After humanity arose on one of the larger landmasses, ice-age land bridges at one point or another connected most of Terra's close-set islands, and man spread swiftly across the planet. Isolated populations forgot their origins, and until the advent of serious boating an island was a people's world. In the restricted space available, one group tended to completely outcompete another, so that as prehistory rolled on each island developed a more or less homogenous culture, unique though usually related to those nearby. The island of Tomos was an exception to this rule, late colonized and large enough to provide breathing room for different peoples that had touched but not overridden one another by the time civilization arose. This, and the mountain range that rose down the middle of the continent, gave the land its name, which in the ancient tongue of the people there meant "cut" or "divided."
The advent of writing and rudimentary mathematics heralded the arrival of recorded history, some 2000 years ago on Tomos, and about 900 years ago for the Sanguine Alliance. Writing was just getting independently underway in Vare about 400 years ago, when other events intervened. (Dates in this document are BR and AR, Before and After Return: the meaning of the label will be be explained herein.)
The earliest recorded history on Terra is Tomosic. In these texts, myths interweave with truth: in a world where gods and the afterlife are within the reach of the most intrepid adventurers, and supernatural horrors really do roam the land and sea, legends of heroes subduing powerful demons and tales of the creation are harder to separate into fact and fiction. Reliably recorded are accounts of friendships and tensions developing between the cultures on the eastern and western sides of Tomos' central mountain range. The establishment of the Mountain Temple around 1000 BR, providing a central meeting place and a base from which the religion of the elemental pantheon spread, occupies a significant place in those works (probably not least because the priests of the Temple were often the ones doing the recording). This began the process of uniting the Polloi (the eastern Tomosics) and the Demos (the western Tomosics), though differences between Polloic and Demosic versions of Tomosic culture survive today, in everything from food to accent to politics. Westerners who care find Polloic forms a bit countrified, and easterners who bother to notice think Demosics tend to be florid and talkative. Foreigners can't usually tell a difference.
Government during this time was exclusively microbrew, with a few much-interrelated families farming a region and supplying their own crafts, giving their loyalty to a single family line. Outside threats were nonexistent, so there was little reason to consolidate, and border skirmishes were frequent. It took hundreds of years for Tomos to develop even a consistent system of monetary exchange, the advent of specialized crafts spurring islandwide trade in standardized metal coinage.
In 312 BR, the city of Unitum was formally incorporated, having developed for some centuries previous as a central point on the continent for land routes and access to Tomos Bay. Its law and economics were essentially that of an oligarchy of successful merchants, membership changing with the fortunes of trade. Under the incorporation the membership system was standardized and taxes instituted on the region, in return for which the government organized a number of services, including the first standing army on the continent. The pattern was copied elsewhere with varying degrees of success.
In 10 BR, the event occurred which would shape Tomos' future for millenia to come: Dionides the Traveller set off on his voyage.
Dionides, by profession an astrologer, developed a reputation for high-quality work and had occasion to travel the length of the island. He came to suspect that the changes in the skies with latitude meant that the globe was round, and wondered if there might not be something more to the Tomosic creation myth, which had Man arriving on Tomos from some vague point across the sea. He spent much of his personal fortune commissioning, crewing, and provisioning a vessel, the Horizon. In (determine a year number), Dionides set out due North with the intention of circumnavigating the globe, a mage-wind in his sails. Modern calculations show that Dionides' food supply would not have lasted -- the Food College of magic was unknown at the time -- and he would have had to turn back about a quarter of the way around, but within a week the Horizon sighted land.
Dionides did not return to Tomos for 10 years. None of the crew of the Horizon had wives or similar ties to call them back(either by blessing of fortune or because married men absented themselves from the venture), and to a man the crew decided to follow him onward. Thought dead, his arrival in the harbor of Unitum was attended with the shock and veneration of a hero stepping out of legend. With Dionides were nine of the original crew of 15, including the wind and water mages, a new wife from the western lands, a collection of strange artifacts, and the copious collection of notes which would become the _Voyage_, the most famous work of Tomosic literature and the cultural touchstone of its national identity.
It is from the publication of the _Voyage_ that Tomos began developing the national character that is still evident today. Interest in mathematics, magics of the Movement and Gate colleges, astronomy and astrology, the basic forms of democracy, and the assumption of a natural superiority of culture and knowledge took root and led in turn to other developments.
Exploration and mapping of the globe was a major project of the Tomosic age of exploration for the next two centuries. The undertaking was aided massively by the rise of a continentwide representative republic, with local cities and regions electing Conventions and Executors, and sending representatives to a national body in Unitum. In the rapid spread of this government, the economic strength of Unitum carried the day more often than not when the loose monarchs of tiny kingdoms didn't immediately sense the tide of popularity, and strength of arms carried the few stubborn stragglers. The Temples of the Mountain might have posed a political threat to the expanding regime, but a proposal for autonomy to the extent of exemption from most taxes and Temple justice over the priestly orders was readily enough accepted. The influence of Dionides on the from of the govenment in its youth was widely acknowledged and by 200 AR near-universal agreement existed on the standardization of a calendar for the continent which set its year 1 at Dionides' return.
