Once there was the sun, the moon, the stars. All gone.
Our Earth existed alone in the void. The stars are dust discarded throughout time, fading away into the deep.
In the first days, the world teemed with life. All manner of creatures living across land and sea.
Then came the Gifted - powerful wielders of magic from all across the world, first as teachers and counsellors, then as warlords and chieftains. They called themselves Egregoroi, Tengu, Teotl, and many other things.
The First Chaos War
Amongst humanity the Gifted found their muse. Men and women worshipped them and gave them new power. They used this to explore their talent, devising spells, rituals and wards to serve themselves and those loyal to them. They learned to summon and dominate all manner of strange beasts and monsters, fighting wars that threatened the existence of all things.
The world teetered on the edge of destruction. A council came together, representing powerful factions across the different lands, defeating those who opposed them. To save the world, they sealed its cracks with power, using the magic granted to them by their worshippers.
But some creatures could not forgive the Gifted for their crimes and others proved too powerful to be left to roam the world. The last of these beings were locked away beneath the earth, some to sleep and others to live out their days never seeing sunlight again.
The Peace and Time of Order
In the first days after, there were fewer wars, plagues, floods and natural disasters. The Gifted ruled with wisdom and justice; the greatest of them ascending to become Gods. They interbred with humanity and forgot much of their past. Alchemists - humans with a sensitivity to magic - rose to prominence, refining the means of making portals and enchanted items to empower the wizards loyal to their orders.
The wars of the oldest days were forgotten and the chaos of the first times remembered only in legends and stories.
The Rise of Gods
Over time, the Gifted learned ways to transcend their mortal state and become immortal beings of pure magic. Gathering enough power to initiate this process was difficult, but the alchemists discovered an innate affinity to magic amongst humans. Powerful emotions granted slivers of magic to the Egregoroi they were directed at, so feared and loved wizards become more powerful.
The rise of religious orders across the world were the product of this discovery, as the council sought to control the means of transcendence and promote the most trusted and wise amongst them to this new enlightened state. These new beings were seen as Gods by some, or as the messengers of Gods by others.
However, as the centuries passed, not all were content with these hierarchies. Young wizards, doomed to follow the rigid rules of their elders, rebelled and began to seek their own paths to enlightenment. Some succeeded, some did not.
In AD 1307, a misguided ritual in Avignon broke the first of the seals on the world. Wizards rallied and strove to contain what they had done, burying the rift behind powerful wards of magic, but it was too late. A second seal broke open in the buried city of Isoloha and a third on an island in the South Pacific ocean.
Magic could no longer be contained by the wizards. Unwanted distortions created deformations in nature. Vicious beasts roamed the plains and unusual growths and swamps developed. The dead came back to haunt the living.
Strife broke out everywhere, a second chaos war, led by rebel wizards, intent on destabilising the religious orders that had come to dominate the lands and seeking to free the creatures imprisoned in vast caverns beneath the world. War, Plague, Famine and Death, the four horseman, ravaged the lands, empowering armies intent on the end of all things.
Others tell this tale differently, and see the individuals as iconic liberators of the Earth from its oppressive masters.
The ancient council, riven with paranoia, was slow to act in response. A great purge followed; trials, inquisitions and executions. Law became unyielding judgement and chaos, an unknown freedom of contagious revolution. As nations fell and people lost hope, the magic binding the world faltered. The lands began to suffer from violent earthquakes. Suddenly it shattered, splitting into many fragments. In an instant, millions of people dead; only those protected by magic survived, cast into the void on the remnants and reliant on whatever spells had saved them.
Gradually, using the lore of portal making, the Gifted were able to reunite. They found the remains of the old world, transformed into a swirling vortex. Deep within its core there lay a ruined fragment, a realm intact and undisturbed by the destructive storms that raged around it. Spells were ineffective, the magic simply sucked into the storms. The wizards named this place Limbo and from it they ventured to the fragmented realms through the portals they had built.
There was no more war, but there was no peace either. Chaos reigned above all else. Unimaginable places were filled with strange, magical creatures, released from their dungeons. Wizards fought with each other in their quest for power. They knew without power they could not survive.
