Here is some background for my fantasy world:
A recent history of Nykara
The Golden Age (years previous to 3253)
Little is known by commoners about the history of Nykara before the cataclysm known as The Godfall. Most records were destroyed in the apocalypse or the wars that followed. Each race and each nation has its own conflicting summaries of history, which range from literal truth to complete fabrication. Each culture teaches a history that glorifies itself and blames its rivals. When intact documents surface they are fiercely debated by the scholars and politicians as to their accuracy, and in some cases the records are stolen or destroyed by a disgruntled faction.
One of the few things commonly agreed upon is that there were three empires of men: The Mards in the west, The Shantladi in the northeast, and The Enlightened Kantrow to the south. These empires were mostly at peace. This allowed trading and learning to flourish before the disaster.
The Godfall (3253)
Roughly thirty years ago a cataclysm shook the land. On an autumn day strange lights were seen in the sky and great shrieks and roars blasted forth from the heavens. Enormous quivering beasts fell from the sky in great plumes of multi- colored flame. The sky cracked and ever since it has had a sickly green hue.
Where the monsters fell, destruction and madness reigned. From the corpses of some of the gargantuan entities burst forth multitudes of squirming, gibbering creatures that capered or slithered forth to spread confusion, chaos and death.
Most of the beasts landed in the ocean, sending up great plumes of steam and dying sea creatures. Their mass was so great that colossal tsunamis crashed into every shore, flooding the land and destroying the greatest capitals of civilization. Elevated areas and mountain peaks became new islands, and the rare forts and watchtowers would later become new settlements.
Those who attempted the magic arts that day were either driven mad, suffered strokes, or had their spells go horribly awry. In a few cases casters were reduced to horrific piles of mutated flesh. Sages believe that on that awful day the borders of reality were frayed, allowing other dimensions to seep in at areas of power or instability. The arcane backlash was especially great along the planet’s leylines, and massive cracks split the earth open to release gouts of blue lightning, eerie gasses and strange spirits.
Few know exactly why the colossal elder things fell to earth. It is rumored that a dark summoning ritual went horribly wrong, from a cabal of power hungry madmen trying to harness forces they could never understand. Many blamed the Wizard Lords of Farthet and Satarr for the catastrophe. While it was probably only one faction of cultists that caused the Godfall, magicians are often viewed with suspicion to this day.
The Age of Strife (3253 to 3274)
The two decades that followed the Godfall saw countless battles, large and small. With the destruction of the three human empires, civilization was in total disarray. Most of the ruling class had been magically active and many had been driven insane by the dimensional instabilities affecting magic. With the old coastlines wiped out and flooded over, there was less territory for the survivors to share. Bitter battles were fought over the useful land, which only contributed to its scarcity. The old borders were gone forever.
Roving Ork bands ran rampant once again. A race that was all but wiped out thrived in an age of brute force and violence.
The Dwarves retreated deep underground and locked their holds forever. There are rumored to be secret tunnels that allow access to the vaults of the mountain kings, and many treasure seeking fools have met their end in the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the earth.
Many Gnomes went into hiding or set sail for distant islands, fearing for their life and hoping to preserve their culture and inventions.
Internal power struggles and wars reduced most of the surviving cities to ruins. Looters made off with valuable artifacts and many storehouses of knowledge were burned by ignorant and superstitious rabble. Dueling wizards caused much destruction with their misfiring magical battles. With the farmlands devastated by horrific beasts and magical corruption, and many farmers killed or run off there was little food to be found in the cities. Desperate citizens were reduced to trading valuable heirlooms for crusts of bread. Nobles were seen killing prized steeds for a meal.
Many groups of survivors retreated from the mayhem of the cities. They journeyed into the badlands, banding together for survival. Some of these groups found decent hunting grounds or mining claims and were able to persist. Others were wiped out by a combination of disease, starvation, predators, poisoned water, infighting, bandits, and magical threats. It was common for these isolated remnant groups to devolve into a tribal state, lacking any central authority or trade routes to preserve their culture. By living off the land these many of these people grew close to nature once more.
Mercenary companies banded together from the remnants of scattered regiments, taking advantage of the chaos to make a profit. Over time they picked up bandits and wandering sellswords to swell their ranks. Eventually some of these companies grew powerful and rich enough to conquer territory of their own, using their wealth and manpower to build fortresses and organize peasant labor. Grizzled veteran commanders became barons and dukes, appointing themselves rulers and giving land to their lieutenants. Countries such as Marshet, Sergo, Diabades and Fet were founded in this manner.
The Age Of Rebuilding (3274 to 3287)
With new settlements founded and borders redrawn, stability of sorts finally came to Nykara. While the land is nowhere near as safe as it once was, commerce and culture are starting to emerge once again. Civilization survived in pockets and people are beginning to unite into countries once again. Treaties between surviving and new nations were worked out. Trade caravans once again work their way from village to village. Over time the caravan routes became roads and the villages became towns.
Rulers that came to power through violence and fear are still common, but revolution is on the wind. Slave revolts are usually swiftly and brutally crushed, but oppressed workers whisper about heroic liberators that deal death to tyrants.
Over time the fabric of reality has grown more stable allowing for magic to once again be practiced somewhat safely. The magic guilds resurfaced as powerful entities, despite the fears of the common people. Many of the leyline rifts were sealed by the actions of legendary wizards and adventuring parties, sometimes on commission from the guilds. However, extra-dimensional incursions are still a threat, and at night peasants tell horrific stories of terrible creatures and unfathomable events.
While the rotting corpses of alien behemoths still despoil the land, commoners are feeling the glimmer of hope once again. The wealth of the old empires is still out there: beneath the ruins, in secret storehouses, and flooded cities. Armed groups of the brave and the foolish stage expeditions to claim treasures and fame, to slay monsters and fight for justice or power. Will you join their ranks and fulfill your destiny?