The History of Crown’s Keep – Fantasy Worldbuilding

Work in progress

For my players, King’s River has been retconned as Crown’s Keep – I found it too close to King’s Landing from GoT and the two cities are too different.

For people who are just here out of pure geeky interest, here’s my attempt at fleshing out the starting city of my current campaign (which we will keep calling King’s River for simplicity’s sake).

In an effort to make things more coherent and I suppose, “make sense”, I will try to flesh out its rough history first, and then attempt to follow a set of rules on city building (as I have very little knowledge on medieval towns composition).

I will be using Paizo’s Pathfinder Kingdom Building Reference Rules for the beginning, and creating a loose timeline of the establishment and evolution of the settlement, into a village, to a city and finally a city with a keep.

As for any proper lets-sit-down-and-be-creative activity, I’m also listening to some “epic fantasy music” on Youtube and looking for images that can inspire and guide me, which I will share with you throughout this article.

As my campaign is a loose mix of real-life Vietnam, France and a sprinkle of Ixalan, I’ll be using the Wikipedia of Ho Chi Minh city for inspiration.

So, here goes. Keep in mind that not all details are revealed as some details have been lost to the ages (meaning I might know what happened but the people in the world – players and NPCs – for the most part, don’t know).

World Chronology:

Year Zero refers to the year of the defeat of the black dragon and tyrant, Kekresho.

Most of early history was recorded by Elves and the texts are difficult of access, so many details are not clearly defined.

Negative Year unknown: The Elven Records show that in the present geo-location of Crown’s Keep, Lizardfolk were the first to settle both sides of the river which was then heavily forested. They erected a few temples devoted to Semuanya, built houses and put up fortifications. They were mostly living off fishing, hunting and gathering, and fiercely defended their territory against enemies from all sides.

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Early Lizardfolk temples

 

-1000: Due to incessant Orc and Goblinoid aggression, the Lizardfolk were slowly drained of resources until the temples and surrounding settlement were finally sacked and all but destroyed.

Shortly after, an Elven army from the North swooped down on the weakened Orcs and Goblinoids occupying the ruins and destroyed their forces. They made the survivors tear down the remaining traces of the temples then wiped them out.

-800: From unknown parts came a race which called themselves “humans”. They seemed more gentle in nature than other creatures of the lands and could tame the thunderous beasts they called “dinosaurs”. Under the watchful but distant eye of the Elves, these peoples settled along the South bank of the river and developed agriculture (rice fields) for sustenance. They were fierce fighters and fought off many aggressors while rarely expanding too far themselves. Sensing that these creatures were not evil, the Elves met with them in order to define territories.

They let them cut down some of the surrounding jungle in order for them to develop their village – as long as they retained their connections to nature. The Elves were in fact curious about these clever and creative people and perhaps, just perhaps, realized they themselves felt lonely up until then, or had more of a connection between them than the rude people of the mountains – the Dwarves.

vietnam--reconstructed-dong-son-village-96389254-5ac7882dfa6bcc003768d26c.jpg
An early human settlement

-600: The human settlement grew from a small village to an important trading town called “The Floating Leaf” by its poetic inhabitants. it was still confined to the South bank of the river for most of their enemies lived across the lands North of them. Word spread quickly across the good civilizations that exotic goods, as well as new knowledge,  could be acquired within its thick bamboo walls. Some of the Elves were not too pleased of this new, bustling hub slowly clearing the trees around it, while others enjoyed their energy, creativity and optimism. Meanwhile, the Dwarves had forged an alliance with the humans to keep trade up. Both the humans and Dwarves grew rich, and learned from each other – and the monster populations were kept in check.

native-village-on-the-mekong-river-shore-in-khong-laos-cambodia-border-1800s_u-l-p6yzpt0.jpg
The quiet side of town

-500: With their population exploding and their leaders growing bolder, several small human groups branched out and many settlements saw the day, dotting the South bank of the river. Some were quickly raided by gnolls and other despicable creatures, while others thrived. The Elves, feeling that humans were upsetting the fragile balance of nature, started to enforce boundaries around what is now known as “The Queen’s Grove”, in sometimes violent and efficient ways.

-400: After an especially terrible storm, the brave traders and fishermen working the coast reported “great, strange ships washed ashore and humans of a different motherland lost and stranded”. Those humans were rescued by the population of Crown’s Keep and offered a place to stay. These “cousins” had a rich culture and many new inventions that the inhabitants of the now bustling Crown’s Keep (still called Floating Leaf) found revolutionary.

Something was strange of these people. Not one of them could remember even the name of the country they hailed from (even after being subjected to barbaric but usually productive interrogation methods), as if they had all been caught in a great magic spell of amnesia.

Some of the most important knowledge they did remember was how to forge new things (something the Dwarves kept jealously to themselves), create gunpowder, make glass, cast new spells, and build sturdier walls. Quickly these new individuals became an indispensable part of Fallen Leaf’s society and their customs and traditions were adapted into the local lore.

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Early depiction of the Crown’s Keep

With their new weapons and knowledge of warfare, the human population was finally ready to venture North and take the fight to the Orcs and Goblinoids that had been pestering them for hundreds of years. Stone walls and a keep were erected on this new available riverside, which over the course of its history would be witness to hundreds of bloody battles. The keep would be called “The Crown’s Keep”, which over time became what the city would be referred to, eventually becoming its official name.

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Humans and Goblinoids clashing

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