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The Planeswalker Journal

Campaign Setting: Politics & History

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Before we can do much of anything else, we really need to start thinking about the history of this world we are creating. Because really, that is what separates a full-fledged campaign setting from Your DM's Homebrew--a campaign setting has an in-depth history for many different cultures of your world, explaining how things got to where they are today and what the social and political arenas are like. If your DM does that much work on a regular basis... well then he probably needs to get out and get some sun.

This is actually a great place to introduce dragons as rulers into things, so we can use that as our basis for things. We'll say that for millenea, dragons ruled over everything, being the smartest and strongest creatures out there. But even dragons were young culturally, so they warred with each other and often used their vassals as soldiers in their wars against each other. In this way, dragonkind bestowed gifts upon those they considered "lesser" races: magic and the technology bend and form metal.

Both dragonkind and their vassals prospered from a relatively symbiotic relationship until the Great War. Believed to be incited by Bahamut and Tiamat, the entire continent was enveloped in combat as dragons and humanoids slaughtered each other. The Great War culminated in a climactic battle that resulted in the deaths of both dragon deities and rent the land asunder. What was once one great continent was now four smaller ones: <North> in the cold north; <East> in the east, with the former capital <capital>; <South> in the inhospitible south; and <West> in the west, the largest of the landmasses.

Angry with their draconic rulers, the humanoids of <West> joined together into a massive organized uprising. Caught off-guard and still disorganized after the Great War, they were quickly overthrown and many fled to <East>. <West> is now a series of city-states of varying amounts of racial mixing; feelings towards dragonkind range from respect and cooperation (dragonriders maybe?) to outright hatred. In many of these nations a "true" dragon is still present--perhaps as an emissary--but not necessarily the power behind the government. <East> remains much as it always has--a land where dragons are the absolute rulers, and dragons live in a more-or-less state of mutual peace among each other since learning the lessons of the past.

This does a few great things right here. It gives some history of our world from the perspective of one of the longest-lived creatures in our cosmology: dragons. It also gives a great reason for why so many different humanoid races get along and live side-by-side in cities--because they've been doing it for hundreds of years. We didn't exactly specify which races, but those kinds of details can come later. We also provided a reasoning for differing social structures on two of our continents, the creation of them, AND why it's more likely to see a LG and LE dragon talking diplomacy than at each other's throats. So some big answers given here that we can build off of and add details to down the road. More on history and politics in a few days.

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  1. Ao's Avatar
    Wow... that's a lot of material covered in so few words... well done!
  2. Lowthor's Avatar
    I think its an interesting setting you're putting together. Its a more creative use of dragons than the usual. I'm inclined to say that from what you've described dragon riders might not be the best fit. If dragons were as powerful as it sounds, what use would they get out of having a rider?
  3. Ao's Avatar
    I was picturing two tiers of dragons, the traditional bad ass dragons we all know and love, and then a smaller, dumber breed that could be tamed and used by humans for transport.
  4. Rodgin Kemph's Avatar
    A few suggestions and comments.

    First one: WOW! Excellent use of dragons to explain why Allignment doesn't matter as much as most people think it should. If everything was under Draconic rule, this can really move your idea of "monster races" as civilization dwellers forward. Much better then Eberron did IMO.

    Second: I have the Dracinomicon, (in the event that you don't) and being as you intend to have a dragon heavy world, I am more then happy to supply you extra info from that. It does provide a dragon rider class (which needs some serious help). It provides incleased manuverability and speed to a dragon, thus making a rider give the dragon some help.

    Third: Did I mention WOW? I can't wait to see your north and South continents build up.
  5. Aerthos's Avatar
    My thought on actually having dragon riders was literally just off the top of my head; I don't know if it is a feasible idea to incorporate into the setting at this point. Probably not until I get down to defining racial histories and relationships because given the history I am establishing here, it would have to be a kind of mutually beneficial arrangement between the dragon and rider.

    I do have a copy of the Draconomicon (3.5) and have looked over the dragon rider class. IF the concept is feasible I would agree that the class would need some tweaking, but I think I would keep it as a five-level PrC. It's enough to allow for a distinct feel without necessarily defining the character/NPC overall. Again, if the dragon riders concept is possible I'd love to use it because I've never seen it used to my satisfaction in any setting I've read.

    THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for the comments, criticisms, and suggestions! They help keep my enthusiasm for this project up and motivate me to churn out new blogs faster.
  6. Ao's Avatar
    I just saw that new movie How to Train Your Dragon last night. It actually has some interesting new ideas regarding dragons that could be drawn upon. I don't want to give away any spoilers if you plan on watching it though.
  7. Aerthos's Avatar
    Already saw it. It does have some interesting ideas that I might tap for new kinds of dragon species. As far as riders, I imagined something between "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Avatar" for the bond between rider and dragon.