Æther: Main Page
Æther is a campaign setting to be used with the GURPS role playing system. This campaign setting assumes that you have access to the GURPS Basic Set and GURPS Magic and will be difficult to play without these resources.
"There are, and always will be, foolish meddlers who insist on ruining the world with their poorly thought-out schemes; fools that cannot know the magnitude their actions until it is too late. And there have always been brave people willing to step up to confront the terrible consequences of these same actions. But will there always be such people? I can only hope. . . for the sake of all."
Earth. It is all we know. The only spot that we have been able to call home. Some have tried to reach to other places with fantasies, with imagination. But is it all imagination? What few realize is that we are not alone. Beings from another world set foot on Earth some several thousand years ago. Beings from the world called Æther. But of course, that leaves rather a lot to be explained. And at the heart of it all is magic.
There is another world called Æther. On it are many of the things that we humans have always loved to dream are possible: magic, faeries, and all the other wonderful stuff of fantasy. But of course we have always dreamed it was possible because it is. And because once upon a time such things were not so uncommon on Earth. You see, on this world called Æther, there was a wizard; a powerful, learned man who had done more with magic than anyone ever had. This wizard's name was Merlin and through years and years of study, trial, error, and pure genius, he saw a way to manipulate the very essence of the world, Æther, and create a bridge across the Abyss to another world. This other world was Earth.
Merlin traveled to this new Earth and found himself in medieval Great Britain. The world was a wonderful and exciting place to Merlin. It very familiar; it had humans and plants and a moon like those found on Æther, but it was also very different in one fundamental aspect: it lacked magic. However, Merlin wasted no time in creating more gateways between the two worlds and establishing contact and then trade between them. Soon, Merlin and his famed magical skills came to the attention of the British ruler, King Arthur, and Merlin became adviser and chief wizard for the king. Life went by in an idyllic fashion for the wizard, and for most the union of the two worlds was beneficial. However, it was not to last.
Merlin had tampered with magic far deeper than he ever realized and he had inadvertently released something terrible. The Abyss, thought of by all as an infinite, empty void, did indeed have something in it. There were certain spirits who lived in the Abyss, most terrible among them was the demoness, Lilith, and scores of vile creatures called phantoms. Phantoms are invisible to those who are not magical, and they must constantly feed; outside of the Abyss this meant on the lives of others. Suddenly, they were slaughtering left and right, invisible killers draining the life of two worlds. On Earth, this period was known as the Black Plague.
About this same time, another wizard had pushed magic to new limits by learning to make himself if not completely, than nearly, immortal. His name was Thanos and he had mustered legions of these phantoms into an army with the goal of conquering two worlds. Merlin knew he must confront this evil; he was the only one powerful enough to do so. So the two wizards dueled, and finally Merlin emerged the victor.
However, in Thanos' struggle for power, he had acquired an ally by the name of Morgan le Fay, an enchantress of no small power. She seduced Merlin, then, with powerful magic, trapped him in a prison which took the form of a small glass sphere, in which he would live in misery for ever. Meanwhile, the problem of the phantoms had not ended with the fall of Thanos. So the Council of Wizards congregated and together sealed the gateways Merlin had created, from whence the phantoms came. The problem was, the spell would not last forever.
Meanwhile, on Earth, fantastical creatures and magic slowly died out, and while they were not forgotten, they became only a myth. But wizards lived on, in secret, studying the secrets of magic and watching for the day when the Worldgates would once again open. But how would they be resealed? The number of wizards of Merlin's age had diminished and such powerful magics were all but forgotten. The answer may lie with a book, written by Merlin himself long ago: the book of Æther.