History of The Scourge

With this work, I intend to provide the history necessary to understand the Barsaive of our time. It is the workings of the present world I wish to preserve, and this history makes those workings clear. I have added to the account of the Scourge an excerpt from A Concordia of History, a generational text constantly updated by the librarians of Throal. Readers interested in a detailed history of Barsaive and the ancient lands that became our province should peruse that volume.

A similarly detailed history of Barsaive may also be found in the transcripts of the speakings of storymaster Jallo Redbeard, an account preserved in the Library of Throal.

- Merrox, Master of the Hall of Records


Like stated the lands of Earthdawn were once an epic fantasy landscape, entire nations rose and fell, armies were built, great weapons of power were forged, new and breath taking discoveries were made everyday and both magic and science grew and the races of the world thrived within the mystical lands. However it was around that time that a dark and ancient discovery was made as found high into the mountains locked securely within specially built hold was a stockpile of ancient scrolls and books that contained the knowledge of our worlds dim past.

These books and texts were to become known as “The Books of Harrow“ as written within their ancient pages was a great prophecy and warning to our people, a great prophecy that the books called “The coming of the Horrors“ and from there the Books of Harrow were studied by magicians and scholars who came in droves to study the texts found in this ancient vault of documents, and sadly what they was about to discover was enough to change the entire world forever and to push the people of Barsaive to the very edge of extinction.

Within these fabled Books of Harrow was a great prophecy that described how our world had been destroyed before by a vast and terrible darkness known only as the Horrors, and reading further into the ancient texts the books described how the magic in our world is like a tide in the sea, that slowly over thousands of years the tides of magic go out (low tide) where the magic in our world is all but forgotten by the world of men, however slowly over countless generations the tides of magic begin to rise again and wash over our world, it is here (high tide) when the magic in our world is the strongest that the great prophecy awakens.

The books described how over thousands of years the tides of magic would rise and that once this happened the levels of magic in our world would swell and surge to breaking point, and that overloaded with magical energy great tears and rifts would appear in the magical fabric of our world, great holes and gateways would break open into astral space and other dimensions that surround us and these huge rifts and tears would act as bridges to many of the dark netherworlds, this in simple terms means thousands of gateways “straight to hell” would open into our world, and that our entire planet would be invaded by an unstoppable force known only as the Horrors.


The ancient books not only described how the magic in our world would swell to breaking point like a high tide and how huge rips in the magical fabric of our world would appear, but it also described how through these rifts and tears would pour thousands of the most evil and corrupted creatures and demons, truly evil beings of vast dark power who feed upon the very suffering and fears of men, and it is these horrible twisted creatures that are known as the Horrors.

Breaking into our world like a sea of terror from the countless dark netherworlds of astral space these foul and disgusting horrors would destroy torture and kill anything in their path and would come in such numbers that the skies themselves would be blackened and not even the most powerful armies could stop them, they would invade our entire world and would destroy all life.


The books described how those foul and twisted horrors came in all shapes and sizes, some as small as insects that can bury into your brain and others the great titans as tall as the clouds themselves, and that they come in all manor of wicked forms that are the thing of true nightmares. It was described how this planet would burn and fall into darkness, how the magic of our world would once again rise seeing the entire world overrun by creatures from the darkest hells.


Studying this further and using powerful magic’s of foresight and divination the magicians and scholars of the world began to peace together this history of the books and what happened all those years ago, and after much research they found that all evidence pointed towards this prophecy been true and seemed to suggest some major apocalyptic event had happened thousands of years into our past, that some unknown force seemed to have wiped entire civilizations off the map, and entire kingdoms had just vanished overnight leaving no trace of their existence other than ancient cities in ruins, studying the books further it began to detail ways of fighting these Horrors and what weapons had worked before the empires of old fell into dust.


Many powerful magicians and scholars began to believe in this prophecy as every peace of evidence seemed to confirm our world had been invaded and destroyed before, and the spell casters reported that the tides of magic were once again rising. Studying the books further the leaders and great spell casters of the Theran Empire began to uncover hidden secrets within the books that detailed ancient runes and enchantments that had worked well against the Horrors, and it was from these ancient runes that the Theran Empire created the famous “Rites of Protection and Passage” which were magical runes of great power and protection.


Some people believe that the great dragons themselves played a part in creating the fabled runes known as the “Rites of Protection and Passage” as the magic’s within them are far to complex for the lesser races to understand, however using a combination of new magic’s, ancients texts, and years of study the Theran Empire created the fabled rites of protection that would act as a first line of defence against the Horrors, as it was decided that the only way to truly defend against such an unstoppable force as the Horrors was simply to hide the people away buried deep within magically sealed bunkers that were heavily protected by the Rites of Protection and Passage.


Many people of Barsaive argue that the Rites of Protection and Passage was the saviour of the world, while others argue it was a curse and a burden that cost the lives of thousands, as while the great Theran Empire had the only known protection against the Horrors these runes and rites of protection were not offered freely, in fact many kingdoms either had to sell their souls to the Theran Empire or empty their kingdoms vaults all for the price of protection, and sadly Thera abused this power and used it to spread its influence far and wide across the lands and even began a mass slaving operation, and some argue that they simply exchanged one horror for another.

