Urbis is the World of Cities:
Very interesting DnD world background. Worth taking a look at. The concept of Nexus towers is a very, very intresting one for those who want high magic and urban campaigns.
The writer's introduction is interesting.
IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve always had ideas for fantasy settings ever since I have started playing fantasy RPGs. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d often make notes for my Very Own Fantasy Setting - and promptly forget about them until they surfaced months or years later.
Then, in the summer of 2002, came Wizards of the CoastÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFantasy Setting SearchÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬? - a search for new settings that would be developed by the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most popular role-playing game. The best three entrants would get $20,000 to develop their settings, and the single best entry would get another $100,000. This sounded enticing enough, so I decided to enter. I searched my brain for all of the ideas I had developed earlier, and thus, Urbis was born (coming up with the name was one of the hardest partsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦). You can read my submission here .
I didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t win, but since approximately 11,000 other entries didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t win, either, I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t feel too bad about this (even though some of the other entries looked like they were written by one thousand illiterate monkey hacking on keyboards until something approximating a setting came up of itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ but I digress. Though if you want to get a general idea about a certain kind of entrant, read here ). The story of Urbis might have ended here, but then Neverwinter Nights appeared on the scene - a fascinating computer RPG that uses the D&D rules set as a base, and that allows the user to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œprogramÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬? so-called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmodulesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬? that can be played by other people who also own Neverwinter Nights - just like the original adventure included in the game.
I saw a chance to both dust up my rusty programming skills and develop Urbis further. While I continue to work on a module set in the world of Urbis, I also have to think about how the world of Urbis works. You can see the results of the latter on these pages.
The world of Urbis is firmly rooted in the D&D game. You will find the same fantasy races, the same monsters, and the same spells in Urbis as you can find them in the three ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œCore RulesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬? books of D&D. So what makes Urbis special? How did I want to make Urbis different from, say, the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk? What were my design goals?
The first of these design goals was a focus on the cities of the world. Traditional fantasy worlds, like the ones mentioned above, are mostly rural or wilderness. Cities often exist more as an excuse to recover and spend the money looted from some far-off dungeon. And the cities remain rather small by modern standards - if their population reaches the tens of thousands, they are true metropolises.
With Urbis, I wanted to try something different. Here, the city population reaches into the millions in many cases. Of course, I had to justify such massive populations - while cities that large were possible in the ancient world (think of Rome, or many Chinese cities), they rarely grew so large unless there was a very good reason for it. Thus, I invited the concept of the Nexus Tower. These examples of mystical architecture can draw upon the very life force of the inhabitants of a city, and give their owners vast powers they can use to cast mighty spells or create many magical items. This creates a big incentive for the ruler of a city to increase its population to the limit (and beyond) that its infrastructure can handle.
I also wanted to take a close look at the inherent assumptions on which D&D is based - magic, creatures, money, and so on - and create a society that fits into these concept. A world where wizards can conjure great balls of fire and where priests resurrect the dead on a regular basis isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t going to look anything similar to our own Middle Ages. The powers of magic will shape more than just the magic-user himself, but also the rest of society.
Then there all the non human sapient creatures in D&D. I took a good, hard look at all of them and asked myself: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHow can they fit into this world in a realistic way, and still be interestingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬?? Thus you will find ghoul cults in the sewers, yuan-ti infiltrators, and whole city-states ruled by hobgoblins. Some of the non-sapient beings also needed some more explanation to fit in. The destrachan and the Yrthak, for example, are too strange to have evolved naturally on an Earth like world - so I made them immigrants from another world where they did evolve naturally.
These are just a sample of the thoughts I have put into the setting, and more will doubtless occur to me as I continue to work on it. I have tried to create a world in which the D&D rules will feel real, and which yet has plenty of opportunities for adventures of all kind. You be the judge whether I have succeeded. If you have any questions, suggestions, or if you have spotted any mistakes, feel free to email me. Like most people who create something, I always appreciate feedback.