In this post I describe Gransys as a GURPS setting, as it is just before the start of Dragon’s Dogma. Aside from the totally scientific research on its physical size, my sources are the images and story from the original game, and the many scattered bits of GURPS material on what a medieval fantasy setting should look like. These include GURPS Fantasy, the various Low-Tech supplements, and a couple of Pyramid articles. GURPS Adaptations provides the methodology.
As before, refer to the map over at the Dragon’s Dogma Wikia when necessary. Please note that I made up several of the details below for this article, so if you find something from the original game or a secondary source that seems to contradict this description, that’s why.
Gransys is a sovereign duchy in an unnamed fantasy world. It’s located in a peninsula and bordered by several other nations, from which it is separated by imposing mountain ranges and thick forests. These natural barriers and the sea define its shape, which bears a vague resemblance to a capital J.
Its southern reaches are warm and relatively flat, with an almost Mediterranean climate near the coast. They are separated from Central and North Gransys by a mountain range. As we go north, we see a rise in elevation and a drop in temperature: Central Gransys is hilly and temperate, with grassy plains and deciduous forests. North Gransys starts as a large plateau and ends as a series of windy mountain passes.
The duchy’s largest stretch of forest is the Witchwood in South Gransys. It’s dense enough that little sunlight reaches its floor, and does contain a swamp in its furthest depths, but it’s not wet enough to be considered a jungle. Other notable forests include the Verda Woodlands also in South Gransys, and the deciduous Cursewood in Central Gransys.
Despite having quite a bit of coastline, Gransys has few sandy beaches. Most of those are in South Gransys, with the rest of the coasts being made up of imposing cliffs.
Gransys’ non-monstrous fauna is similar to our Europe’s, including rabbits, deer, boars, ravens and seagulls. Its monstrous fauna will be discussed in future posts. Its river and sea waters have plenty of edible fish of all sizes, though those sailing too far from the coast risk running afoul of sea monsters.
Appropriate Survival specialties for outdoorsy characters would be Plains, Woodland and Mountains. Those who spend a lot of time in the deep Witchwood would benefit from Survival (Swamp) as well.
Gransys has normal mana over the vast majority of its territory, as does the rest of the world. Places where the local mana level varies, if they exist, are small and isolated.
Gransys’ average Tech Level is what you would expect from a Dungeon Fantasy game, which means it’s 4 with a few important exceptions. There are no cannon or firearms, though black powder is known and used in the making of grenades and other explosives. There is no movable type: written knowledge is disseminated using the TL 3 method of hand-copying. Literacy is common in Gran Soren and among priests and nobles, less so among peasants.
The best armor available are elaborate plate harnesses. Shields are also common even for heavily armored fighters. Though fencing weapons are known, they are not popular in Gransys.
Unlike standard Dungeon Fantasy, medicine is at TL 4, and is further boosted by the abundance of potent medical herbs in the duchy. Some of those have innate magical properties.
Transportation is still at TL 3, with naval transporation barely reaching even that. Land-based trade routes are preferred over sea-based ones, due to the large risk posed by sea monsters.
Agriculture is also at TL 3. Gransys farmers grow wheat and harspud, a peculiar redish tuber rich in nutrients. They also raise cattle. Coastal communities trawl nearby waters for fish. In both cases, meat is often preserved by drying. Other crops include fruit like grapes and apples, often used for making wine and cider.
Government and Society
As a sovereign duchy, Gransys is ruled by a Duke who answers to no higher political authority. He is surrounded by a court made up of nobles responsible for smaller holdings within the duchy and by wealthy merchants who gain influence from their commercial dealings with the nobles and the Duke himself.
The current ruler is Duke Edmun Dragonsbane, who was crowned fifty years ago after defeating the Dragon. His legitimacy is entirely predicated on this feat, as he was a common-born soldier at the time. Despite being at least 70 years old, he’s still in excellent physical shape. He has Status 7.
There are two counties within Gransys, but they currently exist only on paper. One covers much of South Gransys and used to be centered on Aernst Castle, and the other covered the region around where Windbluff Tower now sits. Their titles are held by Fedel, the Duke’s nephew, and Aldous, the Duke’s chamberlain, and in practice serve to give them the authority to conduct the Duke’s business on his behalf. They are status 5. Someone who received the title of Count and managed to claim the corresponding land would be Status 6.
Those knights given a direct ducal mandate receive the title of margrave, and this includes those in charge of the three border marches centered around the Greatwall, Shadow Fort, and Windbluff Tower. These castles are meant to defend Gransys from monster attack and foreign invasion, and by ducal decree are supplied from the capital rather than from the surrounding lands. This serves purposes both practical (the surrounding lands are inospitable) and political (ensuring the soldier’s loyalty is to the Duke directly), but in practice causes serious logistics and morale problems. They are Status 4.
There are many smaller baronies scattered throughout the kingdom and administered from manor houses - most farming villages are technically part of one such barony. The most influent among these barons usually spend their time in the Duke’s court and leave a chamberlain to tend to their day-to-day business. The Duke doesn’t usually concern himself with the affairs of barons as long as they’re punctual with the tribute. They are Status 3.
Below them are landless knights, who usually serve as part of someone else’s armed forces. Both male and female knights are called by the honorific “Ser”. They are Status 2.
Skilled artisans and well-off citizens are Status 1, average urban denizens are Status 0, and peasant farmers are Status -1. The completely destitute are Status -2, looked down on by everyone else.
Status is conferred by title or social convention. You are supposed to be wealthy enought to maintain a lifestyle appropriate to your Status, or to somehow fake it.
Those who wish to explore Gransys’ stratified society in more detail or make extensive use of GURPS Social Engineering should give the Status 2+ nobles Feudal Rank equal to their Status. This Rank would symbolize their official authority, while Status would be a measure of their social position and political influence. This would make it possible to have a wealthy merchant like Fournival from the original game, who doesn’t hold formal Rank in the feudal hierarchy but has Status 3 or 4. In this model, Fedel and Aldous would have Courtesy Rank instead of the full version, but would still have the same Status.
If you’re just interested in using Gransys as a backdrop for a Dungeon Fantasy campaign, then Status and Rank don’t really come into play as advantages.
The vast majority of Gransys’ inhabitants follow the monotheistic religion known as the Faith. Its trappings are quite similar to those of real world Catholicism, and the god it venerates is called the Maker. It has existed for centuries, and every village has at least a small shrine or chapel manned by one or more priests. Gran Soren has a huge cathedral in its noble quarter. There is also an Abbey in Northern Gransys, home to an order of nuns dedicated to a humble life of quiet contemplation. The spiritual and administrative center of the Faith lies outside Gransys, in the mainland.
Ordained members of the Faith go through intense training that ensures they are quite the adept scholars. Aside from theology, they are well-versed in history, ancient languages, and other disciplines. Monks and nuns of the Faith seem to fill a role similar to that of academic researchers in our world.
In addition to the Faith, there are numerous signs throughout Gransys of an ancient religion practiced in times past. It venerated entities now known simply as “The Old Gods”, associated with the four elements. Its ruined temples are buried under the ground waiting for those bold enough to find them. The Faith regards the religion of the Old Gods with scholarly curiosity, but frowns on anyone who would consider it more than myth.
Religious Rank in the Faith goes from 0 all the way to 8, but no one in Gransys has a Rank higher than 4 (the head of the Gran Soren Cathedral). Being an ordained priest or priestess confers Clerical Investment in addition to Rank, but brings no supernatural powers. Of course, nothing stops a priest from also studying magic.