Friday, March 30, 2012

Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part II -- Post-Cataclysm to the Medieval Era

As I mentioned in Part I, the Hero Universe meta-setting is one of the most kitchen sinky of kitchen sink settings, spanning pre-historic past to the far future, and all the spaces in between. Again, most of this text comes from the PDF found in the link above, and is available for free from their site. Just a bit of editing and rewriting was done on my part.

Part I tackled all the Pre-Cataclysm eras and ages. Part II tackles the setting from the Cataclysm through the Medieval Era.

The Cataclysm (~30,000 B.C.)

In this extinction-level event, the lands of the Atlantean Age are shattered, or sink beneath the waves, destroying virtually all traces of the pre-Cataclysm civilization. Due to one last heroic act by Emperor Vondarian, the few survivors of the Cataclysm gain the ability to breathe underwater and found the underwater realm of Atlantis.

Several other hidden kingdoms manage to survive somehow up until the modern era.

Note: In addition to ending the existence of most of the fantasy races and creatures that existed in the prior era, this even also manages to re-arrange the world into a more recognizable map. However, I do find the extinction of races interesting -- this is where ridiculously powerful and advanced races that could have given humanity a run for dominance of the planet get caught off-guard and are weakened or wiped out. It also helps establish the scope of humanity's capacity for destruction.

The World of Tuala Morn (28,000 BC TO 20,000 BC)

When the waves recede, new landmasses and new civilizations -- mostly predecessors of those to come -- arise, such as the quasi-Irish Celtic land of Tuala Morn, the quasi-Arthurian land of Logres, the quasi-Meosamerican Taloctec lands, and so forth. But the lands are unstable, and after eight thousand years collapse back beneath the waves.

The Age of Legends (20,000 BC TO 11,000 BC)

Once again, new continents arise in the forms known to us in the modern age (although most of North Africa is forest and savannah rather than desert). After a few thousand years of Stone Age level technology, some civilizations -- whose influence is later seen during historic times -- arise in this period.

Note: Great cities are built in South America, Africa, and Asia, as well as in Europe and Australia, with each culture or civilization a sort of “fantasized” version of what appears later. Toward the end of this period these civilizations all collapse, leaving the stage empty for later ones. See Philip Jose Farmer’s “Hadon of Ancient Opar” for a good example of what this could be like, or Wilbur Smith’s “The Sunbird,” or Charles Saunders’s “Imaro” series.

The Classical Age (10,000 BC TO 400 AD)

This age is broken up into two major segments.

The Age of Heroes spans from 10,000 BC to 200 BC. In this era of civilization, Ancient Egypt arises along with Mycenae, Crete, and Sumeria -- but Greece is the dominant culture near the end of the
era. Many believe in magic, but it is rarely seen in action (at least, not by everyday folk!). The era of Greek, Norse, etc. mythology, when gods, demigods, and mortals mingle on Earth. The decline of Greece and the rise of the Roman empire marks the end of this age.

The Roman Empire ranges from 200 BC to 400 AD. In this era,  the Roman Empire conquers much of the known world during this period; great civilizations also flourish in China and the Americas. For the most part, the pragmatic Romans disbelieve in magic, as the gradual decline of mystical forces makes true spellcasters increasingly uncommon (though magic remains stronger in some corners of the world far from Rome).

Note: A lot of the classical elements that have found their way into the modern fantasy genres (and in fact the foundations of western theater and storytelling) come from this age. Sword and sandal adventures abound here, and the full flowering of some of the most well-known mythologies are ready for use in this age.

The Medieval Age (400 AD TO 1500)

This is also broken up into two major sub-ages -- Arthurian Hero and Fantasy Europe.

Arthurian Hero takes place from 400 AD to 900 AD, and is a time of Merlin-esque magics,
the faerie folk, and adventure around the world. It focuses on a Fantasy Europe, a dark/low sort of fantasy set in the Celtic/Arthurian Age (with, of course, anachronisms like plate armor as necessary for fl avor). Europe is a wilderness with pockets of civilization here and there. The wilds are dangerous, home to dragons, trolls, and fierce beasts.

Notes: The “Bard” series by Keith Taylor, Celtic myths, Arthurian legends, and Norse sagas are excellent resources for this sub-age.

Fantasy Europe takes place from 900 to 1500 AD, and is the classic period of medieval adventure when magic briefly surges upward in power again before continuing its swift decline during the
Renaissance. Knights in shining armor, powerful yet fairly rare sorcery. High adventure in a “fantasy medieval Europe” where magic exists, knights in shining armor slay dragons, and only the power of
the Church keeps demonic minions at bay.

Notes: Adventures in fantastic realms (such as Lyonesse, Hybrasil, and Antillia) are possible during this time, but they eventually sink or pass into the Land of Legends as magic diminishes or magical disasters occur. This is also the time that many mystical creatures and races like the Fair Folk begin their transitions into other realms, whose doors become increasingly more difficult to open. Furthermore, there is a spate of monster slaying in this era, which eradicates many creatures of magic.

Next Up: The Modern Eras of the Hero Universe

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.