Question From Robert Scott Martin. Answer 1998 Greg Stafford.
Q: We know that Kralorela and Vithela managed to keep their societies together during the Great Darkness before the Dawn, and that there were corrupt human kings in Old Seshnela as well. High King Elf and the Cities of Lead are also mentioned as centers of civilization in the period. Could you say more about what life was like between the Devil and the Dawn?
A: The Great Darkness was a time when the last vestiges of the world as it had been known disappeared. Imagine a land covered by Nuclear Winter, inhabited by terrified warlike people who are starving, where multiple races of monsters have begun to proliferate. The realms of life and death could not be told apart and we find demons and the dead moving through the same realm as those who are struggling to stay alive. This means, by the way, that the dead were also struggling to stay dead and, in a perverse sort of compoeteness, the devourers were trying to be eaten, the conquerers were trying to defeat themselves, and the good were trying to be bad enough to survive. Everyone and everything would have died except that some beings had enough connection with magic to persist, though sometimes that magic was the ability to digest fungus, to eat the dead, or to be invisible to predators. Most people in these circumstances barely made it, so that at the Dawn the world was scattered with small families, tiny clans, or little groups of desperate survivors.
A few places did better than mere survival. Each of them had someone special which helped them to survive. Briefly, those are:
Brithos: Zzabur, the Sorcerer Supreme, who was capable of making nature work for him, such as when he made the windmills to help heat his cities. He did this by proving to his people that Malkion had created the world for them to exploit.
Heortlings: Heort, the Whole Man who voluntarily undertook worship of the gods. He did this by proving to his people that the gods had created the world for them to co-operate with.
Vithela and the East Isles: Mashunasan, the Great Sage, whose mystical energies kept the isles so well protected that many folk have no memory of the Darkness. He did this by proving to his people that the gods had created the world to tempt them, and for them to deny.
Kralorela: The Emperor, a living god, whose personal power was such that he kept his cities protected. He did this by proving to his people that he was the world.
Pamaltela: Pamalt, the Ultimate Shaman, struggled against evil in the world and protected his wandering people safe by teaching them how to overcome their foes with shamanic powers.
Uz: Kyger Litor eats chaos, thrives in darkness, and enjoys the coldest winters. She proved her people could survive by being themselves.