- c. 2000 years Before Apocalypse (BA) — The world was created?
- c. 1500 BA — All ancient races created by this time
- c. 1400 BA — First Great Wars begin
- c. 1200 BA — First Great Wars end
- c. 300 BA — Last Great Wars begin
- c. 50 BA — Ancients presumed extinct
- 0 BA — Last Great Wars end. Apocalypse occurs, rendering the World Without uninhabitable. World Within is created as a refuge.
- 606 AR (After Refuge) — Mynythe Union formed, the first fully organized of the Five Nations. This formally ends the bad feelings between dwarves and dragons.
- 656 AR — Rogent is founded, and starts to expand its borders.
- 700 AR — A group of raptorans and merfolk repels an attempt at conquest by Rogent. They eventually form the Free State of Volay. When they feel like it.
- 841 AR — To counter encroaching bands of druids, the region of Wylmar merges into Rogent.
- 852 AR — The druids formally create Arbora as a politcal entity.
- 1541 AR — After a dispute over the treatment of undead, Wylmar breaks away from Rogent. This leads to short war and dealing a severe blow to their economy.
- There are numerous small wars between the five nations, as well as general expansion.
- 1899 AR — Life’s Edge is founded by a group of Rogent colonists, including several vampires and necromancers.
- 1949 AR — Mynythe declares war on Rogent after a trade dispute gets out of hand. Forged War begins, with Wylmar joining on the side of Rogent, Arbora joining Mynythe, and Volay remaining neutral.
- 1950 AR — First Warforged are created. Life’s Edge takes advantage of the conflict to withdraw from Rogent.
- 1952 AR — Forged War ends. League of Five Nations is formed to prevent future conflicts.
- 2000 AR — The present year.
The world consists of two major sections: the Ceiling and the Floor. The Floor is the inner sphere, and the Ceiling is the inner surface of the outer sphere. The continents and general geography of the two mirror each other. The inner sphere has a diameter roughly two-thirds the diameter of the outer sphere; the inner one is only slightly smaller than the size of the planet known as Earth in some other parallel reality. Yes, that’s a lot of area.
Midway between the two spheres, around the equator, there is a enormous metal ring. This Ring glows gold in the daytime, and a dim silver at night. There are seasons, which are determined by changes in the length of the day over the 360-day year. The Ring is attached to both the Ceiling and the Floor by eight symmetrically located columns. Traversing the Ring is only safe at night; during the day, just about anyone gets fried unless they’re using heavy magical protection. The Columns are safe to contact, although it’s not a good idea to try to damage them.
Due to this configuration, the poles are cast in perpetual shadow, and giant ice columns cover them from Ceiling to Floor.
There are three main continents, one smaller continent, and numerous islands. Only the medium of the three “large” continents boasts a significant population, and that is where you will begin.
Here is a cross section of the world. The dark green circle is the inner surface, and the light green is the outer surface. The yellow circles are cross sections of the Ring. The shaded areas at the poles are the regions of permanent shadow; the light-blue areas are the shadowed regions that are filled by giant ice columns.
The two surface of the World Within look something like the map below. Importantly, the Ceiling has a much larger area than the Floor, and the distances are different in the two maps, even though they are drawn at the same scale. The diameter of the Floor is about 7500 miles, with a circumference of about 23,600 miles. The Ceiling has a diameter of about 11,250 miles, and a circumference of about 35,300 miles. The distance between the Ceiling and the Floor is typically around 1875 miles, but in high-altitude areas, such as Mynythe, is a little bit less. (This is nothing to sniff at!) According to the agreements made by the League, sovereignty generally extends about ten miles about the surface. Everything else is considered international airways.
The white dots on the map along the equator mark the positions of the Columns that extend between the Floor and the Ceiling. They are not actually drawn to scale, but Syeltau and Unteltau are actually located at the base of one column. Said column is a major trade route for cheap or durable goods, as well as people who can’t afford an airship or other speedier methods of transport.
