OmphalosSetting > OmphalosTimeline

For reference, a Cycle translates to about 100 Earth years, and is based on the approximate time it takes a building to go from the edge of Omphalos into the notional center of the Maw.

In the Long Ago, Before Time - 20 Cycles ago.

Lost in history, but known to those who stand outside of time, Omphalos was once an ordinary plane, much like any other, inhabited largely by humans who practiced magic so advanced it might as well have been technology. They came across an object or entity which they believed to have come from another plane, and launched many experiments, bent upon solving the riddle of planar travel, with the ultimate object of constructing gateways that would allow them-- peacefully and for the benefit of all, some say, or bent on conquest, others claim-- to travel instantaneously to other planes.

Something went wrong in what has become known as the Transcendence by scholars.

A 6 kilometers radius chunk of the city of Omphalos was ripped from its home universe, and or possibly its entire universe was destroyed. Instead, three planes now opened directly onto the borders of Omphalos: Viestethaer to the northwest, Hexszaxtzor to the east, and Galadh to the southwest. Where the lab had once been, an unimaginably deep pit now yawned, most of the immediate neighborhood obliterated as it was dragged down into the abyss.

The population of Omphalos, naturally, panicked. They begged the magicians for help of all kind; in turn, the magicians sent envoys into the new Cardinal Planes, in search of answers and help feeding a desperate people, now cut off from their natural farmlands.

At this time, Galadh was ruled by the Sylvanari, the elf-like inhabitants of the treetops, while the spider-kin Drydari lurked in the undergrowth. The Sylvanari had existed for millennia in a pastoral lifestyle, and found the urban riches of the Omphalos adventurers both fascinating and intimidating. They quickly agreed to supply food, which they had in plenty, in exchange for knowledge and worked trinkets.

Viestethaer was inhabited solely by elementals, drifting hither and thither, absorbing mana and reproducing their kind. Occasionally some would be summoned by magicians from other planes, do their biddings, and return. Those elementals often attempted to replicate what they saw of human society, but with little or no understanding. The few elemental Lords who learned from otherworldly mages, loosely held territories, but only in the sense that the elementals within those territories could tell you who they were. These Lords agreed to provide land for refugees, but they could do little else since they possessed only mana and the allegiance of a handful of greater elementals.

Hexszaxtzor was at the time, divided between the Ninth Horde, an orc-dominant organization which had achieved virtual domination over two of the three continents of their world, and the Bloodcoat Confederacy, an alliance of monster races chiefly united in their opposition to orc rule, with the bulk of their offensive might provided by the ogres. The Ninth Horde was greatly alarmed to find a new portal to an alien city practically in their backyard. The envoys sent by Omphalos were captured and tortured for information on their origins.

The First Invasion - approximately 19 Cycles ago

Shortly thereafter, the First Invasion of Omphalos began, launched by the Ninth Horde as a blitzkrieg with the intention of sweeping the nigh-defenseless humans away and capturing the city, to prevent it being used to launch offensives against their own homeland. Or so went their pretext.

Refugees fled into both Galadh and Viestethaer. Sylvanari quickly formed an alliance with the mage-lords of Omphalos, and the nearest elemental lords of Viestethaer sent their finest champions as well. Their help came none too soon, for most of Omphalos was soon wrecked or burning, save for the mysterious Monuments, and the remaining humans were pressed into the northwestern parts of what had been their city. The Ninth Horde began tearing down the old buildings, both to pillage the strange objects that they found within, attempt to decipher the magitechnology within, and to set up their own fortifications and war machines for pressing their assault.

With so much of the Ninth Horde's attention focused on Omphalos, however, the Bloodcoat Confederacy soon realized the Horde's attention was split, and redoubled the intensity of their offensive. The Ninth Horde, growling imprecations under their breath, decided to sign an armistice, freezing the territories where they were, and turned their attention back to their own world.

In the long, tense peace that followed, human refugees formed colonies in both Galadh and Viestethaer. In Galadh, they quickly found themselves little more than serfs, second class citizens, and never really flourished, but they did find themselves compatible with the Sylvanari, their offsprings ripe with hybrid potential. The Sylvanari both pitied their shorter-lived cousins and worried over their fruitfulness, seeing the potential of these people to outbreed them, and introduced regulations to ensure the pure-blooded elves would be preferred for inheritance. Children of Galadh-born humans tended to be strong in nature magic, less powerful in arcane than their Omphalos-born cousins.

