Describing a Setting

Today, I’ll be describing more of the world I laid out the setting concepts for previously. Tentatively titled The Land of Storms, it’s going to be the cohesive background for future fleshed-out Patreon work even as those pieces will be intended to be able to be used with minimal effort in any setting.

The Land of Storms is a setting with no gods, as far as anyone can prove. There are religions, many of them with competing sects who disagree on their dogma, and it is known that both celestials and fiends exist. It is these who answer spells that can commune with higher forces, and they have no answer for whether or not the gods exist. Likewise, the realm of the dead in unknowable – magic to raise the dead exists and works, and magic to speak with the dead is possible, but none of it can reach wherever souls go after the body dies. Trying to find out about them reveals nothing; even the restless spirits of the world know nothing, beyond feeling a pull trying to draw them into some unknown place.

There are six elemental essences to the world, matching the six spheres of immortality; earth and air, fire and water, radiance and shadow. Each of them has a matching plane of existence, and several other planes exist that are less elementally balanced than the mortal world. These pass in and out of alignment with the world on timescales that range from mere decades to centuries or longer, and each has major effects on the world while in alignment.

Alignment isn’t absolute in this setting, and spells and items with alignment tags can be freely used by anyone, and any creature can easily have any alignment. Clerics don’t have to match the alignment of their faiths, although most will. At least one lich is lawful good, using her undeath to defend her home from would-be conquerers with an army of undead drawn from those who voluntarily give their bodies to the cause after their deaths.

At the center of the world, from a gameplay standpoint, is the Wayfarer’s Rest, an inn set at a crossroads just a little out of alignment from the cardinal directions, each road leading just a bit left of the true direction. As such, the crossroads itself is a favorite place for the fey to gather, and those who need pass through do well to take a room at the Wayfarer’s Rest – due to the nature of the owner, the fey don’t trouble those who stay there, at least not at this crossroad.

Places not too far from the inn include the Fellwood to the east, a fair-sized forest said to be cursed and known to be haunted by monstrous spiders and worse; beyond it lie the self-proclaimed baronies of the Lords of the Silver Hills where anyone with a strong enough sword arm (or powerful enough magic) can claim a barony of their own or usurp one that already stands. West are the Hills of Smoke and the Forest of Ashes, which rise up against the Dragon’s Teeth mountain range and the towering volcanic peak of Fire Mountain, said to be the home of a slumbering red dragon.

Go south far enough and the land grows colder and rises into a rough and rocky land where mining and smithing support those who manage to scrape food out of the soil during the growing season. The people there are rough ready for a fight, but loyal to their kings and queens who ensure that everyone has fuel for their hearths and forges and food for their bellies all through the long winters.

Head north, and the days get hotter until the roads reach the shore of a wide inland sea; the other side is said to be home to fabulous place of wondrous natures. That the sailors who speak of these place tend to sail into port with strange spices and colorful fabrics not known to the lands south of the sea lends credence to the tales, even if they seem a bit far-fetched to those who spend their days plowing fields and setting stones for walls.

Even the biggest of kingdoms is fairly small, and no one can rightly say why the last empire that claimed the known world fell save that something deeply unnatural was responsible for it. Some claim giant fishlike horrors rose from the northern sea and called down terrible magic; others claim the great red wyrm of Fire Mountain razed the capital and took the empire’s wealth for herself; sages speak of planar conjunctions with some of the stranger worlds beyond the veil; and a few, dismissed as mad fools, whisper about a place outside the known worlds where truly alien things dwell breaching into the world and bringing a plague that corrupted reality itself.

The truth may never be known – and it may well be something else entirely. Only the gods could say, and they don’t talk to anyone.

Welcome to Roshah, the Land of Storms, traveler.

Describing a Setting

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