The Wilderlands of High Fantasy
The Wilderlands setting details an area slightly smaller than the Mediterranean sea and surrounding lands. It largely unexplored and overland travel is dangerous. There are few “nations.” Instead, the lands are dominated by “city states,” principle among them being the City State of the Invincible Overlord and Viridistan, the City of Spices—also known as the City State of the World Emperor.
Though the civilization of the Wilderlands centers mostly on the largest city states: Viridistan, the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Tarantis, Valon, Rallu and Tula, these locations are small in comparison to the vast forests, expansive plains, open seas, trackless deserts, imposing mountains and wild rivers. The light of civilization in the Wilderlands is a dim spark against the dark wilds.
The Wilderlands is a setting in decline. Long ago empires covered the region. But great wars, the last over 6000 years ago, with the gods themselves fighting alongside men, has reduced the splendor of those past civilizations, leaving them in ruins. Today’s cities that do exist today are generally built on the sites of ancient cities, some among the ruins themselves. Broken roads, crumbled walls, sunken buildings and half-ruined towers dot the landscape, a constant reminder of the faded past.
Life in the Wilderlands can be summed up for the average commoner as follows: Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The average life expectancy is twenty years unless one lives in a walled city or town such as the City State, Viridistan, Thunderhold, Modron, Warwik or other large cities, in which it is only a little higher. Almost all Human families produce at least ten children, of whom two or three may live long enough to have children of their own. In the wilderness villages, wandering monsters and the raids of nomads, brigands and various humanoid species which are inherently evil are the bane of many. Rampant, unchecked disease is common to both walled city and wilderness village; so is infant mortality. The dangers of wandering monsters are lessened in a walled city or town, but the concentration of people in a small area leads to a high crime rate and poor sanitation; therefore, instead of being slain by a marauding dragon, a city dweller may have his throat slit for the contents of his purse. Few men manage to live past the ripe old age of thirty-five, and the fact that a man is fifty or sixty years old indicates great wisdom on his part (or an incredible run of luck).
Welcome to the Wilderlands, where life is cheap, travel is dangerous and a strong sword arm is worth more than a purse full of gold!