Ilvia is the southernmost of the Three Continents, a triangle of land masses surrounding the narrow Inner Sea. The climate in northern Ilvia is temperate, growing steadily colder toward the distant south. To the north, across the Inner Sea, lies the warm and heavily forested continent of Galria. To the northwest, forming the western coast of the Inner Sea, is the arid continent Strocchia.
Five hundred years ago, most of northern Ilvia constituted the prosperous and powerful Kingdom of Ilvia. The Kingdom's wealth and success was owed in large part to its powerful Magicians' Guild, headquartered on the distant island of Stargald in the Western Sea. Stargald was a glittering fortress of silver and glass, and every wizard hoped to train at the Guild's college there. The wizards of the Guild were steadfastly independent, but they never openly challenged the authority of the King. Indeed, the king's closest advisor was the Guild's representative, who sat at his right side. Ilvian society was secular and almost completely Human; Dwarves kept mostly to their lands in the south, and there were no Elves anywhere on the continent.
For years, Ilvia and Galria had troubled relations, frequently clashing over rights to the resources of the Inner Sea. Eventually, matters escalated into full-scale war, the Ilvian king launching an all-out assault on Galria. Despite Ilvia's military strength, however, the Galrians were able to hold their own, due in no small part to the skilled shipbuilding and cunning tactics of the Galrian Elves.
Frustrated as the war began to turn against Ilvia, the king turned to the Magicians' Guild in hopes of turning the tide. He believed that Ilvia's magical resources would be the deciding factor. But the Guild wizards refused, in keeping with long-standing Guild policy. The king believed that his wizards were being intimidated (or controlled outright) by the Guild's leader, the great mage Heyraud. Infuriated by the wizards' intransigence, he diverted a large part of the Ilvian fleet to attack Stargald, hoping to break Heyraud's hold on the wizards once and for all.
Heyraud responded decisively with a massive magical blast the like of which had never been seen before. It not only obliterated the attacking fleet, but it also struck the western coast of Ilvia with cataclysmic force. The impact destroyed most of Darian and submerged a large portion of northwestern Ilvia, creating what is now known as Heyraud's Bay. The force of the impact also flattened much of the northwest of Ilvia, destroying towns, leveling forests, and laying waste to the countryside in a wide swath spreading east from the Bay. In a single blast, Heyraud effectively destroyed the Kingdom of Ilvia, leaving only scattered settlements among the ruins.
Of course, the war with Galria was over almost immediately. With the Ilvian fleet destroyed, Galria quickly took possession of the Inner Sea and its islands. Fortunately for Ilvia, Galria was uninterested in conquest and made no move to take any territory on the Ilvian mainland.
The physical destruction was made worse by the fact that all wizards had apparently vanished, taking their spell books and magical items with them. Sailors found that they could no longer find the island of Stargald, and indeed it had vanished right off of their maps and out of their books. Only scraps and remnants of magical lore remained in Ilvia, and few people remained who knew anything about how to use them. Nor was there much interest: people regarded magic as the evil force that had resulted in the destruction of their land.
A few years after the end of the war, one hundred Galrian Elves appeared on Ilvian shores. They dispersed themselves across the Ilvian northwest and lent their expertise in helping Ilvia rebuild. They also brought religion to Ilvia, and devotees of their faith founded what today is the Ilvian Church. Despite lingering distrust toward Galria, it was clear that Ilvia needed help, and there can be no denying that the One Hundred made an enormous difference. But they never explained why they had come to help their former enemy.
Today, Ilvia is a collection of more or less independent communities with no central government or organization. A rebuilt remnant of the old capital, Darian, still exists, but only as a port and commercial hub. Darian is also the seat of the Ilvian Church, which is the only organized entity unifying the country.
Ilvia's northern neighbor Galria is a closed society, remaining mysterious to Ilvians, although it is generally regarded as a beautiful land of lush forests and nature in full bloom. Even Ilvian Elves know little of Galria, and few have been there. Druids look toward Galria with great reverence, and with great sadness because it is denied them. No formal relations exist between Ilvia and Galria, although an uneasy peace prevails. Some trade exists between the two countries, but it is severely limited and conducted only with the Galrian possessions in the Inner Sea.