Introduction: Geography and Demography of the Lands
The Lands of Hope is a world rich with history but bereft of leadership, where centuries ago Heroes of Hope beat back the horrid threat of Despair, but then mysteriously departed from the western kingdoms, to oblivion or to the east or perhaps both. The intervening ages- two thousand years of recorded time- have deprived the world of much; in the modern day (roughly 1990 through 2002 ADR) over nine-tenths of the Lands’ population lives a quiet, static life. Yet great adventure remains for those select few who venture into its long-forgotten pockets and hidden places, there to root out the remaining vestiges of an evil beyond description from the days before the Battle of the Razor.
Geography & Demography:
For this section you can refer to the Main Map, The Lands of Hope, which appears on the Maps of Hope page. The first published tale is set in the City of the Heroes, described below. The action of the “Shards of Light” stories takes place in the Southlands, also called the Argensian Empire, and there is a separate section and map for that as well.
Inhabitants of the Lands measure great distances in leagues, which would be about three English miles each. The Hopeland subcontinent is nearly 2,500 leagues north to south, and just over 800 leagues in most places between the Western Sea and the impassible Swords of Stone, a mountain range which bounds the land mass. Halfway south, the Great Cleft cuts like a mortal wound across the Lands’ midsection from the Swords to the Sea, dividing temperate from southern lands. The Shimmering Mindsea, a nearly impassible desert, begins south of the Cleft and covers the eastern two-thirds of the southern lands, except for the final two hundred leagues, where thick tropical jungles run across the width of the Lands.
To the north, sub-arctic conditions make life difficult for the civilized Men of Conar who have recently established the Novar colony. Their indigenous neighbors, the mastodon-mounted Northmen, are native beserkers who fight as furiously against Hope’s incursions as they once resisted Despair’s. Further south along the coast, the great city of Conar is home to over a million persons, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Man. Located at the site where the Hopelord Conar landed and used his white ships for walls, it is truly named the City of Wonders, as ancient magics function automatically. This creates a very high standard of living- superior to that of any earth civilization of the medieval period- something which its people take for granted. The east-warding kingdom of Shilar, the forest of the Halfling people, and the south-central kingdom of the Percentalion all are vassals to Conar, though no real authority is exercised over them by tradition. In recent centuries, a plague of disorder has descended over the Percentalion, making travel through it increasingly perilous.
Further south, firmly in the temperate climes, is the Elven kingdom founded by Mendel, the first son of Ma-Eldar the Hopelord of Elves, in similar fashion to Conar (though at a much higher cost). It is a smaller, and quieter kingdom, bounded by the Great Forest to the east and the Great Cleft to the south. Home of the Elven people, with few outsiders, Mendel houses the greatest lore of the Lands. The immortal Elves are a noble, delicate and guarded people, however; it is unlikely that they would casually reveal the secrets of the past, any more than an Elf would allow a mortal to learn his true age. North and east of Mendel are the Plains of the Bordbeyond, where live a scant, savage half-elven people sundered from the rest of Hope in obedience to an ages-old vow to ward the Swords of Stone against the return of Despair.
West of Mendel, along the craggy coast, the Hopelord of Mages Araluntir established the Crystal City, a polis whose size is more than compensated for by its power and magically-enhanced standard of life. Entry is closed to all but a few outsiders, neither does anyone leave. East of Mendel, in the Swords and almost cut off by the ever-expanding Forest, Mickhel houses the only community of indigenous Dwarves in the Lands.
South of the Cleft lies the Argensian Empire, named after its founder Argens, perhaps greatest of the Heroes after the three Hopelords. The empire is dominated by an Elvish feudal nobility, and has varying but fiery relations with the desert-dwelling Bedou-uu and giant jungle-hardened Nubians to two sides. Though technically vassal to Mendel, the empire is vastly larger than its mother country and has been independent in all matters for centuries.
East of the Swords of Stone are the fabled Lands of Despair, which no man living has seen.
Or so the legends say.