Here is some brief background on the Land of Ten Thousand Gods, the setting for my Dungeon World hack. I tried to follow the Dungeon World rule of making maps but leaving gaps. So, for example, I only placed the very largest cities on the map (except for Fish-For-Dinner, which is the place where I would start my campaign) and I tried to keep my description of areas short and punchy to allow for development by interested players.
The map of Wet Plains and the surrounding areas can be found here.
LAND OF TEN THOUSAND GODS
The Land of Ten Thousand Gods is similar in many ways to our world, but there are some important differences as well. There are two moons in the sky, magic works, the gods are both real and sufficiently active in the world that you might occasionally meet one…
… and there are monsters.
On occasion there is a double eclipse of the two moons, and for some reason as yet unknown, this weakens the barriers between worlds, allowing monsters entrance into the land. Depending on the completeness of the eclipse, this may result in only a few monsters arriving, or many. But once in a great while there is a solar eclipse involving both moons that darkens the sky and brings on night at noon. Such an event is referred to as a Night of Blight, because the number of monsters which appear is tremendous. During a Night of Blight, all of the Land of Ten Thousand Gods is assailed, and everyone, from the lowest peasant to the richest king, must fight for survival. In the aftermath of a Night of Blight nations fall, cities are wiped off the map, refugees flee across the land, and the long task of clearing away the infestations of monsters and re-establishing civilization begins again.
The last Night of Blight was 57 years ago, and only now is trade being re-established across the Land of Ten Thousand Gods. Travel through mountainous regions is still treacherous, and heroes willing to fight to expand the boundaries of civilization and clear away monstrous infestations are in high demand, and gain great prestige.
THE HUMAN LANDS
the largest and most prosperous nation in the area, Wet Plains is known for its humidity, its high annual rainfall, and its fertile farmlands. Food, primarily rice, and clothing fiber, primarily jute, are the main crops of Wet Plains, and are its major exports along with tea. Fishing is also a major industry
Wet Plains exports to all of its nearby neighbors, and since the last Night of Blight has been seeking to re-establish contact with surviving nations further away as well. Major exports are rice, jute, and seafood.
Wet Plains is ruled by a large, raucous, but generally benign royal family. Their various antics, politics, and inter-family squabbles are a favorite topic for gossip throughout the realm, but overall they try to be fair to the people they rule and don’t usually set taxes too unbearably high.
The Elf Road river runs through Wet Plains, eventually losing itself in a large coastal delta marsh. In addition, there are many minor rivers throughout the land, which are used as a major means of travel. Currently, roads are entirely local affairs, and though there has been talk of rebuilding the road between Big Drum City and Library, nothing has yet been done about it.
Big Drum City – The Capitol of Wet Plains, and the largest city. Named for the extensive use of drums by the local government. Drums are used to warn of fires, to make major announcements, to celebrate major events, and are often carried or played as a fashion statement. Local custom and belief says that drums drive away evil, and the population has made that belief into a central element of their society.
Big Drum City is where the Royal Family lives, where the High Court is held, and where most trade and commerce occur. It is a very cosmopolitan city, and has a population that is highly diverse. Even the occasional Gnoll can sometimes be seen in the streets, and a Gnoll embassy is located here.
Library – this is Wet Plains center of learning. The Royal University is located here, and gives instruction on a wide variety of subjects including mathematics, literature, languages, and thaumaturgy. Library also hosts a large number of manuscript and book sellers, dealers in “magical” items and ingredients, loremasters, sages, magicians, and natural philosophers.
Ten-Thousand-Temple City – if any deity has a religious hierarchy, there will be a temple here. Across most of Wet Plains (and indeed beyond as well) worship of the gods is considered largely a private affair, and while small (or large) shrines exist throughout the land, it is only in Ten-Thousand-Temple City that one can find the truly spectacular temples, orders of monks and nuns, great statues, and troves of ancient religious lore. It is said that at any hour of the day or night at least one god walks the streets in mortal form.
Fish-For-Dinner – the largest seaport in Wet Plains, it was largely destroyed during the last Night of Blight, and has been recovering over the last 50 years. Remnants of extensive ruins of a larger city still surround the town, though sporadic efforts at reclamation continue as time and money allow. The town is still sometimes plagued by monsters left over from the Night of Blight, and has occasional problems with Gnoll pirates as well.
