Shadow World Questions.

Today I thought I would throw out some broad questions relating to Shadow World content and the timeline. It’s understandable that after 30 years and a dozen books you can find some discrepancies in Terry’s work, but sometimes there is more of a “Mandela Effect” where broadly held assumptions don’t match the text. Case in point, “Demons” are often depicted as being creatures of the Unlife, but is that accurate?

We no longer have the option of “Ask Andraax”, but most answers can be found with a quick search of the Master Atlas. I’ve explored some of these questions in depth before and I’ve provided my own solutions but I’m seeing increased activity and new participants in SW threads (probably due to RMU) so it might be a fun exercise for readers that haven’t had much exposure to Shadow World!

Can you answer these without referring to the books?

Are Demons of the Unlife? and When were Demons introduced to Kulthea?

When did the Unlife appear?

When did Elves appear and where did they come from?

When did the Essaence split into the three realms?

When did the Lords of Orhan appear?

When did the Dark Gods appear on Charon?

Where did the Dragonlords come from?

What do you think? What’s the right answer or what would be a better answer if Canon isn’t definitive? What other questions do you have about Shadow World?

Have fun and while you ponder these I’m working on my comprehensive Shadow World Trivia Test that I will publish next week!

7 Replies to “Shadow World Questions.”

  1. Some of those questions are fairly explicitly answered in the (latest) Master Atlas, 4th ed, or MA. Of particular use is the Master Timeline. This may contain spoilers for players but GMs probably read it already.

    Are Demons of the Unlife? When did the Unlife appear?
    – P. 15 of MA, 2000-3000 SA “First manifest appearance of servants of the Unlife. The Unlife is a dark power—a force for total destruction and death—originating in another universe, perhaps the “negative” of this one. Unlike the Dark Gods, the inhabitants of the Pales, and even the Void (whose actions and purpose seem unfathomable), the Unlife is a single power with many servants and incarnations, all bent on annihilation. Dark cults bent on destruction—followers of the Unlife—begin to appear.” That is, Demons are not Unlife. However, Unlife can use them for their bidding.

    When were Demons introduced to Kulthea?
    – First mention of demons is p. 13, c. 250-0: “The backlash from this power tears open the barriers between the Pales. Creatures and demons are free to rampage across Kulthea and beyond.”. After this event “the floodgates are open”, so to say.
    – Even earlier, p. 12, c. 10,000 – -6000: “The K’ta’viiri begin experimenting with cosmic forces to open gates in other regions of space; their hope is to tap the Essænce elsewhere. While their efforts to access more power are unsuccessful, they do master the ability to move between parallel universes (which they refer to as the Pales, a term of course implying that all other dimensions are inferior to their own). Many peoples and creatures from other planets and Pales are brought to Kulthea for scientific experimentation.”
    So this is when they Demons are first brought to Kulthea. One could infer that also other races, like Elves, various Humans and other races were either a) brought to Kulthea from other planets, or b) created by the Althans. However, this is not explicit in the book.

    When did the Essaence split into the three realms?
    – Not explicit, but p. 127 shares a story of what Loremasters think happened:

    “It is widely believed that in the youth of Kulthea the three realms of power were essentially the same. In support of this contention, Loremasters point out that in those tumultuous days there were no gods — not even the pantheon of Orhan — but only the Lords of Essænce(unless one could consider the Lords themselves gods). Those beings could tap the power of their minds and the radiation of the Flows with equal ease; in fact, the two were one energy, as those who attempted to flee the Shadow World discovered to their undoing. Thus, the origins of the three realms are, in reality, one.

    Those capable of tapping into the united Essænce(referred to by many as the Arcane Power) have a unique flexibility and sensitivity; perhaps they are descended from the Lords of Essænce. In any event, the ability to tap the Arcane Power is extremely rare and much sought-after by the mighty.”

    When did the Lords of Orhan appear?
    – Very first entry of the timeline, p. 12: “(Approximately 200,000 years before the present time) [A group of inter-dimensional travelers (later to become known as the Lords of Orhan) arrive through a rift between this and another space-time.” Later, c. -250 – 0 they first interfere with Kulthea by rescuing flora and fauna from destruction, to later plant them back.

