Millennia ago – no one is quite sure how long ago, though most believe it was some 20,000 years ago – five worlds merged into one in a massive techno-magical apocalypse. Separated originally in time and space, these five worlds – in fact, their entire solar systems – phased together. In the case of the five worlds, they all merged into one, during a terrible, catastrophic event, the Grand Conjunction.
Continents shattered; mountains buckled and fell; oceans were cast up into mountains and wastes; forests burned. Entire ecosystems died, and whole sections of each of the five planets were lost. In the end, where once five separate and distinct planets once existed, a single planet came into being. It is a hodge-podge of the geography, biota, and cultures of the five constituent planets. Most civilizations of the native races collapsed; in most cases, the survivors were reduced to stone-age savagery, if they did not fall all the way back to the state of beasts.
The five worlds were:
Earth: The home of Man, the Earth that was merged with the other five worlds was not one Earth, but many, cobbled together from many eras of its past. From the age of the dinosaurs to the “modern” era, and from the era of the far-future city-continents of super-science to the Last Age of Man, Zothique, and all the eras in between, the Men of Earth and its infinite varieties of cultures, species, and technologies were suddenly found side-by-side, merged with the detritus of four other worlds.
Faerie: The Otherworldly home of the Fairies, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Dragons, Goblins, and like creatures of myth and legend, much of the once-hidden and mystical, magical realm of Faerie was revealed and laid open upon the forests and fields of the new world. Though hardly the fancy-free land that fables had once made of it, its Seelie peoples, once happy and bucolic, were reduced to madness and savagery, and the darker Unseelie folk turned dreadful and unpleasant indeed.
Hell: An inside-out world in space-time unlike most others, even Faerie, the home world of Satan and his fallen angels, devils, and demons was the least damaged in the Grand Conjunction, for as prior, it remained on the inside of the world – the Hells, as once envisioned in medieval ideals, were now found at the center of the earth. In between the Hells and the World Above, the Underworld was spawned, a mix of the other four worlds with a great heaping-helping of Hell…
Qualq: An utterly alien world to Men, Faeries, Demons, and Wyld, the best description of Qualq is that it is some bastard child born of the fevered nightmares of H.R. Giger and H.P. Lovecraft. A world of psychic powers and super-science, its denizens included the mind flayers and their abhuman slave race, the Gith. Though segments of Qualq are found upon the World Above, most are found in the Underworld or upon the Sky Islands, where the inimical biota of that realm can survive in isolation (elsewhere, when encountered and if at all possible, it is hunted to extinction). The Gith, however, survived and expanded throughout the World Above, where they eventually became the second-most populous race after the Men of Earth.
Wyld: The world of Wyld was much like Earth and Faerie, though of unbound natural growth and atavistic primitivism. Civilization rarely rose above the stone age, and never above the bronze age. Men of Wyld are much like the Men of Earth, though built of massive skeletal and muscular structure; their culture is that of the eternal barbarian and atavistic savage. Men of Wyld are divided into many varieties, including Bear-Men, Brute-Men, Horned-Men, Wolf-Men, and others. Animals native to Wyld were of such sorts that made the megafauna of Earth seem small by comparison.
The many races and species of the five worlds migrated, mixed, assimilated, fought, allied, and over time, rose again from savage barbarism to civilized heights and decadent depths. In the ages since, many civilizations have risen and fallen. Most of these are lost in the mists of time, especially those prior to the last thousand years. More than two thousand years ago, a combination of alliances brought together the forces of Hell with several Alien factions of Qualq to form the Dread Dominion. No one is certain how long the Dread Dominion lasted, but more than two thousand years ago the enslaved Men and Gith began the Metal Wars, a thousand-year rebellion. During this time they summoned the Heroes of Ancient Earth, and the Metal Gods were born.
The long and terrible Metal Wars ended with the manifestation of the Megadeth, the Apocalypse Beast. Between the final battles of the Metal Wars and the advent of the Megadeth, barely one in a thousand sentient beings survived. Civilization collapsed, most records prior to the era were destroyed, and the world was once again reduced ruined barbarism.
At the opening of the second millennium since the end of the Metal Wars and the advent of the Megadeth, civilization is tenuous at best. Most Men and Gith live in Medieval-like squalor at best; folk of towns and the rare cities usually fare better, some even maintaining a relatively high level of technology, carefully shepherded since the end of the Metal Wars. Still suffering from that era, most realms are small, tribal affairs, city states, or feudal domains the size of a county or shire. Every generation or two, a warlord gets it in his head to build an empire, and war ravages the countryside, already hard-pressed by monsters, mutants, and abhumans on every side. If the ramshackle empire does not fall with the conqueror’s death, it rarely survives that of his son, and never that of his grandson.
Most armies are made of shanghaied peasant mobs, led by the warlord and his band of knights or bully-boys. The mob is armed with farming implements or whatever they can find at hand, while the warlord and his retinue might wield anything from sword and lance suited in plate mail and riding destriers to laser rifle and grenade launcher suited in ancient battle-armor on the back of a grav-wagon. Tipping the balance of every battle are the adventurers and mercenaries, a mixed lot of madmen and would-be warlords themselves, rife with magic, psychic powers, demonic sorcery, and alien technology.
These adventurers wrest their arcane power and super-science artifacts from the ruins of the ancient world that strew the surface wherever one stumbles outside the wood-palisaded village or stone-walled town. Every farmer turns over some ancient ruined thing while sowing his spring seeds; only the mad or power-hungry actually go into the depths of the ruined cities and monster-haunted citadels seeking after working items of power and lost caches of riches and wealth…
Though there are many gods, demigods, and demons in Kvin Mondöj, there are three major religions that are widespread across most of the land – the Church of Satan, the Temple of Judas the Redeemer, and the Temple of the Metal Gods. The Church of Satan (mostly Lawful Evil) is a hierarchical theocratic pseudo-empire dedicated to the Prince of Darkness and his chief lieutenants. They are served by the Knights in Satan’s Service and the Inquisition. The Temple of Judas the Redeemer (mostly Chaotic Good) is dedicated the to most successful of the Metal Gods, Judas the Redeemer, who took up the lead in the struggle against the Church of Satan following the end of the Metal Wars. The third major faith, the Temple of the Metal Gods (mostly Chaotic Neutral), is dedicated to the Ancient Heroes of Earth who returned from Beyond and helped bring an end to the Dread Dominion. Led by Ozzymandius the God-Father, the Temple is dedicated to freedom and individuality and the overthrow of tyranny and order.