Our World Fallaçade
Preface, The One and True Account
From the Preface to the Revised
Discourse on Method and Meditations of Our World Fallaçade
The One and True Account
No single volume to date has yet collected all six thousand years of Fallaçade’s recorded history (not to mention the millennia upon millennia of events for which we cannot account). Indeed, many would argue that it is impossible to approach such a colossal subject within the covers of a single book! When I was a younger man, it was my burning ambition to write the definitive history of all Fallaçade, but I never imagined for a moment that it was possible to do so in a simple or concise manner. Instead I labored for many decades, traveling from place to place in my researches, and produced no fewer than twenty-three detailed volumes which I dared to call “The Complete Histories”. Alas, the fiery arrogance of youth!
But the past makes fools of us all! These days, anyone with a steady hand and a love of comfort can call himself a historian. They are the ‘wise’ men, the consuls, and scribes, driven by duty (and, if truth be told, boredom) to spend their lives scratching ink into dry pages by hand or by press. Most of these sages know little of the events they record and even less of those whose lives they chronicle. For them, their job at the right hand of whatever power monger happens to wield the biggest sword is prestige enough. Every word that glorifies their mortal gods means one day more in the circle of power that feeds their bellies and fills their purses. I chose this profession, the recorder of events, chronicler of histories, long before it was common for any sot off the street to take up a pen and get a job as a scribe. In these sorry times, the greatest challenge for these imbeciles is whether to spell ‘knight’ with a ‘k’. It was not this way before. Scribing was once a respected profession, and we actually had to learn to spell before we were hired. In those days, one sour word could mean the difference between a life of luxury and the end of life itself.
I long ago ceased to fear the wrath of those whose pimply buttocks warm the purple cushions of carved thrones, and believe you me, it has gotten me into trouble. I have been honored, threatened, gifted, tortured, comforted, imprisoned, rescued, and reviled by more monarchs in my day than most samurai can claim in winters they have seen as living men. After writing a particularly glowing account of a minor duke’s prowess on the field, he provided me the warmest chamber of his chateau, complete with the warmest company. After recording his crushing defeat next spring, I found myself begging for coins on the cold, cobbled road down the mountain – stumbling and falling half the way, let me tell you! Ah, truth hurts and I’ve been the brunt of that pain more times than I care to count.
But after all that, one thing shone through like a psicrystal on a full moon: words are the only true power. The wisest rulers know this, the foolish and the cowardly fear it. The gods respect it, but they, too, are not immune to the sting of a bitter truth well told. I do not shun truth, no matter how base and unflattering it may be. This will most probably someday get me killed, but for now I’ve avoided that fate. And so, living as I am, I once again draw upon my experience and rejoin that life of adventure from which I, until recently, considered my self quite comfortably retired, to partake in that great feast of life set for all, and indulging of all tastes, with an offer of what wisdom I have gleaned through age – and with the hope that it may sate your thirst for a truth that our times have no doubt parched from your memory, as they have so done to mine.
From this knowledge I now come to tell you that compiling the entire history of Fallaçade in any great detail is a task well beyond the reach of a single man – and what is more, it is a task which will become more difficult with every passing year. In my travels, I have had occasion to sift through many of the world’s great libraries and scriptoriums, searching always for the most ancient books, scrolls, and tablets which were still legible. Fallaçade’s history revealed itself to me slowly, showing first one face and then another as I spent weeks, months, and even years in transcription and translation. But for every precious source document which had been recorded on a sturdy clay tablet, a sheaf of hammered gold, or a roll of soft vellum, there were a hundred papyri which were as dry and fragile as old leaves, and a hundred more which had half-crumbled into illegible fragments. The millennia of data contained therein were in imminent danger of being lost forever – and in some cases, they were lost before I ever arrived.
It is this imminent danger of a lost truth that I believe most characterizes our world. After all, the Gnomes were the first to develop the ‘common’ tongue out of a necessity for trade, and it was they who, in their delight of mockery and illusion, invented the word ‘Fallaçade’ and first used it to describe the circumstances and events they witnessed around them. That word, taken from the roots of ‘Fallacy’ and ‘Façade’, literally refers to the falsity of appearance in both logical construction and character. They intended to mean, I think, that our world is full of so many illusions, half-truths, outright lies, and utter paradoxes that it would be impossible to recognize it by any other face, than the one of our experience – as limited and biased as that may be. Indeed, the peoples of Fallaçade demonstrate a multitudinous array of extremes to such an extent that it is sometimes easier to point out the exceptions, rather than the rules. Further, each successive generation seems to be encouraged, nay – coerced into stretching the archetypes of the past into some grave distortion of our future. It is this loss of the old ways which compels me to preserve those fading cultures in our social memory, and to introduce those countless pupils to a fascinating world of fantasy and invention novel in scope, but ancient in meaning.
