D&D General Are the best days of your campaign world ahead or behind?



Outside of the elves and gnomes, every mortal races has 2 dark ages and 2 golden ages due to the reincarnation cycles of the deities.
Elves and gnomes are the outliers as they "just" became mortal less than 3 generations ago.

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Depends who you ask. For the elves and dwarves, the answer is "behind". The dragonborn would answer "behind", but they're wrong. Humans are split on the subject. I don't have a ready answer for most others.


Limit Break Dancing
Depends. The Ancients were almost driven to extinction by a cataclysm that shattered the world. In the thousands of years since, the other races (humans, dwarves, elves, etc.) have evolved and flourished. The Ancients want to restore the world to the way it was...but that would mean destroying the new one that was built on the ashes.

I look forward to seeing which side the party chooses.

It depends on who you ask.

If you asked the Jinnistani nobles, and somehow managed to get a truly honest answer out of them, they would unequivocally say "behind." They used to rule this part of the mortal world, uncontested. They had (for some reason, still not entirely clear) to abandon those holdings and move to Al-Akirah, the elemental otherworld, forming the new collection of city-states, Jinnistan. (Before that, they were just called "the genie-rajahs.") They used to have incredible power over the world; they still have most of their wealth and are still very influential, but they can't afford to ignore mortal-race politics anymore and that's a clear mark of how far they've fallen by comparison.

If you asked two of the four major "bad guy" factions--the Raven-Shadows or the Shadow Druids, who are actually bitter enemies--they would almost certainly say "behind." The Kahina (Druids and Shamans together) used to be incredibly influential among mortals, before the genie-rajahs left and most of the Nomad Tribes and liberated slaves settled down to form the ancestors of the modern-day city-folk. Now, they're but one of several factions, arguably less influential and important than the Safiqi priesthood--and the Shadow Druids want to reverse that. The Raven-Shadows, meanwhile, are currently dealing with a massive internal schism and the removal of one of their main focuses (as the party has eliminated the main interplanar threat that could have threatened the region).

If you asked the Waziri mage order...that'd be complicated. They REALLY screwed up recently, to the point that they held onto their legitimacy by a slim margin, so from a political/financial standpoint they're on thin ice right now. But from a knowledge standpoint, oh boy, this is absolutely a frenzied time of discovery. The players have contributed to it, but even before they got started, other adventurers and the strangely shifting winds had revealed many things long forgotten in the desert. The Waziri as a whole learn new magical techniques by deconstructing the magic of others and rebuilding it. (This is actually why they struggle to learn healing magic--it's very hard to deconstruct faith.) So, the more ancient magic items flowing in, the more they're overall learning.

Al-Rakkah, the largest city and main focus of the game (being the titular Jewel of the Desert), is absolutely doing better than it was. The old sultan, Sultan Iskandar, had an excellent early reign, bringing Al-Rakkah to the highest heights it had ever reached....and then his late reign nearly destroyed everything as he slowly went senile and paranoid. His youngest daughter, his only legitimate child that wasn't disowned, married off, or slain, had a few years of regency after Iskandar's assassination and then took the throne. She is beautiful, brilliant, and beloved by her people, and she has proven her bravery and strength as a leader after the Deadwind Heart crisis (which is what caused the Waziri to lose so much face). So...the city is bouncing back from a dark time, and looks poised to regain the heights it had when Iskandar was young.

Overall for the (local) world? It's....hard to say. Mortal society in this part of the world is absolutely the best it's been, basically ever. Two thousand years ago, when the genie-rajahs left (or were forced out), almost all mortals were either slaves (some treated decently, some treated horrifically), while everyone else was nomads eking out a hardscrabble life in the arid wastes between the genie cities. Today, the Tarrakhuna is a network of vibrant city-states united by trade, with Al-Rakkah the strongest and most prestigious of them, its explorers going to far lands and bringing back incredible riches and magic. Yet there are numerous major threats arising, in some cases specifically because the world is becoming so prosperous.

If our heroes can save the day and stave off the darkness, a bright dawn may grow into a true golden age. If they should falter, that hope may dim, or even be doused entirely. Not forever, darkness is never eternal. But consequences might be.


Wow. I have never contemplated the possibility that the world can get better - my campaign world or the real world.
It's something to think about.


I mean, it kind of depends on what the PCs do. The world is in an inter-war period with a shaky truce keeping things peaceful and two aggressive empires on either side of the PC's home country ready to start their invasion again as soon as they have the forces ready to do so. By the end of the campaign we'll see if the PCs have been able to neutralize the threats or if the world is going to plunge back into war.


Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't have a single persistent campaign world - I switch up games and worlds with some frequency.

For the two games I am considering right now... for one, the PCs are likely aiming to help locally, rather than globally, and the setting has been kind of status quo for a long time, and is apt to remain so into the future. So, nothing neither way.

In the other... well, the world has never had a "best day" so far, so we have to hope the PCs make for one in the future.


Steeliest of the dragons
Ya know, kudos to you for a really interesting question/topic! I have, literally, never thought about this before.

Histories over histories, nations over nations, cultures over soaring civilizations over conquering empires over magical heights over magical catastrophes... but it's all the histories, legends, and myths of the world to supply places for peoples, artifacts & items, treasures and places (wondrous and accursed) for adventures...not really, truly ever, a view of "where the world is going."

It's a really complex question.

First, I would have to narrow down "...as compared to which age/part of the past?" There are events, times, even eras and ages, that were waaaay better than the world is now. Very different and indisputably "better."

Are those days forever lost, though?

