Adel is a world born off the back of another and birthed by a terrible cataclysm. Over 2000 years ago the mysterious inhabitants of the Lost World, abusing the incredible power of their magic, unleashed something that eradicated almost all life and rearranged almost all of the land. Pieces of the world sunk into the ocean, blew into the sky, disappeared into flame or melded into one another at the surface. Adel was the result – a new supercontinent surrounded by small islands. Across this land lay the remnants of the old, shattered world. The Adel seen now stands over (and in some places, beside or even under) the ruins of a past world. Ancient magic and literature, heretical worship of evil, dead gods, and unnatural architecture littering blackened wastes all stand testament to the lingering malice of the Lost World. Its history is gone: no Adelian knows anything of the past world but the fragments that they’ve dared to put together.
They fear knowing too much.
The Adelians have built their own history, and it has been both a gratifying and tragic one. Over time and through warfare, the Adelians have organized themselves into five great nations with different cultures; the temperate northern lands of Emderuer and Andaliel, the tropical nations of Sargasso and Periterim and the southern, desert nation of Vedaria. These cultures share many similarities: polytheistic religion, a predominantly rural culture with only a few points of so-called high society, a similar preponderance of the same colorful, unisex, robe-like clothing style and small variations thereof, and a great culture of moral, heroic, comedic or tragic verses and stories. But the history, climate and commerce of each of these nations has created numerous differences, some obvious and many not, that make each unique.
Humanity as it was known during the Lost World is extinct, their civilization gone and their people vanished. However, the four races that have inherited the land from them are so remarkably similar, that they could be human in all but name and a few quirks of appearance. To gaze upon them is to see human faces, human bodies, and then, an in-congruence, a change – each of them is marked, by the spirits and forces that they credit with their survival in the chaotic pre-history of Adel, and the markings set them apart. The Iomadi, closest resembling humans, in all but the animal-like ears and tails they bear; the Cuporo, cheerful people with a connection to nature, both in their traditions and in the small flowers, vines, branches or other blooms that grow from their heads to mark them; the Droemedae, a hive-like matriarchal society of very similar, effeminate individuals who boast great magic power and ribbon-like, insect antennae, and are very subtle with their tone and emotions; and the Damakran, humanoids from the sea who boast some features from the beings of the waters.
The Adelians engage in worship of a myriad of different, physical gods, known as Spirits. These spirits are unmistakably real – they are an actual part of the fauna of the world. Adelians are polytheistic, and will worship numerous spirits for numerous occasions, offering prayers and gifts to the deities whose specific blessings they require. The majority of the spirits are extant but wayward creatures with their own strange, hidden culture, living just out of sight of civilization. But more gregarious Spirits exist. There are as many different attitudes among the spirits as there are among mortals. Each town, city and village possesses a guardian spirit, one who serves as educator for children, as adviser to the adults, and sometimes offering some of its magic to influence the surroundings positively. This spirit is treated as a revered person in the community. Spirits are the pillars supporting life on Adel – the world would die without them.
Most spirits are not guardians. They will not take much of an active stance to answer prayers. The magic of the spirits is their very presence, passively supporting processes like the rock cycle and water cycle, the winds and the growth of life – without them none of these processes would be possible, thanks to the damage done by the Cataclysm and the Lost People. It rains, because rain spirits exist. Adelians believe this mythologically, but it is quite true. Without the Spirits to buttress the world, and prayers to feed them as they do so, the Adelians would not be able to exist as they do.
Through their magic and religion, the Adelians have prospered. Though the majority of the world consists of small, sleepy agricultural villages, these villages support not only themselves, but also the few vast, grand cities that the Adelian’s technology has built. In the midst of harsh deserts, on the edge of the ocean, and even in the peaks of harsh mountains, the great cities of the world are centers of magic and spirituality. Each of these units of civilization has a role in a natural order that they believe themselves to be a part of, and great empathy, respect, and cooperation with their counterparts who depend on them – village aids cities, who must protect the villages as well. Adel’s civilizations have armies of great strength, magical golem engines that can perform labors or fight battles, firearm weapons that exploit esoteric chemical reactions and potent magical equations, and great flying machines. Adelians exist in a dual society, of indigenous traditions that must be respected and preserved for everyone to survive, and technological innovations whose impact is carefully limited.