As you may or may not know, the Althéa Campaign has been running for many years, originally starting out as a Pen and Paper game. The campaign continued within its current era throughout the life and course of NWN1. Since then, a number of events, including the release of NWN2, the story conclusion of Soul Shaker and the change to the current group of players all contributed towards my decision that a new era would begin after the Soul Shaker module.
A New Era
The new era is marked by an event that the people will call "The Changing" or "The Darkening". Life will have changed for the new era and it will be a time for old and new players alike to learn of the world of Althéa. Plot lines from earlier years that remain open will be reintroduced in a fashion to appeal to new players as well as remind older players of their current objectives. Even before the player begins, they will be able to select their "background" to represent whether their PC's are supposedly familiar with some of the characters of the world already, or whether they prefer to play as if they knew no-one. Once the player has set their PC's background, they can then begin to explore the world within its new era.
The players will soon learn that The Changing has brought about some differences to the world they once knew (or are supposed to have known). One example will be how people will now refer to objects made from a knowledge prior to The Changing as objects of Arcaene Lore, or "secret knowledge", because the knowledge once used to forge or create such items has been lost since The Changing that marked the start of the new era.
Objects of Arcaene Lore ranges from weapons that were once considered relatively simple smith work to spells that could be cast any number of times without having to learn them beforehand. Basically, any object whose knowledge of creation has been lost since the Changing will be referred to as an object of of Arcaene Lore, or more specifically by a reference that describes it better. E.g. Weapons that survived from the previous age would be refereed to as Arcaene Weapons, and spells would be referred to Arcaene Spells. Both use Arcaene Lore.
Objects of Arcaene Lore work and behave differently to those of the new era, and the player will gradually get to learn about these differences as they play. As an indication, the people of Althéa also refer to weapons made prior to the Changing as "Living Weapons" and those of the new age as "Dead Weapons". This is because the people have learned that the new age Dead Weapons are subject to damage and decay, whereas those weapons that survived from the previous age do not suffer from such degradation.
With the new era comes many changes, and not just to the objects mentioned above. However, the differences already mentioned have an indirect impact on the old order of things, and the new forced social structure upon the world of Althéa will be new to both old and new players alike.