Welcome to Caldera, the largest, weirdest, most populous, and most dangerous city you’ve ever adventured in. The wiki expands upon topics that will help you understand various aspects of the city. Many topics include rules to use in your campaign.
Caldera is a city built on an ancient, collapsed volcano. The city is built on stepped terraces on the inner and outer crater walls, and on the cliffs of the ancient volcano shaft. The city is an extremely dangerous place, controlled by a heartless Senate who basically enslave the populace.
In this world, magic exists only where people are concentrated in great numbers. City-states like Caldera exist because their leaders see magical effects as an economic and military advantage. They force citizens to live in terrible, cramped conditions so that the friction of their emotions and creativity will kindle the fires of magic. But magic is not easily tamed, and its effects are unpredictable.
Caldera is a saberpunk setting. It fuses ideas borrowed from cyberpunk into all the typical things you’d expect from high fantasy. There are megaguilds, magical tattoos, residuum mines, haves and have-nots, and even a mirror world that can be hacked.
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The entire campaign takes place in a volcano crater, in a huge city that is stacked in layers as people built more streets and levels on top of the old ones. The lowest levels never get any sunlight, so they’re “dungeonlike.” But people live down there. Imagine dungeon-crawling in a populated area.
In this world, magic only exists where people concentrate. The more people, the more emotion and creative energy, the more magic is created. Big cities like Caldera generate enormous amounts of residuum, which is mined out of the rock beneath the streets. Magic warps everything it touches, and this is why there are dozens of races and not just a handful.
There are two original races. Gargoyles are statues that have come to life. They forever have a strong connection with their old neighborhood and often feel a need to protect it. Mura are humanoid rat creatures that dwell in warrens in the darkest recesses of the city.
Mirrors are used as communication devices, and some people—called mirrorrunners—have learned to hack them. When you enter a mirror, you get to create an avatar: a new D&D character that represents you in the plane of reflection. Level up that character independently from your Caldera-real-world character.
Magic seems to be shaped by the collective subconscious of the populace. This has created, among other things, the plane of nightmare where terrible things lurk. Monsters tear free from nightmares and enter Caldera itself.
Eladrin have a dual nature. These days, they tend to be refined aristocrats, but in the olden days, they were wild horse nomads. An eladrin or elf character can switch his race (and all bonuses, abilities, and powers) between levels. With the Drow Nature feat, an elf/eladrin can switch his race to drow between levels.
The city is run by a senate and the citizens fall into one of four castes. Politics are everything in Caldera. The common people are basically slaves to the rich. The rich include the megaguild families and the “old blood” aristocrats.