However the “Rites of Protection and Passage” did give the world an effective way of defending against the Horrors, it gave them a first line of defence as within these powerful runes were not only magic’s to help hide the magically sealed bunkers, but also powerful magic’s that could kill or seriously injure any Horrors trying to break through them and it was from there that a plan was slowly formed, a plan to evacuate an entire world which lead into a time known only as “The Time of Hiding” where thousands of people were evacuated deep underground or behind the walls of impressive purpose built strongholds above the ground.



Having researched the subject thoroughly many spell casters and scholars believed that trying to fight such a dark and overwhelming force as the Horrors would be madness and that the only way to protect the people was simply to hide them in purpose built bunkers and strongholds that would be scattered in thousands of places around the world, and then would be sealed using the powerful “Rites of Protection and Passage” which would seal the people away for hundreds of years while the Scourge and Horrors destroyed the world outside.

The great magicians of the Theran Empire using the Books of Harrow as a time line estimated that the magic’s of the world would once again reach the peak within about 500 to 700 years. This perhaps sounds like a long time and many nations laughed taking a listen now and prepare much later attitude (if this Scourge even happened at all) however as the years past more evidence was found, more nations began to listen to the rantings of Thera, and within time a massive worldwide construction project started and various empires began building strongholds and bunkers of all various designs in all manor of places.


Over the hundreds of years that followed this great construction project witnessed the creation of thousand upon thousand of these purpose built strongholds that were built in all manor of places, some would call them a bunker or stronghold, others would say a citadel or keep, but the people of Barsaive came to know these great safe houses as kaers, and no matter what they were called these hidden and highly protected fortress like bunkers would serve as a great ark for the people when the terrible Scourge finally arrived to the lands.

Great stronghold

While many of these bunkers and kaers were small (enough to hold the population of a few towns) some of them were as big as cities and held entire kingdoms, this means that entire cultures could still be trapped within the walls, or they could have fallen during the Scourge and now be nothing more than Horror infested tombs that haven’t been searched in hundreds of years.


This awful Time of Hiding was estimated to last around 400 years while the Horrors destroyed the world outside, meaning that entire generations would be born and would die within the magically sealed kaers staying alive only by the use of magic and huge underground gardens where they could grow food and breed livestock. It’s this stage of the worlds history that entire cultures prepared to seal themselves away and not see the light of day again for nearly 400 years, entire generations born without ever seeing the sun or the world outside, however one thing is for sure when the Scourge finally did come the people couldn’t wait for the doors to be closed.


It began slowly at first but as the levels of magic grew in our world scattered reports from isolated areas started to circulate, reports of black demon like beasts roaming the landscape, reports of entire villages going mad and slaughtering each other like under some dark power, and slowly these reports began to build. With each passing month it seemed more of these foul creatures were breaking into the world and great tears and voids in the fabric of the world started to appear, and sadly from those black gateways thousands of Horrors poured into our world everyday.


Many people evacuated at this time sealing the great doors of the strongholds and vanishing underground for hundreds of years, others delayed or were overrun before getting chance to evacuate, and those who didn’t bother to prepare were simply wiped off the map by the Horrors leaving nothing but ruined and forgotten cities in their wake. The Horrors are also twisted and devious creatures of all shapes and sizes, some stand as tall as castles while other look like humans and can disguise themselves using powerful magic and mind trickery, and sadly during the Scourge thousands of the bunkers and strongholds were found and breached by the Horrors.


Once breached such a stronghold had little hope for survival as the Horrors not only have vast and terrible powers that can tear the flesh and skin from your very bones but can also corrupt your mind and dreams and can mark your very soul, and such Horrors would often torture their victims for countless years or slaughter entire underground cities. While many of the hidden strongholds did survive the Scourge its fair to say that countless thousands also fell during this dark time leaving scattered tombs where ancient evils still roam the forgotten halls.


For around 300 years the Scourge raged over the world and silently praying in small pockets underground and hidden within magical bunkers the people of Barsaive prayed to the Passions while their world was destroyed, however after 300 years sealed underground the magical tides of the world once again started to drop and over the following years many of the Horrors had to retreat to the dark and foul netherworlds from where they came, and during this time powerful spell casters monitored the magic levels that were dropping each month, until for some unknown reason they just stopped dropping and have remained stable since leaving a large number of Horrors still roaming ancient lands that have not been explored in nearly 400 years.


It is at this post apocalyptic point where the game of Earthdawn takes place as now after hiding for hundreds of years thousands of kaers and the last kingdoms are opening the doors onto the world for the first time, and while thousands of these kaers and bunkers were found and breached by the Horrors a good number also survived and the inhabitants are once again trying to retake and rebuild their once great world that is now laying in ruin.

Now major powers return to the land and fight for control, ancient cultures emerge into a new unexplored world, great cities of vast power lay in overgrown ruins and are just waiting to be discovered, thousands of scattered bunkers and kaers lay infested by Horrors that are hundreds of years old, and now an entirely new dawn sets over the dark and unexplored world.

History of The Scourge