In the Dragonlance books, the Cataclysm (Great Destruction) was a catastrophic event that occurred when the Kingpriest of Istar demanded to be given godlike powers in order to eliminate evil from the world.
Detailed in the novel Chosen of the Gods, Beldinas Pilofiro, last Kingpriest of Istar, never liked the concept of balance. He believed that Paladine accepted it in a time when he was previously weak. As time passed, and the forces of good flourished after the Third Dragon War in which Huma Dragonbane defeated Takhisis, he thought the time to break that outdated pact was nearing.
His decision to end the balance became strengthened when the previous Kingpriest, known as Kurnos the Ursurper, sent Sathira, an evil spirit, to kill him. Ilista, First Daughter and the woman who traveled from far Istar led by a prophecy to find the true Kingpriest, sacrificed herself in order to save him.
Though at the beginning Beldinas only fought evil, as time passed, he began to include those who did not think exactly like him. Thus, he destroyed temples and expelled followers of the Neutral Gods, as well. With time, his obsession drove him to also destroy even "heretic" followers of the Gods of Light. As detailed in the novel Divine Hammer, this also caused the Kingpriest to try to destroy all Wizards of High Sorcery, causing the Order to destroy the Towers of High Sorcery in Losarcum and Daltigoth in self-defense. This also caused Andras Rannoch, who was being mind-controlled by Fistandantilus, to curse the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas upon his death.
The Thirteen Warnings
For thirteen days prior to the Cataclysm the gods sent warnings to the fanatical Kingpriest and his followers, all of which went unheeded. Following is a list, in order.
- The true clerics left the land for the realm of the gods beyond. This night became known as the Night of Doom.
- The Durro Jolithas, the Tower of the Temple of the Kingpriest dedicated to Kiri-Jolith, was destroyed by a whirlwind.
- Dark fog spreads and settles in Balifor and Hylo, the kender realms, breaking their spirits.
- In a full night eclipse, Nuitari hides both Solinari and Lunitari.
- The dwarves of Thorbardin were hunted by an ancient beast of darkness.
- In Solamnia, no fires would burn.
- In Abanasinia, fires spread, destroying everything.
- In Dargaard Keep, Lord Soth raised his arms against the Knights of Solamnia.
- Palanthas was covered in mist. The weather was oppressively hot and the seas were unsettlingly still. The mist was so thick the scribes in the Great Library stopped working.
- In the elven kingdom of Silvanesti, trees wept blood.
- The forest animals near Qualinesti suddenly turned savage.
- In northern towns like Pesaro and Tucuri, the fish disappeared, and the water turned red.
- In the Khalkist Mountains, dormant volcanoes became active again.
The warnings had been prophesied by the First Son Revando before taking his own life. Emissary Quarath, though knowing about the warnings, did not tell the Kingpriest their true meanings.
The Kingpriest misunderstood the warnings, utterly convinced of his own infallible truth. He believed those were the last efforts of the evil gods, and only hardened his resolution.
He regarded Paladine as too weak to completely destroy evil, but with the Kingpriest as his right arm, evil could be defeated. The Kingpriest called for the genocidal destruction of the ogre races, and the relocation of the dwarves and kender. For his arrogance, the gods punished the city of Istar.
Soon after the Kingpriest made his demand, a "fiery mountain" struck Istar. The city and all the land around it were driven deep into the ground, and the sea roared in to fill the gap. Thick, red soil was churned up by the water, giving it a reddish tint. This new body of water became known as the Blood Sea of Istar. Where the Temple of the Kingpriest once stood, there was a perpetual, massive whirlpool that kept the red soil churned up, leaving the Blood Sea permanently blood-colored. On the opposite side of the continent of Ansalon, the Kingdom of Ergoth was broken from the mainland, and split in two. More water flooded inland and created the Newsea. The city of Caergoth, an inland farming city, suddenly found itself on the ocean's doorstep. To the south, the thriving port city of Tarsis found that the sea had retreated, and they were now surrounded by plains as far as the eye could see. The effects of the Cataclysm continue to be felt on Krynn to this day.
Several cities, including Xak Tsaroth, were utterly destroyed.
Post-Cataclysm time in Krynn is often rendered AC, to denote After Cataclysm.
- Time of the Twins
- Several contributors (2003). The Cataclysm: Tales vol. V. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 1-56076-430-9.
- Margaret Weis; Tracy Hickman (2000). Time of the Twins: Legends vol. I. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1804-7.
- Pierson, Chris (2003). Sacred Fire: Kingpriest vol. III. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3036-5.
- van Belkom, Edo (2004). Lord Soth: The Warriors vol. VI. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0519-0.