“The greatest tragedy in our history. When people ask me why we must do what we do, I simply bid them read the first-hand accounts of the Sorcerer Wars. By about the eighth page, they’re usually ready to enlist.” -Aust Amastacia, High Inquisitor
The Sorcerer Wars
For centuries, the Imperium and its Wizarding Colleges were the undisputed power throughout this land. The only route to magical power was to study with the Colleges, which taught loyalty to the Imperium first and foremost. The wizards maintained this monopoly by ruthlessly purging the sorcerous bloodlines, tracking down any with inborn magical ability and putting them to the sword.
As thorough as they were, they could never track down everyone. A few sorcerers escaped their grasp, and fled to the outskirts of society, where they began to organize. Thus began the Brotherhood. At first there were only a few of them, then dozens, then hundreds. They used their powers to help more escape, and their numbers swelled even more quickly. They remained in the shadows, building support throughout the Imperium. Finally, when they felt they had the strength to overcome their foes, they struck.
The Brotherhood needed a weapon that the Imperium wasn’t expecting. They found it when they created the goblin. A being of pure chaos, made only to eat and kill, what the goblin lacked in physical strength and intelligence it made up in sheer numbers. The sorcerers were able to create hundreds of thousands of them in the space of just a few months. When they were ready to strike, their first target was the headquarters of the Witch Hunters, the wizards responsible for hunting and killing sorcerers. The goblin horde swept over the Witch Hunters Academy like a wave. The Hunters had been trained to fight one-on-one; they were slaughtered to a man.
Taken entirely by surprise, the Imperium mobilized slowly. Goblin armies lay siege to all of its major military outposts, led by sorcerers trained for battle. The Imperium was put on the defensive, as the Wizards’ Council attempted to devise a weapon that could counter the ravening goblin hordes.
The Imperium was slow to respond, but when they did they hit back hard. They mobilized armies of golems, long dormant in vaults beneath the capitol. Fueled by the magic of the Imperium, the golems marched unrelentingly to meet the goblins, whose teeth, claws, and primitive weapons could hardly scratch these creatures of stone and steel. The golems drove back the armies of the Brotherhood, while the battle wizards of the Imperium countered their magical attempts to destroy the constructs. What the Wizards’ Council didn’t know was that the goblin army had only been a feint. The most creative and twisted of the sorcerers had been hard at work giving life to abominations unlike any the earth had seen before. Just when the war seemed all but over, they unleashed their ravenous monsters upon the land. They pulled the golems apart and devoured wizards whole, running unchecked and spreading chaos across the Imperium. The wizards built larger golems to hold them back, and the war settled into a stalemate, with magic users and their giant constructs battling from the sea to the wastes and leaving devastation in their wake.
The Sorcerer Cobb
From the chaos emerged a third power, one that would prove to be deadlier than the other two put together. A powerful sorcerer known only as Cobb rose up to challenge the might of the Imperium and the Brotherhood. In his massive tower in the lowlands he worked his magic upon captive goblins, creating a new weapon to wage his war with. The goblin was a crude instrument; from its flesh Cobb created the orc, made not just for killing but for war. Possessing the bloodlust of the goblin but a keen mind and a strength surpassing all the known races, armies of orcs soon issued forth from Cobb’s tower, laying claim to the surrounding lands in his name. Soon, both the Imperium and the Brotherhood were fighting just as hard to hold him back as they were to destroy each other, and losing ground every day. In desperation the Imperium turned to the dark art of necromancy, raising armies of the dead to march against Cobb, while the Brotherhood created more and more horrifying monsters to send against him.
Mutually Assured Destruction
Both sides knew that if Cobb were allowed to run rampant any longer he would destroy them. In their mighty capitol, the Wizards devised a plan to smite him from the earth by tapping into the leylines below his feet and directing all of their collected power against him. The sorcerers, meanwhile, put their finest minds to work creating a creature so intelligent and so deadly that it would not only crush Cobb and his armies, but wipe the Imperium from the face of the planet as well.
As the time to unleash their spell drew near, the wizards channeled all of their strength into it, knowing that even a sorcerer as powerful as Cobb could not counter their combined power. Unfortunately for them, he didn’t need to. Sensing what they were up to, Cobb simply tapped into the leylines and quietly unwove one tiny corner of their spell, causing it to detonate prematurely and wipe out all life in the capitol in one horrendous burst of energy.
Meanwhile, the sorcerers gathered in the northern mountains to witness the birth of their greatest weapon. Five mighty wyrms, each the size of a small city, had been constructed by five hundred sorcerers laboring for a year without end. They had unparalleled magical ability, and an intellect far surpassing that of any human being. Anticipating their imminent victory, the sorcerers awoke the five dragons. The mighty beasts opened their eyes, looked about at each other, and immediately flew off in different directions, never to be seen again. The Brotherhood was consumed by despair, and many of the sorcerers took their own lives or fled to the wastes.
The Last Stand
Word spread among the remaining bastions of civilization that Cobb was gathering his energy for one final spell, a spell that could threaten all life on the planet. Old enemies were cast aside, and any man, woman, or child who could hold a weapon banded together for one final desperate assault on Cobb’s tower. They were met by a massive, highly-trained force of orcs and other monsters, and though they fought bravely they were repelled again and again, losing thousands of lives with every charge.
Unknown to them, three brave heroes took the opportunity to infiltrate Cobb’s tower and strike against him. Somehow evading his warding magic, they caught him in the middle of working his spell and after a pitched battle all were killed. The spell detonated, sundering the world but miraculously sparing large portions of it, and Cobb’s army fled into the countryside, panicked and disorganized. The war was over, but half the world had been destroyed, and much of the other half was left an uninhabitable wasteland, teeming with monsters and twisted beings of magic.