Slowly the old societies reasserted themselves; the ancient orders of alchemists, who had remained loyal to the wizards during the worst of times, reformed and rebuilt parts of the ruined cities. Survivors were found in many of the fragment worlds and brought back to the new settlements.
However, they were not the only things discovered.
In the myriad of realms spiralling out beyond the vortex, all manner of creatures were found - vampires, elves, dwarves and dragons, to name but a few. All forms out of fairy tale and myth. The origins of these are uncertain; some could be the corrupted forms of mortals from the past, some imprisoned beneath the world and some created from pure magic.
Over time, wizards banded together. Temporal alliances became cabals, cabals become orders; each seeking power to shape Limbo and tame the fragmented worlds according to their own image. Each seeking the power to follow the first of their kind and become Gods.
The Current Reality
The worlds of Chaos Reborn are a shattered relic of what came before. The fragments of Earth float in the void, drawn to spin around the Vortex. Countless realms, preserved by the spewing magic, bathing each with power and causing all sorts of strange and wondrous reactions.
This is a spinning mana storm, flinging tendrils of power out into the ether. The temperament of the Vortex is keyed to the uses of magic by wizards; a predominant use of any particular type of spell causes a reaction. On a large scale, law increases chaos and vice versa, whereas on a small scale it works the opposite way. This continual flux ensures the perpetuation of the storm.
It is the Vortex which provides light in the skies of the Fractured Worlds and which surrounds Limbo, holding it apart from all things.
Many wizards quest to find access to the Vortex from outside. It is believed a wizard of sufficient skill and power could touch the Vortex from the nearest fragment worlds and harness its power, raising themselves above all others.
The remnants of our ancient world. Buildings, piled on top of buildings, with people living in the spaces in between. Limbo contains the collected lore of the past and the largest gathering of its populace. For some, it is a place of hope, from where civilisation can be rebuilt, for others, a place of despair and desolation.
The sky above is the Vortex, hidden behind layer upon layer of dust, that batters the world below. There are few days without wind and storm as the lands are wracked with the depredations of its seething sky. Some places remain intact, defended and protected by gathered power, but the price is high, the cost of magic inside the Vortex far higher than out in the fragmented world beyond.
Limbo is home to the last of humanity. Mortals huddle beneath the wizard towers, eking out a meagre existence as they wait for deliverance. These towers compete to find those who are born with the gift, stealing them from their families to be trained as wizards and sent out into the Fractured Worlds.
Of all places that exist, only Limbo is constant and moves forward through time as one place. Wizards who arrive and meet other wizards find they have experienced similar circumstances in the Fractured Worlds.
The Fractured Worlds
These are the cast off remains of the old world, sustained by magic. The near realms are perilous places, bathed constantly in the fluxing energies. Yet as you travel further, the distortions settle. Some places are the homes of particular creatures, others have become kingdoms ruled over by powerful wizards.
Each realm may contain fragments of the old world surviving relatively intact - artefacts, ruined cities - relics which may be treasured and potentially contain great knowledge and power. Perhaps the story of what happened in the long past is contained in scattered fragments spread throughout the universe.
Wizards who master the flows of mana learn to manipulate and shape the realms themselves. They return to Limbo as saviours, bringing a chosen few with them into their kingdoms. This deliverance has a price and many find themselves working for their new masters as little more than slaves.
The energies unleashed during the schism affected both time and space. Wizards often meet to find they have experienced similar adventures on the countless worlds that surround Limbo.
Rifts and Portals
In the first times, strange magical gateways manifested wherever they wished. These were known as rifts and were temporary in nature, providing quick travel to places unknown. The ancients found ways to encourage and ‘trap’ rifts within their stone arches. The first were made to expand the influence of the Gifted across the known world. These served as a means of transport to co-ordinate the council’s efforts during the First Chaos War.
It is claimed the manufacture of portals came directly from the work of Aristotle and his Lycaeum. The colonies and city states were interlinked with these magical gateways, but each required vast amounts of magical energy to be used. These early journeys took them into new lands and brought encounters with other Egregoroi, resulting in conflict. Many of the new wizards saw Nephilim as abominations and vowed to destroy them.
