I’m building a setting on this blog: Tarakona, a continent filled with draconic races.
Today I’m going to flesh out the continent’s history. To understand any world, it helps to understand where it came from. If you know which elements forged it into its present shape, you can grasp it that much better.
However, a world intended for a tabletop RPG has specific requirements, different than what you need for a novel.
First, the world has to provide plot hooks. All the “fluff” in a game should provide plot hooks, in my opinion: material that can provide the backstory or motivation for an adventure.
Second, the setting has to provide dungeons. I don’t mean that literally, nor is it just because of the legacy of D&D. The PCs will need iconic areas to explore and have their adventures in. Even games that don’t involve heroic fantasy or dungeon crawling need iconic environments: dusty libraries and long-forgotten crypts in a Cthulhu investigation game, for example. The setting has to provide for the presence of those environments.
I’ve already established that dragons ruled the continent some centuries ago, and created the races that currently dominate it. But every epic fantasy world needs ruins and dungeons of past empires, and it’ll be difficult for GMs to run a game in a world where all the ruins are scaled for dragons.
So, let’s add some races that came before: humans who grew too powerful. What destroyed them? Let’s echo the downfall of the dragons by having them destroy the humans who came before.
On to our history:
The Age of Monsters
Tarakona was a primitive, untamed wilderness. Huge monsters roamed the jungle-covered land. Eventually, humans arrived and killed off most of those monsters, though many were driven underground or to remote areas. Few records of this era survive.
Plot hooks=: A newly-discovered record hints at an ancient monster driven underground, now living in caves like Morlocks, their internal organs valuable for spell components.
The Golden Age of Man
Great empires grew during this time. Men built massive cities and fortresses. Armies fought until they were united under Grand Emperor Koss. Under Koss and his descendants, lords squabbled and fought, but never put the entire nation at risk.
Most people viewed magic with suspicion, and the state increasingly disfavored it. This eventually led to the Sorcerer’s Rebellion. In their search for freedom and vengeance, wizards unleashed massive powers, leveling whole nations and throwing Tarakona into chaos. Great cities fell into ruin and sank into the jungle.
Plot hooks: Koss and his descendants ruled with a famous scepter, long thought lost; a recently-discovered map shows its location. Five artifacts were used to destroy whole cities during the Sorcerer’s Rebellion; someone has found an old, heavily trapped ruin that contains one of them.
The Days of Magic
After the dust settled, the surviving wizards set themselves up in power. Frankly horrified at the vast destruction they and their peers had wrought, they pledged never to use spells of mass destruction again.
For the next few centuries, the High Wizards retreated into their towers, devoting themselves to magical research. Their minions built fantastic palaces, impregnable fortresses, and secret underground laboratories.
Then one High Wizard grew powerful and distrustful. He allied with a few other spellcasters and summoned the dragons in an attempt to wipe out the other High Wizards.
Plot hooks: An old, fallen tower from the Days of Magic has been discovered; it’s full of valuable artifacts…and magically-animated guardians.
The Age of Dragons
The dragons fought for the wizards in a long war. The remaining humans and humanoids either died or emigrated to other continents of the world. Eventually, the dragons turned on their masters and killed them all, leaving Tarakona solely to its dragon masters. The dragons settled in their former masters’ homes, and used the wizards’ abandoned laboratories to create many lizard-like and draconic servant races.
Dragons and dragonkind spread throughout Tarakona, settling every corner of the continent. The dragons ruled with absolute power, sending Kala into vast battles purely for the dragons’ amusement, toying with craven lizardlings, and driving komodos deep into the dangerous old ruins for forgotten magical lore.
Then, mysteriously, a few centuries ago, the dragons began to weaken. Some died; some left. Nobody knows why; the dragons murmured of a dozen different reasons, few of them compatible.
Once the dragons grew sufficiently weak, the many servant races seized the opportunity, rose up, and killed their masters.
Fifty years of civil war followed, and the races eventually settled into stable clans and empires. The wars died, and over the next century, things slowly settled. Occasional battles marred a period of general peace and construction. Today, each of the three primary civilizations of Tarakona is sufficiently mature to attempt true mastery of their entire continent.
Now, each kingdom needs adventurers.
Plot hooks: An oracle prophesies that the dragons will return in one year unless certain conditions are met. A dragon’s lair has been unearthed.