View Full Version : The legacy of ancient race and how do I explain them

2008-08-17, 07:43 PM
I had idea after watching reruns of SG1 I downloaded from Itunes and DVDs of BSG about a space fairing race with magic more common place then FR. In fact scholars say the average citizen were more skilled in magic then some of the most learned Mages of the planet. However the Ancients has since long disappeared.

But question is how do I explain the disappearance of such a race of magically and technological gifted people? I was guessing the gods denied the weave to them and maybe most their technology tap through the weave? But then why would the gods return the use of magic to the world/realm?

I decided that the "planes" are not different realms, but are different planets (thus plane shift is called planet shift).

I was also thinking of having an island country that's roughly in the same latitude as Alaska. But the ancients placed a device underground that seem to heat the area causing it be a tropical island with roughly same temperature year round. Planet life evolved or created by the ancients to take advantage of the heating element of the island and can't grow anywhere else of the planet. But if the god's remove weave access then how do I explain why the "Alaska" region remain tropical?

2008-08-17, 07:47 PM
How About This, the god's struck down the ancient race because of their meddling, however, this heating-device had changed the global ecosystem such that disrupting it would be an ecological catastrophe. Therefore, when the gods removed their weave accsess they took control of the device, allowed it to keep functioning, and stuck the nastiest defenses they could think of on the thing in order to prevent the race from using it's weave access in some way.

EDIT: heating the island would also heat the surrounding water, which would effect global winds, currents, weather patterns ect.

2008-08-17, 08:11 PM
Does it need to be magic? A radioisotopethermalgenerator with the proper isotopes could have an active life of millions of years, and provide plenty of heat. And that's just with available technology.

As for getting rid of the ancients, what's wrong with the gods just killing them? If the god of life and the god of death agree, the ancients should all just die in a moment. Other than that, there's incurable plagues, horrific storms, or any other cataclysm you can think of. Strategically placed pyroclastic flows, perhaps? Or the organism the ancients used as food (wheat, or whatever) just didn't grow one season, and the resulting famine started a multiworld war, and that was the end of civilization.

Guildorn Tanaleth
2008-08-17, 08:13 PM
Alternatively, they could have just taken their magic too far and "accidentally" destroyed themselves, like Karsus' Folly or the Krell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krell).

2008-08-17, 08:23 PM
No idea what "the weave" is, but you could rip off the show and say that all achieved transcendence somehow.

Alternatively, plague is always a good option. Perhaps some sublimely evil plot device came in and smote them all (elder evil, big meanie-head god, race of alien jerks, aliens from the far realms . . . take your pick).

2008-08-17, 08:30 PM
No idea what "the weave" is, but you could rip off the show and say that all achieved transcendence somehow.
If I remember correctly the weave is the source of all magic in the forgotten realms campaign setting

2008-08-17, 08:36 PM
Draw a parallel to modern times. Humans are consuming natural resources like oil and gas at an ever increasing rate. To abandon them would be to abandon modern technology.

Maybe the ancients ran into a similar problem, they were consuming up some kind of resource, possibly something arcane in origin. They either didn't know it was finite in how much could be drawn from it, or perhaps those who claimed it might run out were dismissed as nutcases. When it did run out, it ran out practically immediately. The ancient civilization pretty much collapsed immediately as a result since all of their advanced magic/technology relied heavily on the now empty power source.

With nobody drawing upon this power anymore, the source eventually recharged. Knowledge on how to use it is pretty much all gone though - the few survivors of the ancient race having lost most of their lore in the desperate struggle to survive.

2008-08-17, 08:37 PM
If I remember correctly the weave is the source of all magic in the forgotten realms campaign setting

Pretty much correct from my understanding. Consider it as being like an immaterial energy flowing throughout the entire world. To use arcane magic, you tap into the weave to power the spell. After the time of troubles, there are places in the world where the weave is broken. Magic fails utterly in those regions because there is nothing there to power it.

