Constant boom-town setting.

Many RPG settings have some calamity in the past that destroys old civilizations and leave lots of ruins for adventurers to explore.  What’s another way to have ruins without blowing up the world?

The world is really big compared to the population, so crowding is not a thing.  Civilization is kinda bad at infrastructure and conservation, so often towns will spring up, drain the nearby land of resources, then be abandoned as the inhabitants move on.

So there’s a linear progression of environments.

  • untouched nature
  • frontier towns
  • civilization
  • ghost towns and wasteland
  • reclaimed by nature

Some interesting side-effects:

  • Civilization is mobile. Everyone is always ready to move on.
  • Cities that are better at conserving resources stay in place longer and have sturdier buildings
  • Trade routes are always changing
  • Ruins are unstable because buildings aren’t built to last.
  • Traditions and history have to be able to move along with the town. No ancient libraries or graveyards.
  • The environment behind towns has a bit of a Nausicaa feel.
  • CIvilization has not filled the world. The world is much bigger than people.