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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

World-Building Handouts, Part II: History and Culture

Continuing with my handouts examples (see Part I here,) this time zooming in to history and culture factoids. This means I’m skipping over 2-6 in the original handouts list because it makes more sense in the context of my Nine and Thirty Kingdoms world. I’ll come back to those in future parts of the series.

History Factoids
  • Thousands of years ago, Vaeturia conquered or colonized the entire coastline of the Great Fettered Sea, establishing a mighty and advanced empire.
  • In The Wyrm Times, enormous vadwyrms destroyed most of civilization and scattered humanity.
  • Three centuries later, dozens of tiny kingdoms, all a pale shadow of the nearly-forgotten empire, compete to become its replacement.
  • Most monsters, including the vadwyrms, were created during Vaeturia’s decline.
  • The island of Vaeturia still exists somewhere near the center of the Great Fettered Sea.
Again, only the first three factoids (in bold italics) would be included in the player handout. The last two wouldn’t be difficult to learn by asking the right scholars, but other information is GM-only and developed as needed: how and why the vadwyrms and other monsters were made, why things went out of control, how to get to Vaeturia, and what may be found there.

Religion Factoids
  • After The Wyrm Times, a religious schism created the dominant monotheistic Church of Urizen and drove believers in the rest of the old pantheon underground.
  • The Fist of Urizen crushes remnants of the old faith and heretical ideas about Urizen.
  • The distant West revived belief in Urizen’s female companion as the Mysteries of Ahania, while a small mystical cult, the Children of Los, tries to maintain the full pantheon.
  • Druids follow the old pantheon, mostly Urthona, but Chaos Druids and orcs revere Red Orc (not necessarily the same way.)
  • The original schism began before The Wyrm Times, not after.
The first two factoids go on the player handout. The third can be discovered during play. If players ask, The Church of Urizen is roughly equivalent to the medieval Catholic Church, with saints and the like. Their relationship with the Mysteries of Ahania is similar to that of Christianity and Islam just before the Crusades. The Children of Los are basically Qabalists.

William Blake is the source of the pantheon, of course, but I use his ideas very loosely and don’t expect any player to read or memorize anything from Blake. In fact, I prefer players to make up their own religious beliefs about Urizen. It helps encourage heresy.

Cultural Factoids
  • Languages change quickly over short distances
  • Magic is unpopular in rural areas and with some urban commoners, especially witchcraft (any magic that doesn’t rely on books/scrolls.)
This section is short, because most cultural details will be generated as needed during play, using the guidelines already established.

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