The World of Kaladon
Kaladon is a fairly small continent located in the northern hemisphere of its planet, which has several other known, but remote land masses that are realms of mystery for all but the best travelled explorers from Kaladon. Kaladon is broken into twelve nations, most of which have been established for an extended period of time. However while each nation has an established area and borders that are reasonably well recognized by other nations, each of them is also home to wild and hostile elements to a greater or lesser degree.
On one end of the scale Abarael was once an established and civilised nation but following the cataclysm that befell it just thirty years ago has become a wilderness home to alien creatures that have destroyed all but the smallest remnants of the previous nation, leaving a wild and dangerous place that even experienced adventurers fear to cross. On the other end Lothiya is a well established monarchy, where the rule of law is strongly enforced throughout the nation (though the uncertainty of the succession to the Sapphire Throne means that civil war threatens), but even there wilder lands can be found where goblin bandits and marauding ogres can plague the ordinary villagers.
Kaladon has over the course of the past centuries been ruled over by dragon overlords, witnissed the Scale Plague that devastated all reptilian life on the continent, conquered by marauding hordes of hobgoblins, invaded and enslaved by the diabolical forces of Hell, united under a magocratic hegemony and descended again into chaos following the cataclysm that destroyed Abarael and let aberrations lose on the world. In recent times this has led to nations turning in to themselves, reducing though not eliminating diplomatic relations.
Themes on Kaladon
Kaladon has over the past two centuries been invaded twice by other worldly forces, first a Prince of Hell and more recently the aberrations that destroyed Abarael. Planar boundaries are ‘thin’ here compared with in some worlds and the intent is for characters to be able to cross into other worlds relatively easily – in some cases without even realizing that they have done so. Both the Feywild and the Shadowfell can be crossed into just by passing through a suitable entranceway, stepping through the door of a crypt in the witching hour, or passing between twinned trees lit by the full moon. Other realms can also be reached, such as the elemental plane of Ice from the glacial ice caves high in the Eiscairn Mountains or the cursed city of Caled. This provides a means for anyone creating stories in Kaladon to quickly and easily move their characters into a suitable location for that story.
Certain regions of Kaladon are particularly appropriate for this form of planar crossing. Saulendor is more closely linked to the Shadowfell, while Tyllost is closely linked to the Feywild. The Grimwood of Mythran is also linked the Feywild – in particular to the darkest parts of that realm. However even in places that are more generally linked to a one plane it is possible that specific locations could provide links to other locations… even in Saulendor there are woods that could link to the Feywild – though they are likely to link to grimmer parts of it.
If using Kaladon as a gaming location, once players are aware of this aspect of the world any attempts they make to make use of it should be encouraged. They should not be able to abuse the privilege or (too easily) find links that make no sense (links to the plane of Fire while in the frozen glaciers), but where it can enhance a story it should at least be considered.
The Gods of Kaladon
There are twelve gods ruling the heavens over Kaladon, gods that are universally accepted as existing and as the creators of Kaladon. The four Lords and Ladies of the Heavens each rule over a season, Fera over spring, Lymos over summer, Reaper over autumn, and Thanis over winter. Each is supported by two lesser deities , who are always of the opposite sex to their primary. Thus the pantheon overall consists of six female and six male deities. Each of The Twelve presides over a given month, rotating their ascendancy through the year in an ongoing cycle.
None of the deities has an alignment as mortals would comprehend it. They are beyond such characterisation, embodiments instead of particular concepts and representing those concepts across the spectrum of mortal morality. Thus Lymos, Lord of Summer and God of Sun, War and Prejudice is worshiped both by Holy Paladins resplendent in shining armour and fighting for the freedom of a nation, and also by villainous ogres reveling in war, or puritanical dragonborn seeking to destroy all non-reptilian life and return Kaladon to the dragon lords of old. And Thanis Lord of Death is worshiped both by the cleric seeking to destroy all Undead (granting restful repose to the dead) and the necromancer seeking to raise an army of zombies to do his bidding. As a result of this it is in fact common to find that opposing forces in any given conflict worship different aspects of the same deity.
In general the majority of folk (including many adventurers) do not focus their worship on a single deity, preferring instead to worship the Pantheon as a whole. Most common pagodas are run by priests that have no preference for any given deity, and worship each in their turn, offering prayers to Fera in childbirth, asking Thanis to watch over the souls of the dead, thanking Reaper for a good harvest, etc. Some individuals do dedicate themselves more to a single deity than all the others, but in most cases even they will still pray to other gods at appropriate times – no matter how much you dedicate yourself to Fera the Lady of Life and Lust, few would offer funeral prayers to her.
One effect of the nature of the gods is that there are numerous religions on Kaladon, each with a different focus in regards to how to worship The Twelve and how important each of The Twelve is within the pantheon. Some of these religions focus on certain gods or groups of gods, either as an exclusive form of worship or simply with an emphasis on that particular deity. The Rockwardens of Alfaris know well that Alfaris was the first and so is the eldest of the gods, and venerate him for that position and to ensure the Dawn comes and the Earth remains stable, however they continue to pray to the other deities, even while remaining focussed on Alfaris. By contrast The Summer Knights are entirely dedicated to Lymos, Kin and Beya and consider all other deities to be inferior. The most fervent of the Summer Knights consider the winter deities to be evil beings and are working, albeit secretively, to overthrow the Theocracy in Clidair and replace it with the ‘true’ Church of Light .