2008-08-17, 09:08 PM
it also powers divine magic, although there was prc that uses a different weave (which won't exist in my realm) which allows you to use in antimagic field.

I was thinking of having the various parts of the world infected by radiation fallout. In one situation the fallout zone receded to the point it revealed an ancient missile silo protected by anti magic zone, and epic anti scrying. It maybe fun to have something like a replicator awaken there :P.

Also how annoying it would be to have a BBEG that has access to resurrection type ship at their disposal.

2008-08-17, 09:27 PM
They developed and advanced.

At the macroscopic level, their society was peaceful -- but ritualized conflict, duels and warfare where central to their culture.

Wealthy individual would build catacombs and citadels full of traps and created and collected creatures.

Then their seers found something interesting. They interacted with it, and found a strange energy that let them create marvels the universe had never seen. Beings that broke the laws of science and magic -- aberrations of the natural order.

Centuries passed, as their society grew in knowledge. But ... something was wrong. It turned out that the source of the energy they where using to warp reality wasn't as safe as they had thought. Reality itself was taking damage.

Rules where passed restricting what you could do with this aberrant energy. Some segments of society rejected these rules -- and war returned to the ancients, as they fought each other over the enforcing of the very laws of reality.

The results where devastating, but in the end the conservationist won. Entire chunks of the world had been ravanged by this abherant energy from the realms far from our plane, tapped by both sides in increasing amounts as the war raged on.

The peace allowed a return to natural philosophy. Attempts where made to repair reality from the damage that had been done. Far Seers peered into the realms of abheration... and saw things that terrified them.

The original drawing of this far realm energy had been akin to pin-pricks. But the war had opened up openings more like waterfalls. And it appeared that beings from these realms had started to notice these leaks (if you can apply linear time to them).

The first incursion by the beings from before time destroyed entire concepts -- they where erased, all reference to them gone. Only the most advanced of divination magic could detect that they existed at all, and even then a moral brain could not grasp them as they where no longer part of our reality. The ancients defeated the incursion, and destroyed or drove back the beings from out of time.

But they knew it wouldn't be the last.

So the ancients drafted each other. They built an army, moved into the far realm, and tried to seal the holes behind them.

No evidence exists that they survived, but the holes to the far realm are no longer as large as they where in the time of the ancients.

Emperor Tippy
2008-08-17, 09:40 PM
They got bored and left. Decided that the world was way to much trouble now that the gods were around and being a pain to deal with so they made themselves another world and just up and left.

With epic magic it's easy, especially if your whole society has it.

mabriss lethe
2008-08-17, 10:56 PM
Best answer: keep it a mystery.

No one knows what happened. There are as many theories as there are experts, legends as there are lore keepers. But when push comes to shove, no one knows the truth.

This little rule can be your best friend. It means you don't ever have to fully justify the way things work out. Your players get a vague impression of what happened, may find fragmentary and often contradictory information in the form of ancient artifacts and half destroyed copies of older records.

This way nothing is ever set in stone. You get to play it out however you like and the things you apply can be completely situational. Each encounter with this ancient history becomes unique but still loosely tied together under the canopy of being involved with this ancient civilization.

2008-08-18, 09:54 AM
War. War never changes. The end of the world appeared pretty much as they had predicted. To many beings, not enough ressources to go around.
The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.
The earth was nearly wiped clean of life, a great cleansing, a magic spark struck by human hands... quickly raged out of control.
Spears of magical fire rained from the skies, continents where swallowed in flames and fell beneath the boiling oceans. Those beings were almost extinguished, their spirits becoming part of the background magic that blanketted the earth. A quiet darkness fell upon the planet, lasting many years...

Well, of course they were advanced and powerful with both magic and technology, but what powered them would one day be their downfall. Their high standards of living consumed vast ressources, and in the end, those who controlled the last ressources were able to draw out their happy life some years longer. But in the end, one few places were these ressources could be gathered were left, and so the great wars begun...

