Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kalgar, World in the Roil

Creating Like A Creator

Art by Chris Scholten
   So I've been playing tabletop games for a number of years now. The majority of my experience has been in the fantasy genre. I began playing Dungeons and Dragons in high school and started by delving directly into the role of the Gamemaster (partly due to the fact that no one else wanted to). So I created a story for my friends and a world for their characters to live in. There was no planning involved, no preparation. We didn't have a Dungeon Master's Guide nor a Monster Manual. The four of us read the Player's Handbook, they rolled up characters, and I sat there thinking behind a screen of I-Spy books I had pulled from our bookshelf.
   As I'm sure you can imagine, when our game began it did not go very smoothly. Half of our session was spent consulting the Player's Handbook for rules which we later learned were to be found in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Most of the rules of the game were improvised. Any given creature they encountered was secretly just a 1st level fighter from the PHB dressed like a bugbear or a goblin, as I had not stats to create a monster with.

   Despite a clear lack of readiness and a ramshackled conglomeration of rules we'd made up on the fly, our first game was amazing. We stayed up through the night and played until the sun crept through the living room window (which, I admit, was incredibly strenuous as a first-time gamemaster), and had more fun than some of us had ever had before. We had created a living, breathing, somewhat ridiculous world newly enriched with stories of aspiring storm druids, treasonous blood magic, and doppelganger highwaymen.
   As the years progressed, I built layer upon layer onto this world that I had created. Kalgar, I decided to name it. The setting took its form as years of playing in this world shaped and molded Kalgar into what it is today. It became a sandbox to build upon and each campaign of players left a legacy to be discovered and explored by the next group. So, I had it on my heart to share this setting that my friends and I have created.


   The world of Kalgar is a vast one, home to countless beings. Many races have thrived and developed, since even before the longest spanning annals of written history. Many nations have developed throughout the world, some expanding and absorbing other nations, some oblivious to the existence of the borders outside their own. Great boundaries separate many of the great nations of Kalgar; mountains as tall as the sky gate regions off from the world beyond them and vast oceans separate lands with innumerable leagues of treacherous waters.

World in the Roil 

   In the early age, a great travesty altered the fundamental structure of Kalgar's existence. In Balthir, a kingdom on the continent of Caparice, a powerful cult of sorcerers known as the Animæus sought to expand the reaches of magic across Kalgar. The Animæus learned to augment their already potent abilities by tapping into the raw magical energies held within the planets leylines (great streams of raw energy that permeated the planet, bringing magic and energy to its inhabitants). The cult learned to combine powerful spells, break down arcane energy into it's base form, even imbue life with potent raw magic from the leylines. Led by a very powerful sorcerer, referred to by the cult only as the Essence, the Animæus opened a portal between the Material Realm, the Elemental Chaos, and the Astral Sea, using their combined bodies as conduits to siphon the energy from these planes into Kalgar's leylines. The magic surged through the planet causing violent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and city-sinking tsunamis.

   The world was thrown into chaos, and when the volatile magic reached the nexus of the world, where all the planet's leylines intercede, a great calamity erupted at the heart of Kalgar, tearing a hole into the Elemental Chaos. The world tore itself to pieces as boiling oceans, pillars of lava, and towering glaciers poured into the material world. Millions died during this tremendous event as the planet slowly repaired itself. In time, it reached an equilibrium. The rift into the elemental plane collapsed in on itself and the portal to the Astral Sea closed. The leylines adapted to the surging energy and created balance. 

   By shifting the Kalgar's celestial bodies in and out of the Astral Sea, the natural forces of the planet could prevent another surge of magical energy, using up the excess magic in the leylines with each shift. To the inhabitants of the world, this process had no effect on their lives, save for a churning surge of color and light that flooded the planet's skies with each shift in and out of the astral plane. This aurora-like effect came to be known as the Roil, named for the swirling, fantastic energies that now surround Kalgar's atmosphere as it shifts.


   As you can see, players can have a dramatic effect on the campaign world. Before my players got their hands on some powerful magic and got tricked into joining a cult, Kalgar was as normal as any other campaign setting. When you let your players shape the world as they play, great things can happen that enrich your setting more than you would have imagined.

   What do you think about the World in the Roil? Are you big on the high-fantasy heroics (if you are, feel free to steal borrow Kalgar or elements of it at your leisure) or do you prefer the gritty, down-to-earth campaigns? What unique elements have you come up with for a campaign setting? Comment, e-mail, hit me up on your preferred social media website and let me know!

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