One of the decisions I need to make (and soon - much of the setting material will be deeply influence by this decision) is WHEN in the history of the Splintered Realm this game is set. There was an event called the Great Reckoning, when mankind slew the one true goddess, and everything fell into chaos. I've set various games at various points in the history of the realm. So far, I've explored:
10-20 years after the Reckoning. Mankind is just coming to terms with the devastation wrought by the Reckoning. No heroes have emerged yet, no communication between communities is possible, and people have just begun to get their feet under them. The realities of the changes to the world have just set in.
800+ years after the Reckoning. Mankind is on the verge of a new golden age, ready to re-establish the Old Kingdom and re-establish man as the central power in the realm. (I've alternately used 813 AR and 833 AR as key time periods of games and campaigns. My first games were set in 813 AR).
Right now, I'd like to think about materials I produce for the game has happening 'frozen in amber'. You get a snapshot of the world at a particular moment, and then any individual campaign builds upon that. This seems preferable to me to having your 'event of the month' that individual campaigns are expected to build upon. The era of the world will fall somewhere between these two extremes.
So, let's brainstorm a little. These are elements I'd like to include:
- The idea that we are at the end of the dark age. Mankind is ready to build roads between lands, establish political treaties that could act as the precursor for something like a regional government, and ready to purposefully explore and possibly even settle the region. We're entering the age of exploration.
- Elves remember. Even middle-aged elves (400 years or so) remember a time before the Reckoning, and they are still pretty ticked with mankind for what he did. If I back it up even further, a 'starting player character' (assuming an age of about 200 for a starting PC) wouldn't remember, or may have been just a child when the Reckoning happened. Okay, so somewhere between 200 and 400 years ago.
- Mankind doesn't remember at all, and doubts are beginning to surface about a time before the Reckoning, and what that might have been. The Old Kingdom of Cavaria is considered a myth by many. 200-400 years works for this as well. This is about the length of time from today to the founding of the Colonies or the American Revolution (at best the Civil War) in terms of how close they feel to it. That's about right.
- Old dwarves remember (like the really, really old ones), but younger dwarves only listen in awe to the tales told by elders. Dwarves would look at this like most of us do World War II. We know if happened, we see the consequences of it, and we have only 1-2 generations back that were there. It was still fairly recent for us, but a world away for the newest generation.
- Dragons fall into two clear distinctions. Elders existed before the Reckoning (almost all long before the Reckoning), while a whole new generation was born after the Reckoning, and would be the common dragons that players would encounter. In 3E terms, I don't want common dragons to be any older than 'mature adult', which again is 200-400 years. That range comes up again. Nice.
If we go with an average human generation as being 25 years, and we go with 9 generations (I like that number, and 9th son of a 9th son seems like it should resonate somewhere. Still working on that), then we end up with 225 years. That's a bit on the short side, but not bad.
Hmmm. 228. This is one of the power numbers in my life (my classroom was #228 for the last few years; we were married on the 28th, my house number is 28...) so I like the way this echoes. This also means that the 'oldest' dragon most players will encounter will be adult or younger, which aligns nicely with the way I see dragons working in the core rules (the basic dragons covered in the game - of the 6 to 11 HD variety - are all newbies, age 228 or younger).
Year 228 AR. Spring. Winter has just ended.
The amber has been set.