The Rift of Arista
Arista is a fallen world.
Once, its peoples lived in relative peace and prosperity, colonizing most areas of the globe with thriving civilization. At least that’s what the ancient texts state. The only evidence of that now is the type of systematic depression that only comes from loosing something that was once great.
Those that do take the texts as truth believe that 7,000 years ago water shortages became more and more frequent. It started with lakes and ponds drying up and spread to wells and reservoirs. Soon, the only reliable sources of water were desalinated ocean water and mountain or glacial ice.
This put great strain on the nations that existed at that time. The sea faring human empires made out like Rake in the fallout. They grew powerful and many other races (haflings, gnomes, even some elves) joined their nation. This was a time of great change for Tor. It’s strange now to think of change being possible for this world…
The Proud did not join the human nations on the seas, and that is just as well because the seas were not safe either. Sea level dropped each year, starting almost undetectably and increasing to the point where cities literally had to grow towards the seas (or where the seas were) each year. Beach-front property became a hot commodity.
The leaders of this great empire, Dusana, had a conference of the 7 greatest city-states to decide a course of action. The wisest in attendance were venerable elven wizards that decided to stay with the humans. Although history may argue with the texts on just how wise they were. The council decided to use the elven Arcane magic to produce water from the natural weave of magical energy that feeds all Arcane magic on Tor. And create water is a simple spell to-boot. It was decided that giant towers be constructed in each of the nations’ capitols to house the most skilled magic users focusing full-time on casting – creating massive amounts of magicked water. Man was no longer a slave to the sea.
Since the texts were written in this blissful era by these blissful humans, they are not exactly the whole story…
The Gods smiled on man, it seemed, but man did not smile back. Maybe the Gods felt abandoned; maybe they felt dejected; maybe they were eaten by a giant spirit slug; maybe they never existed. Whatever the reason, divine presence on Tor was decidedly slim. The only two Gods with practicing congressions on Tor were Avid and Arro. Each without a lack of members, but each wanting more. Avid, who adherents claim as the God of Justice, could equally be called the god of Jealousy and has strong support among the have-nots. Arro is the God of Pride, Wisdom and Progress, which is strange to think about being so adored by a world so Regress-ive. Although I prefer to call Arro the God of Vanity.
As man moved back away from the seas contact was reestablished with the Proud empires, Dwarves being the first. Dwarves didn’t waste these some 4000 years of estrangement. They chased the water-table down while humans went to sea and Elves hit the mountains. The Dwaven empire flourished much as the human empire did and great temples and halls were created larger than the largest cities on the surface. Extensive tunnels supplied the subterranean nations with fresh clean water.
However, like the humans, Dwarves noticed the speed of recession was increasing. They dug even deeper in to the heart of Arista until they made a horrible discovery. Abysmal beasts and demons from the lower plains began attacking the deepest of the dwarven settlements, followed by the not so deepest settlements. Dwaven scouts, as it were, traveled to the human and elven settlements for help. The elves were the first to find the connection between the attacks and the millinia old water purge. An expansive and ever-growing planar rift was tearing through the middle of the planet. Water and any other material that worked its way down far enough (dwarf meat?) was consumed in the rift. Not only that, but apparently it has some connection to the lower plains because the horrid denzians that ravaged the dwarven empire.
Magic specialists determined that the rift increases in size whenever Arcane magics are used. This unraveling of the weave was accelerated by the human’s magic water factories that sustained their empire. Due to this knowledge, the Proud races petitioned the human empires to shut down the towers immediately to prevent tearing the world in two. The humans did not listen to petition.
The next 1000 years were filled with war and strife. Elves slowly began to learn to live without magic while helping the dwarves and other free peoples of Arista take down the human empire. All but the shallowest of the extensive dwarven empire was sealed off or collapsed to prevent easy access between lower planes and the surface.
Eventually, the human nations did fall and most of the city states are small shadows of their previous might. Some places still use Arcane magic for survival but most have moved to divine favor for their supplies. Though not as powerful, it has the advantage of not ripping apart the world. At least not physically, anyway.
Even today the elven empire is a militant anti-magic force that produces coordinated strikes on wizards while trying to repair the rift as well.