The Origin of a PoL Setting?

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I've been giving the Points of Light idea some thought lately, and I've stumbled across an idea I think is rather neat -- but horribly, horribly incomplete due to a tragic lack of imagination on my part.

There are all these old empires... the Arkhosians, the Tieflings' Bael Moran (or whatever. I can't recall the name off-hand, and my copy of W&M is several hundred miles away, I'm afraid), presumably several lost human civilizations, as well as others. We know why some of these empires have fallen and the reasons for others' fall has been lost to history. But they all seem to reach a certain level of development and then -BAM!- a century of rebuilding in the harsh and unforgiving wilderness.

Well, heck with it. Let's assume that either:
a) There was something MORE behind the fall of those Empires whose falls we do know about; or
b) The reasons behind ALL the lost civilizations are lost to history.

In addition, let's make the following assumption (regardless of a or b, above):
c) The fall of every single one of these empires is LINKED in some way.

Now then, with these assumptions my mind immediately jumps to a third party who is, in effect, purposely keeping the world in its PoL status for some nefarious reason of their own. Here's where I've hit a brick wall.

Who would want to ensure that the peoples of this setting never develop a real degree of civilization? Who would be capable accomplishing this goal? And, perhaps most importantly -- WHY? Why would they want to?

To answer this last question I considered other media and I've come up with two examples.

1) The Stargate: Atlantis/Wraith Model. Some group is purposely letting humanity gain population so that they can swoop in and "reap" it like a wheatfield. To make the entire setting analagous to a farm, the "Wraith" leave enough people alive to "replant the seed" and give us time to "grow" until there are enough of us to make a "harvest" worthwhile.

2) The Mass Effect/Reapers Model. In this model, some group just plain doesn't LIKE us. However, they're extremely alien and so tend not to notice our existence until we reach a level where we've gained a control over magic/technology/whatever-they-sense. This period tends to happen during an empire's growth, and alerts the "Reapers" to our presence, leading to a passable extermination effort.

Ok, obviously Sci-Fi enemies aren't a good fit for a fantasy setting. Especially not ones ripped wholesale from established and popular works. So how could we tie current races/monsters/ideas into the setting?

My initial take is that model 1 would be more difficult. About the only creature I can think of that would feed on demi/humanity like that would be vampires, and ... well, an army of vampires just seems lame to me. (Sorry if your opinion differs. :P )

Model 2, on the other hand, has a ready-made alien presence: Far Outsiders. I could see a Level 33 solo Cthulhu-like thing being the endcap of a campaign, breaking the cycle of destruction once and for all. And I can see armies of monstrosities squirming across the land, led by mind flayers captains and unspeakable generals. A bonus to this model is that you could incorporate the "canon" histories of the fallen empires and explain their fall due to mind control/manipulation of key figures in the government.

Still, something tells me there's a third option (and a fourth, and a fifth, and so on...), but for the life of me, I can't think of it.

There's got to be a reason why some more traditional race (such as drow, hobgoblins, demons, whatever) might want to keep the world from establishing a powerful military and economic presence.

But why?

Anyone have any ideas?
Aww, I loved the idea of lovecraftian beings in the Far Realm behind all of the Darkness in the world! Well, I'll try to contribute with some rough ideas:

1) Dragons. The classic fantasy villains, they are currently the lords of the world, powerful and unchallenged. There's a cold war going on between dragons, good and evil alike, with so many sides it's impossible to tell which is which. A secret war, unknown to mortal races, which are pawns in the eternal game in which dragons engage.

2) A curse, bestowed upon creation by the god which was destroyed by Asmodeus. Since no one rallied for the fallen deity's cause, he cursed all of the other gods' creations to an endless cycle of birth and destruction of their great nations.

3) The primordials! Resenting their dethroning, now they plot and scheme from their ancient prisions to make sure the gods' children will be forever locked in the neverending cycle of their civilizations.

Well, these are my, somewhat crude, suggestions.

Look at all these ruins left behind... the only ones who prosper from huge amounts of treasure- and monster-filled ruins are adventurers! Clearly, a secret society of adventurers which has been around since the dawn of time exists purely to create more ruins for future generations of adventurers, so that they can maintain their incredibly wealthy and exciting lifestyles at the expense of the common man.

Or the more obvious possibility that civilizations naturally flourish, then decline when they get lazy.
Each of the Empires had one or more powerful being that realized they could achive Godly power, if...
1) they worked together,
2) didn't mind watching the world that they helped create be ripped to shreads by the unleased forces.
GAMMA WORLD Wuv D&D: Beyond the RPG - Transcript This is a complete transcript. The audio file is in this News Archive 2010 D&D Product Overview (47 minutes into the Audio)
Illithids would be a good fit. The reason for constantly bringing the downfall of the surface races would be so when they eventually regain power, there aren't any surface races to stop them.
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