Far off in the distant sea, a lost continent sits and broods. Cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, its draconic races killed their dragon masters and developed unique histories and culture over the past century and a half. But now they face a new threat: the dragons have returned. And now these strange creatures need adventurers.
Tarakona can be dropped into any fantasy world, and I’m developing it here, in the open. I’ll build it according to the following principles:
- Multi-level design. RPGers are imaginative, so each major element will start with a high-level version of a race, creature, artifact, or location. This high-level version will be all you need if you’re full of imagination and want to make it your own for your game. But I’ll also include detailed information that will let you plunk the element down directly in your game.
- Enough detail to whet your appetite. I won’t list every ruler in Tarakona’s history. That’s boring and not useful. But I will tell you about the major names, and give you a couple of juicy details that can hook into other plots. Each major fact will be memorable and directly useful.
- Multiple system support. I’ll include stats for D&D 5th Edition, Pathfinder/D&D 3E, and OSR systems (though not all at once!). I definitely won’t be able to playtest them all, though, so I’ll beg your indulgence there.
So, what is Tarakona? Let’s give you a high-level history to get you started.
Tarakona is a continent dominated by draconic races: versions of kobolds, lizardfolk, and similar creatures magically created by powerful dragons to serve them. There are no humans, elves, dwarves, or other humanoids (until the PCs arrive). These draconic races spent generations toiling for the dragons as slaves and pawns.
The powerfully-built kala were built for battle, their masters breeding whole armies that they would send against other dragons in battles over trifling bets, but which cost untold kala lives. The strange komodos spread throughout the continent, gathering rare spell components and braving dangerous creatures to research magic (and learning a few secrets themselves). The servile lizardlings served the dragons directly, fetching food and providing innumerable forms of entertainment for their masters.
Then, a few centuries ago, the dragons weakened. Some wasted away and died; others flew away; some simply disappeared. Nobody knows why. Dragons murmured of a dozen different reasons, none of them matching each other.
Eventually, the dragons weakened enough that their slave races rose up and slew their masters. Civil war inevitably followed, until finally the races stabilized into three great empires. Despite occasional skirmishes, they have spent the past century and a half developing their civilizations.
The kala seek out new experiences and vibrant emotional experiences, and they evolved into a nomadic people, dozens of tribes swarming across the plains and lightly-forested foothills in the northwest of the continent. Komodos established a secretive empire built around magic and blood sacrifice, their stone ziggurats sprouting out of the jungles and swamps in the center of the continent. The lizardlings, meanwhile, built sprawling, highly developed cities in the south, where you can find any entertainment you can imagine…for the right price.
But now a new war looms, and the draconic races cannot face it alone. They need outside help.
They need adventurers.
To use this now: use your system’s stats for lizardfolk (kala), kobolds (lizardlings), and yuan-ti (komodos), and set up the lizardfolk as a Mongolian-style civilization, the kobolds as a sprawling, Indo-Chinese civilization, and the yuan-ti as an Aztecy civilization. That’s not going to be quite as interesting as what I’ll develop here, but it’ll get you started.
Much more to come!