I saw a link to Jeff’s Gameblog with a list of 20 questions meant to create a quick introduction to your campaign setting that lets people know what it is about. Seems like a good idea to go through them with my Ancient Lands setting.
- What is the deal with my priests’s religion?
Most priests are shamans who serve as mediators between the spirits of the land and the people who inhabit it. They perform the rituals to ask the spirits for favor and to appease them when they have become angered by something. Many villages have one primary spirit they worship, which rules over the valey the people live in or a mountain or lake that sits next to it, but shamans are not servants of any one particular spirit. Instead they see to it that all the spirits cause no harm to the village by performing rituals and sacrifices for them, and banish hostile spirits that come to the village to cause chaos. In some of the large cities, there are also local cults dedicated to specific gods like the Sun or the Moon, who are revered as great guides of wisdom and philosophy.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Most villages don’t have stores were equipment is sold, but its usually no problem to trade for supplies if the locals are friendly. Many villages make their own axes, spears, and arrows, but shields, armor, and swords are usually made in larger central towns where the people from the surrounding villages come to trade for them.
- Where can we go to get plate armor custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
There is no plate armor in the Ancient Lands. The best places to get custom made large mail hauberks or lamellar armor is in the mountain strongholds of the skeyn, a race of short grey-green goblin-like people. Another option might be to try one of the handful of large port cities on the coast, which are big enough to have specialized craftsmen for more unusual trades.
- Who is the mightiest mage in the land?
The greatest sorcerer in the Ancient Lands is probably the immortal Naga-Lord in the jungles far to the south, beyond the lands of the lizardmen. Few people have heard of him or know really anything about him and he never leaves his distant homeland, but his agents and those of other naga sorcerers sometimes show up in the most expected places, though most are probably never discovered as such.
The second most powerful would likely be the Sorcerer Queen of the city state Ven Marhend, where many nobles practice the dark arts of sorcery in the open without fear of attack from druids or demon hunters.
- Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Most people consider the Sun Emperor of the lizardfolk empire to be the greatest warrior in the Ancient Lands. In his current position he almost never gets to test his strength in battle, but he was chosen by the priests of the sun to be the most capable warrior in the empire. In recent years, the Lord-General of the order of warrior monks has become the most successful and feared conqueror of the Ancient Lands, who turned the army of his predecessors from one among many into one of the major powers of the Ancient Lands.
- Who is the richest person in the land?
This would most certainly be either the Sun Emperor or the Naga-Lord who have almost full control over all the riches of their lands. But in the lands of the elves and humans, there are many highly succesful merchants in the port cities who are believed to be fabulously rich as well.
- Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Most village shamans know some healing magic and would likely be willing to share it with guests and travelers, unless the people of their village need it more. But to someone who is from an enemy clan or suspected to be allied with them would have a very hard time to get any kind of help.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, death, undeath?
Poisons, diseases, and minor curses can be dealt with by most shamans and witches. For more severe dark magic and the powers of undeath, the loose order of the druids is well known to have studied these dark forces and is dedicated to fight and eradicate them.
- Is there a magic guild my mage belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
The two largest and most influential groups of mages and shamans are the druids, who opperate throughout most of the Ancient Lands, and the noble sorcerers of Ven Marhend and the towns and mannors that surround the city. The two are bitte enemies though, and have completely opposing views about the dangers and potential benefits of sorcery. There are also numerous small and secretive groups of warlocks, but even most sorcerers consider them insane for consorting with demons.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
In most places, shamans and witches are the best place to look for alchemical brews and the knowledge of sages. Other experts are probably more likely to be found in the larger towns, but if one needs someone of very great skill, the handful of large port cities are the only place where one could reliably hope to find them.
- Where can I hire mercenaries?
