This post is as much aide-de-memoire for me as it is structured notes for players. However, it’s the best I’ve got at the moment and I want to push something out to set the scene and give us some framework for the game. This is largely for the players in the game, but anyone feel free to read and comment!
Note: whilst I have used names from the Forgotten Realms published settings, and therefore you can google to your heart’s content, I make zero promises that any details you find on the web will make it through to the actual representation of the places herein. Yeps, I’m being lazy at this stage. Yeps, that’s probably not great. Yeps, I work a full-time job, drink too much wine and have to look after two chickens. What you gonna do about it? Exactly.
The campaign starts in the Royal Protectorate of Tilverton (an independent protectorate town), between a broadly royalty-based kingdom (links are to maps to show relative geography Cormyr) and a set of communities that farm in the tendrils of the Great Elven Wood (The Dalelands). To the North-East sits an evil empire (Iuz the Evil rather than the Zhentarim – think really evil, infernal / demonic place) and to the south sits a selection of city-states dominated by Serpent People (Yaun-ti).
To the west of the Kingdom there are the “plaguelands”; psuedo-radioactive waste that was created by the Gods War many thousand (?) years ago. Very infrequent caravans make it through the plaguelands and talk of a strip of “civilisation” on the edge of the Trackless Sea (the Sword Coast); reward follows risk as these merchants make a killing from bringing exotic goods and spices from that land.
To the North there is a range of mountains; home to giants, goblinkind and other such creatures.
At various points of history the land was under the sway of Elves, Dwarves and human empires; there are scattered ruins and infrastructure that talk to their improved capabilities. For instance, the city of Tilverton has a complicated sewer system and public baths that are fed from a system of aqueducts that bring water from the mountains across a length of tens of miles into the city. There’s nothing inherently magical about this system; just plain old-fashioned, solid engineering.
The main road to the Kingdom and to the Dales has a sequence of forts built along it and remains well-tended and allows for quick and relatively safe travel. This road, however, does maintain itself more than would be expected and blurs the line between good construction and what could only be achieved by access to supernatural energies.
There is great wealth hidden and stored in the largely abandoned mountain fastness of the Dwarves; the Elves have retracted into their own woodland – perhaps focused on defending against the evil empire to the North East. There are small enclaves of Dwarves in the mountains, and small enclaves of Gnomes and Halflings amongst the Dales.
Whilst the snake-people of the South are on relatively stable terms with the human-kingdoms, they sporadically raid to capture slaves and there is a general feeling of mis-trust between both sides. They are generally regarded as trading in ‘unsafe’ substances; poisons and their cousins, narcotics, are largely stereotyped as being pushed by agents of the Serpent People.
The world is largely the technology level of the early-Italian Renaissance. In fact that’s a pretty good comparison as they enjoy some of the benefits of a more technically advanced infrastructure and society left by an ancient empire, and are starting to emerge with their own advances.
Tilverton is largely self-governed, albeit formally a protectorate of the Royal Kingdom. The city’s Tyrant rules through / with a Senate largely populated from the noble houses, that appoint government officials by lot to serve for one or more years. Tribunes represent the common people and are elected by lot for a period of a year at a time. This is very similar to the model of Republic Rome; the Tyrant isn’t a god-like Ceasar; more equivalent to a ‘first minister’.
Surrounding the city are a number of farms that provide some measure of support, though the main grains come from either the Dalelands or from the Serpent Kingdom to the South. Tilverton’s proximity to the mountain ranges has led to a number of mines being established, some of which are privately owned, some of which are corporations (collections of private citizens) and a large number are state owned. The state owns a monopoly on ‘industrial metals’ such as Tin, Iron etc and tries very hard to control precious metals though with a lot less success.
Tilverton has developed a smelting / metal-working competency and surplus that it trades for the defecit in food and other raw materials and manufactured goods.
However, beneath this pseudo-historical detail is a world where magic exists, dragons sometimes ravage civilisation and buried in a Lich’s tomb is a fortune of coins and powerful magical items.
Moving away from Tilverton can place the characters in a more traditional princesses being rescued territory (the Kingdom), a rustic Shire-based adventure (the Dales), fights against the ravaging Gobbos (the north), battling the darkness of the forest (the Elven Forest), a Demon / Devil-worshipping shit hole of evil (the Evil Empire) or the insidious snake-infested jungles of the south… That’s without braving the journey across the “plaguelands” in some kind of road-trip to see the sea!
I want to move away from a massive pantheon of Gods a la typical D&D fantasy worlds, and keep it more tight. There are Gods, and in fact there was a time when the wide-ranging pantheon held sway, but at this moment in time the list of Churches is much restricted.
The main Gods that are worshipped are the God of the Sun and the God of the Darkest Night. Each of these has a sub-set of Patrons below them (c.f. Saints) that have particular domains and whilst they don’t grant spells they are called upon to intercede in particular ways by the populace and have a variety of feast days etc.
The churches that grant spells (i.e. are religions worth following) within the world are:
- Blah blah; the Patron of the Town;
- Snake God; cults arise from the South
- Demon / Devil; whomever the empire of the north-east sacrifices to
- “Goblin God”; very unknown not particularly well-defined or understood by the Good Races
- God of the Sun / Morning
- God of the Darkest Night
- Elf Patron God
- Dwarf Patron God
- Halfling Patron God
- Gnome Patron God
Not all of these are legal within the various areas, and underground cults are targeted by the authorities.
The world follows the basic assumptions of D&D 5e, in that magic and magic-users are present. The town has a small and tight-knit Mages Guild with some specific requirements and responsibilities. Magic users are the lawyers, doctors, expert professionals of the day; they often occupy positions of power or advise positions of power.
This is the same in most of the regions, with the exception of the Dales, where that kind of intellectual approach is less well-favoured. The greatest spellcasters are considered to be the Elves; it is a general assumption that all Elves have arcane abilities even if they admit that they don’t.
Magic items can be crafted, but this is rare and most of the magic items come from finds from the history of the world. As such, all of the powers are known to sponsor adventuring groups that go to the boundaries of the civilised world (and each other’s regions) to locate and delve into ruins / caches to find these kinds of things.
The adventures that are possible include:
- Classic delve into the ruins of the “dungeons” to bring back goods
- Compete against other adventuring groups for fame and fortune
- Inter-city political shenanigans
- Urban investigate the cults adventures
- Threats from outside – humanoid tribes muster, the evil empire threatens, the royal kingdom flexes its muscles, the snakes in the south try to infiltrate
- Dr. Doom has almost got a macguffin and is going to destroy the world!
As I said in the intro, we’re in brain-dump territory. Future posts will put some more meat onto this skeleton (who knows, I might even name St. Blah-Blah of Tilverton!) along with a description of any house rules I’ll be using and a list of the characters of the campaign!
In the meantime hope that this was equal parts enjoyable, entertaining!