Wrath & Gunfire: The Barvan Campaign
Thousands of years ago was the creation. A single creative force made the gods, and then the gods made the peoples and shaped Middian. The gods are more or less aware that they were created by something, but feel no need to discuss it and they don’t really know that much. The Stranger knows practically everything, but doesn’t share it. If anyone on Middian asked the gods where they came from, the gods would say that they created the people and the world, which is true enough.
The cosmology of Wrath & Gunfire has three planes.
The material plane is in the middle—Middian.
On top of it is the layer of Faerie, which is small, pocketed, and can only be accessed in certain places, such as Earnan. The world of Faerie is brutal and dangerous. It is the wildness of nature taken to the far extreme. Certain very skilled and knowledgeable people can actually travel through Faerie to traverse vast distances in a short time, but this is necessarily difficult and dangerous.
Underneath, around and in, underpinning reality, the fabric of everything, is the Shade or the Shadow. It is the source of all arcane power and possibly the origin of the Stranger, who actually controls some or all of Shadow. It is incredibly dangerous. Just using arcane powers, learned or inherent, has the potential to corrupt a person to complete evil. The bard is a rare exception to this, merely because of the way that they channel innate powers through their performances instead of through their selves—a fine distinction, but important. Arcane powers are not impossible or even difficult to control, but this danger is ever-present and increases with the further use of arcane magic. A great part of arcane learning is aquiring the skills to control Shadow. The most dangerous arcane users of all are hedge wizards and sorcerers who have very little idea of what they’re dealing with.
In the Shadow reside the spirits of the restless dead, the evil and those who have not completed their purpose in life. The realm is not itself specifically evil, but it is alien and contains evil, and can therefore drive those who tap into it insane or inhuman.
There is no hellish or Gehenna afterlife, but there is a positive afterlife available to good people. Certain gods like the Bear can access it, but the gods have little reason to go there. Demons and devils do not come from a specific plane, but are just terrifically evil creatures. Some of them may reside in Shadow. Even angels might be called demons simply because they come from the Shadow, too, and are very alien to the material world. Demons, angels, aasimar and teiflings all exist, but are exceedingly rare, and they all come from this strange and horrifying place.
Leviathan was weakened by trying to control too much of Shadow, which is why he was able to ousted from the larger continent in the first place, and why many of his actions now are incomprehensibly inhuman and even evil. Most dragons were exiled to the Shadow, too. They are very rare in Middian, and those dragons who do exist on the material plane stand out in some major way, whether for good or evil. The most well-known dragon is Magnus, a young red dragon who is currently acting as a general in Barva, making a name for himself in the Barva-Teischer war.