In much the same way that once you have a group of people who want to play together assembled and you have a session zero, it should be noted that there are some core assumptions about this game setting that you should know.
Wyrlde is a place where the Characters – you – are heroes. They may be epic, they may be anti-, they may be reluctant, they may be all in, but they are heroes. They chose to become something more than ordinary, something more than average and typical, someone who seeks glory, fortune, honor, and whatever else in the world that they live in.
Wyrlde’s structure prioritizes improvisational roleplay, making it an RP heavy setting. This can take a bit of getting used to as the characters come from a world the players may not know that well. This is why there is so much information presented about the world itself.
Wyrlde’s underlying premise is “Horrific (Science) Fantasy”, with the parenthesis around the part that can mean magic, can mean physics, can mean all manner of things, including the history of the world. It is a place where the apocalypses are over, but there were several of them, and they have scarred the people. Wyrlde is also entirely within a sacred space – the rules of our universe not only do not apply to it, but they are also often defied by it.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”Helen Keller
It is a world that is filled with humor, references to pop culture, and emphasizes improvisation over formal planning. It can be an intense game, and there is a strong goal of having you try things that are heroic, that are all in or bust, and be aware and ready for the consequences of it. There are mature themes, a high degree of moral and ethical ambiguity, and even elements of racism and classism built into the game – but they are not Earth’s version of those things. Above all else, Wyrlde is a separate world, that does not share the history of Earth, and does not represent or speak to issues of Earth. Even the archetypes used in creating it are archetypes grounded in the world itself.
To say that the game uses “modern thinking” or “medieval thinking” ignores the nature of the world – Wyrlde is set in a place that is over a thousand years from now, in a place so far removed from Earth that nothing compares – so it is a world where people may understand things like advanced agricultural practices or have regular crops that are genetically modified versions of present-day ones. They will sound a lot like us but be people of their place and time.
Lastly, Wyrlde as a campaign will involve hack and slash, comedy and humor, horror and action, mystery and procedural, and cross all the boundaries of genre – yet still be grounded in a world that is actively being kept at a certain state of growth and development by capricious and intent Powers.
Powers that are very much present and real in the day-to-day lives of those who live there.
This book will assume that you are going to use the Setting described herein. The setting has been created specifically for this world, and all the parts were all designed together, sometimes bottom up, sometimes top down, sometimes in a crazed spiral with a thousand detours.
This book can be used with other settings and other adventures and even other game rules. It operates on a variant of a common system, and so can work well in other places. If you do use other systems, note that there are Seven Mortal Planes, and this book will only deal with one of them: The Ephemeral Dimension of the Plane of Mortality.
You are completely free to set entirely new campaigns on any of the Mortal Planes – they are all reflections of the Ephemeral, all some variant of it, and so the information remains. The default straight 5e campaign for Wyrlde takes place on Yrthe, the Mortal Realm of the Celestial Plane.
There are many different beings whose mere whimsy or furious rage can have an unforeseen impact on the world. They come in many sorts and types: The Powers That Be, The Old Ones, The Powers of the World, and the Spirits of the World.
The Powers That Be will tell you that they oversee the world. They are many, but most are not personifications of something, or manifestations of some idea or concept. They are just as likely to strike down an unbeliever with a lightning bolt as they are to grant them some grand and terrible power.
When they send a message, it could be in person, it could involve a messenger, it might be in the form of a sequence of events, it could be dreams, omens, portents, and signs. It is always through the presence of magic granted to Clerics of various sorts. They created the Planes, and their progeny dwell within them. The Powers did not create Humans, but they shaped humans into all the other major peoples.
The Powers betrayed the people once, and this betrayal has them struggling to win back the people who have turned from them. Despite all their power, they did not make Humans. The Powers That Be are not omnipotent, omniscient, or ineffable.
The Old Ones are exceptionally Ancient Gods who were long forgotten, their names and powers and ways blended and shifted until they were erased by other, newer stories, but here on Wyrlde they found a conduit, even though their names are long forgotten. It remains a question as to if they were the ones that created Humans, but no longer has any real meaning. They are served by some Shamans, who honor and recognize them. The Old Ones are ineffable, inscrutable, and very much unable to have direct impact on the world as a whole.
The Powers of the World are seven very strange people who represent some aspect of the World’s Soul, and who were inadvertently made far more powerful by the actions of the Powers That Be. The foremost among them is a woman called Chicory.
Lastly but of great everyday importance, there are the Spirits of the World. These are manifestations of the will and presence of the World itself, a particular place, a kind of space. They range from the Numen to the Dryads and Naiads, and on to the rest. Some are said to be the spirits of ancestors, others are said to be more akin to elementals or perhaps the Fae. Shamans are intimately familiar with all of them.
In terms of the System, The Powers that Be are all Greater Deities, The Old Ones are Vestiges, there are Quasi-deities who have power even over the Powers upon the Material Plane and within The Mortal Plane, and the Planes themselves are filled with Demigods and Denizens and their descendants and creations. Most significantly is that every plane has a duplicate dimension seven times over, with the People there subject to those being as if they were Powers themselves.
Immense City States hold most of the population in each realm. Dependent Towns supply and assist them. Villages, Hamlets, Steadings, and camps dot the countryside, the people their doing their best to carve out livings in a place where horror, raids, and more mundane terrors can happen. The world does not have huge populations. In between all of these places there are the occasional ruin, there are bandits and brigands, pirates and the desperate, small Lemurian outposts with Goblins or Thyrs or Grendels, there are Imps everywhere, even in the cities and towns, and they are the masters of the Underdark, an entire massive realm larger than any other that lies a mile or more beneath the surface.
