I was brainstorming the other day about twists on D&D-style fantasy, and the following is what resulted. I will almost certainly never use it, so it becomes a gift unto the world…
In the stories you heard as a child (the ones that began with the words, “A long time ago…”), there were other lands.
That was an Age ago. Now, there is only the Land and the Water that surrounds the Land. There are stories of a time when what lay at the Water’s far edge was another land and not the Sky. Most children discounted such things as mere stories, fables meant to instill wonder and fear. Somehow, though, you always knew them to be true.
When you grew older, you found you had been right all along. Adults believed that the world was once a bigger place. None remember a day before the Goblin Wars, but the eldest among them still remembered their parents telling of the days when the goblin ships first came from across the Water. The Goblin Lands were no more. The goblins said that their lands were eaten by the Sky that the Land was now the only place they could live. The parents of your elders did not welcome them. They had only known the goblins as outcasts, barbarians, and pirates. The Goblin Wars began, and the goblins were driven out onto the Water and under the Land.
We were talking about the stories you heard as a child, though… The stories were often of legendary figures, gods and heroes. There were men and women who could single-handedly face down giants and dragons in these stories. You would look around your village in fear and awe at these tales, knowing that the only thing which stood between it and a dragon was the Pact of Wizards who vowed to hunt down and slay any dragon that preyed upon men. The wizards knew that if they needed to do this, it would take all of their might and that many of them would die.
It was, perhaps, stories of the gods that moved you the most. Like tales of other lands, few children believed in these stories, but you knew that they were true. Once, there had been gods and they had provided miracles for those who believed in them. Now, their names are mostly lost. The stories say that they were imprisoned and tortured by a great evil from another land – one that was separated from the Land by the Sky rather than the Water. It was the absence of the gods that began the shrinking of the world.