<+MikeMyler> I’m Mike Myler, award-winning full-time RPG freelancer of more than half a decade, editor of EN5ider, and most prominently today: maker of campaign settings. I’ve worked on Warhammer 40k RPGs, made NOW (part of WOIN), and you can find me on Twitter @MikeMyler2, on (Link: http://www.mikemyler.com,)www.mikemyler.com, or also my weekly column on EN World (*Mythological Figures*).
<+MikeMyler> Vast Kaviya is a primordial sword and sorcery campaign setting and NPC resource (100+ statblocks) for D&D Fifth Edition, an immense world of low magic and high adventure that’s perfect for adding to homebrew settings or discovering using the book’s exploration rules. Check out the project page for a free 40 page PDF primer!
<+MikeMyler> That primer is on the GameOnTabletop project page –> (Link: https://www.gameontabletop.com/cf78/vast-kaviya.html)https://www.gameontabletop.com/cf78/vast-kaviya.html
<~Dan> Thanks, MikeMyler! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> You say “primordial”. What does that mean in this context?
<+MikeMyler> It means sandals and sorcery but I think that reference would be lost on a lot of folks.
<+MikeMyler> More dinosaurs, certainly
<+MikeMyler> There’s more than a dozen of those throughout the Warlord and Bestiary chapters (some just not existing elsewhere yet, like drop dinosaurs or the titanohydrosaurus, and others of undead and psionic varieties)
<+MikeMyler> There’s also a lack of unified civilizations or gathered knowledge
<+MikeMyler> Great example of that: no wizards.
<~Dan> Psionic dinosaurs?
<+MikeMyler> Hell yes psionic dinosaurs. Kalar the Lizard lord is in that free primer PDF pages 13-21.
<+MikeMyler> There aren’t a *ton* of psionic dinosaurs, but there are some ruling over Sickle Canyon
<~Dan> Very cool. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> That’s also thought to be the ancestral birthplace of the taino-kar (the dinosaur folk appearing in the Races chapter)
<~Dan> And no wizards, you say? What form does magic take in this setting?
<+MikeMyler> Sort of a cloak-and-dagger backseat. It’s recommended that a party have no more than 1 and at most 2 spellcasters because it puts a huge target on an adventurer’s back.
<+MikeMyler> bards, sorcerers, clerics, druids–these are all fine, but if you play one you need to be cautious and try not to be flashy with your magic (or if you are, not to leave any witnesses to spread rumors about you because if that happens the nearest warlord[s] will start hunting after you)
<+MikeMyler> It’s touched on here in the broad strokes of the setting
<~Dan> Sorry, my connection has been flaky lately..
<+MikeMyler> No worries. Do we need to restart?
<~Dan> Nope. Let me just make sure I didn’t miss anything.
<~Dan> I saw this: <+MikeMyler> bards, sorcerers, clerics, druids–these are all fine, but if you play one you need to be cautious and try not to be flashy with your magic (or if you are, not to leave any witnesses to spread rumors about you because if that happens the nearest warlord[s] will start hunting after you)
<~Dan> And this: <+MikeMyler> It’s touched on here in the broad strokes of the setting
<~Dan> Was there anything in between?
<+MikeMyler> Nope es bueno
<~Dan> Ah, cool.
<+MikeMyler> There’s a URL to a screenshot from the primer with half the world tenets on there–got that?
<~Dan> So all sorts of magic exist aside from wizardry?
<+MikeMyler> Yes. Just no *formal* magic.
<+MikeMyler> Also some spells may not exist (see the screenshot). Mostly spells that create things, particularly food and water
<~Dan> So there are clerics… Are they more like random holy people in the wilderness than clergy?
<+MikeMyler> Yessir. They don’t even have gods!
<~Dan> Really? How does THAT work?
<+MikeMyler> It’s based on belief. You don’t worship the god to access their domain, you just worship the domain. Domains are equivalent to “Spiritual Patrons” which are conceptual, amorphous non-entities that appear differently to different kaviyans. If you are at all familiar with the chaos gods in Warhammer 40,000, they are a rough analogy.
<~Dan> So you don’t worship the storm god, you worship the storms?
<+MikeMyler> For example a tribe of taino-kar in the Heavy Plains might venerate a dinosaur-spider monstrosity that symbolized Malice while humans in the Dead Woods do the same for a thing they believe looks more like a dryad made out of thorns
<+MikeMyler> That’s a great way to think about it!
<+MikeMyler> Same storm, different sides
<+MikeMyler> There’s also a new domain in the Classes chapter (Lunar, because Vast Kaviya has more than hundred moons whirling about it)
<~Dan> That’s a lot of moons!
