The entire world is marked by what the scholars call the Darkness of Chaos. Once the diverse peoples of the world travelled widely in sailing ships and air ships, conversations spanned thousands of miles through linked scrying devices and, for a hefty but feasible cost, one could walk through magical portals from steamy southern jungles to frozen northern wastes. Now, communication has broken down and portal travel is often deadly and always risky. In the encroaching Chaos, small pockets of civilization hold their own but knowledge of what lay beyond one’s borders quickly becomes unreliable.
Solace is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Cascades, a steep mountain range that runs far to the north and even further to the south. Rivers and waterfalls riddle the peaks, hills and valleys – all of which are covered with spruce and evergreen. The lands west of the Blue Cascades were once rich and fertile, nourished by temperate weather and plentiful rain from a large ocean stretching into the setting sun. At one time, numerous small baronies and city-states flourished along the coast and in the river valleys. Many still remain while others have been abandoned or disappeared into the Chaos Darkness. Over the pass to the east lies a vast desert of hard earth and stone. Several large rivers cut through the land and many nomadic halflings once thrived there, but now tribes disappear in freak sandstorms never to be seen again while others, like the Dragonborn, show up from parts unknown.
Further north, the mountains are less severe but incredibly vast. It has been said that a massive dwarven kingdom stretches thousands of miles across the entire northern reaches of the continent. The Feywild merges into this realm on a large island kingdom north of the coast baronies. And a variety of small human cultures struggle in the wild frozen lands even further north, where the K’mo of Solace are said to have originated from. To the south, a great river delta divides the lands of the baronies from a grand kingdom called Regaonia, where the lands are said to be full of fertile fields and rolling hills. Por’theer, the capital of Regaonia, and Lestross, a city several thousands of miles to the east, were once two of the largest and most well-known cities of the world. What remains of them now is left to conjecture. The Cerulean Ocean lies off the western coast of the continent. Once somewhat peaceful and covered with numerous trade routes, volcanic islands and turbulent bursts of elemental water now create an effective barrier to seafaring. Until recently the desert lands to the east of the Blue Cascades were limited to the relatively small rain shadow of the mountain range, but it is now believed that they stretch east into lands once covered in prairies, rolling hills and vast rangelands.
There are many powerful forces in the world and beyond it – Earth, Time, Love, Chaos, Light, Darkness, and Honor, to name but a few. All of these elemental forces and mystical spirits play a part in the creation of the world, its continuing cycles and the living beings that inhabit it. All races, both civilized and monstrous, recognize and respect these fundamental forces. During the rise and fall of countless empires, the enlightened people of the world have learned to honor and utilize these powers. Many untold years ago, scholars identified eight forces that together governed nearly all aspects of life. Years of study and prayerful communion produced the Octogram.
Eight elements make up the Octogram. The Eight infuse everything in the world. Some revere these powers for wisdom, good health and well being. Others contact them for power and knowledge. Some special individuals in the world access these powers quite viscerally in heroic (or malevolent) ways, but by far and away, the most direct method of working with the spirits is a ritual. Most rituals require nothing more than a representative Octogram and an impassioned incantation. More refined rituals can actually imbue power into mundane items, grant visions of the future, or even bring the dead back to life. The Eight consist of four physical or manifest elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) and four virtual or fundamental elements (Death, Chance, Love and Time).