Realm Lords is the title of a D&D 4th Edition campaign setting. All of the game play rules for this version of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game apply to the campaign setting: character stats, creature stats, combat, magic, saving throws, etc.
The world of Realm Lords is a very ancient one, one that has seen the rise and fall of a number of powerful civilizations and cultures. These civilizations span a number of races and cultures that are both familiar and unfamiliar, built around the designated ‘official’ races set down in the 4th Edition rule set. These races include: humans, elves, dwarves and half-elf, tieflings and dragonborn.
Millennia ago, a cataclysmic war destroyed almost all of the civilized nations of the world. It was a conflict so devastating that the populations of the world were decimated almost to the point of extinction – when the fighting was finally done, those who had survived were left to battle against rampant sickness, disease, famine and drought; the death toll turned the world into a mass graveyard.
Barbarism and chaos took root and spread. It took decades for those who lived through these horrific times to band together and begin to recreate the communities, towns and cities of their civilizations.
The destructive energies released during the many conflicts that raged across the face of the world roused the sleeping gods and they finally took pity upon the many races of the earth.
To insure that the races and creatures survived, they divided the world into twelve separate realms, each separated by a great misty barrier. Each of these twelve realms was placed under the care of an arbiter or custodian – powerful, semi-divine beings known as Realm Lords. Each Realm Lord was given the task of shaping and nurturing their particular realm; they were to watch over and protect their realms.
The only mandate the Realm Lords were given was that war was not to be tolerated, that any conflict that arose between nations or cities must be settled by single combat between champions. And War between the Realms was strictly forbidden, punishable by total annihilation.
As the world was suffering through its last death throes from a catastrophic period of war, the gods lifted up a number of mortals and altered them, accelerating their evolution and granting them supernatural power. Or so the legends state… the true origin of the Realm Lords and how they came into being is a mystery as yet unsolved.
The Realm Lords are mysterious entities, tasked many millennia ago by the gods with the stewardship of Realms. There is one Realm Lord for each Realm. As of this writing, the Realms number 12, but there are surely many others yet to be discovered. Many of the barriers that separate the Realms are not fully explored…
Realm Lords have the ability of creation and manifestation; to craft and shape the land and creatures that inhabit their Realm. This power includes many disciplines, including: metaphysical and physical states of being; mythology, zoology, topography, etc. Anything and everything that might have to do with building and maintaining a biosphere… the Realm Lord is the quasi-divine caretaker of their individual domain. As they are god-like, the Realm Lords are essentially immortal…but they are not truly gods. They can suffer injury and even death.
For just over ten thousand years, these Realm Lords have been reshaping their worlds. After the Cataclysm they began to slowly rebuild their realms, molding them into vibrant, habitable landscapes. The healing and reshaping magicks they have at their disposal are not instantaneous however, especially when dealing with shaping of the land.
Earlier attempts to do things at a more accelerated pace resulted in catastrophe and several lost Realms, due to anomalies and mutative side effects caused by the enormous output of magickal energies.
Each Realm Lord has little contact with the others (they may not even be aware the others exist, though this is unlikely) and each Realm has been created to the particular and singular vision of each Realm Lord; and this has generated great vagaries in the general look and environmental make-up of each of the Realms.
This is not as wide-ranging as it may sound, as each Realm Lord has drawn upon his or her previous worldview or experience to help guide them in their creation. As a result, journeying through the various landscapes and territories of the various Realms will elicit a sense of familiarity from place to place – for the most part, the landscape, flora and fauna types will seem natural and Earth-like, generally appearing like the countryside of Central or Eastern Europe (though some areas will evoke a sense of the rocky deserts of Africa and Afghanistan or forests and mountains of Eastern China or Japan).