Homebrew Timelines in your Setting - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Lama (Lvl 13)



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    I like having a detailed and accurate timeline, but it's more for my sake than my players. Something to reference as I go about building adventures and campaigns. I try to keep the events relevant to how the modern world acquired its current shape, or as possible plot hooks for adventures. An obscure war 900 years ago that has no bearing on the current political landscape doesn't belong in my timeline. If that war produced an artifact MacGuffin that's going to make an appearance in the current campaign, it belongs.

    I make all my setting documents available to my players, but I neither require nor expect them to read it. However, I always do a quick overview of the last 50 years because the world underwent a pretty major catastrophe, and the campaigns I've run have all taken place in the aftermath of that. The age of PCs is a very salient point, with older characters having lived in a world that was much safer, wealthier, and integrated with magic than the present day, and I think it's important information when conceptualizing a character.

    Etratia timeline

    Anyway, it sounds like you've got enough ancient history stuff to ground your modern era stuff. If I were a player at your table, I would probably want to know more about the modern era, the "normal" history as you call it. However, don't be surprised if your players don't give a whit about all your writing. Most of mine don't, and that's fine. Like I said, my setting documents are for me.
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  2. #12
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    In my Greyhawk campaign i use the roughly timeline of the bluebox , they are still in the year 579, so full circle of eight alive.

    In the Ravenloft campaign i did dm (Converted Hyskosa Hexad) i used the official timeline, but it did influence not much since the Players and the inhabitants of the Domain had no means to track it somehow, and surely were not aware of timelines in other Domains. The campaign started out in FR year 1000 though.

    Would i dm in vanilla FR i would use the time of the grey box so roughly 200 years Prior to the actual official campaign date.

    What i do use although is some pseudo historic what-tech-is-availabel stuff. In my greyhawk campaign it is RL 30 years war tech Level, just w/o gunpowder although i would have loved to use it but one of the Players objected.
    In the Ravenloft campaign the Players were dark age, so no plate armor available and no greatswords.

    Since i Balance out things pretty much and got mature Players, it always works well this way.

  3. #13
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    I think that a magical world created by gods could be well into the medieval era in 16100 years yeah. This is assuming the gods created the races and that magic was a powerful tool for thousands of years.
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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    That's another thing. RPG worlds tend towards an unquestioned objectivist assumption. The reality of our world is that there are different views on just about everything, including history and the origins of civilization. Sure, we have the scientific timeline which is as close to "objective truth" as we have, but even that is in question and always changing and any good scientist knows it is just a best estimate. The point being, it could be interesting to have different timelines, or rather different cultural takes on your world's back-story. In this approach you wouldn't need to define the "true history of the world" - just outline the views of different cultures. More work, yes, but also more interesting (imo).
    What if I was just a special type of crazy and liked knowing both what actually happened for real, period and what various different races/institutions believe/teach?
    Because me, being the all-knowing in this setting, as all DMs are, really know more that the greatest of deities (they don't know they don't exist, after all :P), so I like to write all I can, truthfully, then think about how the truth was covered up or distorted with the passage of time.

  5. #15
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    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)



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    My timeline tends to be precise, yet relatively recent. I find it a bit pointless to detail the rise and fall of various civilizations. Such ancient history does not have to be that detailed. Instead I'll just state that an ancient civilization rose or fell a long time ago, and focus on more recent events, that will actually be important to the players. (Such as, when two countries started their current war, and how long a peace treaty held. Or how long ago an important figure died.)
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  6. #16
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    @Imaculata The Thing with ancient Scenarios in the official Settings (FR Netheril, DL Ishtar, Eberron Giants vs Dragons, Greyhawk Twin Cataclysm, DS everything up till present ) is that it gives instant and believable Explanation for a lot of stuff:

    - Ruins aka dungeons
    - Unusual (powerful) Magic
    - Unusual Technology
    - Rifts (temporal, dimensional)
    - Forgotten cults
    - Ancient Villains rising again (not necessarily undead)

    etc. etc.

    It is not thought to be a fictionary history lesson in the first place but rather to consturct those bullets

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coroc View Post
    @Imaculata The Thing with ancient Scenarios in the official Settings (FR Netheril, DL Ishtar, Eberron Giants vs Dragons, Greyhawk Twin Cataclysm, DS everything up till present ) is that it gives instant and believable Explanation for a lot of stuff:

    - Ruins aka dungeons
    - Unusual (powerful) Magic
    - Unusual Technology
    - Rifts (temporal, dimensional)
    - Forgotten cults
    - Ancient Villains rising again (not necessarily undead)

    etc. etc.

    It is not thought to be a fictionary history lesson in the first place but rather to consturct those bullets
    Does all of that need to be explained though?

    Like for example, this is what the timeline for my campaign looks like:



    I skip a large period of time, and a lot of historical events, because they simply are not relevant to the campaign. All I really need is events that have happened in the last 30 years.
    Last edited by Imaculata; Wednesday, 16th May, 2018 at 02:05 PM.

  8. #18
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    I use a timeline to define origins and events. Three thousand years ago the priests and sorcerers of (Egyptian area) created the anthropomorphic races (lizardmen, minotaurs, etc..,) in the image of their gods. These beings rebelled and destroyed the former empire. The survivors live in ruined cities unable to rebuild the great monuments with the only friendly race (tabaxi) and are now ruled by the (Babylonian/Sumerians).

    One hundred and fifty years ago the last scion of the ruling house died, the nobles of the area at the time agreed to rule as a council rather than fighting among themselves to see who would rule.

    The elf prince is the only known person to have slain a dragon in the last one hundred years.

    This gives my players a starting point and I have their actions and deeds fill in the intervening time.

  9. #19
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    Time Agent (Lvl 24)



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    A lot of times when coming up with a history of a campaign world, less is more. In the same way you don't have to map out entire continents and would never map every alley of every city, leave space in your history for events that could have happened.

    For example, for my last campaign I started dropping hints that at one point dragons had ruled the land because I was thinking of running my next campaign stealing ideas from Tyranny of Dragons. I thought it would be fun if there was an ancient dragon from the time when the dragon empire fell that wanted to reclaim past glories.

    Did I have that written down in my history before I started dropping hints? Of course not. Even if I had, I may not have revealed it to my players. I have two sets of histories - the one the players know and the "real" one which may diverge from the accepted history. My point is that I have pretty massive gaps that I can always fill in later.

    Another point to this is that the accepted history may not be what actually happened. History is written by the victors and while I publish a timeline that they would reasonably know my "real" history has notes about actual events.

    So back to the OP, how did the world start? Do the PCs know how the world started, or do they just know the last few decades? Do the elder races share what they know or do they "simplify" the truth for other reasons?

    This gets a little tricky when you have extremely long-lived creatures or immortal beings, but their perspective on things may be quite different from mere mortals. In addition, even immortals may forget the past after a time. I remember reading a story of a (virtually) immortal woman that would keep diaries. Going back to her older diaries she would be reminded that she once had children and a husband but had no recollection of them. It had simply been too long and she could only remember so many things.

    TLDR: leave plenty of room in your history for mystery and discovery.
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  10. #20
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    IRL History goes back about 6000 years (earliest written records in a language). There are artifacts and dig sites that indicate social / civilized behaviors for maybe 10,000 years before that.
    Plus, "the history of the world" has a lot of groups that don't know about each other at all. So things can happen over here (Greece) that nobody knows about over there (China). And 'uncivilized' or isolated areas have things happen that nobody else at all knows about.

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