The Center of the World
Beacepheron is a great place to start your campaign with a lot of opportunity to explore diverse nations, and at the center of the world, perfect for branching out to any of the three other continents. This is a guide on how to use this locale. This will cover the Kingdom of Stormakt, the Canate Princedom, Tel Iskarra, the Moonlight Kingdom, the Starflame Kingdom, the Karaz Taruhm Shogunate, and the Halfling Communes.
If you are not a GM, then I recommend you leave this page - there is secret information on this pace that might constitute meta-gaming if you take a look without intentions of GMing this setting.
The Kingdom of Stormakt
Aesthetic Guidelines: Medieval-to-Early Modern Scandinavia
Naming Inspiration: Swedish and Old Norse
Campaign Role: Familiar Start
Stormakt is and always was planned to be a place to start a campaign - it is somewhere familiar and instantly recognizable to an RPG player, the Medieval Kingdom of Humans Who Worship a Good God archetype. Of course, this isn't exactly as it seems. Corrupt nobility, stirring unrest, the specter of modernization threatening the position of the nobility, and so on all hold potential for something to do with the story.
When I've started a story in Stormakt, it began in the capital city of Anamakt, in the Bifrost Inn and Tavern - my friends took some time to get the joke there. The Bifrost Inn is the path between our world and Iocrade - not literally, it's just a little joke. Nevertheless, you can do something similar if you like, or just start from the same place. I was still a new DM, so you can probably make the Bifrost more interesting than I did!
When it comes to crafting a story for Stormakt, the party has many options - for an early hook, perhaps the party can route out criminal organizations in the pockets of corrupt nobility, deal with a bandit problem that the local lord has ignored, of deal with a neglected monster problem. This also presents social gameplay opportunities to players - investigating and outing noble corruption could make for an interesting storyline if you can do it right.
Another interesting option for a bit later in the campaign is a civil war campaign, with the urban bourgeoisie whipping the masses into a frenzy against the corrupt nobility, and the nobles fighting for their privileges and historic rights. Due to the recent invasion of Fiuthnolla, the Stormaki Army has been gutted of its finest warriors and officers, meaning that the party can get involved reasonably early into the campaign into such a civil war. After all, they'll be facing raw recruits and neophyte knights. How the revolution turns out could be great, or it could be bad, but I encourage having the party's influence decide how it turns out, if it's appropriate to the campaign.
The Canate Princedom
Aesthetic Guidelines: Medieval Germany
Naming Inspiration: German and Old High German
Campaign Role: High Challenge Zone
Canate is a strange beast - an evil-run nation that, on the grounds of practical self-interest and the foresight of the immortal, intelligent undead rulers, is actually a better place to live in many respects than its neighbors. I've you've played Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's Legion is a slight inspiration - sure, living there is awful by most accounts, but they keep their trade lanes safe. The actions of selfish, self-interested individuals can produce good outcomes from time to time. The Canate Princes aren't supposed to be villains to the party, unless the party specifically abhor and target the undead - and even then, they should be considered late-game, middle game at earliest.
An interesting route to take is navigating the vampiric halls of power, dealing with both how persuasive and intelligent vampires are, and how easily a vampire could kill someone caught alone if they antagonized the wrong person at the wrong time. It could be a tense, high-stakes social story of subterfuge and negotiation.
Here is a great place to fight mindless undead as well - whether they make enemies of the Princes and have to fight off their legions, or simply run into stray zombies or skeletons, or a rogue necromancer. This might be good time to earn the party some money, as the Princes almost certainly are offering a bounty on stray undead, and/or rogue necromancers.
Finally, this is a great place to start an Evil Campain, where the party can be employed by the Princes. The party, if they're right for it, will certainly appreciate having a boss that's ruthlessly pragmatic and intelligent, without being needlessly monstrous. And you can just as easily have a more cruel, corrupt prince if your party either wants to cut loose a bit, or to give them something to overthrow and overtake later on.
The Canate Princedom
Aesthetic Guidelines: Bronze Age Egypt
Naming Inspiration: Ancient and Medieval Egypt
Campaign Role: Survival Area and Dungeon Zone
There are two important things to keep in mind when traversing Tel Iskarra - the harsh desert, and the tombs and pyramids. Marching across the sands means that the party will need to have or acquire food and water, both of which can be lost quite easily if you want to make the story more interesting! A week across the harsh Iskar desert, far from the Khair river, with their supplies missing or insufficient, could make for a very challenging and tense trip.
The desert also provides many opportunities for combat. How many monsters, always struggling to survive, will want a bite of the party? I'd think a lot! And if the party have to sleep in a cave, they might just have to wake up early as some Giant Scorpions approach for a bite to eat! The many opportunities to battle desert monsters is a nice place for some variety in the later early game, for players who have probably been adventuring through temperate areas for the most part.
Meanwhile, early-mid game parties could perhaps indulge in some dungeoneering into the tombs of some decently important folk, and leave with some decent hauls - at the cost of almost certainly having to leave the country if caught in the act! And a party that does get caught may be an opportunity for a tense escape storyline, where the party either have to maneuver their way out without getting caught, or get into fights with soldiers just doing their jobs.