Among the more harrowed races of Fallaçade, the elves, dwarves, orcs, and even thranger are possessed of rich oral histories, which chronicle events even more remote and arcane than those recorded by their scribes (in the case of the elves and dwarves) or their rhymesters (in the case of the orcs and thranger) – but these oral traditions are hard to come by for those outside the appropriate race and culture, and I’ve rarely been privy to them. Perhaps that is best, as the line between fact and myth grows less clear the further one looks behind, and the transcription of oral histories is more properly the work of a folklorist than an historian. Whenever possible, I have always attempted to keep my own chronicles well-grounded in fact, erring on the side of discretion rather than speculation or untoward credulity; over the years I’ve found that it’s rather easier to believe a well-told and dramatic story than it is to prove that story true!
Lately a number of new scientific theories have been put forward as to the history of Fallaçade’s civilized peoples. While I, personally, favor the analysis of both civilized and uncivilized cultures, I nevertheless argue that contrary to what one may assume after reading the arguments of other modern ‘historians’, it was in fact the elves and the dwarves who first reached what we might consider ‘civility’, thousands of years ago; NOT the dragons, their folk, or humankind, and further: it is from these elder races that the first true historical traditions can be traced. Gnomish culture together with that of halflings, appears to be quite a bit younger than either of these, although the lack of recorded historical documents made available to human researchers might be attributed to the secretive nature of their respective societies. Goblins and sauren could arguably be thrown in with this group as well, though I would attribute the lack of hard evidence in this case to a consequence of poor preservation and the races’ grudging disposition toward outsiders. Human development, by contrast, appears to have been much slower: only in the last four hundred years have humans produced any significant cultural Art and Literature. Of course there are exceptions to these general rules – but prior to a few thousand years ago, most of humanity seems to have consisted of little more than illiterate nomadic tribes, barbarian hordes, and cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers.
Of course, one cannot speak about the recent history of Fallaçade without addressing the growing dichotomy between the supernatural agencies of the past: the Natural Forces, Divine Powers, and Magic Arts; and the modern occurrences of what has come to be known as the Technological Forces, Psionic Powers, and the Martial Arts. My research has shown to me a direct correlation between the widespread use of these agencies, and increased levels of societal development. Are not the dragons and rythmamthyr the true progenitors of the natural forces – or, as has been suggested, the eldest children of the Natural Age? Were the megalithic and minute races not the fathers of the technological tradition, centuries before the advent of Mr. Kaiden and his steam engines? Humans, it seems, have now inherited the scientific legacy of the latter – and does it not appear that we are now poised for what might be called a Golden Age of cultural expansion and hegemony? Or is this now only an age gilded in gold, and forged from a fallaçade tempered in lead?
This simple volume, in painting a clear picture of the past, might also shed some light on what we can expect in the years to come. A wise man once said that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it; to this I will add that Today’s ‘future’ is simply Tomorrow’s ‘history’ waiting to be born. I also believe that if we are to have any clear notion of where we are going, we must know from whence we have come, and what has gone before us. It is to this end that I have condensed all I know of Fallaçade into a single volume, which I hope will find favor with readers from all walks of life.
For those of a more professional interest, in this treatise I will deal chiefly with what evidence the conjoined Sciences of Geology, Paleontology, Ethnology, Sociology, Psychology, and modern Chemistry & Biology have been able to discover, but I cannot say that I am wholly free of dept to several noted practitioners of the Art. Most particularly, the works of the High Wizards D. Arneson and E. G. Gygax were of inestimable use for the strict categorization and classification of Fallaçade’s denizens and their cultures, as well as the arrangement of social orders, classes, and their comprehensive overview of supernatural agencies. I apologize in advance for the numerous instances I have diverged from their work, despite its faithful representation of our world, as I have several variant philosophies and view points as a man of science, though I respect their opinions all the same. Secondly, the Alchemical expertise of Dr. Whandall Veersheath, Ph. M of the Hall of Applied Magics in Cailen, has been indispensable to me, especially in the dating of fossils and the isolation of certain mystical vibrations in living subjects. I also learned much from my correspondence with Master Chao Zindii, the esteemed Monk of the Diashen Monastery in Xiu, who instructed me in the theory and practice of ki (incarnum) in the ancient world. In the realm of psionics, I offer my gratitude to Quin Xi, of course, for her analysis of its methods and for her first hand accounts of the classical events of history. And I cannot ever find the words sufficient to express my gratitude to the Wayfinder of my journey aboard the T.S.S. Gorgon, Willene D’Satur. She was not only the first to listen to my thoughts on Natural and Supernatural History with any patience, but was also kind enough to assist me in my inquiries, by allowing me the opportunity to interview many of her elven friends, acquaintances and relations. She was also good enough to grant me her hand in marriage on the morning of New Years Eve, 1784, by which gift she has made me the happiest of men. The following pages, and my remaining years upon this earth, are dedicated to her.
- Jared Des Cantoine, 1798