THE CONTINENT OF LANJYR encompasses the entirety of the known world in the ZEITGEIST™ campaign; as such, the terms “Lanjyr,” “world,” and “Material Plane” are interchangeable. From east to west, it is over 1500 miles and possibly wider, as the treacherous jungles of the far east are as far as anyone has traveled and returned. The trip overland is nearly as long from north to south.
Lanjyr is the cradle of humanity, and humans are its most powerful and populous species. Great societies have orcs and elves have risen and fallen over the centuries, but neither race has ever known the dominance enjoyed by today’s humans.
Risur, Ber, Crisillyir, Danor, Drakr, and Elfaivar are the largest and most prominent nations in Lanjyr, but by no means are they the only ones. Lawless lands and petty kingdoms lie between the great nations and at their far-flung outskirts. These regions on the continental map are marked as “border states.” An unstable magic zone surrounding Danor is called the Malice Lands.
In general, the border states between Risur and Ber are little more than mountainous tribal lands that refuse to join either larger nation. The border states between Crisillyir and Drakr are fairly autonomous and stable, while the border between Drakr and Danor is near anarchy. North of Drakr, a few minor nations stay out of the politics of greater Lanjyr, while beyond Elfaivar lie powerful protectorates of a giant empire, still recovering from the fall-out of the collapse of Elfaivar centuries ago.
The High Seas
The tumultuous seas surrounding the continent of Lanjyr are purported to conceal the fastnesses and fortresses of a sahuagin kingdom based in the deep ocean trenches south of Ber. It is rumored that Le Roye Bruse has established diplomatic ties to the tyrannical fish-folk, who are otherwise known to keep to themselves.
The aventi race on the other hand, though sharing several characteristics in common with their human relatives, are an increasing threat to maritime shipping. They see boat traffic as an intrusion into their territories, and the industrial waste that makes its way into the ocean as an act of war. The mysterious aventi refuse to engage in “surfacer politics” or reveal the exact whereabouts of their settlements, frustrating every attempt to negotiate with them.
Oceangoing vessels are generally majestic, multi-masted sailing ships with wooden hulls. Ber and other savage societies still utilize oar-propelled longboats, while both Risur and Danor have added mighty ironclads to their navies, powered by magic and steam respectively.
There are two planes coterminous to the world. Everyone knows that the fey live in the Dreaming, and that spirits of the dead linger in the Bleak Gate, but most people are unclear on just what they are. They disagree on whether you can physically go to these realms by walking, or if you would need magic, and if you went there just what you’d see. The Clergy states that the Dreaming, which they call the Green Temptress or Hell’s Garden, is where people’s minds go when they sleep, and that the beings called the fey are dreams given flesh by evil magic. Folk religion in Ber proclaims that the moon is a looking glass, and the Dreaming is what we look like reflected in it, while many Drakrans believe it’s a trap between this world and the afterlife, meant to trick people from their just ends.
As for the Bleak Gate, common lore of the Clergy calls it Purgatory, and envisions it as lying underground, a place where the dead pass through on their way to their reward or punishment in the afterlife. The dwarves of Drakr know better, and believe that it is a vision of the distant future, of what the world will look like when everyone has died. Berans believe it lies on the dark side of the moon. In Risur, folk tales say that once the Dreaming was easy to reach, and that the beings there would often come to our world to trade, steal, or play tricks. The Bleak Gate was thought to be a darker, more malevolent part of the Dreaming, a belief reinforced of late. As industry has narrowed the streets of Flint and darkened its alleys with soot, more and more people have begun to speak of disappearances, and of strange black beings that walk in the shadows.
Revolving around Lanjyr and its coexistent planes are a number of distant Outer Planes
Almost every magic item and spell is available for the ZEITGEIST campaign setting, unless your GM decides otherwise. The nature of the planes of the world makes extraplanar creatures—and the products of their dalliances with mortals—effectively unknown.
