"How far? Ye’ll know ye’ve found Malver’s Way when ye sees the Arch."
Gnomes, fascinated with magic, tried to find a way to safely access it, and instead wound up addicted in the deadliest way.
Thaumatechnology - in a world where straight magic has an unnerving tendency to get the user killed, either by magical catastrophe or by being lynched by an upset mob, this is a much safer form of magical use… Even if it does occasionally explode.
What if the sources of precious metal in the realm all failed, so that the only sources for gold and other precious metal were hostile foreign lands? Gold coinage might become increasingly rare, resulting in hoarding. Player characters that appear with masses of treasure might be suspected of being in the pay of foreign powers.