<+MikeMyler> So many moons. 40 of them are in a tight orbit and that’s how most people the world over track the days of each month
<~Dan> The tides must be very chaotic.
<+MikeMyler> I would say so. There’s only one aquatic area details amongst the warlords and getting frequently crashed is integral to its concept.
<~Dan> Aside from wizards, are there any other classes not found in this setting?
<+MikeMyler> No gunslingers or gunfighters that’s for sure.
<~Dan> Heh. Well, yeah, I figured that much. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> If you’re talking classes from A TOUCH MORE CLASS I’d say the alchemist and tinkerer are out
<+MikeMyler> EN5ider’s exclusivity license has ended for the gemini and monster tamer though, and they are both getting reprinted in Vast Kaviya
<+MikeMyler> aaaaand I’d probably allow a bloodweaver. There’s a level of formality to that class’ magic, but it’s blood magic and that fits the primal theme
<~Dan> Are there any tweaks to the basic classes?
<+MikeMyler> Well there are no crossbows, rapiers, or any heavy armors
<+MikeMyler> So if you are in a class that gets heavy armor proficiency (looking at you, fighters), you get a feature called Skilled Defense instead
<+MikeMyler> When a creature would gain proficiency with heavy armor from a class or feat, it gains this feature instead. While wearing medium armor, the creature gains a bonus to AC equal to half its proficiency bonus.
<+MikeMyler> Still not quite the equivalent of plate armor, but too bad because steel is practically unheard of anyway
<+MikeMyler> Then the magical classes get archetypes that reflect the old school roleplaying feel we wanted to get here
<+MikeMyler> (unlike my more recent campaign settings this had a larger stable of writers–9 other folks worked on it)
<+MikeMyler> For warlocks there’s a Hivemind patron (in the free primer PDF!) and a Grandmother patron (because the tribe amirite), and then sorcerers get an animator archetype (think Mickey in Fantasia) and dreaming archetype (Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth)
<+MikeMyler> Druids get a burning circle option
<~Dan> What does the dreaming archetype entail?
<+MikeMyler> When you take long rests you can give out equal amounts of nightmares (less healing) and good dreams (more healing)
<+MikeMyler> (important because of spellcaster scarcity in VK)
<+MikeMyler> Then they get Somnium Orbs at 6th level
<+MikeMyler> They’re little scrying balls. Can’t use them offensively or defensively, but they do let you do a lot of scouting and the like
<+MikeMyler> Then telepathy and at will dream castings later on at 14th level, topping things off with your very own dream labyrinth at 18th level
<~Dan> That’s cool. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> and mind you, magnificent mansion is an expensive/deleted spell (depending on the GM’s discretion) so that’s a big boon
<+MikeMyler> otherwise across the board–everybody gets an extra language proficiency
<+MikeMyler> because Common is a simple tongue only able to convey simple ideas
<+MikeMyler> When Common is utilized by characters in play it should be used with no greater sophistication than a 9 or 10 year old might speak with, and should dialogue more complex than that occur, the speaker must succeed on an Intelligence check against a DC equal to the listener’s passive Insight score or be misunderstood.
<~Dan> That’s an interesting approach
<+MikeMyler> Thank you sir ♥
<+MikeMyler> At the end of the day it ultimately encourages roleplay
<+MikeMyler> Suddenly we cannot fall back upon refined shared language nuance developed over decades of fluency
<+MikeMyler> Kind of like if you were talking to someone in primordial times
<~Dan> Seems appropriate. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> Ack! Should’ve mentioned it above but more tenets than those that appear on page 4 of the primer PDF can be found at (Link: http://www.vastkaviya.com)www.vastkaviya.com :3
<~Dan> You mentioned the rarity of steel earlier. What is the standard metal for weaponry? Iron? Bronze?
<+MikeMyler> There’s practically no steel to be found in the lands of Vast Kaviya and the few who do have the knowledge to smith it hide the techniques from the world at large. Instead most weapons are forged from bronze or iron, formed from obsidian or other stone, or no more than whittled down and fastened bone.
<+MikeMyler> so indeed: unless stated otherwise, most weapons and shields are made of bronze.
<+MikeMyler> There are rules for weapons made out of antler/horn, bone, bronze, iron, obsidian, steel, and stone though (and how things change when using a weapon or shield that’s been broken)
<+MikeMyler> (half damage and only +1 to AC, respectively)
<~Dan> What standard races appear in VK, and what new ones do you introduce?
