History (Hyrule Supplement)
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Any die-hard fan of The Legend of Zelda knows there is an official timeline which connects virtually all the entries of the franchise into a single continuity. The history presented on this page is intended to be a redesign of this timeline that provides a DM with the means to tell an original tale based on the world and lore of The Legend of Zelda.
It is not required to use this historical record of events to use content from the Hyrule campaign setting. If the DM intends to base a campaign off a recreation of one specific game, such as Ocarina of Time or The Wind Waker, then it may be best to ignore this timeline entirely.
Study of the Light World's history is a relatively recent undertaking. Although written records exist, they are increasingly sparse the further back time reaches. The historical record of the Light World as modern Hyrulean scholars know it is divided into seven or eight consecutive eras. The sections below summarize each of these eras, as well as the most influential events in each. Exact dates are seldom known, but the events are in reverse chronological order.
- Over 1 million years ago
- It is unknown if life existed before this point. This era is the realm of belief more than fact, with most information originating from word of mouth or vague divination magic.
Before time began, before spirits and life existed, the three Golden Goddesses descended upon chaos. Din, with her strong flaming arms, cultivated the land and created the red earth. Nayru poured her wisdom onto the earth and gave the spirit of law to the world. Farore, with her rich soul, produced all life forms who would uphold the law.
After these goddesses finished their work, they left the world, but not before creating a symbol of their strength, a trio of golden triangles which together could become known as the Triforce. A small but powerful portion of the essence of the gods is still held in this mighty artifact.
The Golden Goddesses created the Light World and, by most accounts, the Sacred Realm. It is unknown if other realms—such as the Twilight Realm—were also created at this time by these goddesses.
- Between 5 thousand and roughly 1 million years ago
- There are virtually no written records of this time period. What information exists is gathered primarily from a combination of archaeology and divination magic.
What sparse records exist from this era suggest the existence of a supernatural cavern believed to have been created or maintained by an ancient god, possibly Din—and known today as Din's Gate. Supposedly it burrowed through the world and out the other side. There is no other evidence this cavern existed, nor what might have caused its closing or its destruction.
An ancient mammalian race underwent a divergent evolution that would bring about four distinct races: anouki, gerudo, ancient hylians, and ikanians. Ikanians existed mostly on the Terminan Continent, but some may have been located on other landmasses as well. Anouki, gerudo, and ancient hylians existed at opposite ends of what was then the Hyrulean Continent, but today encompasses the Kingdom of Hyrule, Southern Hyrule, and numerous geographically separate islands.
An ancient aquatic race underwent a divergent evolution that would bring about two distinct races: parella, and ancient zora. Ancient zora themselves would undergo yet another diverent evolution, splitting into what are now today known as the rito and zora races. Where parella remained mostly in ocean depths, zora adapted to shallower waters, and rito eventually came to live entirely on the landmass that is today known as the Hyrulean Continent.
Dawn of Demise
The demonic deity now known as Demise came into being for reasons unknown. It is commonly believed he either came from the Bound Chest, or purposefully opened it shortly after his appearance; in any case his initial appearance paralleled the last known record of the Bound Chest. The emergence of Demise was simultaneous with a since unseen resurgence of monsters, and paralleled many calamitous natural disasters.
Although much of Demise is shrouded in mystery, it seems probable he sought the Triforce. Many believe he intended to violently transform the Light World to something more suitable for demons, to bring about pure mayhem and destruction, or some combination of these. Being pure evil, Demise slaughtered endless waves of people, wiping out entire tribes and races with supernatural power unlike anything even the ancient, more magically adept hylians had wielded. Many fiends and monsters, some of which had never existed in Hyrule prior to Demise, aided in spreading his vile destruction across the world. The Ikana Kingdom and the Cobble Kingdom, both thriving nations up to this point, were both wiped out by the actions of this demon king. The Hyrulean continent was awash with rampant destruction. This rampant destruction would last for over a century. Many races that had been dwelling in the region at the time went extinct, and others had to flee the landmass entirely.
- Roughly -5000 to -120
- Although historical records from this era exist, they are extremely sparse and obtuse. Almost all of them are comprised of the language now known as Ancient, which today is spoken by mortals only for unconventional purposes.
Rise of Vaati
According to legend, a powerful magic relic fell into the hands of a diminutive creature. Through this relic, the creature was granted a powerful wish that transformed it into a formidable, fearsome, and utterly evil sorcerer of wind. History would remember this creature as Vaati. A short-lived war was fought against this destructive entity and the numerous monsters it magically conjured. An unnamed hero dealt the final blade with the legendary Picori Blade, and Vaati was ultimately sealed in the Bound Chest along with most of its minions.
