For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky.
–From the Star Trek episode with that as the title
The world was once very different than it is now.
It is said that the world was created out of nothing, perhaps even out of Void, by a deity known only as the Balance. Others say that the creation of the world was the one project that the eight major demigods could actually agree on, and that the Balance does not exist. Either way, in ancient times, the demigods walked the earth with the people whom each of them had created after their own fashion.
For a time, all was well in the new, young world.
But not for long. The eight great demigods fought with each other, as did their children, because their natures were fundamentally opposed. They reached the brink of their own destruction in the fighting when a peace treaty was brokered by a race now known as the Ancients. The Ancients were said to have been created by the Balance, or perhaps as a natural reaction to the unending fighting; the truth is now obscured by the time and loss between now and then. And, for a time, all was well, and the World Without was rebuilt, greater than it had been before. All the races grew in strength and majesty, and explored worlds of which we now only dream.
The wars came again, in time, more brutal than before. And this time, even the words of the Ancients could not calm the combatants. The Ancients were deliberately wiped out, as their skills at stopping wars and fighting prevented the competing sides from perpetrating the destruction that they desired.
And then there was war beyond imagining, without end, without quarter, stoked by the opposed natures of the demigods. The wizards and technomancers of the day found ever newer and better means of destroying. What ended the war is uncertain. Some say that the fighting grew so intense, that the very air was poisoned, or stripped away; others that the air burned, and the earth melted. Whatever it was, it was called the Apocalypse, and the survivors were few and dwindling. Some say that the demigods saw this, and ended their fighting, because they did not want all their creations to perish; others say that the Balance intervened directly, forbidding her children from continuing the fight.
Then, with or without the Balance, the demigods changed the world, to make a haven for the survivors of the Apocalypse. They tore the surface from the dying world, and built a new one inside. The World Without was abandoned for the safety of the World Within, a spherical shell around another small world, both surfaces filled with life and illuminated by the Great Ring that exists between them. The Ring glows by day, and dims by night, and the duration of day and night shift regularly with the seasons, and have always done so in the millennia since the Apocalypse. The word “sun” refers to a circle with spikes around it, or a bright source of light, and is associated with the daylight of the Ring. The word “moon” means a crescent, or the very dim light of the Ring at night. The word “star” means only a faint point of light, or a particular shape which has radiating triangles.
As for the gods, what has happened to them is unclear. They have not been seen walking in the World Within since it was created, when they once often walked among mortals before the Apocalypse. Some say they now realize how dangerous their direct intervention is. Others say that the Balance has forbidden them from returning until they learn not to destroy each other and their children.
Regardless, none of the great magic (read: game-breaking power-gaming) was possible any longer. Attempts to enter other planes, or to reach the World Without, fail or backfire without exception. The World Within is all that remains.
Each year is 360 days long, divided into four seasons of two months each, each named after one of the major demigods. Each month is 45 days long. The months and seasons are as follows:
- Early Winter — Derv (Dervit)
- Late Winter — Tenn (Altenn)
- Early Spring — Halli (Halliman)
- Late Spring — Mey (Meylin)
- Early Summer — Telur (Ur-Tel)
- Late Summer — Doln (Urna-Dolna)
- Early Fall — Abar (Barta)
- Late Fall — Makur (Turmak)
(All domains listed below are in either the Player’s Handbook or Complete Divine)
Patron of: Humans, Elves, Half-Elves, Ancients
Domains: Celerity, Oracle, Mind, Creation, Healing
Favored Weapon: Greatsword
By most people’s reckoning, the Balance is probably the most powerful deity to affect the World Within. Assuming she exists at all, that is. Supposedly, she created all the demigods, as well as the entire world. Many worshippers of the demigods doubt her existence. However, the creation of the Ancients, ancestors of humans and elves, is attributed to her.
She is usually depicted as an Ancient (though little is known of their appearance now) or half-elven, in a thin dress, carrying a greatsword in one hand and a scale in the other. She is also often shown wearing a blindfold. A yin-yang is her holy symbol.
