Monday, November 12, 2018

OSR Commentary - Calidar's Vortexs & Dimensional Cancers - Otherthere & Back Again In Your Old School Campaigns

Last week I wrote about cracks in many of the major campaign worlds & what it means for players as well as their dungeon masters. Calidar newest kickstarter has exploded since I first started writing about it. But what does this hold for Greyhawk?! A lot of very weird planar threads & adventure hooks actually.

Skyships are nothing new in the skies of Greyhawk & Mystara but these worlds don't have as high an arcane index as Calidar.  Mystara is still on the trading routes of Calidar as far as the OSR dungeon masters are concerned.
'In 2012 and 2013 Bruce Heard wonderfully detailed in his blog almost all the Alphatian Kingdoms, from Arogansa in the south to Frisland in the far north, including coats of arms, maps and adventure ideas, making them much more detailed and interesting places for adventurers.'

'It’s hard to describe Calidar in just a few sentences as the setting is wonderfully rich with original themes and distinctive features. It’s not just a world, but a whole solar system, the Soltan Ephemeris, where different cultures interact and clash. It has magical flying ships, but the magic power to travel between worlds is not cheap, and the competition to acquire it is fierce. It has a central world, the namesake Calidar, with a few developed nations and a huge expanse of wild lands, where the World Soul of the planet is ready to react with hostility to any exploitation. It has, indeed, living planets with complex ecologies. It has dragons, obviously, and draconic knights serving them and eager to conquer new worlds and lands. It has steampunk dwarves and imperial elves, gnomes with a special connection to the natural world and savage halflings called fellfolk, who in some places have embraced the gifts of civilization. It has humanoids, who come periodically from the alien world of Ghüle to raid and take prisoners for their dark gods. It has heroes, who can literally become immortals and even gods, if they are able to earn a lasting fame.
And, as it seems from the previews of Beyond the Skies, the whole Ephemeris and the gods have to face a terrible menace from another universe.'
From the article
'From Alphatia to Calidar'
by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 11
Could this menace of evil be the same one that we've seen time & again over the years of reading Blackmoor, Mystara, & Greyhawk products?! I think so but the fact is that Calidar's system has the Vortex.
'the important feature of Calidar which is particularly relevant for the scope of this article is the Vortex. A mysterious and unexplained tear in the fabric of time and space, the Vortex is a strange phenomenon that often brings into the Calidar universe people and flying ships from many other places. Often, the people who experience this passage have their memories altered, and can no longer remember the place from which they came.
In the setting, this is obviously the perfect excuse to bring to Calidar player characters created for other settings, and also a way to explain why some Calidaran cultures, as also happened in Mystara, closely resemble some cultures of our real world.'
This is literally a cancerous planar gateway right under the collective noses of the champions, gods, demons, & heroes of Calidar.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Greyhawk's wizards & kingdoms have been sending sky ships across the dimensional threshold. But it also means that the evils of both Mystara & Greyhawk could come to plague Calidar;
'And besides the above canon Vortex, Bruce recently detailed another one, complete with its wormhole, which also could become a gate to Calidar, in the Kingdom of Floating Ar6 in Alphatia.
It’s up to each DM to decide how Mystaran Immortals, or even the Old Ones, may react to a skyship returning from the Vortex. If left alone, such a vessel could report back to the Mystaran empire from whence it came, and Alphatia (or Thyatis) could decide to fund further explorations of the Calidar universe, at least if they are able to locate a spot where the Vortex occasionally appears.
It’s also worth noting that in the Poor Wizard’s Almanacs by Ann Dupuis an Immortal named Gareth began proselytizing in Sind from the Mystaran Year 1010 AC, saying to his followers he had “returned from the Vortex”. The common interpretation in the community has always been that Gareth should be Benekander, the new Immortal created during the Wrath of the Immortals adventures, but what if he is instead someone who came from Calidar?'

The horrors of The Wraith of the Immortals are bad enough but what of the more dangerous cancers let loose by the events of the Temple of Elemental Evil?! Don't think it could happen? Think again, back about 2013 a thread appeared on
The Piazza forum titled The Elemental Evil in Mystara

This thread provides an entire setting, notes, etc for the players & their dungeon master to bring the cancer of the Elemental Evil cult to Mystara. Last blog entry I wrote about the Froggies cult from DA2 Temple of the Frog becoming one of the primary menaces. But what if they were only the tip of the ice berg. Modules and adventures in Mystara article by Bouv 

the Vaults of Pandius site places many classic AD&D 1st edition modules onto Mystara's campaign world. This style of approach gives the dungeon master even more options with Calidar's campaign setting being system agnostic.

Calidar's system has been receiving visitors for centuries & its possible that a great many different OSR as well as OSR campaign settings could have interacted or left their mark on the system. I talked about using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's setting with Calidar in the past. The dimensional & planar cancers allow the players & DM to send their PC's over to Calidar in ancient Hyperborean sky ships which some nations might be still using. The AS&SH Kickstarter is still on going & I suggest that you check it out & support it if your so inclined.

Hyperborea Players' Manual front cover pencils by Val Semeiks

Now at first this seems like heresy using a high fantasy setting with an OSR Sword & Sorcery world. Think again because both HP Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith used their own dream lands worlds. To AS&SH Calidar is merely another dreamworld. Little do they release the menace lurking right out there in the Outer Darkness. But what exactly is in the Darkness Between Worlds & could it be coming for your own campaign world?! Next time we pop open that can of worms!

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