An Introduction to Arewys...
I am Sawyer Masonjones, the writing and setting director at The Adventure Nexus. I am also the Arewys of Arewys’s Grimoire. And I am very excited to announce that I will be bringing to life a setting that is a decade in the making: The World of Gessa.
The setting started when I started DMing, though then it was called Generica, as I couldn’t think of a good name and I thought I was being clever. At first, it was just me writing it, but as I developed as a DM, I made it a point to get players involved and thus the setting evolved. I would provide the basis in the form of a map and my own ideas, but players were more than encouraged to expand and add things as needed. Since that first game lasting barely a semester, I have revisited this world over and over again with 7 groups over 10 years and 3 different play by posts with about two dozen players. It’s never been the same twice, but each time the world grew sharper and more defined. It was one of these where I met Will Moquin and it is he who brought me on to publish the setting for the company (so blame him for all of this).
Though it has had many incarnations over the years, the basis of it is the same: We take our ideas and stereotypes about how fantasy races and cultures are and we try our best to flesh them out anew, making them real and grounded into the setting. So while dwarves in this game are still traditionally inclined miners and craftsmen living underground and orcs are barbarians and halflings are pastoral, each will have a distinct feel in the setting and moreover, grounded in it’s reality. If there is one thing that defines what this setting is, it’s that everything must make sense. In our world, no culture or idea or technology is divorced from reality, they all grew out of the unique signature of need and the environment around them. It is the same with Magic. Even though magic doesn’t exist in reality, we will strive to make it make sense within the science of Gessa. In fact, this will be written through the lens of our reality. My former trade was a biologist, we are tapping writers that are experts in religion and culture. We are taking every care we have to make sure this setting feels as real as our own. While this includes a grounding in science and humanities, this is also grounded in our problems.
Gessa won’t be a peaceful world, neither though will it be a grimdark setting. Ultimately, it is reflective of our own. There will be no outright evils to face, nor objective good. Religions in the setting will be as varied and contradictory to each other as in our own world. Each society will have cultural problems that reflect others. But there will never be direct parallels or things directly taken from any one place. If we do our jobs right, each culture should feel familiar to several, but uniquely their own, grounded in the magic of the setting. Dragonborn, for example, to me always seemed an afterthought, something they added just because humanoid dragons are cool. They never felt like a race with a unique place in their world. In Gessa, the Dragonborn and similar non humanoid based races hail from the Broken Continent of Xerac, each island and valley both infested with corrupting magic in an explosion of Gessan evolution to produce a variety of cultures, with the Ryukan (our tenative name for the Dragonborn) at their rightful place as the dominant race in the region, as they claim to be descended from the dragons of a previous age, based loosely on Asian cultures.
The overall tone of the world and the campaigns will be Nobledark. Though the world is chaotic and filled with strife, the campaigns will be focused on righting the wrongs of the setting, and by extension our world. In this first campaign, borne out of the chaos of our current predicament with the Covid-19 pandemic, it will deal with a strange curse spreading throughout the humanoid lands of the continent of Kerana. Called the Burning, the disease over the course of weeks burns away flesh and soul until nearing the end they are immolated by the disease. But some survive and become one of the Ashen. Their eyes and lungs and heart are burnt out and replaced by light and fire, giving them access to a cursed flame. Various subclasses will be created to represent this newfound power in people. During the campaign you will see how various cultures of Kerana view and deal with the disease and the fallout and uncover the curse’s origin. While no direct parallels will be seen, the campaign will play on the themes we are seeing in our own reality and hopefully here we can work through them.
Over the next few months through to next year, we will be hard at work creating the official setting guide for DMs and players to start writing their own campaigns using our setting tool set and the first modules of the campaign, written both for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition and Pathfinder 2nd edition. Though I am still in the midst of finishing my PhD, every week, on Monday, I will tease a bit of the lore, races, cultures, creatures and science of Gessa that make it unique along with drafts of artwork, maps, and mechanics. Once we have that published, we will release the world itself for free, with an official book sold with various artwork and perks. Every quarter, DMs and Players will have the next installment of the campaign taking the game another 5 levels, along with one shots and self contained modules detailing out the world not yet found in a campaign book. Every year will be a new campaign and we already have plans for a variety of campaigns set in various key points in Gessan History. So while the first iteration will be mostly standard European esque medieval/renaissance level fantasy, the campaigns will see Gessa in various points in time and technology level and cultures. If we do our jobs right, there should be opportunity for everyone to find their place and story embedded in this world, reflected from our own.
Until next week, Arewys