An Introduction to Val'Vahan

On the two western continents, Erub and Aran, are two Empires, Juraedon and Kilae. These empires are decentralized to the utmost, and barely hold on to their power . . .

What You Should Know

Fantasy Setting

This is a fantasy world designed for a 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game. This means you will encounter races such as Tieflings and Dragonborn as well as Humans and Elves, although I have put my own spin on them.

This world is for people of all fantasy backgrounds. Familiar concepts are brought forward and inspected—why did they become familiar in the first place? Elves, for instance, are more 'classic' in portrayal than in recent fantasy entries—but this long avoided interpretation has refreshed itself by lack of use! Overall, you will not feel lost in this world. But I hope it makes the familiar strange, like the familiar once was. The familiar can be delved and be appreciated even further than it already has.

The Conceit

I think that the best fantasy worlds are those that take one part of the real world and emphasize it, blowing it up like a balloon. Then, we may look back and understand our own world a little bit better. No made-up world can beat the one we live in—not in terms of scope, originality, or interesting-ness. But at the same time, Fantasy is a powerful draw for varying reasons. I use Fantasy in my world to, first and foremost, draw attention to ours. I want the mundane to be thrust into relief and be revealed as strange. Our world is a lanky, fat, stretched, and pointed thing, but we've become less surprised by it with every repetition. So, my primary way to world-build is to put real-world places and stories into my world. And, under the lens of Fantasy, I hope they become as interesting as they once were.

The World's Summary

The year is 1093 Year of Huraedon, and that means the world is dominated in the West by two Empires, the Empire of Juraedon to the north, and the Empire of Kilae to the south. To the East are the Yeqitari Elves, or the Eastern Elves. The West is ruled by Humans, and the Elves that live there have long diminished since the dreadful Wars of Hate more than 6000 years ago. The Dwarrow are not diminished, but they've never had great populations. And the works of their forefathers and those ancient skills are lost to them, but they have discovered new skills that were never known. Halflings live like they do in the Lord of the Rings, happily living a life of the furrow. Gnomes have never been major players on the world stage, but they're not the absolute jokes they are in some other stories. I hoped to give them some dignity with an earthy grounding. Tieflings have never been treated well, being creations of a Devil Prince's works, but in the time of the Twin Empires they are treated equally in the urban areas, at least. Half-orcs are treated even worse. But again, education and the Church have done wonders elucidating the urban.

Magic, once thought an eternally lost science, has been rediscovered, and from the initial principles of the Nelqorana Humanity has developed a science that implies a bright and starry future for the world.

The world is old, but this doesn't mean eternal stagnation. There is hope for a better future, and with Magic, this future is being realised. The world is for the taking, and there will always be need for adventurers.

The World's Flavour

What's a star? Can you touch it? Can you eat it? Can you kill it?
— From Undertale

In 1093 Year of Huraedon, the world is a medieval fantasy with bleed out from the Renaissance period. Magic has altered societal and technological development. We have masted ships, but no printing press. We have unitary style governments, but most countries still rely on the old feudal homages and obligations. If you go back in time a thousand years or so, you will find a world less advanced technologically and societally. If you go even further back, 7000 years, you will find a society much more advanced than our current one, but it will have the appearance of a medieval feudal kingdom—discounting the whitewashed stones and towers. So we have elements of the prior, greater kingdoms—ala Tolkien—but we also have an idea of growth. After all, the Empire of Juraedon is experiencing a golden age. And none of those very ancient kingdoms ever came close to the amount of territory the Empire of Juraedon now controls.

I want this world to feel somewhat real. And my most treasured idea is that of the exception. Our world is filled with exceptions. They defy the stereotypes. I think that the idea of the exception is core to a low-magic world in D&D. Using the rules as written, the players are the exception, and they must find a way to become great in the world using their exceptional talents. I hope that theme can appear in a macroscopic view of the world. That it looks natural, but you see that all the major deeds and movements were exceptions. For so long, the world seemed shattered, then Hod the Great united Erub. For so long, the gods were silent, then Detheril the Mariner came and beseeched them, and they descended in fire and wrath and captured Gendûet Seat of Judgement. For awhile, the world seemed to be entering technological stasis, and then Magic is refounded and two mighty empires spring into existence.

At the same time, no one is entirely exempt from the world. We are still bound to its sphere and its laws. Society will not condone murder, and fires will burn.

Cosmology

Mannan, Patron of Men
by Alan Lee

Now, for all the history I told you above, I want you to take with a grain of salt. I write many of my articles from the viewpoint of scholars of the West, living in the capital of the Empire. This doesn't mean that they are wrong with what they write, only that they write with a limited perspective. Especially in regards to history extremely far back. Of course, lots of times I undulate between an omniscient narrator as well. It's a bit of a mess, but you should be able to tell when an opinion is biased or not by the context.

