What are the "Vanished Lands?"
As you’ve no doubt seen from this Obsidian Portal wiki and related Yahoo/eGroups and Google Groups Web clubs, the “Vanished Lands” is my longest-running setting, since my freshman year of high school in the early 1980s. It’s a homebrew sandbox , with over a million square miles, numerous nations and species/races, and about 350 Player Characters!
The subcontinent known as the “Vanished Lands” — the name is taken from a prophecy that magic would someday disappear or be hidden — is in what’s later known as Central Asia. It’s contemporaneous with the Bronze Age in the surrounding world, whose history is close to our own. The tech level within the “Vanished Lands” is similar to 1100 A.D./C.E. A few characters have come from or visited outside the region.
Since I tend to run larger-than-average parties, I prefer most Player Characters to be non-evil. (I’d put “heroic fantasy” somewhere between sword-and-sorcery and typical high fantasy.) Most groups start out as humble travelers, exploring a wondrous and dangerous world. Some become seasoned travelers, getting involved in larger quests and struggles.
A lucky few overcome obstacles to become heroic leaders, diligent builders, or famous raconteurs, influencing the shape of the world for generations to come. The shared history of many P.C.s helps provide the backdrop for new adventures.
I’ve used numerous editions of Dungeons & Dragons , including oD&D (BECMI), AD&D1 and AD&D2, D&D3.x, D&D4e, and Pathfinder , as well as GURPS 3e, an early version of " Vortex ," and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre . I’ve also looked at various rules-light and retro-clone systems.
Thanks to its long association with D&D, there are of course lots of monsters and magic items, but I’ve tried to curb that proliferation in recent years. Advancement is a bit slower than in standard RPGs, with my “sweet spot” being Levels 3 to 10.
The “Vanished Lands” can accommodate a wide range of characters, from the scruffy thief and the knight in shining armor to the eccentric spellcaster. It can also accommodate a range of playing styles, from humorous and swashbuckling to grim and gritty. If you have a favorite fantasy book or movie, it can help us visualize and portray characters, creatures, and locations.
In addition to the obvious — Middle Earth, Narnia, Mystara , Harn , Krynn, and Kalamar — I’ve been inspired by the slums of Newhon, the conspiracies of " Sanctuary / Thieves’ World ," and the elementalists of " Avatar/Korra ." As a result, not only will you find dragons and dungeons, but also urban intrigues , ethnic migrations, and some military strategy, regardless of level.
Each nationality and subrace has connections with real-world cultures and pantheons, and while good and evil exist, not every conflict is simplistic. In addition to the standard Dwarves and Elves , there are beast kin and monsters inspired by mythology and folklore.
It’s all up to you!
I’d like role-player choices , character personalities, and party themes to be at least as important as the overall story/plot or character optimization and resource management. Examples include a Half-Orc Paladin of Mithras, a group that began as escaped slaves in the desert, and wanderers who ultimately infiltrated subterranean cities and conducted undersea diplomacy.
Wilderness exploration, building a network of contacts in cities and strongholds, and good old-fashioned dungeoneering are all possible in the “Vanished Lands” (and all of my worlds are connected). There’s no shortage of villains, from the dreaded ghost fleet and Goblinoid legions to cunning eastern Dark Elves and their draconic allies….