Between these places travel Merchants, always in armed and guarded caravan of wagons, or using the Skyships or the Train, or the Riverboats or Ships. Lone travelers fear bandits, often derived from destroyed steadings or hamlets, and the worst that could happen is being waylaid by a Dragon or a Beholder.
The Boonies are not a safe place, and to help make it safer there are those who seek to protect and defend the world, as well as those who seek to end the threats and promote trade. And beyond them are the folks who have a desire to make a living, get rich, build skill, and experience the world.
They are called Adventurers. They are Clerics and Paladins and Shrinewards, Envoys and Corsairs, Rangers and Gunslingers, Bards and Shamans, Mystics and Monks, Reeves and Outlaws, Vanguards and Warriors, Sorcerers and Warlocks, Witches and Wizards.
Lest we forget them, there are also Merchants, Physics, Sages, and Oracles who support them in their ongoing effort to make the world a better place and get something out of it for themselves. It never does to forget the folks who help us survive.
The world we are most familiar with now is about 1500 years old. There is around 1500 years of stuff before that, with a third of that time spent in a war that was waged among the Powers That Be with people as the fodder for it. That time, called The God’s War, is when and where the Elfin were created, the Dwarfs came to be. It filled the world with monsters and brought Magic to the world. The remainders of the world that was lie in ruins, and there are many of them, and the shape of the world as it is now is not the shape of the world as it was then. Ruins found on one continent may have been built and new upon another.
Despite being old and despite sharing some things in common with many other worlds, it is not them. The things you know from different worlds are not true here, and if they are it is mentioned in the following. There were no Druids in groves here, there were no ancient Tibetan masters, and the armorers of this world are people who learned their craft in ways different from those of yours. There is a wealth of history, but it is Wyrlde’s history, not that of someplace else.
This is a world that has seen disasters of a magnitude unimaginable, and still perseveres. It is a world where it has ended several times. It is a world where that which was is as unknown and unfathomable as what is would have been to those who walked it as the Ancients of yore.
Wyrlde as a plane orbits a star that is in the yolk position within an ovoid space (egg shaped) that contains the entirety of all of creation. The “shell” is called The Firmament. There is nothing beyond it, and it cannot be pierced. Embedded in the firmament are brightly lit balls of fire called stars.
The God’s War is not the only conflict that shaped history The hundred years after it were filled with surviving disasters and raids on the rag tag survivors, with some breaking away and others never even knowing there had been an end. Later conflict among people led to the creation of new cities, and the developing idea that it was a great and grand Empire, but even that idea is fraught – and the Gods meddle in everything. The sky itself fell, not once, but twice, and brought with it destruction and change on a grand scale.
There are entire peoples who sole purpose is to restore the order from before the God’s War, to return the vanquished and to conquer the world. Others seek to only build their own realms, and force others into service to them. There is always conflict here, and the forces that shape it are both similar and yet not like what you may know as a player. Here there are no savage and uncivilized people, no mindless hordes. There is no Elfin homeland, no Dwarfin stronghold, and yet there are still ills that followed the people here, and linger, fester, and hopefully will be overcome. Here there is a reason for everything, but that reason is not one mortals usually know.
In the present Era, the tension between the Empire of Lemuria and the Empire of Sibola is a roiling and seething bitter opposition that finds its truest expression int eh Crusades, where land neither wants is fought over with a ferocity and savagery that cannot be overstated.
History says that over a thousand years ago, at the Cataclysm that presaged the end of the God’s War, magic entered the world and suffused everything – but not everyone can use it. Indeed, most people are outright terrified of it. Magic is an uncontrolled thing, and no one knows who may have the ability and who may not. Magic altered the world in ways which no one fully understands, not even those who have had it the longest: The Powers That Be.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the workings of Imps and Wizards, in the ruins of the ancients warped and changed by the release of magic, in the cunning cruelty of Thyrs Clerics dedicated to the service of old Bill Lyle.
Magic is not something that is inherited, either. For some reason it always skips at least one generation, and this has meant that great Wizards and mighty Sorcerers have no direct family heirs. There are rumors of a different kind of power that has come into the world, and there are many kinds of magic, as well: Arcane, Divine, Eldritch, Mystical, Primal – it is a long list, but all of them follow the rules of Magic, which are determined as ever by the power of the Pale, from whence all magic comes.
Wyrlde is inhabited by People. People is a broader term for the different kinds of beings that live in the world. Here, things are very different from other worlds you may have heard of. The Powers may not have created Humanity, but they have absolutely changed it.
Humans are the most populous, most in power, most common and typical and present of the People. They have mostly shades of brown for eyes, hair, and complexion in coloring, and are typically noted for a lower variance of height and weight than we are, five and a half to six and a half feet tall (66 to 78 inches tall). It is from Humans that all the others are descended, hence the terms for them.
Demihumans are descended from a small set of Houses during the God’s War, each changed by the Powers they served.
Humanoids are descended from a small set of Tribes during the God’s War, each changed by the Powers they served.
Semihumans come from a union within two generations with a Planar being.
Collectively, all these beings are called The People, even though many humanoids would never acknowledge that, and many humans and demihumans would agree. Perhaps the one place they can all get along.
Humanoid is not based on what they look like, but on what they come from. So, Fairy beings and the creatures of the planes and dimensions are not Humanoid or Demihuman – though they are Denizens.
In the ages since the God’s War, there has been a change in the peoples. Following the last Skyfall, among all of the Human and Humanoid sorts, there are new and strange hair colors, and eye colors, and even complexions that have emerged.