Deities, either good, evil or neither, previously meddled in the mortal plane. When they weren’t manifesting themselves, they empowered beings and mortals with portions of their power to be their champions and exert their agenda.
Recently, the gods have stopped interfering directly.
Blessings and miracles have faded, but so have certain curses – Some individuals, families, races, places that were previously cursed by the gods have had their curses lifted outright or altered.
The gods still hold power over their domains, but for now are merely content to keep the mortal world at arm’s length.
What will the mortals do now?
Here, where we are: The borderlands of the Empire. Sandwiched between the mountains that demarcate the Old Empire, and the shining walled cities of the Imperial centre. While technically part of the Empire, the bureaucracy and constabulary of the imperial cities rarely touches the borderlands directly, allowing the local magistrates plenty of leeway. Many who live here are escaping the hubbub of the cities, or the idle boredom of the inner fiefdoms, or some other previous trouble.
A little ways to the east: The Empire. Now known officially as the Blessed Empire Under the Glorious Sun, but the oldest history books marked it as the Empire in Exile. In the heart of the Empire, in Heaven’s Branch, the Radiant Empress oversees the safety and prosperity of her loyal subjects. In each of the Five Spires, the largest cities of the imperial centre, the Grand Lineages lend their might, magic and money to the Empress in name, but scheme to claim more power under or on the throne.
Farther east, The Familiar Foes – The heretic kingdoms of the east have made various incursions into the border towns, spreading dangerous ideas about killing gods and mortal dominance. Corsairs of the eastern isles have been running rampant, targeting cargo ships supplying the expeditions on the south-east shore.
To the west, The Old Kingdom – Fallen and accursed, the land seems to be wreathed in mist and shadow. Legend goes that The Last King made deals with unknown powers to extend his rule, but now all he rules are ghosts and shades.
To the north, The New Frontier – Explorers have returned with tales of fantastical lands, abounding with beauty and danger. Contact has been made with strange new peoples, and the Empire is preparing to send envoys and settlers.
To the south, The Uneasy Alliance – The merchant states who have been the Empire’s allies have recently erected a trade blockade in retaliation for a diplomatic slight from the Trade Council. While there are no outright hostilities, there has been a tense standoff as the diplomats of the Empire and the Southern Trade Conglomerate prepare for new negotiations.