From Corruption of Champions II
Savarra is the world in which Corruption of Champions II takes place, now under threat from Mareth's demons.
"Savarra is an old world, and recently it's seen a cataclysmic upheaval and strife that has severely retarded the progress of civilization. The regions of the world the PC travels through have been reduced to a late bronze age society, with settlements separated by old roads and plenty of monsters and brigands. Remnants of the previous world's majesty can still be found in the crumbling castles and rare magic relics the Champion finds, but they are just that: echoes of a time on the edge of forgetting."
"There are many worlds, separated by boundaries of reality. Each world is unique, unbound by the laws of the others. New and strange races and magicks exist in each world, tended by their own gods. Passage between them is rare, but possible through portals -- small, fleeting tears in the veil. Most portals are temporary, but some few remain constant, opening each year to allow a single passage each way before they close. One such portal exists near Hawkstone Castle, where a cult of madmen now worship demons from the world of Mareth (much as the elders of Ingnam do), exchanging sacrifices for power and immortality."
"Savarra, our setting, is connected through the multiverse to other worlds -- alien places and times. Unlike Mareth, Savarra is not a pocket world, disconnected from all others: it is possible for characters and creatures to come and go between it and other planes, though this is still a rare occurrence." – Corruption of Champions II: Public Design Document
"For an age, the Belhar Empire stood united. Humans, Elves, and a dozen other races lived under its banner in great cities, as powerful as they were decadent and opulent. Towering castles, sprawling cities, and works of wonder fueled by magic and learning stood testament to the empire's greatness, and the just rule of its leaders. They thought they commanded a divine right to unify the world, and built huge ziggurat-temples to honor the gods and show their empire's wealth and magnificence.
History from that era is scarce, kept by word of mouth and rare written histories written since the empire's fall. Conflicting rumors and opinions abound amongst those who've grown up in the wake of civilization's collapse. Many blame the orcs and catfolk for causing Belhara's fall, as their rising nations and armies rampaged across the land in the years that followed. Others blame the gods for abandoning them, or the hubris of men for thinking the gods favored them at all.
In truth, the fall of Belhara began in the empire's crown jewel: Estelore, the empire's greatest center of learning and magical research. No place like it has existed before or since: an entire island dedicated to exploring the arcane arts. There, a cabal of wizards discovered something: the first portal. One of many, they soon realized, which would soon lead them to explore other worlds. Worlds like Eden... and Mareth. The mages accumulated great wealth, power, and prestige from their discovery and the many worlds they visited, but as is the nature of things, they wanted more. The arch-mages began to experiment, pooling the island's collective lore and arcane mastery towards a way to control the portals.
After many years of ceaseless research and dedication, the mages of Estelore finally succeeded in opening a portal of their own. A portal which, they soon learned, had no destination. It went to a space between worlds: an endless void. From this void came creatures, beings of formless entropy and otherworldly vacuity that inhabited that plane of nothingness. They slipped through the portal in the moments it existed and, being creatures of spirit rather than flesh, possessed the archmages of Estelore. Not a week passed before all on the island were under the creatures' dominion.
These spirits were drawn to that which they had never experienced before: physical sensation. First the terror of the mages, who knew not what they had done. Then the wrath and hatred of the imperial soldiers who came to stop them. And finally, the lust and greed that ran rampant in the decadent, opulent cities in the heartlands." – Corruption of Champions II: Public Design Document
The First Corruption
"What happened to the Empire after that is the subject of rumors. Few even know of what the Estelorian mages brought forth, only of what happened after: the once-magnificent cities of the empire crumbled and fell. Its armies were routed. The citizens went mad, devolving their homeland into carnal pits.
The spirits that slipped through into Savarra came to be called Wraiths by those who fought against them. The Wraiths possessed the mages of Estelore, using them like puppets in order to revel in the sensations of the physical world. Others were drawn to their power: spirits from the mortal world's aether, monsters from the dark and unknown places of the world. Minotaurs, harpies, and other beast-kin began to breed many times faster, create spawn stronger and smarter than ever before, infused with the Wraiths' power.
Where the legions of spirits and monsters that came to serve the Wraiths could not bring down the Empire's defenses, the Wraiths themselves did. Each one radiated a corrupting, mind-altering energy that drove the weak-willed mad with lust and desire. After centuries of decadence and hedonism, there was little willpower left to resist the draw of otherworldly madness.
And so the empire fell, city by city, day by day. Epic battles were fought between geists, man, and monster, but no force Belhara could summon stood fast against the Wraiths. The Empire crumbled from within, unable to cope with the onslaught. They called the Wraiths demons; the dark power they wielded: the Corruption. Armies were broken and cities made to fall until the Wraith-hosts stood on the palace steps, burning away the minds of the monarchs and leaving them puppets for the Wraiths to inhabit.
Only the most remote and xenophobic settlements survived the sweeping chaos, isolating themselves from the invisible horror that brought low their shining empire. In the wake of the Belharan downfall, savage tribes of orcs and a rising desert empire of catfolk descended like vultures on the carcass, propagating their races and unknowingly spreading the Wraiths in equal measure.
The ceaseless spread of corruption continued for decades, twisting man and monster beyond recognition. Creatures once feral and foul took on humanoid guise, and joining the Wraiths in hedonistic pursuit of sensation -- and driven by an almost unbearable urge to breed with other races, creating yet new and more twisted monstrosities: chimeras, manticores, and the like. Even those remote places that escaped the notice of the wraith-host felt the tyranny of these new monsters, all the while never realizing the rhyme and reason for the downfall of their civilization." – Corruption of Champions II: Public Design Document
"The only force powerful enough to stem the tide in the end were the gods themselves. What prompted them to come down from on high, to finally intervene on behalf of their world, remains a mystery. It is known today that the gods, formerly ethereal entities whose influence was felt only in the visions and portents of oracles, took embodied form and rallied the scattered fighters that still stood against the empire, imbuing them with power: the first paladins. Led by the gods themselves, the races of Savarra for once had the strength to stand against the mighty Wraiths.
The monstrous hordes were broken, and the wraith-hosts found themselves challenged by equals, beings able to resist their influence and combat them on even footing. When the dust settled, the Belhar empire's heartland was a wasteland. Tribes and villages on the fringes and outlands were all that was left, interspersed with bands of monsters and beast-kin races. Orcs and catfolk and elves intermixed with humans in the aftermath, spread haphazardly across the lands in the wake of the war.
What happened to Wraiths, nobody knows -- few enough beyond scholars and sages even realized they existed in the first place, beyond the existence of powerful sorcerers leading the hordes. The gods that survived the conflict took up an active role, spreading their faith like wildfire once again among the survivors. White magic, their magic, came into the world to combat the dark spells the Wraiths taught their acolytes.
Two hundred and fifty years after the opening of the false portal, and people are only just beginning to venture out, reconnect, form nations once more -- now in the ruins of ancient castles and cities, their construction and technology lost with their builders. Castle walls crumble, cities are overgrown with trees and half-reclaimed by nature. Small kingdoms rise up in every corner, fracturing the remains of the once-unified empire into dozens of petty states. The gods, still embodied on earth, have retreated into their churches and sacred groves."– Corruption of Champions II: Public Design Document