War of the Bound Chest
Numerous legendary fighters fought a war of extermination against monsters and fiends that plagued the world. They were led by a young hylian man, who wielded a magic sword now remembered as the Picori Blade. It is said the source of evil from these monsters and fiends was eventually tracked down and trapped in a magic chest, which was then sealed with the Picori Blade. This Bound Chest—believed to be a literal wooden chest—was said by some to seal away all the world's evil, leaving the world good and pure for centuries.
War of Twilight
The race known today as 'ancient hylians' underwent a civil war. The details have been lost to time, but it was known to be a conflict over a "great power" now believed to be the Triforce, or at least a piece of it. What can be salvaged from ancient battlefields suggests these ancient hylians were exceedingly skilled in destructive magic, surpassing even today's top wizzrobes. This war was exceedingly brutal; modern scholars believe this civil war wiped out the majority of the ancient hylian race at the time. What written records exist of the war describe the supernatural banishment of "dark interlopers," who were blamed for the cause of the war. It is widely believed that these interlopers were banished to a dimension now known as the Twilight Realm, and the interlopers would become what are now known as the Twili race. Those who remained in the Light World would evolve to become modern hylians, under the mysterious guidance of an immortal goddess who has become known as Hylia.
Zoran Civil War
Sea zora and river zora became geographically and culturally separated. Before the split, the race as a whole worshiped and revered their patron god, the great fish Jabun. For reasons that have been lost to history, Jabun either died or vanished in this era. Sea zora replaced their former god with another immortal great fish now known as Jabu-Jabu, which many still believe to be the reincarnation of Jabun. The sect that would become river zora saw this as sacrilegious, and tensions rose into a holy war over this dispute. The outcome of the war is unknown, but nonetheless the two sides of this race still hold age-old animosity towards each other.
Era of Demise
- Circa -120 to 0 S.D. (≈120 years)
- The most cataclysmic time in the history of the Light World, wrought by a single entity for which the era is named, and whose name itself has become foreboding.
Skyloft's Descent: Defeat of Demise
A climatic battle sealed the fate of demise; although the details of this battle are lost to history, it is believed to be the first appearance of the legendary Master Sword, which was said to eclipse even the Picori Blade in power. The incarnation of Hylia, Zelda was said to use the Triforce, or at least a piece of it, in this battle—this marked the first explicit mention of the Triforce in the historical record.
The largest floating island created by the goddess Hylia, Skyloft, is used as the final weapon against Demise. Its plummet and impact is believed to have served the final blow. This event also reintroduced hylians to the surface world after their stay on sky islands. The landing location would eventually become known as Hyrule Town, and the continent on which it landed would only after this point become known as Hyrule. Zelda, the first incarnation of goddess Hylia, revealed her divine lineage to her people at this time. Her descendants would go on to be the Hyrule Royal Family, ancestral rulers of Hyrule Kingdom, with each firstborn girl among them named Princess Zelda.
With his last breath, Demise infamously swore the words, "This is not the end. My hate... never perishes. It is born anew in a cycle with no end!" It is believed these words prophesied the birth and rise of Ganondorf, who would go on to become the evil beast Ganon. Others would later add onto this prophecy, claiming that the final destruction of the world would be at the hands of the final incarnation of Demise, known as Calamity Ganon.
Hylia incarnated as a mortal hylian girl named Zelda, who lived among the hylians in the sky island known as Skyloft. Modern researchers believe the goddess' incarnation was born with the Triforce of Wisdom, or received it shortly after her birth. The Triforce of Wisdom may have belonged to Hylia in some form prior to this, but it would be centuries before the existence of the Triforce' became common knowledge.
After a battle that is believed to have lasted decades, Hylia and her allies were able to reduce Demise to a lesser form, simply known as The Imprisoned. The legendary Picori Blade was said to be used in this battle. Although this alone was a tremendous victory for the preservation of life on the planet, even in this form Demise remained a cataclysmic entity. Hylia is believed to have been gravely injured in this battle, vastly reducing her capabilities for at least several decades, if not for all time.
Rise of Skyloft
In an effort to protect her children from further devastation by Demise, the goddess Hylia created landmasses that could float in the sky. A small portion of the hylian race, which was sparse due to the recent civil war and even more sparse due to the actions of Demise, was sent upon these landmasses for protection. For centuries, these hylians—skyloftians, as they came to be known—lived in the sky, on "sky islands" situated near the same levels as clouds. It is believed these skyloftians were the first to domesticate loftwings. Hylia herself is said to have stayed on the surface world, where she joined gods and mortals alike to wage a war of practically all the world against Demise.
