Toll The Bells
The realm of Id is a large expanse of floating islands, drifting in a sky full of clouds. The realm is divided into a number of tiers, corresponding to the height at which the islands float. There is no known bottom to the world, but explorers venturing past a certain point have not returned, it is possible there is solid ground at some point, but at present the accepted “bottom” is a permanent layer of storm and smaller islands that frequently collide with each other. While there is not an accepted “ceiling” the air becomes too thin as you climb, resulting in each race having a practical limit for exploration. That point may vary depending on the creature. Birds have been spotted far higher than humans have managed to travel, and explorers have managed to reach islands past the threshold through arcane means, but the upper reaches remain almost entirely unexplored.
The islands continuously move, according to a complex and nested pattern of orbits, pushed along by wind currents. Scholars maintain detailed charts, just to track the islands positions within close proximity. Once you venture beyond the shelter of your cluster, it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate. This complexity makes it difficult to specify any exact distances between islands, however many islands of very large size drift in the sky, and by comparing and estimating it can be seen at the very least that the known world drifts in a space far in excess of the size of earth.
Each island varies in structure, shape, and content, but most have at least some plant and animal life in residence, and once they reach a critical mass they hang in the air with a definite up and down. Smaller chunks rotate in the wind. Also, smaller chunks split off the mass of an island fall most of the time, though sometimes if they are of sufficient mass some unknown mechanism causes them float as well. This seems to be in some way related to the composition and density of the island, but the details and mathematics of this relationship are unknown.
The known world is currently inhabited mainly by humans. There are a number of other, less developed races such as Goblins and Orcs and the like, as well as any number of strange creatures on islands in the outer reaches, and deep in the heart of the earth that makes up the floating islands.
There are also numerous ruins, scattered across many of the islands, from some unknown past civilization, which gives rise to the method of dating used, that this is the second era, or 2e.
The Realm of Id is defined as the known set of islands on all tiers, essentially it is the “world”, though it lacks definite borders due to the shifting nature of the land masses. The tiers are then divided into the mid realms, or the known inhabitable spaces, the high realms, or those islands that exist above the habitable line, usually defined at the height at which water begins to crystallize out of the air, and the low realms, or those islands that exist beyond the border of the storm wall.
Those realms are then split up by the people living within them according to the shifting political climate of the time. Often political changes are necessitated by geographical changes. For example, rarely an inhabited island will break off from it’s usual pattern of movement, and become caught in the path of another cluster. This may result in a village belonging to country A, now residing in the middle of country B. These changes are typically quickly rectified by the annexing of the new island. It should also be noted that many islands that break off from their orbits are never caught in another one, and are considered “lost” as they quickly become impossible to find once they travel out of the known wind streams.
The campaign begins in the district of Antiles, in the United Avernus Protectorates, or UAP. Most countries within the region currently belong to the UAP. 30 years prior to the start of the campaign, some learned men within Avernus began to spout what then seemed to the residents to be crazy theories about the nature of magic, the islands they lived on, and how all these things were connected. They called themselves a school of Natural Law. Within several years they silenced critics as they began to show tangible results. They began to produce spells that produced effect without the normal materials and gestures. Weapons, devices that operated for any untrained civilian and gave them the power of a mage, to destroy at a whim.
The government of Avernus capitalized on these innovations, and others. They built a fleet of ships, that could travel between islands and rain fire down on the ground below. Before this, travel between islands was restricted to short hops to those within sight, or along very carefully maintained lines between clusters through careful and meticulous records. Any travel more distant than that required a trained drake mount (typically called a dragon in the parlance of the land, but are actually a species of large drake with the approximate intelligence of a horse). These drakes are able to home to their place of birth, allowing travel between regions with preparation. This however strongly limited the ability of nations to wage war far from their own islands, requiring a great deal of effort and resources to even conduct simple missions the further from home they fielded.
The innovations of the Avernus Renaissance changed all that. Somehow they were now able to sail from any island to any other they wanted, and rain destruction from a platform far more durable and stable than dragonback. Once the first neighbouring nation fell, the rest were “offered” membership within the UAP, rendering themselves subservient to the crown. The kingdom of Antiles “joined” 20 years before the start of the campaign. Several others still hold out, in the far reaches of the known world.
This meteoric rise having proved the value of this new school of thought led to nations suddenly encouraging it’s spread, desperate to make up the ground they had lost to Avernus in this new arms race. While the waps (UAP’s, slang) stomp down hard on any large military programs, covert development and experimentation goes on everywhere. Magic has been thrown on it’s ear as schools are split between the new school of thought (Gnostic) and the traditional. Armor has fallen into disuse as new weapons enable anyone to engulf a knight in a ball of flame, and mobility becomes far more important for survival. Churches are in disarray and are contracting, for while their gods still answer prayers, it’s hard to claim divinity when a tinker down the street can cure wounds as well, and doesn’t charge half as much a the church demands in tithe for their miracles.
Your characters have been raised through this period of upheaval, this time of enlightenment. Either born into independence and having watched their country cave under pressure, or born after the fall and having known nothing by this period of peace and oppression you are witness to a world in Renaissance. Your fate is yours to choose, will you become a hero of your people fighting for independence? Will you make research advances or create the device that will turn the world on it’s ear again? Will you become a trade baron, capitalizing on the new options in shipping, or explore the far reaches of the farthest realm.
Nuts and Bolts
The current year is1672 by Avernus reckoning, or 1926 according to Antiles. Each nation, cut off from the other until recent centuries began their own system of dating independently. Now, with Avernus seizing control, the known realms officially use their method of dating, of course common use is still often local.
You will begin in a small village on the edge of the main island on the windward side of Antiles. We will be using the pathfinder ruleset for the most part, but you are encouraged to come up with your own ideas for class or character. I intend to allow as much freedom as possible, with the party ending up back at a “home base” and able to take some down time between sessions, allowing for someone to miss a day and have their character just be off on a side trek.
Since there is no epic reaching plot, and your characters are not “chosen” or in some way special, I won’t be following my usual rule of not killing your characters accidentally. A lucky crit can take you out, a poor decision won’t have a take back, your characters are mortal, making their achievements that much more meaningful, and their deaths that much more pointless. Also note that despite large hit point pools and weapons that take several hits to kill, these are abstractions, and pretty much any hit you take voluntarily is fatal (like leaping in front of a crossbow bolt, or taunting an orc with an axe to take his best shot).
All of you are human, and have lived in this as yet unnamed village for at least a year. Aside from that the history and abilities of your character are pretty much up to you. I do want two strengths and two weaknesses for each of you, a primary motivation, and some idea of your character. Some classes are off limits or restricted, no barbarians, no druids, spell casters will need to put extra thought into their histories as they have split into several schools. Note that there are several concepts in the campaign world that aren’t covered, leaving opportunities for class creation, by all means let me know your ideas.
Lastly, let me know what you want to do in the campaign. Warfare, exploring, dungeon delving, trade, what have you. So I have an idea of what to work on.