The Order of Four
Prehistory (Before Magic)
The follwing is an excerpt from the introduction of A Brief History of Cairn by the Human Archmage Aurilios. The full text spans some seventeen thousand pages, organized in 16 volumes, and is widely considered to be the most comprehensive history ever written. That being said, Aurilios was notorious for his Humanocentric way of thinking and the evidence is clear in some of his conventions, such as the non-capitalization of what he calls the ‘beastly races’ (Goblin, Giant, Orc, etc) and the refusal to acknowledge Half-Orcs as a legitimate race. Keep this in mind while reading and remember that Aurilios seldom allowed his personal beliefs to interfere with his chronicling of the past.
The time immediately following the creation of the intelligent races was a chaotic one. Each of the newly created peoples had to struggle to find their appropriate niche, as the Gods were busy settling their own affairs. Without the divinities guiding their creation, it is possible that some creatures may have settled in unexpected areas. For example, it is a distinct possibility that the Gods never intended for Dwarves and giants to occupy the same territory, due to their mutual hatred of one another on an almost instinctual level. However, neither would ever cede their claims to the mountains, and if the Gods know better, they have chosen to keep silent on the issue.
The early history of Cairn was dominated by the goblinoid and giant races, which settled predominately in the swamplands and mountains, respectively. The Dragons, of course, held great power as well, due mainly to their instinctual knowledge of magic. However, we will consider the history of the Dragons at a later time. The goblinoids especially flourished during this time period, even gaining passing recognition from the Gods. The success of the beastly races during this time is widely attributed to three factors.
First, the goblinoid races engaged in cooperative actions long before the intelligent races. Archaeological evidence shows orcs and goblins sharing encampments long before even the humans began intermingling with other settlements. Despite the naming convention, the relationship between goblins and hobgoblins is a more recent phenomenon. The giants, of course, still had good relations with the Colossus in those days, granting the large races a distinct advantage over groups of smaller creatures.
Second, the aggressive disposition of these races. Along with the combat-ready builds of these groups, the warlike tendencies made them far more capable of extending their territory than all but the Tiefling, Colossus, and Shifter races. The omission of the Dragonborn may surprise some. However, during this point in history the Dragons still held dominion over their smaller cousins, keeping them from having any civilization of their own for several hundred years.
Third, and finally, the increased breeding ability of the goblinoids. This advantage was not shared by the giants, as they have a breeding pattern more akin to Dwarves, but it remains an important consideration. In the time it takes a human female to birth one child, a goblin female could birth up to a dozen young. In a time before magic had been harnessed, the numerical advantage was almost insurmountable.
Despite the relatively long-lived reign of the beastly races, little evidence remains of any sort of governing bodies beyond the warlord level. Due to this lack of civilization, there is a lack of knowledge of the customs and activities of the early goblinoids. Even the giants left only a few cryptic structures, most of which remain a mystery to this day.
As little as we know of the early beasly races, we know even less about the intelligent races of the era. The Elves, Gnomes, and Eladrin had not yet emerged from the Feywild. The Deva had not yet descended from the Astral planes. The Dragonborn were merely pets of the Dragons. The Shifters and the Tiefling were still feral (Editor’s Note: This claim is widely disputed. It has never been proven that either race were ever actually ‘feral’. It is likely that this is another example of Aurilios’ Human-supremacist propaganda.). The Dwarves were fighting the giants for survival (although they claim certain techniques can be traced back to this period). The Colossus were still in league with the giants. The Humans were still roughly-organized nomads. And the Primes only know what the Halflings were doing (or where for that matter). The history of the intelligent races begins with the same discovery which ended the reign of the beastly races: Magic.