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Dimension 20: Calorum Explored - Meta-Cosmology

Welcome to my Calorum Explored series, where I dive into some of the lesser-explained areas of the brutal Dimension 20 setting to speculate and expand on the lore.

Photo by Ello / Unsplash

Welcome to my Calorum Explored series, where I dive into some of the lesser-explained areas of the brutal Dimension 20 setting to speculate and expand on the lore.

For those unfamiliar, the world of Calorum is the setting of Dimension 20's A Crown of Candy and the recent prequel series The Ravening War. I will be discussing points which are heavy spoilers for both series, so spoiler warning right at the top here.

The Geography

Calorum has one of the best maps produced on Dimension 20 to date, with amazing detail put into the different geographical regions, their associated food groups, and the crossover between them at the borders, like pies at the border of Fructera and Ceresia. You can easily scan this and imagine who might be wandering the Great Dunes of Grain or walking the Pilgrim’s Road between Greenhold and Brightgarden.

an illustration of the world map of Calorum - the setting for Dimension 20's A Crown of Candy.
Image: Illustration of Calorum. A Crown of Candy’s Setting from Dimension 20.

It was while looking at this beautiful map that I started thinking of this article’s topic; The Meta Cosmology of Calorum. Because, as you look at it you can see, it’s not just a joke or an interplay between culinary concepts, and it’s not at all the Food Pyramid. If you take a step back, take it in as a whole, it's an abstract representation of someone’s fridge.

We have the meat, often frozen, in the northern top mounted freezer. Just below we have the dairy islands, squarely existing between the frozen meats and the rest of the foods, with the colder dairy treats bordering The Meat Lands and Ceresia, probably close to Butter Lake. Candia, with it’s junk food and treats is squarely in the middle, and Fructera and Vegetania is down in the crisper. Ceresia’s grains can be found really at any part of the fridge, or just outside it on the counter, so it stretches from freezer to crisper.

As Above, So Below... the Bulb

Okay, so that explains the physical geography, what does that have to do with Cosmology? This is actually about both. You see in Calorum the Geography is influenced by the cosmology, and vice versa. This isn’t like a Toy Story situation where the all the food people stop moving when the fridge door is opened. This is more like Osmosis Jones (If you’re my age), or Inside Out (If you’re any younger). The world of Calorum exists outside the material plane as a demiplane where it’s geography, politics, and people are shaped by the animistic properties of food and the culinary habits of one fridge owner.

What does this mean exactly? Well, if the fridge owner, who we shall refer to as the Calorans do “The Hungry One” has a dietary change, the world of Calorum will unknowingly alter itself to reflect that. As Above, so Below The Bulb.

Let me give you an example: say they decide to go on a Keto diet, cutting out carbs, starting to make protein shakes, and shifting to a meat-rich diet. This would manifest in Calorum as waning influence in Ceresia and withering trade profits as The Meatlands tribes aggressively push east. They ally with the northern Dairy Island Sailors, and the Shake Corsairs blockade the harbor to butter lake. The pielands between Fructera and Ceresia run starchy as Vegetania uses Ceresia’s preoccupation with the Meatlands to their advantage. Finally, Ceresia and Candia must join forces to end the age of Keto with a last-ditch effort, cementing a temporary political alliance with the marriage of Duchess Patisserie as the Hungry One finally breaks Keto to eat birthday cake.

How Did This Look in ACOC/TRW?

Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the overarching plot of A Crown of Candy. My theory is that in this story, The Hungry One has largely adopted a healthy eating lifestyle, prompted by the acquisition of a particularly compelling book by Chef Ramsey, sparking the Ramsean doctrine’s rise within Calorum. As part of this shift in diet, the Hungry One locks away all their treats and goodies within their freezer, tucked out of sight and mind, only ever being doled out in the tiniest of midnight snacks by its gatekeeper, the embodiment of balance between restraint and indulgence, The Sugarplum Fairy.

During this time, magic in Candia is largely hidden; and even whispers of cravings for sweets are stamped out due to zealous adherence to the doctrine of healthy eating. This carries on for a while, with the diet getting more and more restrictive, veering almost into vegan territory, until eventually, the Ramsean Doctrine is smashed asunder as the Hungry One breaks down. They bust open the freezer, kill the guardian spirit of restraint, and crack open the vault of goodies; all instigated by one just delicious-looking Ice Cream Sundae. What was a cheat meal turns into a full-blown cheat weekend as the freezer is plundered for all it’s sweet treats, bringing Candian magic back to the people before grocery day, where their fridge is restocked, and Candia is expanded to 4x its size.

And what about The Ravening War? I think this represents an interesting time for the fridge. I think the fridge was fully stocked, bringing about an age of relative peace and prosperity in Calorum, but the Hungry One was simply too busy to cook meals at home. Due to this, they ended up relying heavily on take-out or quick microwave meals, and as that bountiful fridge began to go to waste, the Sanctus Putris took hold. Back behind all the fresh food, mold begins to grow, rot spreads, starting in the bread (always the first to go bad). In Calorum, under the Pyramid of Food, the Fellowship of Destiny’s Architects rejoices as they believe in the words of the Festering Tome, which says the rot will protect them from being devoured. They believe they are safe from the hungering maw if they are nauseating to look at; however, being devoured may be preferable to being disposed of, which is what our withered radish realizes all too late.

a particularly terrifying mini with rows of teeth instead of a torso.
What is food, if never on is fed, when with strange disposals, even Death lies dead. Image: Dimension 20.

I think the Hungry One will begin watching cooking shows, rekindling a love of home cooking, and this will prompt them to do a full deep clean of their fridge and start fresh. Disposing of leftover loose quiche and rotting peppers alike.

The Festering Tome does not protect from annihilation but instead invites it by alternate means, much to everyone's horror. The mass upheaval of this new attitude in The Hungry One will mark the beginning of a new age. A new concord is signed within Calorum, as a new diet is developed, and the engines of war idle, at least until the Hungry One gets a craving for ice cream.

How Can You Use This?

I personally love this interpretation of the world because I think it opens up a crazy amount of possibilities for stories to be told, either within the Dimension 20 world of Calorum or within your own home games in the setting. Look at the nations and groups of Calorum as connected concepts instead of rigid places and people, and rearrange them to fit your own homebrew.

If you want to create a complex cast of characters to call from just walk to your fridge right now. That old jar of pickles that’s been there for 2 years? That’s an ageless lich wizard who was last seen helping the Lord Hamborger invade the Ceresian Bunlands with the help of House Cheddar Smugglers.

Maybe you’re lactose intolerant; what does that mean for a Calorum with no Dairy Sea? Maybe you're getting ready for back to school; how does Calorum deal with a sudden influx of kids' lunch supplies? Does the juice box empress, Capri Sunn, gain power in Fructera as the summer heat sets in?

Just remember, As Above, So Below the Bulb. What is happening in the Hungry One’s life manifests within Calorum, and so too do the events of Calorum help inspire changes within the Hungry One’s mentality. One cannot exist without the other, a fridge must be stocked, and a dude’s gotta eat.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think I rolled on this lore check, was it a critical fail, a critical hit, or somewhere in between? The next bit I want to talk about is the sources of magical power in Calorum, which I'm very excited about with the reveal of Deus-Pa'Zuul confirming some of my theories. Until then, keep on rolling.