As the progression of technology advanced and the age of knights, plate armor and heavy arms began to fall from use, supplanted from firearms, the world seemed poised to eschew its Medieval past, entering an age of reason over spirit, mechanism over organic, hierarchy over chaos. Sorcery was all but discarded as baseless superstition for the ignorant and heathens. Until, seemingly from nowhere, on the yearly Night of the Dead-the night when, as folklore held, the veil between this world and the ‘others’ were at their most thinnest… that veil became tattered and was ripped open.
Those of the ‘Otherworld’-demons, the dead and undead, giants and the Fair Folk-all came surging forth in an apocalyptic wave… and reviving magic with them.
Each of these seemingly infinite variety of beings have affected the world in unique and myriad ways. The Fair Folk, among the most plentiful of the newcome races, detested much of the new technology, especially that of firearms, which rendered combat less and less a result of skill and might. Centuries worth of scientific knowledge was lost as the fairies, in a rare, unified cause, sought out and destroyed any and all traces of guns and the knowledge necessary to produce them, alongside countless other advances.
So, too, did the combining of the realms change the world. The landscape was rewritten, with countless dens from the Otherworld now at home in the mortal plane. Crypts filled with treasures, keeps and castles of monsters and dens of beasts now plague the countryside much like the surge of bandits newly arisen to prey upon the helpless in the chaos. Trade and travel has decreased drastically, breaking apart nations and empires and returning most areas to isolated villages and city-states. Given the lack of trade and travel, exchange of ideas and thus the advancement of science has come to a crashing halt. And every day-and especially night-creatures assail city walls, the darker denizens of the magical realms, to run rampant and revel in destroying the mortal cities, held at bay only by skilled mercenaries, effective walls and magic. Even the heavens are affected, as the hours of daylight have decreased to only half the day in the height of summer, one-third sun to two-thirds dark in spring and autumn, and only one-fourth of the hours in winter, and overcast, rainy or misty weather are more common than clear. It is an ever-encroaching apocalypse.
Yet, life is not necessarily terrible, or even any worse. Indeed, even among the mortals, many prefer what the world has become in the two-hundred years since the collision of the realms of mortals and spirits. Magic now exists aplenty, and it has revolutioned society in a way that technology never did. Manufacturing is done as much by magic as by hand and machinek self-moving weavers’ looms and hoes, clean aqueducts, architecture able to stretch to amazing heights; magic infuses nearly every trade and a host of objects now, with a wealth of new inventions and novelties appearing with ever-hastening frequency. Many previously of the spirit world have joined with mortal society and become part of everyday life, bringing new complexities, gifts and problems with them.
Too, though, the size of locations have been limited as per the constant war with the less amicable beings. Cities are built much more densely and room is often scarce; for all the increased production, the population has grown in sync, and the nobles still tax, creating a wealth of free yet destitute people. Many turn to thievery aided by magic or hire themselves out in what professions there are.
Mercenaries, meanwhile, enjoy a type of success without unrivaled in history. With countless monster dens, ancient crypts and castles of magical beings, caravans hiring guards and cities hiring warriors to defend or rout those threatening them, there is opportunity to make fortunes by magic and steel to rival kings. Indeed, many have so, inspiring others from the lower class to train in arms and test their fortune. Though many die in the early stages, the opportunities presented by freelance mercenary work glitter so brightly, and numerous guilds appear in every city. For them, this age of darkness is an age of prosperity.
So long as the city walls hold…