OK. If I am to do anything with “The Century of Chaos” I need to pin down just WHEN I want to play to occur. Deciding “how long” since the Fall of The Devastator will impact just how much of a recovery from the wars and destruction of the cities the local populations will have managed.
I’d like for it to be a couple of human generations past. The Reign of The Devastator took place “in the time of your grandfathers.” This makes it possible to blur what was fact, what was rumor, what was outright false. Anything that took place longer ago than that might as well be falling into the category of “tall tales and legends.”
The Reign of The Devastator was a major depopulation event on the scale of the Black Death of the 14th Century, but compressed into only a handful of years. The cities were smashed and burned by armies of humanoids. Fields lay unharvested as the villages were destroyed. Survivors fled to the hills and forests. Those who did not escape were brutally enslaved.
After three years, The Devastator vanished. Without the dominating presence of an all-powerful leader, the forces of evil reverted to type and began fighting among themselves. The triumph of Ultimate Evil had been thwarted, but the regional civilization had essentially been destroyed.
The scattered bands of survivors regrouped, building small hidden settlements in the hills and forests, hunkering down and trying to avoid discovery by roving bands of humanoids. The areas near the ruins of the cities were overrun with undead created from the vast numbers who had been slain.
Two generations later, humanity survives in fortified villages, largely isolated from each other. The numbers of humanoids have been decreasing as they war among themselves. Explorers have set out from their villages to scout the new world, and find out if anything can be salvaged from the remnants of the old.
So I figure deciding the “start of play” should be about 48 years after The Fall. This would be the Year 370 of The Age of Elves and Men.
(There must still be Elves out there, right? Ol’ Grandad wasn’t just making that up, was he?)