So, my original plan was to include all of the Cosmology of Arista, but looking through it I realized almost all of the stuff on the Divine Realms, Abyss and Nine Hells was pretty much standard DnD lore. I looked it up and may have tweaked minor details here and there, but the majority of it is not mine, so I shouldn’t post it I think.
What I did do with the Divine Realms and its two opposites was decide on an order and purpose. Standard DnD lore gives us that the Abyss is infinite and that demons spawn directly from the Abyss in a never ending horde. I decided that if the Abyss was infinite then the Divine Realms must be as well, because they existed in balance at the beginning. The Divine Realms, I said, are infinitely large and a conduit for life and spiritual energy. The Abyss is infinitely small, collapsing down into itself like a black hole, and each demon spawned has a single desire, to kill and devour the world. The gain strength and power through bloodshed and devouring souls, even those of demons and more powerful demons tend to grow more cunning, working larger plans to sate their appetites.
DnD lore also gives us that The Nine Hells are very different, only nine realms exist within, not an infinite number, and Devils are created from the souls of the wicked and corrupt that devils take. The Lord of the Nine Hells is Asmodeus, and some lore states he created the Nine Hells himself, while others stated he was cast down and the Hells are the crater he left, which also explain his massive wounds. Since Asmodeus is clearly a pastiche of Satan, I decided to make things a little different. He did create the Hells, a proccess that weakened him severely, but the reason he was able to do that and the reason he has so much power is because he was the first being in existence to make a deal. This is why all Devils are bound to uphold their word, to letter. Also, since Asmodeus is clearly building an army and has an iron fisted rule over the devils I decided to rearrange a few details of the lordships and their histories.
Moving in a different direction though, the Feywilds and Shadowfell are full of my own touch. DnD lore is very sparse in these areas and I love the Fey. The following is what I have.
The Feywild is a reflection of the material plane that is more than its source. Instead of a normal wood you could find an ancient forest, or one made of fiery crystals. A pond may have unknown depths or a mountain be seven times higher with strange beasts roosting within. Most residents of the Feywild are known as the Fey or Faeries, but not all fall under this category. The Feywild is generally ruled by the Sidhe and their courts, but opposing factions do exist. It is important to note that some beings carry a close connection with the Feywild, like Gnomes, Elves, Goblins and some Giantkin, but these are not “true Fey” as they are not bound by the Three Laws.
These Laws are: Do not speak that which is not true. Always return kindness, and ill-will in kind, but never leave a debt unpaid. Honor the Laws of Hospitality.
These “Three Laws” are defining characteristics of the Fey to me, throughout modern stories and myth. I decided to combine a lot of what is common in these sources and make them Three immutable laws which all Fey great and small abide by.
As there are Three Laws which bind the Fey, there are three courts which rule them. The Seelie Court is ruled by Titania, also known as the Summer Queen. The Seelie Fey are generally the most even-tempered and kindly of the Fey, they are most concerned with natural beauty and can be fierce in defending it. The Seelie can also be the most raucous of partiers, enjoying music, dance and fine drinks and wine. Dryads, Sprites, Pixies, and Satyrs often fall under the Seelie courts sway.
Titania’s consort and lover is Oberon, Leader of the Wild Hunt and Lord of the Wild Fey. The Wild Fey are much more disorganized than the other two courts, and Oberon is their leader only because it allows them to claim neutrality in the wars between the courts. Many of the Wild Fey do participate, choosing sides based on a fickle mood or favors owed, due to this mixed position they count many creatures among their number.
The Final court is the Unseelie Court, ruled by The Queen of Air and Darkness. The Unseelie fey are terrible forces, taking pleasure in pain and evil curses. They also count many varied and dark-hearted creatures among them, the Queen employs several shadows (DnD undead monsters) in her service for example. Few beings remember, and fewer speak openly, that the Dark Queen is Titania’s sister and that she was once bright and lively. It is said that the Crystal Titania wears around her neck once had her sister’s name upon it, and that the Queen must also carry somewhere a crystal upon which Titania’s name is writ. Proof of their eternal bond. However, one day she returned from a trip into the forest, the light gone from her eyes and her name unspeakable. None know for certain what transpired, all that is known is that The Queen of Air and Darkness wars upon her sister, and that she is a cold and unfeeling being. With one exception, if blood is spilled in her presence the Queen’s rage is unleashed, destroying he who spilled the blood and sometimes the bleeder as well.
There are other powerful and important figures in the Feywild: The Princess of Thorns, The Prince of Frost, Cait Sith, and Puck to name a few. It is also important to recognize the two other races commonly found in the Feywild. The twisted, giant Fomorians who were once Sidhe and the Hags who are Fey but stand apart in many respects.
Where the Feywild is the material world reflect with more, the Shadowfell is reflected with less. Light rarely shines, and much of the realm is an endless expanse of gray shrubs, hills, and dank water. It is colorless, empty. The Shadowfell is the birthplace of many dark things and foul hungers. Most notably are the undead which are the majority of its inhabitants. Many beings seek a foothold here, most notably Orcus, who seeks to claim all undead under his dominion. To this end Orcus has established “The City of Ghouls” from which he constantly sends forces to increase his reach, though they are commonly decimated by the nominal rulers of The Shadowfell: The Lords of Shadow.