In Viestethaer, however, with so much of the land essentially vacant, the humans introduced soil cultivation techniques to terraform large swathes of countryside into green wilderness. They formed kingdoms, loosely bound to the Elemental lords whose territories they inhabited, and over the course of time, their children found themselves with stronger affinities to elemental magic, rather than arcane. while they were sympathetic to the plight of their cousins pressed into warrens, dependent on the Cardinal Realms for support, or living in thrall to the Horde in Omphalos, there was little they could do.

Rule over the Horde-controlled part of Omphalos was split between three warchiefs, who also controlled significant parts of the Ninth Horde's heartland, and thus had legitimate economic and political interests here. Water and food became the major economic products transferred through the Thresholds, scarce as it was in Hexszaxtzor. Water was not exactly easily obtained in either Galadh or Viestethaer either, as it needed to be tapped from tree branches and then separated from the sap, in Galadh, and transported from zones of elemental water, across harsh crystal territories, to reach the threshold of Viestethaer.

Over the course of many years, the balance of power shifted between the warchiefs as they attempted to gain dominance over one another, and between the Sunlight and Deeproots factions in Sylvanari-dominated Galadh-- the Sunlight faction being one welcoming of trade with the outside world and of the human refugees from Omphalos, the Deeproots desiring to shut them out and if possible, to close the gateway to Omphalos. The kingdoms of Viestethaer were forced by their relative positions to seek out their own gains, sometimes aiding the Horde because the trinkets and metals promised were too hard to deny, other times working with the Sylvanari to deny resources to a warchief that had grown too strong.

The Opening of Alfzongen - approximately 16 Cycles ago, 290 years after the end of the First Invasion

Several centuries later, quakes and increased appearance of rifts and mysterious strangers from elsewhere-- Beyonders-- heralded the opening of a new Threshold, revealing a land of steep mountains and green valleys. Alfzongen. The other Thresholds adjusted with precipitous speed, causing much disruption as the dividing line shifted. Those buildings which were already within the Threshold were unaffected.

At the time, the Aesir ruled much of Alfzongen, with the higher mountains considered too barbaric and hostile to life to be worthwhile exploring-- of course there were always dwarves extending their settlements further in hope of new veins of metals and gems. The kobolds skulked about their periphery, and the dragonkin held court in the most distant mountains, in turn, serving their dragon gods. The Aesir and the Dragons gave each other a wary boost, aware that crushing the other side would require ruinous expense.

Once the Threshold opened onto their world, however, the Aesir were surprised to find a new race of small humanoid beings, much like them, and more so to find their aid was being sought against the Ninth Horde. They agreed to help in exchange for the humans and the Sylvanari's aid against the Dragons in a later campaign-- after all, they now had potential enemies in their backyard. It was imperative that they secure their new boundary.

The Horde had been building toward re-kindling a new invasion, with agents in both Galadh and Viestethaer. With this unexpected front, they stepped up their efforts, supplying weapons, poisons, and gold and more precious materials to the Deeproots. Armed with this, in a succession of assassinations and political upheavals, the Sunlight faction fell into disfavor, and the Deeproots ascended to political supremacy. They closed their Threshold and withdrew their troops, though many Sunlight-aligned champions and fighters went renegade. The warchiefs had been battered back to a quarter of the wheel; with the Deeproots' ascension, they swept another quarter, pushing Sunlight refugees back into Viestethaer where they fled into the woods and told story of the world-tree from whence they had come.

Goblin spies, meanwhile, made their way into the hinterlands of Alfzongen, seeking the dragonkin. They offered technology and skilled crafters, and soon the dragonkin found themselves armed with weapons-- guns and explosives-- and allies that could help them sabotage the finely built fortifications of the dwarves, reducing their advantages to rubble. Taken aback, the Aesir pulled their forces back from Omphalos as quickly as they could, but lost some of their numbers and many dwarven champions in the retreat. The Horde swelled forth once more, laying claim to most of Omphalos. With their Threshold finally secured, the Aesir stood forth against the dragonkin in what became known as Ragnarok... But when the drakes bombed them, and the Dragons themselves took to the sky to devastate their armies, they were forced to surrender.