Valoo and Dragon Roost
Natural disasters and the threat of Demise caused surviving rito to flee to the far west of the mainland. The immortal and kind-hearted dragon god, Valoo, dwelt to the region where they fled, and for reasons unknown to history became the patron god of rito. Not only did Valoo protect rito from the threat of Demise, but the dragon-god's actions and influence caused rito to grow feathers and functional wings. The region has since become known as Dragon Roost Island, and to this day is home to the largest rito settlements.
Ocean levels rose drastically over the course of decades, believed to be caused by the eruption of the Great Volcano and other natural disasters that have since been blamed on Dawn of Demise. In particular a massive portion of the Hyrulean Continent (at least a third of its surface) was submerged over this era, and remains submerged to this day. Prior to this rise in sea levels, it is believed the surface of the world was mostly covered by land instead of water. Before this time, the landmasses of Anook, Holodrum, Labrynna, Hyrule, and several smaller isles were geographically connected. The region of Hyrule now known as Lanaryu was known to be an arid desert prior to these events, but the rising sea levels would be the catalyst to turn it into the lush region it is today.
It is a commonly believed myth that this flood was brought about by one or more gods in a desperate attempt to extinguish Demise, only for them to unwittingly aid in his rampant destruction. Most modern spiritual leaders dismiss this as a mere rumor, however.
The Great Sea as it exists today is said to derive from this flood.
A colossal volcano was located in the southeast Hyrulean continent, and spanned at least 3,000 square miles. Around the time of Demise's initial appearance, this volcano erupted with overwhelmingly destructive force, said to be heard across the entire globe. The volcano at that point became what is now known as the Great Caldera, utterly destroying itself in its own eruption. The sheer amount of debris and ash that gushed into the atmosphere is believed to have caused the skies to darken for years, and temperatures across the Light World to plummet.
Era of Enlightenment
- 0 S.D. to ≈200 S.D. (≈200 years)
- It is remembered as a time of discovery and research. Much, but not all, of the knowledge gained and recorded in this time would survive the Era of Decline that followed it.
The Triforce Unveiled
The then-king of the Hyrulean Royal Family revealed that he and his ancestors has been in possession of the Triforce for at least the past two hundred years, but held only the pieces of Courage and Wisdom. The location of the Triforce of Power, the missing piece, had been sought for all his life and all his father's life, to no avail.
Prior to this point, the Triforce was largely believed to be mythical. Its existence was intentionally kept secret by the Royal Family to prevent conflict. The king's revelation was a desperate attempt to acquire the final piece for the Hyrule Kingdom. Indeed, the decree was simultaneous with the announcement of a reward anyone who could bring verifiable information about the last piece, the Triforce of Power. Researchers now believe the prosperity of the Hyrule Kingdom for the past several hundred years, and its survival—being the only kingdom on its scale to return after the downfall of Demise—was due in part to the fact their leaders had been handing down these two pieces through the Royal Family for countless generations.
Charting the Great Sea
Advances in shipbuilding technology would allow deep exploration of the Great Sea for the first time. Cultures that had become geographically separated centuries ago due to rising sea levels would be reunited. The continent of Termina was discovered by Hyruleans for the first time. Numerous islands throughout the sea were settled by several diverse races from Hyrule.
A New Beginning
Virtually all terrestrial cities before this time, except for the newly-founded Dragon Roost and Hyrule Town, were nothing but ruins. In the wake of Demise, the survivors who had scattered across the world who had done nothing but struggle to survive would finally be able to thrive. Through several generations around this time, numerous villages and cities sprouted up across the globe for the first time in centuries, most prominently including villages known today as Old Kakariko and Lynna City.
The Wind Tribe
When Skyloft fell, a minority of hylians remained in the sky, and initially dwelt only on the sky islands Hylia created aside from Skyloft. As centuries passed, these hylians mastered magic that allowed them to effortlessly walk upon magically created cloud tops. Today, the descendants of these sky-born hylians are known as the Wind Tribe.
Loss of the Bound Chest: Sealing Vaati
This event centers around the ancient artifact known as the Bound Chest, which was previously lost or destroyed in the Era of Demise. The immortal fiend Vaati, previously sealed in the chest, was one of the numerous evils released from this chest.
