For my next several lore posts, I’m going to be covering the history of humanity and its various cultures, leading up to the modern day and the events of Rage of the Old Gods. I’ll start at the beginning, with the dark early days of humankind.
Born into slavery:
Humans did not arise naturally.They didn’t evolve in the forests and fields as did the other creatures of the world. They were created by a tyrannical race now known as the Old Gods. Their soul purpose in life was to serve as slaves to the Old Gods, to break their backs and numb their minds with labor until they wasted away. Humans were nothing more than tools to the Old Gods, and the atrocities committed in this time were too many to count.
The Old Gods demanded absolute obedience, and even the slightest hint of rebellion was brutally punished. To this day, the phrase “wrath of the Old Gods” is considered to be the greatest of all curses, and it is only uttered following truly calamitous events.
Even for those slaves who evaded the worst of the Old Gods’ cruelty, life was miserable. While the Old Gods lived in the sun upon the surfaces of their temple-cities, the ziggurats, humans were relegated to filthy, cramped tunnels worming their way through the ziggurats. Things like art or music were all but unheard of, and the Old Gods discouraged any kind of culture that did not serve their ends.
All of human society was supposed to be geared towards the worship of the Old Gods. Attending daily prayers was mandatory, and anyone caught disrespecting the divinity of humanity’s creators would be swiftly punished.
To this end, the Old Gods employed a small cadre of humans as their priesthood. It was the duty of the priests to preach the teachings of the Old Gods, which stated that any punishments meted out in this life would pale in comparison to the eternal damnation of the souls of those who disobeyed the divine order of the universe. The priests were also given the duty of investigating their fellows for any blaspheme. In practice, they had free reign to denounce anyone they chose, resulting in the torture or execution of anyone who offended them.
In exchange for their services, the priests received preferential treatment: better lodging, freedom from manual labor, more and better food, fine clothes.
Absolutely no humans in history are more reviled than the priests. They have come to epitomize selfishness, cruelty, and greed. To this day, any practice or philosophy with even the slightest trappings of religion will be greeted with scorn and distrust, at best.
The Old Gods welcomed the fear and hatred the priests inspired. Indeed, they wanted humans to distrust one another as much as possible. This made a unified rebellion less likely. For this reason, the slaves of separate ziggurats rarely mingled, allowing the Old Gods to foster a distrust of the foreign among their human herds.
Despite their importance to human history, little is remembered of the Old Gods themselves. It is known that they were incredibly powerful, both physically and magically. One Old God was said to have been the equal of a hundred human soldiers, or more. It is known that they communicated telepathically, and it is believed that this is the reason humans communicate with vocal language. As a much less efficient means of communication, it was another way humans were less powerful than their masters.
The hierarchy of Old God society is unclear. Records from the Liberation mention leaders of individual ziggurats, but if they had any single ruler or supreme council, no mention of it survived to the modern era. There is no mention of any infighting among the Old Gods, though, so they must have been organized somehow.
No one knows how long humanity suffered in slavery. If the Old Gods kept any records, none ever passed into human hands, and humans did not start formally recording history until after the Liberation.
What is known is that humanity’s enslavement didn’t last forever. Eventually, the day came when humans began to question the doctrine of the Old Gods. A few bright and brave individuals began to realize that the Old Gods were not as all-powerful as they claimed to be. And with that revelation, the seeds of rebellion were sown.