They say there are many worlds, many more than our own. Each world has its history. Its own story. Among the cruelest is the world of Valendria, a world of a great many races, creatures, magic, and mystery. A wretched place, fit for an adventure of intrigue and excitement, especially on the cliffside shores of Lestia.
Valendria is a world whose deepest places house not merely magma and stone, but twisting mines and cities of the Deep Gnomes, who harvest the crystals, gems and other precious stones with their stone weaving. In the dark depths of their tunnels, they carry no lights, for their eyes see in the dark. They watch for Under Realm creatures. Hook Horrors with blades for arms, Gricks which meld into the stone walls, and most dangerous of all the other sapient creatures: slaving Duergar, wicked Drow and brain-eating Illithids. A dangerous place. An entire world, beneath the surface. More dangerous than the land above, but not by much.
That surface world would look familiar to you or I. There are cities and forests and lakes and bogs. And yet they harbor their dangers. The wooded groves outside towns are the haven of bandits and thugs, but also creatures of the wood: Ankhegs that can melt armor, Shambling mounds which can devour a horse whole, Harpies who lure travelers from cliffs and Trolls that can regenerate even mortal wounds.
The bogs are home to lizardfolk, bullywugs, and yuan-ti, not all that dissimilar from one another, yet they wage war nonetheless. The yuan-ti fight to reinstate themselves as supreme overlords of civilization, while the bullywugs and lizardfolk struggle for territory and game. Witches and hags make their covens here, and they trade their magic for trinkets and baubles. A voodoo doll of a besmirched lover, the fingernails of a thief, a pickled cyclops eye, jars filled with green and fleshy things. All to obtain ingredients for their black magics that prolong their aberrant lives.
Magic is prevalent here and comes in many magnitudes and forms. Among the most novice, parlor tricks can be performed: changing the color of lights, producing the sound of whispers, preventing a bouquet from wilting. And among the powerful: teleportation across worlds, resurrection from death, tearing a rift in space-time to satiate an ever hungering Elder Evil or a Wish that could change the outcome of the future or the past. Magic can pierce the veil that separates the many planes; the Material, the Astral, the Nine Hells, the Abyss. The Shadowfell mimics reality, an echo of our material world cast in bleaker tones, a desolate place.
Twenty Gods preside over Valendria, though their interest and influence wax and wane over the millennia. Men and women of courage and bravery journey through this world as the paragons or channeling rods for their deity. Clerics direct their devotion to the gods and commit great acts of miraculous kindness or disastrous malice. Fanatics of the gods are those who give everything for the poor and oppressed, or they may be the violent variety that partakes in human sacrifices to restore the power of their dark god. This is a world of spectrums, of great good and great evil, but mortal folk always reside somewhere between.
The cities of Lestia function much like any other: they are places of both wealth and poverty, corruption and goodness, of opportunity and pitfalls. Hubs of commerce and culture, these are places with a rich history. Vel, a city that floats upon the vast Sea of Whispers and the capricious hub of maritime commerce, nearly succumbed to the Planar Invasions and evil devices of Sahuagin and Merrow, twisted fish-people who live in the darkest depths.