The World of Arda

The world of Arda is an early modern fantasy world constructed to provide a framework for my Selentia campaign setting. I have found inspiration for Arda in many places: in particular, I have made substantial borrowings from Legend, the Dragon Warriors role-playing game's official setting (copyright Dave Morris 1986) and Kara-Tur, the east asian setting for the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game system (1st and 2nd editions). Other influences include the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien (which is where the word Arda came from), the Quest for Glory computer game series, Bill Willingham's Ironwood comics, Norse mythology, and my years of study in classical and medieval history and religion at the University of Queensland.

In general, Arda reflects my personal preference to have fantastic concepts and events occur in a plausible way in an internally consistent setting. For me, a consequence of those two conditions is a strong correlation between game-world elements and real-world elements, particularly historical elements. I believe it is easier for other people role-playing in Arda to share my concept of Arda if they can tell, for instance, that the Selentine Empire is a parallel of the Roman Empire, and that the Mountains Under Heaven are a parallel of the Himalayas. By creating correlations between Arda and the earth, I have a model for how things could have been on Arda in the past, how they are in the present, and how they could change in the future.

At the same time, Arda is very much unlike a snapshot of Eurasia in the late middle ages or early modern period. There are magic spells, giants and dragons, elves and dwarves, cat-people and lizard-people. The existence of God is demonstrably true, as is the existence of the pagan gods who predate the True Faith. In many ways, Arda is modelled more on a cinematic and fantastic understanding of our past than on what really happened: the Mythic China of Hong Kong movies, Baghdad of the Thousand and One Nights, the Europe of the Brothers Grimm's Fairy Tales.

What follows are high-level summaries of pertinent details about Arda, written with other world-builders and GMs in mind.

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maintained by Gary Johnson (gwzjohnson at
last updated 31 May 2005