This is what is known of the 13 Ages of the world.
Ia gave up some of its essence to create the stars and planets in the universe. Ia’s essence had magical properties, and it invested itself in everything that existed. Where it collected in quantity, deities arose, and they started to give structure to the world.
The stuff of the world was elemental, neither good nor evil, and subject to the whim of both Creators. However, Ia’s gods and goddesses were truly good.
Ul was jealous, and started creating dark places in the world, filling them with dark creatures to kill the gods. Some of these turned into godlike things themselves, evil as can be.
Ia and Ul were at war. They gave so much of themselves that they had no identity left, and such left the world, though they are spread in all things.
Eventually the gods were in a great war. They hid themselves away from each other, made alliances, and created lesser beings to fight their battles. These were the archons and angels and demons of the world. They were the Elder Fey, the first elves to walk the earth, and the Elder Kin, the first dwarves to walk the planet. They had great power then, and they used it to lift up the mountains and sink the seas and fill the world with forests and animals. The evil forces twisted everything they saw into horrible monstrosities and subverted them for war. This was the Age of Angels and Demons.
Over millions of years, the deities hid further and further away to protect themselves from assassination. They sent trusted agents to give broad orders to their armies. The earth had become a sort of chess board and the divine powers fought with little personal loss, though some cried when a beloved race was lost. Because of this distance, some call this age the Age of Retreat.
The Elders lost their power over time, investing it in new races. The Fey eventually become the Elves. The Kin eventually became the Dwarves. (These races would continue to change, age after age, until the present day.)
This was also the birth of Mankind, giants in their time, for elves and dwarves were much smaller than them then. Over time, humans got a little smaller, elves and dwarves got a little bigger, and the differences mattered less. Man was a violent race, built for war—by whom, no one remembers. Whoever created Humankind intended to command them, but that did not last.
Humankind proved more aggressive and more violent than predicted; also, more independent and willful. They overthrew their elven and dwarven masters and formed great human cities. It was the First Age of Mankind. They vanquished the demons from the earth (at least for now) and fought each other. They were never happy unless they were fighting.
The deities watched with distant amusement.
This was the Age of Magic. Humans rediscovered secrets forgotten by elf and dwarf. They rediscovered the secrets of the elements. They even learned some of the secrets of Making known only to Ia and Ul. The world was a wondrous and intensely dangerous place, full of amazing enchantment and horrifying monsters. Forget demons; the wizards of the 5th Age invented monstrosities far worse than Ul had ever unleashed on the world. They fought each other for control of the land and sea. They drew power from distant stars and creation itself.
Now the deities were afraid. They locked themselves away, for the most powerful wizards could take down a god.
Either the people drew too much power, or the divine powers helped destabilize the universe. The power was too much for the wizards to control. The energy was too much for the world to bear. There was a catastrophe. Nearly everyone died. At the same time, the magical blast disintegrated the barrier that kept gods apart from men.
Out of the wreckage of the previous age, the survivors pieced together a humble existence. They called it the Age of Rebuilding. Much knowledge was lost—or buried. Anyone practicing magic was hunted and killed by armies. No wizards of power had survived. Really, no magic had survived—really, all the rules of magic had changed.
It was a Dark Age, but it was also when people started turning to their deities for help again. The gods and goddesses had never been truly worshiped, and this brought them a new kind of power they’d never seen before. Something miraculous had happened: the universe had surprised the gods.
Deities and demons found all of their universes connected by a magical plane. War broke out in heaven and hell, and once again they looked for a way to fortify their positions.
Then came the Age of Sacrifice. Once the immortals discovered the power of worship, they insisted on it and fought over souls. Souls, they found, could ascend to heaven (or descend to hell) and join their celestial (or abyssal) armies.
On earth, this was once of the most peaceful ages, since the most evil gods had no problem slaying their followers all at once to pull their souls to hell. The forces of good didn’t understand what was happening at the time, and they called it the Day of Reckoning, believing that evil creatures were being punished by the forces of Good.
Humans, elves, and dwarves lived together for a long time in peace, praying to their gods and living decent lives.
All the while since the catastrophe, the earth had been reeling from the magical energy that was released. It imbued itself in the rocks and sky and wind and seas, forging elemental bonds with the world. The demons found their way back to the world and subverted some of that elemental power to create four evil elemental kings (The Four): Phoenix, the Fire Queen; Hydra, the Water King; Jinn, the Air King; and Vulkan, the Earth King. These four brought one disaster after another to the earth, and it took all of the Elemental Age to chain them.
Out of the last age came great civilizations. Some were destroyed, but others persisted. They built great cities and castles, sprawling underground complexes, and impossible towers. An Age of Discovery came to the world. The people rediscovered magic—a new kind of wizardry based on purifying and mixing elemental magic and capturing it at elemental nodes and ley lines. They also made great advances in architecture, art and music, mathematics, natural science, and philosophy.
The war continued on in heaven and it spilled to earth now and then. Great wizards helped fight back the flood of demons, and towards the end of the age, an Archmage icon arose. Coriantha the Devious used a great ritual to create the Formians as her servitors, and it would eventually be her undoing.
The start of the 10th Age is marked by the day the faithful worshipers of the decent deities decided to lock the world away from heaven. While a few cynics say “good riddance,” it is well understood that the people made this choice to save the lives of their gods and goddesses. For at the climax of a great war between heaven and hell, fought on an earthen battleground with the various kingdoms of the planet falling on one side or the other, the most powerful priests and wizards and sorcerers and druids on the side of Good realized that the forces of Evil were about to triumph, and that meant they’d storm right into heaven and kill their beloved deities.