Finally, the most important story hook is the Shaneslani - both sides are deceived by Pashteh the Deceiver God, and thrust at one-another's throats. The Shaneslani underclass want their freedom, and the Iskar people fear what that means, under the mistaken impression that they are followers of the Deceiver hell-bent on destroying them. This could result in a civil war, or political drama, or even - for an evil campaign - a chance to show some discord!
The Moonlight Kingdom
Aesthetic Guidelines: Marble and Greenery
Naming Inspiration: French
Campaign Role: Political Playground
If you have designs on a social and political campaign, this is a wonderful place to start. The deadlocked halls of government offer the party many chances to make a difference on a manageable timeframe. And there's room for sneaking in a bit of violence too, if the party are inclined to take... expedient routes to power and success. Whether they're trying to make headway into local provincial elections, or are making their name known on the national level, there's always room for some good political escapades!
The rich social scene offers aspiring GMs the chance to create investigation, conspiracy, and mystery stories - navigating the rich party culture with well-timed platitudes and the occasionally punchline - or pick-up line - to try and put people at ease, or draw from them information that they might otherwise hide! In particular, the national shame that is the disgraced Nova Party may make for wonderful conspiracy antagonists, ones that might even be able to make some points worth listening to - albeit ultimately wrong, of course, in my opinion.
When it comes to combat, if you're not pursuing a more social campaign that might entail assassins or political thugs coming after the party, then monsters are probably the best choice. If the party is just passing by, here is a great place to indulge in some good ol' fashioned monster hunting - and Gallows Trees can make for a striking image before a fight!
If you do want to put them up against humanoids, dwarf ronins with bands of bandits from the south and drow slavetakers from the west make for solid options. These are likely more crafty opponents than ones able to fight a stand-up battle against the party - they're probably used to evading the law, and fighting them only from positions of power. Odds are, they would show the same caution with the party.
The Starflame Kingdom
Aesthetic Guidelines: Black Stone and Dark Glass
Naming Inspiration: Long, Intricate Names With Softer Letter Sounds
Campaign Role: Daring and Danger
One interesting idea that, if done right, could make for a very promising start or story segment, is the party starting as or becoming slaves. Escaping slavery is quite a motivation - both practical, and out of player pride! And one might even be able to navigate the politics of Starflame to the rare voluntarily-given freedom... though this would be quite a challenge for even a skilled party! And these former slaves might go on to be part of a civil war against Starflame slavery!
One of the most interesting things that can come out of Starflame is their institutionalized misandry and racism - most of Iocrade tends to have some degree of patriarchy or, more rarely but still reasonably common, egalitarianism. However, there are only a handful of matriarchal societies, and only Starflame practices such misandry throughout. It is quite reasonable in Starflame culture to refuse to negotiate with a man unless absolutely necessary - in fact, a male party face might suddenly be struggling to even get a word in! Trying to perform social activities as a man in Starflame has the potential to make for quite a challenging experience. This can be a part of the political struggle to end slavery in Starflame.
Of course, if you want to partake in an evil campaign, Starflame embodies the banality of evil - it's easy to be an affable, punch-card villain working for or as slavers and assassins. Racial and gendered bigotry and intolerance allow a character to easily overlook the moral implications of enslaving or killing enemies, and the cutthroat nature of Starflame society can easily live someone with an authentic philosophy of kill-or-be-killed.
The cave-cities and deep mines of the Starflame Kingdom open an opportunity to delve deep into uncharted grounds, contending with Fungus Queens and other underground monsters. And for late-game parties, having to delve deep to slay a Shoggoth that has been venturing too close to settled land is a threatening but intriguing quest!
The Karaz Taruhm Shogunate
Aesthetic Guidelines: Yurts and Campfires Outside the Castles, and Japanese Castles
Naming Inspiration: Japanese
Campaign Role: Pastoral and Samurai Adventures
Here is the perfect place to bring in some of that classic Japanese coolness, whether you want to dip into anime inspirations, or some Samurai Jack, or simply take inspiration from the Sengoku Jidai in both authentic and mythologized form. Maybe you could even adjust the setting a bit to draw inspiration from the Meiji Restoration and associated modernization efforts, whether that means a new Shogun with eyes on the future, or Daimyo unwilling to let their country fall behind! The Shogunate, as you can imagine, offers many opportunities for duels and scuffles with the local samurai and ronin.
You can also enjoy the pastoral side of things, with the herding villages found all over the countryside. These offer any number of opportunities for missions, especially monster hunting, but also social situations, like negotiating with the local lord over-taxation or something of the sort - or an epic attack on that lord's castle to depose the tyrant when he refuses to relax the burden on his beleaguered people! In particular, hunting a roc promises to be quite an experience for a mid-game party!
