It has been two-hundred-seventy-three years since the Elder Entities fell from the sky. Two-hundred-seventy-three years since their colossal forms first struck our world, wreathing the horizons in devastation and ash wherever their bodies impacted. Two-hundred-seventy-three years since the death of the first gods.
The battle that ensued following the arrival of these entities changed the very face of existence, shattering earth and sending terrible rents through the fabric of reality itself. The battles came often at first, raining death down upon any who were unlucky enough to witness, until the numbers of mortals and Gods alike were greatly depleted. Then they came less frequently. The Elder Entities meandered, seeming to have no goals, no discernible ambitions to destroy this world; they simply wrought chaos wherever they tread, and the gods had learned that to attack in haste was a grave mistake indeed. It took more than a century for the gods to have their victory, and over the course of one-hundred-thirty-six years all but a handful were destroyed. This sacrifice was not in vain, however, as the Entities were eradicated in turn.
On the day of the final battle, six divine beings gathered: Kratin, god of subtlety, Elli, goddess of aging, and Vishwa the unfathomable, the mortal-become-ascended, were the true gods among the group. Joining them were three others; elemental Aspects of nature: Din, aspect of fire, Nayru, aspect of water, and Farore, aspect of wind. All others had been destroyed. With their combined abilities they had formulated a plan to destroy the last remaining Elder Entity. However, when Kratin found his existence endangered he slipped away, abandoning the others and foiling the plan. To prevent their failure, and with it the likely destruction of the world, Vishwa opened a gateway to the vast, labyrinthine realm of his mind and trapped the last Elder Entity within. Upon sealing the path it is said that Vishwa simply blinked one baffled blink, and then plummeted from the sky to settle, unconscious, into the depths of the Shastellen Sea.
None of the gods escaped these times without scarring, whether spiritual, physical, or both. Indeed, the very fabric of nature had suffered. A strange mist appeared in portions of the Western Continent of Darakkos, clinging to low lying areas as if seeping from the very earth. No winds would dissipate it, and where it lay it corrupted the natural fauna. Plants and animals warped and twisted into unnatural creatures, reminiscent of the Monstrosities of the Gods War, and those who did not flee the mist soon found themselves victim to it. Yet this was not the only ill effect following the war.
The Khert, wellspring of all magic, had been corrupted by the arrival of the Elders. Magic which had once been innate and pure was now wild and unpredictable. Sorcerers the world over had lost control of their craft, and even the simplest of cantrips could easily go awry. Sorcery had gone from a precise tool to something more akin to a powder keg, simply waiting to light off at the wrong moment.
Because of the many mishaps associated with Magery, sorcery was banned in most places. Indeed, following the conclusion of the Gods War, sorcerers who were once celebrated for their assistance in defeating the many evils that lie in the chaotic shadows of the Elders now found themselves victim to frenzied witch hunts. Entire families were wiped out, and the simple suspicion of magery was enough to get a person exiled if they were lucky, or strung up by the neck if they were not. The lone exception to this rule was the Dragonborn. Perhaps their blood had a stronger tie to the Khert than did that of mortals, but their magics were entirely uncorrupted. As such, they found themselves free from the oppression that plagued the mages of mortal races. This, coupled with their voluntary isolation from most the world almost two millennia earlier, made them creatures of myth to the minds of many. Many cultures view the sighting of a Dragonborn as an omen of luck, though whether it is for good or ill varies .
The Khert was not the only realm corrupted by the arrival of the Elder Entities. The Sacred Realms, those from which the divine and natural users of magic drew their power, were also affected. Areas in which the Elders had resided for any length of time had become corrupted and grotesque. From those who have made use of the natural warrens in those locations it has been described as drinking from putrid water. Still, many are the areas that were not directly exposed to the corrupting influence of the Elders, and in those realms natural magic seems to work well. As for the worshippers of the gods, access to the divine slammed shut as those gods were destroyed. Of the remaining divinities only Elli, goddess of aging, remains uncorrupted. Drawing upon the powers of the others can sometimes have dubious effects.