Locha, one of the young Aesir, betrayed the Aesir at their last hour, and most of them were killed; the rest fled into the back valleys or into Viestethaer. Locha himself accepted the position of the lord of the trading city in Alfzongen, so long as he kept the tribute flowing to the Dragons who had taken part in the conquest. Alfzongen took on a role of supplying water and to a lesser extent, food, to the Ninth Horde. Goblins and orcs began to make small villages in the less desirable parts of the lower valleys, territories they were well used to.

A Cycle passed, while each side paused to digest their gains, and then the Ninth Horde pressed forward on all sides, one warchief sponsoring an attack against each Cardinal Realm: Galadh, Viestethaer, and Alfzongen.

Much of the immediate region of Galadh suffered terribly under the pyrotechnics-heavy attack of the goblins as the orcs took a foothold in the world-tree. The Deeproots had severely underestimated the Ninth Horde, and relied on the power of their fortifications that had held up against conventional warfare; they were betrayed from within by Drydari agents working with the Horde, and their defenses crumbled. They surrendered almost immediately, and the Drydari rose to power, becoming the servants and overseers of the Horde.

Over the coming centuries, the Drydari built their reputation as loyal, effective minions, skilled in missions of deception and assassination. Too useful to discard, in short.

Viestethaer, meanwhile, had become divided into four major elemental Kingdoms, and an assortment of minor duchies. Normally fractious and jealous of one another, they soon formed an alliance and poured all the resources they could afford, slowly at first, then with increased desperation, to hold back the Horde at several key valleys. It seemed as if they would wind up in a stalemate, but then a band of heroes rallied the common people, with the help of one of the Elemental Princes, an Aesir exile, a Sylvanari refugee, and a dwarven champion. United by a hero, who claimed to be able to unite the elements and wield prismatic magic, they challenged the warchief to honorable battle to decide the fate of Viestethaer.

They lost. The Warchief, who became known as the conqueror of Viestethaer, sent his lieutenant to face them. He commanded his own soldiers against their rabble, and once he had eliminated their support, he rained death from the skies upon them, utterly destroying them along with the lieutenants still engaged in combat.

The Ninth Horde swept across much of the land, eradicating any remaining resistance, then set up garrisons and forts overseeing their new slaves. They joked that the humans were so weak and humbled that even an orc child could rule a duchy on her own.

Alfzongen, surprisingly, best held off the Ninth Horde, as Locha had rebuilt the Threshold with dwarven fortifications, updated in mind of goblin munitions. He promised amnesty to Aesir who would return to help defend the plane against the outside invasions, and though many of them scorned him, enough were swayed to help give him the necessary heroic support to deal with the Horde's own champions and warlords. And when the Horde launched its greatest attack, the Dragons themselves reminded the Horde that few things can resist dragonfire.

The Ninth Horde gave up at that point, signed a non-aggression treaty, and replaced the warchief who had promised success in Alfzongen. Bloodily.

The Opening of Ichoryon - 12 Cycles ago

Presaged by more earthquakes and magical disturbances, Ichoryon erupted between Hexszaxtzor and Galadh, in a great flood that washed away buildings halfway to the Maw.

The gnolls of Ichoryon had hitherto been running a modest trading town slash pirate base set atop a coral reef, and were greatly surprised to find a great swathe of land at their back. They received Ninth Horde attacks almost immediately, it being presumed by the dimwitted lieutenants that they represented some sort of invasion, but managed to drive them back, and sent out adventurers to size up the situation and try to find new allies.

Drydari operatives were quick to seize the opportunity to negotiate with them. In a bloody week, they worked together with the gnoll Wavesingers to drive a massive seawall across the city from Threshold to Maw, severing the Horde from crossing directly between Hexszaxtzor to Galadh. Assassins took the head of the warchief of Galadh, and nearly every other general and warlord, and in the confusion, many orcs and goblins were forced to retreat into Omphalos or the deep underbrush of the world-tree.

