Enderra has a long history, during which many empires rose and fell.
The Old Ones: This ancient civilization of lizard-men is largely a mystery. Ruins of their cities, temples, and castles can be found throughout Enderra.
The Ancient Elven Kingdom: The Elves once controlled much of Enderra. Elves still remember this era of benevolent rule; of enlightenment, arts and magic, and harbor resentment against those who destroyed the most advanced civilization in Enderran history.
The Archaean Empire: When the Humans first arrived on Enderra, they quickly expanded their territory. Within a short time, they had displaced the Elves as the dominant species on Enderra. Much blood was spilled by the Archeaens, and most of it was Elven. After a long reign, the Archaean Empire slowly fragmented, until plagues caused it to collapse entirely.
The Grand Alliance: Enderra remained fragmented into various smaller kingdoms and city-states until the Demon War. In response to the invasion, the Grand Alliance was founded. It was a military coalition, and not a true empire, but it aligned its members politically as well. Many forts and other defensive structures were built during the war, some of which are still in use today.
The Reign of the Unliving: The Grand Alliance succeeded in driving back the demons, but only at great cost. Armies were depleted, cities and nations decimated. A coven of vile necromancers took advantage of the situation. Raising the fallen from the war to serve as their army, they conquered much of Enderra.
The Kingdom (and later Empire) of Menoria: Also known as the “Last Empire”. After the fall of the Unliving, Menoria became the dominant economic and military power of Enderra. The Menorian kings, direct descendants of a line of Archaean emperors, claimed all of Enderra and used diplomacy, strategic marriages, threats, and where necessary (or convenient), armed force to expand their territory. When the royal families of Menoria and Thayne were unified in marriage, the King proclaimed the “restoration of the Empire”.
In truth, however, Menorian rule was all but absolute, as many smaller kingdoms remained independent. The Menorian Empire ruled for centuries in relative peace, until a sudden civil war erupted. Neighboring kingdoms saw an opportunity for invasion and took it. Menoria never recovered; it fragmented into countless petty kingdoms. Cities were razed or abandoned. Population declined, trade ceased, and monsters began to roam once civilized lands.
Arnâron is littered with leftovers from the past. Abandoned, ruined cities dot the ancient continents and the former coastlines. A network of canals criss-crosses the world, most of them still functional after many centuries. And everywhere signs of ancient battles and wars can be found.
The most notable remnant of Arnâron’s ultra high technological past is the global network of canals. Their construction was a feat of engineering unrivaled in all of Arnâron’s history. The canals bring water from the poles towards the equator, and from the remaining seas towards the ancient continents.
The major canals are a kilometer wide and fifty meters deep. They are lined by earthen levees that protect the surrounding lands in the event from flooding. Water seeping through the canals’ sides form an aquafier in the immediate surrounding, which makes a wide stretch of land along the canals arable – sometimes several kilometers wide. Not all of this land is claimed, or even usable for agriculture, and consists mostly of steppes.
A network of minor canals – not shown on the above map – branches off of the major canals, transporting the water further inland.
The canals are not always “simple” trenches through which water flows. In several locations, extensive aqueducts were built to cross a canyon or valley – or former ocean trench. Pumping stations forced water uphill, towards the interior of the ancient continents. Locks helped ships and barges to travel canals at different heights.
The most amazing thing about the canals is not only the fact that many are still operational after many centuries – Locals do their best to clear out debris and sand during low flow – but that many of the locks and pumping stations are still in working order. Not all of them, but enough that the majority of the canal network remains usable. The engineers who built them anticipated that their descendants would not be able to maintain the machinery properly, and designed for it.
Before the planet began to die, the people of Arnâron were a mostly urban society. Centuries of urbanization had all but eliminated rural communities. The result were huge cities that covered vast areas. These cities had grown over long times, and were chaotic accumulations of buildings – most of which were high rises or even skyscrapers. They consisted of modern, lightweight construction materials, and many were covered in blueish solar cells. Buildings in the outlaying areas were smaller and lower, usually housing one or a few families instead of thousands of people. Many buildings and properties had hexagonal or octagonal features or layouts. Transportation was mostly public, and electrical, but some individual transportation was used as well.
Most of these cities were devastated when Arnâron changed. Earthquakes, floods, fires, and riots all did their part – most were seriously damaged. Some were rebuilt, others abandoned. Then the oceans began to recede, and the cities that had been rebuilt were eventually abandoned as it became increasingly difficult to maintain them. Some survived along the canals, but eventually the people migrated towards the new coastlines.
This led to a second generation of cities being built. They had to be built quickly and had to house millions of refugees. They were planned out, usually again along hexagonal or, more commonly, octagonal layouts. The buildings weren’t as tall or beautiful, but there were fewer people – the death toll had been huge. Some of these cities survive until today.
The current cities are fairly similar to the second generation – building styles have changed somewhat, as the climate has become more hostile. Many buildings are designed to include natural air conditioning – they are built high to take advantage of the difference in temperature to provide a cooling air flow inside. Cities are also heavily defended, including walls and other defensive installations. All cities are located either on a canal or another body of water.
While most of the “modern” cities are inhabited and kept intact, some have been abandoned. This was usually the result of war – sometimes, when a city was razed by an enemy, it was not rebuilt. The survivors fled to another city, or built a new one in a more defensible location.
There are some ruins that date back to “prehistoric” times – that is, to a more primitive time before the golden age of Arnâron’s high technology civilization. Very little is left of them – even those which were kept in good repair as historic monuments deteriorated quickly when the effort to keep them intact ceased.
