For more than ten thousand years, the Wizard-Kings of the Realm kept the peace through the balance of political and magical power of the Compact. Central to that continuity was the leadership of the gray elves, the Faerie-Kings, on the Conclave of Wizard-Kings; for most of its history, the Grand Council of the Conclave consisted almost entirely of gray elves, who with their long lives, brought stability to the Conclave and the Realm.
However, as the long ages passed, humans became more numerous in the Conclave, as elven kingdoms waned and the might and power of the human kingdoms waxed. Humans who were mostly taught magic at the feet of the elves… elves who did not fully understand the impatience and desires of the much shorter-lived race, regardless of the warnings of the gnomes and dwarves.
And so it came to pass, around a thousand years ago, that the peace and prosperity of the Realm that had continued for more than ten millennia was shattered when the Conclave split in factionalism. The disparate human nations of the Compact mirrored their alliances in the factions of the Conclave; the human Wizard-Kings of the Conclave were driven further apart by greed, lust, anger, and fear. The petty secular kings and princes, bishops and mayors of the Realm first thought to use the power of their Wizard-Kings to become pre-eminent among the nations and states; all too soon they discovered that the Wizard-Kings had their own plans, each to set aside the petty kings and rule their kingdoms in their own names.
And so for the first time since time immemorial, true armies ravaged and pillaged their way across the Realm, led by the Wizard-Kings and their created or summoned monsters. Great and terrible spells – the likes of which are now lost – ripped the very land asunder; mountains were cast down, seas boiled, cities were burned to ash, and verdant fields and farmlands shattered into wastes. The peoples of many civilized nations were all but exterminated; their peoples reduced to wandering beggars who subsisted on brigandage, peoples whose descendants today are counted among the numberless clans of savage barbarian tribes.
Today, only a handful of city states remain of the dozens of teeming metropolises that once ruled the land; small, independent towns, villages, and hamlets eke out a precarious existence in the spoiled lands, tending to small patches of green fields amidst the howling wilds. Forests, mountains, wastelands, and swamps are home to countless monsters, from swarms of kobolds and goblins to great dragons and nameless, formless beasts. Whether descended from beasts created in vats or summoned from any of a dozen disparate worlds and dimensions, these creatures seek to build their own kingdoms in the Realm… usually over the dead bodies of native dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans.
Life is cheap and joy expensive in the Realm today. Thus many young men and women take to the all-too often short life of an adventurer; whether heroes or villains, rogues or scoundrels, these adventurers seek out ancient treasures hidden deep in the dungeons and labyrinths of the Wizard-Kings. Silver and gold, gems and jewels, all were treasured by the grasping, greedy Wizard-Kings, but nothing was more sought after by them, or the modern-day adventurers, than magical items, for such things bring great power, magical and temporal, to those who wield them. Of course, to gain these treasures, one must drag them from the grasp of the monsters that today inhabit the ruins and dungeons… or even from the grasp of the Wizard-Kings themselves, whether living or dead…