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MATT: Welcome to Exandria, the world of Critical Role. Join us as we explore this world and its history, starting at the very beginning.

(dramatic music)

Eons before recorded history, a group of formless gods arrived at a world churning in chaos. But within this disorder, they saw boundless potential and a chance to learn about their place in the universe through the act of creation. So they began to tame the primordial chaos of this world and created life to live upon it. First were the elves, then the dwarves, then humans, and other races swiftly following as the young gods created their children. But these children of the gods lived short, violent lives. To help them withstand the chaos of this tumultuous land, the gods gave their children small slivers of their essence, resulting in the birth of divine magic. In addition, they created illustrious dragons pledged to defend the weak.

But the primordial forces of this world responded to this power shift. Primordial Titans rose to end this attempt at taming their world, destroying vast swaths of mortal populations. This created a schism between the gods. One side, the Prime Deities, wanted to protect their creations from the Titans, so they taught their children how to make magic on their own, culminating in the birth of arcane magic. But the other gods became so overwhelmed by grief, loss, and frustration, they wanted to join the Titans in destroying their creations. These Betrayer Gods wanted to give up on this world and start over somewhere else.

To save their children and their world, the Prime Deities banished the Betrayer Gods to their own prison planes, and with the help of the mortals' magic, the Primordial Titans were defeated, their essences safely channeled and locked away into the elemental planes. And thus, civilization dawned in the heart of the first city, Vasselheim, and this world was finally named Exandria.

For centuries, the mortal races prospered during the Age of Arcanum. They perfected their magics, spawning unimaginable feats of arcane innovation, but this progress also led to unchecked arrogance. Some began using their magics for the ruthless pursuit of power, immortality, and even to attain godhood. One mortal challenged the God of Death and won, ascending to take their place in the Pantheon. Another mortal, inspired by her success, resorted to releasing the Betrayer Gods from their planar prisons to achieve such a power.

V.O.: (evil laugh)

MATT: The Betrayer Gods and their acolytes ravaged the world, attacking Vasselheim directly, and invoking the wrath of the guardian dragons and the Prime Deities themselves. The result was a magical arms race with all sides, god and mortal alike, working diligently to create new arcane engines of war, a war that would become known as The Calamity. Not much is known about the battles that ensued during The Calamity, but the scars they left upon the world are visible to this day. Some gods imbued fragments of their power into powerful arms and armaments known as the Vestiges of Divergence. The grand magical cities of the Age of Arcanum were completely destroyed by the war. Only Vasselheim, the Dawn City, survived, while the rest of civilization was left in ruins.

The Prime Deities and their champions successfully banished the Betrayer Gods back to their prison planes, but only one-third of the planet's population survived The Calamity. After the events of this terrible catastrophe, the Prime Deities created the Divine Gate to protect their creations from the ruinous presence of unchecked divinity, sealing all divine powers behind it. The gods sacrificed their ability to physically return to the Material Plane, but Exandria would be protected from the destructive warring of these divine beings. The gods' power would only be channeled by their most devout worshipers.

The Calamity shook the foundations of Exandria, but from it, new cities and new cultures were spawned. Will the mistakes of the past be learned from, or will history repeat itself?

On the continent to the west, the dwarves had taken to their mountains, but after a generation, the elves returned to this land and named it Gwessar. Eventually, humans came to Gwessar, and with them, they brought chaos and passion. King Warren Drassig and his sons waged a war for the land before the Drassig rule was felled by Zan Tal'Dorei. She became sovereign, and the continent was renamed Tal'Dorei in her honor.

To the east is the continent of Wildemount, a geographically varied land split into three main sections. The Menagerie Coast, a land of trade ruled by the Clovis Concord, Western Wynandir, ruled by and named for the nationalistic Dwendalian Empire, and Eastern Wynandir, a land scarred by The Calamity named Xhorhas, ruled by the Kryn Dynasty. Beyond their borders are the frozen tundras of Eiselcross, and the lands of the Miskath Strand.

Sparsely populated and mostly untamed, the continent of Issylra is home to Vasselheim and is where civilization itself began. When the magical cities of the Age of Arcanum fell, the people of Vasselheim took on a distaste of arcane magic and a zealous respect for the works of the divine.

In the south, you'll find the continent of Marquet. Though the pebbled coast is inviting and there is respite in the oases, its vast desert can prove treacherous, and the lush jungles and jagged mountains that surround it hide mysteries still yet to be unraveled.

Exandria is a world rife with change and marked by both power and potential, where destructive forces are forever seeking new ways to return to chaos, but where heroes will always rise up to meet these challenges and protect this fragile land.

(gentle harp and flute music)

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