Under No Banners
The Birth of Law and Chaos:
In the beginning, there was only the Elemental Wastes. Ruled by mighty primordials the Waste was a place of existence rather than living, an eternal, unthinking, unchanging, state of being. Out of the Astral Sea came the gods, mysterious beings of great power. They defeated the primordials, slaying, imprisoning, or exiling them, and united, built the Firmament, the structure upon which all places rests. No sooner than their work was completed than they fell to squabbling over the nature of their creation. Argument turned to action, and action lead to war. The gods broke down into the factions of Law and Chaos, and turned the fruits of creation to Eternal War. The lines are drawn, the armies gathered, there will be no peace short of victory or death.
Law is the philosophy of order, hierarchy, and control. In a Lawful world, events play out according to rules. Everything has a place, and knows its relationship to that which is above and below it. Lawful societies are lead by those who have rightfully achieved those positions through service or birth. Law can be protective or repressive, but either way its fundamental principle is stability. What is good is written in universal laws, and must be perfected through continual effort.
Chaos is the philosophy of transformation, individuality, and anarchy. In a Chaotic world, people make their own destinies. The clever or strong can find an exception to every rule, even the rules of life and death. Chaotic societies are lead by those who seem best suited for the job at the time, whether by consent of the governed or force of arms. Chaos can liberating or destructive, but either way its fundamental principle is change. What is good must be discovered by constant experimentation, and is different for every person, place, and time.
The main features of the universe are the Elemental Wastes, the Astral Sea, the Firmament, and the Astral Dominions. Imagine a flat sheet of confused material, pierced by a great tree, and you have a good idea of what the universe looks like from outside. Parts of the firmament “above” the elemental wastes controlled by Law are called the Crystal Citadel, and the parts “below” are under the influence of Chaos and are called the Twisted Tree. Dominions controlled by each side hang off the firmament like fruit, inhabited by every species of outsiders. Dominions must be made out of material gathered from the Elemental Wastes, and so are small and “thin” compared to the Prime Material plane. Planar paths cut into the firmament provide transport between dominions, while Astral Dromonds can sail directly from plane to plane.
From the prime material, you can look into the night sky and see the structure of the universe. The elemental wastes are a multicolored band of diffuse light, like the milky way here on Earth. The firmament and the dominions cover the night sky in complex, ever-shifting patterns, while glittering stars of astral material shine in the far distance.
The Prime Material Plane:
The prime material exists where the firmament intersects the elemental wastes. Machis is the focal point of the Eternal War, events here have great ramifications throughout the planes. Though mortals may appear to be the weakest beings in existence, only they have the ability to choose between Law and Chaos. Their actions will determine the fate of the universe.