Daruna - History: An Overview

The Lost Era

The Lost Era refers to the mythic time prior to the Cataclysm that formed the Twisted Lands along the eastern coast. Legends tell of a civilization that sprawled across the known world and beyond, of great cities ruled by powerful magicians and priests who commanded powers far beyond those known to the Darunites, the Lost Kingdoms. Its ruins can still be found throughout the region, especially in the Twisted Lands. These ruins are shunned, haunted by the ghosts of a vanished age, or perhaps the demons summoned by a long dead civilization.

Treasure hunters that dare the ruins often vanish without a trace, but those fortunate few that return alive bring with them vast wealth and powerful artifacts and relics from the Lost Era, unique gems, coins bearing the faces of unknown kings, weapons enchanted with elemental forces, shining armor that never rusts, and potent charms enchanted with powers beyond the capabilities of modern magicians.


The end of the Lost Era is marked by a series of world-shattering disasters: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and vast tsunamis. Some legends claim these disasters were the result of some vast magical working gone awry, while others claim it was the work of a wrathful god, destroying those that sought to usurp his power. It is during the Cataclysm that magic is changed forever, the potent energies harnessed by the Lost Kingdoms hidden from the reach of mortal man. Magic is now a fleeting, ephemeral thing, retaining but a shadow of its former power.

The Old Era

After the Cataclysm, when the black skies cleared and turbulent seas calmed, mankind had fallen far indeed. Civilization was reduced to scattered tribes and villages, scraping a bare living from the earth of the vast Tana River basin. Humanity struggles to regain what was lost, the skills of agriculture and boat building, the knowledge of writing, and the art of pottery. Religion is reborn, the old beliefs and practices stripped down and shrouded in new rituals and names. Temples form the heart of the new culture, providing a gathering place for people, markets for the grain and produce produced in the field, and permanent structures around which villages form then grow to full-fledged towns. The civilization of the Darunites is born.

From the scattered villages and towns rise three major centers of worship, Daruna in the north, near the mouth of the Tana River, and Goba further upstream in the rich flood plain. Further east, Loshma grows at the mouth of the smaller Kamara River. Over the next 230 years or so Darunite culture spreads outward from these three central religious pillars, its settlements stretching for hundreds of miles along the many rivers of the central plain.

With nearly unlimited land available, Darunite life is relatively peaceful, scattered hostilities with wandering Rahk being the chief threat. Religion is another matter. Growing splits between eastern and western beliefs result in civil unrest and sow the seeds of the Great Schism that would eventually result in the great holy wars of the Divided Era.

The Divided Era

The Divided Era begins with a declaration of holy war by Kalpaka, High Priest of Daru in Daruna 643 years ago. This declaration begins the Great Schism, a religious split between the Daru supremacists of Daruna and the pantheistic easterners of Loshma. The current Darunite calendar is based on this declaration, one of the earliest written documents still preserved by scholars in Daruna.

The religious wars started by Kalpaka's declaration consume the Darunites for close to 300 years, with cities and rulers rising and falling on the whims of fate. At one time or another nearly every city in the Darunite realm was sacked, burned or leveled by enemy forces. This era also sees the rise of secular kings, with military leaders claiming conquered lands as their own. These claims give rise to additional secular conflicts, eventually leading to widespread chaos in most of the north.

Meanwhile in the south, Goba manages to avoid the worst of the chaos. The rise of the military and creation of secular government is a much smoother transition, and the priesthood retains greater power and influence, particularly in regard to land ownership. This divided government structure slowly spreads through the south, giving rise to the modern organization, kings controlling cities and military forces coupled with temples controlling farmland and influencing trade.

It is during this time that first contacts between the Darunites and the Kogani Tribes occur. In fact the appearance of the Kogani and, near the end of the period, the Enkaru migrations from the west, quell some of the widespread violence in the north. Facing possible threats from outside their own divided but similar cultures, the open hostility between the Darunite and Loshmati factions slowly dies, though it never completely vanishes.

