Since the defeat of the Malthet, various empires have risen and fallen across the face of the world. Even today the continent of Atton is still dotted with unexplored ruins and forgotten temples of these realms. Below lies a brief summary of those notable kingdoms whose power propelled them into the pages of history.
Arkhosia and Bael Turath
Of all the intelligent races, it is perhaps not surprising that the hardy dragons were the first to recover from the cataclysm. Under the guidance of Bahamut (and the influence of Tiamat), individual dragons soon united under a single banner and formed the kingdom of Arkhosia, which quickly spread across the northern half of the continent. The reign of Arkhosia ushered in an era of peace and prosperity. Under the guidance of the united dragons, grand cities and amazing technological marvels soon rose from the scattered races. The dragonborn race flourished in this kingdom, and many dragonborn were granted extensive freeholds under draconic law.
As the dragons were rising in the north, demons and devils were rising in the south. Acting on behalf of their demonic lord Asmodeus, a group of balors and pit fiends and their retainers traveled to the fledgling continent and began to conquer the surrounding territories. There was little resistance from the already-weakened inhabitants, and soon the spiked iron towers of Bael Turath arose. The devils swelled in number and inflicted innumerable cruelties on the native races. The tieflings were created in this era, half-fiends that were quickly enslaved to do the bidding of their devilish masters.
The Great War, the Fall, and Its Aftermath
Inevitably, the two diametrically opposed empires soon found themselves embroiled in a bitter war. The demons desired more land and new subjects, while the dragons sought to purge their utopia of the blighted nation. Fierce battles erupted across the land, and many landmarks today still bear testimony to the powerful forces that waged war against each other. At first, it seemed the dragons would easily overpower the weaker devils. Perceiving this, Asmodeus took action.
The demon lord called for a parley with the gods, promising his power and domain for an end to the violence. Most of the gods perceived the trap, but seven of the greediest gods agreed to attend. There, through a combination of black magic and persuasion, Asmodeus turned the seven gods against their brethren, in an event that is now referred to as the Fall. The seven returned to their people with commandments of evil, and the people’s hearts grew black. The dragons, aloof and prideful at the best of times, were quick to turn on one another, urged on by the now-corrupted Tiamat. Victimized within and without, Arkhosia slowly eroded under the combined pressures of demonic invasions and draconic feuding.
Eventually, the empire collapsed, and the few remaining dragons fled to the hills, deep forests, swamps, and mountains, leaving the rest of the world to suffer under Bael Turath’s iron fist. Victory seemed certain for the triumphant devils, when the unthinkable happened: the tieflings revolted. A tiefling artificer, known only as Scrap, devised a method for siphoning the demon’s power and using it against them. The device, now lost to history, was covertly distributed among the slaves across the continent, and at the moment of demonic victory, the slaves struck. Taken by surprise, the demons suffered heavy losses at the hands of their former captives, and an eladrin-lead rout by the remnants of Arkhosia soon swept the demonic army from the land. The counter-offensive soon developed into a full-fledged siege; demonic cities, considerably weakened by the revolt, were soon reclaimed by the avenging army. The tyrannical government soon crumbled, and the devils of Bael Turath fled back to the safety abyss.
After the defeat, it was suggested by the eladrin that those races that had not descended into savagery following the Fall should band together to form a mutually protective coalition. All the races agreed, but opposed the formation of a strict government. After much debate, a small council dubbed the Coalition was appointed to oversee the rebuilding of the disparate nations. However, those nations soon grew weary of the constant oversight of the Coalition, especially considering its overall ineffectiveness at enforcing laws. Merely ten years after it had formed, the Coalition disbanded, peacefully and without much incident. It is noteworthy only in that it helped safeguard the rise of the individual nations, and that it was the last time any force successfully united the continent under one rule.*
The first nation to recover after the disastrous collapse of the great empires, the dwarven realm Kret-Andun was located largely underground. Occupying present-day Altar, Breaton, Var-Quilis, and portions of the Great Jungle, Kret-Andun was little more than a series of loosely-aligned villages on the surface. Below the ground, however, a maze of mining shafts, miles-long phosphorescent tunnels, vast underground caverns, and huge dwarvish cities formed the massive underground network that made up Krert-Andun. At the beginning, the kingdom was little more than various disparate dwarf nations and tribes locked in a mercantile struggle over the export duties for minerals to the surface. The struggles over exportation duties and rights grew increasingly more violent, and it seemed that actual war was inevitable. Only the timely intervention of one Clarak Silvertongue prevented another bloody conflict from erupting on the war-stricken continent.
Silvertongue persuaded, though trickery and diplomacy, the various chiefs of the dwarven tribes to meet in one place for a grand Concordium. Over the course of thirteen days, Silvertongue negotiated a successful accord between the chieftans, and formed the oligarchical foundation that would eventually coalesce into Kret-Andun. Through a complex mining operation (funded by the duties of surface exports), the tribes were soon interconnected by tunnels into one enormous nation.
The dwarfs experienced a cultural renaissance at this time. Kret-Andun featured some of the greatest works of dwarven architecture and art ever constructed. Gigantic quartz statues carved out of the living geode, hanging cities constructed from huge stalactites, and giant metal automatons that could tunnel for miles in a single day were all commonplace during the pinnacle of Kret-Andun. The empire’s dominance over mining and mineral deposits in the western end of the continent allowed it to grow rich and prosperous, and the golden era of dwarves began.
The Fall of Kret-Andun
The prominence of the dwarvish empire weighed heavily on the notoriously jealous elven and eladrin kingdoms to the south; though wealthy and powerful, their realms were overshadowed by the majesty of Kret-Andun. The most outspoken and malicious of these elves turned to the Fallen for succor, and Lolth and Torog were quick to respond to their prayers. Lolth gifted the rebellious elves with superior subterranean fighting capabilities, while Torog called upon the underground terrors to rise up against the dwarves. Gifted with their newfound power, these elves, now calling themselves drow, broke away from the elven kingdom and invaded Kret-Andun. Vicious monsters rose from the darkness, undermining dwarvish outposts and weakening the empire’s defense. Seizing the opportunity, several goblin and orcish tribes also attacked the surface empire, aided by giant and ogre mercenaries. Unable to withstand the external pressures, the dwarvish alliances collapsed, and the empire dissolved back into it’s tribal state.
Some of the tribes held their ground, and were wiped out by the drow. Others fled to the surface, and were defeated by the goblins. The majority of the dwarvish race, however, took refuge in mines and cities closest to the earth, fortifying small, easily defended strongholds. Safe from the beasts below and the goblins above, the dwarfish race was able to endure. The drow took up residence in the abandoned dwarvish citadels, defacing the great dwarvish architecture with various blasphemies and exhultations to Lolth. They turned on Torog’s underground monsters, enslaving many and driving the rest back to the depths. A drow civilization emerged where a dwarvish one had stood, and may have eventually spread across the land, if not for the intervention of Corellon. The god, angered at the blatant breach of elvish custom, cursed the drowkin with an excess of jealousy, hubris, and paranoia. The already mistrustful drow families quickly turned on one another, and a vicious civil war broke out. To this day, there exist several drow nations in the Underdark, each one in a perpetual state of war with the others.