Welcome adventurer! You have taken your first steps into the world of On the Shoulders of Heroes. This book contains all you need to start adventuring...
The On the Shoulder of Heroes campaign setting is designed for use with world's most popular roleplaying game but it holds enough information to make it useful for users of any RPG system. It is inspired by old school roleplaying games, traditional fantasy, Germanic and Japanese mythology. It is based on the idea that the world was built by the deeds of great people – both good and evil. The book is close to 210 pages divided in 9 chapters. It is beautifully illustrated in grey-scale by talented artists who bring their own style to the project.
Seas of pines, surrounded by beige moors, resting in the valleys between mountains: the continent is a beautiful and desolate place. Many of its countries see cold winters and temperate summers. It’s a time when people have not spread to every corner of the world, nor have most of them conglomerated in towns. Several races still live a nomadic lifestyle, wandering the plains and forests, following the herds they hunt, or earning their income through odd jobs. Most common folk live with their family on remote farmsteads or in small hamlets (with maybe up to three other families). There are a towns and villages out there, but they are few and far between. Room for expansion and exploration aplenty for the budding adventurer.
Clash of cultures
Many sentient races call the continent home. They have their own values when it comes to personal behavior, laws, inter-species contact and prefer vastly different ways of life. It’s not that people commonly hate one another, but they often have trouble understanding each other’s point of view. This misunderstanding is enhanced by their isolated ways of life, the language barrier, great variations in tradition and their vastly different lifespans. People in towns live in clusters of their own kind, but trade and interact in public places. Superstition and miscommunication form wedges between peoples. Adventurers, in general, are exceptional individuals who have seen more of the world, have received extensive training, and are in frequent contact with people of other cultures. They work together freely with others, building bridges and overcoming foes and adversity together. Adventurers are the heroes of this world, shaping its future with their actions – for better or for worse.
A simpler time
People know their land, their family and their neighbors well, but few have received any formal education. Commoners can’t read or write, or speak foreign languages, but hunt, fight, forage and craft their own goods. Specialists, such as smiths, bowyers and sages, are rare and sought-after. People learn from their parents, from folk stories and ballads sang by traveling bards. Many of the houses on the continent are simple, wooden structures without access to modern conveniences. Outhouses are the norm. Only large towns and fortresses have sewage disposal systems. Regular people draw water from streams and rivers, or wells. Villages are surrounded by earthen walls or wooden palisades. Stone fortifications are a dwarven invention, and rare in human lands.
Roads are simple, wagon worn paths between larger villages, towns and mines. Hardened roads are extremely rare, as they are costly to lay and maintain. Travelers prefer to cluster together in caravans or use waterways for safety. Trade routes are indicated on the large color map of the continent. Countries on the continents have borders but governments seldom exert active control on their inhabitants. In practice, they lack resources to govern their own lands, delegating everyday tasks to village elders, warlords and minor rulers.
Few countries have funds to maintain standing armies and few towns have the budget to maintain a professional town guard. People are expected to protect what is theirs and are fiercely proud of their home, family and land. They help their neighbors in time of need. Only in rare cases will rulers gather and dispatch professional soldiers to handle problems and disputes.