“This tale begins with an ending that has not yet arrived.”
– Barking Wind, a coyotle shaman
Entrath was once a world like any other. The mortal races that inhabited its surface busied themselves with the usual mix of divergent cultures elbowing each other over territorial squabbles. Magic existed but was exceedingly rare, and could only be wielded by the most exceptional of individuals.
A massive crystalline meteor hit Entrath near its northern terrestrial pole. It struck with such force that it traveled through the core of the planet and out the other side, creating two massive volcanoes that still exist at Entrath’s axes of rotation. After exiting the opposite end of the planet, gravity captured the meteor before it could continue its space-bound trajectory. It now appears to be a permanent satellite.
What seemed at first to be a potentially world-ending calamity actually became the defining moment of Entrath’s future existence. When the meteor hit, most of its outer core shattered into countless gems that were scattered throughout the surface and underworld of Entrath.
The mortal races that managed to survive the collision event referred to the meteor as Hex, and the precious stones that broke off of it as Hexing Gems. It was quickly discovered that the gems had a strange power of their own. Unlike the rare and secretive practitioners of wild or blood magic, nearly anyone could extract potent sorcery from the Hexing Gems with study and practice.
Amidst the great necropolis where the humans kept their fallen heroes in carefully constructed stone vaults, the Hexing Gems somehow caused the dead to awaken. The risen corpses, who called themselves the necrotic, were the first sentient race on Entrath created by Hex, and their existence and motivations remain mysterious. Fresh necrotic were “awakened” by socketing diamond Hexing Gems in the eye sockets of dead humans, who would arise with no memory of their former lives and an entirely new sentience.
Once the humans discovered the existence of the necrotic, they were horrified. The bodies of their most respected kings and knights were being occupied by creatures with an alien intelligence. The humans were forced to invade their own necropolis, where they were put in the unimaginable position of having to fight against the risen corpses of their own dead monarchs.
For the next two thousand years, the humans and the necrotic were engaged in a state of perpetual warfare. There was also a tremendous amount of experimentation with the Hexing Gems, as the mortal races meticulously teased out the endless permutations of their capabilities.
Three hundred years ago, the necrotic reached the end of their patience with the incessant meddling of the humans, who were infuriated at the sacrilege of the corpses of their former knights and nobles being used by an alien intelligence. The humans launched countless raids on the crypts of their own kings, now inhabited by the necrotic.
The necrotic decided that an invasion of the surface world would kill a multitude of humans. This would serve a dual purpose: it would cease the human meddling in the necrotic’s affairs, and would allow them to harvest corpses to create new necrotic.
However, the necrotic did not have the resources to launch a full-scale invasion on their own. They approached the vennen with their idea, who eagerly accepted the chance to assault the surface world, especially the orcs. The shin’hare were also easily persuaded to join the coalition, as were the dwarves, whose expertise in creating tunnels to the surface was a key element in the plan. With the Underworld alliance in place, the Underworld Incursion was launched.
A global war erupted, and the races of the surface world united as the Ardent alliance to defend against potential annihilation from the Underworld. For a hundred years, Entrath was shrouded in the smoke of war and the stench of decay from the fallen. Lives were cast aside as capriciously as peanut shells. Cities were leveled, kingdoms shattered, and resources plundered.
After a series of victories in key strategic locations, it became apparent that the Underworld forces were too much for the Ardent to fend off. In a protracted war, the Underworld had the advantage, and attrition would inevitably lead to conquest and enslavement of the surface races.
In desperation, the great human King Wren sacrificed his life to defeat a massive Underworld war party. The surviving knights and the remaining Great Wolves were intrinsically bonded, initiating a linage of linked souls that continues to this day. Inspired by the bravery of King Wren, the elven primal Oberon chose a martyrdom that transformed him into a great and terrible spirit of nature. The Underworld forces were compelled to retreat or face obliteration.
To this very day, the opposing forces of the surface and the nether seek to employ Wild Magic and Blood Magic, in combination with the Hexing Gems, to further their specific ends and determine the destiny of a world.
Though Entrath is no longer suffering the ravages of an all-out war, there are still rumblings of rising conflicts. The gnolls of the highlands are getting more aggressive. Tentacled creatures from the Void have begun slithering through breaches that have been randomly appearing throughout the world. A sentient robot factory known as Slaughtergear has been leaving a path of destruction wherever it roams. Most troubling of all, there are pervasive rumors that whisper of marauding gangs of flaming zombies with Ruby gems embedded in their foreheads.
And, watching from the skies above it all, the peculiar “second moon” called Hex hangs in the sky, poised to reveal its true purpose…