For centuries, the world of Tarranoth was little more than a typical continent on a standard Earth-like planet. Rulers lived, prospered and died; some were tyrants while others did well by their people. Seasons changed, crops grew and were tended, and sometimes fell victim to swarms of insects or freak storms that caused bouts of famine and disease. Most of the people in the land were unknown to the greater populace, but a few souls made their names more well-known by their selfless - and sometimes infamous - acts. Life, in other words, was the true epitomy of normalcy.
It started with an experiment over a hundred years in the past: a strange glowing crystal mined from the depths of the Al'Kesh Mountains, a young scholar with too much ambition, and a young newly-wed who was to live her life paralyzed after a fall from her horse the previous year. Late on that fateful evening, Corraile, the aforementioned scholar, visited his dying wife with the crystal in his hands.
What happened then is far from clear, but the combination of the woman's damaged mind and the crystal's latent potential caused a cataclysm never since equalled in the history of the world.
For years afterword, the survivors of the phenomenon - which was known thereafter as the Awakening - roamed the ravaged land in tribal communities, pillaging the ruins and scratching out a bloody, meagre existence amidst the remnants of the formerly formidable civilization. Knowledge of the scattered bits of remaining technology dwindled year by year, gradually twisting until it became a vague but nonetheless powerful paranoia regarding all things technological. The rusted hulks of great machines, the assorted metallic scraps which were sometimes unearthed during the nomadic travels of the living peoples of Tarranoth, the occasional working gadget...all became visible symbols of a society which, as these survivors believed, had brought them to this dire end by virtue of its advancement and its meddling with affairs best left alone. Sometimes, these machines even managed to do harm to those unlucky enough to be close by when they malfunctioned, strengthening the distrust of the people.
But time passed, as time always does. Eventually, those who lived began to find a reason for continuing to live, and set about making of their civilization what they could with their limited resources. Some of these new pioneers had gifts that their ancestors would never have imagined possible, though: the control of fire, the ability to manipulate water, the knack for calling and redirecting wind, and an affinity with the moving and sculpting of earth. This influx of elemental control is something that no one precisely understands, but which is widely attributed to the Awakening. Some ancient historians who know a little about the crystal and the experiment gone wrong suspect that it was that strange stone which enabled the dying woman to unleash the power of the elements upon the world, tearing it apart and then destroying herself as well. When the crystal shattered and spread its essence across the land, these elders say, survivors were contaminated. They gave birth, unwittingly practised their talents and, before long, cultivated a fairly well-honed talent for the magical arts. No one has ever puzzled out why a crystal of such awesome potential was found in a humble mountain range, or why the gem had so much power within it to begin with; this is, perhaps, the greatest mystery the world has ever known...and most of the surviving inhabitants are not even aware that there is any mystery at all.
Now, the land of Tarranoth has managed some semblance of society once more. The edges of the continent, bounded on all sides by vast uncrossable seas of deepest black, still run wild with the byproducts of the Awakening, twisted creatures both wondrous and terrible in their sheer power and strangeness. The center of the land mass is far more organized, however, and is currently host to many urban communities and dozens of smaller settlements. Lords have risen to power and have built castles in their own honour; bands of like-minded individuals have grouped together in order to pass on the knowledge of their chosen professions to those who meet their interest. Beneath it all, however, even in the brightest street or cheeriest tavern, there lies the echo of the past: an immovable stone pillar with a broken globe-shaped cage at its top on a street-corner, patches of village roads made from shiny metallic-looking bricks, a room in a tavern cellar with a huge steel door and an air of perpetual chill, among hundreds of others. In Tarranoth, the past may not, in fact, be truly dead.
You enter the world as an aspiring adventurer who has been raised entirely within this new civilization, in one locale or another. Your knowledge of the exact details of the past is vague, but your upbringing has been steeped in the unfocused unease of your parents and elders. You have decided to seek out your fortune however you may, even though it will surely mean coming to terms with more of the world than you may be able to handle as you set out. Adderstone Keep, a huge fortified castle near the center of the continent, seems as good a place to start as any; rumour has it that many like-minded individuals have also sought a new beginning somewhere within the walls of this mighty fortress. It is up to you, from here, to determine your fate.