The Chromatic Domains
A Brief History of the World
The following is a text written by human historian Tilmund Dox titled A Brief History of the World:
After the creation of the world and the emergence of Purple, the sentient and civilized Purple races were still new to the world. For reasons still unknown, the intervention of Purple appears to be difficult, if not impossible to notice, and so it is very rare that events in early civilization can be dated. There is, however, a general timeline that has been put together by historians that predates well-recorded happenings.
Perhaps because the creation of life was still new to Purple, the oldest Purple race, the elves, has a disproportionate amount of Green in their Color composition. As a result, the elves were drawn to places where life thrived. Namely, forests. They have a natural affinity for life and freedom, and did not have any desire to create a structured society. For a significant amount of time, the elves were little more than extremely intelligent beasts. That is not to say they were savage, but there was no order, and no desire for order. Eventually, and even an estimate for this span of time is impossible, the elves did succumb to the Blue in them, and they began to build homes in the trees and gather into communities. It seems that only the most brilliant and creative elves attained chromacy during this period, and that knowledge was not quickly spread.
Perhaps not long after the elves, or maybe hundreds of years later, the dwarves appeared deep within mountains, climbing out of the stone walls of caves. This new life held much Yellow and Blue, and the natural curiosity born from the tendencies of Yellow caused the dwarves to explore the depths of the mountains. At the same time, the Blue helped them quickly set up societies. During their explorations, the dwarves eventually made their way to the surface, where they saw light for the first time. Instead of shying away from it, however, apparently the dwarves quickly embraced the beauty of light and the outside world. It was at this point that they learned chromacy. The knowledge spread through the race quickly, and soon the dwarves began to develop methods to melt stone. Industry took over, and enormous cities were built. With a fondness for what lay beneath the earth, the dwarves were never eager to leave their place of creation, and yet their industry relied heavily on chromacy, which required light. Because of this, dwarven cities are frequently built close to the surface, or even open to the air, but mostly embedded in the mountain. Society and technology advanced quickly, and sophisticated machines were already being drafted for the first time when the dwarves came in contact with the elves.
Early dwarven society moved so quickly that many advances existed before anybody thought to record when something happened. As a result, it almost appears as though all dwarves simply popped into existence with the knowledge to literally move mountains, and then did just that. Once history did begin to be recorded though, it was kept very orderly and logical. Unfortunately, the dwarves very much like to keep to themselves, and did not record the occurrences of most of the outside world. There are some records of interaction with the elves, but most of them dismissed the elves as unintelligent or overly frivolous.
The interaction did, however, cause the elves to become more orderly. Communities became cities, and chromacy began to spread. Most knowledge was transferred orally, and the elves still kept very few written records, so much of early elven history is hidden in art, stories, poetry, and music. This was, it seemed, the most interesting aspect to the dwarves. Though they loved order and clarity, there was a wonder in the beautiful ways elves interacted and lived. During this time of growth for both societies, there was no sense of kinship or togetherness. In fact, each race often dismissed the other and its “ridiculous” obsessions. But the two had a large amount of mutual respect, and conflict was exceedingly rare.
It is estimated that at least two millennia passed before the appearance of man. I say appearance because they did not come from anywhere in particular, and no one (including the humans) has a clear description of the origins of the race. It appears that the humans simply began existing sometime between 2000 and 3000 years after the creation of the dwarves. There appears to be no surprise in the records of the dwarves. It is as if they had always existed, yet no records show their existence at any time close to the creation of dwarves. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that historians and archaeologists discovered this strange historical void. Most believed that humans were created in remote continents far from the Chromatic Domains and sailed over vast oceans. They argued that humans were not socially advanced enough to keep written records, and that elves and dwarves were very slowly exposed to them as their populations grew. However, many critics of this explanation question how a people could organize and create ships that sailed over an ocean without having the social structure to write down any sort of history or recounting of the journey. Not to mention that any voyage to make an attempt at discovering other lands has resulted in failure. The explorers either come back with nothing of substance or go missing.
