Merika (3.5e Campaign Setting)

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Theme & Mood[edit]

Swords & Sixguns

The Merika campaign setting is a little different than some. It is a dark mix of post-apocalyptic, western, and fantasy genres. It is "Sixgun Fantasy" not "steampunk". It's part spaghetti western, part gritty swords and sorcery. It's about black hats and revolvers, black magic and monsters, factories belching smoke into an otherwise pristine sky, and those wonderful morally grey antiheroes from the classics like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian.

Railroads & Pocketwatches

Unlike many "fantasy" realms the people of this world are not stuck firmly in medieval times, mired in the pursuit of magic, and neglecting what one can do with bare hands and ingenuity. Men have been laboring steadily to regain that which they lost in the during the Great Fall. The level of tech is a major portion of the setting's flavor. Railroads are beginning to criss-cross the land again, dangerous men are as likely to wield revolvers as long swords, and the wealthy might even have running water and gas lights. Civilization is more than ready to embrace the new ideas and abilities presented by science and leave behind the superstition and danger associated with magic and it's practitioners.

In the Republic technology has given rise to a love of education and the proliferation of information, in the Imperium it is just another method of control used by the Ecclesiarchs to control their flock.

Magic is Frightening

Most common folk are afraid of magic. It is unpredictable. It must be appeased before it can be harnessed. It is an art. The formulas don't always work and the rules are always changing. Not everyone has the potential, and the ones that do often abuse it. Anyone can make use of science with a bit of education, and that is comfortable. Magic takes equal parts inborn talent and raw ambition to harness with any skill. It's rules change on the fly and in the wrong hands it can take hold of a body and warp flesh or addle the mind. An unpracticed user is likely to cause a lot of damage before it consumes him.

There's also all the unnatural things given birth by magic, the strange monsters in the wilds, the things that creep through the dark in the city's sewers. There's dead things up and walking, warlocks making pacts with creatures from other worlds, infernals whispering dark promises in the ears of any who will listen, and rumors of dark things that steal children in the night. Magic is not to be trusted.

Whose Side Are You On?

Shades of grey is a major theme of the setting. The bad guys may be bastards, but even the good guys have something to hide. There may be two sides to every fight, but they can both be wrong... or right. Everyone has a motive behind what they do, and that motive is as important as the deed itself. You can't trust someone just because they are wearing the white hat.

Take the trouble brewing between the Imperium of Man and the Republic. In many campaigns these two nations could be the "good guys", one is a pious nation ruled and policed by Clerics and Paladins and the other a Democracy peopled by ambitious capitalists and gritty frontiersmen, but they're about to go to war mostly because of intolerance and greed. Which side will the heroes choose to support when they're both in the wrong and no mustache-twirling villain can be found to blame? The choices that come from these sorts of conflicts, and trying to stick to your own set of morals while navigating these sticky situations, are a big part of the fun.

Ancient History[edit]

The Rise of Science

A very long time ago this world was much like ours. Only men lived in the cities and the other races were nowhere to be found. These men were masters of the World thanks to science. Their science built cities and cured disease. In the name of their science they gathered information about all manner of things and forged weapons that could destroy a nation from a thousand miles away. Then one day their science tore a hole in the world and let magic in.

The Barrier Between

A small group of great minds built a machine. No one knows what it was intended for, but it weakened that which kept this world separate from the others. They experimented as humans are wont to do and they learned to punch holes through the Barrier Between on command.

At first they brought small things through - objects and curios. They studied what they found and remarked on how odd it all seemed. They made notes of strange energies from the other worlds and their interest was piqued. They opened larger holes and found the first signs of life, creatures alien to them, who sometimes sickened and died as soon as the holes were closed.

Then one day they found the Outer Dark. Some thing came through that was terrible and unlike anything they had seen before. Many men died but in the end their weapons defeated it and their science closed the doorway between worlds. They should have learned their lesson then, but did not. They resolved to be more careful and their work continued. Such is the nature of men.

During all their experiments the scientists never imagined that they might not also be gazed upon by that which they studied.

The Shattering

Not so long after the beast something else come through the Barrier Between. As they began the process to punch a hole through the wall that held the other worlds separate something began pushing from the other side. This dual force strained the fragile fabric of reality. It was far too late that they came to understand the danger that they faced. The wall was torn asunder.

The Barrier is Broken, the World Follows

Like shattering glass the Barrier split along a million faults. Magic spilled forth into the world. Things came through. The Earth shook with the fury of what had been done. Many men died. Other men where changed and the great cities of man fell. Society crumbled. In places whole countries vanished and were replaced with alien lands from other realities. Much of man's Science was taken from him as the laws it was built on flowed like melted wax.

From Ashes

The world that was left after the Great Fall was broken. The Barrier Between is thin even now,to this day things still trickle through). Much of mankind has been warped and changed by the energies now permeating the world. Man and beast alike have been warped by the energies coursing through the aether and they now share the world with alien things from far places. Science was all but lost. Magic had taken root in the land.

But mankind is a resilient race and they began to rebuild. They learned to use magic and salvaged a bit of what they once knew. Civilization was born anew. Cities grew up from the bones of refugee camps and the world moved on.

For Players[edit]

  • Character Creation Rules: This section outlines the character creation rules and house rules used in the current campaign I plan on setting in this world.
  • Firearms & Other Equipment: Sixguns, Rifles, pocket watches and wide brimmed hats... What every hero needs to be properly outfitted before traveling into the wilderlands.
  • Cosmology & Religion: The world in which Merika is found has a distinct cosmology and there are a host of cults and religions practiced by its residents.
  • Magic & the Supernatural: Some notes on how magic affects the world and how it is perceived by the common folks. This section also touches on ways things are different from standard settings.

The Setting[edit]

  • Timeline: A timeline covering some major events of the last millenia.
  • Commerce, Technology, & Trade: As the burgeoning nations of Merika claw their way into an industrial awakening trade and commerce flourishes in some places and stalls in others. Learn more about the details of steam, coin, and tech.
  • Geography & Nations: Learn about the interesting features of Merika and the Nations that populate the continent.
  • Monsters & Beasts: Monsters and creatures, some new and some different, that prowl the world.

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