The Ripworld Saga takes place in the world of Prestonia. Prestonia is a place rife with conflict. Magic is present, but magic users and adventurers are the exception, and not the rule. Those who are powerful can choose to shape the world for good, evil, or indifference. And they have.
Civilization and Society
Prestonian civilizations have struggled to move forward in areas of economics, technology, and nation building, due to natural disasters, greed, power, bestiary makeup, and over-reliance on magical or mystical means to solve problems. As such it remains in the middle ages, perhaps forever dividing, conquering, and rebuilding itself. Reliance and reverence to magic and magic users stunt the will for technological advancements, often violently so. Why have progress when the powerful magic users will do everything they can to stifle and often violently suppress innovation, and there is no real capitalist or even socialist incentive? Why make technological progress when the most powerful forces in the universe can be induced through magic to do your bidding?
The current age contains no empire. Towns, villages, and cities and city states, and even minor kingdoms exist, but never last long enough, or become cohesive enough to develop nation states. Ruins often layer on ruins, and the land abounds with geographies, legends, and places of mystery.
Borders are often demarcated by natural geography, but not always. Maintaining any sort of historical accuracy in a very conflicted world has been difficult, and some borders have been around for so long, the reasons of their existence have been long forgotten. But, they are still recognized in the interest of things such as map-making and general reference.
Prestonia consists of the general tropes of fantasy settings: Forests, mountains, arctic pole areas, deserts, swamps, and whatever else an Earth-like planet would offer. However, along the southern tips of the planet, a meandering fissure of molten mountains and seas reside (“The Great Fissure”). Unpredictably, these areas will erupt and not only destroy surrounding areas, but can often cause planet-wide catastrophic results, resulting in random destructions of civilizations and populations. Many believe the planet itself is splitting apart, much like an egg with a hot opening in it where the insides pour out, and solidify. A ripped world of uncertainty and destruction.
As such, civilizations and areas of the North and South have limited means to cross over to each other. There are only a few large sea passage ways to go between the two hemispheres, and this scarcity has caused conflict over this unique geographical value. The molten mountain areas are difficult to cross, and rife with dead ends; not to mention the crossing of the large molten rivers and small seas impossible without magic or other extraordinary means.
Not to say that civilizations do not last a long time however. Many civilizations have lasted for quite some time, and will survive and get re-discovered after natural disasters.