Hundreds of years ago, unknown catastrophe struck the continent of Lor, pulling various layers of the Elemental Chaos into an unnatural, permanent alignment. The rest of the roiling elemental sea was torn apart, and it shredded the cosmology, causing the collision of the Feywild and the Shadowfell, which destroyed both planes. The Astral Sea lost cohesion, boiling off until only a thin layer of it remained, and in return the Prime Material fell much closer to the roiling Elemental Chaos. The dominions of the gods, if ever they existed, were placed beyond the reach of mortals. The continent of Lor was forever changed.
1. The Rise of Humankind
For varying reasons, non-human races failed to survive and adapt as well as humans did in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Humans and their off-shoots have come to dominate the surface world, and most people of non-human origin may face difficulties caused by speciesism.
2. The Destruction of the Planes
As planar debris crashed down upon Lor, magic became much more widely available. Most Loreans can perform some small magical trick, and magical items are in abundance. Sea-faring ships are largely obsolete except for fishing, as sky-faring ships are faster, more versatile, and can be built for nearly the same cost. Teleportation circles link cities together, and in Imperial Cortel, exceedingly fast wind-and-lightning-powered trains allow for rapid, cheap transport of bulk numbers of both people and trade goods.
Certain places were so inundated with planar magic that they took on extra-planar properties. Mortals who stumble upon such fragments had best beware, for the inhabitants are strange and peculiar planar properties may yet linger. Scholars call the strongest of these places Planar Locks, for they believe that such Locks are all that keep magic bound to the Prime Material, now that so much of the multiverse’s framework has been unwoven. For certain, those few who master a Planar Lock may tap power beyond mortal magic.
One plane that was not destroyed – or rather, where such destruction was so commonplace that it went unmarked – was the Abyss, at the bottom of the roiling Elemental Chaos. It appears to have been pulled close to Lor, for there are frequent planar conjunctions that allow demons to walk the Prime Material at will. Such conjunctions are rumoured to occur often within the heart of the Empire of Cortel, which has long been suspected to be the site of a lock to the Abyss, despite the denials of native scholars.
The disintegration of the Shadowfell also had the immediate effect upon the souls of slain mortals. It is more difficult to raise the dead in Lor not because of a lack of magic, but because souls seldom linger without the Shadowfell to keep them; rare is the mortal whose soul remains beyond a day after death.
3. The Silence of the Gods
The final effect was, arguably, the loss of direct divine presence. The presence of Gods is not keenly felt upon Lor, and it is unclear to modern inhabitants if it was always thus or if the Gods’ presence was inhibited by the planar destruction. While divine magic functions, Gods never appear, send avatars, or otherwise directly contact mortals; visions or feelings of purpose may occur, but their origin is unclear. As divine magic also functions in more or less the exact same manner whether or not the believer prays to a God or to an ideal, wars have been started over whether or not a particular god or pantheon exists. Belief varies widely between regions; regions more affected by the Elemental Chaos tend to believe in ideals, and regions less affected tend to believe in some sort of theism.