This concludes my short series on campaign setting details for a Greek-inspired world.

– The world is dominated by humans. Settlements dot the landscape — many of which are constantly at war with one another over resources like land, food, and manpower. Sometimes a few settlements will band together for a common goal, but such alliances are rarely long-lived. Most people are caught up in the daily struggle to survive, and strange creatures lurk just beyond (and sometimes within) the walls of their fortified towns and villages. The most powerful warlords exact tribute from neighboring villages and bargain with pirates and slavers to whittle down their political rivals.

– People disappear all the time. Many people wander away from their homes, take up a pilgrimage, are spirited away by slavers, captured or killed by monsters in the wild, or just go missing. Death is a part of life for everyone in the world. Plagues can wipe entire villages off the map in a few weeks, leaving ghost towns that disappear into the frontier within a few years. Despite this, people aren’t fearful — instead they are reluctant to provide aid and are suspicious of outsiders unless displaying an open allegiance to a particular god or temple.

– Slaves are a part of daily life, and form the basis of the setting’s “middle class.” Slaves are typically craftsmen and are the ones considered worth sparing and feeding when captured during war. Your average household will have between one and three slaves, who constitute roughly 30% of the adult population in civilized parts of the world. Even followers of Hera, the goddess of freedom, keep slaves, though they are the most likely to free their slaves after a period of servitude. Slavery isn’t seen as any kind of evil. Not even a “necessary” evil, because they are a fact of life. Many people choose slavery over exile or death, and many are enslaved as a form of atoning for their crimes.

– Most of civilization revolves around fortified “palaces,” which may be owned and operated by kings or princes, cults, pirates or slavers, heroes or demigods. Think of a palace structure like a large, open-air mall with a wall around it where people live and trade. The average permanent population of a palace structure is about 500 — one hundred of those residents includes the ruling family and any major religious leaders (between 5 to 15), and the closest thing the ancient world has to a standing army. About two hundred of those residents are enslaved merchants and craftsmen who generally earn a wage but belong to the state, along with everything they make. The remaining two hundred are farmers, unskilled workers, and miscellaneous free citizens. They often live in relative poverty compared to slaves.

– Beside the rich, the middle-class, and the poor, there are six basic social classes that define the world: princes/tyrants, knights/nobles, exiles/explorers, pirates/slavers, cults/guilds, and clans/tribes. Tyrants and nobles form the nucleus around which most towns and cities form. They provide safe havens for all types to meet and trade. Exiles and slavers are the arbiters and executors of justice in the world. They spread knowledge and wisdom around the world, and punish those who leave the comparatively safe confines of the cities. Guilds and clans form the backbone of production and services. They’re composed of the most learned and skilled folk, and have the most to offer the world.

– There’s a great deal of magic in the setting, and I’m not particularly fond of portraying sexism, agism, racism, et cetera (except when it lends to some specific drama or a player asks for it) so I tend to run an egalitarian world. There are plenty of reasons for any one character or group of characters to kill or kidnap (or steal from) another character that doesn’t require any specific kind of hatred toward the individual. There are male priests of the goddesses Hera, Hestia, and Demeter, just as there are female priests of the gods Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon, and there isn’t anything particularly strange with that arrangement.

– Life is difficult, but people are still happy. While it’s true that magic or slavers or plague or monsters may render you the only survivor of a once-proud city or village, people still have pride, they still have hope, and they still have hobbies and live their lives. They still take risks, go on adventures, and fall in love. Mortals have several things going for them — the cruel fates and random chaos that can claim their lives can also enrich them, which gives them hope. Heroes rove the landscape setting an example to everyone that strength and cunning can be used to change the world. Though frequently negligent, the gods and spirits of nature can be appealed to, and will grant boons to attendant mortals.