25 May 2012

Pen & Paper: Creating a World part 5 - Recent History

In part 5 of my little world-creation we'll take a look at the recent history of the setting. Recent history is important as it is what makes a world seem alive and seperates it from a static setting. Things have happened in recent history and they play a part in what people think of the place they live in and may even create reference points for snide remarks, prejudice or even popular culture in-game. Let's take a look...

Okay let's talk about recent events that have shaped the world that my players are currently experiencing (and interacting with in ways that may result in mid-scale changes temselves). Now as I am making this up as the game progresses, the history directly influencing the lives of my player characters is what I have fleshed out thus far. This limits the recent history of the world to the eastern hemisphere, as out of the seven PCs six are from the Western Empire and one is from the Kalifate. The latter, being the siltent foreigner of the group, does sometimes wonder about the way things are handled in the Western Empire but is okay with the group running around in the wilderness, doing savage things as she is an animal-trainer in search of rare and (from her view) exotic animals to capture and tame.

So, recent history of the Western Empire. First of all I need to be clear what I mean by 'recent'. Roughly the last century or so, about four to five generations would cut it. The Western Empire has, in the past hundred years, lost a lot of its population to famine, pestilence and, most of all, civil war. Being a feudalistic construct of a state, the Cousin War was a war of secession after Emperor Waldemar the Stout had no legal heirs (rumor has it that he was a homosexual but the world will never know) and died to an assassination from an unknown conspiracy in the court. As the Emperor does not have his own castle but is travelling around the Empire, living with his entire entourage in the Pfalzes where he administers the empire from a mobile court, word spread quickly that the house of Xandu was extinct and, as different factions of nobles already had plans laid out for this case, the empire quickly split into three factions each having a champion for the throne. The war, fought without real frontlines as the fiefdoms were joining causes all over the place, raged for two decades and devastated the Western Empire. It ended seventy years ago but its aftermath is still felt.

The massive loss of manpower and material goods in the Western Empire has led to an almost complete demise of naval power for its different merchant- and military navies. The seas south of the Empire are now the domain of traders and warships from the Kalifate, as well as traders and pirates from Mahliland, while the further trade-routes are now completely in the hands of sailers from the Island of Rain.This has led to an increase in the price of any goods imported from overseas, such as lenses and gems or even animal products such as silk, rare creatures or alchemical components such as dinosaur-feathers and -teeth. The Naga Queendoms tried to use the Empires weakness to expand its territory but, as the nagas were attacking to their south, the Northern Barbarians saw their chance for retribution for the terrible toll they had been paying for centuries just by living next to the nagas. So the war spread across most of the continents, even to parties not directly involved with the succession of the Western Empire.

When it all was over and the fighting died down, a treaty was signed and Chlodwig the Resilient became new emperor, with one of his two rivals, Cedric of Brecca having died around the 12th year of the war and his remaining enemy, Guilermo of The South Shore sent to exile to the Emerald Isle. Chlodwigs great-grandson, Chlodwig II is currently emperor of the Western Empire, seven decades after his ancestor gained the throne through a war of attrition the like the world doesn't remember.

In the area that the campaign is currently taking place, the southern ranges of the Northern Barbarians, the war against the nagas is still remembered and skins from naga-tails are still decorating most homes. The nagas still come to take away children to sacrifice to their snake-god from time to time so there is a high potential for tension there, with the humans having thus far remained inactive for their fear of an open war against the reempowered nagas. As the characters have just last session caused a military clash of men led by the local barbarian king with a group of nagas including one of their seven queens, the area is likely to fall into another mid-sized war in the foreseeable future. We will see how the campaign evolves and if the permanent loss of limbs and/or stats that the terrible wounds resulting from being hit by naga-crossbows in said clash will be reason enough for the players to stay out of things...

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