NOTE: The following material is not TSR or WotC canon. Avaras is a Prime sphere created with the collaboration of several players of SPL.
Full Tanar'ri, Baatezu, or Celestials might know of the existence of Avaras as an ancient battlefield between their kind on a DC 40 Knowledge: Planes check. Other Planewalkers would not have heard of it, unless they are themselves Avarasi or have been told of it by Avarasi.
|Prime Material Plane|
A planet located in an unknown crystal sphere, Avaras is a largely-inhospitable desert world. A blazing sun bakes the place with heat during long days, from which the only respite are short nights. Only the two poles of the planet are at all capable of supporting sustained life above ground, and between them is a great sea of sand, dotted with cliffs, huge dunes, and cave-laced rocky hills. Most on this world say that the sands of Avaras are timeless and everlasting, but sages say that it was once a verdant paradise, ruled by a global empire of benevolent intent and towering feats of arcana. Those sages might be right, because anyone able to actually traverse the deep sands would come upon hulking edifices, crumbling ruins, and desiccated riverbeds from a bygone epoch.
Travel between Avaras and other planes is extremely limited, as the place has only two known portals. The first is a massive arch crafted from the bones of extinct creatures from some forgotten era of Avarasi history, and resides atop an ancient pyramid in the necropolis of Korth. The second is a massive, shadowstuff-infused chasm amidst the deepest reaches of the sand sea, near the planet's equator, called The Maw. There aren't many Avarasi planewalkers, for a variety of reasons, and the Avarasi guard their portals formidably on their home soil - anything that emerges is put to the sword in short order. Plane Shift and Gate magics operate fine between Avaras and the rest of the multiverse, but almost no one knows about the place, so it's unlikely there's much of that going on.
The planes are untold in age, and the oldest of Prime worlds cultivated highly advanced civilizations in the eons before today's well-known worlds rose out of barbarism and base ignorance. For hundreds of thousands of years, Avaras had known civilization and peace. Something was unique about Avaras, however - it never knew any gods, and it was isolated from the planes by some forgotten attribute of its crystal sphere. Now it is hardly a utopia, for even the mighty may fall. And when they do, they fall especially hard.
An Ancient Empire
Avaras is an ancient world. Perhaps even one of the first from which humanity rose to greatness. Once, it supported a benevolent empire that stretched across its entire verdant surface, built from nothing but the resolve of mankind and magical might. Great towers emerged from the canopies of lush jungles, cities floated in the sky, and vast universities gave knowledge freely to any who were willing to seek it. At the pinnacle of its power, the Avarasi empire turned its gaze to the stars, creating great fleets of Spelljammers and scattering them amongst the vastness of space. And so it was for tens of thousands of years.
But even - and perhaps especially - in the hearts of the mighty, complacency takes root. Decline set in. It was a slow thing, but inevitable. A creeping rot. There was no great war, no political upheaval - merely slow deterioration of the cities, a loss of knowledge, and the fall of great centers of learning. Most were complacent, if not complicit. What was there to be done? The height of power was all that many generations of Avarasi had ever known.
An Arcane Precipice
There were some, however, who thought differently. A handful of children were born in far-flung corners of the empire - places hit especially hard by the decline - then scraped and clawed their way to greatness, traveled to the center of the empire, and studied magic, always seeking the means to reverse the decay of the realm. The names of these high mages are lost to history, but the fruit of their ambitions still echoes in eternity. A circle was formed, and the most powerful arcana that Avaras had ever known was called forth. To feed their spells, these mages tapped the life force of the world itself. Their castings shattered the barrier isolating Avaras from the planes, empowering them to draw from what they believed was an unlimited source of energy - a higher plane of existence. With this, they thought, they would invigorate their world once more and ascend to even greater heights.
But this was not to be. What they could never have understood was that their spells would change the nature of magic on Avaras forever. The conduit they had established to the life of their very world was not something that faded after the casting of this mighty spell, but instead it lingered, siphoning all arcane magic through it like a vacuum. Life and magic became intertwined. Most magic remained unchanged, working as it had for eons. But destructive magic was another matter entirely, as the Avarasi soon learned.
Their higher plane of existence was actually a layer of the Abyss, and the sheer force of their magic piercing the veil of their crystal sphere and establishing a massive gate garnered the attention of a great many fiends.
The Tanar'ri did not swarm forth, at least at first. They took their time, whispering sweet promises in the ears of the arcanists. And mighty as they were, the mages of Avaras had never known the fell influence of demonkind. They were easily corrupted, and in a perverse twist of fate, the circle that was the shining light of a crumbling empire became the first collection of fiend-binders the world had ever known. Twisted by the hatred and malice of their corruptors, the circle willingly opened its realm to the full force of the Abyss, vainly seeking to reclaim their empire through a new set of tools - war and violence.
In a sense, they did just that. Their actions served as a rallying cry that galvanized the rest of Avaras. With a united purpose, the rest of the empire stood against them, and as word spread of the methods used to call forth the Tanar'ri, new gates were created. The time of Avarasi isolation was over. Foremost amongst these great gates were two - one to Celestia, another to Baator.
As demons swept across the world, pleas were made to other planar beings for their aid, and potent spells of destruction were woven. The Baatezu, sensing an opportunity to engage their hated foes, answered the call, as did a host of Celestials intent on stopping both fiendish hordes. And so the Blood War came to Avaras, with the forces of righteousness and human high magics thrown into the fray.
Spells were slung, greensteel was shattered, and the result of the great battle for this old Prime world left no clear victor. Perhaps it was a stalemate of planar origin, or perhaps it was the vicious power of Avarasi arcana, but the planars rid themselves of the place after terrible bloodshed on all sides. At the end of it all, the Avarasi empire lay in shattered ruin, and the wake of destructive magecraft began to exact its dark price.
This price was systemic, and spread across the surface of the world without mercy or restraint. The magic of destruction demanded payment in the form of life, and between the fiends and the native mages, the collective toll was a terrible thing. The verdant jungles of the world withered during the conflict, and by the end of it they were all but ash, swept aside by howling, angered winds. The death of much of Avarasi fauna followed, as did pervasive famine and the fall of much of the populace. What were once grand cities were first ravaged by war, and second by starvation. The sun of Avaras grew hotter and the days grew longer, baking the ash during the heated waking hours, and freezing it during terrible nights.
Those who survived the withering migrated to the poles, once the coldest reaches of the world. Most of the survivors were human, but as is often the case during war, the blood of natives mingles with the blood of invaders. The first of those who would become known as Darklings were born during this time, as were the first Aasimar and Tieflings. Skirmishes amidst the ashen wastes were had, and great conflicts were fought over the scant resources left in the vastness of the desert. The Darklings won the south and established themselves in the warrens beneath the now-temperate southern pole, their fiendish blood and brooding hatred leading them to scheme against what remained of humanity. Roving bands of men and women congregated in the north, far from the antagonistic creatures in the south, and began to rebuild. Their cities arose from the desert, supported by underground reservoirs of water - what was once polar ice.
Life began again on Avaras, but it was a shadow of that which once was. There was no great magic to support these new cities, which struggled against the harshness of a brave new world with an uncertain future. But there was hope, resolve, and belief. And from these things arose divinity. The leaders of the three cities to endure the withering held the faith of their people and strength beyond the mortal realm. After they died, they continued to be held in reverence, and as eons passed, became figures of divinity. And so the Avarasi pantheon - the Triumvirate - was born from the ashes of the withering.