To fight a dangerous nearby threat, a dozen or two additional armed men can be found in almost any village, but these would only fight to defend their home from an immediate danger. To find warriors for hire one would have to go to one of the larger towns and try the taverns around the market, but the possible choices are usually few and of questionable reputation as few warriors have any reason to leave their home villages and fight for pay. When in need of large numbers of elite mercenaries, the Warrior-Monks are always looking for reasons to fight something, though they come very expensively.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
In any place where the local shamans are known to be involved with the order of druids, sorcerers are very much advised to keep their special arts hidden and pretend to be common witches. The druids are very quick to eradicate any trace of sorcery they find and few people would try to get in their way. Naga and serpent warriors found in the lizardfolk empire are usually killed on sight or captured to be interrogated and executed later.
- Which way to the nearest tavern?
Most villages don’t have a tavern, but large gatherings are in the great halls of the clan chiefs almost every night and guests of the clan are always expected to spend their evening there to share new and tales. In larger towns, taverns and small inns are usually found near the market. In the port cities numerous taverns line the harbor, but more are found almost everywhere inside the city walls.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
Most of the Ancient Lands is wilderness and most of the wilderness is full of monsters. Sometimes these wander dangerously close to villages and each clan has warriors who watch out for them as much as for warriors from enemy clans. The most dangerous beasts likely to be encountered are wyverns, manticores, and various sea monsters, which often can be much to powerful for most common warriors, shamans, and witches.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
There is always something brewing between the High Druids of Angdal and the Sorcerer Lords of Ven Marhend and the region between these two major power is constantly seeing some small scale fighting that occasionally grows into short wars. To the Warrior-Monks war is their life, and wherever companies of them are going there is most likely to be some big fighting to be found. The worst fighting tends to be in the jungles between the armies of the Sun Emperor and the Naga Lords, but both sides usually take only lizardmen into their forces. Hunting pirates on the Inner Sea is also always an option.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
No, not really.
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
The two best known factions are the druids and the sorcerers who have been at odds for ages. The druids are dedicated to fighting the use of sorcery and the corrupting effects it has on the land and the people that live on it and will stop at nothing to destroy the presence of any demons that have been lured into the world by the use of sorcery either accidentally or on purpose. The sorcerers of Ven Marhend believe that the study and mastery of these can create magical wonders far beyond those of common witches and won’t allow the frightened druids to stop them. The much smaller faction of the demon hunters agrees with the druids that all demons have to be destroyed, as well as those sorcerers who take the path of the warlock and make deals with them, but they think that the best way to fight demons is to fight them with their own sorcerous magic. The little bit of magic corruption they cause is a small price compared to what would be left in the wake of a rampaging demon. The Naga Lords are another group of sorcerers who have always been rivals of the Sorcerer Lords of Ven Marhend and the two groups are constantly trying to send spies and assassins at each other and to gain control over burried magical secrets from ancient times before the other find them.
- What is there to eat around here?
Most people live in small villages that grow most of their own food, which to a great part is wheat, rice, and potatoes. Most villages are small and remote enough to provide plenty of food by hunting in the forests and hills, which are full of deer, boars, rabbits, and geese. Sheep and goats are also commonly kept in small herds and when human nomads from the steppes in the west settled in the Ancient Lands a few generations ago they also brought with them cows. In the jungles and southern islands there are plenty of fruits, while in the north it’s mostly berries, apples, pears, and plums.
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Ancient treasure left behind from the times when the fey ruled the world are the most prized things to be found anywhere in the Ancient Lands. While not exactly common, there are countless burried and overgrown ruins scattered throughout the massive stretches of unexplored wilderness and every small clan chief will sacrifice almost everything to get his hands on some. Especially if this keeps their enemies from getting them instead. The hunt for these ancient treasures is the main reason that drives warriors to explore the wild and that makes chiefs to send their best warriors and scouts to explore the surrounding wilds.
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with a huge treasure?
Gold and jewels have little value to beasts and spirits, but those left behind by the few thousands of years ago are usually found deep in the ruins of their ancient castles and cities, which are often full of strange and very dangerous beasts not usually found near settled areas. Only a few of these ruins are well known and finding them in the trackless wilderness is a difficult challenge in itself. But even these usually have never been explored in full and there is no telling what might still be hidden in the deeper chambers. The best finds are usually made in those ruins that have never been seen by mortal eyes before and are located in the most unreachable parts of the great forests or mountains.