The purpose of this document is to provide a basic surface-level overview of Avendar’s setting. The information present in this documentation would be common knowledge to every character, and we have included information here that would also be known to every adventurer (i.e. player character) specifically. We encourage players to review class, race, and culture pages for more in-depth information that may be relevant to their characters, and staff is always happy to answer more specific questions via Discord or by sending a note to Immortal in-game.
Cosmology and Religion
Avendar is a single plane within a multiverse, invested with order, life, and death by the Overgods Iandir, Jolinn, and Ashur. Other planes exist within the multiverse, many of which interact with Avendar in various ways. Many gods, subordinate to the Overgods, exist on Avendar and regularly intervene in the fates of mortals, but a divine agreement called the Compact prevents most extreme divine intervention. Thus, gods tend to act through mortals (or once-mortals) to enact their designs.
The gods are ubiquitous in Avendar and intervene regularly in the lives of mortals. Even the casual, passing attention of a divinity can leave a mark on a person’s soul that manifests on their body in some way. Particularly notable devotees of a god will sometimes be given a sigil, a usually-visible symbol of their devotion and a visible representation of a deity’s investment in that mortal. These individuals will usually be quite long-lived at the very least, and some are even functionally immortal.
Most people pay at least a few gods worship, for the practical benefits if nothing else, and the gods largely seem to have no problem with their blessings being treated in a transactional way. Most gods seek to establish religions built around their values, however, tempered by the sensibilities of the species or cultures a particular god takes an interest in. There is no clear rhyme or reason as to why the gods bother with this or what benefit they must derive, but a great deal of debate exists among theologians.
Life and Death
The original font of life was Jolinn, who seeded Avendar with its first single-celled organisms and set evolution in motion after the formation of its physical and metaphysical laws by Iandir. Ashur then contributed the concepts of entropy and death for Its own reasons, completing the world as we know it. As other gods arrived or came into being, many of them intervened in the course of various species’ evolutions or even created new lifeforms wholesale; however, by and large, the gods seek to influence what already exists.
While sometimes referred to as “races,” the different people of Avendar are well and truly different species. Each playable species has its own unique biology and anatomy. Some are divine creations or had their development guided by a god, others evolved from natural flora and fauna; most are some combination of the two. People of different species cannot interbreed to create offspring, but sex and relationships of all kinds happen frequently and are regarded neutrally at best, with varying attitudes depending on the culture.
Life begins at birth; all living things are ensouled upon taking their first breath, and are not considered a separate and whole living being until that point. For most of the history of the world, life was singular and death final just as it is in real life. Near the end of the War of Night, the goddess Lielqan became capable of intervening upon the death of any living thing, and this knowledge slowly became widespread. Priests trained in Lielqani resurrection rites now grant any who entreat them access to a second chance at life, reviving them as they were at the time of death but in perfect health. As such, for the past four thousand years every person in Avendar has had access to multiple lives, and most everyone has probably died multiple times by the time they reach old age due to subsequent changes in culture and attitudes around dying. Though anything with a soul is capable of being resurrected, most animals and extremely young children will be inclined to let go of life instinctively, and for the most part only sentient beings capable of communicating somehow will be able to entreat a priest to intervene for them. It is common practice everywhere to soulbond a child to an altar as soon as they are old enough, ensuring they can receive help in the event of an unfortunate accident.
There is a limit to Lielqan’s ability to intervene, however. A being will only have the will necessary to survive death so many times, and Lielqan also refuses to intervene at the natural end of a person’s lifespan. The exception to this is immortal divines, individuals invested with agelessness and resistance to death by a deity or other powerful being.
Technology, Magic, and Psionics
The level of technology in Avendar is roughly comparable to early modern, though it most notably lacks industrial-scale manufacturing and all of the goods and innovation that flows from it. Those who live in cities may have varying access to plumbing, on-demand hot water, air conditioning, artificial lighting, and refrigeration, all powered by various applications of magic.
Magic is ubiquitous in Avendar as a preternatural aspect of the plane’s laws, and is a necessary aspect of nearly every functioning society. Nearly anyone is theoretically capable of performing magic save the alatharya, who had the ability to use any magic removed from them by the gods during the Sundering. Due to heavy species and class stratification, however, in practice access to magic and the things which rely upon it may vary wildly between regions and even within different neighborhoods in the same city.
