Recent Lore and State of the World
It’s been almost seven centuries since the Great Mistake, when the Archpriest Zeratul crushed Icereaver, the sky-sword, in the Well of Broken Souls. Horak, the ravager of worlds, along with Zeratul, were consumed in the explosion from Icereaver’s demise, thus ending the great war and the threat that the Destroyers brought upon our world. That is the legend that the people speak of and mostly all that is remembered about the world shattering event that is believed responsible for the perpetual winter.
In the first decades that followed the Great Mistake, Human, Gnomish and Dragonborn civilizations rose anew, the Elvish kingdoms re-seeded the forests and cleanse the Taint from the oceans, the Dwarvish clans re-settled underground, fighting to take their lands back from the fiendish Drow. For a time, we thought that the way of life we once knew was finally back. We soon found out we were mistaken.
Slowly, and almost without a hint for us to notice, the winters lasted longer and longer every year. Almost a century later, winters lasted for the most part of a year and it didn’t take another century for them to become perpetual. Every living creature had to change and adapt, those who didn’t, died out eventually. Even the Dragons, the mightiest of creature, couldn’t resist and were the first race to fall to the unnatural season, the few that somehow survived were hunted down out of fear or pride, with the last two being felled by the fabled human knight Kimmet Ryastar no more than a half-century ago.
The Eladrin, the royal blood and eldest among the Elvishkind, were the next to die out. Leaving almost instantly the Elvish Kingdoms without rulers and with no strong leadership, some elves receded to the forest, while others would migrate to human civilizations. Most of their once majestic cities and temples lie now in ruins. Only one withstood, the City-Isle of Merril, known to be the last instance of temperate climate in the world, but forbidden to outsiders. It is the seat of power to the last kingdom of the elvish people, with Illya’Nor’Moreen as their Queen.
The Great Mistake would have a heavier toll for every ‘long-lived’ creature. After the fall of the Eladrin, Elves quickly noticed that not many of them lived long enough to see their second century, simply dying of old age. Dwarven, Gnomish and Halfling people were afflicted as well cutting short their lifespan by more than half it used to be. All the other “short-lived” races, like Human, Tiefling and Dragonborn, also suffered from it, living about 15 to 30 years less than normal. The Drow actually benefited from this cataclysm, although their lifespan was also reduced like their elven kin, they soon discovered that a world plunged in winter is a world with only a drop of sun in a sea of cloudy covered days. They quickly adapted to this and although they still felt discomfort in their eyes, no longer were they completely blinded when coming to the Upperworld.
In most City-States, the people were unprepared for the first harsher and longer winters and had to burn books, scrolls and anything flammable that they deemed as less essential to live. History and knowledge was not felt as a necessity for most in a time of need, and many of the lore of the world before the Great Mistake was lost.
Over the years, small villages and communities became deserted, the great City-States quickly close their doors to stop the influx of refugees, and hundreds of thousands died from cold, disease and starvation. Many alliances perished and some allies turned into enemies as each fought the other for the resources to stop cold and famine. Great forests near the City-States where once again decimated and some trade guilds established slave-filled strongholds along the mountains in order to mine coal, which is now more valuable than most gemstones.
A little more than a half-century ago, Duncan Alarik, a retired soldier and adventurer, founded the Order of the Scar, they started a propaganda blaming the perpetual winter on arcane magic, they soon grown strong in power and influence in some major City-States, and many mage, sorcerer or anyone suspected of using ‘The Craft’ were tortured and burned at the stake. Arcane magic was banned in some City-States and the Order still hunt down anyone proficient with magic even outside those cities.
Twelve years ago the Order assaulted the great coastal City-State of Alexandria, the Magocracy and jewel of the Arcane arts was able to withstand the first onslaught but not without losing its Great Library, renown to hold every spell, curse, legend and history of the world. Most of half the city burned from both the restless siege machinery of the order and the mage-knights fireballs defending their beloved Alexandria. The siege lasted for four more months, eventually and almost without resources, the mages fled, leading their ship north toward the icecap, some say they reestablished themselves, others say they fell to the sea monsters or icebergs and finished their journey at the bottom of the ocean. The Order took the City-State and is still rebuilding it as their seat of power, renaming it the Holy City of Alarik and transformed the once Great Library into both their church and military headquarters. Some City-States still deny to recognize them as an independent nation while others quickly forged alliances to guarantee the military protection the Order could offer.
In every corner of the world, life became harsh, most people are mistrustful of others, almost anything far from a City-State is abandoned and unprotected, the roads that connect the city states are barely patrolled outside a state border. Some lakes frozen over, and the icecaps grew far into the ocean and land, travelling by ship became more dangerous than ever with many an iceberg claiming lives.
All this conditions led to bolder monsters, occupying a lot more territory that used to, like villages and small communities. And to make matters worse, the monsters that adapted to this new world are more dangerous than ever.
The world lives in an age of ice, darkness and fear. But it is amidst darkness that the shiniest of lights break through. Adventuring guilds and companies arose in almost every continent and many people turned to the adventuring life as a necessity to survive, others as a choice to achieve greatness. Many people see them as troublemakers and dangerous men and women seeking only fame and fortune, others as tools to be used to match their need. But some more optimistic, like myself, believe them to be a force for good, and who knows, maybe even the ones who will break us free from the Ice.