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The D&D 5e Monster Manual says this in the aboleth section:

ABOLETH: Before the coming of the gods, aboleths lurked in primordial oceans and underground lakes. They reached out with their minds and seized control of the burgeoning life-forms of the mortal realm, making those creatures their slaves. Their dominance made them like gods. Then the true gods appeared, smashing the aboleths' empire and freeing their slaves. Aboleths have never forgotten.

This seems to state that besides the aboleths, other mortal beings existed before the gods.

Which races were these?

I'm specifically looking for answers from the Forgotten Realms setting.

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This bit of creature lore isn't precisely compatible with the Forgotten Realms' creation story.

There were no primordial oceans or underground lakes before the coming of the Forgotten Realms gods for aboleths to rule from. In the Realms, at least three gods existed before oceans and lakes even could: Selûne and Shar sprang from the featureless void, and they created Chantea to be the planet itself.

Life was created by these three gods, so there was no time before the gods that any life could have existed for aboleths to have ruled imperially over.

At least not in the Forgotten Realms. Perhaps the Faerûnian aboleths are migrants from a reality where they did have such a pre-divine empire and they brought their grudges with them when moving to the post-divine Realms.

In any case: there were no races before the gods, at least not in the Forgotten Realms.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree, and I think it supports my comment about the fluff being rather "unreliable" and flexible because it inherits that relativism from the old pulp novels like Lovecraft's and Howard's stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Apr 20 '17 at 8:12
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According to the Forgotten Realms wiki, Ao, a god, created the multiverse.

So, Aboleths and the mortal life they enslaved would need to have existed before or outside the multiverse. Which they were since Aboleths are natives of the Far Realm.

Natives of the far realm are all aberrations (but not all aberrations are from the Far Realm e.g. Drider, Owlbear) so feel free to choose from the list.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ao isn't (strictly speaking) a god. He does have followers, but last I noticed, his "priests" didn't get spells or domains. So, if the Aboleth came into existence before the gods, but after Ao created the multiverse, that would fit the timeline. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Ness Feb 29 '16 at 14:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ao explicitly isn't a god, although the distinction probably isn't made in-universe to most people. He's an overgod, which is a different, higher class of cosmic being. He needs no worship and has complete authority over both gods and primordials (see forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Ao). \$\endgroup\$ – tardigrade Dec 29 '16 at 21:52

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