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Creature Hunter Online back story

10,000 years ago

The Arbids were a very shamanistic and tribal people.  They called their world Idyllis, and roamed its fertile landscape in perfect harmony with their surroundings and the "spirits" of the land.

These "spirits" were actually animals from Earth that managed to phase into Sunder once every few hundred years.  And while these spirits never fully materialized in Sunder the way humans do today, they were seen by enough Arbids to make quite an impression.  One such animal "spirit" was a rather confused tiger, who chased a village of Arbids around for hours before de-phasing.  Over the next several centuries, Arbid parents would use the threat of the Striped One's wrath to frighten children into doing their chores on time.

5,000 years ago

The first Idyllis Festival is held.  At first, the Festival resembles the early Greek Olympics – merely an exhibition of feats of athleticism and derring-do.  The Festivals occur once every 50 years, but this is acceptable to the Arbids, since they live to be about 300.

4,500 years ago – 4,001 years ago

Somewhere around this time, the Arbids begin to show an affinity for technology, and start to turn away from their rustic roots.  Belief in the old "spirits" dwindles to almost nothing.  The temples and statues built to honor the "spirits" quickly fall into disrepair, while new cities are built nearby.

The Idyllis Festival transforms into a combination of the Olympics, the World's Fair, and a theme park.  The physical competition still exists, although now it more strongly resembles the Tri-Wizard tournament from Harry Potter.  The most elite athletes and students of technology compete in a series of increasingly challenging and terrifying events to be named the Champion of Idyllis.  Meanwhile, those not skilled enough to compete to be a Champion enjoy themselves by playing games in the Festival.

As the Champion's Contest gets more complicated, the spectators and competitors demand more and better celebrations.  As such, the Festival Victory Committee is formed to create the perfect show for the Champions.  As the years go by, the celebrations grow more and more ornate, until they are finally specifically tailored to the Champion's name, visage, and personality.  When the Champion reaches the Orb of Completion and lays his or her hands on it, an elaborate event – full of fireworks, explosions, and music – is dynamically created for them on the spot.

4,000 years ago (The Breaking)

Vursta, Calstuk, and Uragano were very evenly matched throughout their lives, each garnering praise as the finest competitors around – and each thought to be a shoo-in for the title of Idyllis's Champion.  Unfortunately for Idyllis, they were.

All three of the competitors were at the top of their game on the day of Idyllis's last Festival.  They raced through labyrinths, fought fearsome constructs, and eventually made it to the Orb of Completion – at the same time.

The Festival Victory Committee had designed the Orb of Completion with the idea of a single Champion grasping it at the Festival's conclusion.  When the Orb detected three different Arbids touching it at once, it overloaded and detonated in a cavalcade of energy.  The Three Champions (as they would forever be known) were caught at the blast's epicenter, and showered with enough power and energy to turn them into immortals.  The land itself cracked beneath their feet, and the planet of Idyllis split into pieces.

The Orb was originally designed to create a customized extravaganza by channeling energy though a single Champion's mind and body – and its effect on that day was similar to its original purpose in form if not function.

The energy channeled through Vursta – the impetuous, hot-tempered, chaotic braggart of champion – turned the land behind him into a reflection of his personality.  Mountains became volcanoes.  Water thickened into lava.  The sky grew dark and foreboding.

Calstuk was a careful, sturdy, thoughtful Arbid who nonetheless resembled a boulder rolling down a hill once agitated.  His clear-headedness and respect for all life refracted the energy channeled through him and transformed the land behind him into lush jungles, humid caverns, and imposing mountains.

When the energy unleashed by the Orb washed over Uragano – a breezy, carefree Arbid whose only real friends were the spirits of the past – it changed the land around her into barren, quiet plains, full of wonders and mystery.

The landscape was not the only thing affected by the Breaking.  All manner of life on the planet – flora and fauna alike – was transformed over the next few years into bizarre creatures.  Intelligent magnets, rampaging bamboo, smart-alecky ghosts, fierce mushrooms, mechanized knights... the Arbids were taken aback at the metamorphosis taking place all over their world.  They called these new creatures "Strays" due to their unpredictable and untamed nature, and rechristened their world as "Sunder" after its topographical changes caused by the Breaking.

As a result of the cataclysmic changes to Sunder, nearly all the Arbid grew introspective and curious.  How could this have happened to their world?  What exactly did happen to their world?  Was it something that needed to be fixed?  Or merely studied?  Or was the Breaking of the world merely a means for them to study its results?

The Arbids discovered even more data for study as they explored the radically changed environments.  Physical and metaphysical residue from the Breaking began to manifest as magical phenomena all over the planet.  As the Arbids studied and experimented with the strange and mystical all around them, they began to develop a proficiency for magic to combine with their technology.

