A land of unusual warmth for its latitude, and as notable for its hot springs as for the many miles of caverns that snake beneath it, the Caldera is the site of an ancient catastrophe. Millennia ago it was the site of a violent volcanic eruption, the cause of the Black Year written of in many chronicles, and the culprit behind the collapse of more than one ancient civilization. The cataclysm resulted in a crater-shaped depression surrounded by jagged peaks that are difficult to traverse in the summer and all but impassible in the winter, with only Screefall Pass to the south being open year-round.

The warmth and incredibly rich volcanic soil of the Caldera led to a period of intense settlement after memory of the eruption had faded. Colonies of humans, dwarves, and elves were all established, with the settlements of Vallia, Morinth’s Delving, and Welkor’s Light dating to this time. Pilgrims were also attracted from many of the faiths that had the Black Year as a centerpiece of their cosmology, and many ephemeral temples rose and fell in the area through time.

Perhaps the most notable figure to emerge from the Caldera was Minaka the Conqueror, who was born in Vallia and was able to use the Caldera as a base to carve out an empire for herself. Her tomb, carved into living volcanic rock, is the centerpiece of a great abandoned necropolis–the Valley of the Dead–that houses the bodies of many of Minaka’s most powerful friends and advisors. Unfortunately, Minaka the Conqueror died without an heir, and her incompetent nephew led her realm to dissolution within a generation.

The Caldera has largely remained a backwater since Minaka’s empire fell, attracting a steady number of visitors to its hot springs and a diminishing number of religious pilgrims to the crumbling sites of fading faiths. It has largely wound up being in thrall to whoever has occupied the large walled city of Ulat to the south of Screefall Pass, and the population has been in decline as its remoteness has grown with the turmoil of the world.

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