The Shattered Lands
The Future of Fantasy
The world of Adra is what happens when you advance the timeline of a typical fantasy setting forward several hundred years. Just like the real world used advancements in technology, like moving from sail power to fossil fuels and finally on to solar energy, it is expected that a fantasy world would advance as well. While the advancement would be magical in nature, it might follow some of the same patterns: solving common problems, using production to bring convenience to the masses, supply shortages, etc.
Magic Meets Science
Among the people of Galmora, magic has become a highly structured and is used to solve most of the common problems faced by society. Transportation between districts within the city is done using permanent teleportation circles and magrail cars. Devices are powered using crystal power cores containing highly concentrated elemental magic and arcane matrices containing layer upon layer of minor spells that combine to create predictable, stable effects.
The Evolution of Magitek
First discovered by a human mage, the practice of layering spells to produce greater effects formed the foundation of hermetic magic which is now widespread throughout mankind. Hermetic magic was adopted by the dwarves, and collaboration between human and dwarven mages resulted in significant advancements. The theory was eventually applied to magical devices by a dwarven artificer by the name of Kazarik.
The early stages of magitek were limited for almost half a century, as they were harder to produce than typical magical items and produced no greater results. It wasn’t until the artificers at KirinCo developed arcane cores that magitek became an inexpensive way to mass produce magical items. Within decades the metropolis of Galmora had incorporated everything from magrails and phantom carriages to security scrying posts.
A common practice in Galmora is “dusting”: using the dust from spent arcane cores as a drug. Different types of crystals produce different effects, ranging from mild hallucinations to minor magical abilities or the ability to see across planar boundaries into the Feywild or Shadowfell. The effects on mages can be even more profound and unpredictable, as dust interacts wildly with natural magic.
The Old Magic
While wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers still exist in limited numbers, only elves still practice “old magic” exclusively. They disapprove of human magitech, believing it to be overusing a precious and limited resource.
Dragons have all but retreated from the world, along with their Dragonborn followers. They abide in remote wildernesses, hidden away from the rest of the world and from one another. The great dragons rule the ten clans, comprised of dragons and their dragonborn followers.
Dragonborn rarely appear as emissaries to Galmora, but never stay for long and do not typically establish any lasting ties to the human communities. Dragonborn typically practice their own brand of sorcery, and many dragonborn gain divine magic from the worship of the great dragons.
Aftermath of the Great War
Several centuries in the past, war raged across the face of the Adra between the tiefling nation of Xin and the human kingdoms of Galmora, Brael, and Candar. As the war grew in intensity alliances were forged until the entire world was engulfed in war. In the end, the tieflings and their allies were defeated, but not before much of the world was ripped asunder by rifts torn between the material plane and the Nine Hells. It was only the intervention of the previously neutral elven Temple of Mages that sealed the rifts, but only by doing irreparable damage to the astral plane and effectively sealing off the material plane and the inner planes from the outer planes.
The Shattered Veil
Adra is a world cut off from the gods. Divine magic exists, but the gods themselves are distant and can’t directly commune with their followers. Angels serving their gods can still reach into the Shadowfell, the plane between the living and the dead, but even they are unable to cross over into the material plane.
Death and the Afterlife
The souls of the dead still cross over to the Shadowfell, or “the Grey” as it is more commonly known, where they await an angel that will ferry them to their god’s domain. Souls that have crossed from the Grey to their eternal resting place are beyond the reach of mortal power to reach and cannot be resuscitated, resurrected, or reincarnated, nor can they communicate with the living in any manner. For this reason, some souls choose not to heed the call of their gods and instead remain in the Grey, hoping that they will be returned to the mortal world. This is dangerous, however, as demons and devils are also able to visit the Grey and harvest the lost souls there. And even if they manage to avoid those that would reap their souls, the Grey is a dangerous place that slowly drives its inhabitants into despair and madness. Those lost there often experience vivid hallucinations of their happiest memories and triumphs, or pierce the veil long enough to see their loved ones still alive on the material plane, only to have that brief happiness ripped from them suddenly.