Coldforged: A Brief History of Tysis Part 1: The First Ages

Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week I’m looking to start fleshing out the history of the continent. This time, it’s the early ages of the continent.

A History Untold

For all of the years that I’ve been playing in Tysis, I’ve never really gone and provided a strong backstory and history to the continent, which is really strange given my penchant for filling backstory chock full of unimportant details and needless description. I get that its a flaw of mine.

Tysis, though, remained pretty strongly devoid of that particular flaw, as each new location and adventure the characters went through, I defined all on its own, creating back story for the world as I went. I was free to define each area differently, creating civilizations, heroes and relics all tied to the singular adventure as well as the larger world. I didn’t have a solid, cemented history to work with and check on, which was freeing in its own right, I’ll admit, but it does make things somewhat inconsistent, and I’ve had to check tons of documents and notes along the way to ensure that I was maintaining consistency.

This consistency is also why I don’t have many dates in these next few articles. while the events are correct, there is a lot of reference documentation, and that is going to be done later on, once I get all the notes from my head onto the page, and based on the Timeline from a few weeks back, I do want to drill down a bit and see what I can come up with. It’s sure to be miserable for everyone involved.

The First Age – The Divine Age

Before the Godswar, there is very little information on what was happening in the world in general, so it is little surprise that those on Tysis have only the barest of knowledge from the hallowed time. There are legends, as there are surrounding all legendary times and events, that this or that city was once the seat of some god, or that the creation of some specific race happened at this shrine or another, or that some epic battle was fought on a location. Very few of these have been verified as accurate, with legends taking liberty with of the events of the age that are hinted at by other legends, creating a tangled web of possible history throughout the continent.

The Second Age – The Age of Might

After the end of the godswar, with the Accursed banished to the Iron Marches and the Paltonarchs pursuing them in the name of justice, the Age of Might began. People rose to become Legends, defying monsters and creating powerful kingdoms on the single continent. It was a time of glory and blood. Tysis has very few stories that originate in the Second Age, but it is loosely known that there was a Kingdom of Giants in the region, as well as that of a long-extinct race that consumed brains to fuel their nightmarish empire. This is where many of the ruins scattering the world come from, the Age of Might and the deeds and kingdoms before the sundering.

Tysis does have some very plausible stories from this time, legends that have a trace of truth to them, either through artifacts, reliable stories, or other information that is credible enough. While many of these events still cannot be confirmed, their fairly obvious results remain on the world.

Of these events, there are two that stand out above the rest: The Tomb of Luther and Dorrians bridge.

The Tomb of Luther and the Obelisk proclaiming its existence are well known to be the foundation of the Killbaran empire. Luther Purelife was a valiant knight who stood beside his friend Mordius Kalrim and other companions completing great deeds, slaying monsters, and generally epitomizing the Age of Might. Mordius was not truly righteous, however, and when his corruption eventually killed him, Luther strode to the Iron Marches, slaying all in his path until he recovered Mordius’ very soul and returned it to Kasan. When He died, an Obelisk was raised in his memory and the Sepulcher Guard was created to prevent grave robbing. This Guard and the town that grew around it eventually transformed into the Killbaran Republic.

The Rubble of Dorrian’s bridge stands, even today, across the Rumia River in Eastern Killbar. This bridge was built during the Age of Might by Dwarves who maintained it well after the sundering until they vanished from history, with their only remnants the Bridge and the ruins of their settlements in the hills nearby, now occupied by Troglodytes. This bridge was, years later, the site of a great battle, one that defined the differences between the Killbarans and the Tyndarians and cemented their enmity.

The Demon Queens war, which ended the Second Age, is very much akin to the Godswar. It has legends and myths surrounding it in nearly every direction, with each Kingdom, Republic, and Theocracy having tales of their participants in the battles and revering local battlefields, sieges, and other important events. Though many are attributed to the Demon Queens War, though no one is truly positive what happened during the war until the sundering, as much of the histories of the war were lost in that great event.

The Third Age – The Age of Kings

Beginning with the Sundering, The Third Age commenced. The Demon Queen shattered the world, and each shard of the once continuous continent began drifting apart, swiftly at first but gradually slowing, across the surface. It is here that Tysis’ true history begins, as this sundering created the form of the continent as it exists. From all known records, only a few people survived the sundering, and Tysis was close to the epicenter of the Demon Queens strike. It is said that the Drimmak Mountains were created from the strike, though few believe it.

At the start of the age, there are only two known civilizations on the continent. The burgeoning Republic of Killbar, surviving on the Imerian peninsula and Guarding Luthers Tomb, and the Kingdom of Hyran, made up of elves and a number of other fey races north of the Forest of Levisha.

Other civilizations would come and go, some maintaining their presence for generations, others quickly collapsing, and others maintaining their influence to this day. Most of the new arrivals came by ship, including the Alorans, the Morestii, the Drimmak, the Thraxians, the Elshim, and the Xianra, with others lost to time. Others, like the Zarthians and the Tyndarians came from civil wars fracturing kingdoms. Kings and kingdoms rose and fell during this time, crushing each other in great wars of empire one generation, and dissolving into chaos the next. As the age came to its end, four main powers controlled most of the continent, with the Kingdom of Lev, the Kingdom of Drimmak, and the Republic of Killbar vying for supremacy. It wouldn’t take long, though, for Killbar and Tyndaria to weaken each other in a series of wars, and for the Lich Moduru to return and set into motion the events of the fourth age and the collapse of nearly every Kingdom on the continent.

The Forth Age – The Bronze Age

Here is where the story of the continent, and the majority of the adventures I run, are set. It’s the age following the invasion and subsequent destruction of the Lich Moduru, and the resulting turmoil that it caused, including the destruction of the Empire of Killbar, the Tyndarian Civil Wars, the expulsion of Drimm, and the Great Recall of the Levishans. It is in this age, where all hope seems lost, that heroes are needed the most. Gods have risen and died, kingdoms have fallen and empires have collapsed, but the stories of heroes continue unabated. I’m sure I’ll get to the detailed timeline of history during this age, but its a series of adventures just as detailed as this summary here, so I’ll wait until some other time for that.

Next week, we’ll do the History of the Kingdom of Lev!