Lore for Divinity: Original Sin 2 as outlined by Larian Studios in their official kickstarter page.
History of Rivellon
Note on the abbreviations of time:
- AR: Anno Rivellonis. Those years preceding the ascension of The Seven.
- AD: Anno Deorum. How years are now notated, in honor of The Seven.
8800 AR - Dragon Commander
When Rivellon's first emperor Sigurd was killed by his own children, a bloody war for the throne began. The entire world was said to be in danger of destruction, for rumours persist through time that all battles were fought with giant machines and airships of incredible and devastating power; technology long lost - perhaps merely a fable. In the end a Dragon Knight - and son of Sigurd - prevailed. Details are few and far between, but my research indicates that he had the backing of the legendary wizard Maxos.
The Lost Centuries
Almost nothing is known of these lost times. One can only deduce that the empire united by the aforementioned Dragon Knight must have fallen or slipped into decadence. Did it stand for a thousand years? Two-thousand? We may never know.
During these lost times one cataclysmic conflict did most certainly take place: the prolonged and brutal Wizard Wars.
4 AR - Original Sin
Very little is known about the strange and spectacular events that befell two so-called Source Hunters. Nevertheless, if one can put faith in the fragmented stories told by old wizards, they both prevented and set in motion events that changed the destiny of fair Rivellon herself.
100 AD - The First Rise and Fall of Chaos
In this black year a new enemy attacked Rivellon, more vicious than anything that came before. It was called Chaos, and it had been worshipped and brought to power by sinister forces at work since those times Zandalor refuses to speak of. After long, brutal battles, the enemy - personified by the demonic Chaos Lord - was defeated by dwarven armies. They alone safeguarded the world from succumbing to Chaos during these times and still deserve lavish praise for doing so.
611 AD - The Second Rise and Fall of Chaos
The Chaos Demon had been defeated centuries before, but an insidious wizard by the name of Ulthring had rallied the wounded demon and amassed fresh armies anew. This time Rivellon would have surely fallen had it not been for the Sacrifice of Seven: empowered by the Seven Gods, a human, a dwarf, an elf, a lizard, an imp and an orc gave their lives so that the Lord of Chaos would be defeated. Among them was Duke Ruben Ferol, and it was his apprentice Ralph who walked away from the battlefield with Ulthring's sword: the ill-fated Sword of Lies.
1218 AD - Divine Divinity
Leaving only grim corpses in his wake, and aided as he was by a dragon: the Patriarch - the avatar of light, followed the enemy to its stronghold, nestled deep beneath the desert wastes of Yuthul Gor, where he stalked and killed every Black Ring elder; Finally, he and their diabolic leader, the Demon of Lies, stood snout to face. The fiend smiled and told the Divine he was too late: the transfer was complete and the Lord of Chaos would walk again. Indeed, behind him, on a large altar lay a newborn infant, a shell of innocence wrapped around a soul of utter corruption. The Divine’s sword saw the Demon dead, but despite being able to put an end to the vast plague that had almost brought Rivellon to her knees, he could not bring himself to kill the child.
1218 to 1233 AD - The Youth of Damian
Lucian named his 'son' Damian, and for years the child remained unaware of the terrible forces that brimmed beneath his boyish exterior, growing up under the Divine’s tutelage. Sent to seduce Damian by her father, the Black Ring necromancer Kalin, Ygerna befriended the young man, who was instantly infatuated with her. Not only did she return his affections, but also his long slumbering powers. They practiced innocent spells at first, but later on more sinister magic, rarer incantations, and, most dangerous of all, they unravelled forbidden knowledge. For some time, Damian's Divine foster parent was blissfully oblivious of Ygerna’s ominous influence on his son, until evidence connected her to Kalin, whom he had recently executed. When questioned she confessed that she supported his rotten stratagems, the most important of these being the renascence of Damian’s dark, dormant powers.
After hearing such hideous testimony, Lucian had no choice but to execute Ygerna in turn: the Black Ring never enjoys clemency, whatever the circumstances. Under the eyes of the wise, but worry-plagued Zandalor, the Divine’s sword severed Ygerna’s head from her body. Yet, at that prophetic moment, while Ygerna’s blood was still claiming more territory on the floor, Damian entered and gave voice to a spell that utterly stunned even that mighty ensemble: the spell of Soul Forging. Before anyone could react, Damian turned back and seemingly disappeared. The Divine knew his son would from then on be his greatest foe and understood that Damian had already realised a great deal of his black potential: he who can Soul Forge is a stupendous adversary indeed.
As Lucian and Damian gathered their armies, Zandalor contemplated the repercussions of Damian’s acts. A Soul Forge is an exceptional enough event in its own right; a Soul Forge with a soul as it dwells amidst the few fragments of time between life and death, was unprecedented. Uncertain of the consequences for either him or Damian, he entrusted Ygerna’s body to the care of embalmers, forgoing the usual ritual burning of Black Ring corpses.