The Drydari did not neglect the other Cardinal Planes-- they worked with the remaining human resistance, smuggling weapons and resources. They made arrangements with the Dragons through Locha in Alfzongen, offering tribute from the three planes, should the forces of Alfzongen aid them in cutting off reinforcements on the other side of Omphalos. At the same time as the Ichoryon gnolls made the Seawall, Locha sent a spearhead of dwarves and dragonkin to cut off reinforcements on the other side.

The Horde pulled its forces from Viestethaer to try and retake Galadh and re-establish their supply lines through Alfzongen's sector. The Resistance moved quickly, surprising the garrison warlord and his lieutenants, and slaughtered the goblins and orcs that had been left behind. Humans, Sylvanari, Aesir, and dwarven people formed a new council along with the three remaining great Princes, that would rule Viestethaer from then on. From this time on, they would no longer split themselves into kingdoms, but instead unite for their common good. The humans decided on democracy as their new governance: they would elect representatives from each village, who would represent them to their Parliament. Their Parliament, in turn, would choose their representatives to sit on the Council.

The entire affair caused a massive loss of confidence in the surviving Warchief. The Ninth Horde splintered between three Hexszaxtzor-based Warchiefs, and under the circumstances, they signed a new armistice, returning their forces to the fifth of the wheel that would reasonably fall under their control, with a solitary Warlord who would be responsible for their administration in Omphalos.

After much discussion, the Cardinal Planes formed a Council, to be seated with three representatives from each of the cardinal Planes, totaling 15 persons, and signed a pact that military force would no longer be permissible within the city limits, save for a self-defense force that must be located within the Threshold of each plane.

Over the coming Cycles, steam-powered engines, hitherto a technology proprietary to the gnolls, who had used it to dominate the seas, became quickly popular among the goblins and dwarves, and spread across Omphalos. Industrialization began anew, driven by machinery and the need for standardized parts and tools. Factories spread across Hexszaxtzor, creating the perpetual smog that darkens that part of the sky.

Trade became the new battleground. Water came from Ichoryon now, food from Galadh and to a lesser extent, Viestethaer and Alfzongen, metals from Alfzongen and Hexszaxtzor. As the scars of the Ninth Horde slowly faded from the city, merchants rose to power.

And with them, the underworld.

The Opening of Yaxchilan - 5 Cycles ago

When Omphalos shook once more, everyone knew a new shift was coming, and before long, Yaxchilan opened up, splitting apart Alfzongen and Hexszaxtzor. It was, at the time, ruled by a barbaric empire of headhunter centaurs, sacrificing their enemies upon altars to gain their powers. They sent forth raiding parties to test the might of the strange, apparently rich lands that now opened before them.

The then-warlord of Omphalos, seeing an opportunity to redeem the reputation of Hexszaxtzor, called for support from his people, raising a new, Tenth Horde that was to 'defend' Omphalos from these savages. Two warchiefs were quick to answer his call, perhaps unhappy with the waning power of the military in their homeland. They violated the pact against military force, demolished buildings within their wedge willy-nilly to make room for their army to pass, and sallied forth to invade Yaxchilan.

Alfzongen was quick to push in from the other side, but not to invade-- to cut off the Horde invasion. With support from Galadh and Viestethaer, and with Ichoryon renewing the Seawall, the Horde's support was quickly cut off, and the Tenth Horde found their army cut off, in alien territory. Unwilling to admit their faults, they instead set up defense lines and annexed part of Yaxchilan, creating a new state. War raged across Yaxchilan-- the Empire was unpopular with its neighbors. Many factions of Omphalos quickly became involved, sensing both opportunity and danger.

At the height of these tensions, Locha was assassinated-- some say it was by a young Aesir, angry with the way her people were treated in what had been their homelands, others claim it was the work of a Tenth Horde spy. The Dragons formed a triumvirate to rule the gateway city of Alfzongen: one each from the Lava Flight, the Adamantine Flight, and the Golden Flight. Some of the Aesir who had taken Locha's offer stayed in the Dragons' service; others left, returning to Omphalos or migrating to the other Cardinal Planes.

