System: World of Warcraft
I have this image in my mind of a massive city. Far bigger than anything that existed in the medieval world of real history. Somewhere on the order of Manhatten in size with a population of over a million.
This city is the capital of a realtively young republic. Scars of battle are visible in some quarters. Reminders of a recent civil war which resulted in the overthrown of the imperial family. The city still bears the name Imperial City even though the empire has fragmented and replaced by a loose confederation of semi-automonous regions and city states.
With a population of over a million, traditional fuedal agriculture would probably not support the city. Perhaps magical assistance is used to increase crop yeilds. They may even use a magical version of hydroponics to grow food in massive underground chambers lit artifically by magic.
One of the basic assumptions many fantasy games make is that technological development stops at the crossbow. Also science often seems hampered by the existance of magic.
While I can understand the reasoning behind these assumptions in some cases, I want to play/run a fantasy game where this is not true. A world undergoing a scientific revolution. Scientific knowledge is expanding and growing. Magic and mages are not hindering this exploration but in fact are actively supprting it.
As scientists unlock more knowledge about how the world works, this knowledge can be used to refine spells and develop new forms of magic. Magic, once a tradition and an art form, is quickly becoming a science in its own right.
This would be most evident in the support systems in the Imperial City. As previously mentioned, caverns and chambers beneath the city have been enlarged for “hydroponics”. The crop plants would have been magically enhanced for frequent yeilds. The chambers would be artfically lit using magical light that simulates sunlight. Providing a year round 24/7 growing season. As for water, that will be tied into the sewage system. If magic can be used to purify water in DnD (Purify Food and Drink, 0 lvl Cleric and Druid Spell) then why can’t it be used on an industrial scale to treat sewage. This purified water couold then be fed into drinking fountains and wells for consumption, returned to lakes and rivers and piped down to the hydroponics caverns. hey, if they can do it with crops why not aquaculture as well to provide a supply of protein to the populace.
As the above suggests, this campaign will mostly center around the Imperial City, both as a base of operations and as an adventure locale itself.
But no city is an island. With the exception of Venice 🙂
The Empire itself is now gone. The republic that now controls the Imperial City is the largest of the Succession States. A loose confederation of semi-autonomous states. Is see this confederation as something akin to the US federal system. However there is greater variety of governmental styles. The SS (perhaps a rethink on the name is needed) covers an area the size of Europe and accounts for nearly one third of the land area of the continent (Pelluria) it’s on.
The universe on in which the campaign world is located follows a Copernican Helio-Centric Model. In other words, like our own. I’ve chosen this as I don’t feel at this stage the campaign world would gain any benefit from having a non-scientific universe model.
This of course means that the world is round and orbits the sun. Continent A straddles the equator and provides a variety of climates and terrain. Just north of Pelluria is Taios. A channel only 25 miles wide separates the two continents. This short distance has meant that a great deal of trade exists between the two continents. Taios is the large continent with its geographical center located at the planets north pole.
Beyond the lands claimed by the Succession States lie other kingdoms. Taios is split between two cultures. The coastal areas are populated by people who reside in permenant communities. Some of them nearly cities. The trade with each other and the outside world and a proud sea-faring people. Perhaps the best sailors in the world. The further inland you go the harsher the climate. The interior is controlled by a nomadic culture that alternates between trading and raiding. The centre of Taios however is under a permenent ice-pack. Beneath the ice lie the preserved ruins of an ancient civilisation. All signs point to them being destroyed by a rapid and sudden freezing of central Taios.
On Pelluria itself, apart from the SS there are many other nations. Some of them may have been been part of the empire and declined to join the SS following the civil war. Some resisted imperial expansion long ago. There is only one other power on the continent that matched the empire for power and the two kept each other in check. Following the civil war, imperial military might was broken up between the succession states. Much of it has atrophied. The empire’s rival has since begun to flex its muscles and may decide to take advantage of this weakness.
Just a quick summary of locations mentioned so far.
Imperial City: The largest city in the known world. Capital of the old Empire, now the capital of the Western Republic.
Western Republic: Largest member of the Succession States.
Succession States: An loose confederacy of autonomous states that arose from the ashes of the Empire.
Pelluria: (Pronounced Pell-ur-re-ah) Continent on which the SS is located.
Taios: (Pronounced Tay-ous) Continent to the north of Pelluria
I’ve decided to use existing fantasy races as a base and play with the preconceptions that most fantasy games have.
So far I have the following:
Now, the Humans are one of the youngest races in the setting (the youngest being Halflings). Humans are the result of an attempt to cross-breed Orcs and Elves magically to create a new warrior/slave race. The result was mostly successful. It created a race which had the physical strength of the orcs with the intelligence and wisdom of the elves. They served their masters well for many generations, sweeping aside all who opposed them. The Elves fled to the forests and the Orcs fled northwards to Taios. However everything went horribly wrong when a cabal of elven sorcerers performed a ritual which the magical control over the humans. The humans revolted against their masters and massacred them. For nearly a decade humans fought amongst themselves until an attack by the elves and orcs to reclaim their lost lands forced them to unite to drive them back. This alliance grew into the Empire. This empire lasted over a thousand years before the civil war which created the Succession States.
