All-That-Is Worldbuilding: Big City

For various reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about All-That-Is lately. And I was poking around the wiki, when I noticed that “Big City” (capital of “Land of Ogres”, the Ogre home-land) is listed as being the slave capital of the world.

My brain started ponding this, and so I thought I’d capture my thoughts as I had them.

(If you’re not familiar with All-That-Is lore, I did a world-building series back in 2009. I think it’s a fairly interesting read, and while I’ve certainly added new features since then, it should give you an idea of the fantasy world I work on for fun.)

(And for those who aren’t interested in reading back, in summary: Ogres are big and dumb. They’re the min-maxed “fighters” of the world – extraordinarily stupid, extraordinarily strong. There are four main Ogre tribes, but this post will entirely take place within the tribal region of the “Two-Eyes”, the Ogres with a facial arrangement similar to regular ol’ humans.)

I’ve never really done much to focus on Ogres in All-That-Is. An Ogre bodyguard appears in the tale of Princess Azma, the Fairy Queen who banned magic. Slave Ogres appear in passing in Life on the Wall, operating the elevator that takes people from the top of the wall to the bottom. But other than the four tribes, and a vague war that happens at some point (the Ogres invade the Human homeland, taking over the region “Anob Neeble” and renaming it “Big Fort”) I’ve not got much about them penned.

Oh, except for one idiosyncrasy – Ogres are the greatest road-builders in the world. They excel at it, and in the same way that you might play sport, Ogres will build a road. As a result, their homeland is absolutely covered in roads. In order to leave as much room for roads as possible, Ogres primarily reside underneath bridges, where one road crosses another. They’re equally adept at making bridges.

So. Big City. Largest city in Trolland (the continent that Land of Ogres sits on) and slave capital of the world. What do we know about it?

First of all, I like the idea of the city being home to several Ogre warlords. Like big, stupid gangsters – think Jabba the Hutt, with even less smarts. They will defend their homeland to the death, they’re all corrupt as hell, they lead lavish lifestyles and ruthlessly track down anyone who betrays them, and they don’t have enough brain-cells between them to fill a small puddle.

Since Ogres traditionally live in bridges, the landscape of the city is dominated by four or five massive, awe-inspiring bridges – each of them is home to a different war-lord. It would be easy to have one warlord for each Ogre tribe, but since the city is nowhere near any of the other tribal homelands, I’m going to say that there are four Two-Eye warlords, and one One-Eye warlord (simply because that’s the nearest land to Big City)

Obviously over the years and centuries the number of warlords and their tribal affiliations will change, but let’s set this in the Year of the Bee, current year of the wiki, pre-Ogre/Human war.

Big City is just across the water from the Elven homeland, but I feel like the peace-loving Elves would have serious issue with slave trading. Each country has its own slavery laws – Ogres are legal slaves in every country (including The Land of Ogres) and so they’re the most common type of slave, and no country allows its own people to be slaves (except, of course, the Land of Ogres).

But it’s weak writing to paint an entire race with one brush, so let’s say there’s a substantial Elven community – outcasts, people who disagree with their homeland’s style of government. Violent Elves – Ninjas and warriors and the like. There wouldn’t be much of a permanent Dwarven population, but there would be plenty of Pirate ships constantly coming in and out, collecting and depositing slaves.

But it’s the Demons that I really wanted to talk about.

Demons, in the world of All-That-Is, are tiny, reddish-brownish horned people. Silver-tongued, never to be trusted, good with money. They’re your archetypal merchant/swindlers, and it occurred to me that they’re exactly what the Ogre warlords would need.

So each Ogre warlord has his own personal Demon accountant – or maybe two or three independent ones. These Demons are essentially slaves, though they’re treated extremely well – they aren’t allowed to leave the bridge that they live under, but they have their choice of rooms, slaves, food etc. In exchange, all they have to do is monitor the Ogre’s accounts and ensure that they aren’t being swindled, and perhaps advise on potential business deals – with their lives hanging in the balance, they would want to give the best advice possible.

Having a few Demons makes it harder for an individual to pull the wool over their master and mistress’s eyes – if the numbers come out differently from a few different sources, then the Ogre will know that something is up, and order all of them to be killed, pulling in a fresh batch. A few Demons could work together to hoodwink their owner collectively, but there’s a group of free Demons who offer services to avoid exactly this – once a year, they recommend every Ogre use their services to come in and check the numbers, to make sure that they aren’t being ripped off.

I imagine some Demons would enjoy the life of indentured luxury, behaving much like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Django Unchained. Others would constantly be striving for freedom, and others would be swindling as much as they could out of their owners, and arranging the numbers in such a way that it’s undetectable by the independent Demon company. Some bridges could even be basically run by the Demons, who have arranged it in such a way that the warlord is basically a figurehead.

Big City is on the water, and so of course it would have an extensive dockland area – that would be the home of The Ogre Market – the world’s largest slave trade, with new bodies constantly being shipped in, bought and sold. The Ogre warlords have a stranglehold over the slave market of Big City, and you can find a slave of any race here with ease.

