The Breeds of Man
Ours Is Not the First Age of Men…
Nor the second. Perhaps not even the third. Much of the history of this world is lost to us. What we do know is that the men of those earlier ages were little different from us in many ways. They were mortal. They lived, fought, loved, and died. Empires rose and fell. Until The Last Empire.
That’s what they called it. We know that much. And perhaps it was this hubris that brought them down in the end. The men and women of this empire had learned a great deal; they were masters of arts both martial and magical. They were all but immortal, physically powerful and learned, if not wise. They conquered all the other lands of our world, and it was not enough to satisfy them. They created servants of the conquered peoples; using their arts and sciences to shape their minds and bodies to better serve the desires of their masters.
They created the elves as playthings, long-lived, beautiful and elegant. The crafted the dwarves to delve deep in the earth for the treasures they demanded, small but powerful and enduring, and with a love of small spaces. They shaped halflings to be their household servants, small and silent and unobtrusive, with a taste for domesticity. They created countless other creatures, both humanoid and not, to serve as troops in their endless wars, or to entertain them in the arena, to be living sculptures for their estates, or as prey for hunting parties.
Eventually the Empire fell. No one knows—now—what happened. We know only that it happened very swiftly. A matter of days or weeks, perhaps months. Not more. What followed, inevitably, was chaos and war, as the lands so long subject to the Empire fought to establish themselves anew, and to take the place of the vanished rulers, or to maintain their newfound independence. War, famine, starvation, plague—the breeds of man nearly followed their erstwhile masters into oblivion.
But they didn’t. Centuries and then millennia passed. Empires rose and fell. Again. Leading, ultimately, to the world we know today. Humans, elves, dwarves, halfings, orcs, goblins, gnomes and many other species coexist, sharing a world they inherited from their creators so long ago. That world is filled with mysteries, still, and ruins of the cities the Empire left behind, littered with treasures and traps. Things that are not of our earth also wander the world, a legacy of that long-ago cataclysm.