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No matter what the current setting, getting to Skarr is easy: incorporate the Transition Module into whatever campaign you are currently running. I’ve made the adventure hook simple and easy to modify to suit the campaign style you have.
Once the transition is made and Izrafel makes the characters comfortable, he will relay all of this information if questioned. He honestly appreciates the opportunity to talk to anyone from the “old world”, and is proud to show what he has learned. He will not force the information on anyone, though. Questions will have to be asked. Izrafel is over 4000 years old in this “new world”, and is in no rush. If the party asks interesting questions, he will discuss in detail his findings for months. The following is a brief summary of Izrafel’s knowledge:
We are the only ones that know the cause: it was my failed experiment to harness energies too vast and mysterious that caused the cataclysm. Something must have been out of balance, something not aligned exactly right. It must have been terrifying for you, not understanding what was going on? Let me tell you — it was more terrifying for me because I DID know what was going on.
I had pulled too hard too fast. The terrible forces I pitted against one another were slightly unbalanced. Like a rubber band, stretched too far, the forces snapped. The very laws of Nature and Magic were broken. The terrible recoil of those energies activated my stasis artifact, thank goodness, or we would have been annihilated instantly. Time stopped for us within the manyfold layers of force wall, surrounding the entire peak of Mt Magyar, layer within layer of force wall, with the final layer surrounding everyone closest to the artifact itself. Unfortunately, this is where you happened to be when it triggered. This is the reason we are all here today.
The rest of the world was not so lucky. All magical energies instantly ceased. All spells failed. The gods themselves were blasted away like cobwebs. Neither Arcane nor Divine magic worked. Ancient, forgotten spells and abjurations crumbled, releasing additional calamity on the world. And even that was not the worst, as I believe you know. The moon itself was shattered by the recoil. It simply burst into thousands of fragments, some the size of mountains, some no larger than your fist. They all came raining down, destroying almost everything on the surface of our world. Whole regions were crushed in an instant, countless lives snuffed out. It is only with you, my fellow travelers, that I confess my shame..
Izrafel continues after a moment. By my reckoning, we have been frozen in the effects of my stasis artifact for nearly thirty thousand years. All knowledge of the world as we knew it has been lost.
As the artifact’s power finally waned, the walls of force started to fail. I found myself awake in my lab. I woke to a hazy day, and realized that there was a shimmering dome of energy overhead. The dome was about 4 miles in diameter, and light shone through constantly: no day or night. For a long time, how long I do not know, I estimate at least four thousand years. I explored my new dome, and experimented with the dome wall. It was a hazy luminescent mist. If I tried to touch it I met resistance that felt like a hard wind. The barrier was impassable. The more force you applied, the more energy you gave it to resist you. No escape.
It was only later that I started to notice strange changes in the vegetation here. The food I ate: it tasted better than it ever had before. The water filled me with energy I never had in my previous life, and I noticed my aches and pains slowly fading away! I was not only cured of all the ailments of old age, I seemed to stop aging altogether! After tinkering with the barrier for about fifteen years, I settled down and realized I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. So I made the best of it, alone. I built things, I researched things, I studied. There is much to be said for knowing you will live forever. Well, at least barring accidents! I mean if I fall on a rock and bash my brains out, then I’m still going to die, but I won’t get sick and old. Ever.
So I made many discoveries during my 4000 year imprisonment. The cataclysm had somehow changed the fundamental laws of magic, and I had both the time and the means to understand that change. During the cataclysm, all magic left our world, and seems to have flowed to the moon above us that day. Every piece, every fragment of the moon was transformed into magic made solid. That transformation, from lifeless rock to concentrated magic made tangible, is what caused it to explode.
So this is the interesting part: as we lay frozen for eons in our time bubble, life returned to our world. The few survivors, both plants, animals, and peoples, began slowly to regain mastery of this world. It was even harder on the survivors that there were no magic they could harness. No magical healing, no magical construction. Only a few of the most powerful artifacts retained arcane energies, and those faded over the centuries. The only reason my stasis artifact lasted as long as it did was that it was itself encased in a bubble of frozen time, but even that did not last forever.
The land was now covered with giant craters, where the largest of the fragments impacted. These are as big a whole kingdoms. As far as I know, there are only six craters of this gigantic size, roughly 3000 miles in diameter. After that, four large craters, each approximately 1600 miles in diameter. Beyond that, there are about six medium craters, each around 1400 miles in diameter. The five craters I defined as “small” are roughly 1000 miles in diameter, still larger than some of the old kingdoms. Beyond that, I have explored 19 tiny craters, just 700 to 800 miles in diameter. Smaller craters exist everywhere, to be sure, but I have defined those as “infinitesimal” — those can range from 500 miles to just 10 or so miles in diameter.
The reason that I have become so specific about these craters, is that each serves as an independent world unto itself. When the fragments impacted, the entire interior of the craters were instantly molten, with an enormous wave of magma, sometimes reaching up to 20 miles high, forming a smooth continuous wall around the edge of each crater. Likewise, spires tended to form in the exact center of the crater, as the liquid rock rushed into the sky. Both structures, the walls, and the spires solidified before they could crash down. This has created a most unusual and extraordinary terrain, with any surviving life being restricted to the crater of its origin. What we find are a myriad of completely different worlds, each nestled in a crater. Each crater has its own flora and fauna, some have civilizations that have evolved back to where we were before the cataclysm, and some have progress even further. Also, as populations of people thrived; something else happened… Something amazing.
Izrafel takes a long draw on his pipe, cherry tobacco smoke wreathing around him. You can tell he loves the suspense.
They rediscovered magic! Not the same magic we were familiar with: magic with new rules, new laws! Each discovery was initially made in different ways, in the largest of the craters. Perhaps this is because there is more Mana (that’s what I call the stuff) under the gigantic and large craters. Perhaps simply because the large and gigantic craters have allowed for larger populations and cities. Without the knowledge from the other craters, they each progressed at different rates, and in completely different directions. Suffice it to say that most of the larger craters have reinvented Arcane magic to one degree or another. The Mana is always the key. Either it is ground up into a powder and combined with liquids to make potions, or used to temper the steel of magic weapons and armor, or used as additives in the pigments for scroll ink…you get the idea. Nothing magical exists without the Mana being an integral part.
The gods have returned, too. This was only about 800 years ago. A dwarf named Malachite Stone-Eye was exploring a tunnel system his family’s mining expedition had uncovered. He entered a natural chamber, and heard a whispering to come closer. After he returned—with reinforcements—it was determined that all could hear the whisper: in their heads, not aloud, and it seemed to be emanating from a peculiar formation of molten Mana, remarkably pure, that happened to have solidified into a hammer shape. News of this spread rapidly. As the elders of the Stone-Eye clan were brought to commune with the voice, it was discovered that it was their long lost god. The cataclysm had kept all deities locked away, but when Mana was purified, and then cast into specific shapes, with exactly precise dimensions, the god could resonate through the Mana. It was revealed that each god had a different precise shape and dimensions that it could communicate through. As larger temples and shrines were constructed, with massive, perfectly crafted blocks of the purest refined Mana, the gods were able to channel some of their power through the altar to their followers praying there. The larger the altar, the more power the faithful were able to receive.
Do you see the problem inherent to the system? The Arcane want the Mana to fuel their item creation, and the Divine need to hoard it to make ever-larger shrines. This dichotomy is causing chaos and mistrust throughout the new world. So far, neither side has gained a significant advantage over the other.