Meanwhile, in Omphalos, the Horde was rebuked by the Council, and those militant lieutenants who were caught out of Hexszaxtzor were tried and executed. With the belligerent Warchiefs' greatest supporters now cut off from Hexszaxtzor, the remaining Warchief took possession of what was left, and declared herself Overlord, with the intent of uniting her homeland for peace-- war would no longer be their primary goal. Their gods of war and conquest, she proclaimed, were their last and greatest enemy. From that moment on, their fate was to be their own to choose. She embarked upon a ruthless campaign to reform her people.

Ultimately, what remained of the Tenth Horde spent the majority of its military might in a pyrrhic victory against the Yaxchilan Empire, and Omphalos brokered a new treaty that granted the Cardinal Planes access, while restoring some degree of sovereignty to the centaurs and the other denizens of Yaxchilan.

The Second Council was reconstituted, this time with three representatives from each of the six Cardinal Planes. The Aesir were given a single representative, as a tiebreaker.

In the new peace that followed, Yaxchilan gained a reputation as a new frontier for adventurers, full of ancient ruins and riches tucked away behind great dangers. Economically, it was full of new drugs, foods, and travel opportunities-- the dinosaurs that roamed the plane were tremendously appealing as trophies and for the relics that could be made from their bones and armor from their hides-- and in terms of government, most of the countryside was a void waiting to be filled.

Alfzongen settled down, with war no longer looming on the horizon. Many of the Dragons, wounded by battle, went into hibernation with trusted dragonkin lieutenants maintaining and investing the rewards of their efforts. Industry flourished, though largely within the deeps of the stone, belching smoke into the sky through vents that made the mountains seem to be a single great dragon, breathing smoke that curled into elaborate shapes in the winds. Kobolds and dwarves were the vast majority of the workers there; humans and Sylvanari were regarded as too frail to survive the temperatures and the psychological weight of megatons of stone overhead. These races were more often found working in the terraced farms and hardy little vineyards, hacked into the sides of the valleys to make as much use of the terrain as possible. For Alfzongen, it was an age of guilds: one had value only when one had found one's calling.

Viostethaer had become more economically settled by this time, taking advantage of the newly developed dragon airships to make possible trade routes that entirely bypassed the geode-like plane's hostile territory. Most villages were still dominated by one species-- mostly humans, often Sylvanari, sometimes kobold or dwarven, with goblins skulking in caves and orcs in the deep mountains-- but their few significant towns were cosmopolitan and developed their own characters, with the Threshold as the hub. Industries spread slowly, largely textiles, with some alchemical laboratories in strategic locations to take advantage of their magical circumstances-- but where they spread, the bourgeois swelled-- workers, teachers, merchants, alchemists, engineers, painters and sculptors. What had been kingdoms, were now city-states, very much in the spirit of the Renaissance.

The Drydari were secure in their dominance of Galadh, with Sylvanari and human villages (and sometimes goblin and orcs) living in abject fear of Drydari masters. They maintained their position through maintaining, if not the largest or strongest army, the best trained, with an emphasis on espionage, sabotage, propaganda, and whatever other dirty tricks it took to expand their power. Industry took surprisingly little hold here: farming was still their first and foremost business sector, and magic did most of the work, rather than machinery. Still, they did their best to remain on good terms with the other Cardinal Planes. Hexszaxtzor was not so far away, and it only took one change in government for there to be an Eleventh Horde.

In Ichoryon, the gnolls had built a new nautical empire, raiding those too weak to resist, trading with those too strong to fight. It was difficult for anyone to claim territory, such as it was, on the seas, but ships they built more of than anyone else, with ample trade resources in exchange for their water and fish. They gained a reputation as happy to do business with anyone... as long as they had the biggest guns.

Hexszaxtzor flourished under the rule of the new Overlord, and their former lust for war was sublimated into a new competitive spirit, with blood sports the obsession of every orc. Other races continued to be a very distinct minority in their realm, mostly extreme tourists.

And Omphalos itself? Its Council played games of economics and politics, bartering for short term advantages and long term reach. It recovered quickly from the wounds of wars, the Cycles doing their part in sweeping away the damage. Now thoroughly mixed, the various races struggled for survival and prosperity in every quarters, but none more so than the humans, now split into those of Omphalos and those of the city-states of Viestethaer.
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