Of all the countries on their respective island, the Shogunate is the most likely to start a war with one, the other, or both. This brings many opportunities for whatever side your party is on, whether that means serving the designs of the invasion, holding them off, or simply wanting to keep peace, law, and order in this time of chaos. In particular, there are going to be a lot of slavers crossing the borders from Starflame!
Finally, one final idea I'll offer is supporting a new Daimyo in attempting to rise to power and assume the seat of the Shogun. A young, charismatic, vigorous young lord could make a wonderful figure to rally the party around - or one of the party members could be that lord, and the rest of the party supporting his bid, building his power base, and preparing to make their move!
The Commonwealth of Fiuthnolla
Aesthetic Guidelines: Clockwork and Gold
Naming Inspiration: Highly Varied - names come from all over the world
Campaign Role: The Shining City on a Hill
Fiuthnolla is an odd beast to send the party to, and even more so to have them come from. Fiuthnolla is the only country in the world that employs advanced firearms, mainly breach-loading rifles and revolvers, and so a party coming from there has the potential to be an order of magnitude stronger than another party from elsewhere. Of course, a Fiuthnollan party member can be an engineer, cleric, or mage, or a disgraced soldier drummed out of the forces, and thus had their advanced weapons confiscated. Fiuthnolla is also a place with relatively little danger, with an enormous army relative to their population and to a lesser extent landmass - most monsters are found and killed unless they can manage to haunt the clockwork factory towns where only a handful of engineers will visit from time to time, or manage to hide out in unused or unknown caves. An interesting encounter to consider is abandoned Stormaki holdouts, unwilling to surrender, and holed up in a cave with fortifications to defend and fall back to.
Fiuthnolla is also a great place to buy magical items and mechanical knick-knacks. A particularly rich party might even commission a clockwork horse or other automaton. Fiuthnolla is also a place of research, and bringing in interesting things that they might want to look at has the potential to reap handsome rewards for the party. Living vampires or a sample of their blood, for example, as well as unique artifacts and rare magical creatures, would make excellent requests for the party to attempt to satisfy. And consequently, capturing a fully-functioning Fiuthnollan advanced firearm could make a very challenging, and potentially world-changing, heist for the party - how to acquire a gun that won't be missed long enough to allow it to undergo the long, pain-staking process of reverse engineering?
Fiuthnolla is the nation in Beacepheron least likely to start a war, and least likely to be invaded. It is also unlikely to experience a civil war, as this new nation is held together by a thriving patriotic movement and an efficient, well-staffed government. However, if there were to be a civil war, the four branches of government provide up to four, or maybe even more with internal schisms, factions to wage one. And partaking in an invasion of Fiuthnolla, and the blood bath on the beach that would ensue would make for a harrowing challenge.
The final interesting potential story hook is that of the Gilded Deeps - as the GM (you are a GM, right? Don't metagame, buddy!) you are entitled to know that the secret of the Gilded Deeps is that of the so-called Goddess Fiuthna, the Great Golden Goddess - in actuality, the 110-headed last Golden Dragon, who has achieved statistical prescience through her immense intelligence and dozens of brains, allowing her to process enough information that she can extrapolate data decades, even centuries into the future, and exploits that knowledge to help Fiuthnolla survive, thrive, and eventually expand. Her hope is to make Fiuthnolla a superpower, and raise the whole setting's technology level through this diplomatic and military expansion, before allowing the Fiuthnollan state to shrink away from its Golden Age and return agency to the mortal species, until it is time to make the world stronger once more.
The Halfling Communes:
Aesthetic Guidelines: Thatch, Wood, and Homes Dug in the Ground
Naming Inspiration: Russian
Campaign Role: Pastoral and Political Paradise, Guerillas Galore
The Communes are probably one of the worse places to go for lots of conflict, at least as long as the war between the Taruhm colony and the Communes remains cold. Odds are, here will be a place for monster hunting, and not too much of it either. The Communes also have a strong enough communal identity and sense of community that the idea of a civil war is basically unheard-of without outside interference - and even then, it's more likely to cause political unrest or gridlock. Thus, if you're going to bring the party here for anything, it's likely going to be navigating union politics.
That is, of course, unless they get involved in the continued skirmishing between the sides of the previous war. Guerilla 'volunteers' from the Peninsular Colony still sneak across the border through secret caves and on small boats, and skirmish with southern Defense Unions. An early-game story arc might involve the party joining up with a Defense Union as short-term mercenaries for valuable trade goods like textiles or decently valuable alcohol.
On a similar note, the Mar Taruhm Peninsula to the south provides the option to fight as a guerilla for the Shogunate's colony, or to be an insurgent against them directly. There are many disgruntled Halflings forced into serfdom on the colony, and some have even taken up the path of the Ninja in hopes of fighting as a guerilla and driving out the invader from within. This makes for an interesting campaign premise or story arc, or even just a companion - a halfling Ninja who's recently been compromised and has to make himself scarce quickly, for example!
Finally, for an evil campaign, it is quite possible that one might decide to bring ruin and devastation to these idyllic pastoral landscapes. The Communards will make for a stubborn but manageable opponent for early-to-midgame parties. There are endless fields and villages to burn.