Although the catacylsmic Demise had been felled, Vaati remained, and was easily the secondmost destructive entity the world had seen up to this point.
Although the Bound Chest was destroyed, the Picori Blade originally used to fell Vaati yet survived. At the apex of a crusade against Vaati, the fiend's immortal soul was sealed away so it could do no harm. The Picori Blade served as the lock to the monster's cage.
Though this is the last historical record of Vaati, many who live today—nearly a millenium later—still believe that the Picori Blade could be used to unseal the fiend and bring his ruin upon the world once again. At some time between this event and modern times, however, the legendary blade was lost for reasons unknown—this event marks the last known historical record of it.
Era of Decline
- ≈200 S.D. to 835 S.D. (≈735 years)
- These centuries are so dubbed to the numerous conflicts, famine, and tragedies which fill them.
Return of Ganon
A team of powerful spellcasters heralded the return of an Evil King. This monstrous fiend, Ganon, was said to be the most recent incarnation of the spirit of Demise. The tale varies, but most sources proclaim Ganon was also either a reincarnation of Ganondorf, or that Ganondorf not only survived until this point but somehow transformed into Ganon.
When he appeared, Ganon already had a league of powerful monsters and spellcasters at his command, derived from the same zealous cultists who brought about his return. Almost immediately his forces led a siege out of what is now known as Southern Hyrule. One by one, every town and every fort was slaughtered and razed for reasons that would never be publicly known. This onslaught all but wiped out the already dwindling sheikah subrace of hylians. Even gerudo, previously seen as allies of Ganondorf, were slain with reckless abandon.
During these raids, the Hyrulean Royal Family was organizing several elite task forces designed and trained specifically to take down Ganon by any means necessary. All failed, and most died. In the end, Ganon was slain by two individuals in the deserts of the Gerudo Province. One was the then-heir to Hyrule, Princess Zelda—it is only through her that the demise of Ganon is publicly known. She assisted a mysterious, unnamed warrior who by her account was wielding the legendary Master Sword.
This sword dealt the final blow to Ganon, before Princess Zelda called upon her own vast magical powers to banish what remained of Ganon to a "distant realm." In the wake of their supposedly invincible leader, Ganon's forces scattered, and this years-long war came to an abrupt end. This conflict marks the last historical record of both Ganon and the Master Sword; neither has made a reputable appearance in well over a century.
The entire surrounding region of the final battlefield, now known simply as The Forsaken, still bubbles with evil and life-draining magic. In the wake of Ganon's raid, Southern Hyrule as a whole remains virtually uninhabited by civilization to this day. All that remains in these ruins are cultists and monsters, who no doubt are yearning to see their dark lord return again.
As seen from Termina, the previously pale white moon grew a monstrous gerudo-like face that grimaced down upon the world below. Shortly after this face appeared, the moon began growing larger and larger in the night sky. Astronomers of the era theorized the moon was in fact a far away globe that was descending towards the Light World. Just when it seemed like it would impact upon Clock Town, giant beings previously thought to be mythical not only prevented its descent, but an unknown force thrust it back into the sky. To this day, however, the moon retains its eerie grimace in the sky.
First-hand accounts claim an artifact resembling Majora's Mask was present near the scene of the near-impact, and claim an individual was using this vile artifact's powers to cause the descent. However, the exact force which causes this crisis is unknown. Many blame it upon Ganon, either directly or indirectly, as is the case with most mysterious tragedies on this scale.
Crusade of the Picori Blade
For several generations, bands of adventurers sought to track down the legendary source of evil mentioned in tales of the War of the Bound Chest. Although the Bound Chest was lost, it was believed by these adventurers that the numerous evil monsters that still lingered in the absence of Demise could once again be sealed with the aid of the Picori Blade, which at this point hadn't been seen in centuries.
These heroes traveled the globe for generations in search of the Picori Blade. Those who traveled under this banner gradually become disillusioned with their progenitors' ordinal goals, and once began as a noble quest eventually faded into obscurity.
The legendary lost Picori Blade is still highly sought, but this failed crusade serves as a warning against most who would hope to seek it out.
Rise of Ganondorf
Within a sect of gerudo dwelling in the deserts of Gerudo Province, a young man was rising to power. He was a gerudo—a rare male among them, and of a particular sect of gerudo that prized the rare male as something akin to a chieftain. His political tact and influence caused him to become a true king—the Gerudo King, and penultimate ruler of what under his rule became known as Gerudo Province, a section of the Hyrulean continent to the southwest, which up until this point was barely populated by the bruised and dwindling gerudo race in the wake of the Hyrulean Civil War. Like many gerudo of the time did, Ganondorf bent his knee to the Hyrulean Royal Family, regarding their rule as the only one which exceeded his own over his people.
