In a bygone age, two powerful primordials, warred on the land which would later be known as Valskar. Izstor, a primordial of ice and Joudstor, a primordial of earth took the form of their elementals in a form so massive, they dwarfed the largest mountains. In their final moments, each released a massive blast of primal elemental magic, destroying both beings and reshaping the entire continent. What was once a lush green landscape with balanced natural features became swept up into clumps of mountains, shunted hills, gorges, and icy plains. In the years following the primal blast, a scar spanning the continent in the shape of a worm erupted in the center of Valskar. Due to the shape and the fact that it would move in the same manner as a worm, the native folk gave it the name “Ryzenorm”.
The Ryzenorm moves in a worm like fashion near the surface layers of the continent, absorbing the elemental energy given to the land by the primordials. However, Ryzenorm moves only for a short period of time and can take years or centuries to move again, moving a greater distance the longer it has remained stationary. Each time it moves, the landscape above and below can be devastated, creating or destroying mountain ranges or gorges each time.
The landscape of Valskar divides its denizens into three separate ecosystems:
The high mountains and peaks. Home of the Goliaths, Orcs and various flying beasts such as drakes and giant eagles.
The surface lands and hills. Home of the Frost and Hill Giants, as well as any monstrous beasts who can survive the harsh landscape.
Underground caverns. Home of the Mountain Dwarves, Duregar, Ore Gnomes, and Goblins.
The mountain or shield dwarves have had a series of mountain stronghold cities over the ages, leading them to be one of the dominant races of Valskar. Their current largest cities are near the North Eastern and South Western borders of the continent, while many ancient ruined cities are near the middle of the continent. They primarily worship Naudun and Joudstor and there are some in the population who worship Izstor or other Empyrian Titans.
Deep Dwarves (Duregar)
Before the events that shaped the modern landscape, there was undoubtedly a world cavern miles below the surface of Valskar which was home to many subterranean humanoids. One of the few races which escaped the devastation of the Ryzenorm was the Duregar. With the world cavern collapsing, the Duregar were forced to migrate much closer to the surface following the path of the Ryzenorm. The combination of their total destruction and salvation at the same time has led to many Duregar to worship the Ryzenorm, leading to the creation of the Cult of Orm. Over the centuries, the Duregar have inhabited and expanded ancient dwarven cities, leading to constant conflicts with Mountain Dwarves.
Ore Gnomes (Svirneblin)
Following similar paths as the Duregar, many Svirneblin, better known as Ore Gnomes were able to escape to the caverns just beneath the surface world. Being a cautious race, they take great care to avoid contact with all other civilizations. However, in the unending conflict between the Mountain Dwarves and Duregar, Svirneblin have been discovered by both races. The Mountain Dwarves are inviting to the Ore Gnomes and welcome their help in mining and crafting of precious metals. As a result, some Mountain Dwarf cities have a small percentage of Deep Gnome populations. Duregar on the other hand, only seek to enslave the smaller race to exploit as laborers for their natural abilities.
In the upper world, only the hardiest of races can survive. Amongst them, the Goliaths, who are assumed to be the descendants of Humans and Stone Giants. With the harsh landscape and unending mountain ranges, Goliaths live a nomadic lifestyle, wasting nothing and living only to perform great deeds. Their greatest threats come from the Orcish tribes who have escaped the frost giants of the surface and the numerous drakes and giant eagles that prey on humanoids.
One of the few surviving races of the surface world, the Orcish clans were enslaved when the frost giants population suddenly increased. Those who escaped climbed further up the mountains to scrounge a living and eventually were able to adjust and thrive in their new environment. However, after a time, the Orc clans eventually encountered the Goliath clans and frequently skirmish over territory.
Below ground, Goblin warrens grow like an infestation in the ancient cities not being occupied by the Mountain Dwarves or Duregar. However, due to their ability to scrounge on just about any resource, Goblins can be found just about anywhere on Valskar.
Earth & Ice Genasi
Due to the massive amount of primordial elemental magic absorbed by the continent, approximately 1 in every 1,000 children born of humanoids are Earth or Ice Genasi. These Genasi are always medium size but their height is closer to that of their birth parents. Parents of Genasi are considered blessed as their children have been given a boon of their homeland. Genasi children are generally treated well and those living in civilized societies are educated as they are expected to do great things with their gifts. Frost Giants will generally cull any Earth Genasi born and Cultists of Orm will ritualistically sacrifice any Genasi born among their ranks as they consider them food for the Ryzenorm.