The Reckoning and what it means to the people of Domains
The Reckoning is the seminal event in the history of the Domains. It began as a war for supremacy among the most powerful Gifted in the world and ended in a cataclysm of wild magic that destroyed most of civilization and still taints the lands over a thousand years later. No one knows if this wild magic was an accidental by-product of the war or a deliberate spell of mass destruction. It is because of the Reckoning, and the effects of wild magic that they can still see that the people of the Domains fear magic and distrust the Gifted.
The battles of the Reckoning lasted consumed entire nations. The Gifted had artifacts that increased their ability to channel power and weave spells by orders of magnitude. The Minotaur and the Armodon races were created to serve as soldiers for this massive conflict. Virulent plagues and weapons of war decimated the populations of the world. Islands were sunk into the sea by spells of immense power. It is important to understand that the Gifted fought not only for political dominance, but mystical supremacy; the winners would be more like gods than kings, able to change reality to their whim. The struggle was nearing its end when the chaos of wild magic broke loose, tainting the world and driving even the most powerful of the Gifted to seek shelter.
According to common lore, Krass was the last city to survive the Reckoning. A powerful trade city, Krass had the advantage of high walls that could withstand the mightiest of spells thanks to powerful runes carved into each stone. An independent trade city, Krass had been spared the worst horrors of the reckoning and was already known as a haven for refugees by the time the last of the Gifted arrived at its walls.
At first many of the gifted who arrived outside of Krass did not come with peace in mind. Moltar was among the first to arrive, and he sought to force his way into the city with the remains of his army. Other Gifted, inside and outside the city opposed him. Some joined his cause, at least temporarily, seeing the walls of Krass as their only hope of riding out the mounting tempest of wild magic. Soon the fields outside the city were the site of an epic battle between the last of the Gifted that threatened to breach even the magically enhanced walls of the mighty city, dooming the last remnants of civilization. The council of Krass met in the people’s assembly to debate the matter while the battle raged on outside and the storm of wild magic grew ever more intense.
The story of the debate in the people’s assembly is famed throughout the Domains, told to children in the first years of schooling and debated by law students and philosophers even now. The majority of the assembly desired to wait until the Gifted had exhausted themselves in the battle outside and then kill them or at least deny them entry and let the tempest do its work. After all, magic caused the tempest and wouldn’t it be better if everyone who had that kind of power was dead? Some even put forward that the Gifted already within the city should be thrown outside.
The last man to speak was the great philosopher Ezuis, a man known for his love of life and powers of reason. When he spoke he was one of the few voices against the opinion that the Gifted left outside should be destroyed. By the end of his speech he had shattered the arguments of the majority with his relentless logic and eloquent rhetoric, arguing that although magic was the cause of the reckoning the only way for the people of Krass to survive the storm of wild magic and reclaim the tainted lands outside was through the use of magic. He demonstrated that without magic, over half the people in the city would perish from famine withing a year. He pointed out that without magic the vital systems such as sewage, vermin control, and water purification that kept the city running would soon break down beyond repair and lead to catastrophic levels of disease. He painted a grim picture of the future of Krass without the Gifted and the people saw the wisdom in his warning.
He argued that compassion was their best weapon. The Gifted needed shelter from the storm of wild magic and Ezuis argue that if they were willing to risk death in battle to find shelter than many of them might be willing to swear a binding oath to gain safety within the city. He contended that this oath could create a new order in which the Gifted used their powers for the betterment of everyone. At this point, Marius, who as watching from the gallery, revealed himself and affirmed that he would indeed be willing to swear this oath.
The creation of the Oath of the Covenant and the first Chosen is a matter of long discourse. Suffice it to say that after a long debate Ezuis delivered the Covenant and Marius became the first of the Chosen to swear to it. Chosen Marius went out of the city in secrecy, finding those Gifted who he knew would be amenable to the oath and bringing them forth to swear to it. The Gifted within the city, with few exceptions also swore the oath. After about thirty of the most powerful of the Gifted had sworn, a herald was sent forth to the remaining Gifted during a lull in the conflict. The terms were simple: swear the oath within three days and be allowed inside or be left to perish outside the walls as the wild magic storms intensified. A large number chose to swear the oath, some tried trickery and died inside the city, others tried to continue the siege and died in the tempests while some chose freedom and to find their own shelter.
The first day of the modern calender (AR – After Reckoning) actually dates from the last chosen to swear the oath, Chosen Moltar who limped out of the storm in his iconic black armour, just before the gates were closed against the storm on the third day.
The Covenant has been modified only a few times since its creation. It included provisions for the creation of the council of the Chosen, the Domains, the people’s assembly, and the training of new Gifted. Its greatest flaw was that it did not provide a satisfactory way for new Chosen to be acclaimed or disputes among individual chosen to be settled, something that led to the creation of the Great Games.
After the Reckoning – The Early Expansion of the Domains
The Domains were just a free city until after the magical tempest ended, there were no Domains then, only Krass. It is said that the storm of wild magic did not let up for three years and when it abated the world outside was barely recognizable. Scouts were sent out, few returned and the people were content to hide behind the walls.
Eventually the city came under attack by the Laphim, an insectoid race that was unknown before the Reckoning. The Laphim managed to scale the walls of Krass and slaughter a large number of the citizenry before anyone even knew of their existence. The timely intervention of the Chosen prevented more than a few thousand deaths, but the fact that the Laphim had breached the walls so easily (they were excellent natural climbers, some could even fly apparently) shook the city up. An army was formed, manufactures were turned towards weapons of war, and the Chosen led soldiers out to punish those who had attacked the city.
It is fortunate that many of the Chosen had military experience and there were a few veterans among the body of volunteers. The land was twisted and tainted and tales of the first expeditions and the war against the Laphim have a decidedly nightmarish quality to them. The land itself was hostile in many places, poisoning the soldiers or even attacking them. The Zombie plague was first encountered during a battle with the Laphim. The first Chosen to die was killed by a blood bee swarm after being wounded in battle. Early victories and defeats steeled the will of the people of Krass. The Laphim were crushed after five years of brutal warfare, the veterans of this war formed the core of the Legions who were the task of clearing the country around Krass. As reward for their sacrifices the Legionnaires were given the land they cleared. The promise of land and adventure lured many into the legions. (Women lobbied, successfully, to be allowed to fight in the legion after the Laphim war — after all female Chosen were allowed to fight…)
The legions grew in might and encountered new enemies at every turn. Krass became a nation in a constant state of war and expansion. The Chosen lobbied for and were granted the power to create their own Domains, provinces of sorts. The power of the legions coupled with the ambitions of the god-like Chosen carving out their domains proved to be nearly impossible to resist. If a legion was lost they were replaced. If a Chosen was killed a new one, fresh from winning the ultimate prize in the great games, would take their place. A few foes, such as the tribe of trolls, surrendered and were incorporated into the Domains.
The campaign along the Great Western way was the culmination of these years of effort. The Borders of the Domains were pushed back over a thousand miles in a hundred years. The prize of that campaign was the lush Thousand rivers area, a fertile cornucopia where several small civilizations had weathered the Reckoning. These men and women were absorbed into the Domains, sometimes peacefully.
Krass started to enjoy a semblance of stability. The border was far away now, and heavily fortified. The Chosen had their own Domains to administer and grow. Trade started to flourish. Expansion slowed and became the concern of ambitious new Chosen seeking their own Domains rather than the entire social order.