It is the end of time for humanity. Humanity has spread itself far throughout the stars but now that interstellar civilization has collapsed. Technology has failed, although why and how no one can now say. Humanity barely remembers a time when it flew among the stars, and only a few relics remain of those days. It is known that this world was not mankind’s home world, but no-one knows where that might be. Some body armor has survived, but the most wonderful items are rods, sceptres and staves. Common folk know to turn such ancient technologies over to the Emperor, as their use is both dangerous and outlawed.
It is an age of Belief. As technology faded, belief became more powerful than knowledge. Mankind worships many gods, and those gods give powers to their priests and even sometimes manifest in the Worlde in the form of their Avatars. In Anthavar, the worship of the Old Gods has been largely replaced by the worship of Grom, the One True God, but at the borderlands of the Empire, other gods are still worshipped.
It is an age of Myth. As technology faded, humanity grew closer to the soil and belief became more powerful than knowledge. In certain wild areas, the mortal world is connected to the Otherworld, the realm of Faerie. Elves, dwarves, goblins, unicorns and other creatures roam those regions, although they are not found in civilized lands. Some adventurers have travelled to Faerie, and their stories have only strengthened the hold of Myth on humanity.
It is an age of Magic. The mental skills of the Ancients have been augmented by the return of belief, and magicians of various types (Sorcerors, Seers, Necromancers, Shapechangers, Spiritologists, etc.) roam the Worlde. Some mages belong the Magician’s Guild and serve the Emperor. Some practice Black Magic through sacrifice of various beasts, including humans.
It is a sword age. Two great empires struggle for domination of the Worlde. The struggle has been going on for centuries, and seems to be an ideological struggle which can only end with the elimination of one nation or the other.
The older of the two civilizations is the Anthavarn Empire, ruled by Emperor Cornelius, the Lion of the City of Lions. The people of Anthavar worship Grom, the one True God, in his three aspects of Law, Life, and Truth. The Church of Grom is headed by the Triad, a group of three head Priests (called Primaries), each representing one Aspect. The Emperor sponsors the Magician’s Guild and retains some ancient technologies. The Church of Grom and the Magician’s Guild struggle for power, and away from the capitol, the Church is winning. The common folk fear Black Magic, and the Law Priests are often eager to burn mages, whom they believe to be servants of Vlek the Flameking.
Anthavar was greatly weakened by a long war with Nazilth, the last Lord of Darkness from the East. Nazilth was aided by hordes of Trogs, the pale underground night raiders from the Darkrealms. Garst and some of the other lesser kingdoms have asserted their independence from the Holy Empire. The older Imperial pantheon is worshipped in Garst, although some citizens now lean towards the worship of Grom. Therrea itself is beginning to rise again, as a few wilderness duchies have been recolonized. Taybor is the best example of this.
Far to the north are the Arilynian Plains, better known as the Plain of the Ten Tribes. The plains are inhabited by primitive nomads who hunt and battle both each other and the Giants of the Frozen North that lies beyond the plains.
To the northwest of Anthavar is the second empire, the younger empire of the Gurakali. The Gurakal Empire began on the island of Kallaimor. The island was settled by Anthavarn colonists hundreds of years ago. They founded the Sea Empire of the Jeday, which remained friendly to Anthavar. The Sea Empire was eventually overthrown by Lord Kaleb of Tarn (a central province of Kallaimor) in 482. Kaleb resented the Anthavarns and the growing influence of Grom, but Anthavar had the advantage of wealth and size, and was able to suppress its rival easily. When the Wars against Darkness weakened Anthavar, the Gurakali saw their chance. Lady Gida of Tarn was a powerful Spiritologist and sought demonic aid against Anthavar. To that end, she sacrificed her husband Kaleb and their four children and summoned five elder demons (Tarkus the Grim; Bleobardis, Lord of Fools; Kishta, Lord of Flames; Rygil the Music Bringer; and Laasa the Wind dweller) in 487.
Unfortunately, these demons proved very difficult to control, and Gurakal became a place of horror and anarchy. The demons named themselves as gods and demanded worship in exchange for power. The Gurakali gave it to them.
Fortune and fame are given only to those Gurakali who Prove themselves to the demons. To do so, they must immerse themselves in the Red Pool, where the demons were summoned. Those that emerge are Proven, but they are always changed, and the changes can never be predicted. The Red Pool attracts pilgrims by the lure of easy power. Like any gamble, it usually takes more than it gives. The lands of the Gurakali are slowly being turned into the realms of monsters. Lucky pilgrims gain great powers and take positions of command. The unlucky ones are transformed into loathsome monsters and sent to the borders of the Empire to subdue the enemies of the Gurakali.
The Gurakali borders expanded until they reached the client states of Anthavar, and Gurakal is now at war with Anthavar. The Gurakali launched a number of surprise raids on northern colonies and on shipping, and then invaded the north in earnest. The war escalated until it covered the continent, with armies of Helmers and Gelmers and other Gurakali noble families in full force. A decisive sea battle was fought in the Middle Sea, where the premature detonation of ancient weapons destroyed both the Gurakali fleet and much of the Anthavarn fleet as well. Gurakal retreated, but continues its intrigues. Anthavar continues to build an ever-stronger military, with the knowledge that it will eventually have to take the war to Kallaimor.
Anthavarns fight against all Gurakali, considering them worshippers of Demons, and fighting them for the cause of Law and the word of Grom. Because of the overwhelming public opinion against the demon worshippers, the Law priests currently have a political edge over the Life priests and Truth priests in the religious power struggles. Some Life priests have become disgruntled and now wander the countryside as Healers, branded as heretics by the Church. Some scholars who would have become Truth priests now join the Magician’s Guild instead. Without the traditional internal balance of the three Aspects, the Church has become more cruel, and now uses its holy warriors, the Glayvs, to enforce its views.
The Gurakali have great powers but they face the revitalized Anthavar Empire under Emperor Cornelius, as well as the resistance of some Gurakali who oppose the chaos taint. Many Gurakali want rid of the unearthly beings which rule them so they can begin living normal lives again. Still, Gurakali provocateurs are continually being discovered and exposed on the mainland.
Beyond these great struggles, there are always the eternal political struggles between the smaller states. And for those tired of the wars, the ruined land of Therrea beckons. Laying to the northeast of Anthavar, it was burnt and plundered in the Wars against Darkness. It is now eagerly being colonized by the younger sons of Anthavarn nobles and the descendants of Therrean lords. The forest has regained mastery of that realm and Therrea has grown very close to Faerie. Elves, dwarves, griffons and even dragons have been seen there. It is a time of uncertainty and opportunity.