3,995 years ago – 20 years ago

Over the next four thousand years, the Arbids devoted their lives to study, repair, and technomagic.  The Festival was forgotten, as was their natural spirit of competitiveness.  They began to refer to themselves as "Tinkers" – always studying, always fixing, always improving, never complacent.

The Champions, now immortal from their role in the Breaking, grew weary of seeing generations of Tinkers fade into history while they never aged a day.  Eventually, they disappeared from public life to a location unknown to the Tinkers.

With their Champions no longer around to inspire them, the Tinkers buried themselves in their work even more intently.  Over time, three groups began to emerge based on their general demeanor and schools of thought.

Some Tinkers focused their efforts on trying to fix the world, physically and emotionally.  Their experiments and research were mostly devoted to trying to patch the pieces of Sunder back together, and bringing the individual Tinkers of Sunder back from their isolation into a community again.  These Tinkers frequently invoke the name of Calstuk as their Champion, and call themselves Worldmenders.  Their current leaders are three wizened Tinkers who are even more deliberate and slow than their Champion was.

Other Tinkers are very interested in their history – what they used to be like as a civilization, what their ancestors were like, how the spirits of the past relate to modern life, what cultures existed even before the Arbids first roamed Idyllis, and how the events of the Breaking still have ramifications in Sunder today.  They believe Uragano is the Champion who is closest to them spiritually, and call themselves the Foretalkers.  Their current leader is steeped in the mystic and paranormal, sometimes at the expense of the real world.

Still other Tinkers have no tolerance for togetherness, talking to ghosts, or putting the world back together.  They are focused on the present, and how to solve the problems that plague Sunder to this day.  They are impatient with their fellow Tinkers' dwelling on the mundane and trivial oddities that are seemingly around every corner in the world, and instead devote themselves to the bigger picture.  They revere Vursta for his reliance on instinct and displays of force, and call themselves the Endbringers.  Their current leader is caught in a fierce battle against a nearly unstoppable foe at the far reaches of Sunder, so most Endbringers look to his second-in-command for guidance.  Unfortunately, this lieutenant does not embody the ethos of the Endbringers as much as most of them would like.

Even though the three sects show their differences from time to time, they are all devoted to the same cause: the gathering of knowledge.  To that end, they began construction as close to the site of the Breaking as possible.  A few years later, the Epicenter was completed.

The Epicenter is a sprawling city/university hybrid that houses some of the finest Tinker minds who haven't left in pursuit of their own endeavors.  Some of its most significant schools of research include the Hazardous Materials Wing (mostly populated by Endbringers), the Geological Activity Wing (containing almost all Worldmenders), and the Paranormal Phenomena Wing (where the Foretalkers are most prevalent).  In the Epicenter, the motto is "No idea is too strange", though visitors to the various research wings may believe otherwise.

While most Tinkers in the Epicenter and elsewhere in Sunder perform their experiments and activities for the good of Tinkerkind, there are some who are not as altruistic.  Most of these Tinkers started down their rather dark path by studying the phenomenon of phasing that had occurred with irregularity over the past few thousand years.

After many fruitless years of trying to recreate the phenomenon and failing, most of the Tinkers gave up and moved on to other fields of study.  But once the remaining Tinkers were able to successfully cause something to phase (for less than ten seconds), they made a startling discovery – that the things phasing in and out of Sunder were actually from another world!

The eleven Tinkers who were still researching phasing agreed that the knowledge of this other world was far too important and dangerous to share with the rest of Sunder.  As these Tinkers continued their efforts to learn the secrets of phasing and this other world, they grew reclusive, tight-lipped, and power-hungry.  Eventually, the eleven formed a clandestine society that they dubbed the Invisible Hand.  They moved behind the scenes of everyday Tinker life, seeking to manipulate their fellow Tinkers into helping them discover the secrets of phasing.

20 years ago

After years of their shadowy work, the Invisible Hand finally succeeded in phasing someone from Earth into Sunder.  Unfortunately, coming to Sunder against one's will is a very different experience from when one chooses to do it themselves.  The girl from Earth (who the Tinkers came to call "The Visitor") awoke on Sunder with no memory of her past and no idea how she got there.

The Tinkers of the Invisible Hand, less interested with raising a child than continuing their research – they viewed the experiment as a failure since the child was unable to phase back – moved on to other things, only giving the Visitor cursory care and interaction.

The Visitor grew up lonely and angry, with no others her age for companionship.  The Invisible Hand, as they did with most things, kept her existence a secret.  But their lack of attention enabled her to nurture a relationship with the creatures around her.  The Strays that lived in the nearby environment were much less belligerent towards the Visitor than the Tinkers who watched over her, and she was friendly to them in return.

The Tinkers, too caught up in their experiments to pay enough attention to the Visitor, did not notice her developing affinity with the Strays until she had formed her own personal guard.  When they realized she was planning to escape from their care, they tried to stop her – but the Visitor and her army of Strays fought them off and escaped into the wild.