Regardless of how humans came to be in the Chromatic Domains, they thrived here. Their civilizations quickly spread through every type of terrain on Celonias, and their populations increased exponentially. Cities became kingdoms with borders. And with the ever-expanding empires came exploration. It was during this time that the eastern continent of the Chromatic Domains was discovered: Antinaea. Antinaea held the Rusted Waste, which was home to Nashari people. South of the Yrendian Mountains bordering the Waste lay the Ebony Forest. An entire civilization of elves previously unknown to the races of Celonias resided in these mountains and woods. These elves, who preferred the cooler climates of the mountains, came to be known as snow elves, where the elves of Ithygra became known as wood elves. The snow elves, or Nargalonians as they were known, and the Nashari had never come into contact, as the dramatic change in climate between the mountains and desert deterred either from attempting to cross over.
At this time, there were two human kingdoms on Celonias. In the North, Aerilon grew from the inside, not bothering itself with much of the affairs of the outside world. Most of the country consisted of small holds individually governed by their lords. Very little connected them except their reliance on trade between them. Nilur, the second human country, became incredibly powerful in its first centuries. It consistently held a large military force, and controlled most naval traffic. Its capital, Tief, sat at the bottom of a volcano, and stretched for miles outward, expanding more with every year.
Humans are, by their nature, ambitious and emotional. Their most prominent Colors are Orange and Red, with Blue not far off. They are also the most versatile and adaptable of the races. Humans may be the most vicious tyrants, the most intelligent wizards, or maybe the bravest warriors. And while dwarves and elves may consider them arrogant or rash, the brevity of their lives lets them laugh, hate, cry, and love more than either dwarves or elves. Of course, ambition and emotion do not always lead to good. For with humans came the first war.
The East-West War
When Nashar was first discovered, the Aerilonians were fascinated with the great desert as well as the materials that seemed to come out of it. The port that would later be known as Silverlight City was often the casting off point for voyages to and from the Rusted Waste. Merchant ships would set out and collect iron to sell back in Aerilon. Nashar wasn’t very concerned to begin with until Aerilonian nobles and merchants began to detract from the economy within Khamra by selling their own goods back to them. During this time, Aerilon had begun to centralize their government. The Silver Port that had grown immensely in size and wealth became known as Silverlight City, and was the decided capital of Aerilon. But while Aerilon grew richer, Nashar grew poorer until Khamra decided that only Nashari were permitted to live in or enter the city. Some Aerilonian merchants refused to leave, one of whom controlled the largest bank in Silverlight City. After some warning, Khamra arrested and executed any and all outsiders within the city including two children. They also seized the belongings of all those executed, including much of the wealth of the bank previously mentioned. Aerilon was infuriated and demanded the return of the money as well as a reopening of the city. Khamra refused, and Aerilon declared war.
The armies of Aerilon were very disorganized and fragmented, still under the leadership of individual holds, each of which had different tactics and loyalties. None of these armies had any experience in fighting on the terrain of Nashar. Despite this, they sailed to Nashar with the intention of marching through Khamra and claiming the city and its metal resources. They were slaughtered. Even with superior armor, the Nashari were experienced fighters on the shifting sands, and many Aerilonian soldiers simply fell to heat. They ordered a full retreat of all troops, having accomplished almost nothing. The Nashari gave chase over the ocean, determined to make sure the westerners would be too afraid to attempt another invasion in the future. Having lost too many troops, the Aerilonians fortified their castles. The Nashari, who had never sieged such structures before, simply razed the surrounding villages and waited out the castles. After two holds had fallen to the eastern invasion, Silverlight City called all remaining Aerilonians to Westfall. The Nashari, who were now simply bloodthirsty, chased far west into the mountains. However, all remaining Aerilonian forces remained behind the walls of Westfall. The Nashari attempted a siege, but failed miserably, and decided they were better off returning home. They had no interest in the lands of Aerilon, and so left most of it untouched.
