The Basic History
In the far past, the world was one grand expanse dominated by dragons of massive proportions in all the known colours of their species. The world - whose name has long been lost - orbitted around twin suns (Labai and Blogas) in a nearly perfect circle. This led to temperatures that ranged from fierce arctic cold in the east to a raging inferno in the west.
Throughout history a second plane of existence maintained vigilant contact with the world - 'The Heavens'. This second plane was the kingdom of the Grand Council of Wyrms; the eleven eldest and most powerful dragons of the age with near god-like powers. Once every century a single council member would give themselves as sacrifice to the suns with the most powerful dragon in the world ascending to take it's place. Nearly every dragon alive sought no greater glory.
In a year now referred to only as The Ending, two dragons in particular waged war to such as degree as to change the world forever. Both seeking the next place on the Grand Council with a fervor unmatched in history, they tore through the land and it's inhabitants. The first - Corastyracyx - a mighty red who opened portals to various other planes of existence to build his army of elementals, fiends, and abberations. Opposing him was Mnurostevia, a black dragon whose powers of necromancy built her seemingly endless army. As the two wyrms ravaged the land, a large group of their metallic cousins banded together and gave their lives to open a temporary portal to the astral plane and send their prayers through. Fortunately, their prayers were answered. Unfortunately the result was worse than they could ever have dreamed.
Bahamut was the first to answer, followed by a number of other deities - both good and evil. Feeling affronted by this seeming invasion, the Grand Council - for the first time ever - returned to the world with their titan servants. A war that had lasted for most of a year continued for a mere 3 days from that point. The devastation wrought in those three days was catastrophic, culminating in an explosion that sundered the world in to multiple pieces. When the dust had finally cleared, and an uneasy truce formed, the six surviving members of the Grand Council ascended back to their plane along with Corastyracyx, Mnurostevia, and three others. Joining them were the newly arrived gods and goddesses, now too weak to return to their own plane. It was agreed that one dragon a century could continue to ascend to take the place of a current Grand Council member, however all other true dragons were confined to one of the four fragments of the world.
In the nearly 600 years that followed, each of the four fragments of the world was left to it's own devices; overseen by the watchful eyes in the heavenly plane of the Grand Council.
World #1: Treia
Humanoids are the dominant life forms on Treia with the vast majority of creatures falling in the range of 0-12th levels. With thousands of years of war in their past, no city, town, or tribal village feels completely comfortable with their neighbours; however a general uneasy peace does exist between most groups. Basic economy has been rebuilt over time with most communities developing around important resources and/or ample food supplies. While some cities could be considered full fledged kingdoms, castles are virtually non-existant (with most of the few that do exist being little more than decayed ruins long since enveloped by new vegetation). The largest cities are closer in form to ancient Greek or Babylonian with populations numbering in the tens of thousands.
The land is generally temperate with some regions experiencing snow and ice and others with a hot desert climate. One final remnant of the great sundering is a fissure 70 miles in length, up to half a mile across in parts, and reaching depths of over 1000 feet. While a number of humanoid tribes have taken up residence in the many easy to reach catacombs down the fissures face, few people have ventured down in to the deeper ones and returned.
World #2: Stemwoord
In the century that followed the great sundering, two fragments rotated around each other with an eerie similarity to the suns they orbitted. Unlike the suns however, Stemwoord and it's paired fragment Tajan seemed to be almost magetically attracted to each other. Their eventual collision resulted in two things. First, an explosion of that was nearly as damaging to the two worlds populations as The End had been, and second a physical merging of the two. Stemwoord is below Tajan (much the way the southern hemisphere is "below" the northern hemisphere on Earth), held in place by a virtual sea of arcane energy that seems to flow from Stemwoord and into Tajan. Because of this, Stemwoord has developed as a low-magic world and Tajan a high-magic one. Divine magic is also impaired here, as communication with deities is somewhat dampened by the position relative to 'The Heavens'.
The collision between the two sister fragments was damaging to both, but more so to Stemwoord. This coupled with the reduction of magic and extremely harsh weather conditions has stunted it's cultural development to great degrees. There is a definite primitive feel here that epitomises survival of the fittest. Cities have arisen over the centuries with numerous stone and wood dwellings and typically walls to fend off the ever more dangerous world around them. One result of the collision with Tajan was a significant tectonic shift that created a large range of volcanoes in the south. Erruptions are somewhat frequent, making obsidian a plentiful craft material.
