Here are ten things you need to know about the Ascension campaign setting.
If it exists in fifth edition, it has a place in Ascension
Content from fifth edition may require some flair to accommodate Ascension’s themes and tone, but for the most part everything that exists for fifth edition will fit in Ascension. The important part is giving it the makeover it needs to fit in the world.
Themes and Tone
Ascension combines high-fantasy adventures of good and evil with epic earth-shattering sci-fi events and scale. Alignments are good guidelines for how a character might react in moral situations, but ultimately every inhabitant of Ascent is fighting for survival, whether it is for themselves, their people, their nation, or their faction. When role-playing, characters are not strictly defined by their alignment, as the universe is chaotic and unpredictable, and character’s morale standing can be challenged often. Exploration is an important part of Ascension, whether it’s reclaiming lost territory from the seas, exploring ruins to scavenge for Great Age technology, or striking into the lair of an evil faction leader. Ascension offers a wide range of content for players to partake in.
A world of Magic and Science
The world of Ascent was created using natural laws and arcane energies. Science is the drive to understand how the universe works as a system. Magic is a force in that system that plays a major roll in how it interacts with other systems. Both science and magic are fundamentally written into the fabric of reality in Ascension, and they complement each other more than they conflict. This is especially true because there are forces and entities in the cosmos that remain even more mysterious than magic. In general, science invents technology and makes discoveries while magic powers the technology and drives the progress of discovery.
A world of Exotic Adventures
Through a single adventure, characters may span multiple continents, contrasting environments, and even different layer worlds where physics and arcane arts function differently. Because of the rising and collapsing of historic civilizations, much of Ascent is interconnected, albeit not fully explored. Much of the world was claimed at one point in history, but those claims were long ago and a lot has changed.
The world is Four Worlds
Ascent is the planet that the Ascension setting takes place in, but there are other dimensions of Ascent than just the world of iron and water. Ascent has three layer worlds; realms in separate pockets of space-time. Each layer has slightly, or major, different governing natural laws. The Radiance is a garden world created in the image of Ascent’s sun. The Desolation is a black garden world that was formed into existence out of necessary symmetry. The Aether layer is the most similar to Ascent, easier to access than the other two layers, but has yet to be seriously explored due to its unpredictable effects on technology and magic.
The Four Nations Are at Peace — Mostly
During the Age of Greatness, Ascent had five major nations that got along peacefully for the most part. This is largely due to having to work together to overcome outside threats time and time again. The north-east nation of Aerth was all but obliterated during the Storm of Fire, and the Great Flood that followed crippled The Divide, a nation in between the two major continental areas. These cataclysmic events have brought many people together while simultaneously pushing others toward isolation. Millenia later there is still bad blood between nations, but with the exception of the occasional skirmish, peace is mostly present.
A world of Survival
There have been many threats throughout the history of Ascent, but they all pale in comparison to the looming danger at the end of the current Cycle. Every Cycle has ends when Ascent passes through a local asteroid cluster. But for the past two Cycles there have been means of protection. against those asteroids. That protection is now weakened, and many scholars believe the world won’t survive it’s next pass through the cluster. This survivalist attitude has been prominent throughout Ascent’s history, and desperation is something its inhabitants are accustomed to dealing with. These are the most desperate times justifying the most desperate measures.
Constellations and Non-Terrestrial Entities
Ascension doesn’t have a pantheon of deity’s. Instead, the world’s magic is tied directly to the stars and beyond. People and creatures are granted magical abilities and power from their birth signs. Depending on what constellation of the zodiac was prevalent during their birth, they will be granted aspects of that constellation. They do not worship a god that has its own agenda and domain. Instead, each constellation is the embodiment of millennia of philosophy, struggle, and conflict. The stars, as well as other non-terrestrial entities such as comets and moons, breathe a special life into Ascension. Magic is a natural law of the universe and requires no prayer.
Starshards and Exotic Artifacts
Starshards are a unique currency in Ascension. They are gems, stones, and materials that are not of this world. Often they are from meteorites or comets that fall into or pass closely by Ascent’s atmosphere. Throughout the Cycles they have been used more and more to power technology and craft unique items and gear. They are rare, making them common goals for adventures and quests. Similarly, Exotic Artifacts are items created in one (or more) of the three layer worlds. They are the rarest and most powerful items in the game. Most adventurers go their entire lives without ever seeing one. But for those brave enough to venture into the layer worlds might have the chance of finding one and unlocking it’s many secrets.
New Races and Sub-Classes
In addition to the races presented in fifth edition, players can also play as Starborn or Starforged in Ascension. Starborn are ghost like humanoids with fair skin, luminescent eyes, and a deep connection with the universe. Starforged are sentient constructs created by an ancient civilization for a long forgotten conflict that have been awoken from their slumber for unknown purposes. Additionally, each class from fifth edition has a new sub-class based on the lore in Ascension. These sub-classes aren’t meant to play more effectively than the standard sub-classes, but are instead intended to give players more options and the opportunity to embed their characters in the world.