The Primordials do not have a considerable presence in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.
They were introduced in previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons and played the role of anti-gods — god-like creatures that represented the pantheon’s antithesis and fought against the power that was within them.
What Are the Primordials?
Primordials were first introduced in Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition, where they played the role of anti-gods, and some even waged war against the primary pantheon of the Forgotten Realms.
Sometimes referred to as “Dawn Titans,” these creatures were born at the same time as the gods. However, rather than being made of the energies of the Astral Sea, Primordials are made of Elemental Chaos and manifest entropy.
Nowadays, the Primordials rule over Abeir and Elemental Chaos, rarely venturing away from their domains as their very presence tends to breed conflict.
History of the Dawn Titans
The history of the Dawn Titans starts at the beginning of the universe itself. Not much of this history is covered in the Fifth Edition books.
Still, delving into the Fourth Edition sources and errata, we can see a more substantial presence of the Primordials throughout the universe’s history.
The Creation of the Multiverse
The Dawn Titans came to be at the same time as the gods when Ao created the Multiverse.
The Multiverse was created using the raw materials of the Phlogiston — rainbow-colored chaotic material inhabiting the space between the Crystal Spheres of the Prime Material Plane.
At the time of creation, several worlds drifted upon the Sea of Night.
While these worlds contained no life, they were still coveted by powerful beings, the Primordials, who rose from the Elemental Chaos at the time of the Multiverse’s creation.
One such world was Abeir-Toril. Here, the Primordials and Elder Gods wrestled for power and established domains of rule.
However, not all Primordials were content with sharing the worlds with the Elder Gods.
Desire to control the worlds drifting upon the Sea of Night left a bitter taste in the mouth of many Primordials, leading them to attack the Elder Gods for control or destruction of those worlds.
The Dawn War
The Dawn War began when the Goddesses of Light and Dark, Selûne and Shar, arose from the Astral Sea to defend the worlds floating in the Sea of Night.
Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers factor that the Primordials had, Selûne and Shar summoned gods from other dimensions to assist them.
Further, new gods arose from the residue of the conflict as they fought to protect the worlds from the Primordials.
Not all Primoridials fought in this war, though. Some Primordials chose to forego the conflict and maintain their positions within Abeir-Toril.
Not much happened between the Primordials and the Elder Gods during the Blue Age; it was a veritable time of peace.
However, the Blue Age ended when Dendar, the Night Serpent, swallowed the sun.
The Shadow Epoch is another time of destruction. Massive battles between the Elder Gods, led by Ouroboros, the World Serpent, and the Primordials raged throughout the world.
However, this war came to an end when Ubtao, the Deceiver, betrayed the Primordials and assisted the Elder Gods.
The Elder Gods slew, imprisoned, or drove away the remaining Primordials.
Days of Thunder
The end of the reign of the Primordials came during the Days of Thunder. It started with a war between the Batrachi and the Titans.
In desperation, the Batrachi were losing the war and summoned several Primordials and released them from their prisons.
Once the Primordials were released, the Gods immediately attacked their lifelong foes, igniting a war between them.
In a period known as the Tearfall, the Elder Gods could slay multiple Primordials. Infuriated that he couldn’t take this world for his own, Asgorath, the World Shaper hurled a comet at Abeir-Toril.
Ao finally intervened in the war. He split Abeir-Toril into two twin worlds, Abeir and Toril. He granted the Primordials rulership of the world of Abeir.
Sick of conflict, the Primordials retreated to Abeir.
The War of Fang and Talon
The final blow to the power of the Primordials came when their dragon steeds — who were kept as enslaved people — rebelled against them.
The dragons were successful in the war, killing more Primordials and wresting control of Abeir from them.
The remaining Dawn Titans retreated into the mountains of Abeir where they lie in a deep slumber.
The Elemental Lords
As we’ve mentioned, Primordials never fought the gods. These Primordials essentially chose to remain in Toril when Abeir split away.
These Primordials, such as the Elemental Lords, rule over the Inner Planes where they are worshiped like gods.
Akadi is the Queen of the Air. She rules over the Air Element from the Sky Home, which she has taken as her domain.
Bazim-Gorag was not originally a Primordial, but he ascended to Primordial status after the Spellplague.
He is the Lord of Chance and Chaos and rules from the Pandemonium Stone. He is often invoked by gamblers and those seeking to realize the impossible.
Grumbar is the Lord of the Earth and the Ruler of the Earth Element. He rules from Root Hold, which is his personal domain.
Istishia is the Lord of Water who rules from his domain, the Cresting Spires. Despite being the Ruler of the Water Element, Istishia doesn’t pay much mind to storms or sailors.
Kossuth, the Lord of Fire, rules over the fire element from his domain, the Undying Pyre.
Other Known Primordials
Aside from the Elemental Lords, other Primordials are noted in the sourcebooks, primarily for Fourth Edition.
Achazar, the Pillar of Wrath
Achazar is a fire Primordial who ruled over Tamalune in Abeir. It was destroyed before the Spellplague and kept in a magical coma.
Arambar is an original Dawn Titan. He is so powerful that even postmortem, his essence changed the color of the sky over Abeir.
Nowadays, the sky has changed to a steel gray with dark green or copper clouds, instead of the usual blue.
Asgorath, the World Shaper
It’s unknown whether Asgorath should be considered a Primordial.
