I noticed a few people were searching for some kind of lore overview or synopsis, so here it is. Be advised, this is far from comprehensive, but I wanted to get down a baseline as well as a few conjectures.
Currently, the time is somewhere in the 1700s. The isle of Aeternum rests somewhere roughly between North America, South America, and Africa approximately…well, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Canonically, our character was aboard the same ship as Captain Thorpe. We sailed to the island in search of the fabled Azoth (like we saw in the opening cinematic). As we all know, we sail into a storm that surrounds the island, where large black pillars erupt from the ocean. It fades to black, and we wake up on the shores of our destination. After being attacked by a strange humanoid, we find Captain Thorpe injured. He blames us for stealing an item, and then promptly vanishes into a strange red smoke.
We make our way through more humanoids and eventually crest a hill to see some of the island’s beauty. We descend down a small side path, where we find Captain Thorpe, though this time he seems to be possessed by that same red energy. We fight him, and seemingly lose as he channels some kind of energy into us. Fade to black once more, and we awake on yet another shore.
We make contact with someone outside of our crew– The Watchers. They explain that their job is to search for people like us (those that have washed ashore) and explain a basic overview of how the island works. We notice several other shipwrecks all around, and the game begins proper.
Alright, enough of the narration. Let’s get down to exploration.
Azoth is a resource native only to the isle of Aeternum. It appears blue, and its most common form is a liquid substance. It’s a Mcguffin– it can be used for anything from a form of currency to physically teleporting yourself long distances. I would also venture to guess that Azoth is how we fuel our spells and special abilities, but that is conjecture and I can’t confirm that.
Not just beasts and trees, but humans are also effectively immortal while on the island. Well, mostly. We talk to the Watchers, who explain that some folks keep coming back, while others are not subject to this cycle. From what I’ve found, there isn’t any rhyme or reason for this– it’s just random. To be fair, I’ve also not gone through all of the journal entries yet (too busy leveling Logging). This also comes with vastly increased lifespans (hundreds, even thousands of years).
These blessings also come with a curse. Apparently, Azoth preys on human emotions, particularly strong negative ones. I’ll explain down below.
So far, there are four main forces that inhabit the island that we deal with frequently.
*The Lost: This group is divided into two subcategories, The Drowned and The Withered. Though we are gifted long lives, this can sometimes result in our minds and sanity fading away. Also, for some that died horrific deaths, their spirits are even afflicted with this strange curse.
The Drowned, by and large, are pockets of exploration crews, pirates, and sailors that came to Aeternum long ago in search of treasure, but instead were cursed to become Drowned. Some of the Drowned seem to have died in the waters around the island, but the effect of the Azoth was strong enough to call them to shore to haunt the island.
The Withered, on the other hand, are mostly seen inland on the many farms we’re sent to plunder. The Withered are a case of losing hope, falling to despair through tragedy, or some other horrible malady. There are many journal entries we can read about farms being raided, families being torn apart, and so forth. It isn’t hard to see why people lose hope on the island.
Note: There are documented cases of The Withered fighting The Drowned down in Cutlass Keys. There are a few quest lines that detail this, but we aren’t given a full reason why. It could be mindless fighting, but to me that hints at something else going on. What, exactly, I’m not sure.
*The Ancients: These guys are the skeletal forces you see stalking the old ruins scattered throughout the island. The Ancients are a strange faction, and I regret to say their lore is still a bit obscure for me. What we do know is that the Ancients we fight seem to be the footsoldiers of the actual Ancient race that lived on Aeternum. Their statues depict four-armed humanoid figures, which could indicate some kind of fictional race. Alternatively, could just be artistic expression. Either way, the Ancients should be seen as a guardian force to the many relics and artifacts held within the various ruins.
Note: The obelisks we see in Everfall and Windsward (the circular pattern) seem to be some kind of security grid, fueled by “power from the stars.” There’s a questline that takes us around each of them, and all of them correlate to a constellation. These constellations are derived from Greek, chiefly, though there are constellations with Latin naming. This could indicate that explorers from that time may have ventured here. We know from one of the trailers that Romans were certainly here, so it wouldn’t surprise me.
