The 23rd Aeon of the Inevitable Realm of Atlass
Millions of years ago in the future lies a land where the decayed remnants of high technology vie with magic and mysticism. A land of barbarous mutants, giant apex predators, and dark horrors lurking in the long-dead cities of the ancients.
The Great Sundering
The Great Sundering refers to the great tragedy that initiated the 23rd Aeon. While details are murky, it appears that a large asteroid moved within close orbit of the planet, wreaking an ecological apocalypse and sundering its sole moon.
Some legends claim the asteroid was lured to the planet due to the experiments of a powerful thaumaturge who could control space and time. Regardless of the cause of this catastrophe, the effects were stark.
The abrupt, violent change in the lunar dynamic caused massive upheavals in the oceans, glaciers, and tectonic plates of Atlass. The face of planet was reworked in a new abrupt fashion: oceans now completely dominated the surface of planet. This massive, global ocean is broken only be strings of continental archipelagos formed from the peaks of massive, underwater mountain ranges.
Volcanic eruptions and gases released during the Great Sundering have changed the atmosphere of the planet, rendering the air poison for many species.
Despite this, after only several thousand years the lands of Atlass are once again lush with life adapted to the new environment. Just as it always has, nature has adapted and evolved to face the challenges of this new environment.
But nature had help. Atlass is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the weird and deadly hunt decent folk.
Humanity was able to survive the Great Sundering thanks to a large scale interstellar expedition that had launched a mere month earlier, and had not yet left the solar system. Rather than continuing, they altered their course and returned to Atlass.
Despite the totality of the destruction to virtually all life on the planet, not all was lost. The expedition ships were loaded with genetic material and replicators that could clone a variety of different creatures to help pave the way for future colonists.
The members of the expedition decided resoundingly to stay and repopulate Atlass. They returned to search for any surviving life and rebuild, founding the Seven Great Cities.
By the 500th year of the 23rd Aeon, living organisms once again thrived on land and in the ocean. Construction of the Seven Great Cities was complete and humanity settled completely into its new home.
Even before committing to an Atlass-bound existence, the scientists and leaders of the last human society understood that the geologic forces at work poisoning the atmosphere were too great for their science and thaumaturgy.
Rather than attempt to terraform Atlass, they would adapt themselves to live in the world they were given. Virtually all the resources the cities commanded were put into evolving humans in the same way they had rapidly evolved the flora and fauna.
Thus the Seven Major Races were born: Human, Orc, Elf, Gnome, Hive, Octopoid, and Dragon.
Rise of the Gene Cults
What we consider a mutant is actually better understand as a human hybrid species. These humanoids are genetically enhanced to the point they can be considered a new species.
The majority of humanoids are the product of breeding programs begun before the Great Sundering. In the era of the 22nd Aeon, genetic programs were aimed primarily at eliminating disease and enhancing traits considered desirable due to social mores.
During the time of the Gene Cults, ethics were cast aside by some in the name of pragmatism. Horrific experiments were conducted using large clone “farms,” forced breeding and ultimately slavery soon followed.
Demagogues and tyrants rose and fell with increasing regularity, but gradually the character of each city shone through as its citizens diverged into entirely separate, although humanoid species. By second millennium of the the 23rd Aeon only three of the great cities remained.
The Dragons abandoned their increasingly-decrepit dome to range freely across a world they were now suited to live in.
Orc society had eventually fallen into chaos; much of their domed city had succumbed to the effects of perpetual warfare. They were forced out before their genetic engineering was complete, now keeping mainly to the deep jungles and forests where the air is most breathable.
The Hive, a strange combination of synthetic being and insect, are able to exist in a wide range of environments. They were forced from their domed city due to a catastrophic earthquake and now live in scattered compounds across the mountain foothills nearby.
The Octopoid, the strangest and most mysterious of the new races, disappeared into the vast ocean of Atlass. They exist now as only legendary monsters with tentacled heads that rose out of the sea to control the minds of the unwary.
Humans, Elves, and Gnomes thrived in their respective cities, but had resisted evolving their bodies to the new atmosphere. Of the Great Cities, these three had always been the closest, so trade and communication persisted.
By 2500 23A, both the Elven and Gnomish domes failed, killing many. Refugees flooded into the domed city of the last true humans.
The Last Great City
It is now the year 8102 23A and in this retro primeval land human civilization clings to the very fringe of existence in the Last Great City, rising out of the sulfurous jungles along the Plague Coast.
It is known simply as “Home” to the one hundred thousand humans, elves, gnomes, and various mutant beings that live there. Covered by a massive dome, it is a sealed ecosystem unto itself and stretches deep underground.
It is the last of the Seven Great Cities founded by the ancient star people who brought life to Atlass in the remote past. The other six cities now lay ruined, their domes shattered, populated only by ghosts and abominations.
The Last Great City is ruled by a council of archons each representing one of the 13 Aristoic Families. Each of these Aristoi are bound by ancient charter to provide and maintain a critical component to the ecosystem of the city.
In reality, the families have fallen into criminality and sabotage due to politically-driven feuds stretching back centuries. The lowest levels are left to rot in squalor even as those who live “beneath the dome” (on the top level) squabble over art in lush opulence.
Life in the lower levels of the Last Great City is dirty and dangerous. Dream addicts, mutant sex workers, and psychopathic criminals of every kind lurk in its twisted passages. The lowest levels lay vacant, home to cannibalistic creatures of unimaginable terror.
But horror awaits all who live under the Sundered Moon, and any day the bands of roving mutants and orc barbarians could breach their defenses and set the city aflame.