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The Planeswalker Journal

Campaign Setting: Politics & History, Part Deux

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Okay, well we laid out the foundation for <East> and <West> after the Great War, so we need to do the same for <North> and <South> before we can bring everyone up to the present day and current politics. While not necessary, I do like the idea of our setting taking up a large space on a globe (perhaps even a whole planet!), and for some amount of realism that would also dictate different climates. I'm not a great map maker, so anything globe-like is out, but I like the idea of <East> and <West> being more or less temperate zones and having a cold zone and a hot zone. So I'll be arbitrary and say that <North> is cold and <South> is hot.

Now the big problem with extreme climate zones is that they are very prone to cliche cultures--in this case the ones that come to mind are vikings in the cold and nomads in the desert/jungle. It's not necessarily a bad thing to use cliche cultures, but it certainly doesn't hurt to put a spin on things either. For some reason I want to use gnolls in one of the two locations; I think it's because gnolls are very versatile humanoids while still being "monstrous" enough that they probably wouldn't have been a large part of the cultural make-up on <West>, so I can get away with making them more "savage". I ran a desert campaign that used gnolls as raiders, preying off of travelers and those already scraping a living from the harshness... It was fun for a short stint, but I don't see that holding up in a setting, so we'll put the gnolls on <North> and, why not, we'll go ahead and say they are kind of Viking-like. We've put culture (sort of), but we still need history...

Back before the Great War, gnolls were primarily in service to white dragons, who seemed to be able to communicate with them more effectively than others who lived in the cold north. They were chosen because of all the "lesser" races, they seemed to be especially resiliant to the cold. Just as eager to throw off the oppressive yoke of their dragon overlords after the conflict, the gnolls now live in numerous villages and tribes scattered across the western half of <North>. They distinctly have no love lost for the caretaking of dragons, and most villages will send runners to other tribes to notify them of any dragons in the area and to organize war parties. As such, most dragons relegate themselves to the eastern half of the continent, and only those looking for slaves or the occassional parley head near known gnoll settlements.

For <South>, I think I'm going to take a page from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and style at least a portion of it as mostly human nomads dependent on horses. It has a very unique feel to it, something between barbarians and Rohan from Lord of the Rings that I just like. We can even say that these people were always very skilled with horses, and were prized all over for their skill on horseback and their fearless warriors. They were themselves barter chips that dragons used before the Great War and led to the dragons of the south becoming very rich (even for dragons). When word of the uprisings on <West> reached <South>, the dragon lords and their vassals both came to the conclusion that an arrangement was better and would lead to less pain for everyone considering their generally harsh environment that almost demanded people to work together to survive. Not quite the feudal social structure of <East> while not the diverse atmosphere of <West>, <South> is a land ruled by the paradox of wealth and banding together for survival.

These both seem pretty rough, but they are a good blueprint for right now. At the very least, we now know the relative state of peoples & dragons on each of our four major landmasses maybe a hundred years after the Great War (which should probably get a more appropriate name at some point). So we are at a good historical marker where we can build more history from. And while we're at it, we can set our timeline! Since this Great War really serves to define, at least in part, our setting that makes it as good a reason as any to center the timeline around that. So we will call the year that Bahamut and Tiamat fought each other and died, shattering the landscape Year 0 (we can add the verisimilitude later). Next we will add some more history to our world as a whole and very briefly touch on politcs, since specific politics will vary based on nation.

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  1. Rodgin Kemph's Avatar
    Still a winner.

    Remember, as long as it is done well and is believable, cliche and predictable aren't bad.

    Excellent work thus far.
  2. Aerthos's Avatar
    Something about the southern continent just isn't sitting well with me. Hmm.... that might get a re-write before too long.
    Updated 04-08-2010 at 07:21 AM by Aerthos