THE GATEWAY IS INSTANT
Three years ago, the realms of the world were all connected by the Gateway. They provided instantaneous travel from one gate to another placed anywhere on the world. The pace of trade through the Gateway could not be matched by any other means of transport save for those things too massive to fit through a gate. The High Guild of Magic
controlled the Gateway and it was only by gaining their favor that the Gateway could be used. Those who did not use the Gateway grew poorer and poorer compared to those who did. Rulers were quick to realize they needed the Gateway. With the control of the Gateway, the High Guild of Magic became the wealthiest and most powerful organization in the world.
For five thousand years, the High Guild of Magic prevented great wars by turning conflicts into a battle of words before its council instead of one of blood on the fields. Skirmishes between neighbors still happened but never spread beyond small localized battles as allies could arrive quickly.
WHEN THE INSTANT ENDED
All of this ended three years ago when the Gateway vanished. Peoples of all races were suddenly stranded in foreign lands. With a world little used to physical travel beyond the borders of their respective realms, there was a lot of panic and desperation. The panic grew into rage at the Conductors, the High Guild magi who made sure only those in good standing with the High Guild used the Gateway. The Conductors were arrogant and often charged a toll that went into their own pockets. Despite the fact that destroying the Gateway made no sense for the Conductors to do, the ill-will their greed had built up made them the natural target for all that unreasoning anger. Those Conductors who managed to flee or go into hiding survived. The others were killed, often horribly.
For some, the distance home was too great a challenge or cost and they were forced to settle in the lands they found themselves. Others were not welcome to stay, despite the hardships and the cost. Refugees were forced to try to return home. Many died or settled in different lands that accepted these foreigners.
Without the power of the Gateways, the High Guild of Magic lost its influence. Realms began to muster their armies, most in defense, but a few for invasion as some realms who had wielded great power before the council, suddenly had far less power and were determined to regain their power by blood.
Now, the world is a place of chaotic lands, battles for precious resources, and the rise of new powers.