Pathfinder - The Inner Sea
The History of Magic
Magic has always been part of the Inner Sea. However magic is fouled, like water with a thin slick of rancid oil floating on top. The water is still pure, but it cannot be touched without foulness touching you. Over time, this leads to certain insanity. During these periods of insanity, the devastation is earth shattering. To identify these magic users before they go insane (called Sadain if the subject was male or Saidar if the subject was female), an order called the Aes Sedai was created. The Aes Sedai sole purpose was to find and kill magic users before they were driven mad by the taint. Similarly Aes Sedai tracked down anything that had magic on it, like a parchment, armor, weapon, etc. as these were seen as being beacons to magic users.
About 150 years ago, feelings towards magic completely changed. It started at the Spire of Nex on the island of Absalom and expanded across the Inner Sea. Strange occurrences were known to happen near the Spire throughout history. Most that neared it, ended up with a gruesome death. But as magical knowledge increased, in spite of the Aes Sedai, the world moved closer and closer to understanding the secret of the Spire. Then a human named Aroden survived long enough to unravel the key to the doors of Spire. Inside was an enormous library written in an ancient language that explained how to pierce the taint and safely control magic. Magic was no longer innately dangerous. Absalom was no longer was an island of mystery. It was the only place that mattered. Realizing the power of Absalom, and the danger of letting one nation or race control it, the island became a sanctuary. Controlled by no one. Owned by everyone. Today magic is accepted, even commonplace. The Aes Sedai remain, but their mission has been altered. They no longer outright kill magic users, instead they direct them to Absalom. This process ensures that magic remains controlled. Magic items remain dangerous without the proper training so all magic items remain outlawed. Any discovery of any potential magic item is to be immediately sent to the newly constructed city of Abasalom.
Aroden’s knowledge of magic bloomed. And he became increasingly powerful, so much so that he claimed to have the power of a god. But just over a century ago, the god of humanity died. After Aroden had defeated the evil wizardking Tar-Baphon. After Aroden had driven back the demon lord of the Locust Host from the nation of Sarkoris. After achieving all that he said was possible in the Inner Sea, he left the world intending to join the divine host after setting humanity on course for a great destiny. Prophecies said that when humanity was ready to ascend back to the pinnacle it once held in the ancient times, Aroden would return to the world to usher in a new Age of Glory. But instead, Aroden, the god of humanity, died.
This death marked the beginning of a new age, for if a god cannot fulfill his own prophecy, what chance has any others of coming true? Aroden’s death scarred the world. To the north, the world split open and the festering armies once again spilled out the Worldwound. Is it the old enemy returned? To the south, the idyllic gulf of Abendego was consumed by a perpetual hurricane whose winds and waves drowned nations. And in the heartland of the Inner Sea region, where Aroden had been prophesied to return, civil war erupted and thousands died before the diabolic House of Thrune seized power. Order was lost and civilization itself seemed to be coming to an end. On top of all this, the three main races went to war. However the roots for this war lie in ancient history; an event called Earthfall.
Earthfall, The War of the Races and the creation of the Genophage
War is destructive but usually regionally so and involves few nations and never all the races. About 1000 years ago, the Inner Sea had a world war that shattered civilization. A previously unknown race invaded from the wastes of the north. The reasons for the war were lost but the destruction was global. No part of the Inner Sea was spared. All nations were attacked. All races faced extinction. To combat the threat, the three great races (Elves, Dwarves and Humans) bound together in a great crusade. Even the orcs were able to put aside their tribal feuds to combat a greater foe. In the end, the scourge was defeated and the location of the invasion, the great mountain known as Mount Earthfall was obliterated. The remaining land became a great blot on the world, so much so that it is today called the Worldwound. So great was the anger against the enemy that every last one was hunted down and slaughtered. It was not seen as genocide. It was seen as necessary. The entire war became known as the Earthfall.
After the Earthfall, the Inner Sea settled into a prolonged period of peace. Much of the world was uninhabited as approximately 95% of all intelligent life was killed during the war. The races rebuilt their nations as best they could. But almost all great cities were left in ruins and everything else slowly returned to nature. The elves retreated to their forests. The dwarves retreated to their mountains. Humans retreated to small villages scattered across the Inner Sea. With all this open land and no enemies to fight, a great population boom occurred. But this boom favored races with short life cycles; orcs and humans. Orcs could not get past their tribal quarrels and quickly descended back into anarchy. On the other hand, Humans thrived. They were unified though widely spread out. They had great freedom to live where they pleased and expanded at an ever expanding rate. At first this expansion was ignored by the elves and dwarves who were content to live with their smaller domains. Inevitably, the elves and dwarves also wished to expand their domains as their populations swelled. They moved to reclaim their ancient lands they had left abandoned. To them these ancient lands were theirs based on laws of ownership that existed before the Earthfall. But in many cases, humans had already claimed these areas and wished to forge new laws; laws where if land was left abandoned, it was free to be claimed by whoever could control it. Humans wanted new laws and claimed the old laws were no longer valid. The debates turned to arguments. The arguments turned to fights. The fights turned to war.
The wars that ensued proved to be one sided. There just were too many humans for the elves and dwarves to deal with. So the elves resorted to an extreme measure. They created the genophage. The genophage is a curse on human men and renders them impotent except for certain matches. Finding the match is extremely difficult and most humans die without ever finding their life partner. With the curse in place, humans were unable to replace the fallen and were forced to sue for peace. Human women in order to have children resorted to marrying outside their race.
Today there is a tenuous peace. The humans hate the elves for what they have done to them. The dwarves ended their peace with the elves as they could not accept the Elvin solution. The elves claim that the genophage was necessary but have great debates as to the morality of what was done.