2008-08-18, 10:20 AM
Best answer: keep it a mystery.

No one knows what happened. There are as many theories as there are experts, legends as there are lore keepers. But when push comes to shove, no one knows the truth.I'd go with this. Really, unless you have to have a specific reason for the plot to work, just leave it as unknown and unknowable.

2008-08-18, 10:24 AM
There is always the Atlantis option with a few survivors when the island nation was destroyed.

2008-08-18, 10:34 AM
A heating device to ensure year-long warm climate might actually be a bad idea, when it comes to highly developed civilizations.
While it is true that the first civilizations rose in climates that allowed year-round agriculture (Egypt, Mesopotamia ...), only limited by the access to water (which can be solved), it is also true, that now by far most advanced civilization is the so called Western society. According to this theory, this is because agriculture is not possible the whole year, not limited by water access, but by the seasons. Which is not easily fixed. Therefore, farmers in more moderate climates were forced to grow most of their crops for the whole year in just half of it. Which ultimately lead to technological advance.
But then, when magic's a factor, most theories don't really apply anymore.

2008-08-18, 01:26 PM
I'd go with the "no-one knows" idea... you might want to search for "Disappearence of the Dwemer" because Morrowind handled it really well, and they seem similar. Basically, the Dwemer tried to make (themselves into) a god, but they just disappeared... there are so many theories. If not, I'd go with the "trying to make themselves into a god" and leave it ambiguous, all people know is that they're gone, they either failed, and were wiped from existence, or they succeeded, and there's another deity.

2008-08-18, 03:10 PM
You could try something oddball like Terry Pratchetts Darkside of the Sun approach, say they went to sleep to contemplate their navals or became obsessed with playing games with less developed races from hiding and thus stimulated all the other competeing cultures and races (you've got to have something to explain so many different sentients not wiping each other out I always think).

2008-08-19, 09:11 AM
Make the island the center of a great crater, the asteroid which hit many thousands of years ago was laced with a special adamantium alloy which has anti-magic properties, all attempts to prevent the impact were futile. Few pepope if any know about this alloy, which can now be mined from the island, this metal can only be forged/mined by those with storm-giant str. Its weapons, are priceless, non-magical masterworks(usually giant sized) which possess powerful anti-magic radiation and bypasses magic armor bonuses and spell protections, as well as radiating an anti-magic field within 15'. The loss of one of these weapons is enough to start a war. The island is now home to a previously unknown sub-race of storm giants who feed primarily on the abundant goats, they are xenophobic and not exactly friendly (unless you know the password, or whatever)

The crater walls form an impressive ring of great cliffs and the island in the center is not known to the world (as it cannot be scryed upon) The closer you get to the center of this crater the less likely that your magical abilities/stuff will work. A few people have ventured over the cliffs, never to be heard from again, one is known to have died when he tried to fly over the cliffs and was knocked from the sky by the radiation.

For the world to learn about this place, I suggest having one of the weapons lost and it's owner has been on a holy mission to recover it, if captured he may inform the world of the fate of the ancient magic race. Or you could have the story inscribed on the weapon, and a pissed off giant(s) has come to get it back.

Edit:The giants should have a method of destroying their weapons quickly, they will die to prevent a non-native from possessing these weapons, perhaps they have a particular chemical which reacts strongly with the alloy and can quickly ruin it's properties. Anyway these artifacts should not be available to players. At most they should get a small nugget of ore, to play with.

Edit2: Im not a fan of "no one knows", It's always good to have an answer to the question available, even if no one actually knows. This way if you want you can leave little mysterious clues to the fate of X here and there for some flavor(In my case perhaps signs of an ancient great tsunami on the surrounding continents, like pummace and boulders washed a mile up slope). Then if you ever need to bring it out of the closet, you have that option.

2008-08-19, 11:00 AM
I'm gonna agree with the ones that said "Nobody knows or can know.". Unless it's a quest or something to find the lost civilization.