The God War and the Starlings

(This is another selection from the history of the material plane of my Elorian Campaign setting.  It is the setting of When It All Ended, The Faith of the Raven, and various one-shot stories in the archives.  It is my own thing but it also an homage to Dungeons and Dragons lore as it is primarily intended to be a setting for adventures.)

Many thousands of years ago, long before any time that the oldest elf can remember, the Gods walked the land. It was a time of chaos for the races above and below the earth. The gods played their games and waged their wars and it was too much for the mortal world to bear. Eventually, the kinder gods saw their folly and decided that it was time for the deities of the world to remove themselves for the good of all. Besides, their activities had become tiresome and it was time for a retirement of sorts. A war was waged between the light and the dark. In the end, the fight was close but the dark was pushed from the material plane and scattered into different dimensions. Most gods remain locked in their own domain to keep them from interacting directly. In the case of Orcus, he is literally locked away in chains.

A barrier was erected that would lock the dark gods away. This barrier would also separate the light gods from the world once they agreed to retreat from it. This barrier keeps the gods from directly affecting the material plane. The barrier does allow souls to pass from the material plane to their afterlife and reward in the various outer planes. The barrier did indeed prevent the gods from interacting but many still had interest in the material plane and other intermediate planes. In order for them to enact change in the world, gods must use willing agents or worshippers. By funneling their magic through these mortals, they can push events either for or against the mortal races. Only small amounts of their power can pass through the barriers and only through mortals or enchanted physical objects.

In the long interval since the gods walked the lands, the light gods have grown comfortable with the domains that they created for themselves. They have learned that the harder they push the mortals toward being good, the more chaos they might create. Meanwhile, the dark gods still wish to cause the damage they caused before their banishment. Most of them are very active in scheming and using their limited influence to dominate the world from afar. Perhaps with the world dominated, their followers could discover the means to break the barrier or at least blackmail the light gods into doing so. The light gods generally only move to oppose the dark gods when it is necessary, preferring to let the inherent goodness of the mortal races and free will decide things. There are no more wars between the gods and instead, those wars are fought amongst the mortal denizens of the inner planes.  While war is still tragic, it is far less destructive for everybody who is involved.  Believe it or not, the land is in a period of relative peace.

One of the biggest concerns that remain to the gods is the concept of ascension. There has only been one ascension in the history of the world. Most gods coalesced at the beginning of time. They somehow were created at the same time as the universe. Their personalities formed over time as they learned and grew into the powerful beings they are now. The one exception to that is the ascension of the Raven Queen to godhood. Her true name has been lost to time but she is the only mortal to achieve true godhood. She did so by defeating the previous god of death, Nerull, while she was empowered by the souls of her deceased nation through a complicated interaction with the wish spell.  Her entire nation was annihilated during a war between Nerull and Lathander.

The memory of ascension has been removed from the mortal world through time and the maneuvering of divine agents in the material plane. Many of the gods have even lost any and all references to the involved magicks as well. To prove her good intentions to the light gods, the Raven Queen volunteered to have the memories removed of her own ascension although she retains a lot of the related bullet points. The balance that has been struck must be preserved at all costs. While one method has been lost, it may be rediscovered or another method might be discovered. Therefore, the amassing of too much power is seen as inherently dangerous.

It is for this reason that the Starlings were founded. Their initial gathering and mission were caused by an earthbound planetar sent by Lathander and Saranrae. Their holy mission was to stop those who would gather too much power as it is known that power can corrupt. Along the way, the religions were joined with the political and the organization became more practical. However, the founders understood that the organization could not be weaponized by one people or by one nation so they remain disconnected from political, military, or religious oversight. This separation serves another purpose in keeping them out of the history books.

Even now, the Order of the Starling remains largely secret. It is compartmentalized to prevent its totality from being compromised. Most of its members are researchers and clerics. They whisper in adventurer’s ears to get them to eliminate the enemies of peace and order. One could go on a mission for the Starlings without ever knowing that that tip or rumor might have been intentionally leaked by a Starling. The organization could care less about getting the credit for saving the world and leadership only steps in when it is absolutely necessary. Their field operatives are deep undercover and the world would be hard-pressed to discover their existence now. Thus, they protect the material plane from an apocalypse or an ascension without the world being any the wiser.

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