It was during these centuries that the Plane Shift spell was devised and industry in the Complex began. The discovery and mining of Essential Earth and the techniques of creating and working orichalcum vaulted Tomosic agricultural production and military technology far beyond their nearest neighbors. The combination of these advances and workmanlike naval designs, simple as they were for crossing Terra's small seas, combined to effectively make Tomos a superpower of a primitive kind.
The Tomosics, having in their early explorations encountered only Stone Age societies, had developed a sense of mission reinforced by their technological superiority. Tensions sometimes arose between explorers and the natives on this and other counts. Werespecies, from prehistory native to Tomos and regarded there as no more unusual than mages, were monstrous in other lands, and Tomosics' high-handed behavior could easily offend local morality. It was an easy response to repel the exploration parties with force of arms.
Twin sentiments began rising in Tomos to respond militarily to attacks on exploration parties and to help out the poor unenlightened primitives by bringing democracy and science to fellow men. Privately funded operations made some attempts at the latter, though the first government-coordinated education project left Tomos in 312 AR for the Mikraigai Chain. Military expeditions left in 314 for the island group east of Tomos bearing orichalcum weapons in addition to their textbooks, inaugurating a series of crusades that lasted, on and off, for the next 400 years. The results were mixed.
The first missions met with swift success, and several islands to the east of Tomos consider themselves historically part of the Tomosic Confederation. Garrisons of soldiers, recruited from both Tomos and the eastern islands, remain there to defend the citizenry from threats internal and external. The islands to the west are claimed by Tomos as well, but of the two the southern one is cold and sparsely populated and the northern one is claimed by the Sanguine Alliance, though only a small portion of the population holds allegiance to the Sanguine. The Mikraigai Chain, thanks to early civilizing efforts, was spared military intervention. The islanders' native culture has been much subsumed under Tomosic loan-words, money, and craft forms, but still survives in the shamanic traditions.
The Sanguine Alliance itself lost only a single island to Tomosic advance, if that (it depends on whose claims you believe). By the time Tomos had pressed that far, the Alliance had developed writing and had done its own local cultural proselytizing, aided by the tight efficiency of its communication, organization, and divinations. Tomosic armies did advance on the capital city of the Alliance, but stopped within eyeshot of Orrery. The sight of a waterfall-driven mile-wide astronomic instrument impressed the generals considerably, and upon taking conference among themselves they unanimously withdrew, sending word back to Unitum of the city and requesting that the attack be called off. It was, and after a few decades of diplomacy, Tomos and the Sanguine Alliance were good friends, chafed every now and then by the Teix issue (that is, who owned the island), but able to overlook that in most projects.
The lands of the Azarin League were a long way from Tomos and military operations were harder to maintain and resupply. The horse was native to these lands, a military advantage that Tomosics had to adapt to, and invading Tomosics found themselves subject to attack from the very drinking water, much to the amusement of the defenders. Subtler academic influence was tentatively welcomed, and the League has Iron Age technology now. Old customs are finding themselves beset, but are putting up a fight.
The League itself, ironically, owes its existence to the Tomosic invasion, as the scattered tribes formed a loose alliance to repulse the arrogant foes. Lacking this immediate threat, intertribal tensions in the League sometimes threaten to split the old attachments.
The Varen Empire was invaded last, around 680 AR; initially Vare was a single island nearly antipodal to Tomos, and these days the Empire's capital is still there. (Other islands now in the Varen Empire had their own national identities.) The sparsely-populated Iron Age fishing-and-hunting culture native to the island was no match for the force of Tomosic arms, but the snows of Vare teach strength, Varens say, and the islanders rallied to resistance around their educated class, their mages. The war was bitter, and the last energies of Tomosic crusaders were poured into the effort. The rune-mages were exterminated, their body of knowledge vanished. Tomosic forces settled in to garrison the island as they had others in the region, and the more subtle influence of teachers and trade began flowing. Just thirty years after occupation, Vare seemed headed for the same fate as other nations in the Confederation, when the Plane of Singularity was positively identified by a Tomosically-trained Varen mage, who in the process founded the College of Singularity. The charismatic young genius became an instant celebrity, and before the Tomosic garrisons could realize what was happening the celebrity had become a preacher, and then a prophet. Still-living memories of the resistance were galvanized and the Church of Oneness flared instantly across Vare.
Vare had always made better use than Tomos of the female half of its labor force, and armed with new zeal the Church recruited valuable fighters and mages into its armed forces. Numbers and morale began to turn the tide. Better steel arrived as Tech Level 3 approached, reducing the technological advantage of orichalcum, and the reclamation of the silver blade Forgiveness from the mists of the past pushed popular support and fighting spirit higher. In 720, Tomos found itself forced to abandon Vare. Several other northern islands joined the new theocratic Empire in throwing off Tomosic garrison, but attempts to fire the same zeal in southern nations of the Confederation failed. (That doesn't mean such attempts ever fully stopped; they might well continue today, more subtly.) By 780 the Varen Empire reached the size it has today.
Over the next 200 years relations between the Tomosic Confederation and the Varen Empire have almost always been strained, occasionally erupting into outright warfare around the Mikraigai Chain or in the Elemental Complex near valuable resources.
At the present day, 1005 AR, the major powers are for the moment at outward peace. The nations and multi-island alliances on Terra stand as presented on the following map.