This is the land of Alm. Long ruled by beasts and fey, it has now become home to a strange species called humans, and their closely-related allies, the orcish mor. Created as slaves on the nearby continent of Parosea, these newcomers followed their “awakened” guides to a promised land where they still struggle to define their own purpose and identity.
Magic here is part of life, both mystical and mundane—woven through nations from their highest societies to their grimy industrial roots. Adventurer’s unions abound, waiting to welcome the idealistic, the bold, and the greedy. Below the earth, they explore the caverns in search of Precursor relics, bizarre artefacts of metal and magic. And above, airships scour the skyline for the lifeblood that drives this extraordinary world: Escarnum.
Skies of Escarnum is a contemporary fantasy setting with a lighthearted, age-of-adventure atmosphere and pulp themes. It takes a bold, stylised approach to storytelling, emphasising fun and cinematics over realism.
Ideally, Escarnum attempts to blend fondly-held themes and tropes from several styles:
- Pulp Heroism: At the core of Escarnum’s style is the notion that heroes should be larger than life. Whatever happens, they are the stars of a story before they are pieces in a game; they should always be able to make bad choices and take risks in the name of fun, and in turn have opportunities to mitigate or escape the consequences. If in doubt, think of narrative before you think of realism; something that is enjoyable is always better than something that is sensible.
- Romantic Fantasy: Escarnum is a world designed around modern ideals and sensibilities, even as it is set in a fantasy era. The trappings may be old-fashioned, but the themes are enlightened. Sexism, racism, homophobia—such prejudices are certainly not absent, but they are the stuff of villains, or distinct character flaws. Escarnum furnishes its protagonists with enlightened ideals and sensibilities, then contrasts them with ignorant and prejudiced opposition.
- Shounen Anime: 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons excels at telling combat-heavy stories, where everybody finds their own way to fight for what they most value. Likewise the shounen genre, with its focus on personalised combat powers and bonding through battle. Many other recurring shounen anime themes—friendship and found family, self-determination and identity, and youth versus authority—are the exact same ideas Escarnum wants to bring to the fore.
What Escarnum isn’t, is another pseudo-historical European fantasy realm, where men are men (as long as they are straight, white, cisgender men), women are princesses, and everybody in between need not apply. We already have plenty of traditional high-fantasy and edgy dark fantasy settings. Escarnum’s flavour is inspired much more by animation, superheroes and video games than sprawling fantasy epics.
More than anything, Escarnum aims to be welcoming—to combine the inclusiveness of the best modern and independent genre fiction with the robust mechanical system of 4th Edition D&D. If you feel like there’s never been a place for you in other D&D settings, we want to make a place for you here!