The main political organizations are the League of Five Nations, the colony of Life’s Edge, and the nation of Drow at the south pole.
League of Five Nations: Rogent
Population: 300 million
Racial composition: 10% halfling, 5% gnomish. They have the largest halfling and gnomish population of any country, but are otherwise extremely heterogenous.
At the center of the five nations, Rogent is the most prosperous and hosts the capital city of Moil.
They have a strong emphasis on supporting capitalism. The nation was founded by a group of merchants as a way to enhance their business. (This founding was followed by a lot of hostile takeovers.)
Money talks. Local government positions generally go to whatever coalition bids the most for their representative; the money goes to the government. The only exception is the judiciary, who are explicitly recommended from other regions to help ensure their neutrality.
The highest office is that of prime minister, selected from among the ministers selected by local states. Prime ministers frequently serve as the mayor of Moil prior to their election. The parliament also selects the ambassador to the Five Nations.
Bribery is legal, so long as it is reported and appropriate taxes are paid. Rogent was also the first nation to standardize the licensing of adventuring companies; the other members of the Five Nations soon followed suit.
Contracts are considered almost as sacrosanct as rules-lawyering out of them.
League of Five Nations: Free State of Volay
Population: 80 million
Racial composition: 30% raptoran, 30% sea kin, 10% merfolk, 10% human. Otherwise mixed.
Focus: Freedom of choice and movement
Often referred to as Volay, this is the nation with the loosest government system. Its borders extend through the sea, as a home to the numerous sea kin and merfolk.
Volay’s unofficial motto is, essentially, it’s all fun and games so long as nobody gets hurt. Rules are far less important than that. The taxes are low, but so is the social support. Many of the merfolk and sea kin live in what are, effectively, poor local communes. The raptorans tend to do somewhat better in a monetary sense, as they frequently serve on airships and as guides across the World Within.
The country as a whole is intensely disorganized. Local leaders are selected by whatever method the locals feel like, and judicial rulings are generally made by conferences of small councils with care for the circumstances but little regard for precedent.
The ambassador to the Five Nations is selected by a random draw from among the adult population. The appointee is, of course, free to refuse the appointment and force another election.
People from Rogent are often frustrated at the difficulty of enforcing contracts in Volay.
League of Five Nations: Mynythe Union
Population: 40 million (including warforged)
Racial composition: 80% dwarf, 5% warforged. Mixed otherwise, but has the largest population of dragons and warforged of any nation. (About 5,000 dragons.)
Focus: Technology and defense
The Mynythe Union is ruled by a joint council of dwarves and dragons. Other races tend not to have much of a voice in internal politics. Warforged are not considered sentient beings.
Members of the joint council are selected by popular election among the dwarven clans and the dragons in each region. Local law is generally enforced by the local dwarven clans, and is generally both somewhat inflexible and idiosyncratic. (Ridiculous laws are mostly ignored, fortunately.)
Members of other races generally have very little input to politics, save through the dwarves or dragons. Dwarves do not view warforged as sentient; these days, they are frequently used as slave labor. Much of the economy focuses on artifice and mining, with heavy exports to Rogent in particular.
League of Five Nations: Arbora
Population: 40 million (uncertain)
Racial composition: 10% killoren, 10% elven, 5% half-elven, 5% raptoran. Otherwise, has a very diverse racial mixture, with a large percentage of fey and other creatures of the wilds. Taking an accurate census is difficult.
Focus: Peace with nature
Arbora is ruled — albeit distantly — by its circles of druids and arcane hierophants. Deliberately causing a forest fire is one of the highest crimes.
Criminals and conflicts are generally brought before the local circle of druids for management, with the most serious issues brought before the High Circle. The High Circle, in turn, selects one of its members to be the ambassador for the Five Nations. While the circles are not elected, they generally feel a strong obligation to their local people and support them well — usually by not meddling too much, and helped by the fairly small population. Anyone who is willing to become a druid is welcomed into the circles automatically, at least technically permitting anyone to have a political voice.
There are also several elven enclaves that are effectively small, self-governing city-states, with their own druidic representatives.