The one group who seems to have found a way around the barring of the divine realm is that of the Hexadites. Through their worship of all the gods, alive and deceased, they have managed to create a spiritual latticework consisting of a hodgepodge of all remaining warrens. Appeasing the various whims of multiple gods is no easy task, however, and it takes a rare and special breed to channel even the simplest of Hexadite spells. Still, while a more difficult path to master, Hexadites ultimately have access to many more domains than do worshipers of any single divine being.
Following the corruption of the Khert and Sacred Realms a group of sorcerers set out to once again gain control of their magics. Their adventures are shrouded in mystery and speculation, and every bard worth their salt knows at least a few tall tales involving the Opaque Circle. Still, their adventures proved fruitful, and exactly ninety-nine years ago a great citadel known simply as The Keep appeared in northwestern Masresh. Soon invitations were presented to hopefuls from all over the continent, and the first formal school of magic was formed. Most individuals failed to gain access to the school, and of those who succeeded it is said there was a heavy cost. Still, mortals had once again gained control over the Khert.
This worked to ease the suspicion with which casters are viewed. Practioners of arcane magic from The Keep are issued permits, identifying them as competent casters. While some places still outlaw the use of magic completely, most countries will accept a member of the Opaque, or one for whom they specifically vouch. This being said, woe to those who operate outside the circle’s sphere of influence, and even greater danger awaits those who fabricate membership within the association.
With the return of magic things in the world seemed like they were beginning to fall back in to their natural places. Countries were waging war again, politicians were lying on an almost hourly basis, and social stratification was at an all-time high. Indeed, life was good. For a few people, at least.
This all changed with the arrival of the Undermen. A Dwarven inventor (some say madman) known as Jalaan the Prophet had predicted the arrival of the Elder Entities centuries before their appearance and set to work creating Underhome, a safe haven deep underground. Most had scoffed at his warnings, shrugging them off as the ravings of an old loon. But some listened and, in those final hours when death and mayhem loomed on the horizon, Jalaan was able to spirit away thousands of individuals. Coming from various races, religions, and social standings, the Under Men spent the next two-and-a-half centuries scraping by a living beneath the surface of the world. With the guidance of Jalaan they developed all manner of technologies to assist in their survival, and were able to carve out quite a comfortable niche for themselves for centuries.
This all changed when a catastrophe struck the Great Engine which powered Underhome. The population had grown too much, and there were not enough energy to sustain everyone. In a race against time a brave group of adventurers set forth, picking their way through the tangled corridors of the Under Realm in search of a suitable home for their people. The journey took many months, and they suffered terribly as they meandered through the seemingly unending depths, but one day they stumbled upon their salvation.
Stepping out from the sunlit cliffs of the Teodros Gulf, the adventurers were at first terrified to find themselves on the surface. As they looked around at the tropical paradise, however, they were stunned to find none of the death and destruction they had so long envisioned for the surface realm. With the help of local peoples it was not long before they established High Home, a settlement of their own. Thus it was that twenty-one years ago the first Undermen arrived on the surface, claimed a territory known as Khannam, and ushered in an era of technological sophistication which has since spread like wild fire.
The Undermen brought with them gunpowder, Steam Technology, and all manner of clockworks. They had used science to accomplish feats which had previously been managed only by powerful users of magic. In essence, their technological innovations put the powers of the Khert back in to the hands of the common man. Despite initial wishes to keep their technologies to themselves for fear of abuse, it was only a few short years before the founders of the surface settlements began selling their technology in order to bolster their own economy. Now, despite their small size and barely twenty years after their arrival, they are an economic and political powerhouse in Darakkos.
Still, even the Undermen do not claim proprietorship over the realm of innovation. Wizards from The Keep have recently discovered that the efficacy of steam technology can be boosted significantly through incorporation of the strange mists within the Darakkos. The employment of Mist Technology is still in its infancy, but already countries are clamoring to stake their claims. Mist lands once thought of as too dangerous or useless to control are now highly sought after, as various agencies and corporations send in agents to “reclaim” these territories. Ancestral territories, abandoned since the Gods War, are now vehemently contested as personal properties. Tensions are especially high among members of the poorer class, many of whom inhabit this class due specifically to the ill effects the mists had on their forefather’s lands. Some of the longer lived races have members who literally lived on those lands before the arrival of the mists. Still, it is easy to ignore a claim when it is not backed by coin.