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To a bleak future we go

by Zacaros

Hi, I'd like to post the setting I'm using to run my adventures in the Known World, to discuss it, and as a source of inspiration for other GMs.

The civilised nations lost their accounts about how it started 7 hundred years before the main events, but one thing is sure : it was about that time, that the immortals became what they are in current times, the nemesis of everything that lives, and even to everything that doesn't. Every immortal turned into a ruthless, insane, unpredictable monster, a twisted form of its formers self, dedicated to the eradication of the mortalkind.

The radiance, once a benevolent energy connected to the immortal's power, is now an oppressing presence on the material world, consuming and corrupting everything that comes in contact with it, turning even the most resilient materials into glimmering white dust.

Everything that used to be sacred turned to the be sacrilegious, the shrines, the temples, the statues, even the most innocent sings of dedication to the once proud protectors of the world was issued to be burned, destroyed or in any other way eradicated from the civilised areas, because even the slightest use of the power derived from the spheres spelled disaster and tragedy upon the land.

This wasn't an immediate change, it began slowly, when clerics turned unknowingly, even to themselves, into cultists, doing the biddings of their now crazed patrons. Then the invocations became anathema, the most common spells produced uncontrollable effects, and then people's mind became possessed and infected with thoughts of destruction behind mortal comprehension, making murderers and madmen out of common people.

The interrogated oracles responded suggesting senseless wars or mass suicides, and those who tried to contact the immortals by their own, lost their minds, or simply ventured to not be heard ever again. The situation was turning critical, when end-of-the-world style cults started to rise in the most populated cities, and the governments tried to understand if it was really the end, or if the immortals were at war, or if this was some kind of necessary passage for the known cosmology. While debating this, entire cities turned fanatical, armies of independent war masters amassed ready to sacrifice thousand lives in the name of Ixion or Karaash, the knightly orders fought themselves seeking to prove that the others were wrong and conspiring against their faith.

The turning point came in the form of a tome created in Glantri, proving the existence of an alteration in the radiance fluxes that corrupted the sphere of time, and then influenced the other ones, releasing untapped sources of power, and limitations for the users.

The complicate text was studied and discussed, but even with the effort of the most talented archmages, a solution wasn't found, and the entire situation became suspect, because of the connection between the radiance studies and the Glantrian school of magic. The fear for spies, or infiltrated servants of the immortals spread, and the researches were stopped. In those confused times, diplomacy failed to stop governors, nobles or even commoners from committing acts of violence, and military repression was issued in many cases, leaving behind weakened countries, and wretched warzones.

Magic was disappearing, the faiths seemed to be the worst thing to ask for, and even the most ancient creatures felt the change that was consuming the world. Some beasts simply disappeared, other mutated into deadlier forms, and other ones, like the dragons, changed into new shapes.

And then, when a quarter at the outskirts of Darokin City burned, and lit the signal for the civil strife in many countries, a destiny was placed upon those who lived such times : one of heroic sacrifice. In those years the heroes appeared, the champions of the weak and oppressed, defenders of the terrorised masses, mortal nemesis to the bestial cults.

A time for heroes, and martyrs, warriors and avengers like Prodenes, Agannar, Fulvio, Maslania, Kinvars, Bethol, Larannith, mortal men and women that turned the tide against the darkness.

and then the tide turned again, when Vestland conquered half of Ethengar and imposed their new visions, and created the immortal Krimisha warriors, and engaged themselves into transfiguration rites, try to call upon the immortal powers. Half Ethengar was reduced into a sea of white dust, and the spirits of the once proud warriors became chained to their mortal bodies, making them inhuman and unstoppable.

The perfection of the sword, the perfection of the war science inside an empty mind and a corrupted body. This lead to a war directed to the other side of Ethengar, and the rest of the world. When there weren't enemies for the 2 treacherous nations, they fought one against the other, seeming to hate each other. For 60 years, this situation held on, with raids, and skirmish, and uprisings, and so on, in an endless tide of decadence for the defenders, and an unstoppable promise of conquest for the aggressors, culminating when, with enough knowledge and spilled blood, they finally mastered both the secret of transfiguration, creating the lupine mutacrogens and the soulless armours of Weng, the new house for the Krimisha, and the powers of the dread sea, casting its waves and new created horrors upon Karameikos, Minrothad, Thyatis, submerging the five shires, trapping Ierendi.

New powers emerged, new servants, and the war was declared. The heroes and their successors tried to contain the armies invading the last outskirts of civilisation, but the invaders weren't ranks made out of criminals, commoners, mercenaries at the orders of some crazed cultist, neither brutal but clueless orcs, or villainous but fair villains, but professional warriors turned in professional mass-murderers, with siege weaponry, fleets to sail the sea, ranks of trained to death and beyond monster-soldiers, and merciless spellcasters. It was a desperate first year of war, only the harshness of the Ylaruam's desert slowed the invaders a bit, but didn't stopped them, neither their assaults

.Without magic, without provisions for another full year of all-out war, without a faith to shield them, the people of the known world simply understood that waiting for death to come was the last, dignified thing to do.
And then the death answered.

At a first sight, the defending force thought about an undead army spreading out from desecrated graves but when they saw the skeletal corpses, the haunting spirits, the carcasses engaging the attackers, and marching against them, without fear, pushing back the immortal's servants from where they came, they lowly began to understand...those weren't mindless deadbeats under the control of some lich or necromancer of sorts, but they were the dead, fighting back to protect their land.

in the amassed forces of the once living heroes of the past, still wearing regalia from their times were sought, some of them even commanding the undead in various actions. The conflict changed in less than two weeks, and the invading armies had to turn back and regroup, suffering unexpected losses, nd losing parts of their battalions in the retreat.

The most amazing thing was the inefficiency of most of the spells used by the aggressors, which puzzled the researchers of the time. At the end of the conflict, the dead returned to their own graves, tombs or simply last resting places, but a few of them informed the commanding groups of Darokin, Karameikos and Thyatis about what they truly were : they were not slaves of entropic magic, no more, and no subjected to any other spell, because they were the ancestors, the ones who will always guard upon the descendants.

From this point on, the final decision about the immortal's worshipping was to forbid it in every country, and to introduce the cult of the ancestors, studying their lessons from the past. This wasn't easy for many, the teachings of the immortals still ran deeply inside the Brun societies, and removing the icons, the paintings, and demolishing temples was just too much for some people who didn't accepted it, and tried to fight back. Once again, military repression broke rebellions and keep them at bay, and, for simplify the overall job of cleansing the cities from the immortal's cult once for all, the new clerical orders worshipping the ancestors forged themselves together with the knightly orders, becoming a military and religious armed force. It was hard, it was extreme at times, but it was necessary, and, in the end, proved to be a truly successful idea.

With the passage of the years, new schools of magic rose, teaching to use the summoned powered of the ancestors and the inner power of the vital energy. Many other things occurred, but for now, even if hard at times, people survived in those centuries, even if the strife against the immortals goes on.