The Aerilonians recovered slowly, first rebuilding their major cities. It fell upon Silverlight City to direct the recovery, and the lord of Silverlight, who was a Blue chromat, became the king of Aerilon. He was known as the Blue King, and his successors have retained the title, though Blue chromacy is neither a requirement nor is it even common among the Blue Kings. Westfall grew into a city in its own right, for many had lost their homes in the early invasion, or did not have the ability to travel back. The retreat of the Nashari marked the end of the East-West War, and the establishment of Aerilon under a single government.
The rest of the Chromatic Domains saw this dispute as a conflict between only Nashar and Aerilon, and so left it alone. Upon its resolution, Nashar began trading with all countries and cities except Aerilon. Nashar and Aerilon made peace a few decades later.
Nilur, Half-elves, and Tieflings
During the recovery of Aerilon, Nilur began to see its power diminishing as Aerilon centralized and Nashar began to trade. In an effort to retain its influence, the Nilurians expanded into the far northwestern regions of Celonias, which had not been formally claimed by any country. From there, they also began spreading into Ithygran forests. The elves didn’t mind as long as they retained control of their own communities. However, even without the direct establishment of human settlements within the forests, many humans began to move into elven communities. It wasn’t until Tief began chopping down trees that the elves realized that they would need to define strict borders or run the risk of being absorbed and eroded by Nilur’s expansion. Ithygra declared that the whole of the forest was under their protection and would not be interfered with except by the explicit consent of Ithygra. Nilur was not pleased, but was not willing to risk war with the wood elves, who would undoubtedly call for the aid of the snow elves.
Many humans did remain in the elven communities, who had no problem with their coexistence. In fact, this mingling produced the first known half-elves. These half-elves often moved to other human cities and towns, looking for ways to make names for themselves. Their Color compositions are a mix of human and elf, and thus relatively balanced across most Colors. The Orange in them tends to highlight their desire to achieve something, and their Green emphasizes a need to wander.
Humans were relatively slow to understand the secrets of chromacy, but came up with some of the more creative uses of it. Nilur in particular wished to understand the applications of chromacy to extend the reach of their power. Tief determined that Red was the most powerful of all Colors, representing raw fury and destruction. Soldiers and government leaders were favored if they were Red chromats. Even social status was linked to control of Red, and one could hardly imagine a high-ranking official without Red as a primary or secondary Color. As decades passed, the tendencies of the society of Tief slowly shifted. Government became more and more corrupt and power-hungry, and those who did not have a strong grasp of Red were pushed out of the city or died out trying to live honestly. The change became so drastic that the Color composition of those within the city actually began to increase in Red and decrease in other Colors. And as Red became more prominent, physical features began to change as well. Skin tone gained a reddish hue, and small horns and tails appeared. Undeterred by the warnings of the rest of the known world, the city plunged further and further into the chaotic society it had created, and Red dominated its inhabitants to the point that they could no longer be considered human. So they were given a new name: tieflings.
Tieflings are much like humans, but Red is almost twice as abundant in their Color composition. This can sometimes be difficult for tieflings to deal with, and some are tortured by an uncontrollable rage at times. They can still have children with humans, but the Red will always dominate to create another tiefling. Most societies consider them outcasts, or inherently evil, but this is not the case. A tiefling may be more controlled by their emotions than a member of another race, but they tend no more toward evil than any other brought up under the same circumstances.
Not long after the separation of humans and tieflings, Tief fell into disarray and chaos, and was destroyed from the inside by itself. The whole of Nilur suffered for it. The northwestern territories were cared for by the wood elves, and eventually were absorbed by Ithygra. The island of Suri declared itself a new country, and attempted to distance itself from the histories of fallen Nilur. Its capital became Morford, a major trading hub, which would become the economic center of the Chromatic Domains as time passed.
