History (Praemium Terra Supplement)
From D&D Wiki
Introduction and Prehistory
The lands now known as Praemium Terra have been inhabited by civilizations for about 4,000 years. Before that time, there were only animals, a few isolated dragons, small clans of migratory goblins, and a handful of nymphs and satyrs living in the wilderness. Magical skills were confined to the dragons and fey.
The Start of Civilization
The first civilizations were set up when migrating humans from the north and elves from the south arrived at roughly the same time. The two migratory groups were driven south and north respectively by a series of natural disasters which forced them to flee from their original homelands. What these groups did not know was that the cause of the disasters was anything but natural; ten archmages had sent the disasters in order to force the sentient races to the land of Praemium Terra, knowing that they would be useful as workers which could help them exploit the land in the far future. The general pattern of settlement was that humanity settled in the northern parts of Praemium Terra and the elves settled in the south.
The humans were mostly hunter-gatherers whose earliest dwellings were nothing more than camps and caves. By contrast, the elves began farming almost immediately. It is thought that humanity, with its larger size and strength, forced the elves away from the best hunting grounds and onto the fertile plains. This would backfire on humanity, as the elves were the first to taste of the fruits of agriculture and the civilization that came with it. Uneven development, and thus, conflict, was inevitable. This was exactly what the archmages had wanted...
The Archaic Age
This era was the first in which actual kingdoms and cities began developing. At first, development was very slow for humanity. Crops were difficult to grow in the northern soil, and animals frequently did not survive the harsh winters. By contrast, the southern lands of the elves were rich and excellent for growing crops. With mostly uninterrupted peace along with food and land enough for all, a massive rise in the elven population occurred. Rather than simply expand, knowing that it would lead to conflict with humanity, the elves increased the efficiency of their agriculture with new inventions and innovations, such as a three field system and experimenting with new crops. At this time, the elves had no cities or even towns; they preferred to live in small villages and farms, and even went as far as to regard densely-packed areas as unholy as they were "disharmonious" in regards to nature.
Humanity was severely limited in power during this time; humans possessed neither the technical skills nor the unity needed to compete with the elves for good land. Seeing this, the 10 mages sent humanity a race to help them, the gnomes. Driven from their land by further magically-induced disasters, the gnomes moved into the human lands in large numbers. Seeing this as an invasion, humanity killed well over half of their number, with only the southernmost human kingdom offering the gnomes the ability to settle as subjects. In this land, the gnomes taught humanity how to work with heavy metals more efficiently, which led to the development of iron plows, better weapons, and superior armor. With the ability to rip open the northern soil with the new, heavy plows, humans were soon able to feed a larger population. Humanity was also able to fight deadlier wars with the new weapons. It was during this time that humanity invented the very first thing that the elves in the land hadn't already invented; the blast furnace, which enabled humanity to produce higher quality iron for tools, weapons, and armor. This gave humanity an edge over the elven armies, at least in fighting one-on-one close combat.
During the later half of the Archaic age, the elves began to develop a system of serfdom, which was secretly filtered into the land by the archmages (by means of sending demonic agents to corrupt the kings of the elven lands.) This had the effect of creating a populace that was mostly bound to the land and subservient of a small elite of rich elven landowners. Protecting the landowners was a small group known as the vakhar. The vakhar were made up of two parts; exactly half of them are elven swordsmen with limited knowledge of battle magic who are protected by medium-strength armor. The other half are elven archeresses; these agile, unarmored maidens are skilled with bows and are taught limited knowledge of healing magic. Each swordsman is matched up with a female counterpart and is married to her based on skill compatibilities; i.e., the best swordsman would be married to the best archeress. The vakhar are sworn to guard their lord with their lives, whoever it is and no matter what the circumstances are.
With the elves crippled by their own system of serfdom, an age of stagnation began. For the elves, this was to be called the dark age, but for humanity, it was a golden age, when the human lands finally matched the elves in power and achievement.
The Age of Light and Dark
An era of great change, this time saw the lands of Praemium Terra develop into a form which is more similar to what we know it today. At the start of the Age of Light and Dark, humanity was badly outnumbered by the elves, but by the end, humans outnumbered elves three to one. The process by which this occurred can be explained by comparing human dynamism with elven stagnation. With new technology, humanity was able to grow and thrive. Roads were built, towns sprang up, and regular armies began to develop. Major organized religions (once the sole domain of elves in Praemium Terra) rose among the humans and soon, rich ecclesiastical traditions began to develop, giving humanity clerics of superior quality to those of the elves.
