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Setting Design Report, Part 15: Getting Specific, Part 1: Overview

As always, you can find the entire list of posts in this series by clicking this link.

Up until this point, I’ve been writing about a lot of higher-level concepts, baseline assumptions, and other pipe-laying concerns, and while there’s still more of that to cover (various worldwide organizations, discussion of how various class archetypes fit into the setting, and so on) I think there’s enough material laid down at this point to start actually detailing some locations in the world. I still have a bunch of player-facing content to do in this series; in particular I have plans to outline the various Holy Orders that go with the cleric domains and dig into how some of the other class archetypes plug into the setting, but I think at this point, it’s probably helpful to have some actual setting with named people and places to relate to before I start getting into those types of details.

For this post and the next three, I’m going to go over a “matched set” of one area of each of the major three area types in the setting – a County, where civilization exists and is generally good, an area of The Wilds, where untamed nature and wilderness reigns, and an oppressive Grim City. What follows is an overview of the three regions. As I go forward, I’ll dig into more detail, describing the climate, history, terrain, communities, and important locations and groups within each region. There will be more of all three types of region, of course.

County: Laraloch-Thistivuel

Laraloch-Thistivuel is the name for a small nation-state that was created by a treaty between elves and dwarves about 500 years back in the setting’s history. It is filled with several small and medium-sized towns and a medium-sized city called Stoneford. It’s a fertile, temperate region with agriculture, fishing, mining, and some manufacturing industry. Paved highways connect the major cities and towns, but as you get to outlying areas, a lot of the roads turn to dirt. The region contains some foothills that are peopled by a dwarven clan (the source of the Laraloch portion of the name), but humans, elves (who originally occupied a small area called Thistivuel but have since spread out over the whole region), and centaurs are all reasonably common in Laraloch-Thistivuel. Government is a UK-style parliamentary democracy with noble titles still granted. The local nobility is known for a deep and seriously-held sense of noblesse oblige and they tend to be extremely generous and helpful with their resources, seeing themselves as important stewards of the public good.

Wilds: Yuthi Desert

The Yuthi desert is a beautiful, craggy, arid expanse full of harsh conditions and natural monuments. In addition to some absolutely spectacular rock formations, the region is home to a number a vividly-colorful flowering succulents. Society is mostly small tribal or clan groups. Most of the sapient residents of this region are humans, orcs, or naga. It includes one very specific and noteworthy location: the Palace of the Seers, one of the most important centers of magical learning and prophecy in the world. The region is also home to the ruins of an ancient, long-gone empire, so archaelogists and treasure hunters are sometimes drawn to it. Like a lot of deserts, temperatures can vary wildly over the course of a day, soaring into the triple digits during the day and dropping to below freezing at night.

Grim City: Alchova, the Great Hive

The rulers of this Grim City are insect lords, many of whom have ties directly to Hell. Architecturally, it resembles a 1940s city with massive hives for human-sized wasps stuck randomly to the sides of the skyscrapers. It is surrounded by swamps, and it swarms with insects constantly. The residents are pitilessly valued only for what they can produce and are ruthlessly (and often cruelly) disposed of rapidly if they fall behind. Everywhere you go, biting and stinging insects harass you and the constant drone of tens of thousands of wings can be heard. The city proper is walled and heavily-fortified, but it controls a bunch of outlying territory that supplies food for the city as well. The ruling class employs the brutal Toscali waspfolk as enforcers, but they also rely on insectoid fiends of various types to keep the population in line.

As always, I’m very interested in any questions or feedback you may have. One quick note, if you comment, I will often ask follow-up questions in my relies, so be sure to check back! I really enjoy the back-and-forth with those who take the time to reads these posts and respond to them.


Losing my Humanity by Kobra and the Lotus – some good, challenging (I’d go so far as to say prophetic) lyrics and music that rocks. I really like this first sample of Prevail II.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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