History

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"Long ago, the world was different. And it changes still."

~~ The Guardian of Chalk Vale

The timeline below notes some of the major dates in the history of Ferath. Many of the older dates are largely conjecture, but they are considered the most accurate estimates available at this time.

The older events, in particular, are not meant to be common knowledge. Even students of ancient history are unlikely to have read accounts stretching back multiple thousands of years; such depth of time is the territory of myth and legend if it is discussed at all.

Contents

On Calendars

A number of calendars see have seen use over Ferath's long history. The timeline below uses the Herescht calendar(named for the Cedenian monk who invented it); this calendar or a close variant thereof is used by humans, gnomes, halflings, and dwarves. The Herescht calendar marks a solar year(365 days) which is further divided into 30-day months, with five seperate holidays between the seasons and on New Year's Day(which comes in midwinter). The Herescht calendar was proposed around 53 HR, as a unification of several regionally varying human calendars; a certain amount of confusion therefore exists about dates before that time.

The lizardfolk do not have a standardized calendar; on the whole, they track the seasons and their own ages but nothing more.

The elves have their own calendar, and a distant variant of that system is used in Chorach. The elven calendar marks Ages of approximately 2000 years, based on the movements of certain stars and other celestial bodies, in addition to a solar year and lunar months.

On Historians

Ferath's past has been obscured both figuratively and literally by millennia of drastic change. But though it has been hidden by layers of jungle growth and the generations of passing from teller to teller in incomplete form, the past still rises up from time to time to affect the present. This ensures that all of the intelligent races make some effort to keep track of their history, but the means and success varies widely. Not surprisingly, the best histories seem to come from the elves, whose civilization has been around in one form or another for the largest part of this timeline. But even these records are far from complete, much less free of editing. The timeline below is a reasonably objective, high-level overview of events; local histories might expand upon or even conflict with this, and only those who lived the events can say for certain which version has the most truth to it.

Several of the major sources that further details of this timeline might come from are listed below:

Recordkeepers: Humans and Dwarves

Both dwarves and humans have built several large civilizations scattered across the face and history of Ferath, and the records of these nations can provide an excellent view into their past. Most of these cultures have supported some population of amateur or professional historians, as well: in particular, the monastic traditions of Baldun and Emerald and the clan lorekeepers of Drazadi emphasize such study. Such records are usually written down and preserved through some combination of care and magic (the most important dwarven histories, for example, are inscribed upon stone tablets or sheets of gold or silver to better withstand the ravages of time). These records have often been lost, however, either to specific cataclysms that affect the monastery in question or the nation as a whole or to the general decay of time. Furthermore, national histories of this sort always suffer from a certain amount of revisionism, especially with regards to religious beliefs.

The Scrollbearers are a continent-spanning organization dedicated to uncovering Ferath's past; while they do not have access to radically different sources than other historians, they are often more organized and better able to contact other experts in their fields than independent scholars. Also, the Scrollbearer's broad membership and tendency to check (argue over) each other's work helps to limit regional biases.

Local Lore: Halflings and Gnomes

Unlike the large, multicity nations of some other races, neither halflings nor gnomes seem to show much interest in the 'great sweep of events'. Instead, their histories tend to focus on small locales, a particular family, or the like. Halflings keep detailed written and oral records of their family history, while gnomish historians and writers will focus on their immediate locality or the history of another field of study. These works often can often provide details that the historians of great empires will overlook. Sometimes this detail seems trivial to outsiders, but occasionally some innocuous fact will be the key to a greater secret.

Story Cycles: Humans, Lizardfolk, and Thri-Kreen

A surprisingly large part of Ferath's population (surprising to city dwellers, at least) lives in small, tribal groups. Often nomadic, and rarely possessed of much industry as it is known in the cities, these groups pass on their knowledge and history through tales, songs, rituals, and other oral forms. These tales serve a number of roles, including entertainment, education, and reinforcement of tribal identity. While rarely wholly accurate more than a generation back, small fragments of truth sometimes survive for millenia in this manner, passed down as an important (if not understood) detail of the greatest tales.