The elves fell back on old traditions, retreated into archaism, and clung tightly to antiquated systems of living. Rather than adopt human ways, the elves stubbornly resisted change, thinking that they had nothing to learn from "barbarians". When they fought wars with humans, they failed to update their weaponry and lost many wars. When their craftsmen used antique tools and methods (which were still high quality, to be fair), they resisted change. And finally, most painfully, when they failed to adapt to the existence of new human cities (the likes of which gave humans unquestioned economic and political control over the greater part of Praemium Terra), the elves fell behind the humans for good.
Human cities and towns grew greatly during this time. At first, they were limited to a bunch of buildings surrounding a major temple or other religious structure, but as trade grew and roads were built, the towns began to develop trades and crafts which fueled their growth. Eventually, the dynamic human civilization spread into the center of Praemium Terra, taking the best farmland and putting it to the best use. Like the elves before them, this led to a massive growth in population for humanity, but unlike the elves, it prompted the humans to try and take more and more land; this process was only stopped when a major war broke out between the largest human states which ended the Age of Light and Dark.
The Age of Adversity
The previous age came to a screeching halt when a series of alliances set off by a spark set almost all of humanity into a major war which razed who cities to the ground and led to severe economic decline. After 10 years of war, an uneasy truce was called. While trade revived and cities were rebuilt, commerce between human kingdoms was not what it once was. Mutual lack of trust prompted kingdoms to place trade barriers in order to keep out "foreign influence", and the need to prepare for war increased the size of armies, the rate of taxation (needed to pay for the armies), and the power of central governments at the expense of the people's freedoms. Economic growth returned, but it was never very high. The only group who benefited from the difficult state of affairs were the mages of the land, who, in a trend which would later have unimaginable consequences, were hired to support the armies. Magic schools opened up, wizards wrote grimoires, and sorcerers started to appear.
Also making their appearance on the scene were dragons, who took an interest in the quickly-developing magical arts. Contact between mages and dragons grew, and half-dragons began to appear in small numbers. This age ended with the arrival of the halflings, who would have a major impact on the lands.
The Elven Renaissance
The archmages were still viewing the land from afar, but had not yet decided to make their move. To "ripen" the land even further, they introduced a nation of halflings, who had come to the land fleeing a series of natural disasters (a coincidence which did not go unnoticed by historians.) The halflings did for the elves what the gnomes had done or the humans so many years ago; they introduced new tools and techniques which helped the elves get ahead. By this time, the elves had fallen so low that they were finally ready to listen to a group who could help them. The halflings may not be good warriors or possess great intelligence, by they do possess agricultural skills as well a natural talent for harvesting natural resources. Moving in on elven lands, the halflings set up towns, farms, and villages, and soon, they were contributing so much to the elven economy that even the elves themselves saw the benefits of towns and cities. A period of city-building began, and although it saw unprecedented wealth accumulate for the elves, it wasn't on the scale that the humans had built during their great age. Furthermore, while roads, temples, and other major projects were built, few of them were on a scale which could match that of humanity. The largest elven city ever built in Praemium Terra, Saesti Toria, was constructed during this time.
It is important to remember that this era did not see the elves acquire more power than humanity, nor did it see the elven culture eclipse that of humanity's as it had done during the archaic age. Great though it was, the renaissance did not last forever; an event which threatened the well-being of all of Praemium Terra ended this era.
The Age of Revivial
It may be odd to think of an invasion of goblins as a means of revival, but that's exactly what happened when an elven kingdom's attempts at expansion into goblin lands backfired. Having to call on a human kingdom for help (by means of marrying the elven princess to the human prince, who would rule both lands as king), the two lands beat off the invasion with ease, and in the process, created the single most powerful state the lands had ever seen. Within seven generations, a hybrid culture had been created, and half-elves began to appear in small, but nevertheless significant numbers. While this admixture of cultures is still rare in the lands at present time, it isn't unheard of, and is known to create vitality through diversity, the exchange of ideas, access to a wide variety of skills, and cooperation rather than conflict.
For the first time, great cathedrals were built in the cities and towns, monotheism began to spread (although it isn't the majority, even at present day), innovations such as use of perspective in art, and a single system of weights and measurements were developed during this time.