1233 AD - Damian Is Banished To Nemesis
Within days, the Black Ring and Divine Paladins clashed. Damian though, had eyes for Lucian only: he would show him the same kindness he had shown Ygerna. What he did not know was that the Divine was ready for him. He would lure his son to a Rift Temple and, if all went according to plan, banish him to another dimension. Blinded as he was by his all-consuming wrath, Damian did not realise he was being drawn into a trap and soon he was locked away in shadow haunted Nemesis. The Divine returned to Rivellon, glad that the threat his foster son posed was eliminated, yet strangely mournful because he realised that despite the evil that had taken hold of him, Damian’s spur-of-the-moment Soul Forge was essentially an act of love.
1238 AD - Beyond Divinity
He bided his time, growing in stature and power, until he did what most thought could not be done: with the help of a duped paladin who knew not it was Damian he was fighting with side by side, he broke free from his prison dimension and initially overran the surprised Rivellonian forces.
1238 to 1300 AD - The Rise and Fall of Damian and the Divine
His thoughts were still wholly focused on one thing: to destroy the Divine and so revenge Ygerna. The war changed the face of Rivellon: for years it raged and one catastrophic event followed the other. Where once there were mountains there are now flat scorched plains and picturesque farmlands have been pushed up and turned into jagged cliffs. Nevertheless mankind faced its infernal foes with remarkable courage and tenacity. A decisive reason for their stubborn optimism was the new forged alliance between the Divine and the now very rare, but still immensely powerful Dragon Knights, the last and elusive proponents of Dragon magic in the Demon-swept realms. Throughout the climactic battle, the scales of victory could have tipped either way. But then the unthinkable happened: one of the Dragon Knights betrayed and slew the unsuspecting Divine. During the confusion that ensued, the Paladins started to fight Dragon and Demon alike. Luckily Zandalor was able to rally the troops and so narrowly avoid disaster. Damian, who had already lost much of his forces and had seen his revenge materialised, ordered his army to abandon the field. His dominion over Rivellon could wait. And besides, he had other things on his mind.
The war ended, but the fighting never stopped. Enraged by the betrayal of the Dragon Knights and the death of the Divine, humanity saw the foundation of the Order of Dragon Slayers, which specialised in the eradication of the Patriarch's chosen few. With Maxos gone and the Patriarch unwilling to intervene, their already very small number dwindled fast until ultimately only one remained: Talana.
1300 AD - Divinity II - The Dragon Knight Saga
Talana was hunted without pause and without remorse, but when she was finally tracked down and mortally wounded by the greatest of Dragon Slayers, Commander Rhode, she yielded all her powers to a young Dragon Slayer recruit who thereby became the last Dragon Knight.
It became his goal to kill arch-nemesis Damian by means of resurrecting Ygerna with whom he was soul forged. During the course of his quest it was revealed that the Dragon Knight who killed the Divine was mind-tricked by Damian and that the Dragon Slayers' hunt for Dragon Knights worked to his advantage. When he'd be back, he'd no longer have to deal with these fearsome foes.
As it would turn out, the mystery Dragon Knight who assassinated the Divine was not the last one to fall for a ruse, for the Dragon-Slayer-turned-Dragon-Knight too was tricked, by no other than Ygerna this time, who, claiming to be Talana, led him to her from the very netherworld – the Hall of Echoes – so that he would resurrect her. Believing this would kill Damian, the Dragon Knight did so, but soon discovered he was duped and found himself imprisoned in a realm beyond time and space: the Plane of Hypnerotomachia.
All worked out well for Damian who had unsuccessfully tried to resurrect Ygerna as well. But that was not the only thing he had been doing, for Damian knew his history and knew of the legends of Sigurd's empire. During the glory years of the Dragon Slayers he had been doing more than sit around and plan a next campaign: he had been researching the technology used by Maxos and the Dragon Knight to unite an empire so many thousands of years ago. The result was still a far cry from what this technology had once been, but nonetheless the crude, but imposing Flying Fortresses he had constructed were a force to be reckoned with and he lost no time deploying them against the human capital of Aleroth.
To protect the city, Zandalor employed desperate measures: he conjured a shield around the city which effectively safeguarded it from harm, but to be able to do so he first had to harvest this shielding magic from around the prison of a Chaos wizard by the name of Behrlihn who had been rotting away in his dungeon deep beneath Aleroth ever since he was incarcerated after the Wizard Wars.
Behrlihn, omnipotent in many ways, knew everything that had happened in the world despite his being locked away, and now that he sensed the disappearance of the shield, he immediately travelled in mental form to the Plane of Hypnerotomachia, something he could not do when the guarding magic was still in place. Here he found the lost Dragon Knight and no other than the Divine, who was in fact still alive and likewise imprisoned by Damian. Behrlihn made a deal with the Dragon Knight.
