Saturday 4 August 2012

The Creation of the Oldhammer World Part One

Here is the first part of my initial history of the Oldhammer World as envisioned when I drew the map some days ago. This post hopes to suggest a few threads which other Oldhammers can build on. My influences are obvious; Warhammer Mythos, Lovecraft, Moorcock, Howard and Ancient History. One thing I always loved about Lovecraft was his 'Necronomican' and have created two texts here that we can quote from when creating a sense of history. We want a world that has existed for a long, long time.

I've written it in character but the notable Germanian (the new name for the Saxon Empire, I didn't much like it) historian, Sigismund Saxo.  

by Sigismund Saxo

"And so the Tyrants raised their towers, guided by their aeon long studies, 
Until the pearl mantled spires carved the very heavens.
For many ages they resided there, each served by their automatons,
Strange familiars enthused with sorcery and alchemerical formula. 
Until the forces they sought to dominate and bend to their will,
Twisted free the fetters that bound them and were cast out into the world."
Extract from 'The Testament of Bantithi'

The land is ancient. 

Incredibly so... 

The forests, rivers and seas that spread like a mottled blanket across the landscape have swayed, rushed and ebbed since before man and mer made their first pathetic struggles towards civilization. They have survived cataclysms and catastrophe. Fire and sword. The farmers axe and the pestilence's blight.

However, they barely survived the destruction of that most ancient of civilizations- namely the Collapse of the Four Great Houses.

The Age of the Tyrants

Little is known of that impossibly archaic time. What scholars can ascertain, translated from weatherworn carvings and the primitive scratching found on ceramic pottery sherds, is that four great sorcerers rose to dominate the world, and each in turn founded a great house. The nature of these 'houses' is still a matter of great debate among academics but it is generally agreed that these sorcerers settled in the far north of the world and built gigantic towers of startling proportions. Here they dwelt for millennia, bending the power of their magicks to shape and control the natural world around them. There is a little evidence to suggest that at the beginning of the their rule the world was little more than a polluted charnel house, that the landmasses and seas had been cracked and burnt away by some cosmic calamity, with little or no life surviving on the surface of the world. It has been argued that the Four Tyrants competed with each other to form the most beautiful of living things - from beasts, to insects, to mammals and plant life.

In time, the sorcerers began perfecting higher forms of life. Those with simple intellects who could solve problems and serve as a willing workforce for each of their masters. The evidence suggests that these 'automatons' were made in the image of their masters, though nothing is really known about what these sorcerers looked like and that they carried many of their master's values. Work such as this required unheard of amounts of magickal power and the sorcerers retreated into their houses to plumb the depths of the chaotic power of sorcery, each desperate to prove themselves the greater. This quest, as far as we know, lead the sorcerers into dark, blasphemous places that mortal minds, however ancient, should never probe. Raw magic burst forth untapped from this source and while the Four struggled to regain control of the power, its malign influence corrupted their forms and forced massive change of their bodies and minds. This change also affected their automatons and many of the living things that made their home on the lands and seas.

The sorcerers retreated to their towers, awfully altered by this accident. In time, they withdrew further into study, opening the crypt door to degenerate knowledge whose nature is not fully understood, even by them. In time, their automatons formed simple societies of their own, mainly around the gigantic bases of their master's towers. The change has stimulated their minds and more sophisticated forms of language and writing developed quickly. It is from the later period of this development that historians have written sources for, most significantly; 'The Testament of Bantithi' and the incomplete 'Blasphemous Beings'. From these texts, we know that the sorcerers became more and more demanding of their servants, and in time became known as Tyrants. This encouraged many groups of automatons into a nomadic life, and they moved south to populate the more benign lands nearer the equator.

The First Tyrannic War

"Doom strode on armoured limbs as the Dreamer lay scrying,
Within the walls of broken spears, the Dark One drank,
Unnumbered legions clashed by night, as the Purple lay dying,
Betrayed by their kith and kin, The First's tower sank."
Extract from 'Blasphemous Beings'

This mysterious passage has puzzled historians for many years. It has been generally agreed that the Four Tyrants are mentioned here, though not by name. Dreamer, Dark One, Purple and The First. What these titles (if they are indeed titles) suggest is still open for debate and could Doom be a hitherto unknown individual or just a literal use of the word? What can be ascertained from the extract is the result of the First Tyrannic War; that two of the Tyrants were murdered by their kin, namely Purple and The First, whose tower may have been subsequently destroyed. What has come down to us from the oral history of the Dwarfs suggests that this war was triggered by some arcane discovery made by The First that he refused to share with the others. Commanding their automatons into action, their forces clashed across the north of the world. It is believed that Purple fell in battle and that The First, seeing their ally fallen, fled to their tower which, in time, was besieged and razed. The outcome of this struggle saw a long period of peace between the two remaining Tyrants. Again, the retreated into their domains to study their forbidden texts and leech more magick out into the world. What happened to the surviving automatons is unknown, but many geneists have argued that The First's people were the ancestors of the elves and the Purple the dwarfs. Certainly, the history of the Dwarfs suggests this, though the elves have worked long and hard to argue otherwise.

The Second Tyrannic War

Some centuries later the two remaining Tyrants fought each other for reasons unknown. Their squabble is believed to have been so destructive that no evidence of its cause or result remains, save a single engraving found on an enormous stone pulled from the depths of the Ocean of Blades during the building of an artificial harbour.

           "And so the Dark One felled his.... with poisoned magicks. ... and stole his knowledge and ... his people so that their blood ... the earth. They were happy." 
Translation of the Oceanic Carving

What is generally assumed is that the Dark One triumphed and laid waste to his foes domains. Interestingly, there is a reference to a 'they' though who 'they' may be and what part they had in the conflict is unknown at this time. With the Dreamer defeated, the Dark One returned to his realms. Dismantling his tower, he ordered his people to drag the stones to the centre of the northern continent. Looting building material from the ruins of his kin's lands, it is said that a titanic tower was constructed over the coming centuries with the single purpose to channel the power of magick up through it in an attempt to break through into the blasphemous dimension that the Tyrants had been extracting power from for aeons. We know that the Dark One was successful in this ambition but the power unleashed was so enormous not even that arcane sorcerer could control it. His will blasted by its force, the tower exploded in a gigantic bubble of raw magick that scored the very land itself and decimated and mutated the living things upon it. 

This event is known to us as the Apocalypse. 

Part two will chronicle the Apocalypse, the creations of humans, elves, dwarfs, orcs and other men and monsters and bring history up to date with the founding of the Germanic Empire, the Aquilionian Kingdom and the rise of the Zaragozian states.

Comments, suggestions and more ideas to add to the history very, very welcome!


  1. Whoah, that's pretty detailed (and impressive). I'm starting a dungeon crawl campaign on Monday and have the first adventure written up, but being a lazy so-and-so have decided to make the world up as I go along. I take my hat off to your industry and await the next instalment with interest.

  2. Good stuff Orlygg - like the way this is developing!

  3. Awesome Orlygg, just awesome. As for suggestions......keep up the good work! You could have orcs or chaos take on the aspects of the picts in Howards Hyborian age. Toppled empire that recedes into a primative barabric race. I've always thought citystates were cool as well. With nations united but just barely. Each citystate scheming against the other. Possibly kings of nations not being as beloved as in other games, or about to be toppled by scheming nobles. Hope that helps.

  4. Very interesting background Orlygg, I'm looking forward to the next instalment.