Setting

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Introduction

For a thousand years, mankind was enslaved by demons.  A hundred years ago, a great mage arose and marshaled humanity against their slavers. Through a combination of once-forbidden magics, the advent of the first firearms, and an unlikely alliance with the lowest of the demon's shock troops, mankind eventually prevailed. In their retreat, the demons struck one final blow against mankind, blowing apart the rift through which they had entered the world, rending the planet asunder.

Now the world of Tesseris is coming apart at the seams.  Though the sacrifice of millions, an arcane device was constructed that sits at the planet’s core, barely holding the shattered world together.  Most of the land masses now float through the sky, blasted wastelands populated by demonic monsters and mutants created by the dark energy leaking from the core.  How will you help reclaim the world?

Brief History

For a thousand years, humanity was enslaved by the demons.  Billions of souls lived, toiled, and died under their reign.  The demons brought with them all kinds of twisted abominations and bred or twisted through obscene magics many more from the livestock of man.

A few small bastions of humanity held out, fortified in strongholds of stone, steel and magic while hoping, striving against impossible odds for the day they could rise and take back their world.  Nearly a hundred years ago, their prayers were answered.  An immortal mage, of an age of magic long forgotten, returned to Tesseris leading a contingent of dragons.

Calling himself Terrek, the mage fought, burned, scoured, and killed the demons, eventually making a foothold from which the war for the freedom of mankind could be fought.  The bastions and strongholds rose up, marshaling what armies they could to join the fight.  For a time, they made progress, slowly gaining ground, freeing slaves by the thousands, until the demons struck back.

A rift in the void, opened long ago during the demons initial invasion, allowed demons to bring in massive waves of troops from their worlds, and most importantly, their demon generals. Seasoned by a million years of conquests, the demon generals marshaled their forces and began striking back at man, taking back the ground they had lost.

Terrek and his allies grew desperate.  The souls of the dead wailed in anguish.  Long forbidden in his time, Terrek turned to necromancy, imbuing the bodies of the dead with willing souls hungry to fight the demons.  Terrek trained magi in the magics who received the blessings of the death gods, accepting the use of the dead for such a noble cause.

Bolstered by ranks of the dead, mankind began to hold it’s ground again, but gains were still woefully short.  A young mage, familiar with blasting powder and the basics of engineering, came to Terrek with a short steel tube, from which he was able to blast a chunk for metal at high velocity.  Easy to train soldiers to use and effective on the battlefield, the small handcannons, made a massive impact in every battle in which they were deployed, but it still wasn’t enough to push the demons back.

The rift allowed the demons to constantly reinforce their forces with shock troops and ancient demons possessed of powerful magics; it had to be closed.  As the most heavily fortified and reinforced position the demons held, the task would be nearly impossible.  Terrek called on ancient magics to enhance the stealth and speed of his elite force of infiltrators and assassins, giving rise to what would become the Shadowling race. Judging this to still not be enough, Terrek gambled and secretly met with the the leaders of the largest contingent of the demonic forces, the Thakorans.

Enslaved millenia ago, the Thakorans were once a proud warrior race, but constant exposure to demonic energies and experimentation by the demons had twisted their form into that of spike covered, armored brutes. The Thakorans still longed for freedom of their own, but their own world was too far gone, having been fully subsumed into the demonic empire.  The mage offered the Thakorans clan leaders a deal; side with the humans, overthrow the demons, and they would have a home and freedom on Tesseris.  All but a few clans agreed and an alliance was struck.

With the Thakorans now on on their side, the humans stood a chance.  The Thakorans made up most of the shock troops used by the demons, knew their tactics, and had the physical prowess for war.  Man, Thankoran, and undead fought side by side. The fight to the the rift was long and bloody, but eventually mankind's forces fought close enough to be able to send in their elite stealth unit with a cabal of magi, hand picked and trained by Terrek himself.

