Arcanis is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons game, created and supported by Paradigm Concepts. It is also the name of the fictional world where the setting takes place. The setting was launched in 2001 and is known for its odd twists on the fantasy genre, as well as its wide member approval and community-based design and construction.

Arcanis is set on the continent of Onara, where a crumbling Coryani Empire (reminiscent of the Western Roman Empire) struggles with newly created nations such as Milandir (reminiscent of the Holy Roman Empire) or Canceri (reminiscent of Russia during the Middle Ages and the Balkans).

Races of Arcanis[]

The playable Races in Arcanis differ from the traditional races in other Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings. There are seven primary races: Dark-kin (infernally tainted), Dwarves (cursed Giants), Elorii (basically Elves, but with some significant differences), Gnomes (offspring of a human and a dwarf), Humans, Ss'ressen (there are two tribes [or "clutches"] that are playable, Black Talon and Ashen Hide), and Val (touched by the gods, there are many different bloodlines). Other playable races exist, such as half-orcs and half-hobgoblins, but their numbers are far smaller than the primary races. Notably, halflings are NOT a playable race.


Dark-kin are those born with demonic traits. They are usually born from human parents, and rarely sire Dark-kin children. Dark-kin are the results of a period of Onara's history called the Time of Terror, when Demons, Devils, and other Infernals controlled much of the known world.


Giants were assigned the task of protecting mankind. When they began to lord over man, the king of the gods, Illiir cursed the giants, diminishing them into dwarves. The key to lifting the curse of the Dwarves is to craft the perfect item. The Dwarves are divided into different groups, called Enclaves. Unlike other humanoids on Onara dwarves do not face the judgment of Nier, nor do their souls return to Beltine's cauldron. Each Dwarf carries with him a gem, known as Soul Stone. Upon death a Dwarf's soul enters his soul stone.


Elves in Arcanis are called Elorii. Made of the traditional Greek elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, the Elorii are immortal. Elorii are divided into different subraces based on their elemental ancestry, adding another subrace, Life Elorii or Ardekenes.

The Elorii were created by four very powerful elementals in conjunction with a "life spirit" called Belisarda. They originally imbued a dead orc with this power, giving Elorii fangs. These elemental spirits were worshipped by the Elorii as gods; they despise humanity because four of the human gods "absorbed" the four Elemental Lords, leaving only Belisarda. They eventually rebelled against their creators.


Gnomes in Arcanis are ugly, short half-breeds. These Gnomes are not an independent race, but are considered an 'aberration' race, resulting from the unholy breeding between Dwarves and Humans. Gnomes in Arcanis are disgustingly deformed, as the curse applied to dwarves applies equally to the stature of their offspring.


Humans mirror the traditional Dungeons & Dragons human. Most of humanity are latecomers to the continent of Onara (where most of the current story takes place), but at least one group, the Pengik, predate the Ss'regorean Empire, who have the oldest recorded history.


Ss'ressen are lizard-men and a major component of the Ssethregoran Empire. This empire consists of many races, many of them serpentine such as Naga and Ssanu snake-men (who replaced the Yuan-ti after the later were removed from the Open Gaming License content). The Ssethregorans are the oldest civilized group on the continent of Onara and at one point had conquered most of it. They are well known for their strange magics and were responsible for the creation of the Elorii. Originally, they worshiped the gods Kassegore and Yig, but with the rise of the Naga to a ruling position, they now worship vile gods known as the Varn. (Originally, they worshiped slaadi, but with the removal of these beings from the Open Gaming License content, Paradigm Concepts was forced to change this.)

The Black Talon ss'ressen rebelled against the Ssethregoran Empire and fled. They had come to worship a god known as Fire Drake. They live in a swampy area of the nation of Milandir. The Ashen Hide ss'ressen broke off from the Black Talons, deciding that Fire Drake was actually the human god of fire and war, Nier. The Ashen Hide Clutch now resides in the nation of Canceri.


Val were created during the God War as the elite warriors of the Gods and thereafter, as the caretakers of Mankind. In their stead, every god sent his servants, the Valinor, to mingle with the populace, and create a semi-divine family capable of aiding mankind. Every Val has a bloodline, which is tied to a specific god; they are gifted with divine powers which they may improve; these are related to their bloodline. For example, val'Ossan are tied to Yarris, god of the sea, and can gain Bloodline Powers such as walking on water and controlling sea creatures.

Val are also the only psionic race in Arcanis. Val always have steel grey eyes, unless they are psioncally active; in psions, the iris turns clear, leaving the eye almost entirely white.

Nations of Arcanis[]

The nations of Arcanis are mostly human affairs, all related to the First Imperium that fell thousands of years ago; most of these are ruled by the Val. The human nations are:

  • The Republic of Altheria
  • The Theocracy of Canceri
  • The Coryani Empire
  • The Hinterlands
  • The League of Princes
  • Milandir
  • Ymandragore

The three Elorii Nations are:

  • Elonbe
  • Entaris
  • Malfea

The Dwarven Enclaves are:

  • Solanos Mor
  • Nol Dappa
  • Tulipet
  • Tir Betoq
  • Encali

There are two major enclaves of S'sressen (outside of the Ssethregorean Empire), one of which is an offshoot of the other:

  • Black Talons
  • Ashen Hide

The other races are mostly outcasts and wanderers, though occasionally small racial enclaves arise in larger cities, rather than maintaining organized civilizations.