Among their number is the first vampire, an ancient creature who was the first to take the title “Lord of the Shadows.” Being the first to claim lordship within the Shadowfell this being, known as Lord Abaddon to those foolhardy enough to name him, is feared and respected by many powerful forces, though he seems content with the power he has gathered. Amongst Abbadon’s court are many dark lords and ladies, some of the most notable being Abbadon’s ancient children such as Lady Priscilla and Lord Bartholomew.
Another powerful group in the Shadowfell is the Queen of the Night and her Deathknights. Lady Gabriella and her right-hand Sir Nikolai The Mournful were once in charge of an ancient kingdom. Lady Gabriella, in a quest to remove all evil from her lands, went too far, slaughtering entire villages and destroying her country from within with her zealotry. Sir Nikolai turned a blind-eye to his Lady’s atrocities, love leading him to follow her without question. When they died, both rose as Deathknights, but Lady Gabriella refused to see her sins, instead blaming the gods for cursing her and vowed to continue working towards creating the perfect kingdom. Amongst her current knights are Lady Constance, who was cursed for pursuing power at the cost of her soul, Sir Damien and Sir Augustus, both whom fell for pride.
The next of the Shadow Lords is Judax’Kîsar, an ancient dragon of indeterminate type. Some say he was the first dracolich, self-rising from the bleak desert of the Shadowfell. Others that he was the first shadow dragon, and that his name is now the title all leaders of the Shadow Wyrm Court hold. For whatever the truth of Judax is,his purpose seems clear, stealing eggs, hatchlings, and young dragons of all color and bringing them to the shadowfell to be reborn as shadow dragons under his command. No one is sure how he controls the dragons, known for fierce independence, but however the method the Court is a powerful and dangerous force.
Outside of these “heavy-hitters” are many, many lesser powers. Hags, wights, wraiths, necromancers, and even revenants claim what land and titles they can before being subsumed by some greater power.
What will follow are some of my final notes within Arista. Secrets and hidden facts that I wanted seperated from the lore which might be uncovered by normal means. Basically, here’s some of the really juicy stuff which marks the end of me talking about Arista for now.
Abbadon was once a mortal, who fell in love and was loved in return by [Mab], now known as the Queen of Air and Darkness. However, he held no titles and had accomplished no great deeds, nothing to allow the Faerie Court to recognize a union between him and one of the two future queens. Desperate, Abaddon sought out an ancient hag and begged for the power to build a kingdom even the Court would be forced to recognize. She agreed, in exchange for a secret never again uttered. With his “Blessing of the Blood” Abaddon created generals to serve him, and they soldiers. In the Shadowfell, where no one ruled and many threats to the Fey proliferated, they forged a kingdom. Years later Abaddon sent a secret letter to his love, wanting to meet in person. [Mab] had grown beautiful and powerful, but she still loved Abaddon with all her heart. However, Abaddon had been twisted by his power and time in the Shadowfell, and when [Mab] confirmed her unwavering love Abaddon used his magic to take her name, so that it would never pass the lips of another man. The trauma of his betrayal nearly killed [Mab], shattered her body and ripped her soul to shreds. The Queen of Air and Darkness, unable to feel more than the pale embers of her love rejected the Shadow Lord, and broke the Faerie Court into three factions in a vicious power struggle. It is said that deep in Abaddon’s castle lies the bottle in which the Queen’s name resides, and that Abaddon treasures this fragment of love above all else. It is also said that the only way to break Abaddon’s power and kill him is to speak the secret he gave to the Hag during his tragic deal.
The Secret is this. “[Mab] is pregnant with our child, conceived out of wedlock, his name shall be Kohaku.” And in fact, The Queen is still secretly pregnant. She has been using her magic to delay and hide the birth of her child for centuries, to the point where she herself has nearly forgotten of the child’s existence.
The Yuan-Ti and Lamia (Yuan-ti are snake people, while Lamia are in my world female monsters with the bottom half of a snake. Lamia “culture is an unfinished product I may share at a later date) are connected cultures and they believe that an over-deity wound throughout the universe. Then in a cataclysmic act this deity split into four beings. They are Dendar, The Night Serpent, “She who devours dreams”; Wadjet (Yuan-ti Goddess), The Serpent of the Seas, “She who devours Sickness”; Apep (Yuan-ti God), The Unblinking King, “He who devours Lands”; and The First Mother (Lamia Goddess), “She who devours herself”. The Yuan-Ti believe that a time will come when the four deities will battle, devouring each other, reunifying in the process and once more becoming the over-deity. The battle will probably also spell the end of the world.
Within the Beastlands is a sealed “The Primal One” an ancient hunter being of rage who was sealed by the ancient gnomish society. He is an Empyrean (Titan) named Rukh who refers to himself as “The King”. He grieves the “Death” of his Mother, the earth and the land, nature. If someone tries to argue the land is not dead he will tell them they did not see what it was before. He refers to mortals as “maggots” who “crawl, shit and breed upon the corpse”. His seal is twofold. First he is chained to his massive throne of stone by silver bracelets with chains, these chains are the physical manifestation of the Gnomish Goddesses who sacrificed themselves to seal Rukh. The second is a diffusing of his rage, which is represented by the mists which cover the Beastlands. When the seal is broken the mist will rush into him, changing his skin tone (Either changing from grey to white or perhaps making his skin bleed and turn red). The seal could be broken by shattering the chains, but that would be similar to destroying an artifact in difficulty. The second would be if blood is spilled or some other act would help pierce the veil around him and incite him to rage.
There is a small tribe of gnomes that live in guardianship of Rukh. They have been twisted into bestial forms (permanent half form lycans) but they remain mostly logical and cultured.