That particular age, clearly yes. That particular culture or nation or people? Probably or possibly. Perhaps the elves will rise again. Perhaps the giants will finally "retake" dominion of the physical world and usher in an era of completely unexpected peace and harmony, using forgotten arts and unknown (giant/titan) sciences to produce a level of prosperity for all that no one ever thought possible (certainly not by the degenerated descendants of the titans of the dawning age before the Before). Perhaps mages will stop hording magic for their own powers and bring the realms to a place of ease and comfort few enjoy today.

At the same time, there have been terrible times behind. And/or those "glory days" also has or existed directly BECAUSE of some really awful/brutal things. Worldwide wars of conquest. Magical creations/mutations. Untold death, misery, slavery, and suffering....but there's a "stable empire" running much of the world, a systems of laws and courts, wealth and riches, markets full of exotic resources from across the world, ... for THOSE people, things were pretty great in those times. For everyone else...

Then, there's those times with demonic invasions. The age of religious zealots slaying mages and destroying arcane (any non-divine) magics. Those times the Barbarian hordes got tired of staying in the cold north. Rampaging goblins, orcs, ogres, trolls, giants. A lich or two trying to get back what they're ancient empire lost. Evil dragons or banished demigods who want to return to the top of the food chain (in terms of ruling/national/political power. Dragons are clearly still/already the world's apex predators).

My world currently exists (as I think many homebrew settings do) in a state of uneasy peace/truce among most kingdoms and realms. There is trade that goes on. Certain lands are more allied/friendly with certain other realms, less so with the wicked or openly evil. Alliances of marriage are a norm. Common history/enemies and legendary pasts of battles over evil forces bind various areas to one another. Large scale land war or invading conquests is largely a thing of the past to which very few -generally monstrous species- want to return. Skirmishes and border disputes are fairly common, but are rarely so intense or longstanding as to spiral into full blown declarations of war between rulers.

When something 'hits the fan" or is shaking the statis quo, that's something that is newsworthy. Those are the stories/rumors that sweep the markets to reach the ears of the intrepid adventurers looking for a way to pay their bar tab. That's how something gets notable enough to push the valorous and foolhardy to action.

For the most part, unless there is an adventuring party in a particular region, the bulk of the world exists in a kind of stasis...with some slow-moving changes of narratives independent of players' actions. The region the players are IN and engaging, that can change substantially depending on the characters' actions/involvements (or lacks thereof).

Can characters make things better (or worse) than they currently are in whatever area/region they are? Absotively! I would expect nothing less...otherwise, what are they doing there?! Move on to some other region and make an impact THERE, then! You call yourselves "adventurers?!" Go adventure!

I have never really thought of having things "get better" in world independent of the characters. I mean other than in small ways. There are beneficial treaties, sure. Much anticipated weddings or victorious battles against rampaging orcs, various -small scale- "happily ever afters." But for the most part, things are constantly in a state of possibility of falling part. Perpetual "...about to hit the fan." That's what the PCs are FOR!

So, I guess I would say to the question of the op...There are definitely better days behind. There are definitely worse days behind. There CAN be better days ahead. There can be days that are much MUCH worse ahead.

Those last two are entirely up to the characters of a given campaign.
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In my main homebrew, it cycles. There was "an age undreamed of", but various factors led to its end. Yet there are nations that are on the rise trying to make a better world, just as there are those on the decline who are grasping at old glories as they sputter and die.

In the real world aspect, my homebrew's organic growth and development over the years have revealed several stereotype and design issues that need to be addressed. I want to do a makeover, streamline and update the whole thing, but dumping a lot of past adventures, memories and work associated with it is a hard thing to do.


He / Him
Great, interesting answers everyone!

Another fun way to think about this question is to consider the major conflict of the campaign world (good vs evil, law vs chaos, elves vs dwarves, civilization vs nature, etc), and ask, is the future more x or y? And why?

For example, if I have a campaign world based on the conflict Vampires vs the Oppressed, I can ask... Does the future belong to the Vampires or to the Oppressed? And why?

In my current campaign setting, the future definitely belongs to the Vampires. They are immortal, and that is a resource they use to outlast small uprisings or annoying adventurers.

Of course, the characters are working to change that!

Current 5e campaign, yes, I like to think so. Things are pretty bad right now, what with the Unending Rime of the Frostmaiden, after all.

Past (and at some point, future) 5e campaign, yes, absolutely. That homebrew was designed with hope as a guiding principle.

Current DCC RPG campaign - who knows, it's DCC? The world could get paved over for a space wizard van parking lot or the party could find themselves ruling a small country.

Interesting question. In my homebrew, it would be a wash.

The ancient past of my world was an advanced magic-tech society. A time of great wonders and advancements (transhumanism, post-scarcity, even travel amongst the stars and interactions with alien entities... or demons as they are called now) but this also meant more terrifying and devastating forces of destruction.

The world now is a shadow of its past and the factions squabble over the remnants and artifacts of the past. What's left of the past technology will never be fully understood again... people refer to it as 'magic items' because they can't possibly understand. No one alive in the current day of my homebrew would know what to make of the still running cold fusion reactors buried deep underground- except that the effects of their emissions create something the greatest of arcane minds barely understand as ley lines.

The past was conflict akin to pre world war I but with advanced techno-magic. When the war finally broke out, it caused the end of life as was known and what exists now in my current campaign is the result of a new world born from that. On the surface my campaign world looks like a typical fantasy setting but when you dig deeper there is more to it and it only looks like fantasy because its all the current inhabitants can understand.

I can run what looks like a normal D&D fantasy campaign, but throw in whatever weird science / magic-tech I want as players explore deeper and further and I can have underlying high magic technology explanations for typical D&D fantasy tropes.

I've always had a thought to run a campaign in that before time. I wouldn't use D&D though ( it doesn't reach high enough in power without being too clunky). I'd use Godbound, Exemplars & Eidolons, or Worlds Without Number with full Legate rules.

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