In ancient times, there were 16 bright stars that threaded their way across the heavens in a celestial dance. Each month was named for the star that rose in the east during its days; after a year, the stars would repeat their movements in a harmonious cycle.
Sages noted that each month saw the prevalence of a different aspect of human nature. Artem, named for Artemis the Life Star, saw times of relative peace and tranquility. Taeroch, named for the Taerunn the Gold Star, witnessed a swelling of greed and covetousness. In this way, people attributed a type of personality to each of the stars.
One day, roughly a century ago, the stars ceased their cyclic dance, leaving Memnar the Blood Star in the east. Since then, law and order have crumbled as creatures indulge their less civilized impulses. Empires have fallen, atrocities have been committed, and entire cities have been thrown down by the forces of chaos.
Today, in what is being called the One Hundred and Thirteenth Year of the Month of Memnoch, very few safe havens of civilization are left. Some areas have been given over to the wilds. Other former cities are now crumbling ruins inhabited by tribes of refugees. The metropoli that do remain are run by vicious gangs, held in thrall by violent lords, or are dens of immorality and vice. Marauding bands of warriors take what they want from those unfortunate enough to encounter them, and the monstrous races prowl the countryside even in daylight.
As the last century has passed, the Blood Star has grown ever more brilliant in the east, while the other 15 stars fade. By now, the Blood Star is so bright that it can even be glimpsed in the afternoon sky. Most people see this as a sign of the End of Times. The resulting sense of despair and hopelessness has accelerated the collapse of civilization. Many have turned from their deities to the worship of demons and other fiends. Perhaps the world truly is dying.