The world of 1500AT is as much different from the old world as it is the same. While advances in technology have given many benefits, the changes in society have perpetuated many of the old situations.
Wind and steam power have created a world where almost all cities and towns have running water, hot and cold, and working indoor plumbing, so no trips to the outhouse except in the wilds and small outpost settlements. This has improved the level of health for most individuals and made keeping clean much easier.
The airships travel between all major cities and cities of modest size, and steam powered wagons on rails connect smaller communities with these hubs. Travel away from these main channels is still by ox drawn wagon, on horseback, or on foot. Rumor has it that some mechanically driven wagons are found in the cities, but they are so unreliable, no one will depend on them for long distance travel. Also, the tunnels to the Dwarves cities have been shut off for the last 20 years and the Elves refuse to allow the rails access to the forrest. They did allow one airship port until 10 years ago, when they closed the port and refused entry to any representatives trying to re-establish trade. The Underdark has several direct lines to the surface world, though only the bravest on both sides make the trip for trade or business.
This expanded travel capability has reduced the time to market for food and goods, as well as making certain news and entertainment spread far and wide across the realms. The uneasy border with Thay is usually a plot point in all stories and entertainment, as is the mysterious people of the deserts of Calimshan. Especially popular are stores of the great desert races that happen every few years.
There is an “elected” government, however there are many beings who are disenfranchised depending on their location. Dragon’s Rest, the main city on Dracosee’ere, is the most “Enlightened,” however, oppression exists even here. All across the realms, the old “kings and queens” have been replaced by a new nobility consisting of a high level merchant’s class as well as a political class made of nobles as well as, but rarely, common people. Though society has been focused on new horizons, there is still bigotry and classism rampant in the world, even in Dragon’s Rest. It is not unusual to hear War-Forged veterans referred to as “Clankers” or Kobolds as “Drats” (Dragon Rats). With the isolationist attitude of the dwarves and elves, they are denigrated and while both are more plentiful in Dragon’s Rest than anywhere else, they are very few in number and tend to stay with those of their same mindset. The humans of Dragon’s Rest sometimes refer to the Dwarves as the Stoneheads and Elves as “Points”, but usually not within earshot of any of them
The Common citizen knows there are major forces at work and there is a bit of an unease across the lands outside of Dracosee’ere. The common folk seem to think that the world is stacked against them if they aren’t born into a well placed family or hit the jackpot by discovering some new product that could make them rich. While you would think all of the advances would bring a time of peace, comfort, and plenty, there is a growing disparity between the have’s and the have not’s and it is creating a new noble class as the people’s rights gained in the declarations and protected in several bloody wars has started to slip away in favor of the status quo
It is into this bit of unrest you find yourselves, approaching the city of Dragon’s Rest, on the independent island of Dracosee’ere. What does the future hold for you? Come and see.