As the previous post suggests, magic is indeed returning to the world, and it is partially because the ancient wizards have returned. This tone of renaissance is intended to be the tone of the campaign setting itself. Humans are beginning to experience magic again, and with magic comes new ideas, much like the historical renaissance.
To examine why the ancient wizards are returning, we should first examine why they left in the first place. Many thousands of years ago, these ancient wizards discovered a place of power on a small continent to the west of the great continent. They discovered that in this place, the walls between worlds were thin, and it was easier to pass between here. The wizards called this place the Narrows. In fact, this place was so interesting, they built a city here, and with their masteries of magic they protected it, and it was named Kayru, which meant "A place of power".
After a century of study, a great wizard named Brix Lagander discovered a way to make a door. The world she and others found was dark. They entered a dark city that mirrored their own. Lit by a pale moon in the day, and nothing at night, the world gave off a foreboding air, and with good reason. None of the first group of wizards ever returned. Weeks later, a larger party entered the city, and searched for the ruling authority. It was then that they discovered the aumani, or mind-walkers. Shortly thereafter, war broke out between the two ancient societies.
This introduces the second major theme of the setting: the conflict between magic and mental powers. Magic and mental powers do not directly interact; that is to say that magical defenses against magic do not work on mental powers, and vice versa. Also involved in this conflict is the question: Are the ancient wizards and the aumani really so different?
War was very dangerous for the ancient wizards. Though they had learned the secrets of aging, and how to prevent it, the deep magics warped their bodies and made them sterile. They would live until they were killed but bear no children. At this time, there were perhaps twenty thousand of their kind remaining. The aumani were not so limited. Their mental powers allowed them to learn everything another being knew, simply by consuming its brain. Biology changed, but knowledge was rarely lost. Often, a young aumani would be fed the brain of his progenitor, and would assume his identity.
The ancient wizards and the aumani relied on soldiers from other races to do much of their fighting. The ancient wizards were supported in their war by the dwarves and the elves (the gnomes served as chroniclers); the aumani were supported by goblins and trolls.
A few ancient wizards made their names in this war. The brothers Martin and Duncan Pale were renowned for their exploits, Duncan on the front lines as a blade-wizard, and Martin behind the enemy lines as a spy and assassin. Another, Eladrine Darkweather, is known for holding the line at the battle of the forks. Her mastery of defensive magic allowed her soldiers to rest for a full hour in the middle of battle.
Throughout the raging battle, more and more research was being done on the nature of the narrows and the nature of worlds, and the greatest wizard of the age was born when he discovered how a world might be created. Though this art was still in its infancy, he created a very small world, one just large enough to create a citadel within it. Many dwarves laboured for a century on the citadel as the war began to draw to a close. At great cost to themselves, the ancients forced the aumani back into their own world, and sealed the gates. To prevent such a war from erupting in the world again, the remaining thousand and one ancient wizards retreated to the citadel, called the dusk citadel because it was to serve as the bastion between the dark and the light.
The dwarves, elves and gnomes remember this conflict in their histories, but the humans have lost their knowledge of these ancient times. Without the ancient wizards to unite them, the dwarves, elves and gnomes drifted apart, and all drifted away from the humans.
There is one other theme I want to explore in this setting, but it will warrant its own post, at some point.