Trope Workshop:Land of Shattered Empire

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    A common element of an Adventure-Friendly World is that the setting is upon the ruins of a now defunct empire. This creates a world without a central authority to solve problems, and several factions willing to wage war (either open or espionage) on one another. It does this while maintaining several conveniences one would spawn such as a common language, and a shared history. It also allows for international institutions, standards and/or road networks (which are often in disrepair and plagued by bandits, disposable or otherwise, who are often dumb enough to attack heavily armed and armored men). One or more of the factions may claim continuity with the old empire.

    See also Balkanize Me, which may well happen to such an empire if it spanned a large enough collection of peoples and cultures.

    Examples of Land of Shattered Empire include:


    Anime and Manga

    • Shin Angyo Onshi: The empire of Jushin was shattered into pieces before the series starts for unclear reasons, though it is heavily implied that Aji Tae, the Big Bad, was responsible. How exactly it happened is subject of one of the flashback arcs, and this shattering is one of the main reasons Munsu is in pretty difficult position to get his revenge over Aji Tae.
    • Drifters: The Orte Empire was a powerful nation expanding its territories into neighboring countries. Though, its leader, Adolf Hitler, committed suicide and is falling apart due to lacking his leadership.
    • Played with in Attack on Titan, The Walls are actually the remnants of Eldia, which was in ancient times used by the Titans to build their empire. However, due to internal conflicts, it collapsed during the Great Titan War. The nation of Marley then rose to global power.


    Comic Books

    Fan Works



    • Star Wars Expanded Universe media set after Return of the Jedi fits here, with the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire (led by multiple independent warlords who often fight each other as much as the New Republic) fighting for control, going back and forth, with third parties often intervening. In this case, the Galaxy(yes, it is named like that in-universe) itself is an example.
    • A Song of Ice and Fire don't start like this but becomes one as the story goes on. With Robert's death, and the pretty nasty rumours that his heirs are actually product of incest between his wife and his brother-in-law, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros begin to divide in several factions fighting for control or at least independence, with the Lannisters and Stannis simultaneously claiming to be Robert's successors, starting the War of the Five Kings. Thanks to the books having multiple point-of-views, the audience is able to see how the shattering went from several angles, and how heroes, villains, and anti-heroes and anti-villains try to attain their objectives through it all.

    Live-Action TV


    New Media

    Newspaper Comics

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends



    Professional Wrestling

    Puppet Shows


    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

    Tabletop Games

    • Eberron is set a few years after most of the countries that used to make up the Empire of Galifar have finally made an uneasy peace following one of them being destroyed overnight in mysterious circumstances. Galifar left behind standardized coinage and (now unenforceable) agreement of checks and balances on the Dragonmark Houses, though railways, major roads, the primary language, and many other institutions are attributed to the still extant Dragonmark Houses. Since the Five Nations can't move militarily without fear of breaking the truce, Sealed Evil in A Can and other international threats must be solved by the player characters.
    • Points of Light is set a hundred years after the fall of the Empire of Nerath. Now the mightiest factions friendly to humanity left are mere city states who struggle to project power beyond their walls and hire mercenaries to deal with all manner of external issue. Nerath has left behind vast ruins filled with treasure and a single language, and is presumably responsible for the standardized gold pieces as well.
    • A breakup of the United States creates the conditions for a lot of Sky Pirates and squabbling air powers to infest the world of Crimson Skies.


    Video Games

    • The Calradic Empire of Mount & Blade has been gone for a few hundred years leaving behind several factions who all claim to have a historical right to the rest of the former empire (and thus reason to wage on/off war with their neighbors). Naturally it's up to the player to do something about this. The prequel, Bannerlord, is set just as the empire has split from a Succession Crisis and its former tributaries have broken off.
    • Paragon City, the titular metropolis in which City of Heroes is set, seems to be an example of this trope, what with all the parts of the ancient city of Oranbega that underlie it. And some players suggest that the United States as a whole may well also have been irrevocably shattered in the wake of the Rikti invasion, given how there is absolutely no federal-level response to the continued presence of the Rikti in the city, not to mention the military forces of at least two different hostile governments (Arachnos and Nemesis), and a blatantly terroristic NGO (Malta). There are certainly enough wrecked bases and labs as well as other ruins left behind after the invasion to qualify on their own.
    • The second part of Final Fantasy VI, the World of Ruin, is set on the ruins of everything, including the Gestalt Empire. Kefka doesn't rule anything; he terrorizes everyone instead, to the point some people began to worship him as a god.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Ivalice used to be united the authority of the Galtean Alliance and the Dynast King Raithwall. The main plot involves the (significantly smaller) empire of Archadia trying to dominate the entire land all over again, with the main antagonist Vayne wanting to be called the new Dynast King.
    • Final Fantasy XV: Similar to VI above, the entire world post time skip is in ruins, ravaged by monsters, and the Nilfheim Empire is defunct. Unlike Kefka, however, Ardyn is completely rational, he just hates the gods to such a point he is willing to ruin the life of every human being for what the heavens did to him.
    • The setting of Fallout is a post-apocalyptic, retrofuturistic United States that exists long after nuclear weapons ravaged the world. There are still plenty of people left, but they have to contend with dangerous mutants, psychotic raiders, the power-hungry remnants of the United States government, and all kinds of other powerful factions vying for dominance over their slice of post-war America.
    • Most of the The Elder Scrolls takes place within the Septim Empire, but by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim it has ceased to exist due to the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and has been replaced with a weak successor state in the Mede Empire which holds only three of the Septim Empire's ten provinces, with two destroyed, two independent, and three under the control of the antagonistic Aldmeri Dominion. Skyrim is largely centered around one of the three remaining provinces trying to secede which, if successful, that would leave the remaining two provinces (one its home territory, and the other infamous for its internal instability when the Empire isn't in power) non-contiguous. This results in a very unstable Empire, where many isolated forts have been abandoned to bandits, and its once prosperous national trading company can barely keep the lights on.

    Visual Novels

    Web Animation

    Web Comics

    Web Original

    Western Animation

    • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
      • The Earth Kingdom had this problem during the war with the Fire Nation; while individual factions and cities were holding their own against the invasion, they were unable to serve a united front. Bumi opted to surrender Omashu to Mai's parents, explaining to Aang that his ching told him it was the right decision to allow his people to evacuate. The generals at Ba Sing Se are forced to keep a war a secret from their King, meaning they all get blindsided when Kuei's Treacherous Advisor delivers the city to Azula on a platter. On the other side of the coin, Azula and Ozai opt to burn the entire kingdom to the ground when a war council reveals that factions still exist that are fighting their armies.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • Before the series starts, after the Fire Nation dissolves its empire and retreats back to their frontiers pre-Aang, creating unintentionally a lot of tension as the people on those territories were racially mixed and integrated into the land, so deporting them was proven to be un-practical and unethical. Aang and his companions tried to create a conciliatory solution with the United Republic of Nations. By season 3, however, the cracks begin to show up.
      • By season 4, that is what happened to the Earth Kingdom after its queen is killed. The main antagonist Kuvira is exactly the one tried to unify it again, but she is no legitimate heir to the throne and is not interested in a democratic solution to her own country's balkanization problems.
    • Samurai Jack: Aku may rule over the Bad Future, but dozens of rebels stand up to him, including the Scotsman. They all arrive in the series finale to rescue Jack.

    Other Media

    Real Life

    Eras that count when used for Historical Fiction