*The Corrupted: These gargling fellows are seemingly the main threat on Aeternum, and for good reason. The Corruption’s source is debated– it could’ve been here all along with the Azoth, it could’ve arisen as a response to humanity’s greed/ambition, or it could’ve been a result of the Ancients experimenting with Azoth.
The Corruption is the reason the Ancients fell to ruin, seemingly. What we know for certain is it acts much like a virus or plague, where it infects living things and seeks to spread. Chiefly, it can infect humans that possess strong negative emotions such as greed, pride, etc. It warps their flesh and turns them into the monstrosities we see today. They are not, however, mindless. We know from several journal entries that the Corrupted possess forms of communication, both written and spoken. As well, they seem to possess some kind of strange hivemind in a limited range.
*The Angry Earth: Whereas the Corruption seeks to spread its influence, the Angry Earth are a balancing force. More conjecture here: it’s possible the Angry Earth are the island’s security force that seek to bring balance. Through a quest in Weaver’s Fen, we find out that the Angry Earth are responsible for the Stormwall, and it isn’t to keep us out. The wall is held to keep the Corruption from spreading to the Old World. However, it is far from our friend in most cases. The Angry Earth is a mixture of flesh and plant, and it seemingly acts as a natural force moreso than a military one. Chiefly, The Angry Earth fights the Corruption, but also seems to guard important places of power for Azoth (we see this in Bronzegrove in Brightwood with the Azoth Tree) as well as fighting…well, pretty much everything that seeks to harm the balance of the island.
Note: the humanoid Angry Earth are referred to as Dryads, and their interactions with us are…strange at best. There’s a quest in Brightwood that has you collect items from the Angry Earth, and you don’t find out until later that the quest giver is also Angry Earth, though initially she appears humanoid. I’m not sure if that means the Angry Earth have the ability to glamour/disguise themselves, or what.
This section here is where I mostly want to throw out what I’ve written down in my notes and see what the community thinks.
-It’s possible that, at one time, the Ancients may have been able to regulate sea levels around the island. (Breakwater Bulwark, Windsward)
-Corruption can be tasted by Soulwardens, apparently. It’s like a sweet tooth with an aftertaste of iron. (Yonas, after getting the Azoth staff)
-The Lost are seemingly resistant to Corruption. That’s why the crops we try and grow quickly turn, and the meat from livestock swiftly turns. (Crops and soil samples quest line)
-I know this has been submitted on the subreddit 1000 times by now, but the reason animal husbandry mostly fails is due to the Azoth’s influence, or perhaps it’s some kind of ambient Corruption? That being said, we do still see some domesticated creatures, such as the dairy cows, and pigs on various farms. Goats are still bastards though, unsurprisingly.
-The Heartgem that Soulwardens possess acts as a barrier to Corruption. That being said, it is still possible for a Soulwarden to become Corrupted.
-There’s a ritual that involves cleansing a Heartgem, but I’m currently on that quest in Great Cleave so I can’t detail anything here.
-About 300 years ago, there was a massive wave of Lost that happened in Brightwood. This caused the Inquisition to be formed. The reason so many headstones and graves exist in those areas is due to the Inquisitors burying people they thought were Lost alive. This Inquisition eventually failed, and that’s why you see so many Lost with Inquisitor garb and carrying coffins on their backs.
-In addition to the above, Brightwood is heavily cursed due to the Inquisition burying people alive, as well as Brightwood’s earliest settlers grinding up bones to be used as fertilizer. ♥♥♥♥♥♥ up stuff.
-Moss from Bronzegrove is said to give protection against the Lost.
-A lot of the NPCs in Weaver’s Fen talk about the Fen like it’s sentient or alive somehow. Perhaps this is just some kind of folktale, but with the Angry Earth being a real thing, I find that difficult to believe. Maybe there’s some kind of…entity there? Hard to say with what I know currently.
-The Lost seem to haunt familiar territories and places they knew in life. In addition, once they’ve become Lost, it’s likely they’ll visit the sites of their most gruesome deaths. (White Skull quest line)
-The Lost are also capable of fishing. Neat…?
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