Of Gods and Gambits
Out of Character
The campaign uses an adapted version of the standard Points of Light setting, so the standard slew of gods are canon, as are the previous empires of Arkhosia, Bael Turath and Nerath. Some other random fluff from published adventures is also thrown in when the adventure in question proves useful for my purposes and the added information doesn’t negatively affect the overall plot or setting (though I generally prefer to just make adventures up as I go through the campaign).
The Story So Far
The world today is fragmented and tiny in comparison to what it once was, at least from the point of view of the intelligent races. Communities are scattered and spread out, with sprawling kingdoms and countries little more than a thing of the past outside of a few minor exceptions. What lead to the current state of affairs began over a century ago during the reign of Nerath. To sum everything up in as few words possible: a wizard did it.
More accurately, almost one hundred and fifty years ago, an order of wizards set up a beach head into the Far Realm, shifting an entire castle from the mortal world into the twisted realm of madness. There hope was to study the plane and learn as much about it and its Aberrant denizens as possible from the relative safety of the defended castle, researching new forms of magic and potential ways to combat incursions into the mortal world by abominations and other dangers.
The plan failed spectacularly, with those sent to guard the wizards, and the wizards themselves, quickly falling to madness or one of the realm’s countless monstrosities within their first week in the realm. One survivor managed to make it out relatively intact, a young wizard named Zanarin escaped back through a planar portal to the safety of his home plane. The world at large wrote the mission off as a failure and nothing else was thought of it outside of using it as a tale of caution for those who would meddle with forces beyond their control.
Unknown to most, however, the young man who had managed to return alive had himself been infected by a madness, just one more subtle than most. As the years passed by, an obsession with the Far Realm grew within Zanarin, and he came to view it as a world of twisted perfection. Its insanity the ultimate expression of beauty and freedom. Over the course of fifty years, he delved deeply into its history and all knowledge about the realm available, and eventually devised a complex ritual that would, in his eyes, allow him to share the Far Realm’s beauty with everyone. Travelling back to that castle where everything started, he began his work.
The only warning the people of the world had was the sky cracking. Over the next three days Far Realm incursions started appearing the world over. Entire cities vanished into swarms of gibbering mouthers, and every seer and oracle attempted to divine the source of the madness. When the truth of the matter was discovered, the greatest heroes of the lands gathered together and ventured into the Far Realm in the hopes of finding Zanarin and ending his madness once and for all.
No one knows exactly what occurred, as none of the heroes ever returned, but as the night grew near, the incursions finally seemed to subside. The damage had already been done, however. Despite lasting but three days, entire countries had been destroyed as they attempted to fight back the unending hordes that swarmed out of the openings in reality, and those that didn’t quickly fell to infighting or attacks by the monstrous races over the intervening century until only a few scattered fiefdoms and city states remained.