It was revealed by Princess Zelda of the Hyrulean Royal Family that Ganondorf was plotting against them, and was spurring political conflict that would lead him to the Temple of Time—which, as his actions revealed, housed the gate to the Sacred Realm and the legendary Triforce. When his plot was foiled, he fell back to a more violent plan. Ganondorf led the gerudo race in a crusade against Hyrule Town. In the end, many hylians and more gerudo died.
It is commonly believed Ganondorf successfully gained access to the Triforce—or at least a piece of it—before the end of the conflict. Despite his supposed success, the historical record decrees Ganondorf was slain by an unknown warrior wielding the Master Sword.
Today many followers of Ganon believe Ganondorf was not truly vanquished; that he was sealed in another realm, or would later reincarnate.
Despite Hyrule Town surviving longer than any other known settlement, this conflict brought the town to ruins, and forced most survivors to relocate. Most fled to Kakariko or other Hyrulean settlements, though some took to the Great Sea. The Hyrulean Royal Family, and those most loyal to them, settled deeper inland at a city then known as Castle Town. The introduction of the Royal Family, which were revered in the town, caused some to rename it Hyrule Town or New Hyrule Town, while others referred to it as the same name it always had, and other variations between these names. In the centuries that have passed, "Hyrule Castle Town" became the prevailing name.
The conflict wedged a deep divide between gerudo and hylians, to the point that for decades afterward gerudo were universally seen as thieves and murderers. This divide put immense strain on the almost universally female population of the gerudo race, who had evolved to be largely dependent on hylian males for procreation. Centuries have passed and tensions have eased, but hylians and gerudo remain more geographically and culturally divided than they were before the Imprisoning War.
Hyrulean Civil War
Despite the chaos wrought by this Hyrulean conflict, few detailed records of it survive to this day. It is known to have lasted for at least a decade, and included at least seven different sides all warring to gain or maintain control over one or more pieces of the Triforce. The war came to a head when seven powerful sages, one representing each side of the conflict, sealed the Triforce into a location known as the "Temple of Light," which is hidden away in the Sacred Realm. Six of these sages banished themselves to the Sacred Realm to forever guard the Triforce, while one remained as a guardian in the Temple of Time in Hyrule.
In the aftermath of this war, all of Hyrule was united by treaty under one banner. The Hyrulean continent was divided into formally recognized governmental provinces, all of which were lawfully subservient to the Hyrulean Royal Family. This new government was seen with resentment by some, as many cultures and races held their own leaders in higher regard than some distant family of hylians. It is believed this unpopular treaty and the various taxes and regulations that came with it, helped to spur the Rise of Ganondorf and eventually the Imprisoning War.
Era of Rebirth
- 835 S.D. to 965 S.D. (≈140 years)
- Dates in this era are known to be accurate, particularly as many who lived through these events still live.
- Circa 954 S.D.
For the first time, formal contact was made between hylians and the so-called "monstrous lizalfos" that dwelt on Crescent Island, which was previously an island few explorers dated to visit. These natives were revealed to be tokay, which had relatively little mastery of magic or technology, but were capable of language. These tokay were and are friendly towards Hyruleans—much more so than the typical lizalfos for which they were previously mistaken. Since this first meeting, contact between tokay and the rest of the Light World has been ongoing, but sparse.
- Circa 906 S.D.
For centuries, subrosians—humanoids dwelling below the surface of the Light World—had been venturing onto the surface in small, sparse batches. To them, the surface world is exceedingly dangerous, with sheer curiosity being the only force ever encouraging them to explore it. To Hyruleans, subrosians were long believed to be myths, or even mistaken identification of deku scrubs. This all changed in 906 when formal contact was made between subrosians, and the gorons of Eldin. In the century or so that has followed, subrosians and Hyruleans have shared much knowledge of each others' worlds and cultures. However, physical exploration of either is rare. For a subrosian, the surface world is perilous. For a surface-dweller, the subterranean world of Subrosia is practically uninhabitable. Nonetheless there are frequent trade relations, particularly in regards to minerals and labor exchanged between subrosians and certain sects of gorons.
- The past ≈20 years
- Monster uprisings, ill omens, and recent tragedies suggest a new Era of Decline is dawning.
The current year is sometimes referred to as 986 S.D., "986 years after Skyloft's descent," or "986 years after slaying Demise."
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