I am using a custom campaign setting for my planned upcoming Pathfinder campaign. The setting is a world called Meier, which is experiencing an age of exploration. You see, until quite recently, everyone believed the world was a dome. Everyone knew that there were only two continents forming a ring around the world, and then an infinite sea to the south. But it turns out that there’s a whole chain of islands down south! They’re full of riches, monsters, and strange magic. And that was before explorers from the Old World started colonizing it, introducing civilization, war, and pirates — sorry, privateers — to the savage natives. I’ll talk about the New World more later. Let me tell you about the Old World first…
The “Old World” consists of two continents, Occident and Orient. They’re both long in the east-west direction, with about 800 miles of ocean between the east cost of Orient and the west cost of Occident, and another 800 miles of ocean between the east coast of Occident and the west coast of Orient. The two continents form a band around the northern part of the planet. It is incorrect to speak of one of these as being “East” and one as being “West,” because the conventionally agreed-upon Prime Meridian bisects both continents. The Orient is about 50% larger than the Occident (so the Occident goes 2/5 the way around, and the Orient goes 3/5 the way around). Historically, the Orient and the Occident have enjoyed peaceful relations with each other as far as it goes. Wars are much more common between powers on the same continent.
The Old World is very well explored and mapped, although information on the other continent is always sketchy at best. Conventional wisdom, until recently, was that the world is a dome of infinite size, all of which is water except for the very tip (where the continents are). The fact that the sun and moon goes around the world was well-established. The very top of the dome is called the Apex of the World, and is known to be dangerously cold. It was presumed that the more south you go, the hotter it gets. The sun is to the south, so that makes sense. In many languages, the words for “hot” and “South” are related.
This campaign focuses on the Occidental side of the world. Here’s a bit of Occidental history:
Occident was last unified about 800 years ago by an empire called Gideon. (Little is known about history before Gideon, except that at some time or another there was a civilization called Idiya in the western part of the continent.) At its height, Gideon stretched all the way from east to west, with only a few barbaric tribes holding out along the southern peninsulae. It was a democracy early in its history, but fell to became an empire, and later a theocracy. It eventually collapsed, splitting due to religious differences that were soon forgotten.
The next 400 years are ill-remembered. It was a period of near constant conflict; Occident was home to hundreds of different nation-states at war with one another. hese wars ended all at once about 450 years ago with the coming of the Age of Pact. Four great nations rose rapidly and at the same time, each conquering the nations around it until it could truly be called a Kingdom. These four kingdoms expanded their borders until they pressed against each other. Then they stopped. They signed a four-way peace treaty called the Pact; this was a major event in history, and the Occidental Calendar (OC) uses the year of the Pact signing as year zero. (It is currently OC 449. In Oriental Reckoning (OR) it is OR 1389.)
Today those four great kingdoms still exist, but the peace between been has been broken multiple times. The Pact, heavily edited, now serves as a foundation for international law, including the laws of war, but not as any sort of peace treaty. Still, all four sides abide by the rules of the Pact strictly. These rules call for chivalry amongst the nations, and provide for such things as rules of engagement, treatment of prisoners, the rights of captured cities, how to negotiate truces, et cetera.
Okay, that’s old history. Now here’s something a little more recent — a discovery that changed the world!
In OC 315, an Gardian explorer named Boca Freemund set sail to the south with two great ships, the Dayflower and the Saintly Whale. He claimed to have received a divine vision to go south, seeking a land untouched by civilization. This claim is of questionable veracity, and nobody from Gard was willing to fund his voyage of discovery. He was forced to go to rival nation Arcland for the gold. Eventually winning over the queen of Arcland and getting his two ships, he sailed south and finally discovered a chain of islands hitherto unknown to anyone in the Occident or the Orient. The climate in these islands was tropical, and the natives savage. There were also vast, untapped deposits of gold, platinum, and other rare metals, not to mention strange spices and magics.
These islands, now named the Bocans or Bocan Islands after their discoverer, are located about two months’ travel south of Occident, at about the Prime Meridian. All four Occidental powers have claimed the Bocan Islands, or at least some of them. No Oriental power has laid claim to any part of the islands, although explorers from that land have come to the Bocans. Ironically, Boca Freemund himself wasted away from a disease indigenous to the islands, and died cursing the tropics and wishing he’d been a farmer.
Next post on this subject will be an account of the four nations of the Occident: Gard, Arcland, Lasant, and Urst.