Over the next few years, the Visitor fled from the Invisible Hand, never able to stop for long in one place for fear of being captured and returned to what she viewed as a prison.  As she grew older knowing only the company of Strays, she grew increasingly paranoid and distrustful, her mind retreated in on itself... and unlocked the memories of her past on Earth.

Once the Visitor remembered who she was and where she came from, her only desire was to get back by any means necessary.  She returned to the place of her former imprisonment – this time with an army of Strays at her back – and demanded to work with the Invisible Hand to find a way back to Earth.  They were happy to oblige.  Both sides were confident that they have the upper hand in their arrangement, and neither side trusted the other.

20 years ago - Today

Before the Visitor was ripped from Earth to Sunder, it was almost impossible to travel between the two worlds.  But once the Invisible Hand inadvertently opened the floodgates, other people from Earth began to make the journey.  At first, only a few were able to phase successfully to Sunder for longer than a few seconds.  But over the years, more and more travellers have come to the world of Sunder, to the point where there are now thousands of humans in Sunder.  And to the Tinkers' surprise, all of the humans show the same talent for the control and care of the Strays that the Visitor exhibited.  Because of this, the Tinkers call the humans in Sunder "the Gifted."

Today

All the main figures of the past are still very much alive in Sunder today.  The Visitor, now calling herself the Lava Queen, has abducted some of the most brilliant Tinkers in the world.  They are imprisoned in the fortress of Cauldron Keep along with Vursta, one of the Three Champions.  The Lava Queen is forcing them to construct a huge techno-magic device that will enable her to return to Earth – with her army of Strays in tow.  She is draining Vursta's immortality into the device to feed its incalculable need for energy.

The other two Champions have not fared much better in the intervening years.  Calstuk, who had retreated underground to be left alone a few hundred years ago, has been corrupted by his isolation and lack of exposure to the rest of the world.  While the Tinkers have not necessarily made the connection between their former Champion and the massive beast that stirs beneath the ground, they fear him enough to stay far away.  They have named the beast Tremor.

The final Champion has felt the absence of her fellow immortals keenly.  Uragano has been without the company of Vursta and Calstuk for years now, and as a result, she has started to exhibit some signs of dementia.  She speaks to spirits that no one else can see, and can never focus for long enough to lead or inspire her followers.  Unfortunately, many of her Foretalkers have begun to adopt her behavior as their own in a misguided attempt at worship.

Some Tinkers have longed to return to the carefree times of their past, and have just recently finished construction on the Perpetual Festival.  The contents are at times an oversimplification, and at times an excessively detailed recreation of the games played at the Idyllis Festival from millennia ago.  While the Tinkers have discovered that they have no real motivation to participate in the games, they are happy to let the Gifted try their fortune and skill in the competitions.

Other Tinkers are more concerned with the current state of Sunder.  it is physically broken into pieces; filled with divisions over who is the smartest, the most skilled, and the most dangerous; the current generation of Tinkers has no real connection with those who came before them; and there is no unity to fight against a malevolent force that threatens the world.  Luckily, some Tinkers are at least smart enough to see these problems, and are hoping to address them.

The leaders of the Worldmenders (the Verdant Council) will try to convince the Gifted to travel down the Path of Unity -- to restore Sunder by figuratively bringing the world back together.  By traveling this path, the Gifted will perform duties for (and become friendly with) all the groups and sub-groups of Tinkers in Sunder.  Eventually, once the Gifted has won the friendship and respect of all the Tinkers, he will negotiate peace and collaboration with them and become a Terrestrial.

The leader of the Foretalkers (The Seer) will try to convince the Gifted to travel down the Path of History -- to restore Sunder by convincing the spirits of the past that you are worthy.  By traveling this path, the Gifted will perform tasks for (and confront challenges by) all of the animal spirits that have ever visited Sunder.  Eventually, once the Gifted has convinced all the spirits that he is the one they should trust, he will be the representative of the spirits to the rest of the Tinkers in the world and become a Tempest.

The leader of the Endbringers (General Firebrand) will try to convince the Gifted to travel down the Path of Valor -- to restore Sunder by defeating the Circle of Evil (the three bosses in the elder zones).  By traveling this path, the Gifted will defeat all the major enemy forces in Sunder, from the hapless lowly lieutenants in the first zones all the way through Psyclone (the boss of the final Wind zone), Tremor, and the Lava Queen herself.  Eventually, once the Gifted has defeated each of the major forces in Sunder, he will be hailed as one of the greatest heroes to ever walk Sunder -- and earn the title of Trailblazer.

Whatever path the Gifted take, they will explore breathtaking environments; make friends with others like them and others not like them at all; play games and enter tournaments for the love of challenge; and face countless dangers in the world of Sunder.