There are some monuments that survive pretty much as they have for thousands of years. For example there are ancient pyramids and megalithic sites that have merely eroded a little in the past centuries.
Roads and railways
The ancient continents were covered by extensive road and railway networks. The rails were usually dismantled and the iron used as raw materials when the regions they served were abandoned, but this wasn’t always the case. Both roads and railway lines are now usually covered by the shifting sands of Arnâron, or overgrown where “extensive” vegetation still exists, but in some rocky desert areas the ancient roads are still visible and usable, connecting long destroyed points of interests or the dead cities.
Weapons of War
War has always been a fact of life on Arnâron, even before the catastrophe that transformed the planet into its current sorry state, even if the warfare has never been so widespread as today. No signs of pre-catastrophe battlefields remain; the nations involved always cleaned up after the wars were over. But this has not always been possible since. While scavengers usually moved in on abandoned battlefields, there are many sites which they didn’t find or elected to ignore, for example in places that were too remote or too dangerous to reach. Here, sun-bleached skeletons can be found among the burnt-out shells of armored vehicles and combat walkers.
Not all artifacts from Arnâron’s glorious past are ruined. Some are in perfect working order – The canal system, while deteriorating, is a lasting monument to the quality of the work of its designers. Many cities or other ruins may yet hide preserved weapons or machines. Even those cities that have been thoroughly plundered may yet contain hidden basements or sealed vaults that contain valuable devices, books, or other relics.
The largest single surviving piece of machinery, and probably by far the most powerful, is the captured sun, a working fusion power plant in the polar city-state Nation E. It runs largely automatic, but is attended to by a caste of priest-technicians who can conduct minor repairs. It is the source of the wealth and power of that nation – and the envy of all other cities and nations of Arnâron.
Arnâron is a dying world, its glorious days long gone. Like life itself, civilization clings on desperately, and has been in a downwards spiral of famines, fatigue, and war related fatalities for centuries. In such a desperate situation, knowledge and technology are of the utmost importance to survival, but on the other hand a lot of “unnecessary” knowledge is lost as other things take priority.
How much, then, do the people of Arnâron know about their own past?
When we try to answer this question, we must distinguish between the learned scholars and the common people. In every remaining civilized society, there are those who know a lot of facts about the planet and the old societies – this knowledge is handed from one generation to the next because it could become useful in the constant wars. These learned men know about a lot of technology – for example about the great war machines that the ancestors used. In many cases they couldn’t build any of it, even if they had the resources – all the technical details have been lost. So for example, a scholar may know about nuclear physics, rockets, atom bombs, combat walkers, ray guns, and so on, but even if he’s given the full support of a nation he won’t be able to send men to the moons unless he rediscovers a lot of basic science and technology first. Likewise, a scholar will know of nuclear weapons as “terrible bombs that harnessed the power of the atom to devastate an entire city”, but he doesn’t know how it was achieved – what the “power of the atom” exactly is.
That’s what the experts know – the historians who deal with such matters regularly. The common people know much less. They know that their people were much more powerful in the past, and roughly what was possible back then. Compare it to what the average person in our time knows about, say, the middle ages. Ask them and they’ll list castles, and knights, and swords, sieges and the crusades, but they couldn’t tell historically accurate details, and they certainly wouldn’t, for example, know how to build a crossbow. The example isn’t the best, but I think it illustrates the principle.
The scientific method is well known on Arnâron and has been applied by its learned men for thousands of years. While gods and religion play an important role in the lives of the people of Arnâron, a true scientist would never accept the existence of gods as a fact without good proof.
When you talk to a historian in the civilized parts of Arnâron, he will tell you that he does not know the exact causes of the great cataclysm that destroyed his world. He’ll scoff at the idea that the gods turned on the people as “pretentious and preposterous”.
While few written records have survived the cataclysm, it seems to be clear that Arnâron – Dukaydor as it was known in those times – was a world covered in vast, shallow, pleasant oceans, and that it was a world without moons. The arrival of the two moons is what seems to have caused the cataclysm; the scholar understands the basic theory of gravity and he will point out tidal effects and so on. If he’s an optimist he’ll conclude by pointing out how lucky Arnâron was that the moons didn’t crash into the planet.
After the cataclysm, civilization did in fact survive. It was not the terrible, all-consuming event that the priests scare their flock with. There is a lot of evidence of perfectly intact cities in the highlands that seem to have been unaffected by the cataclysm itself, and were probably abandoned because the oceans receded. The people of Arnâron are tough and inventive, and there is a great monument to their will to survive: They built a global network of canals to channel water to their settlements and farms. The scale of the project should not be underestimated; no kingdom today, even those who maintain the existing canals, is able to build anything on this scale.
As resources continued to dwindle, and the population shrank as a result, the people also lost more and more of their knowledge and of their technological capabilities. And even though the drying up seems to have slowed down in the past centuries, the people of Arnâron saw themselves forced to go to war over resources, over water, over arable land, and of course also over more petty issues.
For the past century, a relative balance of power has set in. There are four major kingdoms, roughly centered around the four main remaining bodies of water, as well as numerous smaller city states. The four kingdoms have always been at war with each other, allying when it seemed like a good tactic, and breaking any treaty as soon as it seems to be more advantageous to do so than to honor it. The smaller city states were usually loyal to whatever kingdom they were connected to by a canal.