He — sometimes reported as “her” — certainly fought against the Elder Gods at the side of the Primordials, which lends credence to his status as a Primordial.
However, Primordial or not, Asgorath’s might is undeniable, and dragons worship him as a true god.
Atropus, the World Born Dead
Atropus is an Undead Primordial Elder Evil (that is certainly a long string of power words!). Its evil was so strong that its very presence was considered a harbinger of death and destruction.
Blazing Rorn, the Fury
Sometimes referred to as Rorn of the Rages, Blazing Rorn is a gigantic humanoid with cooling, lava-like skin and the head and tail of a dragon.
Rorn can transform into a blazing star of light brighter than the sun and was among the most hated and feared Primordials before his defeat on Abeir by the dragons.
Bwimb is an Archomental of Ooze that acted as a Great General of the Planes.
Cirotralech is a multiheaded Primordial that is currently sleeping in the Howling Mountains of Laerakond.
Dur-Baagal is an ice Primordial that was killed by Auril.
Draunn is an earth Primordial who posed as an Avatar of Skoraeus Stonebones to manipulate a local clan of Stone Giants to create havoc.
A fragment of Draunn is sealed at Deadstone Cleft in Greypeak Mountains.
Entropy is a Primordial that Ao imprisoned into a sphere of annihilation. It was freed during the Spellplague.
Erek-Hus was referred to as King of Terror before fighting against the gods and dying in the Dawn War.
Karshimis is a Primordial despot who ruled over Shyr, a continent of Abeir, as one of the few active Primordials of Abeir.
Maegera, the Inferno
Maegera is a magma and stone Primordial that is currently trapped under Gauntldrym. It destroyed at least a quarter of Neverwinter when briefly awoken.
Miska, the Wolf-Spider
Miska is a demonic Primordial who was once the Prince of Demons. He was banished during the Dawn War.
Mual-Tar the Thunder Serpent
Mual-Tar is a massive snake-like creature held captive by magical chains forged by Moradin. There is a cult that seeks Mual-Tar’s freedom.
Nehushta is a Primordial Artificer that built the Fortress of Glaur during the Dawn War. It was killed on Abeir during the War of Fang and Talon.
Merciless Petron survived the Dawn War but was killed during the War of Fang and Talon on Abeir.
Telos is a Primordial who fell to Earth during the Spellplague. He remained comatose in the crater where he landed in Vaasa.
The Warlock Knights mined Ironfell from Telos’s body to craft their arms and armor and fuel their magic.
They also used extraplanar iron carved from Telos’s body to craft Shardsouls, insane and suicidal automatons that they used as soldiers.
Ubtao, the Deceiver
Ubtao is an elder Primordial who betrayed the other Primordials during the Shadow Epoch by aiding the Gods. After the Dawn War, he remained on Toril, worshiped as a God.
How To Homebrew the Primordials Into a 5e Game
Homebrewing the Primordials into a 5e game is extremely simple.
The Primordials did not have stat blocks as they were not meant to be fought as creatures. All you have to do is want them there, and they can be there!
However, if you intend to have your players fight the Primordials, you’ll need to create stat blocks for them. They should be roughly in line with other CR 30 creatures like Tiamat and the Tarrasque.
Here are some world-building considerations to make when including Primordials in your game.
Are Primordials Gods?
Primordials are instead distinctly not considered gods. While mortals worship some Primordials as gods and Primordials have god-like power, they are a distinct group from the pantheon of gods in the Forgotten Realms.
Are Primordials Stronger Than Gods?
It’s hard to say whether or not the Primordials are stronger than the gods. While they’ve waged several wars against the gods, none have been successful.
However, it’s noted that Ubtao’s betrayal was essentially why they lost the Dawn War.
Additionally, each successive war waged had fewer Primordial participants than before it. By the time the Primordials fought the War of Fang and Talon, they’d already been injured, and several had been slain in the Days of Thunder.
Could a Primordial Become a God?
There’s nothing in the errata that prevents a Primordial from ascending to godhood, and there are several creatures with statuses that are close to being both.
Notably, Ao is considered to be both a Primordial and a god. However, as the creator of the universe, he is officially considered “neither” as well, in that he does not align with either faction.
Tharizdun is close but not considered a Primordial. Conversely, Kossuth is also close but not considered a true god.
Do People Worship the Primordials?
To some extent, there is notable worship of the Primordials. The native mortals worship the Elemental Lords and Ubtao on Toril as gods.
Some Yuan-ti tribes are known to worship Dendar, the Night Serpent. Kossuth is also worshipped as a god on Abeir.
Could a Primordial Be a Warlock Patron?
Nothing is stopping you from using a Primordial as your Warlock Patron. Several Dungeon Masters have homebrewed this class, and the basic 5e Warlock class is a great starting template for a new subclass.
Final Thoughts About Primordials
Primordials were crucial figures in the Fourth Edition lore that did not make a solid return in Fifth Edition.
While many players and Dungeon Masters alike desired a return to Abeir and Toril with more lore and a module for the twinned worlds, no such sourcebook was released for Fifth Edition.
We may see a return to Abeir in the upcoming Sixth Edition, but given its exclusion from Fifth Edition, it’s naught more than a dream.
As always, an essential part of any Dungeons & Dragons game is that the players and Dungeon Master are having fun.
Don’t be afraid to draw from previous editions and sourcebooks to make a more comprehensive and enjoyable experience for your table!
Good luck, have fun, and happy questing!