This image comes from the Excerpts Types of Planes: Manual of the Planes article published on November 17, 2008, and freely available from Wizards of the Coast.
IntroductionThis introduction comes from Points of Light: Design & Development by Richard Baker, published August 29, 2007 in Dragon Magazine, Vol. 360.
The world is populated by a variety of intelligent races, strange monsters lurk on other planes, ancient empires have left ruins across the face of the world, and so on. But one of the new key conceits about the D&D world is simply this: Civilized folk live in small, isolated points of light scattered across a big, dark, dangerous world.
Most of the world is monster-haunted wilderness. The centers of civilization are few and far between, and the world isn’t carved up between nation-states that jealously enforce their borders. A few difficult and dangerous roads tenuously link neighboring cities together, but if you stray from them you quickly find yourself immersed in goblin-infested forests, haunted barrowfields, desolate hills and marshes, and monster-hunted badlands. Anything could be waiting down that old overgrown dwarf-built road: a den of ogre marauders, a forgotten tower where a lamia awaits careless travelers, a troll’s cave, a lonely human village under the sway of a demonic cult, or a black wood where shadows and ghosts thirst for the blood of the living.
Given the perilous nature of the world around the small islands of civilization, many adventures revolve around venturing into the wild lands. For example:
- Roads are often closed by bandits, marauders such as goblins or gnolls, or hungry monsters such as griffons or dragons. The simple mission of driving off whomever or whatever is preying on unfortunate travelers is how many young heroes begin their careers.
- Since towns and villages do not stay in close contact, it’s easy for all sorts of evils to befall a settlement without anyone noticing for a long time. A village might be terrorized by a pack of werewolves or enslaved by an evil wizard, and no one else would know until adventurers stumbled into the situation.
- Many small settlements and strongholds are founded, flourish for a time, and then fall into darkness. The wild lands are filled with forgotten towers, abandoned towns, haunted castles, and ruined temples. Even people living only a few miles away from such places might know them only by rumor and legend.
Another implication of this basic conceit of the world is that there is very little in the way of authority to deal with raiders and marauders, outbreaks of demon worship, rampaging monsters, deadly hauntings, or similar local problems. Settlements afflicted by troubles can only hope for a band of heroes to arrive and set things right. If there is a kingdom beyond the town’s walls, it’s still largely covered by unexplored forest and desolate hills where evil folk gather. The king’s soldiers might do a passable job of keeping the lands within a few miles of his castle free of monsters and bandits, but most of the realm’s outlying towns and villages are on their own.
In such a world, adventurers are aberrant. Commoners view them as brave at best, and insane at worst. But such a world is rife with the possibility for adventure, and no true hero will ever lack for a villain to vanquish or a quest to pursue.
Reference AbbreviationsFeel free to edit these pages with information from official sources on the Points of Light setting. When doing so, however, please include the source of the information you are adding. Use the abbreviations below:
- DMG = Dungeon Master’s Guide
- DR# = Dragon Magazine (Issue No.)
- Draco = Draconomicon
- DU# = Dungeon Magazine (Issue No.)
- HoS = Heroes of Shadow
- KotS = Keep on the Shadowfell
- MM = Monster Manual
- MV = Monster Vault
- PHB = Player’s Handbook
- PoS = Pyramid of Shadows
- R&C = 4th Edition Preview: Races & Classes
- RHoD = Red Hand of Doom (3rd ed.)
- S'fell = The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond
- SotAS = The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea
- SotEC = The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos
- TL = Thunderspire Labyrinth
- ToTP = Treasure of Talon Pass
- UD = Underdark
- W&M = 4th Edition Preview: Worlds & Monsters
- Points of Light: Design & Development by Richard Baker, published August 29, 2007 in Dragon Magazine, Vol. 360
- [[Points of Light Timeline|Timeline]]
- [[Points of Light Immortals|Immortals]]
- High Resolution Map of Nerath
- Land of Heroes Group (Private Group devoted to tracking official information on the setting)
- Nentir Vale Group