Worldbuilding and Campaign planning advice


I am in the process of planning a campaign set after the destruction of Ragnarok, specifically, a world where the remnants of the sun exist as "shards" that provide heat, warmth, and perhaps most importantly, the possibility of farming within a finite area.

Drow, duergar, orcs, and other "monstrous" races have taken spread across the perpetually dark surface world, warring and raiding among themselves for resources and territory.

Here's the problem i'm running into:
While there will certainly be some conflict between "outsiders" trying to "break in" to the shard lit territory of surface dwelling races, and those within who have a finite amount of food, i'm having trouble coming up with other conflicts to inspire adventure ideas; Sure, the drow, duergar and orcs are taking over, but logically, I cant think of a good reason for them to throw themselves into a conflict for relatively little land when they have literally the rest of the world to plant fungus farms.

There are definitely some interesting stories I can make for my players about old blood feuds, political intrigue and tough decision making, but I'd like to give them some good reasons to go out "into the night" as it were.

Any ideas?

You could flip the script. Maybe it's not about the dark-adapted races raiding/attacking the Shard Realms. Maybe it's the other way round. If most of the world is Darkened, then that's where most of the resources are. What are the odds that each and every Shard-lit area is completely self-sufficient? Maybe after the former Underdark races moved in to abandoned territory, they understandably didn't feel like sharing their new mines and allowing their rivers and streams to be diverted for Shard-lit agriculture. Maybe any attacks on the lighted areas are simple retribution for what they see as attacks on them.

Moreover, the people living in those lighted areas are probably not going to give up on the idea they still "rightfully" own the dark areas they once lived in, which still contain many or most of the necessities of life. At the very, very least, they'd still need to trade with the Darkworlders, even if they weren't raiding. They couldn't afford to pretend they didn't matter or exist, the way most surface worlders used to pretend about the subterranean races. I would not be surprised if dwarves suddenly became much more prominent, what with their combination of darkvision, combat ability, and business sense (yes, yes, I know #NotAllDwarves). At the same time, with so much new territory opening up to them, races like the drow would have less internal pressures. I'm not saying they'd all turn good or neutral, but when everything you need is simply there for the taking and there's plenty of new room to escape a hostile society, I bet there would be some breakaway groups.

Anyway, interesting premise. It'd be cool to hear what you do with it.

Reasons to venture into the darkness, other than protecting the resources of the Shardwards:

1. there are underground Shards: places where the tiniest fraction of a Shard fell into the broken earth and were swallowed, trapped and may yet be exploited or even rescued

2. uniting the Shards: what was sundered and undone now behold; the (insert number of Shards here) made ONE!

3. the power of the Old Gods: before Ragnarok, (insert most powerful old deity's name here) had a vault of the most powerful artifacts in the Nine Realms. There are rumors of one of these having been found and used by some underground race, so perhaps there's something out there to save us!

4. artificial Shards: who runs Bardertown? The PCs must descend below either to steal/purchase the resources of a locale with an artificial Shard or they are looking to steal/purchase/exploit the technology/magic for their own needs

5. there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio...: yeah, in the Shardwards are the survivors of the surface dwellers; in the Undyndravar Realms just below are the kingdoms of Drow or Duergar and such, but what ELSE is there? Myths and legends; the Scrolls of the Ancients and the Runescralls of the Hall of Endless Night all suggest that there are beings that survived Ragnarok, and yet other devastations. These beings have lived for eons and watched men and elves rebuild from such horrors before; their lore must be revealed for the sake of all mortalkind!

So, in the real world, most underground ecosystems are fueled by the Sun as well. If that is the case in your fantasy world, then Underdark communities would be affected by the shattered Sun as well, and they might come up to investigate.

In 1st edition DnD campaign setting, they said that the Illithids ulimate goal was to extinguish the Sun. You are already talking about Duergar. Duergar were all invented by Illithids.

What is a Sun Shard, exactly? Are they astronomical bodies in the sky? Are they fragments that fell onto the world? Are they big enough to hold in your hand: magic rocks that provide warmth, light, and other energy for life? Are they big enough to travel to and walk around on: territory to be fought over? Are there some of each?

The land is ruled by a warlord who captured a large cache of sunshards and uses them to light up his underground gardens. All the people come begging to him for food....

Awesome suggestions so far! Thank you everyone.

A little bit about the world:

Sun shards are physical fragments of the sun. They plummeted into the planet during the Ragnarok. The supernova would have engulfed the planet were it not for the sacrifice of several hundred archmagi and priests erecting a barrier around the world, now known as "the veil".

This magical barrier also has the added benefit of acting as an atmospheric blanket, trapping essential heat and oxygen in the planet's atmosphere, creating a "greenhouse" effect that prevents the world from falling into lower than Ice Age temperatures.

I'm quite taken with the idea of the Dark land races using an equivalent of The Forgotten Realms' Faerzress (magic radioactive minerals) to nourish unique plant life to terraform territories on the surface. Though the crop grown are safe to consume, the process of planting and collecting it is dangerous due to the unstable energies of the radioactive mineral, driving Dark landers to use slaves.

Previously, Elding and the lighted lands of Solheim have held a unified front under a surviving Asgardian who reigned as king. However, they've just died, with no obvious ruler with a majority influence to quell long standing feuds, self interested impulses, and pure existential panic.

Over all, I'm trying to go for something that falls between Hellblade, Banner Saga and Attack on Titan

Over time the Sun Shards diminish. Slowly, their power fades. As the Sun Shards dim, the people grow restless. They look for a new hope.

Many solutions have been found to the dilemma. Worship slows the dimming, but worship alone isn't good enough. Some communities have turned to living sacrifices. The sacrifices seem to work, but even the communities driven to use such methods think the cost is too high to continue for long.

Small fragments of the Sun Shards, too small to provide heat have been demonstrated to brighten the larger fragments. The areas around the settlements have been searched already. Many wonder if any other fragments are left. There are rumors that the Dugar have a hidden vault full of Sun Fragments. Other more extreme groups plot to steal the Sun Shard from another community to save their own.

Not as well known are the fragments of Shattered Divinity. During Ragnarok as the gods died their power spilt over the land. Some of this power coalesced into items once held dear to them. The most powerful of these relics are found where the deity perished. Many lesser artifacts were created spread over the world. Some have discovered the Sun Shards react to the presence of these artifacts.

The dark races fight over these artifacts. Those that possess one of the major relics either becomes a great leader, or has the artifact taken by a great leader.

Possessing a Shattered Divinity grants great boons, but also comes with a danger. Minor artifacts have little ego, but represent a facet of a god's power. The use of the minor artifacts is 'safe'.

Major artifacts are more often called Relics. They contain the thoughts and memories of the gods. They contain a shadow of the god. They have an ego and will those that hold them to reject fragments of other gods and to collect more from this god. The wisest wielders of such relics play a balancing game between collecting the relics and rejecting the impulses they give. Having multiple relics increases your power, but having more increases the strength of the item's ego as well.

There are rumors that if you could gather enough of a Shattered Divinity together and insert those fragments into a Star Shard a god could be reborn. Of course, this has never been attempted.

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