The latter would release the former's physical self from underneath the besieged city and in return Behrlihn would both free the Divine from his other-worldly captivity and give the Dragon Knight the Eye of the Patriarch, a mighty object that could destroy the armada of Flying Fortresses around Aleroth. And so the Dragon Knight was free once more to roam the city in search of ways to free the dread Chaos wizard.
In the end, the Dragon Knight freed Behrlihn who gave him the Eye of the Patriarch, but refused to free the Divine. Armed with this powerful object, the Dragon Knight set out to defeat the fleet of Flying Fortresses which turned out to be commanded by the freshly resurrected Ygerna. The threat above Aleroth was obliterated, but the fight was not over. Ygerna and Behrlihn spirited themselves away to the Plane of Hypnerotomachia and pulled the Dragon Knight in with them. At last there followed the final confrontation between these three and soon both Behrlihn and Ygerna lay dead.
Their lives and their powers had been undone and consequently the Divine was freed. Aleroth and indeed all of Rivellon rejoiced, but Damian remains alive to this day - and in a sense he remains undefeated.
The Age of the Eternals and the rise of the Seven
*****WARNING!!! SPOILER ALERT*****
The following is a summary of the lore found within the game of Divinity Original Sin 2, through conversations with characters and reading of the various books, related to the ancient Eternals and the Seven. Do not keep reading if you want to try and discover it for yourself through play!
Thousands of years before the recorded history of the current races, the Eternal race reigned supreme. Their magical and mechanical technology was so advanced that they could effectively make themselves immune to aging, hence being named Eternals, and none of the current races have ever been able to replicate it. Their civilization was a monarchy, with a King and seven Lords, and their bodies had a very wide variety of forms; current-day Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Lizard-Men and Orcs all had ancestors within this one society. They were also so advanced that they actually created certain forms of life itself, basic bipedal humanoid creatures to act as what they would call "source vats", but the Eternals considered these creations little more than beasts.
And Fane - the very Fane you can play as - single-handedly triggered events that set off the destruction of it all.
Fane was a magical researcher in close ties with the ruling family. Through his studies he discovered the Veil of Creation, and the power of Source and Void restrained behind it. He believed that the Eternals race could greatly advance by harnessing that power, and went to the King to request resources and people be set to the task of doing so. But the King refused, considering it too dangerous to attempt. Very passionate about his discovery, Fane then went to the Seven Lords and asked for their help instead. Enthralled by the potential power Fane revealed to them, they readily agreed and collectively confronted the King, trying to change his mind. When he refused, the Lords gathered their forces and started a civil war.
The war was catastrophic. The entire Eternal civilization became involved, and practically destroyed itself. During the war the Seven already began to harness the power Fane had revealed to them and started growing in power significantly, which eventually led them to victory. In the end the Seven, led by Amadia, threw the King and all of the other Eternals into the Void, and sealed them there.
Aetera, who was loyal to the King (and you find in the Ancient Temple below the Blackpits in-game) tried to undo what the Seven had done, and also started developing a weapon that could destroy the now heavily-empowered Seven Lords: the Aeteran. But before she could use it she was discovered and entombed. She fully remembers how Fane was involved with these events, and profoundly hates him for it.
With their civilization now in complete ruins and most of the sentient life in the world wiped out, the Seven (except potentially Amadia, what she did in that time is unclear) went their separate ways and started creating the current races, modelled after themselves: Rhalic created the Humans, Duna the Dwarves, Zorl-Stissa the Lizardmen, Vrogir the Orcs, Tir Cendelius the Elves and Xantessa the Goblins. According to Aetera later their work was "sloppy", and not as good as what the original Eternal King could have done. The created races also subsequently started worshipping their corresponding Lord as a God, which the Seven also encouraged, revelling in the adoration. Hence the mythos of the Seven Gods were created.
At some point during this time Fane ended up entombed for quite some time, and lost most of his memory of the events. It is also why when he is awakened during the events of the game that he expresses great confusion when he sees statues and idols of the original Seven Lords being worshipped as "gods". But speaking with Aetera reminds him of all of it.
If you play as Fane as your main character, when you first meet Amadia she at least claims that their war against the Eternal King was self defense. She states that at the time Fane revealed his research, the King had already known about the Veil and the Void, and was secretly siphoning power from it already to grow in strength. And this siphoning weakened the Veil, allowing the Void to leak through, which is why the Seven Lords started the war in the first place.
Finally, the Eternal King is still alive, stuck in the Void. It is suspected that his attempts to escape are what are causing cracks in the Veil and letting so many Voidwoken out whenever Source is used. Amadia (if you play as Fane) also claims when you first meet her that the Seven Lords have been concentrating their powers for centuries to keep the King locked away behind the Veil. However, a slow leak of Void energy into their alternate world slowly corrupted the other Gods, causing them to fight each other endlessly instead, which has also allowed cracks in the Veil to increase and letting more Voidwoken through. Whether or not Amadia is lying about all this is uncertain.