The fantasy role-playing game Das Schwarze Auge was developed by Ulrich Kiesow, Werner Fuchs and Hans Joachim Alpers. The three had formerly translated several English language pen & paper RPGs, and were responsible for the German localization of Dungeons & Dragons, among other things. Originally, they tried to convince Schmidt Spiele - one of Germany's biggest board game publishers at the time - to publish the primordial RPG, as well as the long-established book publishing house Droemer Knaur. Both rejected the pitch because the TSR license was too expensive. However, those same companies wanted to claim the new niche nonetheless, and thus assigned the three men to create their own fantasy world and ruleset. Kiesow and company also founded their own publishing house called Phantasy Productions, but that was first used solely for smaller releases like the German version of Tunnels & Trolls, and only took over The Dark Eye in 1997, when Schmidt Spiele abandoned the franchise.
The game was originally intended to be called Aventuria, after the fictional continent it was placed in, but Schmidt Spiele ditched it for the final name, despite the fact that no one had any idea what the titular eye was actually supposed to be (later it was assigned a similar role as the Palantir in Lord of the Rings). It was also Schmidt Spiele's marketing power that quickly turned the game into a major hit, with 100,000 copies sold in Germany alone in its first year, despite being despised by the hardcore P&P crowd at first for its simplicity and some stupid names (the continent Aventuria, which probably sounds even more silly to English speakers, was hence renamed Arkania in the international versions of the computer games, but the later English release of the P&P game was more daring). The franchise has since spawned four and a half major revisions (the Realms of Arkania series is based on the third edition), a short lived overseas release, more than a hundred novels, a board game series, a tabletop wargame, 15 adventures for mobile phones, as well as six released, two cancelled and one yet to be released computer games. While the hype of the early years has long since worn off, it remains by far the most successful pen & paper RPG in Germany to this day.
Aventuria/Arkania is only one continent of the world of Dere (an anagram of Erde, German for Earth), but remained the only known one for a long time until a second, more exotic campaign world was introduced in 2000 with Myranor. This one was formerly only known from myths as the Golden Land, and said to be the origin of most of Aventuria's human population (very obviously inspired by Tolkien-esque geography). The major political force in Aventuria is the Middenrealm, whose calendar, determined by the current Emperor, is also followed by the computer games. It is populated by the typical common fantasy races, but with a few minor twists here and there. Its Orcs, for example, are covered with black fur, sometimes depicted almost like a primitive human race rather than actual monsters.
The Realms of Arkania games take place at a time shortly after the mysterious disappearance of the then-current Emperor Hal, which is marked by the Orkstorm. The Ork tribes have united for the first time in history, and now the invading horde pose a serious threat not only to the northern peoples neighbouring the Orklands, but also to the Middenrealm itself. It is one of those times when heroes are direly needed on every front.
While there are many different minor religions in Aventuria, the most common belief is that of The Twelve, whose temples are also found in the Northlands Trilogy, and their nemesis, The One Without A Name. Similar to ancient Greek or Roman religion, most people believe in all the gods, but chose a single one to worship. The names of these gods also make up the months of the calendar.
Miniature pack for Armalion, the tabletop wargame