The Mortal-Made Wonders of the World

Today’s post is in the same vein as the Hire-A-Healer post from a few days ago in that it’s more of a resource to provide inspiration for your own games. I started mentioning mortal-made wonders of the world in some of the setting guides I give to my players ahead of new campaigns, and I would really encourage you to do the same.

Anyway, here’s some examples.

The Great Canal

Found in the Northern Archipelago, The Great Canal bisects the city of Gatnamótumfjord, linking the heads of two large fjords. It creates a sea route through the middle of the island of Stórrithmyr that saves some two weeks of travel for most voyages. It also increases the connection the island’s interior cities have to the sea in conjunction with the many fjords that penetrate the island. Having been built over the course of several centuries by the native Elves, the structure has brought considerable renown to the otherwise remote and unassuming Northern Archipelago.

The Walls of Jatrix

Constructed by Atricus Himself, the walls are wrought from hardened sand and surround the city of Jatrix on the edge of the Loqiron Plateau. The walls stand a full two hundred metres tall, and their erection made the city functionally impregnable. The sand was said to have been hardened by the pure divine energy flowing through Atricus Himself. Evidence of this is seen in the many streaks of glass across the walls where radiant heat melted the sand. The walls themselves are remarkable enough, however their existence has also allowed the city of Jatrix to flourish as a bastion against incursions from the Loqiron Plateau, bringing stability to the region of Trillor that borders it for the first time in its troubled history.

The Grave of Eons

Built in the heart of the Prowmoor Sovereignty in the time before it was known as the Fallen Kingdom, the Grave of Eons was the burial site of every citizen who ever lived in the Sovereignty. It was built as an extension of the beliefs the Prowmoor citizens held around death and burial rites. Upon its completion it is said over a million bodies had to be exhumed from other burial sites in the Sovereignty to be re-buried in the Grave of Eons, and during its years of being tended to over a million more were added. However, it was this very density of dead bodies that gave rise to the Lich Scourge that brought about the Prowmoor Sovereignty’s demise. The Grave of Eons is mostly devoid of corpses in the modern day, however some burial chambers remain untouched alongside the now myriad reminders of the millennia in which Liches occupied its halls.

Byron’s Grove

Built in honour of the legendary songsmith Byron Bluenight, the Grove lies on the border of Trillor and Hadaç. Byron’s last song was famously an epic that preached peace between the two states, who had at that point been at near-constant war for almost the entirety of Byron’s millennia-long lifespan. Byron’s song spoke of how the states should ‘grow gardens together’ instead of ‘sow seeds of blood’. Though the nuance of these statements is lost in the translation from their original Sylvan, suffice it to say the sentiment grew in popularity among the people of the region almost more than Byron himself, and when he passed just a few years after the completion of the song the two nations agreed to a ceasefire. This ceasefire eventually became a peace treaty, and at the site where the treaty was signed a garden was planted both as a symbol of cooperation between the states and also to honour Byron Bluenight’s final work. The garden’s grandiosity is owed to the fact that both states take very seriously the promise of peace, and believe the garden to be the central symbol of that peace. The healthier and more impressive the garden, the stronger the bond between the two states.

The Ethereal Spire

At one point in time the nomads of the Loqiron Plateau believed that one could step into the Ethereal Plane without the use of magic if one could reach high enough in to the sky. Indeed, the thinness of the Border Ethereal in the plateau only served to strengthen this belief. During the later years of The Most Mighty and Enlightened Fifth Warlord Denalathk he voiced remorse at the lack of cultural achievements of his people under his reign. He ordered a tower be built high enough that one could pass into the Ethereal Plane to prove once and for all the belief of the nomads was correct. Unfortunately his legacy was not one of cultural achievement but instead one of great shame. The spire was built as high as the limits of mortal lungs would allow and still it was not possible to enter the Ethereal Plane without magic. This shattered the worldview of the nomads, plunging them into a crisis of identity that ended the Fifth Warlord’s reign and threw the region into centuries of chaos that only ended with the rise of The Most Illustrious and Handsome Sixth Warlord Herrikon. During this time the Spire fell into disrepair and much of the higher reaches collapsed entirely. Indeed only the bottom-most third of the Spire stands today, but even then it is still the tallest structure in the known world.

The Brathmir Forgeworks

What truly is there to say of the Brathmir Forgeworks? Notably it is the oldest of the Mortal-Made wonders, being so ancient that the Brathmir city-state uses the existence of the forge as the basis for its legitimacy as a political entity. Despite a brief abandonment during the Dwarven genocide, as soon as the surviving Dwarves ended their guerrilla war in the underdark against the Duergar they quickly reclaimed the Forgeworks and used it as an economic bastion from which they rebuilt their decimated society. The Forgeworks produces a frankly prolific volume of metalwork goods that are exported all across the known world. This would not be possible if it were not for the Brathmir Seam, the richest known metal deposit and one of the Natural Wonders of the World. It is alleged that there was a time that exports from the Forgeworks made the city-state the wealthiest city in the world, though unfortunately its financial records were lost during the Dwarven genocide making the corroboration of this claim impossible.

The Temple of the Four Corners

Built sometime before the settlement of the Wi Desert, the Temple of the Four Corners shows distinct characteristics of Djinni, Efreeti, Marid and Dao architecture, suggesting that it was built in collaboration between the four species. Indeed, the presence of gateways to the four Elemental Planes inside the temple, from which the it gets its name, heavily support this theory. The purpose of its construction remains unknown, as does the time of origin. Some claim it is older than the Brathmir Forgeworks, but the condition of the temple’s stonework suggests that this is not the case. The temple itself is incredibly remote, and to this day only a handful of scholars have made the journey deep enough into the Wi Desert to explore and catalogue the temple’s many chambers.

Conclusion

Consider adding such features to your own worlds. It’s a great way to create ‘deep history’ that discusses civilisations and eras now long in the past. Given the longevity of some DnD races there is a lot of opportunity to have wonders in your world that are both millennia old yet still in relatively recent memory for races like Elves and Dwarves. Having a culture whose grandparents witnessed the construction of a wonder while still having the wonder be thousands of years old and in deep disrepair creates an impressive pathos and really adds to the ‘livingness’ of a world.

Hopefully the examples listed here give you some ideas of your own. Certainly I am not the first to include the idea of Wonders of the World in a fictional setting, but I would love for it to become a more widely used concept.

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