Religion in Arcanis[]

The Deities of Arcanis are sectioned off into different pantheons. The main pantheon is the Pantheon of Man, of which human gods reside. Other pantheons such as the Pantheon of the Elves, are broken, or destroyed leaving only one or no gods behind.

In Arcanis, "true" gods are unconcerned with petty mortal morality, so have no alignment as gods in other settings do; only churches have alignment, depending on what aspects of a god they worship. The Pantheon of Man, for example, does not have alignment, but the Sethregoran Varn Gods do.

The foundation of the pantheon are three brother gods: Illiir, the Patron God of Emperors and Order, Sun God and Head of the Pantheon; Yarris, God of the Sea; and Neroth, God of Death. Further, three Goddesses are their sisters and in some cases consorts: Saluwé, Goddess of the Earth, consort of Illiir; Beltine, Goddess of the Soul, wife of Neroth; and Anshar, Goddess of Pain and Suffering. The children of Illiir and Saluwé are Hurrian, God of Storms and Honorable Combat, the Reluctant Warrior, Nier, God of Fire, War and Slaughter, and Larissa, Oracle of the Gods and (more recently) Goddess of Pleasure. The child of Neroth and Beltine is Cadic, the God of Shadows, Murder, and Music. Larissa and Cadic have a son named Sarish, God of Oaths and Binding of Demons. There is reference to Althares, God of Knowledge, Invention, and Artifice, as being the "Grand Uncle of Sarish," but exactly where he fits into the divine family tree is unclear.


The Mother Church of the Pantheon of Man once held all the gods in equal worship, until a schism occurred which drove followers of Neroth, Sarish and Nier to form an independent church, the Dark Triumvirate in Canceri. The Mother Church and the Dark Triumvirate differ in several ways, primarily in that the Dark Triumvirate approves of activities the Mother Church fears: the creation of Undead and the summoning of demons and devils for the most part.

The Ss'ressen and Ss'regorean Gods[]

The Fire Dragon is the god worshipped by the Black Talon ss'ressen. The Ashen Hide split off from this group, believing that Fire Dragon was actually the human god, Nier.

The Ss'regorean Empire once worshipped the gods Kassegore and Yig. With the ascension of the Naga to a ruling position in the Empire, they have begun to worship a pantheon known as the Varn.

The Elorii Pantheon[]

The Elorii follow the Elemental Lords which created them, despite the destruction of four of them. The remaining Elemental Lord, the life spirit Belisarda, was believed to have been destroyed by The Other (or Umor, as the Elorii knew him), until the arrival of a Prophet who claimed this was not true.

  • Belisarda - Goddess of Life and Healing
  • Keleos - God of Fire
  • Mârok - God of Earth
  • Osalían- God of Air
  • Beröe- God of Water

Elorii Heresy[]

Recently a common movement among Elorii has been the practice of identifying elemental lords with one of the human gods that supposedly absorbed those elemental lords powers. For instance, some Elorii followers of the Lord of Air consider Hurrian, the Storm Lord in the Pantheon of Man, to be their God. To other Elorii this seems to be heresy and is considered to be so, although the Mother Church (and the Dark Triumvirate in the case of Nier) has little or no issues for Elorii who choose this path.

Myrantian Gods[]

The ancient Myrantian Hegemony had its own pantheon of gods, although much information about them has been lost to the ages. The Mother Church of Coryan considers worship of the Myrantian deities heresy, but allows the worship of traditional Pantheon of Man deities under the names of Myrantian gods. The Myrantian Pantheon seems primarily based on the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, though not entirely. Tzizhet is considered a combination of Sarish and Neroth. Shu is a god of storms, considered the same as Hurrian.

Factions and secret societies[]

The setting also has secret societies, factions that have beliefs and goals that can either aid, or impede the mission of players in other cases. Each faction varies in its goal, as well as how secret each faction is.

  • The Orthodoxy seeks to eradicate heretical worship of the Human Panthenon.
  • The Hawk and Shield seek to eradicate the minions of the Sorcerer King or protect those who are arcanely gifted from his predetations.
  • The Emerald Society are Archelolgists who seek to discover anything and everything about the history of Onara, especially from the First Imperium
  • The Mourners in Silence believe that the gods of Arcanis have died and now work with other worldly allies towards unusual goals.
  • The Order of the Twilight Bough
  • The Swords of Nier

Living Arcanis[]

Living Arcanis is the name of the Living Campaigns set in the Arcanis setting. It is run by PCI which hosts major events at some of the larger game conventions, such as GenCon and particularly Origins Game Fair. Also, Living Arcanis is played at smaller regional conventions throughout the world, many of which host special events, as well as by players at home.


  • 2008 Origins Award, "Codex Arcanis" Best Roleplaying Supplement

External links[]