While the East is filled with a hodgepodge of various religions and ideas, the West is dominated by the Church of Qallanism. The Church teaches a belief in the one god Vahan, and his many workers: the Seats, the Powers, and the Principalities. They are good spirits, invisible and always at work among us.

Naturally, the West generally believes that this is true. But it may not be so. Various realms, such as Coelum and Throne Room can be accessed by Magic. These realms are inhabited by beings that Wizards have called Devils and Angels. And the West has even identified beings they believe existed in those far off myths. But neither side can confirm the existence of the gods as the West believes in. Even the Angelic beings are not sure of the existence of the gods. And if we probe their ideas and philosophies to see if their ideas match up, we find incomprehensibility. The minds of Angels and Devils are beyond ours to understand, and so the mystery of religion remains.

The claimed scientific cosmology of the world goes as such: Coelum above, the Mundane Realm in the middle, and Throne Room at the bottom. The West believes that above Coelum is Heaven, and below Throne is Hell.

There are many gods and many religions. Many pagan gods, and many heathen religions. But which one is orthodox? Is there any we can call the orthodox?

The Eras of the World

There are three eras of the world. You can see them listed in a timeline here. These eras represent the modern era and are not representative of all the ages of the world. Furthermore, these eras are only for those northerly nations in the continent of Erub. The other nations and continents of the world have their own measurements of time, but as I'm not interested in timekeeping, I've watered all the measurements of the ages down into the single system of one specific collection of cultures. Each era incrementally goes up with every year. Each era resets the year number of the prior era, like how our A.D. resets the B.C. Our first era is the Age of Nelqora, which is the time period of when the Empire of Nelqora grew, ruled, and fell. The aftermath of the Empire's fall is included in this age, such as the rule of the Black King Elwëdorf. After this era comes the Years of Hod, which began with Hod the Great's establishment of his Empire of Huraedon. This age was the shortest among the three. Next comes the Age of Huraedon, which was established after Hod's empire fell, and began because many believed in a rejuvination of the Huraedon imperial ideal. This age continues onwards to this day.

Places

The world is not at peace, despite the large imperial entities. They are decentralized to the utmost, and this means that their nations within are free to scheme and battle to a limited degree. The biomes tend to mimic earth's in terms of expectation. So you can expect cold places up north, and warmer places down south. The Desert of Alk'kir is a strange desert for these reasons, but there is speculation as to how it came to what it is today.

Felmourne rides across the snowy plains of Uulsan Torall.

Hello, my name is Sean. This world is a pet project of mine. The creation of this world fuels a lot of my love for D&D, and, if you're one of my players, I hope the things I write here help you get into my game as well.

I'm here mostly to create a setting which I enjoy, disregarding creativity or skill. My only requirement for what I write is that I tell some sort of truth -- that truth can be my personal beliefs or merely an accurate representation of feudal kingdoms. This means that many of the articles you'll read here are filled with, effectively, stolen content from books, articles, and movies. Nevertheless, I hope that you can take the hodgepodge as is and enjoy the romp. If you're looking for something new: no fear! There are many creative sections and interesting tidbits which may fuel an appreciation of this world.

Feel free to write a comment or PM me if you have any questions.


This is an online D&D game using the Roll20 platform. Currently, the game is: full. But if you want to read on the homebrew rules and the listing itself, which has a thorough explanation of expectations, you may check those HERE.

Val'Vahan is Special

This world is, in many ways, like our own. It has many developmental differences, Magic being the chief instigator, but the people are the same with similar ideas and aspirations; and everyone believes in good and evil. I wouldn't call this world a happy place, but it's by no means a crapsack place either. The presence of Magic and my medieval setting means that this world fits into the Fantasy genre. Val'Vahan sprung out of my love for our world's various peoples and cultures and especially our world's philosophies and mythologies.

The world's genesis began in my Middle School years when I loved the fantasy genre. Well, I soon realized that I was awful at writing fantasy stories and my enjoyment of the genre itself subsided, so I stopped thinking of the world altogether. After some years I'd decided to run a D&D game, and I thought that bringing back the ol'Juraedon and Kilae Empires would be a nice callback to something that was special to me. I found that I had become a lot better at writing and that my fantasy world was beginning to have a smidgen of the heavy weight I attribute to all real things in our world. So I began to develop it further and further, and now we have 240k words and counting in a year and a half.

The header claims my world is special, but I only mean it in the weakest sense of the word. It's special because it's mine, and I jealously guard it; ironically, this means that I have to let my players' grubby little hands touch it and change it so that they can be a part of my creation. But I think that's a worthy sacrifice to make. After all, I want this world to be inspired by people, and what better thing to show my world's faults and glories than other people?

Further Reading

Read these if you aren't sure where to go next.

Cover image: by Jelke Ludolphij

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