The Wilderlands is a rugged place, where frightened peasants scrape the earth to get by, and horrible monsters lurk in forgotten ruins. It is high fantasy, but not a world of splendor. Fantastic riches belong to a scant few: cruel warlords, maniacal archwizards, mercurial crime magnates, and nefarious fiends.
To convey this setting, we must make a few adjustments from the standard D&D environment:
- Literacy: Most individuals are not literate. Only members of certain social groups and 1st level wizards and clerics get the Literacy or Educated feat for free (see the page on Wilderlands feats). Other characters must buy the feat or spend skill points to become literate in a given language..
- Technology: The Wilderlands lacks the concentrations of people and resources that make our world thrive. As a result, technology (and magic) languish in most regions. Even though several bustling metropolises have near-Renaissance-level technology and fine magic, without strong trade and social networks, the rest of the world doesn’t even hear about their discoveries, much less enjoy them. A typical settlement in the Wilderlands has somewhere between Bronze Age and Iron Age technology.
- This impacts the list of classes available at character creation, and for character advancement. In order to pick up class levels in some classes, characters may need to spend time in (or train with a tutor from) a more advanced locale (see the page on tech levels for more details).
- Travel: Most individuals, even prosperous aristocrats, never travel more than 30 miles from their birthplace. There are precious few roads as we know them. Most of the Wilderlands is trackless wilderness.
- Planar Travel: Few individuals achieve high character level, so very few have the wherewithal to travel the planes. Most cities don’t have a single person who has traveled the planes. A planar traveler is more likely to be an outsider than someone from the Material Plane.