I think I'll be working on this setting for the rest of my life. It's going in a direction that I'm really happy about, and I think I can make it nuanced enough to give me something to do for a looooonnng time.
So far, this has been a fun sandbox to play around in, but it's also been the most ambitious RPG project I've ever undertaken. I want this place to be as complete as I can make it.
To that end, I've been working on a 4,000+ timeline for the various culture. I've started weaving together the story of the Cerians, the Blackwood folk, the Seafolk, the Vindlanders, and the Kossians throughout this timeline, with each rising and falling from power at different times.
Here's an example for the Cerians. It's the only one I have finished at this point, though I'm sure I'll add more detail to it at some point. For each entry, I've included how many years the period stretches (BCE="Before Common Era," CE="Common Era"...I'll probably change these), what basic technology level (e.g. Stone, Bronze, or Iron), and I provide a short description of what's going on in that part of the world at that time.
Timeline of the Westerners
SpoilerDawn-3200 BCE: Dawn of the Westerners (Stone)
3200-1550 BCE: Gamar Empire (Bronze)Humanity crawls up from the primordial ooze, adapting to a wide land of mythic plenty. They flourish, and separate into many wandering tribes. The develop stone tools, and have well-developed hunting and gathering traditions. Creation myths amongst the Unified state that the sunís warmth made a paradise in the south of the world, and that this paradise was a gift to humanity, who were created to be the object of love for the sun itself.
1550-250 BCE: Scattered Age (Bronze)The Gamar, a vast tribe, establishes permanent settlements in the realm of Naster. They develop stonemasonry, irrigation, writing, and the ability to smelt bronze. They were said to wield incredible powers from their gods.
300 BCE-480 CE: Western Tributary (Iron)A warlike tribe on the fringe of Gamar territory, the Cerai conquer the Gamar, denouncing them as demons and calling down the fire of the sun to turn Naster into the Gamar Wastes. Both tribes disappear from history, and the Scattered Age begins. The countless tribes of fertile Naster were left to fend for themselves in a vast desert, adapting over generations to thrive in the harsh terrain. Most of the wisdom of the Gamar people was lost during this period.
1 CE: The Birth of Marian, First Father of the UnifiedThe Kareid Empire expands to the Wastes, overpowering the scattered tribes and demanding tribute for fealty. Many of the tribes refuse, and they are killed. The tribes that agree begin adopting the traits of civilization. The thrill of life in a caravan doesnít diminish from their spirits, though they settle into cities and begin to take back their heritage.
480-914 CE: Western Dark Age (Iron)
914-1120 CE: Sjaring AgeThe Unified, a tribal cult revering Mareal Turi, chief of the Cerai that conquered Old Gamar, has established itself as a popular tradition at the start of this period. However, unrest in the Kareid Empire leads to revolt and collapse, and the tribes are fractured and scattered before the various cults could coalesce into an honest religion. This age is characterized by a great period of migration. The fertile lands of the south are no longer safe in the wake of empireís collapse, so people moved north, to explore the wild lands of Genara. The tribes--now unified into a handful of peoples--oust the natives of Genara, and establish themselves into early kingdoms. Culture is preserved by priests of the growing Unified faith, whose monasteries dot the lands and whose reputation marks them for men who desire the protection of history and education.
1120-1312 CE: Cerian RevivalIn CE 914, the first ship from the Sjarings in the north raids the port of Sarby in northern Genara, ushering in the Sjaring Age. In this age, raiders come from the north to pillage and rape, gathering whatever goods they can and casting off for home. The raids continued for more than 200 years, eventually penetrating as far inland as the Central Sea. Then, almost as suddenly as it began, the Sjarings ceased their raids, and the north knew peace.
Throughout the Sjaring Age, Unified monasteries are often raided and pillaged, but the Unified make a reputation nonetheless for being courageous, organized, and successful in their defenses. The battle knowledge of Priests becomes valuable, and is made available to any warlord or king who joins the faith. Unity-trained Cavalry is the surest way to respond to sea raiders in these days, and Unified generals are feared on and off the field.
In addition to strategy and training, Unified priests also teach their faith to the people of Genara, and soon the entirety of the land is swept up into the Unified. Proof of the Unifiedís triumph appears as early as 1121 CE, when the prophets of Mareal Turi raise Turi Cabu, the Glass Cathedral of Aduna, which lies on the edge of the Gamar Wastes. By this point, the nation of Cerai has risen, and expands via conversion until it occupies nearly all of Genara.
Unified priests begin traveling into other realms during this period, encroaching in every culture but the northerners, who seem to have disappeared entirely. Toward the present day, Cerians are constructing a cathedral in Freeport of the Blackwood. Culture is transmitted at an incredible rate, and every nation prospers.
My purpose for creating this timeline is twofold. On the one hand, I want each culture to have a history that can be uncovered by the PCs in a campaign. On the other hand, I want to create eras that would be fun for settings.
I like the Pathfinder setting because it offers such a wide range of cultures and opportunity, but I think they fall short by putting them together in such a "contemporary patchwork." In my opinion, it's more realistic (and more engaging) to lay out these cultures on the axis of time as well as space.
Do you want to tell a story like the rise and fall of Akkaddian city states? Setting your campaign in 2000 BCE gives you access to the Gamar Empire and the burgeoning Janni sea peoples, both of which are suitable for that kind of story.
Do you want to tell a story about emerging from the dark ages into an era of education and political stability? Setting your campaign in 1200 CE gives you access to all of the cultures I've hinted at so far in the worldbuilding process, and the settings of this time period are tailor-made for exactly that kind of storytelling.
Do you want to tell a story that's a mash-up of those two themes? Probably not, so why try to fit both in the same time period?
All of this is pretty heavily inspired by a game I bought yesterday called Microscope. The reviews are pretty good, and I'm really enjoying my first read-through. I'm not sure how it would fare for PbP, but I'd definitely be willing to give it a test run with some folks.
Just saw this. This is how I will be developing the Cerian capitol of Aduna. It will be on this forum.