The Arcane Age Series Primer

As I’ve been reading, writing, and parsing for the Arcane Age series on Lore Diver, it has become abundantly apparent that I need to have some support here for it. Why? It’s huge. It spans millennia, the world was radically different for most of it, and the map doesn’t look like anything that people are familiar with! So this post is here to lay some ground work and help the viewers of Lore Diver visualize Faerûn during the Arcane Age.

The Map

The world of the Arcane Age, for the purposes of the Lore Diver series, looks a lot like this.

A modified 3rd Edition map of Faerûn; original image © Wizards.

For the purposes of some level of brevity, I’ve clumped the westernmost Elven nations together, and have the rough dates of existence listed for each area. As you can see, the Arane Age was a lot more than just Netheril and some “barbarians” around it. Take note however, of some of the time scales at work.

Timelines

This was a challenge, as the “Arcane Age” has, traditionally, only referred to the specific era that Netheril was a power in. However, with some study, I determined that this was inaccurate and misleading. The Arcane Age was much larger and more expansive. So I extended the concept backwards; using -8000 DR as a starting point to move forwards from. -8000 DR worked well, because only one human culture on Faerûn was older than that; Imaskar, with it’s founding date of -8350 DR. But I can deal with 350 years of difference, and -8000 is a nice clean number to kick off from.

Deep Antiquity -8000 DR to -4000 DR; this era sees the rise of what we generally recognize as human “civilizations”, that being organized nationstates built around a sedentary agrarian core. This era also sees the definitive end of demihuman, monsterfolk, and beastfolk dominance.

Antiquity  -3999 DR to -1000 DR; this is the most active part of the extended Arcane Age timeline. It sees the heaviest developments, highest heights, and some of the greatest, future changing events. This period sees Chult, Calimshan, Jhaamdath, Netheril, Imaskar (for most of it!), and Cormanthyr as the dominant surface powers, all using astounding levels of magic and psionic power.

The Fall -999 to 1 DR; all good things must come to an end, and this period sees that happen. The major powers of past are largely snuffed out, one by one, until only a few remain. Karsus, in his hubris, gets high level magic banned for everyone, and the face of Faerûn takes on a familiar look in the centuries immediately following.

The timelines of the Arcane Age, extended.

Examination

As I dive into the lore of each civilization, I’m going to be looking at their know history, culture, powers, technology, and all that good stuff. Then, as I did in the Peoples of Chult series, I’m going to give my take on how it could be better approached to create a more interesting place to play in, or see your game influenced from. The reason being that, liek so many things in D&D and the Forgotten Realms, the world building was approached in a very atomistic way; more so in fact. Why do I say that? Because it’s an issue that plagues “historical” settings. Kingdoms, nations, empires, and so on are all created, plotted on a map, and then… that’s it. Because they’re “historical”, they tend to get even less attention than modern setting areas do in terms of development and integration.

Other Uses

Aside from playing the the deep history of the Forgotten Realms, an immediate use to all this is to draw on it for your modern era games. Ruins? Who’s are they? Weird item? Who made it and what craziness is associated with it? Ao’s reset (the Sundering) that inadvertently brought back a bunch of things that had been dead or otherwise absent for years to millennia? Yeah. This all feeds directly into all of that stuff. And there’s a lot to draw on. Imaskar masters TARDIS levels of dimensional manipulation. Jhaamdath was a psionic power that eschewed magic and who created all manner of psionic crystals and artefacts (conveniently, Psionic subclasses dropped recently on UA). Vastar was an Orc nation that lasted 1300 years. Calimshan is still around; which is, in itself, amazing. The point being that drawing on the deeper history of the setting can have immediate and immersive effects in your game.

Final Thoughts

This is a much more ambitious series than the Peoples of Chult was. There’s more details, and as I discovered, more than enough material to cover on each nation to stretch comfortably across several episodes. So, to save time, I’ve made this post so people watching can see who’s where, and when they were there, so I don’t have to talk it out every episode. So please, enjoy, and check out the Arcane Age series of Lore Diver on YouTube!