Early History - the Death of the Gods
Thousands of years ago, humankind was cast from the land of the gods and banished across the sea to a new world. This world's twin moons created massive, constant tidal waves on all sides of the continent, making the outer coasts uninhabitable and the outer oceans impossible to traverse. But across the waves, the people could still make out a single island, its shores obscured by a thick fog. These were dubbed the Eternal Lands– theorized to this day to be the realm of the gods they were banished from so long ago.
Though cut off from the Eternal Lands, the gods still interacted with their creation– blessing humans with magic, wisdom and miracles. Tragically, this companionship did not last. One day, the gods suddenly fell silent. Motes of concentrated mana rained down on the land, warping the creatures and land that it touched and changing the nature of magic forever. The gods were never seen or heard from again, and this moment is considered by most to be the Death of the Gods.
And yet, society flourished. Regions developed into nations, which eventually joined together beneath a unified government known as the Council. The Mainland enjoyed a century of peace and prosperity… until the Torpor made its first appearance.
Recent History - The Great Sleep
Fifty years ago, a curse called the Torpor struck the world and caused an event coined "The Great Sleep." Nearly one in three people was afflicted by a deep and supernatural sleep, unable to be roused from their unconsciousness. Even now, the Torpor continues with no end in sight, and more and more fall victim to The Great Sleep every day.
As time goes on, some never wake and the Great Sleep claims many lives. However, for all those caught within dreams, some Dreamers have overcome their Nightmare and begun to awake. Not only do they tell incredible, horrifying stories of their ordeal, all that awoke found themselves forever physically changed. These individuals are known as the Awakened.
Thirty years ago, the second moon disappeared from the sky. With the oceans suddenly traversable, many set course for the fog-shrouded Eternal Lands– but all attempts to reach them were rebuffed. Many ships never returned, and those that did had nothing to report; the mist obscured everything and they never reached (or even saw) the Eternal Land's shores.
A year ago, a ship returned: the first to ever successfully reach the Eternal Lands and return to speak of the tale. The battered vessel carried only a handful of Awakened survivors, eager to share what they learned. They spoke of monsters only those who survived the Torpor could see. Dangers and threats only the Awakened could possibly survive. And with this news, the Council formed the Factions. Recruiting Awakened from all over the Mainland, the three factions sail to the Eternal Lands with the hope that this unknown island will save their homes from ongoing threats and the Torpor.
Magic has always been present in the world. Legends say that when the gods were present, magic was inherent and easy for humans. When the gods fell silent, that natural connection to magic was severed. Magic became a thing that had to be learned, and harnessed from a new source: mana.
Magic is widely believed to be decaying energy left behind from the Death of the Gods, perceived by mortals as "mana." Mana is found within all creatures with souls and sprinkled throughout the land's natural resources. Magic users can utilize the mana within themselves or found in the environment in a variety of ways, depending on their area of study— to cast spells or rituals, craft potions, empower objects and more.
While everyone has the potential to learn magic, few have the diligence to master it. Magic requires careful study and practice, and can quickly blaze out of control in unpredictable ways if used experimentally or carelessly. Magic always comes with a cost– be it the caster's personal mana, the use of components, or necessitating several participants. The more powerful the magic, the higher the price– and oftentimes, the risk. Because of this, magic is often not the first solution to everyday problems: traditional labor, crafting & skills are still highly prized across all societies.
Though magic can work in miraculous ways, it has never truly conquered death. No known magic can extend one's natural lifespan nor return a soul to the body of a deceased. Even necromancy can only temporarily puppet the corpse of the deceased: the soul, the spark of life, is gone forever. The Great Sleep has forever changed the world of magical academia. The Torpor and Awakenings have inspired several new avenues of study– many scholars and mages look towards the Eternal Lands for opportunities to expand their research.
Creatures & Entities
Inhabiting this world are creatures empowered by mana, demonstrating unique qualities compared to mundane animals. Magical creatures gain sustenance from mana, whether a kirin grazing on mana-infused grass or a dragon devouring a foolish knight. Components from magical animals are highly coveted for magical crafting or spellcasting but are difficult to procure. They are not easily farmed and must be gathered or hunted instead. Since the Death of the Gods, no one on the Mainland has successfully managed to domesticate a magical animal. If held in captivity, a magical animal will always perish. Humanity has been unable to pinpoint precisely why or how to overcome this. The Eternal Lands are a promising place for this field of study.
First appearing following the Death of the Gods event, Echoes are otherworldly manifestations that appear in every region of the Mainland in various forms such as a peculiar shape in the fire, as a mote of light dancing through the trees, a shadowy figure in the corner of one's vision. Interactions with Echoes often sound like the stuff of tall tales; a lost traveler led to safety by following sourceless music or a swirl of wind and leaves barring entrance through a section of woods. Unlike creatures, Echoes cannot be touched, caught or killed... but many surmise they possess intelligence beyond animals and magical creatures: like people, they can be reasoned with. Most scholars agree that there is a connection between Echoes and the bygone gods, and many cultures hold Echoes reminiscent of their gods' domains in high regard, leaving out offerings or performing rituals to appease them.
Religion & Spirituality
There is irrefutable proof that gods had at least once existed– only a fool would deny it. Though the legends vary from culture to culture, these universal truths are known: there were hundreds of gods, too numerous to be named or fully understood. The gods could be found in anything and everything. Light, love, wealth, waves, and everything in between– their domains stretched across all manner of concepts. The gods never appeared in any humanoid form and thus cannot be described in any language. Instead, a god might have appeared in times of miracles in a similar form on an Echo but on a much more impressive scale. Some gods chose to take up physical manifestations, but their forms were unfathomable to mortal minds: tales of these visits could only be loosely compared to disembodied eyes, teeth, mouths, hands, and fingers. Certain gods communicated via metaphysical interactions, appearing to humans in dreams or visions and speaking to mortals in a way they could understand.
With the death of the gods, many cultures had to adapt to their new reality. Some may hold an agnostic mindset that since the gods are dead, they should remain a relic of the past. Interpretations of why or how the gods fell silent may vary, but in the modern day, worship still prevails. People cling to worshiping the past, knowing that traditions hold power. In addition to broader cultural traditions and worship, many individuals or families pay their respects to personal gods via offerings and prayers.