Getting pumped about B/X led to some brainstorming and worldbuilding. For now, I just want to put down some ideas and a general idea of the campaign… including that amazingly unartistic sketch of the setting’s cosmology. In development and play, my hope is to emulate the West Marches style and organizing principles. In terms of “story” and “feel”, I’ll throw in my lot with the D&D as post-apocalyptic crowd. More to come on this project in the years ahead, and of course: Input and feedback are always appreciated!
Atop the World-Mountain, the Basin Ocean: within, the continents and archipelagos of the world. The Sun hangs high, making it’s patrol of the sky at a slight angle, resting at night, when the Twin Moons take their watch.
To the North, the Lands of Ice, where shadows lie long upon the ground and the Sun itself is too far away to warm the ground. To the South, the Lands of Fire: endless deserts and sun-scorched badlands.
Along the equator are the Last Isles, mankind’s holdout in this world for a thousand years. Driven almost to the brink of extinction, the humans survived in the isles. Their noble houses grew strong and populous, their arms and armor and tactics more sophisticated, their magicks ever more advanced. The previous generation made it their mission to re-civilize the Great Continent of Pangaea to the west, long since overrun by the monstrous and the savage.
The Cosmology of Caldera
The Church of Law teaches that humans are meant to be the servants of the Celestial Realm, whose ruler is The Law That Applies to All and whose children are the angels that hold the World-Mountain itself aloft within the void.
Humankind is meant to serve The Law, earning the faithful passage to the Celestial Realm and reincarnation as an immortal angel. But the world itself, Caldera, is the realm of Neutrality, the mortal realm, where The Law applies but shows no favor.
Far beneath the surface, in the bowels of the World-Mountain, is the Underworld. Connected to the Infernal Realm, the place of Chaos and the home of the damned and the monstrous, the Underworld is ever-changing, expanding its reach and its power into the mortal realms, if only just below the surface.
It is said by the great Archons of the Church that the world will end should the Underworld ever come to dominate the mortal realm. The foul corruption, the rot and destruction spread by the ever-upward advance of the Infernal forces, will one day consume the World-Mountain. The angels will cease to hold the Mountain aloft, and all will plunge into the Void itself… unless the Evil Below can be stopped!
The History of Caldera
Expanding for untold millennia, the Underworld was once held at bay by the great heroes of the Empire of Light. As the Empire grew decadent and complacent in its wealth and ease and power, the Underworld reached the very ground below its feet. Evil poured forth from the depths, destroying the false strength of the Empire and overwhelming the civilization that had once protected the mortal realm. As mankind retreated, the foul creatures of the Underworld conquered the surface, lairing in the ruins of Imperial cities and in the wildernesses that overran Imperial provinces.
Mankind retreated to the eastern shores of the continent, to the once backwater archipelago known as the Last Isles, and made their stand against the threatening hordes. With a ferocity borne of desperation, they held at bay the forces of chaos and evil. The heroes of that age– for a time– defeated the Dragons and the Demon Princes who led the armies of the accursed. They bound the Gods of the Underworld, buying precious time for their heirs and a few more generations yet…
For hundreds of years, the last humans repaired and rebuilt what remained of their civilization. They grew stronger and their tribes grew with each passing generation. Although most of the world had been lost to Chaos, the great Noble Houses were able to defend the islands from threats across the sea and below the earth. Over the last few decades, humanity has finally grown strong enough to dream of reclaiming the world from the forces of Chaos.
To that end, the Houses have launched expeditions to the mainland for the last seventy years. Offering the rewards of a ruined civilization as plunder for those daring enough to fight for the future, the Houses established a foothold on the eastern shores of Pangaea. Tracts of wilderness have been civilized by those early heroes and strongholds built to the push the frontier ever farther toward the fabled Western Coast. The first generation of colonists born on the once-lost continent have grown. New heroes have arisen to answer the call.
Yet still, the Underworld expands its reach and tightens its grip. The defeated enemies of Law– the bound gods and defeated dragons and wounded demons– stretch their aging bonds and rebuild their mortal avatars. They bide their time and build their strength. How soon until they finally reincarnate or free themselves, and once again return to terrorize the world?
The Adventurers of Caldera
Only the daring (and the deperate) can confront the great evils of the world. By venturing deep into the Underworld itself, they destroy the dungeons that are the breeding grounds of evil. By exploring the wildernesses, they root out the lairs of the monstrous invaders. And by building new strongholds and reclaiming lost provinces, they hope to rebuild that civilization able to protect the world from the Doom Below.