Set on the titular island nation, Jakandor dedicates itself to focusing on the Forever War raging between the island's population; the Knorr colonists and the Charonti natives.
The Knorr are a warlike people of Iron Age hunter-gatherers from far to the east of Jakandor. These Knorrmen in particular owe their presence to a long and bloody civil war, one instigated when a strong faction of traditionalists rose up against the cultural assimilation of their people by former trading partners from a more civilized empire. During a pitched naval battle, the Knorrmen traditionalists were swept away from their foes by an enormous storm that pushed them west until they landed on Jakandor. These believed that the War Mother, their most powerful and revered goddess, had destroyed "the corrupt old world" and given them Jakandor as a place to begin anew... if they could cleanse it by destroying "the Broken People", the last remnants of the old world's evil. Their descendants continue this holy war, destroying their foes' unholy relics and killing them where they can, following the vengeance-revering creedo of their goddess.
The Charonti are all that remains of a once-mighty empire of necromantic wizard-priests, laid low thousands of years ago by a magic-spread sickness of terrible lethality. Finally beginning to rebuild after some five thousand years of turbulence, their dreams of restoring their former glory were shattered when they found themselves invaded by mad barbarians from the far east. Clinging to what is left of their homeland, the Charonti refuse to give up, convinced that their Manifest Destiny is to wipe out the Knorr and reconquer the world.
Only three sourcebooks were published for Jakandor; Island of War, a player's handbook for the Knorr; Isle of Destiny, a a player's handbook for the Charonti; and Land of Legend, the dungeon master's guide to the overall setting.
This game features examples of:
- After the End: Jakandor as it is today is all that's left of the Charonti Empire, which fell over 5150 years ago.
- The Knorr believe that their old homeland was destroyed by the wrathful War Mother for succumbing to spiritual pollution, and that they are all that's left of their people.
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Jakandor's selling point in a nutshell. In contrast to the other settings typical of D&D at the time, Jakandor was a human-centric, small-scale world defined by Gray and Grey Morality and mass combat.
- Barbarian Hero: The Hat of the Knorr in a nutshell. They mostly resemble Vikings, but there's some definite American Indian aspects to them as well, and a dash of Iron Age Celt for flavor.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Charonti are a culture of necromancers who consider undeath a divine gift meant to benefit the community as a whole, and uphold duty and justice as the foremost virtues of a civilized people.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Invoked to justify the Forever War. The two different cultures are near completely anathema to each other, almost incapable of recognizing the other's respective virtues and hammering hard on cultural berserk buttons.
- Evil vs. Evil: Perhaps the biggest issue with the setting that may have contributed to its obscurity is that both sides can feel too unsympathetic to root for. The Knorr are bloodthirsty barbarians who literally venerate war and revenge. The Charonti are arrogant necromancers who want to conquer the world. Both want to annihilate another culture just for being different.
- Fantastic Racism: A variation in that it's two fantastical human races who despise each other.
- The Knorr regard the Charonti as a, quote, "foul race of man-like creatures who know no honor". They believe they live only to enslave others, all so that they can shun good, honest work, and hoard treasures that they neither need nor respect. They believe the Charonti affront the balance by raising the dead, and view them as ghoul-like abominations, lurking in the shadows and feeding on the flesh of the weak and sick, including that of their own kinsfolk. They also think the Charonti are incredibly ugly, describing them as frail-armed, with skin the milky color of thin winter ice, and bulging, swollen heads which their craning necks can barely support. They call the Charonti, "The Broken People", because it is so clear to them that they possess nothing resembling a human spirit.
- The Charonti regard the Knorr as savages who display little more intelligence than animals and who have responded to legitimate attempts at diplomacy time and time again with unthinking violence. They believe the Knorr delight in destroying knowledge and learning, and that they are slaves to an incomprehensible array of malevolent, malicious deities. The three major policies for what to do with them consist of one calling to avoid them and leave them to their own endless internecine wars (the dominant party, so far), one calling to try and domesticate them and bring them into civilization, and one calling for their genocidal extermination.
- Grey and Gray Morality: An intended selling point of the setting is that both the Knorr and the Charonti have legitimate viewpoints as well as flaws.
- Forever War: The Knorr/Charonti war has been raging for over 150 years at the time of the "present", and isn't likely to stop soon. Land of Legend actually discusses this, pointing out to dungeon masters that any player who wants to try and stop the war will have a huge task on their hands, as both cultures are heavily invested in prolonging and winning the war.
- The Magic Goes Away: The Wasting Plague, which fed on magical energies to sustain itself and killed off the vast majority of the Charonti. It still survives in some of the ancient ruins, cleaning to long-lost magical relics.
- Magic Is Evil: The Knorr staunchly believe this, and it's one of the many reasons they feel obligated to wipe the Charonti from the face of Jakandor.
- The Magocracy: Overlapping with The Theocracy. The Charonti worship a God of Life and Death who created magic, and so wizard-priests are the unquestioned rulers of their society by divine right.
- Moral Myopia: Despite the rather terrible things they do to each other, neither the Knorr nor the Charonti accepts they may be partly to blame for the conflict.
- The Necromancer: The Hat of the Charonti, although in a more sympathetic light than usual.
- Outside-Context Problem: The Knorr were literally this to the Charonti, having suddenly washed up on their eastern shores a century and a half ago out of nowhere.
- Given Jakandor's status as a "mini-setting", an ambitious dungeon master could theoretically turn a whole party into this by having them come from the wider world outside of Jakandor.
- The Sacred Darkness:
- The Charonti's view of necromancy is that it was a gift given to them by their divine patron, the God of Life and Death. In life, a Charonti's duty is to study and advance knowledge. In death, the ancestors give up their bodies to labor, freeing their living descendants from the need to worry about struggling with mundane concerns and labors and defending them against those who would do them harm, a sacrifice for which the spirits of the deceased are revered and worshipped.
- The Knorr worship vengeance because they define it as the idea of righteous action being applied to restore balance, which is integral to the Knorrman codes of spirituality. Also, they revere lycanthropes as individuals blessed by the War Mother; potentially dangerous, yes, but honored and to be respected.
- Typhoid Mary: Part of the reason the Charonti despise the Knorr is because not only do the Knorrmen constantly destroy ancient Charonti artifacts and texts, they're also immune to the Wasting Plague which still lingers in the ruins... but not so immune that they can't carry it and unwittingly spread it to surviving Charonti.
- Vestigial Empire: The Charonti once controlled a vast swathe of the world. Now, only a handful of city-states and small communes huddling in the ruins of once-beautiful cities on a single small island remain.