There is no God; there are only the Dragons. The Dragons of Flame that rule over Lightside, and the Dragons of Ice that hold Darkside. The people of the world know this, because they have been reminded many times. Reminded in painful ways by the Dragons. But there is always hope.
The world is not like our world. The world does not have day and night cycles like we are used to. No, like the moon that circles Earth, this world turns at just the right speed so one side is always facing its star. That side, Lightside, ranges from a molten hell at the Lightpole, to a land of infinite twilight at the Meridian. The other side, the one forever facing into the dark of cold space, ranges from a frozen wasteland at the Darkpole, through the degrees of night, gradually warming until it too reaches the twilight of the Meridian. The Poles are the extremes of hot and cold. They are equally barren places nearly devoid of life. They are where the Dragons live, and from there they rule the world.
On Darkside, the Frost Giants live closest to the Darkpole. They are massive, shaggy, eyeless creatures with incredible hearing that roam the icy peaks and valleys. The Frost Giants are the guardians of the Dragons of Ice, and they do their work well. Living so close to the Dragons, they know the price of failure.
Next come the Trolls and Ogres, warlike races with excellent night vision. They constantly struggle for control of the frozen tundra and rocky peaks that are their home, and fight against raids from the Frost Giants, who feed on the Trolls and Ogres. Darkside is a constant battle for survival against the cold, and each other. Many of the rivers that flow down from the glaciers of Darkside are first thawed here, before flowing into the warmer lowlands.
Just to the Darkside of the Meridian lies the home of the Goblins and Kobolds. These smaller creatures live in the White Forests. The pale plants there have grown tall with broad leaves to absorb what light they can in this land that is always just beyond twilight. It is a temperate range, compared to the colder lands farther toward the Darkpole, with rich mining on the edges farthest from the light. The Goblins and Kobolds are crafters and farmers, though they know of war. The Trolls and Ogres make occasional raids into the White Forests, seeking the items created by the smaller races.
The Meridian is the home of Men. It is a pleasant enough place. These twilit lands hold a variety of terrains, forests to plains, rivers and oceans. The nations of Men are as varied as their home, with crafters, warriors, artists, woodsmen and scholars. They do not excel in any one field, but their adaptability is key. Terrible storms often rage across the Meridian as the frigid air from Darkside clashes with the hot gusts from Lightside. Men have learned to build strongly and read the skies well. Their home is also witness to storms of a different, though just as terrible, kind. It is used as a battleground between the forces of Lightside and Darkside, and Men are often caught in the middle. Because of this, the allegiance of Men is split, with some city-states siding with the Dark and others with the Light, though most simply wish to live their lives in peace.
Just Lightside of the Meridian live the Elves. Living in constant dawn has been good for the Elves. They are creatures of Light in every way. Their architecture captures the light and enhances it. The dawn’s soft light constantly warms their marble halls nestled in the green forests. The Elven lands are fertile and game is plentiful. Their life is a relatively easy one and their focus on expanding learning and culture reflects the lack of struggle for survival. This rankles the Darksiders and is the reason behind many raids and wars across the Meridian.
Farther toward the light lies the home of the Halflings and Gnomes, locked constantly in
what we would think of as full daylight. The lands are almost too warm for comfort, but it is perfect for these energetic and inquisitive races. Their land isn’t quite as fertile as that of the Elves, with periodic droughts and heat waves that parch the earth. But they live on excellent terms with the Elves who appreciate their love of knowledge and learning, creativity and experimentation, so the Elves provide for them in time of need. In turn, the Gnomes share their scientific discoveries, and the Halflings share their knowledge of the lands they travel extensively.
Very little is known of Lightside beyond the daytime lands. Even the well-traveled Halflings have a hard time traveling into the baked lands farther toward the Light. There are tales of those who have seen a dark ball hanging in the sky above Lightside, but nothing confirmed. Most of those that try the journey never return, and those that do survive have their minds so baked by heat-stroke that nothing they say makes much sense. All that is known for sure is the Dragons of Flame live there, and that is enough for most.