THE THEOCRACY OF ONE GOD
The Theocracy of One God is a young nation, formed since the last Night of Blight. Formerly a part of Wet Plains, it also produces rice and jute as major export crops, and also collects heavy duties for trade along the Western Elf Road river.
The nation is run by a large, hierarchical priesthood of the Temple of One God, led by the High Priest of One, who is believed to be in direct contact with the One God. The priesthood makes all decisions and performs all functions normally associated with civil authority, such as legislature, law enforcement, and judiciary.
The Temple of One God teaches that the ten-thousand gods are mere reflections of the One God, created so that people could more easily grasp the concept of godhood and relate to the One God in a simpler, if less accurate way. Worship of the One God is highly regulated, with specified times of worship announced from local temples.
The people of the Theocracy, while by no means dour, do tend to be rather enthusiastic about their religion and actively try to convert those who enter their lands. Those who do not worship the One God directly may still worship in temples to the One God, but must pay a small fee.
The single most serious crime within the Theocracy is apostasy – the penalty for abandoning worship of the One God is death, as is the penalty for any who successfully convince someone to abandon the worship of the One God. There is, however, no penalty for attempting to convince someone to worship the One God, nor is there any penalty (aside from a small fee) for worshiping other gods unless one has previously converted to worship of the One God.
One – the only real city within the Theocracy, One is the location of the Great Temple of One, where the High Priest of One and much of the government live. It is also a thriving river port, with barges from up and down the river putting in here to sell, trade, or pay tolls to continue their journey. Prior to the most recent Night of Blight, One was known as River City, and some people still refer to it as such.
The land of Brave has a unique background, and a unique culture. While everyone knows of the legends of the gods and of the great heroes who have represented them throughout history, the people of Brave – from their rulers down to the lowest farmers – all believe fervently that they ARE great heroes, either serving the gods in some capacity, or having been chosen by the gods to serve at some past (or future) time.
Most of Brave is jungle, and its people live primarily in small, self-sufficient communities. Primary exports of Brave are extracts from jungle plants, tea, pelts from jungle animals, some seafood, and the berries from a plant known as coffee, which is both invigorating and addictive.
One of the favorite pastimes of the citizens of Brave is boasting. From farmers and ditch diggers all the way up to the First Hero, boasting is considered an art form, and one in which everyone, regardless of station, is equal. Much of this boasting is not idle. The jungles of Brave hide many dangerous monsters, and both the mountains and the sea on their borders teem with creatures left over from the last Night of Blight. Monster hunting, and monster fighting, are a way of life for everyone in the land, and everyone must be ready to fight to defend their home at a moment’s notice.
City of Heroes. This is the nation’s major port, and also the seat of its government. Brave is governed by the Council of Heroes, led by the First Hero. There are no specific requirements to join the Council of Heroes, except convincing the current members of the Council that you are one. Once a member of the Council, you need only convince the other Council members that you are most suitable for the role of First Hero to be elected. If you are found to have acted in a manner inappropriate to a true hero, the Council may vote you out. Thus the composition of the council can change from month to month, or even day to day, and much time in any council session is taken up with boasting.
THE ELVISH LANDS
Elves are not governed by the same arrangement as humans. Each elf is connected to a family lineage. Each family is connected to a clan. Each clan is connected to a tribe. And each tribe is overseen by elders who meet (or, in cases of those too infirm to travel, live) at the great tribal meeting hall).
The Western and Eastern Elvish tribal lands are both quite similar. The first thing one notices are the odd trees, which are not broad of leaf like trees in other areas, but have leaves which are slender and pointed. The trees give off a sharp, spicy scent. Elves use these trees for many things, from brewing medicine to making clothing to manufacturing most of their tools from the wood.
Elves also claim rights to use of the whole of the Elf Road River. These rights are generally recognized by Wet Plains, but not so much by the Theocracy of One God, which has led to considerable friction in the last few decades. It is not common for elves to leave their territories, but when they do, they fully expect to be given free passage along the river and can become angry, even violent, if it is not granted.
Elves of the territories are strict vegetarians due to their religious beliefs.
