In today’s post I’ll be looking at the human race as it exists in this new setting. I’m going to cover a few of the questions of how their society formed and then finish off with a tool that you can use to generate individual cities’ histories.
Those poor humans. Fantasy settings typically phone it in when it comes to humans. They’re the middle of the road, the normal to contrast the strange, the control group. But it’s a useful role to have filled. They act as the window into that new world that allows players/readers to transport themselves there and make sense of everything. They give you something to relate to.
So while I don’t entirely mind the typical fantasy-human archetype I feel like to has to be motivated. Time to look at what we have in front of us and ask some more questions.
What is it about the race that makes them different from, or similar to the standard? The humans in my setting have no ancient history to speak of, having spent generations in slavery, under the rule of the elves. But in this way they are also a cosmopolitan race, capable of adapting or integrating the culture of others into their lives. This carries over into their new society in the form of adopted traditions and gods.
They are mortal, and therefore seen as beasts by the elves. For centuries many humans endured lifetimes of forced labour, making them tough, strong and determined. But there were always some who were allowed to become more educated, allowed to train as the engineers or architects who would lead other humans. This is why humans are, in the present day, a very diversely skilled group.
Finally being freed from servitude the human race is united in its desire to make something of itself. There we find the innate human ambition, that drives them to greatness despite their short lifespans.
What kind of relationship does the race have with the other races? Clearly relations with the elven nation are strained. The humans have been granted their freedom but most will find it very hard to trust an elf. Still, all of the skilled workers in the elven kingdoms were, and are still, human and so a truce must be kept, lest both groups drag each other down to extinction. As the years pass these tensions ease as the humans prove themselves in the eyes of the elves, who are constantly surprised by their ingenuity and resolve.
As for the dwarven raiders of the north seas, humans continue to view them as dangerous individuals. Coastlines are closely watched and a naval guard is formed to protect the burgeoning human city states. Some humans view the dwarven lifestyle of extreme excess as something to aspire to, although mostly sticking to the eating, drinking and f&^king.
How are they able to hold their place in the world? The human race has finally grown to outnumber the elves, and gained sufficient military skill, that a war would be very costly for both sides. And for the elves, to lose even a single member of their kin is a terrible price to pay. Besides this, the elven kingdoms still rely heavily on human labour.
Finally, it’s time for the humans to stake a claim on some land. Here I have established a handful of locations at which human cities will be built. By keeping track of a number of qualities of each city, I can create unique histories for each one as they grow.
To this end I have created a ‘City Event Table’ that I can roll on. The results of this table represent significant events in a city’s timeline and it’s up to you whether you roll for each year, each decade, or each century of progress. For my cities, I decided to simply roll up 10 results and massage the time-frames into a sensible shape later.
Each result will effect the Wealth, Food, Population, or Spirit of one or more cities and should be used as inspiration for deeper stories. Similar or contrasting results in neighbouring cities can also be made to relate to one another to create connections. Any city with a quality that drops to 0 is gone; consider it abandoned due to poverty, starvation, depression, or as a direct result of the Event that reduced the quality.
I started all my cities off with 2 wealth, 2 food, 2 population, and 2 spirit, with the exception of Cairnholm, the first city, where I added 1 to each quality. If a new city was founded (by rolling a 10) it would start with 1 wealth, 1 food, 1 population, and 2 spirit. If you’re following the math it is quite possible for a new city to wither and die before it gets a foothold.
Finally, if a city currently has the most population it gets +1 to all rolls. This makes it possible to get a result of 21, making that city the capital of either the current kingdom or a new competing one.
City Event Table
|1||The city is hit with regular disasters.
1-Goblins, 2-Orcs, 3-Bandits, 4-Natural disaster, 5-Dwarves, 6-Dragon
|11||A new trade route is made, determine other city randomly. Both cities benefit.
1-2, +1 wealth each
3-4, +1 food each
|2||Early and harsh winter ruins crop.
-2 food, -1 spirit
|12||Local farms established.
+1 population, +1 food
|3||A tyrant comes into power.
-1 population, -2 spirit
|13||Nearby mine uncovers precious minerals.
|4||Local guard leaves the city, resulting in a rise in crime.
-2 wealth, -1 spirit
|14||Church built to honour the city’s patron god.
|5||A terrible fire rages through the city. -1 wealth, -1 population||15||People flock to the city in search of a better life.
|6||An era of peace.
|16||Main roads built.
|7||A local festival is inaugurated.
|17||Master artisan is discovered within city. Crafting: 1-6 weapons, 7-12 armour, 13-18 jewelry, 19-20 something wild.
|8||Surrounding farmland expands.
|18||A citizen becomes a hero.
Deed performed: 1-6 military, 7-12 diplomatic, 13-18 folk legend, 19-20 something wild.
|9||Trading hub is built in the city.
|19||An elven embassy is established.
|10||Citizens found nearby village.
Add a new city nearby.
|20||A great leader ushers in prosperous times.
|21||The city becomes a/the capital.|
Using this table, a D20, and an hour or so, I fleshed out the histories of what turned into 8 towns and cities; Cairnholm, Blackwatch, Cinder Gate, Kingsport, Broadstrom, Vangarde, Tolford, and Shale. In next Monday’s post I’ll work through some of these bullet-point histories and flesh them out.