Sarnaut was once relatively peaceful. The surface was largely ruled by a coalition of the enlightened races Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings, with their long lifespans negotiated trade, military patrols, and commerce. They controlled much of the surface of the world, with only few areas in the hands of the Empire below; consisting of Duergar, Drow and Illithid.
Humans, goblins and several other races were found in both major factions, though rarely in leadership positions, and in some places have claimed small independent territories.
The great mages were free to research the source of magic on the planet, which they determined to be a material known as Aetherite. These glowing crystalline shards were found throughout the world, though not often near the surface. A shard of Aetherite the size of a fingernail would buy a man a farm if he were to come across it, and it functioned as a currency among the very wealthy. The dwarves supplied Aetherite to the mages and Mythril to the warriors of the coalition from their deep mines, with the Duergar performing the mining operations for the Empire.