The History of the Dawn Isles

Like I’ve mentioned before, I find the dominance and «default-ness» of humans in the standard D&D world very boring. So I started thinking about what I could do to shake this up. I was wondering what a “post-fantasy” world would be, as opposed to a post-apocalyptic world.

So, the typical D&D world is in our past. Humans were the dominant race, with their big cities, expansive empires, and so on. They grew larger and larger, until they had most of the world explored, mapped and settled. But this wasn’t enough, so they started warring more and more with each other, giant armies clashing, rulers being assassinated, and smaller countries being swallowed by the larger. Orc tribes chased from their homes, Halfling villages developed into citadels, and so on. Greedy kings and lords even started attacking elven forests and dwarven mines, hungry for their resources.

Eventually, ill omens started appearing. Mages, witches, seers, and magic users all over were seeing signs of turmoil and collapse for the modern human society if they continued down this path. Of course, they were ignored and dismissed as doomsayers. Eventually, the Wizards Guild, the Library, the Circle of Mages, the Illustrious Academy, and just about every other major magic-users guild banded together, even warlocks, druids, necromancers and demon cults. They started putting pressure on the empires, distributing flyers, and doing everything they could to stop whichever great war would be the next one, knowing it would probably be the last one for this society.

The lords, understandably, were not used to being told what to do, and after a period of unrest and dispute, they started declaring the guilds outlaws, and thus started hunting down and killing them. The guilds were few, but mighty, and the most powerful wizards could take on whole armies by themselves. Slaughter ensued on both sides for years. The common people were paranoid, accusing each other of witchery and lynching people. And every time a vengeful lord would kill a mage, they would release powerful magic straight into the world. The lords would end up cursed by a warlocks anger, the spirit of druids would encase entire castles in vines, and sorcerers could explode, taking whole regiments or even towns with them. Later in the culling, Elves, dwarfs, and a lot of other races gathered around the wizards, tired of the human dominance. Additionally, many of the other races were declared “magical” and run out of the major cities.

In the end, the great war the seers foretold was against themselves, fulfilling their own prophecy. But while a lot of the magic users were slain and the guilds disbanded, it was the human empires who lost. Armies fell, lords died, the small provinces renounced their superiors, and the common folk lost faith in their rulers.

Now, several generations later, things are calm. Humans are still numerous, but not in charge everywhere anymore. The big cities have a colorful mix of every race, and a ruler is just as likely to be a proud orc or a clever gnome. Some states and areas have started forming shaky alliances again, but everyone is wary of not repeating the same mistakes.
The other consequence of the war is that there are pockets of wild magic all around the land. It’s not uncommon to walk through a forest and suddenly find that the trees are blue and the rabbits have wings. Portals, curses, magical springs, and so on are all much more typical. The same goes for the people. A lot of new races of humanoid have appeared as of late. Cat people, merfolk, people with purple skin and flowers for hair, you name it.

The History of the Dawn Isles

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