Cultures range from very primitive tribes of Troglodytes to humanoids similar to ancient Mayan or Incan city states. Flora and fauna in this highly competitive and dangerous world grow to much larger proportions than the other worlds. The low magic environment is not condusive to dragons, so they are never found here. However, their distant relatives such as drakes and behemoths (dinosaurs) are not uncommon. Creatures tend to range primarily between roughly 4-12th levels. Temperature zones are fairly consistent across the world, with extreme weather events frequent occurances in most areas.
With a reduced influence of magic in Stemwoord, it is much harder to find magic items. Basic healing items such as potions are still somewhat common - often produced by local shamans or clerics who maintain a weak connection to their deity. It is however likely that some powerful items that were lost in the sundering can still be found hidden in the depths of jungles or the ruins of long lost cities; the dampening effect on magic here makes thieir detection that much harder.
World #3: Tajan
Now located "above" Stemwoord, Tajan has developed as a world ruled by magic. Constantly receiving a flow of arcane energy from Stemwoord, arcane magic in particular is prevalent. It's relative position to "The Heavens" - perhaps coupled with some sort of magnifying impact from the sea of energy between it and Stemwoord - also seems to enhance divine magic to some degree.
A significant percentage of the world is covered in water; broken up by small continents and numerous islands (some of which are connected by natural and man-made bridges). One of the larger continents is home to much of Tajan's Fey population along with substantial forestland. Creatures who populate Tajan tend to be roughly 8-16th level.
The dominant city on Tajan - "Filamentae" also houses three of the most renowned buildings; an academy of magic, an enormous bazaar, and the six connected "Towers of the Portals". Built initially on one of the largest islands in Tajan, a little over a hundred years ago a violent shifting of tectonic plates caused the island to sink hundreds of feet in to the ocean. Working together, a large group of wizards managed to magically protect the city in a permanent sphere of force minimizing the damage. In the years that followed, the architecture that needed rebuilding was done so in harmony with the rivers of water that now flowed through the city. Additionally, large gaps were intentionally added to the protective sphere creating hundreds of stunning waterfalls that are now an iconic feature of Filamentae. Overall architecture is Arabian themed mixed with the river life of a city like Venice.
- The magic academy not only provides magical instruction, but also maintains a substantial library and research centre.
- Right in the exact centre of the city is the Filamentae Bazaar. Operating every day, but more than quadrupling in size the last day of every month. Magic items of all kinds can be found on these special days, with lesser items, potions, scrolls, and reagents available at all times. For the monthly event, traders from numerous planes of existence can be found in presence.
- Adjacent to the academy is a connected series of six large towers. These towers hold a series of portals that connect Tajan not only to various locations on the other three worlds but also to various other planes. Access to the portals is closely guarded by a number of high level wizards and sorcerers who live in the towers themselves. No known portal to "The Heavens" remains, however a number of ancient portals elsewhere connecting the four worlds are either known or believed to still exist.
Tajan has a number of large - very distinct cities - one of which has even been magically constructed up in the clouds.
World #4: Sslibinas - The Forsaken Realm in the common tongue; Erkan'lysk Utryxishka in Draconic.
Sslibinas is the world given over to the surviving dragons from "The Ending". While wars in recent centuries pale in comparison to the one raged between Corastyracyx and Mnurostevia, an endless power struggle does continue with many dragons hoping to one day ascend to the Grand Council.
The largest of the four worlds, Sslibinas maintains the extreme temperatures from fierce arctic cold in the east to a raging inferno in the west originally present in the world before the sundering. Environments of all imagining can be found on this world with most dragons tending to make their lairs in those best suited to them. Various creatures share the world with the dragons, many of which do so in some form of servitude (particularly as guardians and warriors). A significant number of these other creatures are from other planes via portals that are still open from before the sundering. Most creatures on Sslibinas are in the range of 12-20th level.
As many of the most powerful dragons rarely leave their lairs (fearful of others invading and stealing their precious horde), they use their younger brethren and their various troops to run invasions for them. Some of these invasions are through portals to Treia; as such - the various kingdoms on Treia are always on the ready for them.
Chromatic dragons significantly outnumber the metallic dragons, causing the metallics to often group together for defensive purposes. Also less likely to seek ascension, the strongest metallic dragons do still find their way on to the Grand Council as the develop great skill and wisdom while defending their lairs over the centuries. Chromatic dragons rarely band together as they have little trust in each other.
'The Heavens': Aevum
-- Dieties, Ascended dragons, Titans
-- Creatures tend to be in the 16-24th level range.