Clerics of the Balance must be either True Neutral or Neutral Good aligned. Most of her clerics are calm and very mysterious, and the Divine Oracles associated with her are even more so.
True Neutral / Neutral Evil / Chaotic Evil (depends on who you ask)
Patron of: ???
Domains: Cold, Pact, Knowledge, Death
Favored Weapon: Two-Bladed Sword
The Void’s existence is doubted on the same level as the Balance’s, and places him (it?) on the same level. Little is known of the Void, save that its followers tend to either withdraw from the world entirely, or seek to destroy aspects of the Balance and other creative things for no known reason, and may be very subtle in their machinations. Void followers are persecuted in most areas for this reason, and most temples to the Void are carefully hidden. The Void is not credited at this time with the creation of any living races, though some say he was involved in making the Drow and other creatures of the Underdark.
The Void is usually depicted as a black field, or a shadowy, featureless figure. The holy symbol of the Void is an empty black square.
Clerics of the Void may be of any alignment, but are rarely good-aligned.
Ur-Tel, God of the Forge
Patron of: Dwarves (and Dragons)
Domains: Earth, Good, Law, Protection
Favored Weapon: Warhammer
Ur-Tel, brother to Urna-Dolna, is the mighty Dwarven god. He also chose to support Dragons who left the service of Turmak, and changed their color to indicate their change of heart. He is also worshipped by good members of races with draconic heritage.
Ur-Tel is a dwarf, carrying a mighty warhammer and wearing red raiment. He is often drawn at a forge. His holy symbol is an anvil.
Meylin, Goddess of the Forest
Patron of: Killoren, other forest-dwelling races (e.g., fey, centaurs)
Domains: Animal, Good, Plant, Sun
Favored Weapon: Longbow
Meylin is quiet and subtle, but dangerous nonetheless. She is often shown as a Killoren, in the Ancient aspect, gliding through the forest, her bow at the ready to defend it from its foes. She loves the sun, but hates fire. Her holy symbol is a green maple leaf.
Dervit, God of Cleverness
Patron of: Gnomes, Halflings
Domains: Travel, Trickery, Fire, Glory
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Dervit is alternatively portrayed as a gnomish tinker and sorcerer, or a halfling rogue. Each of the two races is said to be descended from the other (depending on who you ask), and others suggest that the dispute is entirely a joke of Dervit’s devising. Dervit is the patron of noble thieves, playful tricksters and liberators everywhere.
Also, bards. He probably thought they were funny, too. His holy symbol is a broken chain link.
Barta, Goddess of Law
Patron of: Illumians
Domains: Knowledge, Magic, Law, Healing
Favored Weapon: Spear
Barta is depicted as a librarian, with a spear in one hand and a book of law in the other. Her holy symbol is the Illumian rune for knowledge. She is said to have created the Illumian race as an illustration of pure knowledge and language, explaining why they are so tightly tied to the written word. She is also said to be a master of political manipulation, critical in resolving the first Great War.
Note that even evil clerics of Barta turn/rebuke undead and convert prepared spells to cure spells.
Halliman, God of Freedom
Patron of: Raptorans, Sea Kin, Merfolk
Domains: Air, Water, Chaos, Luck, Weather
Favored Weapon: Rapier
His worshippers tend to oppose any government or group which seeks to impose its own views on others, good or evil. Halliman may appear as a raptoran, merfolk, or a winged merman, depending on the context. He is the god of chance, and weather, and revels in change. Gamblers will call for him for a change in their fortunes, fickle though he is. His holy symbol is a coin with an eye on one side and a hand on the other.
Turmak, God of Tyranny
Patron of: Dragonborn, Dragons (and Kobolds, sort of)
Domains: Destruction, Evil, War, Cold
Favored Weapon: Flail
Favored of power-hungry people everywhere, Turmak is a god of tyrants, and supports order and power and those who seek them by any means. It is said that the Kobolds were his first effort at making a race of sentient beings, followed by dragonborn and dragons, in that order. He was enraged when some of his dragons defected to follow Ur-Tel. He generally appears as either a dragonborn or a dragon, both black. His holy symbol is an image of a broken tower.
