Eryst, the Living World
Welcome to the world of Eryst
The world of Eryst is in the middle of its second age. The first age, or “Old World” ended with a great cataclysm that left nothing but ruins that are still explored and looted for mysterious relics to this day. The end of the Old World left the sentient races at near stone-age levels and it took many millennia for the races to pull themselves back up to the modern level and rediscover the arts of forging, building and magic. As the races rebuilt, an animism belief structure took hold in them. All things were believed to contain a remnant of the spirit of the Old World. This is why even ordinary relics from the Old World are often prized items, as they are believed to contain some of the oldest and therefore most powerful spirits. These spirits are viewed as simple sources of power, however, not gods or ghosts of any sort. It is a commonly held belief that these spirits have “forgotten” what they were.
This animism belief strengthened over time, until spiritual energy began to concentrate into that which people most prized, or stood in awe of. Although all the races rebuilt, Humans above all others valued the roads, buildings and cities they created; and so, the God of Architecture appeared first to them. Elves, who value magic on a level beyond the other races, had the God of Magic come first to their lands. The God of Mountains appeared to the Dwarves first, but quickly also to the goblinoid races who valued their dark tunnels no less. The God of Travels manifested to the Halflings, who love travel, but also arriving home safely at the end of their journeys. And on it went, the God of Beasts came to the Orcs because of their reverence for the many beasts they utilized in their day to day lives, the God of Illusions to Gnomes, the God of Dragons (still the most powerful creatures in the world) to the Dragonborn races, and on and on…
These first appearances defined the gods of Eryst for all time. And although the gods will answer the prayers of any who truly and faithfully call on them, none can deny that the God of Architecture stands as a Human, even when blessing an Orc, and the God of Magic appears as an Elf, no matter the race of the wizard that calls on him for aid. One of the last gods to appear was the God of Nature itself. Why this was has been lost to history, but the appearance of this god strikes the most debate. For the God of Nature always appears as a different animal every time. How this is possible (did the animals create him? How? Why a stag this time a squirrel the next? Would bears worship a squirrel? A stag? Would bears worship?!?) But no one questions her equal status with the other gods, though his druidic worshipers do stand apart from the other god’s cleric and paladin servants.
To this day the gods remain unnamed and are still referred to simply as “God of Travels” or “God of Dragons”. Attempts have been made (often by the race that seeks to “own” the god) to force a name, but none has lasted and all are soon forgotten, or ignored. It is as if the gods do not wish to be named, so therefore cannot be named. Interestingly as well, although all (sometimes grudgingly) agree on the apparent race of a god, none can agree upon an appearance, or even a gender. Everyone seems to see their own ideal version (Orcs have been known to describe the God of Architecture as an unusually burly Human with grayish skin and a pronounced under bite).
The one exception to this is Eryst. For Eryst is the world and without him none can exist. Eryst is the god and land itself and when someone refers to one, they are referring to both (the idea of the world of Eryst and the god Eryst as separate entities just doesn’t make sense).
Beyond this, the world of Eryst was much like a classic D&D world. Humans are industrious, dwarves love gold, orcs pillage the land and halflings seek every opportunity to find comfort and good food, even if it comes out of someone else’s pocket.
But all this changed with the Human War.
There had been portents of another great cataclysm and many feared that all that had been rebuilt would come to an end once again. The human King Andor, the most powerful ruler of Eryst sought the council of sages, wizards and clerics from many faiths. What he was told was that demi-humans would bring about the cataclysm. King Andor was old, and weary of attack, and took much of his advice from his son Ansin, his very xenophobic son Ansin.
It began with the roundup of demi-humans in human-controlled cities and towns, and packing them into their own areas (“For their own protection.”), but over time whole communities began pushing a “humans-only” policy. Humans had always been the most prolific of the intelligent races, and this fact began to be felt strongly by others. Some races, such as the elves, dragonborn and dwarves, were more than happy to abandon human contact. They had existed long before humans arrived on Eryst, and could do just as well without them. The gnomes and halflings were saddened by the treatment they received from their large brothers, as they had grown to love human cities and the vitality within them. But none the less they retreated to their forest and plains lands respectively. The worst was done to the so-called “half-breeds”, the half-elves, half-orcs and tieflings. Never strongly welcomed by either side of their heritage, they now found themselves violently expelled by their human families and treated with great wariness by their other half’s culture. A precious few found acceptance with their non-human families and even less were taken in secretly by their human relatives; but the vast majority were left to beg and scrape by for themselves at the outskirts of all societies.
And then things got worse.
To this day no one knows what motivated the attack, what incident predicated it. But a cadre of powerful demi-human agents launched a midnight assault on King Andor’s castle and murdered the elder king in his sleep before fleeing into the night.
When dawn broke teary-eyed, but resolute, Ansin declared war on all the demi-human races for the murder of his father. For this incident had turned Prince Ansin the xenophobe into KING Ansin the PURIST. And what had been a campaign of isolation, turned into a war of annihilation.
It has been three years since the Human War started (or the War for Humanity, if you’re a human). The humans have pushed most of the demi-human races out of the north and eastern lands and into the deeper forests and plains and mountains of the west. Most of the demi-human races have banded together in the fight, but old animosities run deep and alliances form and break every day, while the human’s resolve seems to be stronger than ever as they march forward…
And everyone wonders about the gods. Though many prayers have been uttered on both sides to deny the other, both sides continue to have their prayers answered equally. Some gods that appear in human form have been largely abandoned by the demi-humans (and vice versa), but still the most powerful beings seem unwilling to directly interfere in the greatest conflict known to history and no one can divine why. The absolute rule that the gods seem to enforce is that no cleric may harm one of their same faith, regardless of race. And those that have violated this rule have found themselves stripped of all their clerical abilities instantly.