With the soldiers holding off the demons, the magi began to close the rift.  The demonic reinforcements slowed, but the losses were heavy. The most ancient and powerful of the demon generals, sensing the tide turning, pulled his forces back into the rift.  The combined forces of man and Thakoran rose up for a final push, driving the demons back in droves.  Victory seemed at hand, but the demons had one final trick.

On the other side of the rift, the demon sorcerers and commanders knew the battle was lost.  Terrek’s magi proved too skilled for the demons to prevent the rift from closing.  They instead decided to collapse the rift, blasting it’s energies across Tesseris to destroy the world, for what the demons could not conquer, no one else may have. It nearly worked.

The rift collapsed, sending out shockwaves of energy deep into the planet.  The world cracked and split, deep fissures opening throughout the world, splitting it open from the crust to the core of the world.

The magi were caught totally unprepared.  Many had died attempting to close the rift and the world was devastated, but they had only a short time before the world collapsed in on itself, dooming them all. The surviving magi hatched a plan.  Led by Terrek, they would construct a device, massive in size and scope with the hope of holding the world together.  The undertaking was massive and magics heretofore unknown had to be devised to make it work.  Even with Terrek’s ancient knowledge and skill, the magi still did not wield enough energy to make it work.

A dark decision was made. For the rest of the world to survive, many would have to die.  The magi tapped into the life force of all of mankind, Thakoran, plant, and animal alike, drawing energy from their very lifeforce.  On that day, enacting the ritual that would save the survivors, a full third of the world died, the very souls of the dead fueling the ritual.  The magi themselves all perished, save for Terrek, whose solem burden it was to harness the energies and complete the final steps.

The result was the first Gravitonic Core, an arcane machine massive in scale and power sitting at the core of the Tesseris, holding the world together.  It was enough, but only barely. The world continued to break apart, the continents drifting apart.  The oceans boiled away and whole sections of the world disintegrated, broken apart first by the collapse of the rift, then subsumed by the energies of the Core.

Eventually, the planet began to stabilize. Mankind was now free, but had paid a terrible price.  The world was broken and massive island continents now drifted through the sky.  The Core held the continents in a semi-stable orbit around it, but unleashed twisted energies onto the world, further warping and changing the survivors.

Within months, the first mutants began to appear amongst the humans.  With them came powers of the mind, unleashing psychic potential mankind never knew it had. Despite this boon, the rate for mutation from the Gravitonic Core was too great; it would soon mean the end of them all. Resigned to try and save the world he had just freed, Terrek flew down, into the Core, attempting to quell the dangerous energies.  Working for months on end, he succeeded in slowing the flow of mutagenic energies.  Unable to stop them completely, they were nonetheless reduced; mankind would survive.

Terrek emerged from Core changed.  Such close proximity to such raw power had warped and fused his body with the metal of the Core, turning the ancient mage into a being partial composed of living metal.  Now truly immortal, Terrek set off to attempt to rebuild the world.

A hundred years hence, mankind has rebounded and has entered into an age of steam industry.  Science and technology have continually advanced, as has the reclamation of arcane lore long lost to time, recovered from ancient buried cities. The world is still largely a blasted landscape where monsters roam, but humanity has slowly begun to claim more and more of the world back from the monsters.  Hidden threats of demons still lurk in the hidden places of the world and even out in the open in some small pockets where they still hold dominion and now that the wars have been won, some have begun to wonder at the true motives of the godlike mage that walks among them.

The rise of the new races, most notably the recent awakening of the Forgeborn and the expansion of the Arkanan have given rise to new uncertainties. Some also see the mere existence of the demon half-breed Shan’kai as an affront. Mankind is no longer enslaved, but most of the world is still grappling with what freedom means. Unbeknownst to all but a few, the world is still in peril, not just from the demons who may one day return to reclaim what was lost, but also from the threat of ancient eldritch horrors who have only now begun to notice mankind for the first time.