Gods have long been known to create and destroy new realms on a whim; sometimes to erect their own personal dominions, sometimes to have a place to aimlessly wander, and sometimes out of sheer boredom. One thing that always happens with these realms, however, is that the creator or creators stick around to watch it progress and develop, or at least for a while – it’s in the nature of the gods. That is, it almost always happens.
A scant 5000 years ago, an unknown god decided to create a new realm, and thus came Bryl. The god created land and sea, sky and earth, and everything in between. Interestingly, instead of creating new races, this god decided to use some earlier molds – most notably Humans, Dragonborn and Gnomes. Some say this choice is indicative of the god, others that it is just luck of the draw, but no one really knows. After bringing these and many other creatures into its realm, though, the god departed, leaving Bryl to find its own way in the multiverse. It is in this realm that our story begins.
The peoples of Bryl lived in peace for a time. However, as is known to happen among all free thinking races, fights broke out among them. Originally, they were small scuffles over minimal things, like who got what land, and the fruit of which trees belonged to whom. Unfortunately, though, they soon escalated into full-blown wars, and before long, the entire continent was embroiled in a stalemate of a battle.
See, each of the three races had different advantages that made them somehow unconquerable, no matter how long the wars raged.
The Humans relied on their sheer presence of numbers combined with ingenuity and an amazing ability to adapt – they built large walled cities with the specific intent of defense, and crafted huge machines of war to help them in their efforts. With all of these constructed advantages, the other races were hard pressed to even approach their cities.
The Dragonborn relied heavily on their caste system to provide them with warriors, and took advantageous positions in the Jawbone Mountains, their cities often built entirely into the side of the peaks or deep in the crevasses of the valleys. Also, with the Lo-born’s ability to glide down onto their opponents from above and the Hi-born’s breath weapons, their position quickly became insurmountable.
The Gnomes, on the other hand, did things a bit differently. They retreated into the natural environments that surrounded them; some into the forest, others onto the plains, and still others onto the very lakes of the land. The Forest Gnomes built houses and cities way up in the trees of the Silverwood Forest, well out of reach of most armies. The Plains Gnomes took to a nomadic lifestyle on The Great Plain. One day, a traveler could walk past a huge tent-city on the plains. If the same traveler were to walk by the next day, they may see not only no city, but no trace that one had ever existed. Lastly, the Lake Gnomes became the masters of the lakes they live on – namely, the Gnomyn Lakes, building cities on – and often under – the water, and learning to use the ideal defensive weapons to keep unwanted visitors off of their waters. This division in the race lead to different evolutionary cycles, and what are now often considered three separate races. This adaptation to their environments made the Gnomes very difficult to target – you can’t kill what you can’t get at.
As these wars continued over the lands of Bryl, kingdoms grew desperate to gain enough power to defeat their adversaries, and so many of the kings, lords and leaders of the land started to commit atrocious acts in order to gain the upper hand. Of these, the worst was the King’s Right. This was the idea that the King had the Right to anything in his kingdom – including those children with Psionic powers. Though this idea started among the Humans, it quickly spread to the other races as this power was leveraged in the Humans’ favor. Any child discovered to have Psionic powers was to be sent to the King’s estate immediately to receive training for battle – failure to do so would result in the death of the rest of the family, and the King simply taking the child. These psionicists were trained by the kings’ men as weapons against each other, for they were the most powerful beings on any battlefield. Normally, the people wouldn’t have stood for such a ruling – but in the midst of war, many things that we would normally think of as wrong and evil are accepted as the only way to survive.
Now, you may be asking how it is that only Psionic children were taken, and not those with the talent for Arcane, Divine, or Primal magic. That is because these three power sources did not exist in Bryl. You see, whichever god created this plane decided to leave out the Arcane and Primal aspects, and since this god left the plane to it’s own devices and never returned, the Divine power source is also not present. Thus, those with the Psionic gift are extremely powerful, and many of the people of Bryl thought they needed to be kept in check – another reason why the people did not revolt against the King’s Right.
The last Great War started a thousand years ago. Luckily, it only lasted 500 years. Unluckily, in ended in the worst way possible.
During the last Great War, the kings of the land became so desperate for Psionic warriors that they redoubled their efforts at finding them, often taking children from their parents at even the slightest hint of some power, not waiting to find out if it actually developed. Aside from the people getting angry, there was unrest growing among the ranks of psionicists – they were getting tired of being used to kill each other. 500 years ago, a Gnome Psion by the name of Orynn Nyx sent out a psychic call to all psionicists. He proposed a meeting of the true powers in this war – an attempt to stop the fighting once and for all. The other psionicists agreed immediately – the feelings of discontent were widespread. Every psionicist left every city in the realm, and they all met in the center of the continent – the Crossroads Citadel. It was what the races used in those rare times of peace to try and keep that peace. It had stood unused for the last 500 years of war. The psionicists stayed there in discussion of what to do and who to blame for 5 days. Some wanted to kill every king and courtier and start anew, others wanted to retreat across the Great Plain and leave the war to the normal people, and still others thought the psionicists should band together and take over everything. Shortly after dawn on the fifth day, the armies came.
From the West came the Gnomes, the East the Humans, and the North the Dragonborn. Each army numbered in the tens of thousands – the entire fighting force of the three races. It looked as if they had all decided to end it right then and there. As the day wore on, each army waited for the other to make a move – finally, with the setting sun to their backs, the humans charged. The Dragonborn and Gnomes were quick to join.
Desperate to stop the fighting, and caught in the middle of the three-way charge, the psionicists rashly decided to pool their power through Orynn. Though the great release of power stopped the charging armies in their tracks, it had an unexpected side effect – it created a rift in the realm.
The psionicists were killed instantly, their life force sucked through the sudden rift along with their power. An initial shock wave killed many of the soldiers at the fore of each army, and a second all but decimated the rest of the ranks. The few survivors were thrown miles from the rift, and yet were unharmed. The force of the successive shock waves from the rift opening had even flattened the mountains in the area. Where once there had been beautiful prairie lands surrounding the bottom of the Jawbone Mountains, there was now a great desert wasteland – the Riftwatch Desert. All told, over 30,000 individuals were killed in that event.
On top of the massive death toll and reshaping of the land, odd things started appearing across Bryl. Individuals of odd races would just randomly appear, as if they had fallen from the sky. Elves, Dwarves, Minotaurs and Tieflings all appeared out of nowhere, along with every other race known to the Gods. Along with them came things like Arcane magic, and Primal strength, and some even brought their Divinity and their gods. Oddly, though, Psionic power has ceased to work since the rift. That day was the end of Bryl as it was known, and the beginning of the Bryl as we now know it.
It’s been 500 years since the rift was torn open and the Riftwatch Desert created. We still often get random people showing up here and there, but nothing can surprise us anymore… or at least I hope it can’t. Unfortunately, along with these people have come other, darker creatures. They’ve started attacking our settlements and peoples, and it appears as though the people of Bryl could be in for another war. This time against a very different foe, and possibly for our very existence. A lot of people are still wary of the Rifters – those that appear out of the rift – but one thing is for sure – we’ll need everyone’s help to save our realm.