<+MikeMyler> (Link: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EGayQFKXUAARM1K?format=jpg&name=medium)https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EGayQFKXUAARM1K?format=jpg&name=medium <– more stuff on primitive weapon materials
<+MikeMyler> All the core races are there, and then boggards, gnolls, mongrelfolk, the plant-like alai, insectile kanca, parasitic ottunni, and aforementioned taino-kar dinosaur folk. There’s also new subraces for aasimar (elated, soul, and vindico) as well as genasi (acid, ash, mist, and mud), dwarves (mistdweorg), and halflings (mistling).
<+MikeMyler> If there’s a character race that you really want to play that doesn’t appear in the core rules or in Chapter 4: Races, with your GM’s permission they too can have a home in Vast Kaviya! Even if the GM doesn’t think a certain race option is balanced, it can still be included for an NPC as a rival element for your adventurer.
<+MikeMyler> Also many pockets of certain species don’t ever come into contact with others of their kind, and it may well be that a lone survivor from a destroyed tribe thinks they are the very last member of their race–until they discover otherwise.
<+MikeMyler> (shamelessly pulled that from the Adventurer’s Handbook :p)
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Guest94!)
<+MikeMyler> I ought to stress how big Vast Kaviya is
<~Dan> Hence the name?
<+MikeMyler> Imagine your computer monitor has a big circle on it
<+MikeMyler> put your pinky on there
<+MikeMyler> Your pinky nail is the relative size of the North American continent if it were on Vast Kaviya
<~Dan> My goodness!
<+MikeMyler> I was tempted to call the setting V A S T Kaviya but felt that’d be a bit too loud
* ~Dan chuckles
<~Dan> I assume you don’t address gravity as an issue. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> It really is just immense though. That’s why it’s #1 in the tenets.
<+MikeMyler> We thought about that! Much of Vast Kaviya is hollow so there’s that, then the gravitation effects of all those moons (of many sizes, orbits, rotational directions, and the like), and then there’s the primal magic running through everything (Mana)
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, kiwi_94!)
<+MikeMyler> well, and the Kaṉavu-Valai too (which is kind of like an interplanar river drawing spirits and ebbed onward by the movement of Mana)
<+MikeMyler> The hollow bit and the moons are more to do with the astral composition of the planet though
<+MikeMyler> why it isn’t a brown dwarf and so forth
<+MikeMyler> er, astronomical composition rather
<~Dan> So what’s on the inside of the planet?
<+MikeMyler> At least 3 warlords
<+MikeMyler> It’s (obviously) to big to just smack an Underdark label on it though
<+MikeMyler> But aye. Monsters, some tribes of folk (including but not limited too savage vampires, a city [gasp!] of dweorg, a sort of terrarium of outcasts, and whatever else a GM wants to put in it)
<~Dan> You mentioned the clerics not worshiping gods earlier… Are there gods at all? What’s the cosmology of the setting?
<+MikeMyler> No true gods! There are folks that claim to be gods (Varasuul the Enslaver for example) but there’s not enough unified belief for an actual deity
<~Dan> What about demons and devils?
<+MikeMyler> and celestials? They’re around. None are named or have a strong presence in the campaign setting though.
<+MikeMyler> if there is a holy war going on, of the few people in Vast Kaviya that might be able to learn about it (via powerful magic) they have more immediate concerns
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Guest94!)
<~Dan> Speaking of powerful magic, you describe the setting as low magic, but aside from the lack of wizards, I’m not really getting that vibe. Can you say a bit more about that?
<+MikeMyler> Sure. There’s an inherent primal magic everyone ignorantly accesses (Mana, a kind of maybe-with-a-good-roll-you-can-freely-influence-the-narrative-via-the-elements ability score), but otherwise people are too low level (paladins, rangers) to access spellcasting
<+MikeMyler> The people that have the talent–bards, clerics, druids, sorcerors,warlocks–pose the largest threat to any warlord
<+MikeMyler> One tough warrior is great–until someone starts conjuring fireballs at them from hundreds of feet away, right?
<~Dan> (Howdy, Woo77!)
<+MikeMyler> So when one of these potentially dangerous spellcasters appears word travels fast (like how rumors travel quickly out in the cut) and a warlord immediately moves to capture/enslave or kill them before they become a serious problem
<+MikeMyler> With no formal magic and no wizards the creation of magic items is also greatly effected
<+MikeMyler> A bag of holding might as well be a miracle when there’s nobody potent enough and with the obscure knowledge to create it around to produce one
<~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
<+MikeMyler> (that’s why some of the primitive weapon materials are able to affect creature with resistance or immunity to nonmagical weapons)
<+MikeMyler> It’s useful to consider how seeing someone do *actual magic* right now today would end up playing out
<+MikeMyler> If you were outside cutting your lawn and you watched your neighbor cast a spell and fly into the air, you would freak the f#$% out right? You’d tell everyone you met “holy crap I saw Jerry use magic to fly it was incredible”
* ~Dan nods
<+MikeMyler> Jerry would become well known very quickly. And if there were powerful people who considered Jerry a threat–not great news for Jerry, and a reason people like Jerry aren’t commonplace
<+MikeMyler> also one of the reasons we include the monster tamer class
<~Dan> Why’s that?
