The following genesis for the current state of affairs within the world of Sisalus (and primary continent of Mairiga) is generally accepted by most human-based cultures.
Many thousands of years ago, the Sisalus world was inhabited by gods who could do almost anything. Material objects were plentiful, technology flourished and their society was grand and powerful. Indeed, even the very will of nature could be bent and controlled by the whim of these gods.
But the ageless, natural spirits that also inhabited the planet were greatly abused and ultimately took vengeance upon these gods, unleashing all kinds of natural disasters—tidal waves, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and violent storms. Coastal cities were flooded, dust storms wiped-out entire countries and perpetual violent weather killed thousands at a time. What truly destroyed the gods in the end, however, was a tremendous ball of fire that engulfed the entire planet and incinerated everything.
The fury of nature unleashed—and without their precious technologies to protect them—the gods of long ago were all destroyed and made extinct. Over the centuries, the world slowly regenerated itself and nearly all traces of these gods—and the great cities, machines and artifacts they left behind—were reduced to dust and lost forever.
Arrival of the Humanoids
From the dust of The Extinction came the first humans to settle the Mairigan continent for its own. Survival was extremely difficult; not only was the land itself still healing from the cataclysms that destroyed the gods of long ago, but the continent was also filled with all manner of ferocious beasts and monsters to overcome. Humanity required hundreds of generations to persevere, but persevere they did.
Humans were not the only humanoids to settle within Mairiga, however. The elegant and mindful (but xenophobic) elves inhabited the deep woods, the short, stocky dwarves mined the mountains incessantly in search of treasure and the pint-sized, prairie-dwelling halflings dedicated themselves to the land and the fledgling discipline of agriculture. The humanoid races were not friendly but survival against the many monsters of the world often forced loose cooperation.
Time of Servitude
As the four races interacted with one another, humanity eventually came to see itself as superior, and believing that because they were the first to appear within Mairiga, the humans ultimately declared the entire continent for their own. At first the dwarves, elves and halflings begrudgingly accepted this “Manifest Destiny” of humanity, but over time the humans began to see the other races as feral, actual vermin that were competing for the same food and resources. In the end, humanity made war against the other races, promptly defeated them and then subjugated them for three full centuries, the Time of Servitude.
Surprise of the Dark Elves
Far to the south—in locations far too hot and humid for most humans to even want to visit—an offshoot of elves watched as humanity subjugated the other races to the north. These dark-skinned elves—the Drow—were not only cunning, resourceful and well-disciplined but enablers of technology as well, the likes of which had never been seen before. After years of careful planning, the Drow attacked humanity from the south in a series of lightning-quick strikes, utterly overwhelming the humans and pushing them far to the northwest; within just three months, the human cause was all but lost.
In utter desperation, the remaining humans turned to the dwarves, elves and halflings that they had enslaved for three centuries, agreeing to end the Time of Servitude if they would help repel the invading Drow. A truce was struck, reparations quickly made, the non-human races rallied in support of humanity and together they turned the tide of the war against the Drow, rescuing most of Mairiga from the dark elves and turning their earlier victories into near-defeat.
Age of Damnation
As the dwarven, elven, halfling and human armies pushed the dark elves back to the very southern regions of Mairiga and prepared to destroy them once and for all, the Drow learned of a portal to a realm deep within Sisalus that was home to a monstrous race of beings, the Hellions. Demonic in nature and utterly warlike, the Hellions were from another time and place but trapped deep underground; in exchange for their freedom, the Hellions joined forces with the Drow and together they unleashed their full fury upon the human forces, beginning a ten-century war that would become known as the Age of Damnation. Unfortunately for the Drow, the Hellions eventually turned on them as well, and for centuries all the humanoid races of Sisalus struggled to survive against the onslaught of the monstrous legions of hell itself.
Sisla the Deliverer
Finally, a human woman was born who possessed the strength, intellect and wisdom to lead the humanoid armies to complete victory over the Hellions. Simply known as Sisla (“the Deliverer”), she became the first to totally master magic, and after a series of legendary battles, Sisla and her wizard-generals defeated the Hellions, banished the dark-elves to the frozen north of the continent and united the humanoid races under a single banner, ushering in what would become the Sislan Utopia.
Sisla then reorganized Mairiga, resetting the calendar and establishing a small collection of wizard-generals—now known as Truistics—to each represent a country, giving rise to the all-powerful Inner Circle. Over several more decades, Sisla brought total peace and harmony to the continent via The Code, a set of absolute laws based upon four all-important mantras:
The Natural Way
Technology is the root of all evil. It caused the destruction of the gods of long ago, was used by the dark-elves during the Age of Damnation and only serves to dishonor and corrupt today. Natural ways should always champion over the artificial, and nature herself must be revered and protected.
The Enlightened Way
Wisdom comes from age and experience, and so the elders of society are all important, all knowing and above reproach. The Truistics of the Inner Circle shall represent the wisest of all, and the Enlightened One shall command the Inner Circle.
The Just Way
The whole of society is all-important, and so the rights of the many always take precedence over the rights of the individual. Established law is to be obeyed always, no matter what the conditions or situation.
The Everlasting Way
Strive for Attainment, as everlasting life can only be rewarded to those who give freely of themselves, become wise in their years and are ready to die for what is good and just.
The Sislan Utopia
Upon the passing of Sisla into spirithood (through her own act of Attainment), the Inner Circle gained full and absolute control of Mairiga, managing the continent from a representative/socialistic perspective and continuing Sisla’s unquestioned belief in The Code. For centuries afterward, the lands of Mairiga were relatively safe and peaceful; the Circle governed the continent with a strict but just hand, all humanoid races benefitted (apart from the Drow, which had been banished underground and to the frozen north for their part in the Age of Damnation) and the people enjoyed the time that became The Sislan Utopia.
The Sislan Way
Over time, however, the Inner Circle proved unable to fully implement Sisla’s grand vision for Mairiga, usurping global power for itself and, ultimately, acting only in its own selfish interests. To help retain their power, the Truistics of the Circle began to spread a variety of lies to the people, the most damning of which was the blasphemy that Sisla herself had not become a goddess. More time passed, a variety of religious crusaders began to challenge the authority of the Inner Circle, and eventually a fifth mantra was unofficially added to Sisla’s original code, The Sislan Way (which quickly grew into a continent-wide church-based movement that drew most of humanity to it).
Over the past two centuries, the power of the Sislan Way has increased substantially while the influence and prestige of the Inner Circle has waned. While many of the countries within Mairiga continue to be represented by a single Truistic wizard, those countries are now also represented by a powerful Sislan priest—and typically each pair of leaders utterly despise one another. Today, most human Mairigans believe that Sisla is indeed a goddess and her return is actually imminent—she will destroy the Inner Circle once and for all and bring about a new utopia in the year 999, just a few years from the beginning of the game.