The division and fall of the Greek Empire after Alexander led to a loss of much knowledge. The great library of Alexandria contained a portion of the acquired lore of the Lycaeum and the previous writings of the Ancients, but it was not everything. The later conquest of Greece and the Mediterranean by the Romans restored order under new masters and this period was an opportunity to consolidate much of what was known. However, the great map of portals was lost and subsequent generations of alchemists struggled to record the locations of the ones they knew. In other parts of the world, other Nephilim, unbeholden to the teachings of Aristotle discovered these devices and learned their secrets for themselves.
Gradually, inquiring minds refined their magical devices and used them to seek out more of the world. The last great journey of Marco Polo signified the completion of a portal web, linking all of the major groups of Egregoroi across the globe.
Prior to the schism, both portals and rifts existed. The former are constructed passageways, the latter of unknown origin.
In the post schism universe, portals and rifts transport wizards through both space and time. Wizards journeying through the portals can find themselves replaying the same events, arriving in a realm at a particular time that might be the same time as another arrives in an alternate reality.
The Wizards (Egregoroi)
Humankind has never been alone. Hidden amongst the multitude of societies and civilisations since the first days of fire and writing are the Egregoroi; similar but different to us. Some say they are the chosen of the Creator, others that they themselves were creators of our world and the worlds beyond.
In ancient writings the Egregoroi have many names; Immortal, Elohim, demigod and more. To some they are prophets, guardians harbingers, seers and oracles; to others, totems of punishment, vengeance and death.
The Egregoroi are vastly knowledgeable, with lifespans far longer than any human. Their origin is wrapped up in countless mythologies and religions. Their nature is as changeable as mortals, but their outlook on life differs, owing to their continuation.
The Egregoroi are hardy individuals, capable of surviving exposure and temperature extremes beyond that of mortals, but this physical fortitude is still limited and not excessive by comparison.
The chief strength of the Egregoroi lies in their affinity with magic. They are capable of manipulating the basic material of reality in a vast number of ways. Over time, these manipulations have become taught rituals, rotes and spells passed on from elder to novice.
Gradually, most Egregoroi develop an affinity with a particular aspect of magic - law, nature/neutrality or chaos. This is often shaped by their outlook on life.
Egregoroi do age and share many vulnerabilities with humans. The oldest Egregoroi might live to three hundred years. However, they have found a way to transcend their mortal form and become Gods, a transformation which makes them immortal.
A life changing event for any Egregoroi, the moment of transcendence is different for each individual. In the pre-schism world, this process remained elusive, took decades and centuries and for the most part, remained part of the hierarchies of faith. In the post-schism world, with the Gifted exposed to the energies of the Vortex, the time needed is much less, and with wizards travelling amongst countless realms, they gradually accrue the knowledge and experience to shed their mortal form and become conscious magic.
At this point, as the individual’s mortal form dissipates, so their magical affinity solidifies, meaning they become attuned to the particular aspect of magic which has been predominant in their lives.
The Alchemists (Nephilim)
Alchemy is both an art and a science. Its original premise was in the transformation of base metals into rare and precious ones, but with the writings and work of the Nephilim, these principles expanded. The prima materia of all things, comprising of earth, air, fire and water, suggested boundless potential properties of transformation with the right catalyst.
The Nephilim themselves are naturally attuned to this task; they are a blended people, each being the descendant of Egregoroi and mortal parents or grandparents. The mix of magically attuned blood and the restless mortal mind is ideal to the further exploration of inert transformation. Their sensitivity to magic is an essential part of this process, as is their lack of personal power; else the subtleties of such constructions would be missed.
Throughout time, the Nephilim have existed. The first of them, wrote extensively about the world’s workings, defining its transformational properties and relationships. His followers, other mortals with the blood of the Egregoroi, refined his work through the centuries.
The world remained ignorant of the truth; that magic exists and is the true catalyst of reality. Behind a veil of religion, prophecy and politics, Nephilim and Egregoroi have guided societies and nations, shepherding them towards enlightenment.
After the schism, the Nephilim are more known for the part they play in selecting, training and assisting wizards. They are known as alchemists, artificers, loremasters, door wardens and more. Most live in the great towers on Limbo where they maintain a place of truce and parley for wizards to visit. These towers trade with their guests, who bring offerings in exchange for repairs to their equipment and wise counsel.