There are frequent small conflicts with Wylmar, as rebels there tend to cross the ill-defined border and find a mostly-friendly refuge (so long as they don’t set the forest on fire). There are exports of many herbs and plant products, but Rogent in particular is always demanding more.
League of Five Nations: Wylmar
Population: 160 million
Racial composition: 30% illumian, 30% human, 5% half-elven, 5% dragonborn, 5% kobold. Otherwise mixed, but with relatively few fey and raptorans.
Focus: Purity and knowledge
Wylmar is the least liked nation of the five — it is an absolute tyranny, and bans the entry of all undead into its borders.
Wylmar is ruled by an absolute tyrant. Rule is not hereditary; the next tyrant is always chosen as someone proven competent during the rule of the prior one, and selected by the earlier tyrant. This is commonly the person whom the tyrant appoints as the ambassador to the Five Nations.
The rule of law is very strict, but generally fair within its own limitations. There are harsh pentalties for judges who show favoritism. Local governments almost always follow the same mold, with an appointed mayor or governor working alongside an elected council.
Undead found within the borders of Wylmar are subject to immediate reporting and destruction — even if they are intelligent and non-evil. There have been occasional lynchings of half-vampires, even though this is illegal.
However, aside from forbidding references to overturning the government, freedom of speech and thought are well respected. Knowledge is valued very highly, and great rewards are given to whistleblowers. Mandatory schooling is in force, more so than in any other nation. Many people will brave Wylmar’s rigid culture to access the knowledge in its libraries and universities.
Population: 20 million (including thinking undead)
Racial composition: 10% each of human, elven, half-elven, halfling, gnome, raptoran, and dwarf. Very mixed otherwise; has the highest population of orcs and half-orcs as well. About 10% of the population is undead of some kind, or related (e.g., as half-vampires).
Focus: Growth and safety
Life’s Edge was a colony originally founded by Rogent a century ago, but which has since fallen away. Its kind regard towards undead (especially the mindless ones controlled by necromancers, which provide essential unskilled labor) has made it something of a pariah. Its requests to join the Leage of Five Nations have all been rebuffed.
Life’s Edge is the one fully democratic republic in the World Within, with all literate adults being permitted to vote. While they do not have an ambassador in the Five Nations, they are permitted to send a representative, who is appointed by the national senate.
While the freedoms of sentient beings are almost always respected, regardless of race (at least in theory), Life’s Edge lives up to its name. Money is often short, and infrastructure is lacking. The single train line is incomplete, and it’s not uncommon for people to disappear into the wilderness, never to be heard from again.
Why do you want to visit the Underdark? It’s cold, dark, and a bad idea in general.
Adventuring companies operating in the Five Nations are required to have a charter and follow a set of laws in order to be officially sanctioned. These laws (and cases in which they are not strictly enforced) are listed below:
- All adventuring companies will be registered as such in the city in which they are based or, if a traveling company, in the city in which the company is formed.
- Adventuring companies are required to submit a charter, listing members of the company, the company’s mission, and its planned duration to the relevant registrar. (This is strongly enfored everywhere but Volay, where a verbal report to the registrar is often adequate.)
- Duration of an adventuring company’s charter may not be indefinite, but it may be renewed or adjusted upon the agreement of members of the company.
- Membership in a company may be altered immediately upon the request of that company’s members to the nearest registrar.
- Members can leave at-will, but require a majority vote of other members to join or to be kicked out against their own volition.
- Short-term contracts with other adventurers should be reported to the registrar at the earliest opportunity.
- Adventuring companies are not permitted to engage in combat or destructive activities in cities or other heavily inhabited areas, except as authorized by the owner(s) or resident(s) of the areas in which such activities will take place.
- The only exception to this clause is when the safety of others is in clear danger from a threat that the adventuring company is capable of addressing without causing excessive additional harm.
- Adventuring companies found to be in violation of this clause may be responsible for any property damage, healing, or resurrection spells required as a result of their actions, and any related criminal and civil penalties.
