Most of this information is either unknown at this date, obscured by myths and legends, or known only to the most persistent of historians. It is presented here to give an overview of what led the Settled Lands and the Fallen Realm to their current state. This information should not be used to meta-game and any questions about what your character does or does not know should be addressed to the Dungeon Master.
What Came Before
Two large groups of nations shared the western half of the Galbreth Continent, the Orpa Empire and the Galeldrien Confederation. They were both made up of multiple Nation-States and the level of magical and technological advances they had achieved has not been glimpsed since their destruction.
The western half of the continent was where most of the resources, magical and mundane, were centered and so competition for their possession was fierce. The eastern half was pretty much left as grasslands, forests and swamps with only some nomadic tribes and the Mreoowl as residents.
Both societies used magic to power almost everything. They created the PEMES to run all of their industry, education and domestic operations. The life of the average citizen was something that cannot be grasped by the current occupants of these lands. The only thing that significantly split these groups was their loyalty to two separate forms of government.
The Orpa Empire, far from the harsh totalitarian rule you might expect, was actually ruled by a benevolent old Emperor. Their society was long accustomed to the system of nobility and indeed most of the abuses had been reformed and abandoned long ago. On the contrary, the Galeldrien Confederation was a place of harsh equality. Run by the Committee of Five, their secret police, and the rabid revolutionaries that made up their political houses, the whole Confederation lived in fear of friend and family.
The conflict was inevitable, although no one can say which of dozens of provocations was the final straw. In the end both of these Titanic Foes went all out, and in a desperate last blow someone pulled the trigger on what amounted to a magical nuke. Most of the population was instantly killed. Those who survived either fled to the eastern part of the continent, or stayed to try and salvage a life from the remains.
Those who fled rapidly lost all their societal and magical advances as the hardscrabble lives they were forced to leave left no time for such luxuries. Those who remained behind began to be horribly warped and subsequent generations formed new races and tribes as these genetic changes, modifications and defects normalized.
The Fallen Realm has remained a place of horror ever since, and has resisted all previous attempts to plumb it’s depths in search of treasure. The Settled Lands formed themselves into tribes and clans, then later on into the 5 City-States. They have regained minute pieces of their former glory, but actually have no idea how far they have fallen. It may be a curse or a blessing that they have forgotten, but with the foundation of Far Westburg they are much closer to finding out.