The Exile series is a series of roleplaying games written by Spiderweb Software (http://wwww.spiderwebsoftware.com). They are considered true classics and have a wide cult following on the Internet, though their successors, the Avernum series, have received more attention as of late due to sheer novelty.
A brief summary of the premise of Exile follows:
The world is ruled by an Empire. There is no name for this Empire, save for the Empire. There is no need; it is the only power worth reckoning with. It has subjugated virtually all of the surface and rules with an iron fist. Its armies are second to none; its magical knowledge knows no bounds.
An Empire of this size is bound to produce members of society that do not quite "fit in." Whether criminals or lawyers, terrorists or political dissidents, they pose a threat to a monarchy such as the Empire, especially when the only threats can come from within. Therefore, the cruel and malicious Emperor Hawthorne ordered his best mages to find a place to put everyone that did not fit in without outright killing them; after a while carnage grates on everyone. So his mages came together and used powerful magics to survey the world. They found no place big enough.
Until they looked down.
Beneath the green fields and rolling hills of the surface, the mages found what Hawthorne wanted. An interconnected series of vast caves and tunnels isolated from the surface by thousands of meters of rock, filled with dangers of all kinds, Exile was the perfect place to send any and all threats to the Emperor's rule.
The mages quickly created a powerful one-way teleporter to the cave system. Hawthorne's armies and police forces rounded up all the misfits and rebels and traitors and free thinkers and shoved them through the portal with no possible return. And, for a time, the system worked well. The Empire was made more secure. Hawthorne's reign went well. Everything was happy.
Until Hawthorne made a fatal mistake.
Along with all the misfits went powerful mages, including the archmage Erika. She was perhaps the most powerful mage ever to appear within the Empire. And yet, for all her magic, she could not keep from being captured and tossed through the teleporter. She was, of course, incensed, especially since the other mages placed an unbreakable curse on her: she would never again in her life see sunlight. With no future to aspire to, no way of returning to her former life, she had no goal.
She found one, and it was revenge.
Erika bided her time, plotted, and planned. The residents of Exile grew in number and strength as Erika and other mages gave them powerful tools and knowledge to survive in their new world. Exile began to prosper and grow.
It was time to strike.
Erika found a team of promising young adventurers, relatively recently arrived and yet very successful in combatting the dangers of the caves. With the aid of other mages, she built a new teleporter straight to Emperor Hawthorne's throne room. The adventuring team popped in, killed the Emperor, and went back to Exile, all before the guards had a chance to react.
To be continued...