We, the Creators, did breathe the beauty into this world. We planted the seeds that would blossom into this incredible weave of Exandria. However, what is the purpose of the parent but to teach what they can, then set the children free?  Some gods rule through fear, others through love, and others still through perceived fate. [...]

For me, our greatest purpose has passed, the moment we granted your forebears the spark to seek their own purpose. We now stay to inspire, to guide, to guard the Gate, to keep the hate of ignorance we spawned in our hubris from burning away everything. The rest is up to you. We need you, perhaps, but you do not need us.
Ioun, the Knowing Mistress, to Vox Machina[1]

Since the gods first came to Exandria, four distinct ages of the world have gone by: the Founding, the Age of Arcanum, the Calamity, and the Divergence. The events of Critical Role take place in the fourth age.[2]

For a timeline of Exandrian history as it is now known, with dates, see the article Time Line.

The Founding[edit | edit source]

Long ago, this world was one of tumultuous and chaotic forces. Naught but unbridled fires, and churning, saw-like rock made up its substance. Through the ashen skies of Creation Primordial, the gods came from beyond the ether, new and formless. Looking upon this roiling realm, they saw potential for great beauty, great strength, and the chance to learn their own place in creation.
The Myth of Exandria[3]

The Founding was the first age of Exandria.[2] During this time, the gods brought forth creatures to inhabit Exandria, before splitting into two factions in the war against the Primordial Titans: the Prime Deities and the Betrayer Gods. The age ended with the defeat of the Primordials, along with the Betrayer Gods, which made the world safe for civilization to flourish.

The Protean Creators[edit | edit source]

During this first age, gods brought forth the elves, dwarves, and humans, along with as many other races as they had inspiration for. Because the world was still a dangerous place, ruled by elemental chaos, many of their children were killed in the earliest days.

Saddened by the loss of so many children, the gods gifted mortals with arcane magic so they might better defend themselves. The Dragons Metallic were created to aid in the defense of the Children of Creation. With the dragons' help, civilization began to flourish and mortals first offered worship (and purpose) to their creators.[3]

The Primordials[edit | edit source]

These Elemental Titans had lain beneath the land since before the coming of the gods and now rose up to wreak havoc on the gods' creations. Their carnage invited the attention of demons from the Abyss, who came to feast on the remains.[4]

The Prime Deities vs. the Betrayer Gods[edit | edit source]

As the Primordials devastated creation, two factions arose between the gods. The Prime Deities wished to stay and conquer the Primordials, leaving the land safe for their children. the Betrayer Gods, frustrated by their losses, gave up; some gave in to madness, and some began twisting their creations and joining forces with the Abyss.[4]

The Prime Deities, with the help of their mortal champions, ultimately destroyed the Primordials and banished the Betrayer Gods from the Material Plane.[4]

Periodic Table of the Deities of Exandria

The Earth Titan[edit | edit source]

The fate of one of these defeated Primordials, an Earth titan, is known to Vox Machina. This titan was thrust feet-first[5] into the earth in northern Issylra, raising a mountain range.[citation needed] It lay there for an eternity, its remains excavated for precious metal in the early Age of Arcanum by dwarves whose society eventually collapsed into madness and cannibalism, until it was reanimated by Vecna.[6]

The Founding of Vasselheim[edit | edit source]

With peace finally achieved, the first true civilization was able to take root. It was called Vasselheim, the "Dawn City", and the "Cradle of Creation."[4]

The Age of Arcanum[edit | edit source]

Over time, some of the peoples grew arrogant. Seeing their arcane gifts as proof the gods held no sway over their fate, some began to believe that, with enough understanding, they could become as powerful as the gods themselves.
The Myth of Exandria[4]

The Age of Arcanum was the second age of Exandria.[2] It began over 1,500 years prior to the events of Critical Role.[7] During this time, mortals tested the limits of arcane power, challenged the gods who had created them, and brought about the escape of the once-defeated Betrayer Gods. This era has also been called "the Age of Wanton Necromancy," as there were no laws against it at the time.[8]

Arcane Ambition[edit | edit source]

Mortal mages grew ever more powerful, building entire castles in a day and even learning to create life-forms of their own. Driven by the quest for immortality, an unnamed mortal woman challenged and defeated the God of Death himself, ascending to take his place in the pantheon.

One man, Archmage Vespin Chloras, sought to harness the power of the Betrayer Gods. He broke open their prison, where they had been spawning hungry creations of their own, and released them back into the Material Plane.[4]

Ghor Dranas[edit | edit source]

Driven by an urge for domination, the exiled gods came forth from their broken prisons, enthralled the mage who had freed them, and founded a kingdom of their own on the far end of the world. The kingdom was called "Ghor Dranas"[4] (which means "gathering of shadows" in Draconic[9]), and was located in the region which would later become Xhorhas in Wildemount.[10] The city of Rosohna was built on the ruins of Ghor Dranas.

