a massive army of Beastmen. This is the first time a full-fledged Demon Lord has ever returned to the Material Plane. The howling horde of orcs, gnolls, lizardmen, and other monstrosities lay siege to the White City for five years. In a last ditch effort to hold out, the magewrights of Nerath turn to the forbidden art of soulcraft and create a new race built specifically for battle, the Warforged. It is not enough. Finally, the Holy Empress Gwenfaire and the remaining Temple Knights are overwhelmed and the city falls. The demons defile the White City and taint the land with their vile essence. For dozens of miles around the city, the water turns black and all the plants and animals die, leaving nothing but a demon-infested wasteland.
Season 1 – Embers (798 C.Y.)
Tanguz the Black, an ambitious hobgoblin warlord and devoted servant of Bane lays siege to the dwarven fortress of Hammerfast. He takes the fortress and marches on the human city of Fallcrest. At the same time, a Beastman horde from the Demon Wastes marches on Fallcrest from the opposite direction. A small band of heroes set a trap in Fallcrest for both armies and evacuate the city. They activate an ancient Nerathi defense system, destroying the bulk of the goblin army. The Beastmen pursue the human refugees through the Grey Havens of the elves, burning the forest and tainting its heart with their essence. The elves join the human refugees and make their way to Hammerfast. There, they repel a siege by the Beastmen as the heroes of Fallcrest disappear into the Abyss to kill the demon general commanding the Beastmen army. They are never seen again.
Season 2 – The Slaying Stone (820 C.Y.)
The humans of Fallcrest, the elves of the Grey Havens, and the dwarves of Hammerfast have all settled in the mountain fortress, turning it into a thriving city renamed Hammerfall.
Allia Markelhay, widow of the last mayor of Fallcrest and a sorceress of some talent, receives a vision of a Slaying Stone, the weapon used to power the defense system in Fallcrest, and a group of Beastmen searching for it. She sends a small band of heroes to the ruins of Fallcrest to retrieve the stone. The ruins have been settled by the remains of the goblin army, who now call the city Gorizbadd. The heroes strike an alliance with a canny goblin named Fang the Grey, who engineers a coup and takes control of the city. The heroes and goblins together destroy the Beastmen, and make a bargain with the brass dragon Tyristys for the Slaying Stone. The stone is brought to Hammerfall and placed deep in the city’s vaults.
Season 3 – Company of Legends (831 C.Y.)
The Devil’s Teeth mercenary company is contracted to guard Hammerfall. The company becomes embroiled in a plot by the dwarven elder Thoren Brighthammer of Hammerfall to provoke a war with the goblins of Gorizbadd. He attempts to use the Slaying Stone to commit genocide against the goblin city, but is thwarted and killed by the mercenaries. Peace is maintained.
Seasons 4 and 5 – The War of Chains (855 C.Y.)
The slaving guild called the House of Chains based out of Drudgehold makes war on the nation-state of Hammerfall and its protectorate settlements. A small group of the Devil’s Teeth, having been unjustly accused of killing a prominent nobleman’s son, are exiled from the city and tasked with securing the alliance of both the goblins of Gorizbadd and the dragon Tyristys in their struggle against the House of Chains. They manage to secure the dragon’s aid, but stumble into a coup attempt against Fang the Grey. The goblin holding the peace together all these years is assassinated and an anti-human hobgoblin named Gurmag Blackfist seizes the city. He allies with the House of Chains and makes war on Hammerfall. The group of heroes makes a last ditch effort with Tyristys to try to destroy the Pact Stone that grants the Lord and Lady of Chains their power, but they disappear, none knowing if they succeed or fail. The war continues for two more years before ending in a stalemate. The Grim Legion cannot take Hammerfall, but Hammerfall is too weak to prevent the depredation of its allies. The House of Chains and their goblin allies raid the Nentir Vale for more than a decade.