The world and setting of The Adventure Deck System
Countless millennia ago stood a vast civilization, an empire, powerful and knowledgeable. They tamed the heavens and the earth, and in time became vainglorious, which angered the old gods. In a day and a night, the ancient civilization was torn asunder and buried beneath the skin of the earth and the bones of the mountains, and scattered into the air, hanging like crystals in the sky. Their ancient magics and technology which dominated man, beast, demon, and monster, no longer held their sway, setting free all manner of fiend to wreak havoc above and below the surface of the world. The vast majority of the ancient people perished in the sundering of their world. Some say the survivors went mad, becoming much like the very fiends they previously held dominion over. Others made ever darker pacts to hold on to their waning lives in a wicked attempt at immortality, becoming more inhuman than human and retreating into the vestiges of their once great empire, akin to being kings and princes of a vast graveyard. Over several millennia, humanity began the slow crawl towards civilization once again, rarely encountering the remnants of the ancient and vast empire. Yet, remnants of the ancient empire revealed themselves like broken bones of an ancient civilization jutting out randomly through the torn flesh of the forgiving earth.
As the earth healed and the crops grew, minor chiefdoms rose and fell in ignorance, eventually giving way to small city states which functioned as minor kingdoms. So too did the gods rise and fall, and either evolved or became lost to time. Some of the gods fell to the earth, becoming one with their creations, while other fallen gods became as the beasts and demons that their followers had once slain or conquered for their glory. It is rumored that the blood of the gods runs through the veins of heroes of many races, and that some are gifted as a result. Some are heroic warriors, far surpassing their peers in combat, while others can draw upon the very Ether from which to create real magic. Others are blessed with divinity, able to reach past the Ether and to call upon their gods' favor directly. Some are gifted in the art of stealth and persuasion, reminding those who know their daring deeds of the old trickster gods. These heroes and villains live amongst the races, most of whom are unaware of their gifts, quite often living an ordinary life within the harsh world, until the sunset cycle of nature takes their souls into the night. However, some rare few find their calling, and seek out a life of adventure and glory for themselves, for their families, for their clans, or for their kingdoms, as their respective city-states rise and fall upon the fortunes of adventurers, with new legends being constantly created as adventurers return or perish within the doom of the Ancient Empire. This is a dangerous world to be an adventurer in, for humanity and the other races no longer work together as they did in the Ancient Empire. There is a severe distrust and open conflict between kingdoms, clans, families, brothers, and sisters. As individuals and larger groups seek to explore the ruins of the Ancient Empire, subterranean and otherwise, they seek to rediscover its forgotten knowledge and treasure.
In essence, an arms race has begun, with everyone from foolhardy individuals to powerful city-states angling to gain an advantage over their neighbors in the form of treasure and powerful artifacts. Any explorer is naive if they do not consider their fellow adventurer to be as big a threat to themselves as any monster or demon lurking in the ruins of the Ancient Empire. Prepare for conflict brave adventurer, because it lurks behind every corner.