A stranger to these parts, are you? Well then, my next tale will no doubt be of great use to you. I am known as the Loreweaver, collector of tales, and keeper of ancient wisdoms. Today, I will tell you of "The Realms of Tarias".
The use of the term "realm" can take on several different meanings, so I'll start by explaining the manner in which I use it here. For our purposes here, A "realm" is basically one or more closely related planes of existence. For example, the Prime Material plane, and to a lesser extent the Elemental planes, make up what we know as the Physical Realm. What are commonly known as the Upper (Celestial), Lower (Demonic), Astral, and Outer Planes make up what we know of as the spiritual realm.
Before the Great War, the physical and spiritual realms of Tarias were closely intertwined. They existed almost in tandem, overlapping in such a manner that events and changes in one had both direct and indirect affects on the other. Some would even go so far as to say the spiritual realms and their landscapes were reflections or projections, each representing a condensed and purified aspect of the physcial realm.
The last battle of the Great War changed all that. The uncontrolled release of energy from that battle shredded the delicate ties that bound the realms together. In addition, the fabric of space and time that connected the realm with the rest of the known multiverse was severely damaged. Within minutes after the explosion, Tarias was cut-off from all the other known realms, and came within a hair's breadth of total oblivion.
The spiritual realm that had once been so intricately linked with its physical counterpart was now shredded into many small pockets of reality. Most were completely isolated, but some remained bound to Tarias by a few surviving threads of energy. Many Ancients were destroyed in the "explosion", their essences scattered across space and time, or lost to the void of oblivion. The few that had survived found themselves trapped in these remaining pockets of the spiritual realm.
By sheer force of will, the remaining Ancients began repairing the damage, eventually reconnecting all the remaining strands of the spiritual realm into two new realms. The two new realms came to be called "Realm of Light", and the "Realm of Chaos". The Realm of Light contained the Ancients and a few powerful mortals who had stood against Dramar and his army. Those Ancients and the most powerful demons who served Dramar now occupied the Realm of Chaos. The mortal realm of Tarias came to be called the "Ancients' Crossroads", a reference to its new centralized role as the neutral plane separating the two realms of the Ancients.
Although the two new realms are completely separate from each other, they are connected to Tarias in several places throughout the physical realm. The Ancients soon discovered that although they are able to travel to the physical realm, they could only do so when in mortal form, and only for a few hours at a time. While in the physical realm, their powers were relatively weak, usually no more than those of the most powerful wizards. No one, possibly not even the Ancients, know for sure why this is so.
Despite the limitation to the Ancients, mortals with sufficient magical ability seem to have little trouble traveling between the realms. It has become common knowledge that many of the more powerful wizards in the realm have constructed and hidden permanent magical portals, which they use to travel between the three realms.
Since the Great War, the Realm of Light has become a place of ethereal peace and beauty, thanks to the combined efforts of the Ancients that exist there. They are content with using their powers to maintain their delicate new realm, and continue to grant powers to their loyal priests in the physical realm. They have, however, restricted access to their realm, worried that the presence of too many mortals might disrupt the balance and sanctity of their home.
In the Realm of Chaos, things are very different. The dark Ancients have become segregated, each governing their own section of the realm in Dramar's absence. The landscape is rugged, nightmarish, and deadly to the unwary. The Lords have encouraged their mortal followers in the physical realm to maintain portals to their domains, and persuade them to steal magical energies from the physical realm to use in the Lords' latest schemes. Those that enter the realm to oppose the Lords often meet their deaths, or worse, eternal servitude and torture at the hands of their minions.
And, of course, there is the matter of the realm's isolation from the rest of the multiverse. For hundreds of years, the ancient portals of the realm have lay dormant and unusable. Only in the past few months have the energies of the portals begun to stir. Your presence here is proof of that.
Since you are a stranger to this realm, I must tell you to be cautious in your journeys through this realm. These days, traveling the lands of Tarias is dangerous enough for those who are already familiar with it. And, should you find yourself in one of the other realms I have spoken of, take extra care with yourself and your companions, lest you bring down the wrath of the Ancients upon you.
Now, I must be going. There are so many people to meet, so many tales yet untold. Should our paths cross again, I will happily tell you more tales of adventure and Tarias' troubled past. Until then, good journeys, my friend.