In 323 DE the trickle of Enkaru arriving from the west becomes a flood. Refugees arrive in a series of human waves, threatening to overwhelm Darunite towns and villages. Southern Darunite leaders react with hostility and bloodshed, eventually stopping the spread, but refugees settle along the upper reaches of the Tana River eventually giving rise to the Enkaru Kingdom.

Meanwhile in the north, trade between the Darunites and the Kogani serves to normalize relations, leading to a period of relative peace in the north. This trade also introduces iron into the Darunite culture, leading to advances in science, military tactics, and industry, including the discovery of Liquid Fire.

The period between 330 and 500 DE is relatively calm. The most significant even of this period is first contact with the Aquaa, mysterious water-dwellers of the Rangal Sea. After some initial unease and hostility, the Aquaa are mostly left to themselves, since there is little basis for contention. Sailors and fishermen learn to avoid the waters near the Aquaan capital of Wosh'aa, while traders exchange clay and pottery for Aquaan pearls and fish.

The peace ends with Ash-tep's rise to power in Daruna. In 506 DE he is declared king by popular acclaim, and less than a year later declares himself the living avatar of Daru. The next dozen years are marred by constant bloodshed in the north, with smaller villages and towns along the Gya River falling to the newly declared Kingdom of Light.

Abruptly, in 523 DE, the Kingdom falls into disarray as Ash-tep vanishes from sight. His priests declare that he is renewing the light of the sun, but unrest simmers across the Kingdom. It is a dark time for Ash-tep's believers, and other rulers take advantage of this apparent weakness, picking away at the Kingdom's borders. The unrest is short-lived however, as the following year Ash-tep returns to prominence, restored to youth and vigor by his cycle of rest.

Ash-tep spends most of his second cycle consolidating power within the Kingdom. When the High Priest of Daru's temple in Daruna, Kolfa Khem, refuses to follow his orders Ash-tep declares him excommunicated and takes the role of High Priest unto himself. Khem|Kolfa Khem is eventually executed as a heretic by the Agents of the Sun, Ash-tep's newly formed order of religious fanatics. By the end of the second cycle in 540 DE, Ash-tep's loyalists are firmly in control of Daruna and the surrounding towns, and a new religious schism is rearing its ugly head among the Darunites.

The next 70 years follow a recurring cycle of expansion, consolidation and slight contraction for the Kingdom of Light. Along the way the Agents of the Sun become a power secret police, while the temple hierarchies in Kingdom-aligned temples are slowly replaced by Ash-tep's hand-picked fanatics.

In 562 DE Asp-tep institutes the Rite of the Living Avatar among the people of the kingdom, a ritual that requires a living sacrifice from each citizen on their 11th birthday (doves or goats generally). The Rite proves to be a final straw on a very weary camel's back, and the second Darunite schism is complete. Daru loyalists flee the Kingdom west or south, swelling the populations of towns and cities outside its borders. The exodus slows the Kingdom's expansion, stripping it of manpower while bolstering that of its foes.

A military stalemate dominates the next 50 years, with the borders of the Kingdom fluctuating throughout the period. In the meantime, southern Daru loyalists establish themselves in additional territories to the south and west, increasing contact with both the Enkaru Kingdom and the Rahk Tribes of plains. This expansion results in a number of skirmishes and battles between various groups of Darunites, Enkaru and Rahk, which cumulatively result in little change in the status quo.

In 614 DE volcanic Vishka erupts, blackening the skies over vast swaths of the Twisted Lands. Aftershocks alter the landscape and the Tana River shifts its course over 30 miles eastward, leaving Goba, once a riverfront city, high and dry.

The southern base of power eventually consolidates around Shalish, already a sizable town, now situated just below the juncture of the Tana River and the Chungal River. The king of Shalish, Lahkim Dashen II eventually conquers the fading Goba, installing his own nephew as a puppet king.

The chaos that surrounds this changing of the guard provides an opening for Ash-tep and the Kingdom of Light. The next 30 years see several once independent towns fall to the Kingdom's advancing armies. Now, in 643 DE, Ash-tep rises once again and the stage is set for the next chapter of this era.