Author Topic: The World of Kavis - An Introduction  (Read 6015 times)


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The World of Kavis - An Introduction
« on: October 05, 2022, 03:55:30 PM »


The World of Kavis is an RPG setting I've been designing and running games in for some years. The idea of it is that it fulfils several things I want out of role-play gaming settings:
  • It is earthy without being grimdark. Fundamentally things in Kavis are messy, usually small or at most realm-spanning in scale, folkloric in their themes, but not hopeless or excessively bleak.
  • It is fractally designed. There are some big places and themes that I've nailed down about the setting, but I want it to have space for other people's games and creativity too in the long run.
  • It is explicitly early medieval in theme, and leans into that in its practice: navigating the ways that this world is different to a modern world is intended to be core to the gameplay, and to create some of the narrative tension and ideas that the world needs to function. Things like faith, ritual, and obligations matter because they matter to people in this world and that's something the players don't get to ignore.

I run games for Kavis using the Savage Worlds system, and I eventually hope to release some setting books and guides. In the meantime, this forum is a sprawling notes-sheet of various bits of the world and setting, which you're welcome to peruse, discuss, and nab ideas from.

Basic features of the setting

Geography: some of the basic features mimic, but do not copy, elements of early medieval Eurasia. There is a central post-Imperial power, the Heirophancy, that fulfils the role of a Byzantium or a Persia, stretching across part of the heart of the world, still a force to be reckoned with but undergoing significant strains and change. In the the continent of Chardil to the northwest and to the south and east of the Heirophancy, other polities likewise are reconfiguring themselves. Kavis isn't a world that is intended to be shown as an unchanging medieval eternity - players are thrown into it in flux, with new religious and social movements and political fractures and reconfigurations very much in progress. Rather than these potential changes being necessary overthrows of tyrants or unwanted threats to all that is good and just, they are often rather complicated movements that characters may have validly mixed feelings about.

Species: There are, like in most fantasy settings, far more sapient species than in our own world. In Kavis, there is a metaphysical divide between dawnfolk (essentially, fey of various sorts), dayfolk (humans, animals, dwarves, etc) and duskfolk (goblins, trolls). Dawnfolk, dayfolk and duskfolk are not in any sense morally different, and indeed goblin PCs are expected in the setting: rather, they have significant difference in their ways of existing and reproducing and thinking, and their basic needs or lack thereof, and these things can at times lead to both alliance and friction, and often lead to a certain amount of social sorting. Among player species, there are essentially two - humans and the somewhat elf-like Hanau form one, and dwarves and gnomes the other. Gnomes and Hanau have similar relative traits to their 'core' species of longer (but not infinite) lives, somewhat frailer bodies, and certain differences of mental state: I have a moderate amount of idea how this came about, but it's not something I've written much about as of yet. Goblins are also playable - whether they count as a species is dubious, as the premise of a species is based on biological ideas of reproduction and relatedness which simply don't really apply to goblins.

Magic: Is highly unpredictable, on the "there is a big d100 miscast chart which has a 1% chance of blowing you up and that's the second worst result available to you" level. This is the area where I've most heavily rewritten Savage Worlds, using a no power points rule mixed with a very chaotic system and some new edges etc to account for that. Magic is also very rare in Kavis - it needn't be among player characters, who are in any case the heroes, but magic is not something that most people come across every day, and may elicit fear and awe among folk who are unused to displays of magical power.

Things you will find:
  • Nature-inspired monsters. I really like taking actual weird creatures and messing around with them.
  • Monasteries, temples, festivals - faith and religion are part of everyday life and integrated into it closely.
  • Weird fey shenanigans. Fey creatures in Kavis often have ideas and wants that are at a 90 degree angle to anything that makes sense to dawn and duskfolk, which can provide unexpected opportunities for both collaboration and conflict.
  • Actual moral choices - ideally not arbitrary ones. I'm often not interested in writing adventures that ask how far you'd go to save the world: I want to know what characters are willing to do for individuals and smaller cases of right and wrong, and in my longer campaigns I work a lot on earned consequences for those actions.
  • A wide array of cultures and peoples - like in the real world, people in Kavis move around, and the protagonists are likely to be very mobile and meet other travellers, mercenaries, wandering holy men, and so on.

Things you won't find:
  • The undead. Strictly speaking a mage could probably animate a single skeleton for a prank, but it would be intensely difficult and binding spirits into things that are already dead is so difficult it's prohibitive to actually do it en masse. The dead are dead in Kavis, and indeed there are many different myths and theories as to what happens to them.
  • Certainty about the divine, faith, morals, etc. Kavis is a world where nobody can really prove most of its metaphysics, and thus has a similar range of lore and debate to our own world.
  • Demons, devils, angels - see the previous point.
  • Giant scenery chewing villains and heroes. Villains may be grandiose, melodramatic, and even want to take over the world, but this isn't a setting where there are true god-tier characters who are simply peronally powerful beyond mortal comprehension.

The History of Kavis as a Setting

The first thing that would later become Kavis was the setting for a computer game, called the Big Random Game, which I made at about the age of eleven I think. It had you wander round an island, defeat a troll, then go through a short adventure in the town of Travel (which I failed to notice for a long time was already a word, and pronounced "Tra-vell" with the stress on the second syllable). Travel, or Taravel, is still very much in existence in the setting as a small port in the southeast of Chardil. Not far from there is Soros/Saoros, which provided the focus for a second computer game I made in my mid to late teens, named Adventures of Soros. The unfinished python text adventure allowed for four playable races, elves, dwarves, humans and gnomes, three learnable character classes, and various other little quests and activities. I also started playing around with goblins that were somewhat complicated and in friction with rather than all against the human inhabitants of the world at about this point.

A few other key bits came from other sources. The term Hanau for the elves was imported when I was writing the background for Raiders and Traders, another game project made in my teens which was a city-builder: the term derives from the Easter Island folk, the Hanau 'E'epe - I once saw a rather bad translation of their name as long-ears, which led to me backwards-applying it to my elf-like folk.

I started work on Kavis more seriously in the later 2010s: I started this forum in 2018 and ran my first Kavis one-shots in 2019.

Notes Pages - Contents

General and Miscellany
Songs and Poems
Some Magic Notes
On the Hanau
On the Dwarves
On the Duskfolk
End of Year Celebrations around Kavis
Philosophers from Kavis
On letters, letter-carriers, and carrying information

The Heart of the World
Covers the Heirophancy and the lands around the Dragonfly Sea.
On Heirophantic Religion
Table Societies in the Heirophancy
The Land of Dulshan
The Land of Camahay
The Lands of Palictara and Tullactara
The Land of a Hundred and Fifty Lakes and Assehr
Monasticism around the Dragonfly Sea

Lands of Steel and Starlight
Covering Chardil, the northwest continent of the world's main regions, and the Starlit Sea.
The History of Chardil
Some Lords and Vassals in Chardil
Faith in Chardil

Paths of Sea, Stone, and Sky
North & east of the Heart of the World. Covers the Wendings, Mav and the surrounding regions, the Shaigel, and the Fire Paths beneath the earth.
The Shaigel
The City-state of Caracess

Isles of Salt and Secrets
South & west of the Heart of the World. Covers the oceans, Verasine and its archipelago, and the deserts west of the Mattahars.
The Lands of Verasine
West of the Mattahars
On the Cheloniads
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 11:57:33 PM by Jubal »
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