1. A History Lesson:
Long ago, the gods of the Astral Plane defeated the primordials of the Elemental Chaos and won the world. The gods then created the Feywild and the Shadowfell. The three sibling worlds spun in harmony, and each was populated with various races. Of the races in the world, humans grew most populous and powerful, and they formed four great empires on the continent of Farence. In the north, Emperor Licinius ruled from the capital of Stormwatch, keeping peace over the plains, tundra and steppes and defending civilization from the predations of the giants and other creatures in the Icepick Mountains. The plains and hills of the east were ruled by Emperor Torvious. From the capital of Bastion, Torvious and his valorous Knights of Dawn kept the land safe from the goblins, orc and other wild creatures that lived in the forests, hills and caverns. Some of the forests were inhabited by elves, and some were said to provide direct access to the Feywild. The western landscape is dominated by thick woods and marshes. This area was ruled by Emperor Percivous, who presided over the capital of Evershield. Tribes of shifters, supposedly the descendants of humans coupling with lycanthropes, made their homes in the dense vegetation of the western empire. The south, a mostly barren and infertile landscape giving way to the forbidding peaks of the Southern Spires, was ruled by Empress Narcoleth from the capital of Mercy’s Keep. Dwarves and goliath made their homes in the Spires and battled constantly against the fire giants and other fierce creatures that inhabited the southlands. The center of Farence is dominated by a vast desert, surrounded by a mountain range known as the Crown of Thorns. Passes through the Crown to the desert are difficult to find and more difficult to navigate. It is said that beneath the desert lies the entrance to the Underdark, although other entrances may exist in the world.
2. The War of the Gods:
One thousand years ago, Lolth struck a bargain with Tiamat and Bane. Lolth suggested that the three of them could conquer and rule the world. Of course, Lolth, goddess of deceit, planned to take advantage of the others and entrap them in the Shadowfell after they had achieved victory. To aid in their evil endeavor, Tiamat infused a group of faithful humans with the essence of demons, and the tiefling race was born. The strongest tiefling, Bael Turath, organized his people and launched Lolth’s evil plan into motion. The tiefling empire left the Shadowfell and stormed into the world, laying waste to the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia and bringing the proud dragonborn almost to extinction. With the gods of good now aware of Lolth’s plan, Bahamut, Kord and Pelor joined together to create the race of devas. The devas, though few in numbers, would be blessed with an eternity of lifetimes, to combat the spread of darkness whenever it may arise. The gods of good and their devas marshaled the races of Farence, and were eventually able to defeat the evil forces. As punishment for their misdeeds, Tiamat, Bane and Lolth were banished from the Astral Sea to the Shadowfell. Lolth tried to bargain for her freedom by placing the blame for the war on Tiamat and Bane, but the gods of good were not deceived. Enraged by Lolth’s treachery, Tiamat and Bane captured her, and imprisoned her in the Underdark, where she rules to this day. During the war, much of the four empires of Farence were devastated. Over time, cities and kingdoms fell to ruin, and darkness spread over much of the land. Most recently, times have been fairly peaceful. There are evil races and monsters in the land, and there are tribes of wild barbarians in many places. There are also pockets of civilization. Most cities and towns govern themselves and maintain trade routes between one another as a matter of necessity.