Magic is divided by arcanologists into six spheres, a result of the Sundering tens of thousands of years ago. Each sphere is associated with a specific ethos and cosmic alignment, known to arcanologists as resonance. Those whose personal resonance is too far removed from a sphere are unable to access those spheres of magic. The accepted arcane designations for each sphere are thus:
Water is resonant with the concept of life.
Fire is resonant with the concept of destruction.
Earth is resonant with the concept of structure.
Air is resonant with the concept of creativity.
Spirit is resonant with the concept of freedom.
Void is resonant with the concept of death.
These are greatly simplified but broadly understood to be more or less true. There is disagreement between academics on the true nature of magic, the spheres, and resonance however, and many questions remain unanswered.
Access to magical training is often restricted due to discrimination, prejudice, and poverty. In particular, the School of Heroes severely restricts licensure based on the species and study of an individual; for example, there are no chaja or srryn scholars among adventurers because the School will not issue licenses to them. This does not mean scholars are not represented (if rarely) among the broader population of srryn or chaja, only that they are barred from being adventurers.
Psionics, conversely, carries with it much fewer biases and restrictions. Introduced to Avendar in the wake of the Sundering by Jalassa, all sentient beings possess at least some capacity for psionics. Part of the basic courses of study for all nascent adventurers involves learning how to utilize their psionics in a basic way if they haven’t been taught already, as well as having their minds connected to a closed “network” with all other adventurers.
Culture and Society
Most societies in Avendar are fairly stratified, with varying degrees of class and wealth inequality. Prejudices based on species, gender, religious affiliation, nationality, etc. exist in the setting, with particular groups (particularly alatharya, srryn, and chaja) regularly being the targets. In general, the prejudices in Avendar do not map 1:1 onto real-life prejudices however; homophobia and transphobia are nearly unheard of for example, and colorism does not exist (people are much more “concerned” about the lizardman next door than they are about their brown neighbor).
The level of education in Avendar is universally high, with rates of literacy being close to 100%. The reason for this is the Fenthiran-Alajian-Chadralnite Teacher’s Society, or FACTS, a millennia-old extra-governmental group. Through political maneuvering and pressure from a diverse array of divine patrons that opted to back the organization after its founding, FACTS is established and accepted as the means through which every individual in Avendar may obtain an education. Much of their membership consists of traveling tutors sent to every possible far-flung village and city-state to offer free, basic education to all. Their sole condition is that this access be unrestricted and that their curriculum be under their sole control. A few isolated holdouts, such as Kor Thrandir and most shuddeni clans, reject FACTS for this reason, but the vast majority of settlements accept FACTS if only grudgingly; even in places they are not wanted, FACTS generally do not care about their feelings, and will find ways of smuggling tutors or educational materials in.
Adventurers are a distinct class of individuals with an active adventurer’s license as granted by the School of Heroes. Adventurers are recognized and accepted across the mainland continent of Avendar, and the city-states therein subject adventurers to different laws and penalties for behaviors that would broadly be recognized as crimes by most societies. Many places do not welcome adventurers, however: the Eternal Empire of Daphoa only allows naturalized aelin citizens to walk freely within its borders, requiring visas and legal guardians to chaperone anyone else. Ashta Harrud does not allow adventurers within its borders at all, and has been known to turn them away with immense violence. All shuddeni clans with the exception of Yithoul also remain isolated, as do all remaining ch’taren Havens, for fairly obvious (and amusingly similar) reasons. Other regions exist with varying levels of tolerance for adventurers, but most do not welcome them or the peculiar kind of mayhem that tends to follow in their wake.
The concept of the adventurer came from humanity, specifically Dolgrael and Lilune worshippers whose synthesized religious leanings created the perfect conditions for a class of wandering, exploring heroes-and-villains. The aelin witnessed this and connected it with their age of exploration and legends of their great familial heroes, lending the concept legitimacy and a sense of romance during the heights of the Daphoan Empire on the continent of Avendar. As the convention evolved, it became more solidified, legalistic, and exploitative, leading to its current state.