The World in Brief:
Ten centuries ago, the world was home to thriving civilizations. The “civilized” races, humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and hobgoblins, had spread across much of the world. The nations of the world were, if not always friendly, at least generally at peace. There was active trade, and magic and alchemy and metallurgy were maturing as studies.
The Silver Imperium was the largest of the human nations. It was a theocracy devoted to a goddess of civilization. It was the bread basket of the continent, the Imperial Marshalls acted as peace keepers every where the Imperial road ran. They created magical marvels to rival the gods.
The hubris of the Imperium was the beginning of the end. The Arcane Congress, the greatest research organization in the world, brought about the fall of the Nations. An unremembered experiment forged a rift into the heart of the Abyss, Before the last survivors of the Congress were able to seal the rift, a portion of the endless demon hordes of the abyss had spilled through. The nations of the world aligned to face the hordes. They fell. The gods themselves rode to battle and, thought they overthrew the Demon Lords, it took all of their power to seal them away. With the armies of the world shattered and the gods no longer abroad in the world, many of the powers of the world who had lain dormant came back.
The world was scarred where gods and demons fell, great dragons left their fastnesses, the spirits of the land awoke and rose again, the Barbarian tribes of the orcs rode out of their mountain fortresses, plagues wracked the land, and necromancers and dark cults were free to act unchallenged by the forces of order. Most of the cities fell, and the few that didn’t were often besieged. None of the great nations survived, and many of the populations that did did so by allying with various powerful creatures and groups.
Civilization held on as points of flickering light in a vast darkness.
Humans lived across the lands, often oppressed by greater beings. For the last two centuries various human groups have been organizing and challenging the darkness. As the demons have fallen, one by one, humans have grouped up and started to form new nations. They have joined together in a group called “The New Alliance.” that is starting to push back the borders of the chaos plaguing the world.
The gnomes abandoned their cities and moved to the deep jungles of the south. They spread out in small tribes guided by powerful druids and hunted demons in the wilds. They joined the New Alliance to provide magical might and experience in slaying demons.
As the great war grew hotter, the Elves retreated further and further into their forest fortresses. They wove great magics that kept the worst of the nightmares at bay, at least until the Demon Lord Gratzz’s cultists discovered or created the Grey Wasting. The plague spread through the forests of the elves, infecting elf and killing all but the youngest few. At the same time, it made the survivors much more fertile. It created a nation of children and teenagers who died by their 120th birthdays. A few older elves comitted vast sins and turned themselves into liches in order to buy time to search for a cure and to preserve some of their cultures. About 300 years ago, the elven liches found a cure and spread it through the population. The elves are still recovering, and the Council of Liches still guides their lives.
The Dwarves split their forces. Half went to fight in the Great War beside the other races. The other half evacuated their surface cities and began converting their under ground fortresses into gigantic death traps. Eighteen fortresses sealed themselves away from the world, and 13 survived the dark years. Dwarven fortifications have advanced the whole time, and of all the civilized races, they have maintained the most of their society.
Halflings fought bravely against the demons, but they never numbered well. They were captured by many of the forces of darkness and they were an almost invisible slave caste. They lived as serfs and slaves in small villages, mostly ignored. It was this status that allowed them to organize a spy network that was essential to the New Alliance. Halfling spies, assassins, and saboteurs played a key role in much of the liberation of the lands.
Hobgoblin society fell, their warriors fighting to the last beside the human legions. The surviving hobgoblins integrated into the hordes of evil humanoids, setting themselves up as leaders of the numberless goblin tribes. They have become more brutal over the years, and while they have been instrumental in driving back the invading entities, they did not do so in concert with the New Alliance. Hobgoblins have been gathering into a dark society, overlords of tribes of goblins and bugbears, walking beside the twisted nature spirits that were poisoned by the deaths of the demon lords.
The game starts in a small fortification on the edge of one of the kingdoms of the New Alliance. The Keep is the furthest reach of the rebuilding civilizations. Beyond it are the chaos scarred lands that were once part of the Silver Imperium, including the scar of the Abyssal rift, fallen and defiled shrines, ruined cities, and hordes of monsters.