For those of you who insist on the TL,DR version of everything, here you go.

There is no TL,DR version.

TIRRA is a continent and several related islands on a planet roughly earth-like. It is elf, dwarf, and orc-free. There are three races of humanoids and three races of lycanthropes. It has nearly twice the area of the North American land mass, as well as extreme terrain, new creatures and plants, politics, and… Well, sorry. That’s all you get for a TL,DR section. You’ll just have to start reading.

What’s so different about TIRRA?

The main difference is that you’re not going to find iron or steel. There just isn’t any to be found. Most of the iron that is available is from meteorites, and these bits get used as compass needles, magnets, or door stops.  Iron is so uncommon that steel has not been developed. Iron is smelted into cast iron, but this is brittle – meaning that iron really isn’t of much use anyway.

Technology therefore is the science of what is possible with this planet-wide handicap. There is no steel to support an industrial revolution. The people here are smart enough to figure it out, but there just is no iron available.

Since you’re going to ask, yes! The planet has a magnetic field, and that’s a good thing for navigation and keeping the solar radiation out. If you want to find the source of the magnetic field though, you’ll have to dig an extremely long way down into the core of the planet where molten iron is available.

This lack of steel will influence your choice of weapons, armor, friends, and other attitudes. Things that you may have done in other game environments need a nudge in a different direction in TIRRA.

Is there magic?

Yes, moreso in some areas than others. Some areas of Tirra are very technology (tinker) centric and they have developed clockworks, small steam engines, and anything from music boxes to devious traps – all based on physics, chemistry, or some other branch of learning.  Other areas of Tirra are very magic (wizard) savy, and magic and alchemy are preferred, as are all the old ways.

To which era from earth’s history can Tirra be compared?

The closest approximation is probably the Renaissance.  Art can be very realistic. Music can be very complicated. Buildings can be full of surprises and a variety of building materials. Politics, intrigues, and a tension between magic and technology. And don’t forget the four churches and their interests!

Is Tirra steampunk?

Not exactly, though in some areas it can be played that way within the limits of available resources. The rule of thumb (subject to your game referee’s guidance) is that if Leonardo Da Vinci could conceive of it, you can try to build it, buy it, or use it. Most brass, bronze alloy or copper versions of things that may come to mind may be heavier or more cumbersome than you’d like, but there is no iron available – so get over it already.

Oh, for a clump of Dup cheese!

A dup? And what is this about cheese?

Dups are used as pack animals and as dairy or meat sources from Hillport to Eaglebrook.Think of something between an American bison and a rhinocerous, and that is getting close to what a dup looks like. The legs are quite stout, and the shoulders mound up behind the head. Wool hangs down in huge hunks of molding hair, which is gathered and prized in the spring to make great sweaters! These beasts are slow moving unless they are provoked. The males have horns that jut out forcefully from the skull, and they are not afraid to use them – especially in rutting season.

The tundra nomads breed dups in the far north. The dup diet is vegetarian. It’s a little bit troublesome because sometimes dups are finicky eaters when traveling, so don’t plan on them eating provisions you brought along. Also, plan on quite a large volume of food for each dup. They always like their tundra grasses though, as long as they can dig down to them through the snow.  They travel better in the mountains than some pack animals, but they are much more adapted to the plains.

The shaggy coats are allowed to shed in the spring. Nomads don’t like to try to shear them, preferring to remove the shaggy wool from nettles and trees where the animals rub themselves to be rid of the heaviness before the summer heat arrives. Perhaps it is better to say the dups don’t like being sheared.

When dups are in the mating mood (early autumn), make sure you are some place else. Both sexes can be very difficult to keep under control at that time. Males will butt heads constantly until one backs down or is killed. Calves are born in the late spring, which is when the tundra is coming to life a little bit for a brief, warm summer.  They are full sized and ready for mating in 2 years. The lifespan is quite long – 25 to 40 years is not uncommon.

Yummm! Cheesy!
What dup cheese might look like?

Nomads use the milk of the dup females to make a strong cheese that smells a little bit like somebody vomited. It tastes pretty good though – especially on a cold day when you’re really hungry. Dup meat is quite rich and fortifying. One animal can feed a tribe for several weeks as needed. The meat is usually boiled down until it is very tender, and seasoned with heavy dollops of garlic, herbs, and other vegetables. The meat can be a little gamey, so additional spices are usually used. It makes for a very hearty stew!

South of the Northern Rim, dup meat is treated much the same as any other meat – jerked, smoked, fried, ground or in large cubes held briefly over a flame and consumed nearly raw.

Most of the animal can be used – including the hide, bones, teeth, horns and wool. Several internal organs are also consumed by the nomads. Perhaps if you travel there they may share their recipes with you?

Why the Age of Swords?

In the continent of TIRRA, I am setting the world notes in the Age of Swords. Why did I choose that era?

The ages each have meaning. TIRRA is lacking in iron, and therefore must make do with copper, zinc, nickel, and tin and so on. Swords made of bronze may look impressive, but they really just don’t hold up very well against an armored opponent.  Unless you are very good at only attacking soft spots on your opponents armor, your sword will dull and/or break eventually.

Which is why swords are reserved for unarmored opponents, and are becoming a symbol across large swaths of TIRRA as symbols of repression.

This then is the age when governments are sometimes finding advantage in slavery, and in forcibly keeping populations at fearful and oppressed.  Who will win – the swords or the peasants?