    When did the Dark Gods appear on Charon?
    – This is actually two questions.
    1) When did the Dark Gods appear?
    – p. 14, SA 450, Charon passes through the comet Sa’kain’s tail on its close pass, and soon after the Dark Gods appear. Another question could be asked, just who are they? It is left open, but p. 15 has a passage: “The origin of the Dark Gods remains unclear, shrouded in the superstition and myth of a time long ago. Some Loremasters suspect they are actually former Lords of Orhan who turned from the benign ways of their brethren. Others hold that they are escapees from some inter-dimensional prison, or even the result of experiments by the Althans to create non-corporeal life.”
    2) When did the Dark Gods become Dark Gods of Charón?
    – At the end of SA and the Wars of Dominion, Dark Gods are (p. 19) “driven back and essentially imprisoned on Charón”.

    Where did the Dragonlords come from?
    – This is left unclear. P. 170 muses this:
    “They have lived for thousands of years, having survived the Wars of Dominion and countless lesser conflicts.”, and this:
    “The origins of the Dragonlords are shrouded in the temporal mists which divided the First and Second Eras. It is not known if dragons shared Kulthea with the Althans, or if they came into being during the Interregnum.”

  2. Sounds like fun. From memory I believe the best answers are:

    Demons are not of the Unlife, but some do seem to be tied to the Unlife either by nature or choice. In general, Demons come from alternate planes of existence and are more closely tied to the Essænce. Even Agoth is a personification of Chaos but not the Unlife. The K’ta’viiri were the first to summon demons back in the First Era after learning about them through the natural portal activity caused by Flowstorms.

    The Unlife was first recognized well after Charon passed through the tail of the comet Sa’Kain and the Dark Gods entered the world early in the Second Era (or maybe late during the Interregnum period). It’s not clear if the Dark Gods themselves are part of the Unlife. It is most likely that Charon itself is the direct tie to the Unlife and Sa’Kain is tied to a force which weakens the barriers between worlds (to both the source of the Essænce and the source of the Unlife).

    The various races of Elves, along with most races on the planet, are the result of genetic manipulations of the K’ta’viiri. The original source race for the Elves may be the Althans themselves, some other original race from Kulthea, other races discovered during explorations of the galaxy, or most likely combinations of the above.

    The development of the three realms occurred during the long period between the first and second eras known as the Interregnum or possibly even during the late First Era as a way for the lesser races (i.e. non-K’ta’viiri) to access magic.

    The Lords of Orhan appeared through a dimensional rift (which they managed to partially seal) long before even the Lords of Essænce ruled the planet in the First Era. The partially sealed rift is the source of Essænce.

    The Dark Gods appeared when Charon passed through the tail of the comment Sa’Kain early in the Second Era or late in the preceding Interregnum .

    The origins of the Dragonlords themselves is a mystery from the time of the Interregnum, but the group formed officially at some point during the Second Era.

  3. I’m not gonna refer to the books, and I’m sure some of my answers are influenced by your ideas on SW story.

    Are Demons of the Unlife? and When were Demons introduced to Kulthea?
    Demons are not Unlife, and are not evil. Demons are creatures native to other planes of existence.
    They were first introduced when K’ta’viir experimented on planar portals and opened links to the pales.

    When did the Unlife appear?
    I think it’s during the Interregnum, almost sure canon says it did not influence the K’ta’viir.
    I’m gonna add that it would be cool to consider that either Kadaena was the first creature influenced by Unlife, or that the Unlife got access to Kulthea after the war between Utha and Kadaena, think like a nuclear attack but using planar energy.

    When did Elves appear and where did they come from?
    I think canon says they are K’ta’viir experiments, so they appeared as servants/toys during the first era, but I find it hard to picture elves that way. I’d rather prefer to think that they were pulled from other dimensions where classic elves exist in literature (Middle Earth, etc.) during the first era, and then after a millennia of being stranded on Kulthea they developed their own culture local to the planet.

    When did the Essaence split into the three realms?
    During the Interregnum as magic was rediscovered by the races that still inhabited Kulthea. Not sure if that is canon.

    When did the Lords of Orhan appear?
    Before the K’ta’viir rose to power, or maybe it is before they even evolved into humans in the first place.

    When did the Dark Gods appear on Charon?
    I think canon says during the second era, but as with the Unlife, I’ll still think that the actions of Kadaena might well have pointed the gods radar in the direction of Kulthea.

    Where did the Dragonlords come from?
    Canon never explained it, but I’m currently using your explanation of them being the last earthwardens.

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