Is there any canon lore anywhere about these periods? (1rst, 2nd, 3rd and 5th worlds)
Wanted to make a Shadowrun game with past "proofs" of earthdawn... and it hit me right in the face... what's BEFORE earthdawn?
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The link between Earthdawn & ShadowRun dates from when FASA had firm control of both licenses. Once that line was cut, everything about this was dropped.
Background: the magic in the world has a cyclic nature with bad things happening at certain points in that cycle. Those bad things are called Horrors and every now and then (when the world is filled with magic) they breach from another plane and feast on the environment (rocks, plants, animals, human emotions). This in general is considered a bad thing (they take their time to eat everything) and generally plummets the planet back to stone age level of technology.
The First Age: nobody is really sure what happened here. If you want to know more, go talk with a Great Dragon.
Age of Dragons: the dragon's had firm control and created servants (Immortal Elves). As with all servants, rebellion followed. The Horrors popped in and laid waste to the world. The Books of Harrow are rumoured to date from this age.
The 3rd age is vague at best. You could use this as an alternate description of what is happening. Doing so would move the Dragon servant to this age.
Age of Legend is the default setting of Earthdawn. It ends with the horrors stopping by. The Therian empire is the source for all Atlantis myths.
The 5th age is current time.
The 6th age is ShadowRun and it's speeding towards Horror arrival. The Great Ghost dance was used to hasten the arrival of the horrors. The arrival of the insect spirits was another sign, that everything was going faster then normal (Lofwyr was surprised that they arrived so soon, he wasn"t expecting them for another 200 years). Dunkelzahn killed himself to slow that speedup down.
If you would like to know more and are willing to read some books:
A Reddit thread I stumbled upon, mentioned some kind of "origin story" or "creation myth", told from the point of view of a Great Dragon named Icewing, from the Earthdawn book about Horrors apparently.
From what I remember, that story mentioned a realm with a very strong creature. That creature decided to create smaller creatures which looked like itself. These smaller entities decided to do the same, each creating minions. They all attempted to gain the attention of the greater creature by fighting among each other.
Only one of them did not fight, a creature calling itself Nightslayer. It flew away from its kind, into a different world. There, its tears created 9 creatures: Dragon, Elf, Human, Obsidiman, T'skrang, Dwarf, Windling, Troll and Ork. Interestingly enough, the Dragons are described as being created in its image (so I guess it was an even bigger Dragon than the Great Dragons themselves).
Later, the former greater creature mounted an attack, aiming at destroying the one which ran away and its creations. But Nightslayer had prepared for this event and taught the Dragons & cie how to fight back. After which the greater creature revealed itself to be the Horror known as Verjigorm (which is known by some as the Hunter of Great Dragons). Before leaving, it threw an attack which killed Nightslayer, who wanted to protect its "children".
Judging by the detailed answer provided by Ahriman, and assuming the Great Dragon Icewing is telling the truth, I would like to believe that these events seem to predate the Third Age, although we wouldn't know whether or not the creature which created the Great Dragons was still alive around the Second Age when the Horrors attacked, or if it died even before the First Age started.