Telara and its creatures were created thousands of years ago by the gods from a great mass of sourcestone, at an "unprecedented nexus of the elemental planes". Telara was initially a utopia of "peace and plenty", with the peoples of Telara following and conversing with the gods.
In time, the Blood Storm found and came to Telara, seeking to consume its sourcestone. The Blood Storm, in dragon form, inflicted great damage on Telara even as some mortals joined them in the hope of gaining their favor. The Blood Storm, however, eventually fell into civil war, and the mortals of Telara joined forces and attacked the Blood Storm, catching them off guard. The Blood Storm War lasted centuries, but the Blood Storm was eventually imprisoned in the planes.
After the war, the Gods joined together as the Vigil, and aided the mortals in constructing the ward which would shield Telara from the planes. After this was accomplished, the mortal races eventually went separate ways - the Dwarves returned to their homes in the mountains, the Eth used technomagical machines to build an empire, and the Elves eventually split into two factions - the High Elves and the Kelari..
The territories that can be explored by players are only a small part of Telara, and much of the world is unreachable due to colossal mountain ranges at the north and west, and seas to the east and south that have become impassable in the wake of the Shade.
The continent on which players of Rift: Planes of Telara begin is the largest in the world, and "hosts a diverse and colorful geography, including deserts of shimmering sand and vibrant oases, immense mountain ranges, lush old-growth forests, colorful fairy woods, boggy swamps, sparse rocky highlands, wildly overgrown grasslands, and wind-swept savannas".