Legend and living gods who walk among us speak of the calamity that broke the world of Otera—Godfall. In ages past, the people of this land lived at the whim of the primordial titans, manifestations of the primal forces—Death, Tempest, Flame, and countless others. With no regard for the suffering of mortals, the primordial gods raged across the land, sowing chaos and destruction in their path. Entire cities were laid to waste, and the people lived in fear, never knowing when or where the next disaster would strike.
And so it went for time untold, until a thousand years ago a brave hero rose to prominence. Charismatic and bold, he drew together the peoples from every nation under a single banner, determined that the primordials must be routed so that civilization might truly flourish. Rallying around him as their commander, the people of the world gathered their strength, forming a mortal army large enough to challenge the gods themselves.
War was waged and, in a battle like the world had never seen, the people’s army slew the most powerful of the titans: Magic. But the cost of their victory was dire…
In the course of the battle, much of the great army was shattered—a death toll that rang into the hundreds of thousands. Sacrificing himself for the survival of his people, the commander struck the final blow that felled Magic, knowing that this meant his own end.
The order of the events that followed is unclear, or perhaps the god-kings and -queens simply prefer not to speak of it. But with the Martyr’s noble sacrifice, the titans were driven back, never to be seen or heard from again. Eight surviving members of the army present on the final battlefield—chosen seemingly at random—ascended to godhood that day, each becoming a vessel for a measure of the divine power that had been unleashed.
But even so, they absorbed only a fraction of that power. And so came the Maelstrom, a storm of roiling arcane energy that tore through land, sky and sea, twisting, transforming or devouring all that lay in its wake. The majority of the continent and even the seas beyond became uninhabitable, the power of the Maelstrom wreaking death or worse on any living creature that ventured into its raging tumult.
As the Maelstrom descended, some of the newly empowered gods scattered to the wind, lost to time. Four among them, though, banded together with one common goal: to shepherd what was left of the mortal races into a new age. Determined to preserve life and civilization, they became known as the Sovereign Four—the living god-kings and -queens of the last living city: Solace.
In the centuries since they first huddled behind their hastily raised walls, to this day still protected and ruled by the Sovereign Four, the people of Solace have known little of the world beyond their borders. The Maelstrom rages unceasing, making travel on land all but impossible. A fleet of seafaring barbarians threatens to the south. What passages remain to the Underdark, from time to time, vomit up vile aberrations. Unimaginable horrors appear daily from the swirling mists of the Maelstrom, kept at bay by the city’s defenders. Through all such dangers and more, the city has endured, a shining point of light in a world of shadow and dust. Until one day the Maelstrom, without warning or any discernible reason, began to recede, allowing for further exploration of lands broken and transformed through the storm’s power.
For the first time in a thousand years, lands once inhospitable to mortal life are again open for the claiming—but of the first eager explorers and settlers to venture out, precious few were ever heard from again. Those hollow-eyed survivors who returned bore tales of strange, marauding creatures in a land torn asunder. Of shattered ruins and floating islands, vast chasms and sprawling inland seas. Some returned with artifacts of the old world, or crumbling bits of lore and history thought lost.
But none of the prizes they brought back were so wondrous as plentiful vials of ever-shifting Essence, the dust-like remnants of the Maelstrom itself. Raw magic in physical form, Essence had been discovered early into Solace’s post-Godfall history, but had previously been so difficult to acquire that it was only used to power the city’s massive stormshield. With the receding of the storm, Essence became considerably easier to acquire and was discovered to have nearly unlimited application in the arcane arts—from enchanting, to mastersmithing, to powering wondrous new technologies like firearms, urban rail transit, and most recently, prototype airships.
The lucrative market for Essence relies on those willing to venture out into the Broken Lands and recover it. And centuries of living in an over-crowded city, making the most of ever-dwindling resources, has created a hunger to strike out into the world and establish new settlements.
And so it was that the Sovereign Four put out the call for hardy souls with the courage, skill, and cunning to explore and map the Broken Lands, deal with whatever hazards lurk there, and identify likely spots for new villages and townships—that civilization might expand once more into the whole of the continent.
For arcanists, mastercraftsmen, and fortune seekers alike, the opportunity to harvest raw Essence during exploratory missions is a powerful draw. And for those who hunger for adventure and opportunity, or simply a way out of the city, the life of a freelance adventurer in service to the Sovereign Four offers a variety of ways to make one’s mark on a rapidly changing world.
This is where your adventure begins…