Altenn, Goddess of Death
Patron of: Undead (and necromancers)
Domains: Evil, Death, Destruction, Creation
Favored Weapon: Scythe
Altenn did not bother to create her own people; instead, she claims the dead of other races, whenever she is able. She is the patron of all evil necromancers, and, while she finds good-aligned ones distasteful, accepts their production of more of her children. Especially when they lose control.
She typically appears as a vampiric elf or an animated humanoid skeleton of unclear race. Her holy symbol is a skull with a dead plant growing through one eye socket. It is often stylized.
Urna-Dolna, Goddess of Savagery
Patron of: Orcs, ogres
Domains: Pestilence, Destruction, Madness, Strength
Favored Weapon: Morningstar
Creator of orcs and ogres, she is also responsible for the generation of many diseases of mind and body. She loves the taste of blood and war and tearing things to pieces. Especially if it comes at the expense of Ur-Tel. She appears as a massive ogress, tall, ugly, and covered in blood and black war-paint.
Her holy symbol is a clenched fist holding human entrails. Or, really, whatever gruesome scary thing the cleric or worshipper can convince Urna-Dolna is a good idea. She’s not picky, so long as it’s cool. (She is chaotic, after all.)
Patron of: Kobolds
Domains: Trickery, Knowledge, Liberation, Summoner
Favored Weapon: Crossbow (any type)
Pun-Pun is said to have once been a mortal kobold adventurer who used his own cleverness to become a god. He is primarily worshipped by other kobolds who seek to reach a similar enlightenment, and “become one with Pun-Pun.” This can be done by finding a new, clever way of becoming a deified kobold, which has not already been prohibited by the gods and the great forces of nature that shape the universe.
Members of most other races think that Pun-Pun was simply an uppity kobold who got himself lightninged to death for his hubris.
Pun-Pun’s holy symbol is a square with lines within it, which, upon close examination, can be seen to represent some sort of “character sheet.”
Patron of: Drow
Domains: Destruction, Evil, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Dagger
Little is known of Lolth, aside from her being the half-giant-spider patron of the Drow and other creatures of the Deeps.
Domains: Discuss with GM
Favored weapon: Discuss with GM
Naytheist are not atheists (the existence of the gods in general is not disputed). However, the naytheist has decided that the gods are unworthy of worship. As such, divine spellcasters who are naytheists have abilities which are powered by their own conviction in the correctness of their philosophy, and run the full range from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil. There is typically a minority of such believers in most countries, though they are rarely organized.
The Four Weapons
According to the legends surrounding the Apocalypse, the gods provided four powerful weapons to help protect the survivors as they fled to the World Within. It is said they were needed to defend against great horrors summoned into the World Without. All four weapons have been lost in the two millennia since.
The existence of these weapons is not disputed, although their divine source, degree of power, and properties, generally are.
The Dagger of Midnight is said to have shone with a silver light like the Ring itself at night. It was supposedly stolen by the Drow into the Underdark, and has not been seen for at least five hundred years. Expeditions to get it back tend to go… badly.
The Bow of Twilight was said to be nearly invisible to anyone other than its wielder. It was lost during an expedition to explore the region where Life’s Edge now exists, but it has not been found again as civilization expands.
The Sword of Dawn supposedly burned with the golden light of its time of day. It’s now said to be in one of the Duskwatcher clan’s archives in Wylmar, but they deny this. (And thieves have failed to find it.)
The Axe of Midday is the only one with a known location, but it is lost in a sense due to its inaccessibility. It was dropped into a volcano in Mynythe — the Lower Tyerek Mountain, which is currently occupied by a belligerent gold dragon. It’s not known why Mexorek doesn’t let anybody get even close to the axe, but adventurers bold enough to try tend to get dumped unceremoniously at the border with their armor on fire.