<+MikeMyler> Gives a group some flexibility on accessing features that normally you’d rely on a full spellcaster for
<+MikeMyler> “oh man how are we going to transport all this stuff” ‘It’s cool I got my Huge lizard here he can handle it’
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<~Dan> Aside from the prevalence of dinosaurs, are there any other interesting facts about VK fauna?
<+MikeMyler> There’s plenty of megafauna
<+MikeMyler> including one I couldn’t help but keep the mega name in
<+MikeMyler> the megawolf
<~Dan> (Last thing I saw: the megawolf.)
<+MikeMyler> We have a few icy monsters pulled out of Scandinavian folklore
<+MikeMyler> When a primitively mummified corpse is interred near the Kaṉavu-Valai it pops up as a primal mummy
<+MikeMyler> Then there’s the Devastation Creatures
<+MikeMyler> A little bit of an OSR throwback
<+MikeMyler> Looks almost exactly like a standard fantasy creature–cockatrice, dog, dragon, gargoyle, genie, giant, goblin, griffon, hippogriff, hydra, minotaur, or ooze–but is decidedly more deadly than the original version
<+MikeMyler> So the party rolls up on a devastation cockatrice and is like ‘oh sweet we got this’ until it starts screaming, they take psychic damage, and are gradually petrified into stone with the more psychic damage they take
<+MikeMyler> Devastation creatures = the GM’s sweet, sweet revenge
<+MikeMyler> Not all cockatrice are devastation cockatrice mind you
<+MikeMyler> but some are
<+MikeMyler> and the PCs hopefully don’t figure that out until a very dramatic and enjoyable moment
<~Dan> I can see that keeping PCs on their toes.
<+MikeMyler> otherwise it’s just that there are a *lot* of beasts and monsters
<+MikeMyler> there is no great empire killing off trolls or anything like that, no monster hunting armies or regularly patrolled roads
<~Dan> How large is your bestiary?
<+MikeMyler> 28 creatures in the Bestiary chapter
<+MikeMyler> then the warlords all have at the minimum 4 statblocks (some have more–the Wake of Maws is rocking 8 undead dinosaurs for example)
<~Dan> How large is the book?
<+MikeMyler> most are proper NPCs but not all (the Kion Gozi warlord of the Endless Plains of the N’Elu is a lowly CR 2 from the core book, and the creatures in that area are all big badasses like lightning elementals, an earth elemental thingy [in the primer–the dunia], the huge poisonous piasa bird, the gargantuan blob fayudan)
<+MikeMyler> It hasn’t gone through layout yet
<+MikeMyler> It will be at a minimum 200 pages
<+MikeMyler> how many more than that depends on if we get to unlock anything past the funding goal and also what a much more prolific designer decides upon hopefully in the next few days (we may come out of the gate with 21 warlords instead of 20, fingers crossed)
<~Dan> How much territory does a typical warlord control?
<+MikeMyler> Depends on the warlord and how the map rolls out
<+MikeMyler> On average there’s a ~1 in 3 chance of a warlord being in any new area discovered by the party (an area being a large swathe of land that encompasses up to 4 different kinds of terrain, half of which are hostile terrain)
<+MikeMyler> So there’s no map of Vast Kaviya–it’d be ridiculous to try to do that. It’d be as long as the Bayeux Tapestry!
<+MikeMyler> Instead chapter 3 has Exploration Rules that a GM uses to procedurally generate more of the world as the PCs explore it
<+MikeMyler> Thus every group’s version of Vast Kaviya will look differently from another’s (and conceivably all of them could actually be on the same planet and just in different parts)
<~Dan> Is this the start of a game line for you?
<+MikeMyler> We do have plans for some follow-up books!
<+MikeMyler> In addition to the map pack, GM screen (and GM screen inserts), Adventurer’s Handbook
<+MikeMyler> One is an adventure by Jesse Jordan revolving around the undead dinosaurs in Wake of Maws
<+MikeMyler> This is however my last 5E campaign setting
<+MikeMyler> no more after this one! I’ll start converting material to What’s Old Is New after this (starting with Hypercorps 2099 since that should nicely complement Judge Dredd)
<~Dan> Why the change?