High Wooden Nest City – not really large enough to be called a city, it is the only group of permanent structures in the Eastern Elvish lands. It is here that those who are too infirm to continue their nomadic lifestyle are brought and cared for, and here that those who need fixed sites for their work, such as blacksmiths, set up their workshops. The tribal court is here, where elders meet to work out issues between tribes and clans. Traditionally this is also where canoes are built, and some clans and families will haul logs for many miles in order to have their canoes constructed here and placed at the headwaters of the East Elf Road River.
It is said this city is constructed entirely in the trees, but this is not really so. There are numerous ground level, and even below-ground buildings as well. High Wooden Nest City was completely destroyed during the last Night of Blight, and many of the buildings and constructions are quite new looking.
Bird Song City – broadly similar to High Wooden Nest City, save that constructions are usually large, communal buildings built partially into the ground, with wooden roofs and high, carved tree trunks listing the history of whichever family, clan, or tribe uses the building. Bird Song City is also known for the profusion of singing birds which live in the trees, perpetually filling the air with their music.
THE DWARVEN LANDS
Prior to the last Night of Blight, the two lands known now as the Patriarchy and the Matriarchy were a single kingdom, in the midst of civil strife. After the death of their previous king, two of the king’s heirs laid claim to the throne. The firstborn son was widely acknowledged to have the legitimate claim, but was just as widely considered to be a poor candidate for rulership. The firstborn daughter had no traditional claim on the crown, but was widely considered to be a much better choice. And so a civil war broke out, dwarf against dwarf, as the two candidates vied for the throne.
The Night of Blight put an end to that. Beset by hordes of monsters, the dwarves had to set aside their differences and fight for their lives. In the aftermath, everyone was too busy rebuilding for a generation to continue the war.
For now, the two realms exist in uneasy coexistence that could break out into conflict at any time.
The primary exports of the Dwarven lands are gems, minerals, and worked metal items of superiour craftsmanship.
The Onyx Palace – traditional seat of the Dwarven government and capitol of the Patriarchy, the Onyx Palace is a series of caverns and chambers carved into the side of a mountain over many generations of dwarf. Hundreds of years have passed since the city met the needs of its dwarven inhabitants for space and facilities, but work continues because of a prophesy that one day all of the surface world will fall during a Night of Blight, and only the Onyx Palace will remain to safeguard the refugees of all races.
The Rose Caverns – traditionally, the Rose Caverns have been not so much a city as a tourist locale – a series of caverns with walls of glowing rose quartz. It was chosen as the capitol of the Matriarchy out of necessity at the time, and has remained the capitol since. By the standards of most capitol cities it seems under-developed and maintains something of a frontier feel, though efforts are ongoing to make it more civilized. This in turn has led to some cries of outrage from the locals, who dislike the idea of the natural caverns being destroyed.
THE HALFLING LANDS
Poetland – the rolling hills and quiet valleys of Poetland are where most halflings live. Unlike the other races, the halflings have no real cities or large government structure. Instead, they live in independent towns and villages, each ruled over and run pretty much as the inhabitants choose.
Poetland gets its name from the halfling fascination with word games and verbal art forms. Impromptu poetry contests are common entertainment at get-togethers, and puns and other wordplay are considered a high art form.
OFF THE MAP
To the North, beyond the great glaciers, there is said to be a high plateau which is the original home of the halflings. It is said that here halflings still live as nomadic herders, riding their tiny ponies and protecting herds of huge yaks. It is also said that Roof-of-the-World, the tallest mountain (featured in many stories of the gods) is here.
To the West lies Holy River Nation, said to be a vast kingdom which encompasses the Holy River, from which all the gods came. Long ago Holy River Nation controlled all of Wet Plains and the surrounding territory, but has not done so for over a thousand years now. After the last night of blight, contact was lost with Holy River Nation, but recently some traders have returned from a perilous trip through the mountains, and report that they have learned the location of a trading fortress.
To the south, across dangerous seas, is said to lie the Island of Beautiful. Tales make it out to be an idyllic place, populated by kindly beings (the exact sort of being varies according to who is telling tales of the island). Because the oceans are very dangerous – particularly so since the last Night of Blight – there is nothing reliable known about the island or its inhabitants.
To the east, there are vast tracts of monster-infested mountains and jungle. It is said that there is a vast and ancient empire of dragons far away to the east, but this is entirely legend.