LetsBuild5e:Demographics and Society

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Who lives here, and how?[edit]

Every Race and Kindred under Heaven[edit]

All the player-character races described in the Player's Handbook are found in non-trivial numbers in Axalvo. Gnomes are most numerous, but no race is vanishingly small. Although the races are generally intermingled and at peace, there are many tensions. The elves had a great empire on the current dark side when it was last the light side. They've never let anyone forget it, and recently an irredentist movement has emerged, arguing that elves should rise up and take land and resources on this side in preparation for a glorious reconquest of their ancient empire. This has made elves increasingly unpopular among the other warm-blooded races. Dragonborn are new to the area in any significant numbers, and tend to live apart from the warm-blooded species. They're popularly associated with the tyrannical elder-dragon-god - according to legend, the dragonborn were already on the light side when the warm-blooded elder-race tried to tunnel through. It's generally held that the dwarves left the current dark side swiftly and in good order the last time the world flipped, without helping the other nations; dwarves are often blamed for the resulting hardship and death. And among the smaller peoples, halflings and gnomes often clash - halflings have a culturally ingrained love of simplicity and clarity, whereas gnomish culture has tended value the elaborate and baroque. (Decision: [1]) Gnomish civil society is predominantly matriarchal, which is reflected in a slight bias towards female identities for the gods. (Decision: [2])

So-called dark elves exhibit a range of skin-colours from light grey to ebony. They speak a form of elvish, but they are often found living alongside orcs and speaking their language - which is a major source of tension with other elves. Aasimar, tieflings, and perhaps genasi are found throughout other cultures, races, and societies - their special natures occur as genetic throwbacks, and they rarely if ever have distinct settlements of their own. Dragonborn speak a form of Draconic, in addition to any local languages. Dragonborn live mainly in mountain foothills, where they have a very tense peace with the dwarves and gnomes. They are loosely organised into regional clans: The red-copper clan in particular lives in the mountains, the blue-brass clan lives in the deserts, the white clan is up in the cold steppe, the green-black clan is forest-based, the bronze clan lives by the sea, and the silver-gold clan is always urban. (Decision: [3]) The numerical breakdown is as follows (Decision: [4]):

Gnomes: 20%
Dwarves: 18%
Humans: 14%
Orcs: 12%
Halflings: 12%
Dragonborn: 9%
Elves: 6%
Half-orcs: 3%
Half-elves: 2%
Tieflings, aasimar, and others: 4%

While the concept of 'having an adventure' has some cultural recognition, there are almost no professional adventurers. It would be seen as a deeply peculiar career choice. (Decision: [5])

Consider the Ant[edit]

Most of Axalvo was settled many generations ago, and is far from any frontier. Adventures usually involve the interactions between well-established communities, with feuds, old grudges, long-standing alliances, and known quantities featuring heavily. (Decision: [6])

Locally, the technology level is classical, but it's possible that a higher technology level might exist elsewhere. (Decision: [7] ) Moreover, all kinds of arcane magic are known, but their practice at higher levels, and especially for payment, are tightly regulated by an oligopoly of competing mage guilds. (Decision: [8] ) The whole of Axalvo is highly cosmopolitan: major cities are melting pots where one could meet anyone, while in more rural areas communities tend to be dominated by 2-3 different races. (Decision: [9]) There is no superpower on the plateau following the collapse of the empire; instead, it is divided up among many weak states with diverse political systems. (Decisions: [10] [11]) In addition to the regular PC races, orcs and aasimar are found in significant numbers in the starting area. (Decision: [12]) Also present are an enigmatic race of human-sized colonial insects called eltfol, with whom the humanoids have a very limited form of commerce. (Decision: [13]) The eltfolz' own communications are not understood by humanoids at all, and they resist most forms of mental magic; trade is accomplished by means of sign language through specially trained interpreters known as eltbrolir. (Decision: [14])

Up the revolution![edit]

The campaign begins when the people of Gartihann have overthrown the direct rule of one of the large international mage guilds within the past 12 months. There's no real head of state - the chairs of the various citizens' committees take the role depending on the situation at hand. There isn't even functioning democracy as such - just various ad hoc groups trying to muddle through. Thinkers in the marketplace are starting to propose new constitutional arrangements, but enough other things have kept the interim government busy since the revolution that no constitutional convention has been called, nor has any single leader emerged. The ousted mages are now licking their wounds and deciding on the next move. They're not openly at war with the rebel government - after all, it could be a future client. (Decisions: [15] [16])

Geography and Cosmology
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