I’ve recently begun a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, and I’ve decided to do something a bit different with the setting.
I’ve taken it back a few thousand years.
The first Dwarves to step out into the sunlight have just begun to build defenses around the entrances to their mountain fastnesses. There are Dwarf families who believe that Dwarf kind should not go out into the hurtful blinding light, and instead promote going deeper; these Dwarves shall someday become known as the Duergar.
Far and away the majority of the surface land is ruled by the Elves in their vast, ancient forests. The divide between the light skinned Elves and their ebon skinned cousins has not yet happened; Lolth does not yet have them entirely in her grasp. The tensions are high, but the Drow have not yet fled underground. Most Elves are of what the other races call “High Elves”, but the Wood and Wild Elves have extremely numerous populations amongst the forests.
Humankind is only now beginning to spread. The earliest Human settlers have just started to arrive in large ships from an unknown land far to the west. There are no Human cities yet, but there are many small towns along the western coast.
Gnomes are closer to their fey heritage; they are not yet “civilized”, and live furtive, cautious lives deep in the roots of the Elves forests.
Halflings are actually even more numerous than in the traditional D&D setting (I’m referring basically to The Forgotten Realms, what I consider to be the “default” D&D setting). In the southeast of this land, the “Hin” as they call themselves thrive with townships, shires, and villages across many leagues of hilly grassland and farmland.
The Dragonborn are very few and far between, and live almost exclusively in the far north, regardless of their ancestry. Though generally peaceful and proud, the Dragon-blooded folk face too much racial tension with the rest of the world, and so stay mostly to themselves.
Tieflings apparently do not have any type of society of their own. You might see one or two Tieflings while travelling through Human lands, or while visiting Halfling villages, but if you ever see three of them together, get away from the area… it’s said that three Tieflings mean trouble.
These races were not the first to inhabit this land. Scattered amongst the forests and on the mountainsides are ruins of an ancient civilization. Huge stone and timber structures, now broken and slowly disintegrating back into the dust, leave signs that some type of Giant race once lived all across the land. No one knows where they went, or how long ago. There are no clues as to why they no longer live here. Only the most ancient Elves, some of whom were actually alive when the Giants ruled the world, know what happened to them, but none of those Elves have been willing to speak of it.