Here is my feeble attempt at a manageable campaign handout for my current players. I've been having a bit of trouble getting this sort of information to them and I hope this will rectify that problem. It's based on Jeff Rient's handout for his World of Cinder campaign.
If there is something I could slim down, let me know. Also, if there is something that grabs you about the entries I've put up so far that didn't make it on the list tell me and I'll add it.
Top Ten Things You Need to Know About the Dark Country
A Campaign Dungeon: Nightwick Abbey is as big as you want it to be. By that I mean if you keep going down I’ll keep designing levels. It’s hypothetically infinite in size and can serve as the focus of a whole campaign if you want it to.
The Sword Brothers: The builders of the abbey were a group of holy men tasked with converting the surrounding countryside. They decided it would be more fun to kill everyone who lived there and worship the devil. The Church didn’t like that so it sent an army and managed to destroy the order. Still, some remnants of the past show up now and again, and the unquiet dead stir beneath the hills of the Dark Country.
Life on the Frontier: The barons and bishops of the West have tried to conquer the Dark Country for almost 200 years. They’ve built many cities and have a military presence here, but the land is not theirs. Barbarians and monsters teem in the wilderness and they will not give up the land easily. Since the destruction of the Sword Brothers, settlement has slowed to a trickle. Still, this is a place where someone can make their mark. Or die horribly. That’s always an option.
That’s not what Orcs look like!: Most monsters commonly found in D&D are also found in the Dark Country. Some cosmetic and substantive changes have been made to many of these in order to set a tone for the campaign. For example, Orcs are half-man half-animal monstrosities created by evil wizards and demons to be their servants. The players will have to discover the differences on their own.
Dwarves, Changelings, Froglings, and Gnomes: This campaign will use race as class except as noted below. Dwarves are pretty much what you’d expect, if a bit more melancholy. Changelings replace Elves. They’re humans who a bunch of fairies messed with when they were children. Now they have magical powers. Froglings are drunken Dutch Frogs who are really good at brewing beer. Gnomes live in hollowed out tree stumps, small hillocks, or big mushrooms. Wizards like to capture them so they can eat them or turn them into gold or something.
You've Unlocked Dwarf Runesmith: If you can find and befriend a community of Dwarves, Froglings, or Gnomes that the DM feels is large enough, you can now make characters who are of specialized race based classes. These are things like Dwarf priests or Frogling fighters, but with a bit more flavor.
Where do they go to the bathroom?: Some dungeons – particularly Nightwick Abbey – distort space and time and don’t do a very good job at obeying the laws of physics. Monsters leak out of walls. Doors appear out of nowhere. Strange pools can teleport you 1,000 miles away. You get the idea.
Three Alignments, Three Religions: There is one religion for each alignment in the Dark Country. Lawful characters worship the God of Law, who is essentially the Christian God with the serial numbers filed off. His church resembles medieval Christianity with weirder saints and less Jesus. Neutral characters are either agnostic or pagan. Pagans don’t so much worship their gods as appease them. I’m too lazy to come up with a pagan pantheon, so do it yourself. The only guideline I have is that they’re generally associated with nature and sinister. Evil characters are demon worshipers or deluded souls who don’t realize they’re demon worshipers. Demons have horns and goat legs, but may come in odder shapes.
I’m a DM not an author: The players can do most anything they want within the confines of the world. The focus of the game is supposed to be on Nightwick Abbey, but that shouldn’t prevent the players from striking out into the world.