The start of the decline of Nilur is generally accepted to be the end of the East-West War, but much of its military and economic power was retained for many decades. Some have described the fall of Nilur as “like a sinner being dragged to hell.” Nilur attempted to expand its empire with relative frequency by invading other territories, but all attempts were squashed by alliances. When finally the city of Tief tore itself to pieces, Nilur crumbled. The surrounding land was razed by misuse and neglect, and is now considered useless by the rest of the Domains. The city itself now houses bandit kings, cults, and various other unsavory organizations depending on the period in time. Nothing of import has been produced from Tief since the tieflings.
The fall of Nilur marks a relatively important moment in history, and so this is a good point to reconcile some details left out as of yet.
The only major recorded war before the fall of Nilur was the East-West War. There were very few disputes that did not directly involve Nilur, and none of them individually affected history in any hugely significant way. Aerilon became the most powerful country, and was completely unified under one king. Nashar kept to itself, and was ignored by the rest of the Domains for the most part. They still traded their resources and acted with dignity when laws were respected. Still, many considered them less civilized, if only because they preferred a less restrictive government. The elves were content to stay within their borders, and did not take part in much that did not directly concern them. Ithygra and Nargalon maintained a strong alliance, and supported each other in disputes. The dwarves, who have not been mentioned for some time, lived in almost a completely separate world. They developed their cities and tunnels beneath the mountains of Celonias, and did not often mingle with the other races. They also had very little use for land above ground, and so never decided to claim territory. As a result, Aerilon claims most of the land surrounding the dwarven cities, and directly borders Ithygra on the west. In return, the dwarves assume direct control of their city-states, and anything under the mountains is considered theirs. The dwarven city-states trade freely with the humans of Aerilon, and it is implied that Aerilon will come to the aid of the dwarves if it is ever requested. Ithygra seems to abide by the same assumptions, but has not explicitly declared so. For the purposes of international affairs, dwarven city-states are self-governing, but reside within and below the territory of Aerilon.
After the fall of Nilur, the land south of Ithygra’s forests has remained unclaimed. Within the forests are mostly elves, with some half-elves and humans, and north of the forests are mostly small human settlements. The mountains are also considered part of Ithygra, but dwarven tunnels very probably span miles beyond the borders. Aerilon Is bordered on the west by Ithygra, and is separated by the mountain range. Nashar claims the entirety of the Rusted Waste down to the mountain range inhabited by the snow elves, who claim all land south of the Waste.
Chromacy After Nilur
Because of their nature, humans had always considered chromacy to be an advantage. It showed status and intelligence, and could be used to augment many abilities far beyond the average. The elves and dwarves, however, viewed chromacy as a skill that could be learned and taught, and naturally can be used by all in order to accomplish tasks. As Nilur began experimenting with chromacy, social privilege began to separate the noble born and the poor within human society. Aristocrats learned chromacy, and chromacy in general was considered the skill of an elite member of society. It was comparable to learning skills such as fencing or literacy. As the discrepancy increased between the classes, the wealthy began to hire tutors for their children in order to teach them chromacy. Organizations were formed where chromats could register as “official chromats” only after learning from an accepted teacher. And eventually it was almost impossible for a low-born human to be trained in Color manipulation.
Some elves, who had long disapproved of human government, moved into human cities and began to offer training in Color manipulation for little to no cost. And even though training from unofficial tutors could not result in certification, this was a huge boon for the lower classes. The aristocracy, upset at the reduction in status chromacy now granted, passed laws that banned the teaching of chromacy by anyone except approved tutors. This caused an uproar in the lower classes, and people began small revolts within major cities. With a lack of leadership and power, these were quickly quashed. More and more lower class humans began to move out of their countries and into those of the neighboring elves (both Ithygra and Nargalon). This caused some unrest in the economies of the human countries, but nothing drastic enough to warrant a change. Five years after the ban of unlicensed chromatic training in Suri, a major public official and proponent of restrictions on chromatic training was assassinated in Silverlight City. The assassin, who was a half-elf, declared allegiance to Ithygra before he was executed. Ithygra did not deny involvement, which is most likely because they simply did not know whether a part of their government had ordered the assassination. Aerilon declared war on Ithygra. Nargalon came to the aid of Ithygra. Aerilon called for help from both Suri and Nashar, speculating that if Aerilon were defeated, the elves would attack them as well in order to destroy their way of life. Nashar agreed to ally with Aerilon, but Suri was not equipped for war, and so decided to remain neutral. In fact, in order to keep relations with the elves, they actually relaxed their chromacy laws.