In most campaign settings, orcs always seem to relegated to nothing more than cannon fodder used by the enemy. In this setting I’ve decided to make orcs a little more interesting.
The orcs once controlled a large area of land on Pelluria. They formed a large collection of tribes and settlements that were allied to each other through family and honour ties. The closest real-world parallels are a cross between Saxons and Native American tribes. Orcs are in fact the oldest of the known races and have a very long history handed down through the generations orally.
However, when the humans were created the Orcs were amongst the first to feel the full force of this new races battle prowess. The orcs had never been very good at utilising battle magic. The humans, whyile not as strong as orcs or magically inclined as the elves, were very effective in battle. Over the course of a decade the Orcs where driven from their homelands.
They fled accross the sea to the northern continent of Taios Curiously, the humans did not pursue them. Perhaps they were too busy with the elves or maybe they were already secretly planning their revolt. Either way the orcs were left alone.
Their culture under went a dramatic split. Some decided to accept their loss and build a new home on Taios. They built small communities along the coast where they landed. Many of these have since become large towns as trade increased following the human revolt. These orcs also became accomplised sailors who engaged in fishing, whaling and ocean exploration. The second cultural group refused to settle down. I’ll need to flesh these guy a bit more. I see them as a much more nomadic bunch. Not was evil as a classic orc but definatly not as civilised as the coastal orcs.
Now a bit on the ancient history of the setting.
The Eldren were immortal beings with immense magical powers. They controlled a small city on the north western coast of Pelluria. They were surrounded by the Orcish tribes and the Elven kingdoms. Although there was trade between the Eldren and the other races, they kept others at reach. Over time they became more and more arrogant and started to view all other races as inferior. Instead of trading, they began to simply take what they wanted.
For all their power, their numbers were few and their birth rate very low. Eventually their neighbours began to cease dealing with and started to strike back. Taking back what was once theirs. It was this that forced them to look for a race that could serve them and gave them the idea of magically creating a new race out of Orcs and Elves. And so in secret workshops. breeding experiments began.
The end result was humans. A race “programmed” to accept the Eldren as gods and to obey their every command. In the beginning tens of thousands were created magically. Many more were created in this way over the next ten years boosting the population far faster than could be achieved though … ahem .. normal biological methods
Over the next 500, human armies where thrown against the Orcs and the Elves. Defeat for the Orcs came relatively swiftly as their were never really able to defend themselves against the onslaught of humans. The fight against the elves was much tougher with humans only really winning through sheer numerical superiority For every elf that was killed, the elves killed 20 humans. But the elves were outnumbered 30:1.
Eventually, the borders of the Eldren Domain stretched across half a continent. The Orcs had fled to Taios and the Elven Kingdoms destroyed. In the Domain, the Eldren lived lives paradisal luxury. Their every whim catered for by legions of servants. For nearly a thousand years the Domain stood inviolate resisting all attacks. The seeds of the Domain’s destruction were already present. The population of the Domain was 8,000’000 of which only 5,000 were Eldren. Less than 0.1% of the population. Eldren may have ruled the Domain but it was humans who ran it. However any thoughts of discontent were suppressed by the magical conditioning which forced the humans to view the Eldren as goods. Whatever the whim, such as the command to change the colour of all the leaves on every tree in the domain to purple, it was humans who had to work out how to implement it.
The Elves decided to use this to their advantage. They believed that if they could sever the ties between the humans and the eldren then the domain would collapse. Working in secret they performed a ritual to overturn the conditioning. Everything seemed to work except the no reaction was reported amongst the humans by their spies. The tried again three times before they gave up. What they didn’t know was that the ritual HAD worked. The humans were free of the mental conditioning but they had been serving the Eldren for so long that at first it had no effect. It was a year before the first signs showed.
It started when workers carving a statue to be displayed in the town square of their city’s Eldren ruler urinating in to the mouth of children questioned why they had to destroy the old statue which was nearly identical when it would be easier to just simply modify it. The priesthood had them all tried for heresy and executed by the end of the shift for questioning the Eldren edict. From there it spread like wildfire and in no time at all the domain had fallen to a religious civil war. One upon which the Eldren were to loose. The first sign of trouble many Eldren noticed was when their city started to burn. For others it was when a sword was thrust into their guts by their most trusted servent.
With a month the Eldren were slaughtered and the domain no more.
What replaced it was a patchwork of realms dominated by local warlords. This was when the other races seized their chance and attacked. This proved to be a huge mistake as this forced the humans to unite together for survival. Something humans can do very well if the need is dire enough. A century of war followed and after the smoke cleared the humans stood triumphant. Their borders secure and the old Eldren capital now a capital of a new, human, imperial state.
Its a DnD setting using the WoW ruleset. Characters portray a typical DnD party.