For 300 years, the land of Alicast has seen peace under the royal line of the Ashbringers. The war with the dwarves of the Sharpstone Mountains had ended when a human, Ivan Ashbringer, arrived at the dwarven gates of Sharp Helm holding the mystic Axe of Dwarven Lords in one hand and the Ashguard, a now holy shield, in the other. The lone paladin single-handedly defeated the dwarven army without taking a single life. Thus the land was united.

Shortly after the war, a young dwarf, who would go on to be the leader of the Sharpstone Dwarves, by the name of Marion Stonechip changed the land of Alicast forever. Now that trading between the dwarves and the humans had begun again, demand for Sharpstone, a diamond hard metal that remained cold when exposed to heat found only within the heart of the mountain, had greatly increased. Stonechip, wishing to see the strain taken from the backs of labored dwarven miners, developed the first ever machine that ran only on steam power. Sharpstone production soared and the now wealthy dwarves provided a new service to the outside world; Machines.

Machines would shape the world into a new form. A new weapon known as a Gun was created. Requiring little strength with deadly results, hunting took on new faces. While the outside world would recreate machines for cheaper prices, nothing could compare to dwarven craftsmanship, and the dwarves were happy to provide.

As machines became more common, people began to wonder if the arcane arts would disappear. The life of commoners became simple, and the requirement for magic had sharply decreased as machines performed difficult tasks almost magically. The idea that magic would vanish from Alicast was nearly set in stone when the dwarves constructed the Wrencher’s Watch, a castle and new capital of Alicast made entirely of moving, steam-driven machines.

Then, 30 years ago, The Shutting took place. A day of dread for all of Alicast but especially painful for those dwarves who were left out. Seemingly overnight, the Sharpstone Mountains were sealed shut. Families were separated by the closed gates without any knowledge of what had happened.

With The Shutting, Alicast fell into a state of panic. Without sharpstone, machines would quickly fall apart as no other metal could withstand the tremendous wear that machines required. Dwarven ingenuity had become common place, and only a handful were locked out of their homes to continue producing the fine crafts their race provided. And what of the remaining dwarves? How would they react? Could the ones that locked themselves in possible be on the brink of waging another war?

As the years after the Shutting crept by, the arcane art began to replace the now fragile but still useful machines. Around Alicast wizard schools started to glow again, and even a few mage towers were constructed.

Rather than be a movement of culture for the land, the reemergence of magic had been full of doom. Starting as playful squabbles, and even offering some healthy competitions, the peaceful times have passed. Political parties have been born between those who believe in machines and those who believe in magic. In recent years, the sides have formed organized, agressive groups. While no violence has broken out , Albrecht Ashbringer, king of Wrencher’s Watch, fears the time of peace is coming to an end. Civil war is coming.

Those who have sided with magic, known as Fielders, believe that not only is magic supreme, but it is also the only source of power to not have crippled civilization the way machines have. Had Alicast not poisoned itself with machines, the Shutting wouldn’t require a remedy.

Gearboxes, those who hold their machines close, think other wise. They believe that going back to the time of magic will lead to a time of slavery for those not gifted in the arts. Machines will be back and have not crippled Alicast.

Dispite warnings from Albrecht, the town of Halist, led by the arch-wizard Vefend, will celebrate it’s 100th mage solstice. At a time when magic had nearly disappeared, Vefend started this celebration to remind people of the wonder of the arcane arts. While Vefend constantly preaches the good of both machine and magic, many fear that this year’s mage solstice will be mistaken by the Gearboxes as a declaration of power. Will this be the start of a horrible civil war? Rumor has it that steam tanks are gathering to the south of Halist…

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Shadows of Sharpstone

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