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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the setting [Kalamar] like? What makes it unique?

A. Kingdoms of Kalamar is a medieval fantasy setting fundamentally based on realism. Its recent history encompasses the proliferation of six human races (subraces really, since they're all human) throughout the world of Tellene. It also includes all the standard fantasy races of D&D like elves and dwarves and a few new ones unique to Kalamar like half-hobgoblins. In fact, full-blooded hobgoblins are also a prevalent civilized race with their own independent kingdoms.

The most advanced societies use steel including plate armor, and can fashion complex siege weapons. Less advanced groups may still be using bronze or even stone tools. There is no gunpowder. Then again, who needs gun powder when you've got magic? Magic exists, and certainly influenced the history of the world but wizards and sorcerers are not overly common and the average person accepts most unusual or seemingly inexplicable events as the work of one of the gods, rather than arcane magic. In smaller communities, the townsfolk easily confuse wizards and especially sorcerers with clerics, and misconstrue arcane spells as miracles or portents of the gods.

In fact, the pantheon of deities is one of the aspects of the Kingdoms of Kalamar that makes it unique. Just reading the pantheon of Kalamaran deities gives inspiration for untold gaming sessions and adventures to both players and Dungeon Masters alike.

Q. How is the Campaign Setting sourcebook different from the previous Kalamar box set from years back?

A. The new campaign setting supplement has about 50% more material. Nearly every city on the map has been added to, the art has been updated, and the overall presentation is much slicker with a 272-page hardcover book format. There are also a few new goodies like new spells, new armor types, reworked rune sets and languages, new races for player characters, and much more.

The maps are about the same size, but they're a bit brighter, with some minor modifications. They include a compass rose and legend as well as a few other nifty features. And at 272 pages, the book weighs in much heavier than the 188 pages from the last edition. In any case, we think this product is a great buy. We've added so much and after seven years, we only inched the price up $5.

Q. What does 'based on realism' mean? How does that make the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting different from other settings, like the Forgotten Realms?

A. Based on realism means that the geography, climate and political interactions follow logical patterns based on previous events. Kalamar is not as dramatically low on magic as Harn, but most inhabitants of the world aren't exposed to magic on a routine basis. This lets the DM tailor the world to his or her own magic taste. It's easy to sprinkle in more magic if that's the way you like to play, but it can be more difficult to take magic out if an entire society or town is based on some magical element.

Realism also means that the world was built from the bottom up. We considered plate tectonics, placed mountains based on that, set weather patters and bodies of water, defined migration patterns of early inhabitants and eventually developed the modern societies all in a logical progression. We can contrast this with Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. My understanding of these settings is that they were based on D&D campaigns of Gary Gygax and Ed Greenwood. The players probably started somewhere and the world grew out from there as the DMs needed to fill in the details. This type of top down world is fine if that's the way you want to play but it can lead to some logical inconsistencies. For example, Kalamar has six human races, each with their own language. Thus, each place that race populates should be named in the language of the people who live there. An exception to this would be if the place was conquered. The place name is often renamed by the victors.

Q. What about changes in terms of terms of politics, geography and monster ecology, etc?

A. The politics of the setting haven't changed greatly. This is primarily because we don't advance the timeline. However, we have detailed many more of the cities. This brings with it a whole slew of subplots of regional politics as they relate to the larger politics of the different nations and regions. There are also several new independent cities (particularly in the Reanaaria Bay area) that add possibilities for subplots to the overall politics of the region. The geography is essentially the same as before, although we did some work on the map to make it stand out even more. The monster ecology was intentionally pretty loose in the earlier editions of Kalamar books. This was done so we could focus on the interactions of the people of the world and let individual gamemasters determine how to sprinkle the world with monsters to suit their own campaign. However, with each new release that supports the core book, fans get more and more specifics on what monsters inhabit different regions - particularly with the supplement Dangerous Denizens: the Monsters of Tellene.

Q. What about the sun? The moon, planets, etc?

A. Tellene's sun is yellow, much like Earth's. Here is an excerpt from the book on celestial bodies:

"Orbiting Tellene are three moons: Diadolai (Elven Moon), Pelselond (Big Star) and Veshemo (Mother Above). Diadolai is the smallest of the three moons and is reddish-pink in color. It is on an 80 day cycle from full moon to full moon. For most of the 80 day period, however, Diadolai does not appear in the nighttime sky. Because of its size (about 1/3 the size of Veshemo), Diadolai does not give off much light, even when full. The elves believe Diadolai to be the home of the gods.

Pelselond is a small moon as well, appearing only slightly larger than Diadolai. Pelselond's full moon cycle is approximately 34 days and it usually appears white or off-white in color. Pelselond has an elliptic orbit and therefore, appears to be moving at varying speeds across the sky.

Veshemo is the largest of the three moons and occasionally eclipses the other moons from view. It is on a 28 day cycle, which is the basis for the calendar that most of Tellene uses. On the 14th of every month Veshemo is full; but being pale yellow in color, Veshemo gives off only slightly more light than Pelselond.

Every 280 years the three moons are aligned and full simultaneously. This event is recognized, but not necessarily celebrated, by almost every religion on Tellene. Veshemo and Diadolai are full together on various days in a 20 year cycle. Veshemo and Pelselond as well as Pelselond and Diadolai are full together at least once per year. Veshemo, Pelselond and Diadolai align or are full concurrently once every few years in a 40 year cycle. Two of the moons are in alignment several times a year.

The Brightstar: Another star exists only about half a light year away from Tellene's. It is a double star with its twin being a black hole. The two rotate around each other so this very bright star slowly disappears and then reappears. Some hold that the two stars influence good and evil. While the Brightstar shines goodwill prospers, but when it dims, evil reigns supreme."

The chapter on celestial bodies also details 30 constellations (with art) among other celestial features.

Q. So what is the "feel" of Kalamar?

A. Good question. As you'll see in the first answer above, the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting is medieval fantasy, with geography, politics and such based on realism. This lets the DM determine exactly what feel he or she desires. Tellene features elements common to many popular fantasy works, including J.R.R Tolkien's Middle-Earth from "the Lord of the Rings," Robert E. Howard's Hyboria, from the Conan stories, and the land of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, among others.

The feel of the land depends mostly on what region the player characters are in. For example, the Reanaaria Bay region is standard fantasy common to most other settings, where the human and humanoid races trade among each other and the enemies are mostly bandits, pirates and monsters. Most other lands, however, do not share this view of life. In the Kingdom of Eldor far to the west of the Bay, humans are fiercely proud of their ancestry and strive to keep their bloodline pure, and visitors of other races are persecuted, while the military fights a skirmish war with the elves. In the Theocracy of Slen, to the north, the clerics of an evil god control all, and darkness lies across the land. The Isle of Svimohzia, too, is a study in contrasts. This ancient land of dark-skinned peoples holds cities of magnificent beauty, war-torn lands, and a great looming jungle that devours the foolhardy.

These are only a few examples of the lands of Tellene, of course. I suggest picking up a copy of the campaign setting sourcebook, flipping randomly to one section or another and following the threads that strike your interest. I've found that's by far the best way to experience Tellene, rather than trying to read it straight through and learn about the histories, cities, peoples and politics of every land at once. Just choose a city and work your way out from there. And remember, have fun!

See The Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign setting sourcebook for a detailed history of Kalamar and additional information on the language and people.

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