"Such a marvel is proof not only that the gods exist, but that they love, and that profoundly."
FINAL FANTASY XIV takes the first intrepid steps into an unknown realm, and in doing so a new place for adventurers of all creeds to call home is born - Eorzea.
In the world of Hydaelyn, the term Eorzea denotes the geographical region comprised of the continent of Aldenard and its surrounding islands, as well as the civilization which spawned there.
Calling the area home are several independent city-states, the most notable being Limsa-Lominsa, bustling port and pirate hub; Ul'dah, a desert city rich in mineral wealth; Gridania, nested deep within an ageless wood; and Ishgard, bastion atop the mountains.
Throughout the realm can be found climates both harsh and mild, as diverse as the skies are vast. Bleak, desolate landscapes stretch to uncharted horizons, their uninviting expanses yet to be traversed. Colossal monstrosities stalk the land, as if mountains primeval had somehow stirred and risen. Of all the things Eorzea may be said to be, hospitable is not among them.
In the past, the city-states battled tirelessly, vying for domination and hegemony. Death-mongering beast tribes molested the land unchecked, leaving only destruction in their wake. Unseen enemies lurked beyond the borders, striking at the slightest provocation or show of weakness. The history of Eorzea is a tapestry woven of war and strife, stained with the blood of those gone before, and the tears and ash of fallen endeavor.
And yet the love the gods bear this unforgiving land endures, now as always. What is the allure of this seemingly forsaken place? With what hope and to what end do would-be inhabitants journey here to live out their days?
The answer lies with that which gives form to Hydaelyn and all myriad creation in it--crystals. The cornerstone of all things, it is these crystallized manifestations of the aether that beckon the people to come, risking all in the undertaking.
And so it is that adventurers too have hearkened the call--to bear witness to the epic set to unfold in this land.
"Men are wont to suffer
And forget wherein they've sinned
Ne'er hearkening back on tragedies past
Lest the Twelve might humble them"
Countless moons have waxed and waned since wandering tribes from across Hydaelyn first arrived in Eorzea and settled its untamed lands. The benevolent deities who ruled the empty continent and its surrounding islands were impressed with the resilience of these primitive men and women , and in an act of mercy each saw fit to ensure their welfare.
These gods and goddesses soon came to be known as the Twelve, and the villages thrived in their light until the land was bespeckled with several independent city-states. Though, where man walks, strife follows, and for generations, these tiny nations carved out a history of blood and betrayal built upon broken oaths and the sun-bleached bones of the fallen.
However, the fate of the land would soon change. Not fifteen years past, a new threat appeared without warning from the east. Metal-clad warriors brandishing weapons that spewed streams of fire, fleets of behemoth airships belching oily smoke that would block out the sun for days at a time...
A resistance was amassed but to little avail, and it was not long before Ala Mhigo, once considered the most powerful of the remaining six Eorzean city-states, had fallen to the mighty Garlean Empire.
As the empire's dreadnaughts continued their march of terror across the blood-soaked fields of the north, the remaining nations put aside their differences and clandestinely joined hands to form a loose alliance to ensure they not meet the same fate, should the invaders turn their eyes southward.
Fortunately, the invasion never came, and just as quickly as it had arrived, the empire was gone again.
However, echoes of their grim message rang clear in the hearts of Eorzea's people - its effect on the, profound and irreversible. The realm would never be the same.
And it was thus that Eorzea slipped into the "Age of Calm", during which an uneasy peace prevailed.
To prepare for the coming storm, the first task of the newly-formed alliance was to fortify their defenses. In the previous era, few city-states maintained organized militaries, opting instead to hire the services of mercenaries and hedge knights to champion their causes. However, after the fall of Ala Mhigo, city guard units were restructured into legitimate standing armies which could be quickly called upon and mobilized if he need arose.
Unfortunately, this left a majority of the realm's hireswords with nowhere to pledge their fealty, and with their livelihood ripped out from under them, many of these men and women resorted to acts of villainy to survive. For fear of the situation worsening and the land falling into chaos, several respected leaders from around Eorzea gathered together and formed a network of guilds to provide these lost souls with the opportunity to redeem themselves by aiding others.
Through the foresight and resolve of these leaders a new industry known as "adventuring" emerged, its advent helping usher in the current era - an era of hope in a time when shadows of uncertainty loom ever closer.