- Adventuring companies which take justified action to defend others are not required to pay any such fines. (These laws are often skirted around. Depending on the jurisdiction, a mayor, governor, judge ,or jury may determine whether fireballing that bad guy was really necessary. In Rogent, a little bribery often goes a long way to smooth things over. Wylmar often overlooks attacks on undead.)
- In the event of a crisis in an inhabited area, adventuring companies are required to defer to and aid the local authorities. (Generally not flouted, but may be skirted around if the local authorities are the problem.)
- Adventuring companies are obligated to follow all applicable local laws. (This is frequently flouted, although less commonly in Wylmar, where law enforcement is strict, or in Arbora and Volay, where the laws themselves are not very strict on most points.)
- Adventuring companies may, at any time, be tasks with quests by the League of Five Nations to address any crisis in which their skills are needed. They are obliged to postpone all other duties until these quests are resolved. (While infrequently invoked to force a company to act, it’s not uncommon to get the League’s explicit sanction for major international operations. That said, this is not a law that can be ignored.)
- The League is required to pay a reasonable fee for these services.
- In the event that a member of an adventuring company is killed beyond resurrection while on such a quest, the League is obliged to pay their funeral expenses and provide reasonable support to any surviving dependents.
- Members of adventuring companies are not permitted to join any nation’s military while their charter is in effect.
- Adventuring companies are not permitted to foment rebellion.
- Adventuring companies are not permitted to intervene or to use force to affect international disputes.
- Adventuring companies are not permitted to engage in espionage. (Adventuring companies caught violating these rules tend to get stomped on heavily, along with any nation supporting them in doing so. So, you know, don’t get caught.)
- Adventuring compoanies are permitted to work under contract with individuals, companies, organizations, and local and national governments. Such activities may include, but are not limited to:
- Capture or extermination of dangerous, non-sentient animals, plants, and constructs;
- Rescue of persons or property;
- Investigations of crimes and dangerous activities;
- Capture of persons or property responsible for crimes or other dangerous activities, and transfer to the relevant authorities;
- Defense of persons or property against incursions of pirates, bandits, uncontrolled undead, forces of the Underdark, or other dangerous forces;
- Research and investigation of non-criminal mysteries for the betterment of the World Within;
- Expeditions into unexplored territory for the betterment of the World Within
- Adventuring company are permitted to undertake the above activities independently if they are within the chart of the adventuring company.
- Any homicides or property destruction that occur as a result of these activities must be reported and justified to the local registrar. Any incidents which are not deemed justified must be payed for by the adventuring company. (Frequently flouted by companies operating far from civilized areas.)
- Any fees earned or material gains by the adventuring company are placed in its company account. These funds or material may then be used to pay the adventuring company’s expenses, or to provide material support to its members. (Disputes over who gets the shiny +2 Mace of Smiting get resolved in small claims court.)
- If, at any time, an adventuring company ceases to have sufficient funds in its company accounts to pay for its expenses by required deadlines, including fines resulting from penalties in this agreement, the company is immediately dissolved.
- Adventuring companies are required to pay for insurance against damages incurred in the course of their adventures. This insurance must cover at least 50,000 GP per incident, and last for the duration of the company’s charter. If, at any time, an adventuring company ceases to have such insurance, it is immediately dissolved.
- If, in the course of their activities, an adventuring company discovers a threat to the safety of the League or the World Within, it is their right and obligation to bring such a threat to the notice of the local national government or the League capitol.
- The governments of the League are obliged to listen to any such reports from adventuring companies. If the threat is judged genuine, the League is required to consider the recommendations of the adventuring company that discovered the threat and compensate them appropriately.
- Deliberate false claims of danger will result in the immediate dissolution of the adventuring company and other penalties as the League sees fit. (This entire clause isn’t invoked very often either. It’s intended to ensure that dire threats are not overlooked. Being wrong out of an abundance of caution, or wanting to make sure a potential danger is addressed, is considered acceptable, but crying wolf is not taken lightly.)