The Chromatic War
Some historians consider this war to be racial in nature, but the existence of entirely human communities within Ithygra and the nontrivial proportion of humans in Nargalon discredit that. The Chromatic War is called so not only because it was the first major dispute to utilize chromats in combat, but because it was waged for the purpose of freedom to learn chromacy.
Most of the fighting took place in northern Ithygra and the Calm Sea between the continents. Aerilonian soldiers crossed over the mountains in the North (the dwarves insisted on remaining neutral) into Ithygra, and quickly swept through the human towns there, but were largely unable to push into the forests that the wood elves were so accustomed to moving in. There was no room for tactical movement of large numbers of troops, so Red chromats were used to burn the forest. In response, elven snipers targeted human chromats, and very skilled elven Orange chromats infiltrated the human camps to assassinate chromats and other key figures. At no point did the Ithygrans attempt to push the armies any further than the treeline, knowing that they lost their tremendous advantage as soon as they left the forest. The Aerilonians were too slow to realize that the Ithygran front was not where the threat lay.
The Nargalonians handily defeated the Nashari at sea, and never intended on attempting a land invasion. The Aerilonian navy fared better than the Nashari, but some of the elves’ fast and quiet ships slipped past the defenses and landed in southwestern Aerilon. These elves (mostly Orange monochromats) slowly and carefully made their way toward Silverlight City through the forest, hiding easily. Meanwhile, the Nargalonian navy feigned a stalemate in the Calm Sea, even losing battles to Nashari fleets occasionally. A clever Aerilonian general became suspicious that the elves were purposely retaining a stalemate with few casualties, and sent a not inconsiderable number of troops back to Silverlight City, against the wishes of the Blue King. The troops were not two days march from the city when the king was taken hostage by snow elves who had assassinated and disguised themselves as high-ranking corrupt officials. Aerilon was asked to surrender immediately or their king would be killed. Reluctantly, the generals withdrew their forces in surrender. Nashar, seeing that they had little to gain from remaining at war, also surrendered.
Before releasing the Blue King, the Ithygrans set up a chromatic college, the first to exist, simply called the College. It was initially run by Ithygrans (elves, half-elves, and humans in equal proportions), and was required to be funded by the Aerilonian government, and to maintain a tuition based on the potential of students as judged by professors of the College. The head of the College would also advise the Blue King, and had a vote in council meetings. All laws restricting the teaching of chromacy would also be removed, and none could be put in place again. Once this was accomplished, the king was released.
Nashar amended its laws concerning chromacy shortly after the restoration of the Blue King to his throne. Their laws were not nearly as restrictive as Aerilon, and they lost very little from the change. They decided that they preferred isolation from conflict, and a continued war with the elves would prove pointless and harmful.
Suri had actually removed restrictions on chromacy near the beginning of the Chromatic War in response to an embargo threat from Nargalon and Ithygra. Their wealth grew as a result.
Sometime after the Chromatic War, dragons made their first appearance. The time of their creation is actually relatively easy to trace, given written accounts were common by that point. However, it is still not clear exactly when or how they came to be, which may sound strange. Innately, we consider dragons to be ancient beings, some of whom have existed longer than the race of man. That makes sense to us, because they are immortal and wise, and even sometimes look ancient. However, and this is only a fairly recent discovery, there are no mentions of dragons in any text, poem, piece of art, or even folk stories that were created before the Chromatic War. It isn’t until about 200 years later that anybody has found a reference to a dragon. Indeed, they seem to not have existed before then. And yet, no early mentions of these dragons seem surprised by their appearance. In fact, they also regard dragons as ancient beings, who must have existed long before any modern history. If you recall, early humans had the same strange appearance that was not recorded by the dwarves or elves. That could be some thing explainable but unknown, but now there is a second example of the phenomenon with much less room for explanation.
