Some basic ideas for an Arcanepunk setting, free of place names that I may or may not make up later on. Just wanted to throw some more concrete ideas out and if people are still interested maybe we can actually get a game to run. Iím still fairly certain I donít have the time to run it myself, but maybe someone would like the idea and go with it. Or I could co-run/help with any game.
More below, but to summarize, this would be sort of pulp, sort of traditional adventure. Technology is run by magic and magic is integrated into technology. I was thinking late 18th, early 19th century level of technology. Let me know what you think.
For eons Elves ruled all civilized lands. They were the first to rise from the primordial past and master the arcane arts, they were the first enlightened. They evolved above the other ancient barbaric races, fighting bitter wars against primordial races; orcs, trolls and their kin. In the end, the elves command of magic brought them total victory. For untold time they dominated the surface, their enemies retreated underground. But in the deep dark others began to break off from the savagry of the primordial races. Dwarves began to set off underground kingdoms of their own, other fae emerged from the shadowy corners and lastly humans rose to the surface.
These second generation of evolved were still no match for the long lived Elves. They were dominated by the elves, swore fealty to them and worshipped the elven Goddess of Magic. The dwarves choose to fight a war on two fronts, fortified in their strongholds. Most others simply accepted life with the elves, even treated as subordinates, as far better than the cruelty of the Primordials. With one notable exception; humans had noble hearts and dreamed of greater things. The yoke of servitude hung heavy on their shoulders and they saw little different between the Elves and the Primordials. Finally one day, humans rebelled. Declaring their own kingdom on the far reaches of the major elven cities, that began the three hundred year war. For many, despite constant struggle, it was a golden age. An age of exploration of the unknown places, an age of heroes and villains, of conquest, glory and honor, of mythic beasts, great artifacts of power; it was a time of magic and high adventure. The determined humans pushed back the elves all across the world, making them retreat to their ancient homelands. Humans even formed alliances with some Primordials, eager to settle very old scores.
The humans did not want to eradicate the elves and offered peace but the Elvesí arrogance would not allow them to accept their new, diminished position. So one thousand years ago, the Elves simply left. Vanished from the world, with their Goddess and nearly all magic, with what little remained, technology would fill the void. The fragments of what magic remained would be the foundation, supplemented by new discoveries and natural resources. ďHighĒ magic was gone, but the Source magic took its place. Fuels, steam power, metallurgy, engineering combined with the ability to extract Source from varying elements of nature created a vast array of technomagic. Subtly at first, a few life improvements here and there but there would come guns, trains, great balloon skyships, mechanical contraptions.
Also, humans were not immune to the corrupting effects of power. With the Elves gone and vacuums of power in their place, the humans set upon themselves. Great city states arose and fell, allowing vast Empires to emerge only to rupture and give birth to nations. Humans would vastly outnumber most other races and in a sense took the place of Elves. But they were not nearly as uniform in their beliefs, attitudes and ways. Even some Primordials would integrate into human led nations in the more cosmopolitan areas. In just a couple of hundred years the old ways were dead. Old grudges replaced by modern competition for resources, fortune and power. Some still had a strong sense of racial pride, most notably the Dwarves as they clung to their ancient traditions. For most others the divisions were along geography and ideology.
Then thirty years ago the Elves returned. They were as glorious as they day they had left, still in deft command of arcane powers and as awe inspiring as the legends said. Shock would best describe their reaction to the world they returned to. Once again showing their condescension, they expected all the races to have collapsed into a pit of despair and ruin, completely underestimating the intelligence and cunning of humanity. With their return, so did various creatures of myth, long gone and some forgotten. Even after so many centuries though, no one had forgotten the long trudge under their tyranny. But the Elves did not return for conquest or even because they wanted to, they had to. An enemy was coming.
Their Goddess was no goddess at all! Merely an illusion by a creature of nightmares, little did the elves know that their ceremonies casting the souls of the deceased to the waiting gentle arms of their goddess were instead feeding a great evil. In their time away, the Elves (as long lived as they are) were depriving it of what it needed. Minds and souls. Over time it became so angry it could not maintain its subterfuge. And now itís coming, itís coming for everyone. Its spawn starting erupting from the very earth, rumors at first, conspiracy. After a few years it became undeniable. The Elves were right, something is nearing and it is hungry.