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The Upheaval and the sundered times are documented in every known culture that the Empire has assimilated, and Scientists agree that they happened, even if they can't agree on cause. It is accepted that the Upheaval happened 1500 years ago; the Empire uses this event as the beginning of their calendar.
There is plenty of evidence to support the theory of an ancient civilization, and it is agreed that they were very advanced technologically. There are several sites of ruins throughout the Empire, of varying quality and preservation. No usable machinery is intact, but there several artifacts that show advanced knowledge of alloys and precision machining that the Empire is only beginning to redevelop.
It is agreed that the Upheaval involved devastating earthquakes, violent weather and climate changes. Some Scientists argue that it was simply a geological occurrence, a violent shifting of tectonic plates that occurred over a period of several months and dramatically changed the map of the planet. Other scientists assert that it was caused by a reverse of polarity in the magnetic field of the planet, and still others are convinced that the event was a shift in the space-time fabric. Many religions use the Upheaval as a cautionary tale against the evils of greed and vanity. One area believes that humans were born from the Upheaval, and preaches of the 'time before' as bereft of life, ignoring the scientific proof provided to counter that idea.
Following the Upheaval, in all religions and all cultures, is a period of isolation: the sundered times. Travelers encountered barriers of widely varied report - some said that the world simply died at certain places, some described misty barriers that could only be viewed from a great distance, some complained of forces, strong winds, and spirits that barricaded the way.
Gradually, these barriers dropped, and these areas became accessible to each other.
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Others (Anomalies): Dangerous and strange time anomalies created by the Upheaval.
Time crystals: Pieces of "torn" space-time fabric in physical form, used in the Empire for their time-slowing and time-accelerating properties.