The theory is that when Purple (or perhaps any aspect of Light) touches the world in a major way, it is imperceptible. The creation of dragons is certainly important, yet nobody thought their sudden appearance was worth noting. The same likely happened with the creation of humans so many hundreds of years ago. This is disappointing to say the least for historians, because it means that many important events may have occurred or may still occur without the notice of any creature until decades or centuries after they happen. This theory is still relatively unexplored and untested if only because we don’t understand how to test it effectively.
Back to dragons for now though. Dragons are incredibly unique creatures. Their Color composition includes only one or two Colors, one of which must be Purple. The other Color determines their nature and the color of their scales. The most confusing part about this is that Green, which gives life, and which life does not exist without, does not need to exist in dragons for them to live. Dragons are the purest form of Purple’s version of life, and thus embody magic more fully than any other creature to exist so far. Perhaps the most puzzling type of dragons are black dragons, who appear to only be made of Purple.
The study of dragons is difficult, as they are very dangerous and very rare. Scholars hope that understanding dragons is the key to understanding magic on the deepest level.
It is more difficult to pinpoint, but Dragonborn also appear to have been created relatively recently, and certainly after dragons. It is generally believed that dragonborn are the result of mixing the magic of dragons with the variation in humans. They have the most amount of Purple in them of the civilized races.
Dragonborn chromacy works differently than any other race. For one, it is learned naturally as the dragonborn grows to maturity. Dragonborn also understand it differently, and are rarely good teachers for other races. Their scales correspond to their primary Color, and their eyes match the color of their scales instead. Dragonborn dichromats make a choice at some point to adopt a secondary Color. With this choice, the color of both their eyes immediately changes to reflect their secondary Color. This choice is irreversible.
Dragonborn are nomadic in groups. They wander relatively unoccupied lands of all types of terrain. Many reside in human cities permanently, and live lives similar to those of half-elves. In dragonborn culture, dichromacy is considered a sin, or a betrayal of yourself and the gifts you were given. Most dichromat dragonborn live alone or around other dragonborn dichromats.
The Chromatic Colleges
Since the establishment of the College, the idea has spread through the Chromatic Domains. As they became more competitive, colleges began to specialize in certain Colors. Today, the College is known as the Sapphire Tower and specializes in the study and teaching of Blue chromacy. The Crimson Keep in Westfall teaches Red chromacy. The Diamond of Khela teaches Yellow. The Verdant Academy in Rivermist teaches Green. And the Copper Guilds of Morford teach Orange. Purple can be learned and researched at both the Sapphire Tower and the Verdant Academy, but it is typically understood that the Verdant Academy is a better place to learn chromacy while the Sapphire Tower is the better place to experiment and research.
The Sapphire Tower is—by all accounts except official—the head of all chromatic colleges, and speaks for their collective.
In a general sense, very little has changed since the end of the Chromatic War. The Chromatic Domains have lived in relative peace with no significant change in power or borders. Silverlight City (now nicknamed the Great Blue City) is the pinnacle of civilization. It is still a human city governed by humans, but members of every other race are abundant. If something must be decided between the collective governments of the Domains, it is done in Silverlight.
Morford, and Suri in general, are the trade capitals of the Domains. Rich merchants, thieves, and the headquarters of the most successful businesses are drawn to Morford.
The dwarves and the Nashari continue to tend toward isolation, but are welcoming to those who appreciate and respect them.
The elves also let the humans maintain the workings of the Domain, but freely mix within human cities sharing knowledge and culture.
The ruins of the Nilurian empire still stand, overrun with those who would call themselves king, but have very little influence, and are rarely acknowledged by the rest of the world.
The specific details are more well-understood by those living in the world now, and can be explored in depth by the experts currently studying the here and now.