But with slavery come abolitionists, and Big City is no exception. Made up entirely of non-Ogres, the group is somewhat racist toward the Ogres themselves – their mission is to free all non-Ogre slaves, despite the fact that the majority of slaves bought and sold in Big City are Ogres. (Their stupidity and physical strength make them great workers unlikely to come up with an escape plan – perfect slaves).

They refer to their headquarters as “The Place Where No Roads Lead”, to further emphasize the distance that they keep from the Ogres, and whenever the warlords infiltrate them, track them down and destroy their base, they spring up somewhere else almost instantly. It’s rumoured that they have dozens (if not hundreds) of cells, and are constantly training up leaders, for when the head gets killed.

Actually, I like the idea of the head being a “Gray Fox” (Oblivion) type character – a figurehead who no one knows the face of. Unkillable, because he’s an idea, not an individual. Rather than a mysterious cloak or shadows hiding his identity, I’m going to literally make him a head – “The Ogre’s Head”, he’s ironically named, and whenever seen in public, he wears the face of a slaughtered Ogre over his own. The warlords can kill The Head, but another one instantly appears.

I think that’s enough to make an interesting city – significant landmarks (The Five Bridges, the Slave Market), a few groups (each of the five warlord empires, the Abolitionists, the free Demons, the violent Elves) and a few tensions (the competing gang-like warlords – especially the one from another tribe, the Demon/Ogre relations, the Abolitionists).

Suddenly Big City is a relatively thriving place, and I could quite easily see a story or three being set there.

Arundel: An overview

Many, many months ago (almost 2 years now) I very briefly ran a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It was with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well, and it collapsed pretty quickly…but not before I’d put a day or two into building a world for it.


The world was built around the character histories that I was sent – I then told everyone (individually) all the facts that their character would reasonably know about the world. I just compiled all of the information into one post for reddit, so it might be a bit choppy but I thought I’d share it here too!



The world consists of three known planes – Arundel, the land of the normal, Feywild, the land of the fantastical, and Shadowfell, the land of shadow.

Feywild, Shadowfell and the Underdark:

The Feywild is a sprawling, land, a magical, strangely beautiful copy of Arundel. Passages between the Feywild and Arundel used to be prevalent, but many millenia ago the two were separated, with only six major portals now existing between the two planes. As a result, the only creatures in the Feywild are the native species; the Eladrin and the Faeries.

Shadowfell is studied intensely in the Feywild, but the only known method to get there involves first going through Arundel, a task attempted by few. As a result, the majority of knowledge of the Shadow Lands comes from books; it is believed to be inhabited by the “Dark Folk”, tall, thin, darkly twisted humans, and a mysterious race known only as the Ghostwise.

The Underdark is a series of underground caverns and passages that is known to exist in all three planes; in Feywild, it is called the “Feydark”, and is primarily full of glowing mushrooms, and the occasional Faerie community.

The Goddess Melora is known to have her own plane, accessible only through the Feywild. It is belived to be beyond the infinite ocean, but none have been known to go there and return alive.
The Underdark is a series of caverns, passages and oceans underneath Arundel, home to Dark Elfs (The Drow) the Dark Dwarfs (The Dueger), as well as various Orcs, Half-Orcs and Goliaths. There are points of contact with the Underdark right throughout Greenhammer, though most are guarded or blocked up.


Compared to the Fey, inhabitents of Arundel are mundane, and many Fey initially find them extraordinarily uninteresting.

Arundel is split into 6 main regions:

  • Dracon, home of the Dragonborn and ancient Dragons.
  • Selthym, home of the Elfs
  • Thlaal, populated by Dwarfs
  • Hielam, a small island where the aetheral Devas live
  • The Infinite Islands of the Abyss, where all manner of monsters and demons can be found
  • Greenhammer, an island shared by the Humans, Goliaths, and the Orcs
  • Mage’s Island, home of the most powerful (yet solitary) magic-users in the world.

Greenhammer is the traditional home of the Humans, though it is also believed to be where Goliaths and Orcs originated.


Greenhammer and the Feywild was rocked two generations ago by the Drow Wars, a war that occurred when the Drow came up from the Underdark. The Drow tried to take Greenhammer, with limited success. To the surprise of most, Half-orcs turned against their own and fought alongside the humans against the invasion, resulting in their quickly being accepted by humans and integrated into mainstream Greenhammer society.

As part of the Drow invasion, they broke into Feywild, which is when the battle turned against them – the skilled creatures of Feywild took down the bulk of the Dark Armies, and then disappeared again as quickly as they had spilled into the world.

To help the Fey Army, Melora herself contributed a number of Holy artifacts: a Crest, a Sword, a Shield, a Bow, a Helm and a Chalice. Once the war was over, these artifacts were distributed between the schools that provided the mightiest warriors, held in positions of highest regard and honour.