Assault on Vasselheim[edit | edit source]

From Ghor Dranas, the Betrayer Gods spread their influence and eventually made an assault on the bastion of Vasselheim. The battle lasted twenty days and nights but, with the divine aid of the Prime Deities, Vasselheim and its inhabitants stood triumphant, if battered, at the end.[4]

This assault left both mortals and gods alike shaken. Mortals turned their arcane powers to the forging of heroic weapons, and the gods prepared for war.[11]

The Calamity[edit | edit source]

No record remains of the terrible war that followed, but its effects are still felt today. The sheer magnitude of the energies unleashed in the ensuing battles of gods and mortals alike was enough to fray the boundaries holding back the elemental chaos, spilling unbridled destruction into the world. It completely rearranged the known flow of magical ley energy across Exandria.
The Myth of Exandria[11]

The Calamity was the third age of Exandria.[2] The exact timeframe is uncertain, but it is known that Ioun, who was wounded during this age, has been recovering for at least 800 years.[12] This age encompasses the second war against the Betrayer Gods, which devastated civilization and in some cases rearranged the geography of the world. The age ends with the defeat of the Chained Oblivion and the construction of the Divine Gate.

Divine Warfare[edit | edit source]

Following the assault on Vasselheim, conflict against the Betrayer Gods was rejoined. Most cities that had sprung up during the Age of Arcanum were reduced to ash, leaving Vasselheim once again as the sole bastion of civilization. Historians estimate that no more than a third of the world's population survived this war.[11]

To end the war, the Prime Deities sought to banish Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion. During their battle, Ioun, the Knowing Mistress, took a near-fatal blow, from which she is still recovering. However, the Rites of Prime Banishment were successfully enacted for the first time in history, and Tharizdun was vanquished.

A Long Recovery[edit | edit source]

In the end, the kingdom of Ghor Dranas was defeated and the Betrayer Gods banished once more, but now with the knowledge and fear that they could return again. While the mortal world recovered slowly from the devastation it had endured, the Prime Deities were left to ponder how they might prevent a third divine war.[11]

The Divergence[edit | edit source]

Hoping to seal away the Betrayer Gods for good, the Prime Deities retreated from the Material Plane. Behind themselves and their defeated brethren, they erected a barrier known as the Divine Gate, which would prevent any god from physically crossing over into mortal realms.[11]

The departure of the gods from Exandria, and the diminishing of their influence, was an event that has since come to be known as "The Divergence."[11]

Post-Divergence[edit | edit source]

Much time has passed since, and the world has been reborn once again. The gods still exhibit their influence and guidance from beyond the Divine Gate, bestowing their knowledge and power to their most devout worshipers, but the path of mortals is now their own to make.
The Myth of Exandria[13]

The events of Critical Role take place during the fourth age of Exandria.[2] This timespan encompasses all of modern history since the Divergence. Monks of the Cobalt Soul and other historians label and number the years in the Calendar of Exandria as "PD", or "Post Divergence". For example, at the start of Critical Role's second campaign, the year is 835 PD.

Influence of the Gods[edit | edit source]

Though unable to physically cross over into Exandria, both the Prime Deities and the Betrayer Gods still grant boons from afar to their mortal followers. Vasselheim remains as the bastion city of the Prime Deities, where divine magic is common but arcane magic tightly regulated for its role in unleashing the Calamity.

Vestiges of the Divergence[edit | edit source]

Powerful relics from the war against the Betrayer Gods remain scattered throughout the Planes of Existence. Eight of these relics have been gathered together by a group of heroes known as Vox Machina, though more remain lost.

Ascension of a New God[edit | edit source]

The arch-lich Vecna once again pressed the limits of arcane power. In "The Endless Atheneeum" (1x106), for only the second time in the history of the world, a mortal attained the power of a god.[14] Vecna sought then to gather worshipers and expand his power,[15] while the Prime Deities sought to defeat him as the Betrayer Gods were once defeated.

Unlike during the last war, the Divine Gate stood as a barrier between the Prime Deities and the newly ascended Vecna, who came to power on the mortal side of the gate.[16] It seemed that the responsibility for his banishment would therefore fall upon a select few mortal champions, bearing the gifts of their gods from across the Divine Gate.

Vox Machina, guided by blessings from Ioun, Pelor, Sarenrae, and the Raven Queen, took it upon themselves to confront and seal away Vecna. Atop his tower in the moving city of Thar Amphala, as Vecna led yet another assault against Vasselheim, they confronted the new god. By enacting the same Rites of Prime Banishment that were used to seal away the Chained Oblivion, they successfully exiled him from the Prime Material Plane.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See "The Endless Atheneeum" (1x106) from 1:15:10 through 1:16:45.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 The four age divisions are presumed based on the sections of "The Myth of Exandria" in Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp 5–8.  Based on those sections, there have been three ages prior to the start of modern history.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 6.
  5. See "Talks Machina #39: 'Shadows of Thomara'" (TMx39) from 1:10:01 through 1:10:38.
  6. See "The Ominous March" (1x109) from 1:40:39 through 1:41:16.  Also see 2:25:42.
  7. See "The Climb Within" (1x110) at 0:21:05.
  8. See "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) at 2:20:04.
  9. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 142.
  10. Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 99.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 7.
  12. See "Elysium" (1x104) at 2:52:05.
  13. Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 8.
  14. See "The Endless Atheneeum" (1x106) at 1:22:54.
  15. See "The Endless Atheneeum" (1x106) from 1:23:25 through 1:25:00.
  16. See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 5:37:26.
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