Kalder: Developing a Setting

William T. Thrasher

After a year running one-shot adventures and demos, I am at last in a position to run a full Dungeons & Dragons campaign for 5th Edition. One of the first decisions I had to make was to pick a campaign setting, but being ambivalent to the most readily available D&D settings, both current in print and classic out of print realms, I decided to get back into the habit and design a new setting just for this campaign. But it seems selfish to keep this world to myself and a small cadre of players, which is to say this is the first in a series of blog entries chronicling the creation of Kalder,  the realm of adventure where many heroes will spend the rest of their thrilling lives!

Kalder has everything you need for adventure: uncharted territory, ancient ruins filled with the secrets of a bygone age, and feuding nations in a rush to claim and exploit both. In Kalder the fate of the adventurers is in their own hands. The gods are distant, prophecies are rare and highly inaccurate, and most Chosen One’s die within their first year on the job. Most importantly, Kalder is two continents in one.

The heroic action in Kalder takes place on a frontier, a place vary much like the wild west but with swords and magic rather than sixguns and the usual manifest destiny. Let me back up.

Kalder was once a supercontinent, a single landmass on its own continental shelf populated by all the humans, elves, dragons, furry footed homebodies, and everything else you’d find in the highest of high fantasy worlds. A cataclysm broke the continental shelf in two, causing the eastern half of Kalder to sink into the ocean. People were displaced, ecosystems were irrevocably changed, and tsunamis devastated the coastlines of the world’s other continents. Both an elven empire and Kalder’s centers of culture and learning were on the eastern half, and all three were lost, plunging the western lands into a dark age. The dark age ended, as they often do, but West Kalder never ascended to the heights of its lost eastern counterpart.

Roughly 25 years before play begins, East Kalder emerged from the sea in another bout of natural disaster, bringing with it new fertile lands, rare natural resources, and ruins containing the art treasures and magics of a legendary age. The kingdoms and petty empires of West Kalder began a long campaign of expansion into the East, competing with each other and countless independently-minded settlers, prospectors, and explorers who wanted to be the first to tread this new, ancient land.

West Kalder isn’t alone in its designs on the East. Kings and queens from across the sea leer at the risen land with greedy eyes. The descendants of East Kalder’s ancient masters are still extant and eager to reclaim the land that is theirs by birthright. And East Kalder itself possesses its own secrets that could send would-be pioneers running screaming back to their homelands. All these things and more will be explored in future blog posts as we chronicle the development of Kalder and the heroes who will write the history of its new age.