Dracon has been the home of the Dragons for longer than history has existed. The Dragonborn were spawned when the blood of Io, the Dragon God, mixed with the dust of the world, to create a race of half-mortals, half-Dragons. Dracon is by far the largest of all the continents, with most of it inaccessible to anyone but the mighty Dragons – the Dragonborn live in the north-east corner, where they have made cities and villages and ships, and Dragons rarely lower themselves to tread.

Before contact with other races, the Dragonborn considered themselves scum, not even worthy to clean up after the mighty Dragons which dominate the land. After they met the first humans and the first elf, however, they realised that even though they in no way compare to the mighty dragons, they are vastly superior to any other creatures of the world. For many generations, the Dragonborn did not even allow other races to step onto the sacred land of Dracon, but in the past century, sentiments have changed – the advantages of trading with the elf and the dwarfs has become apparent, and some have even been permitted to set up house and market on Dracon.

Some Dragonborn have resented this, and tried to drive them out, but the majority are more accepting, and more and more the traditional Dragonborn are finding themselves unable to cope with seeing their beloved Dracon diluted like this, and leaving to explore the rest of the world instead.


On the continent of Greenhammer, Humans cities populated by humans and Half-orcs are commonplace. The war resulted a number of Goliath and Orc communities being set up on the island, but they largely keep to themselves, with most people still biased against them after their part in the Drow Wars. Dwarfs are rare, Elfs even rarer, and few have ever seen an Eladrin, Deva or Dragonborn. Passages to the Underdark can be found, but are not easily accessible (or if they are, they are never left unguarded.)

Trade is mostly between Greenhammer and Thlaal, with human ships dominating the sea of the Abyss. Explorers will occasionally venture into the Infinite Islands of the Abyss, but rarely return. Particularly adventurous traders will sporadically make it back from Hielam, with enchanted items and stories of its bright-skinned inhabitants.

Feywild has numerous ambassadors with the Elfs of Arundel, but very little contact with the other mundane races. The average Eladrin will only ever encounter other Eladrin in their long lifespans, though a lucky few will see (or even interact with) Faeries.

While there are no official guidelines on travelling to Shadowfell or Arundel, it’s rare for an Eladrin to desire this without a particularly compelling reason.

Most Dragonborn will encounter the mighty Dragons early in life, as a rite of passage is to travel out to the border of the desert, and sit until a Dragon is spotted. As well as this, the prevalence of dwarfs, elfs and humans in Dracon gives the average Dragonborn a familiarity, if distaste, for them.


Greenhammer is named for its lush, verdant forests and plains. The northern and western borders are covered in mountains, and the entire continent is covered in southern-flowing rivers. The majority of the Human cities are located on the “handle”, with the major trade points being dotted along the south-east coast.

An official map has never been drawn of the Feywild, and so most Eladrin know only their home area and the surrounding cities and towns.

The six passages between the Feywild and Arundel are each named, and the general location of each is known. The portals are: the Winterbole Passage, located outside Winterbole Forest in both the Feywild and Arundel, the Mage’s Portal, located on the Mage’s Isle, the Hielam Portal, located on the island of Hielam, the Passages of Silwen and Galavis, located near the two Elfin capitals, and the Clsinecret Portal, located somewhere outside the Greenhammer capital. (map shows general area, specifics not known)


Greenhammer is currently ruled by a king, though the Drow War exhausted his resources and his influence does not travel much futher than the capital and a few of the nearby towns. Most towns are ruled by the local Lord or Baron.

Feywild has no central seat of power, with each local area being ruled separately. The Faeries are known to have a Queen, but official contact with the Eladrin has neve been recorded.


The main Gods of Arundel are as follows:

The Aboveground Gods:

  • Corellon Larethian (God of the Elfs)
  • Io of the Dragon, (God of the Dragons and the Dragonborn)
  • Moradin, the All-Father and Forger of Souls (God of the Dwarfs)
  • Avandra of the Immortal Plane (God of the Devas)
  • Greedy Roknar, Mountain God (God of the Goliaths)

The Underdark Gods:

  • Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders (God of the Drow and the Dueger)
  • Gruumsh One-Eye (God of the Orcs)

Yhe humans once had their own God, but he was destroyed in the battle that sealed off the other planes. All record of his name was removed from history, and today he is only known as “He-Who-Was”. Humans typically don’t worship a god unless they have particularly strong social or family ties to another race.

The Eladrin uniformly worship Melora, Fey Goddess of the Sea.


Most people raised in Greenhammer only speak Basic. Sailors will often speak Dwarven as well, and those who fought in or study the Drow War will understand bits and pieces of Primordial, the language of the Underdark.

All Fey speak Sylvan, the language of the Feywild, though most also have basic knowledge of Common. The ambassadors typically speak Elfin, and particularly powerful sorcerors may learn Draconic or the language of the Primordial.

All Dragonborn speak Common, and Draconic, the language of the mighty Dragons. The latter is used only for pacts, weddings, and anything binding or holy.