Gods do not make themselves regularly known in this world, and it is nigh-impossible to visit the planes where they reside, so it’s even possible to doubt whether they exist at all. This version of the ZEITGEIST setting uses the Golarion deities:, of which the major ones are often honored as a pantheon of characters in the doctrine of the Clergy. Many doubt the actuality or divinity of these characters, and clerics devoted to a particular divinity are rare. Even within the Clergy, the nature of the old gods is subject to debate, with the obvious exception of the ascended god Triegenes.
Two types of magic are exceedingly rare: long-duration flight, and long-duration planar travel. The nature of the elemental planes that feed energy into the world makes it difficult for magic to create permanent flight1.
Likewise, despite theories that suggest it should be possible to travel to distant planets via powerful spells, all attempts to visit any foreign world are finite in duration—it is only a matter of time before the traveler is shunted back to his home plane2. It is possible to wander into the Dreaming or the Bleak Gate and remain indefinitely, but usually only when the moon and stars align properly. Mechanically, this means that no creature can ever leave its home plane ad infinitum, barring unique circumstances that are beyond the control of player characters. Such options may become available to PCs later in the campaign, but traveling to another world in Zeitgeist is never as simple as performing a single spell or using a random magical item.
Gold and Teleportation
In ZEITGEIST, in addition to its value as a precious metal for jewelry and currency, gold acts as a barrier for teleportation. Characters can teleport freely while carrying gold, but they cannot teleport through an opening framed in gold, so critical buildings often have thin strips of gold surrounding them, concealed by additional masonry. Prison cells for creatures thought to be capable of teleportation are often surrounded by rings of gold.
Similarly, a creature wearing a gold ring—or bracelet, or even a thin thread of gold wire—cannot teleport or be teleported, so those wary of abduction might wear hidden gold toe rings to stymie would-be kidnappers. Simply carrying or wearing gold is not a problem unless it forms a full loop around some part of the body. Even with full circles of gold, the protection can be bypassed by simply removing part of the ring. This, combined with the temptation for thieves, keeps gold warding circles from being in common use.
The city of Flint sits under a haze of coal soot, its streets illuminated at night by gaslight lanterns and its ferries powered by steam boilers. Soldiers carry alchemical pistols as back-up weapons, and elite fusilier units carry flintlock muskets and carbines, however, most firearms still are muzzle-loaders. Rifles and revolvers only exist as custom creations of innovative gunsmiths.
While the majority of Lanjyr remains at roughly a Renaissance-level of technology, there are many things in both Risur and Danor that did not exist in our world until the Industrial Revolution. Many cities have mills and factories, machine shops, refineries that process alchemical substances and fossil fuels—but lack entirely the sanitation services to deal with waste. Many towns have pollution-belching factories but no running water or sewage systems. Machinery is typically steam-powered, but Danor is just a few explosive accidents away from perfecting the internal combustion engine.
Communications in Danor are handled with a crude telegraph system, while Risur still employs magic or messengers. Steam-driven printing presses in both nations allow the mass distribution of newspapers, leaflets, and pulp booklets (called “penny dreadfuls”) but proper books are still bound by hand. A wealthy extravagance, daguerreotype cameras allow portraits and landscapes to be (slowly) photographed, while the first bicycles are just coming into vogue on the cobblestone streets of Flint. Yet, aside from the occasional new rail line splitting the countryside, most citizens of Risur never see any of the new technology that is changing the world around them.
1 DM’s Note: This premise is changed in my campaign from the Player’s Guide, which states that long-duration magical flight is impossible and winged flight is only possible for Medium or smaller creatures. I may want to feature airships or encounters with big winged creatures; and as you can simply re-skin flight spells to visually incorporate wings, the distinction is pointless.
2 Likewise, I’m not willing to restrict access to long-duration conjuration magic, an important tool in the arsenals of the spellcasting classes, particularly summoners! I’m willing to concede, however, that extraplanar visitors are on borrowed time.