As the ultimate sacrifice, they did the unthinkable, they bound up the gates to heaven and hell and locked them tight, severing the connection between the planes, such that heaven and hell could neither see nor communicate with earth, but saving the Good gods in the bargain. The Evil gods got locked away, too, but their demonic horde, led by the Demon Lord, were still on earth.
Of course, the Demon Lord was enraged, and he tortured a lot of priests and wizards and sorcerers and druids and whoever else he thought might have answers. In the end, they all died and no one gave up the answer… and they couldn’t, for they’d used a spell to erase their own memories of the key to heaven, entrusting it only to one person, whom time has forgotten (thank the gods).
Evil ruled earth for some time. They called it the Age of Demons. The Demon Lord created his own races to rule the planet: orcs, goblins, gnolls, and other demon-touched things. Most of the Good icons lost their reign. Some, like the Crusader and Sorceress, made dark deals to hold onto power. The Priestess managed to continue on in secret, supplying hope to people even in a godless world. The High Druid hid and formed secret networks of rangers and druids and scouts.
This was also the rise of the Necromancer, since souls were lost on earth with no path to heaven. He commanded massive armies of un-dead, having learned to bind spirits to the bodies of the dead.
The Age of Revolution was started by the High Druid and her allies. This time saw the rise of the Thief of Shadows, a mysterious icon who infiltrated dark places and helped overthrow the oppression of the Demon Lord. Another icon who arose was the Torchbearer, a symbol of righteousness and strength and a path out of darkness. The Crusader turned against his master. The Ant Queen churned out millions of Formian Soldiers to fight against the demonic horde.
The Priestess learned how to take faith and prayer and capture it in temples, and new clerics and paladins were ordained and sent out to fight evil.
It took centuries, but the demons were hunted down destroyed, along with most of the orcs, goblins, and gnolls. Some remained, hiding in the darkest places of the world.
Despite the victory, there was still a lot of evil left in the world. The Demon Lord still had a hold here. The Necromancer did not ally with the Demon Lord, for he had his own wicked agenda. The evil races turned out not to be any more evil than humans, elves, or dwarves, and they all ended up fighting in great wars. Their battles made ancient battles look tame by comparison, and they called this the Age of War. The Priestess learned how to protect the spirits of the faithful.
No single war lasted more than a decade or two. Most lasted a few months or years. There were just a lot of wars. Land was traded back and forth. Military technology (and military magic) became more sophisticated. The dwarves, elves, and humans
By the end of the age, people had discovered a new kind of magic, too: spirit binding. A new Archmage rose through the ranks of wizards. She used her power to create magical wonders for the good of the kingdoms but also created a hierarchy of mages and laws for proper magical use. She knew the history of magic (and the 5th Age) and wanted to curtail new catastrophes. On the other hand, she understood the potential of magic for shoring up the world against the likes of the Demon Lord and the Necromancer. Unfortunately, a new threat reared its head: witches.
Icons: Crusader, Priestess, High Druid, Sorceress, The Four, Demon Lord, Ant Queen, Orc Tyrant, Goblin King, Necromancer, Thief of Shadows, Torchbearer, Elf Empress, Dwarf King, Emperor, Philosopher, Archmage, Marsh Witches
And here we arrive at the world’s current time. It’s hard to say what this age will be called, for it isn’t finished yet and only hindsight will say.
Today the world is relatively peaceful, though countries still war with each other now and then over matters large and small. The greatest cities of the world are built on elemental nodes and command enormous magical power. The kings and queens of men, dwarves, and elves are back in force, but now the Elf Empress has command over most of the world, and the Emperor is absent. In his place is the Child King, a seven-year-old prodigy who inherited the Crown of Evinor. Some say he’s destined to take back the title of Emperor, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.
The “gray” icons like the Crusader and the Sorceress have come back toward the light. The Thief of Shadows has taken a step further into the darkness. The Orc Tyrant is hanging on by a thread but the Goblin King commands a great kingdom and is making truces with other states. The Demon Lord hides in the darkness, rebuilding power, and waiting for the right time to strike. The Necromancer continues to collect spirits and animate the corpses that the Priestess hasn’t burned. The Marsh Witches hold a lot of power in their own lands and are beginning to meddle with their neighbors.
There is a stark difference between city life and rural life and frontier life. Vast areas of the world are civilized under the plow and the eye of a wizard-overseer or some other feudal system. Life in the farmlands is usually boring and simple. The concentration of nodal magic is weak there, so you won’t find many crazy magical devices in the villages. The cities are another matter. Because of the prevalence of easily-tapped elemental magic, cities are full of wondrous devices and enchantments. Streets are lit with colorful lights and displays. Enchanted carts pull people down the street. Watchmen fly from balcony to balcony. Far away from the cities, on the other side of the farms and woodlands, great untamed wilderness beckons explorers and adventurers. This is where the last of the demons hide, sometimes in the lost ruins of ancient civilizations. This is where true monsters hunt. Occasionally they stray into border villages, but the smart ones stay away from the most dangerous creatures on the planet, the apex predators: people.
Icons: Crusader, Priestess, High Druid, Sorceress, The Four, Demon Lord, Ant Queen, Orc Tyrant, Goblin King, Necromancer, Thief of Shadows, Torchbearer, Elf Empress, Dwarf King, Child King, Philosopher, Archmage, Marsh Witches