Here's the History of the World in a nutshell. Nothing particularly new to anyone who's been following this blog. I'm busy writing the "setting" portion of the first-level-megadungeon-book (although I expect many DM's will just toss it out the window and just stick with the dungeon), so here's a few paragraphs I wrote tonight. You can see it's all fairly light on detail. I'll have a map of the "known world" around the megadungeon and Denethix, but I won't even be putting names on the surrounding city-states. The DM will be free to drop in whatever wizards he wants. There will be sample wizards in the book to choose from, or he can make up whatever he wants. This is probably all nothing but flavor, since I expect players are going to spend the majority of their time crawling around the dungeon. Where most of the setting detail is going, is into the description of Denethix and its factions. Even that won't be too many pages. If you've got any comments or criticisms about anything at all, please leave a comment, this is my first time putting anything together for publication, so the more feedback the merrier.
History of the World
The Anomalous Subsurface Environment exists in a world much like our own, but several thousand years in the future. About the same time that the dungeon was sealed off from the outside world, the Earth suffered a cataclysm that ushered in an age of magic and barbarism. Records from this time are nonexistent, and sages debate the true cause. Some suggest a nuclear war as the cause, while others propose that a comet threw the moon out of its proper orbit. Regardless of how or why, the nature of the world changed profoundly.
The current state of the world is a bleak place the average man or woman. Mount Rendon, the mountain that contains the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, is situated in the middle of the Land of One Thousand Towers, a landscape carved by tyrannical wizards into city-states. These wizards are, by and large, evil madmen, prone to using human settlements as slave labor and fodder for their cruel experiments. Their only concern is for acquiring ancient secrets and arcane power. At their best, they are indifferent to their subjects, but far more often they are actively hostile.
There are three common types of city-state, determined by the temperament and goals of the ruling wizard:
a. Slave-State. Humans living in these city-states are enslaved and closely supervised by the wizard’s minions. No trade is possible, and visitors will either be killed or enslaved.
b. Terror-State. Humans are nominally free, but the ruling wizard will frequently raid settlements, to gather subjects for his experiments, or extort tribute of some sort. Trade is possible with these settlements, but they will typically not have much to offer.
c. Indifferent-State. This is the best that life in the Land of 1,000 Towers has to offer. The ruling wizard’s pursuit of knowledge doesn’t currently require human subjects, so nearby settlements are left to their own devices. Should the wizard ever feel threatened, however, reprisals will be swift and brutal. Small towns prosper near the towers of this sort of wizard, and trade is prevalent with other similar towns.
The city-state of Denethix is the exception. Its human inhabitants have become increasingly powerful in the past few decades, far more than most wizards would tolerate, for reasons explained later in this book. Nearby wizards would crush Denethix if they did not fear its ruler, the mighty Feretha.
The rulers of these city-states aren’t the only wizards to be found in the Land of 1,000 Towers. Landless upstarts are constantly about in the countryside, seeking ancient artifacts and thaumaturgical secrets that will grant them the power to create or conquer city-states for themselves.