There are many small human jungle tribes, whose ancestors often lived within a now-lost city generations ago. These bands might still retain some fragmentary knowledge of their origin, carried down by their elders and storytellers. The semi-settled Frost Folk place great importance on an individual's memorable deeds, which are passed down through the ages in epic songs and poems.

Feralfolk halflings, like their townfolk cousins, focus their learning on the deeds of ancestors and relations, but remember them mainly in the form of victory tales told by a warrior to prove his or her worth. During the warrior's lifetime, these tellings remain mostly free from exaggeration, as other witnesses will volubly point out false claims and unwarranted bosts.

The short-lived thri-kreen on the whole do not have much interest in the past, but their clerics maintain intricate written logs for their own reference, and pass on knowledge to others of their race through speech. These stories are the only link thri-kreen packs have to their past and provide a minimum of common cultural ground on which the packs can interact.

Among the lizardfolk, only the serekians have much interest in keeping history. Guruush will tell tales with historical basis, but as this is primarily a means of entertainment or boasting, storytellers will often exaggerate or adjust events to fit the audience's reactions. Some serekian shamans keep written records of everyday events, but rely on tales memorized word-perfect from their elders to remember the tribe's history.

The Long View: Elves and Dragons

The elves of Ianta seem to hold unusual beliefs regarding the flow of history: they take very seriously the contention that all events, past, present, and future, influence each other in subtle ways, and some of them labor all of their long lives to find the patterns of this influence. The Serrikun To are widely considered to have the greatest historical archive in the world, but they are not free with its access. While more details are taught to young elves than are widely released to other races, the full body of knowledge stored by the elves is only available to their elders and society leaders. A few tidbits have come out of those archives, as part of alliances or cultural exchanges, but there are no certain cases of nonelves who have been given direct access to the Serrikun To's inner libraries.

While the oldest dragons have indeed seen millennia of events, they tend to care very little for the squabbles and works of humankind unless they directly interfere with the dragon's own business. Furthermore, the oldest dragons are often extremely reclusive, and have power and wit enough to prevent themselves from being found by curious short-lived folk. Dragons also have very little in the way of racial organization, meaning that histories are passed mostly from parent to child, either as instructional tales or as part of a hoard. There are a few books in human libraries that are said to have been written by dragons, but this is unlikely at best.

Immortals: Outsiders and Archaeons

One would think that the easiest way to discover the ancient history of Ferath would be to ask the creatures who were alive when they took place. Occasionally historians will seek out (or hire adventurers to seek out) such a witness, but they are often unreliable.

A few outsiders have literally been alive since before recorded history began, and there are said to be civilizations on Shine and Shade at least as old as the elves. As sources, however, individual outsiders are usually even more difficult to approach than dragons, and their words are never without a hidden agenda. Additionally, many of these beings have radically different mindsets from Prime Material natives, which can render effective communication difficult and unreliable. Those outsider cultures that do keep histories tend to focus almost exclusively on their own plane; an interesting topic to some, but useless for the purpose of compiling a history of Ferath itself.

Finally, a few words should be said about the archaeons. Occasionally, sheen cysts have been found sitting atop artifacts and even records of the truly ancient past, and historians interested in that period often attempt to locate new cysts for the same reason. In reality, when these objects exist they are often indecipherable without the aid of mysticism (if even then), and in any case they are fantastically rare. Archaeons do not themselves seem to be intelligent enough to care for their past beyond recognizing old enemies of the cyst, suggesting that the appearance of such artifacts is a result of sheer coincidence.

Timeline

  1. The Forgotten Ages
  2. The Age of Wood
  3. The Age of Dragons
  4. The Age of Knowledge
  5. The Age of Stones
  6. The Age of Swords
  7. The Current Age
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