What is Cambria?

Cambria is a massive homebrew fantasy world with a storied history and very heavy classic fantasy inspirations (Tolkien, Brooks, Pratchett, Lovecraft, Rothfuss, King, and many others). The campaigns which take place there follow a group of adventurers as they explore, overcome challenges, battle evil, and eventually carve out a place for themselves within the world. Cambria has been home to several campaigns over the years, changing each time to suit the themes of the campaign, but always building off of adventures that took place before. Those who have walked the lands of Cambria in past campaigns are in for something new, but will experience the results of their actions from the past.

Here are some important points about this campaign, which I feel separate it from others:

  • Care has been taken to flesh out the world as much as possible. There are many factions (over 80 in total as of this writing) and a very large cast of non-player characters that live in the world, with unique personalities and goals of their own.
  • My approach to Dungeon Mastering is centered around the characters of the world, as opposed to scripted events and trigger points. Characters respond realistically to each other as well as to what player characters do, creating a more realistic, immersive environment that is infinitely dynamic. Try as you may, you cannot derail or break a campaign run in this manner – but you CAN change it!
  • This is a SANDBOX! The world moves around you, and with you, but you are responsible for determining your own goals and direction. There are absolutely no rails here, only your imagination and the decisions you make.
  • This is a both low-magic and a high-magic setting. Magic, while commonplace, is simply not utilized by the average person, though some have access to such tremendous power that it reshapes the world. In the time of The Veilwood campaign, magic is openly practiced by those with training, and is taught by many universities across the world – though only some possess the aptitude to learn its secrets.
  • This is a realistic game where your choices matter and are reflected in the world around you. Random encounters simply don’t occur. Any fight you ever find yourself in is a product of cause and effect.
  • NPCs will react to you and your actions realistically and intelligently (for the most part). They will observe you and use those observations to gain the upper hand. They will avoid fights that they feel they cannot win, waiting for an opportunity to get to you when you are weakened or outnumbered.
  • Making allies in this setting is important, for even the greatest of warriors or wizards is no match against an entire army.
  • This setting harkens back to older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, when the game was much harder.
  • The Cambria setting is Rated R. We deal with adult themes in this setting. Death, graphic violence, sexual activity (though we don’t go all the way with this – that’s not the kind of game we run here), tragic loss, substance abuse, the horrors of war, slavery. We do not celebrate these things, but they are things you can expect for your character to encounter within the setting.

The World

Cambria is an amalgamation of purely homebrew works and those of other creators. The mainland of Oerik, for instance, is based on the same continent from Gary Gygax’s Oerth. There are also locations from the Forgotten Realms, the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and innumerable other sources that I have found to be inspiring over the years. Look closely enough and you’ll spot these references; sometimes they’re obscure, and sometimes they’re quite in your face. That said, this world is not their world, it is your world and it is a unique creation, with its own people, mechanics, and aesthetic.

Cambria has five major continents: The mainland of Oerik, which represents over 70% of the planet’s total land mass and covers a wide array of different biomes, from arctic to desert and everything in between; the continent of Antaria, a vast wilderness, filled with ruins of once great civilizations, located south of the eastern side of Oerik; the continent of Borea, a tooth-shaped continent located to the northeast of Oerik, with an interesting mix of biomes similar in range to the mainland; Hyperboria, the massive glacial lands that encompass Cambria’s north pole; and, Polara, the large glacial lands that encompass Cambria’s south pole.

Click here to see the world map, featuring the national borders of the major factions.

A political map of Cambria, showing many of the major factions. Click the image for a larger version. Note: This map was made for a previous campaign and the political aspects of it do NOT apply to The Veilwood campaign!

Recent History

Our current campaign, The Veilwood, takes place approximately 900 years prior to our first adventure in Borea (which resulted in an event known to Cambria veterans as The Fall).

The starting year is 1313 13R, or the 1313th year of the 13th rotation. The world is quite different from what recent players will remember. Magic use is commonplace and is openly taught in universities across the globe; bustling markets are filled with wares from every corner of the known world and beyond, and their patrons represent a shocking diversity of species and culture; and, quite unlike later times in the setting, dragons are numerous and can be found almost everywhere.

Technology

The technology level on Cambria during our campaign is equivalent to the high middle ages, bolstered somewhat by the presence of magic.

The People

The population of Cambria looks very different from what you may be used to in other D&D settings. Humans represent well over two thirds of Cambria’s population. The other third is comprised of what most refer to as demi-humans, humanoid cousins to Cambria’s largest population. These demi-humans include elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, and a variety of other, lesser-known species. Second in number to the humans and demi-humans are the dragons of the world, with equal diversity in size, shape and colour. Most dragons are highly intelligent with their own language and a rich, ancient culture. Many dragons have integrated with the rest of society where they can be found leading nations, running businesses, and furthering the advancement of knowledge and science. All dragons possess the ability to shape-shift, so one may not even know they are in the presence of such a creature!

Languages

The most common spoken languages across Cambria are those spoken by its human inhabitants. Some of these languages are:

  • Flan – The language spoken by the Flannae people, the original inhabitants of the Flanaess. Flan is similar to Ojibwe.
  • Bakluni – The language spoken by the Baklunish people, this language is similar to Arabic.
  • Borean – Borean has been adopted by merchants the world over and has become the international language of trade. Borean is similar to Modern English and is the campaign’s “common” language, available to all player characters.
  • Dwarven – The language of the Dwarves. Though different regional dialects exist, it is generally understandable among Dwarven speakers. Dwarven is similar to Scottish Gaelic.
  • Iokharic – Also known as “Draconic,” Iokharic is the language of dragons. It is also used as a scholarly language in universities, taught to academics across the globe. Most verbal magic utilizes Iokharic. Iokharic utilizes its own special script and is similar High Valyrian, the fictional language from Game of Thrones.
  • Norse – The language spoken by the people of the northern climates of Borea. Norse is similar to Icelandic.
  • Oerid – The language spoken by the Oeridian peoples and the second most common language spoken on the eastern half of the mainland. Oerid is subdivided into two primary dialects: Eastern Oerid, which is similar to French; and Western Oerid, which is similar to German. There are other dialects that have formed over the years, such as the Keoland Oerid, which is similar to Spanish.
  • Olmanish – The language spoken by the peoples native to the jungles of Hepmonland and Chult. Olmanish is similar to Nahuatl.
  • Rhen – Spoken by the transient Rhennee, Rhen is similar to Romani.
  • Sindarin – The language spoken by the Elves and some of their descendents. This language is similar Sindarin, created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Suel – Spoken by the nomadic Suloise of the north-central mainland of Oerik. Suel is similar to Norwegian.
  • Tian – Spoken by the Tian people with several distinct dialects. The Tian language is similar to Japanese.
  • Touv – The language of the Touv people, native to southern Hepmonland. Touv is similar to Swahili.

There are other languages spoken throughout the world, of course, such as the “racial” languages of the various species.

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