<+MikeMyler> I’ve talked about it before and it’s not hard to find my rant about it, and I’m just sick to death of WotC (or more accurately Hasbro) being heavy-handed bastards
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<+MikeMyler> WOIN is honest and true with the Open Gaming License spirit so that’s the basket I’m putting my eggs into 🙂
<~Dan> Cool. 🙂
<~Dan> Is there anything we haven’t covered so far that you’d like to bring up?
<+MikeMyler> oh there’s an adventure in the back of the book
<+MikeMyler> It will soon be available as a Roll20 module!
<+MikeMyler> *Scorpion Sea Temple*
<+MikeMyler> The PCs are newly-minted adults of Raecon Village and tasked with saving a bunch of their neighbors (and the most recent harvests) from raiders that leave a trail leading to the Scorpion Sea
<+MikeMyler> It is a *great* gateway to the setting and does a solid job of establishing the themes Vast Kaviya games are all about
<+MikeMyler> There’s even the possibility of an underground underwater dinosaur ride ^_____^
<+MikeMyler> oh right and the modulation bit
<+MikeMyler> So the decentralized campaign setting part serves a few different purposes
<+MikeMyler> diverse iterations of the world unique to a given GM/gaming group
<+MikeMyler> but it also makes Vast Kaviya extremely useful for GMs that don’t want to abandon their precious homebrew setting or amidst a published campaign
<+MikeMyler> If you scroll back to page 37 of that tasty free primer PDF you’ll see the medieval fantasy tips
<+MikeMyler> These are ways a GM can take any warlord from the Vast Kaviya campaign setting and comfortable fit them into a medieval fantasy world
<~Dan> That’s handy.
<+MikeMyler> The final book will also cover how to use these warlords in 2099 Wasteland, Mists of Akuma, and Book of Exalted Darkness
<+MikeMyler> I thought so! I know I definitely want to play in my campaign settings and it’s a bummer to do a bunch of extra work to include this or that bit from another book I like
<+MikeMyler> The other neat thing to mention would be raw mana
<+MikeMyler> If you have played Final Fantasy 7 and remember the materia system — that’s basically raw mana in a nutshell
<+MikeMyler> It contains primal magic, attuning to it grants the limited use of a specific spell (like shocking grasp for example), and if you keep it on you as you gain levels you get more access (either more uses or also the use of more powerful magic like, continuing the same example, lightning bolt)
<+MikeMyler> Raw mana are naturally occurring magic items and still very rare, but they help fill the spellcasting and magic item glut created by removing wizards
<+MikeMyler> Gives the GM some more direct control over the magic the PCs gain access to 🙂
<+MikeMyler> ooo and the PC builds to
<~Dan> Very cool. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> Some NPCs are built like PCs. When that happens we say so in the usual way and also have a snazzy little icon for it. Should you need a unique pregen or want to run a one shot for your friends playing Conan and Tarzan, those are readily available for ya
<+MikeMyler> oooo want to mention another thing but that’s either going to be a book down the line or a stretch goal :3
<+MikeMyler> All told I’m really proud of what the team did here.
<+MikeMyler> Normally building a campaign setting with a group ends up with a lot of argument and contradictions but the rest of the designers did a smashing job, and keeping the premises of the world simple I think had something to do with that
<+MikeMyler> ah and it’s probably worth mentioning that (almost) every warlord gets a map!
<+MikeMyler> All told (including the adventure) that ends up being 22 maps
<+MikeMyler> Some are lairs, some are regions, some are in between
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Sounds like an awesome setting!
<+MikeMyler> I reckon so! Definitely hits all my old school fantasy feels.
<+MikeMyler> There’s a fiction element too that ties everything together
<+MikeMyler> Each chapter opens up with a short story, and then each warlord gets their own short story (and within the warlord stories there are 4 adventuring parties making their way across the world)
<+MikeMyler> It’s f#$%ing awesome, if I might be so bold
<~Dan> You may. 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us!
<~Dan> As always, if you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee or two, you can do so at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Anything’s appreciated!
<~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂
<+MikeMyler> Thank you for having me again. Folks that are digging this remember–big free PDF for ya at (Link: https://www.gameontabletop.com/cf78/vast-kaviya.html)https://www.gameontabletop.com/cf78/vast-kaviya.html
<+MikeMyler> cool cool cool
<+MikeMyler> The primer is also available on DTRPG and could use a review or rating 😉 https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/291009/Vast-Kaviya-Primer