The Riptide project was founded by Empress Llawan as a means to further the understanding of magic of both the surface dwellers and the Mer Empire, in an attempt to repair relations between the surface and the Empire following the actions of Aboshan and Laquatus. The most significant piece of research undertaken by the project was the study of slivers, based on fossilized remains discovered in Urborg. The project succeeded in recreating slivers, but without the control of the Sliver Queen, the slivers ran wild and slaughtered most of the researchers. They then escaped the island and made it to mainland Otaria, and soon they spread rapidly over all Dominaria.
It's been hinted that the Cabal also had an interest in the Riptide Project, but it's unknown if they were spying on the research academy simply out of curiosity or for more sinister reasons.
Of all the researchers that came to Riptide, seemingly only one survived the Slivers devastating onslaught - a wizard called Pemmin, known for his enchantment spell called Pemmin's Aura.
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