Day 1: Setting the Stage

Hi, Friends! Welcome to the first of five installments in the All-Encompassing, Unabridged, Totally Radical Evenfell Primer. Over the next five days, we will be providing an overview of several key concepts, creations, locations, and points of interest as it relates to our podcast.

What We Are

Collectively, we are six storytellers based in Austin, Texas. Our product is an actual play, fantasy podcast adhering to the Dungeons & Dragons, fifth edition rule set (more or less). At the core of each episode, we hope you’ll find our love of collaborative storytelling shining through.

In the current storyline, the DM owns the story; however, the story of the broader universe is a purposeful collaboration amongst the entire cast.

What Sets Us Apart

At the outset, our six cast members sat down to a frank conversation about what we each needed in order to commit the time and creative energy required to make this a worthwhile endeavor. We settled on the following key points:

  • High-quality product: Audio, editing, gameplay

  • Tone: Thematic content, earnest play style

  • Collaboration: Initial world building, ongoing development

  • Shared world: Listener engagement through lore and playable modules

If you’ve made it as far as Season 1, Episode 6 (available wherever you get podcasts), I think you’ll agree that we’ve been true to these choices. We love the product and sincerely hope you do, too.

Worldbuilding

Microscope

The world of Evenfell started with a lengthy session of Microscope, a fractal RPG experience created by Ben Robbins. First, you choose an overarching theme. In our case, “After an age of isolation and struggle, an ancient magic reawakens.” Then, choose two bookends to your history. A beginning and an end. 

From there, you simply start filling in the blanks, with each person contributing their own ideas. There’s no voting process, so everyone’s ideas are included. And having each of us involved has given each cast member a baseline for in-world knowledge. For instance, in the real world, we all have a basic understanding of world history and current events. Our PCs benefit from the same understanding of their own world.

As a result of Microscope’s collaborative nature, we don’t all love every part of the world. This creates a subtle natural conflict wherein we must adapt as players to overcome certain challenges. 

Ongoing World Building

We also wanted our campaign setting to remain a collaborative endeavor after the initial Microscope session. The GM owns the current storyline, however, each of us contributes to the world we play in. From the beginning, we’ve carefully planned lore and offered listeners a peek into the world through our blog. 

In our various Lore posts, we have two cast members writing in the guise of in-world scholars and rivals - Herriburn Pebblesquabble and Stentorius Steppleton. These characters present individual perspectives on historical events. While their words can be taken at face value, the political losers of the situations described in Evenfell Lore most likely see things differently.

We also have a blog category called Tales Of Evenfell. Think of these as myth and fiction, the classic campfire tales steeped in either truth or utter horse shit. These stories exist in the world of Evenfell exactly as they appear in the blog, passed from father to child, sibling to sibling, adventurer to adventurer. 

Lastly, we wanted a world we could share with other people. We currently have a Patreon-exclusive 5E one-shot set in Evenfell. It’s written to put players directly into a significant moment in the history of our world and determine the outcome.

We have plans for more playable adventures, though currently we have no definitive release schedule. 

Recently, Kenneth and I also collaborated with Dakota Brown and Ryan T. Land of The Primordial Project, a terrific world building podcast. Together, we built out the geography and socio-political divisions of Va’Einbrek, a continent on the moon of Bastion. Populated now by a rogues’ gallery of weirdos and criminals, Va’Einbrek should be a lot of fun for everyone. This session was recorded and will be initially released as a Patreon exclusive.

Lastly, as a group, we intend to revisit Microscope to continue creating what is, mostly, an undefined world. Aside from Bastion, there are 12 other known moons in addition to the Tabaxi and Elf home worlds, which lie outside the Tempest system. It’s probably a lot of work, but we’re all suuuuper excited to get back to it.

The More You Know

While the strategic decisions we made before and during production may not be of particular interest to everyone, there are some fun parts of the world we think new listeners will find intriguing.

The World Gates

One of the key features of Evenfell is a series of portals connecting different locations across each of the known moons. These gates enable instantaneous travel between Evenfell and the Athalan Archipelago or Va’Einbrek and Orus. Travelers can go from Bastion to Hollow Moon or Hig in the blink of an eye. These gates enable trade, immigration, and diversity across the moons of Tempest.

The origin of the World Gates is unknown. More than once, the gates have gone dark for centuries at a time, the locations and destinations can shift without warning. In fact, a yet unexplored part of our collaborative history is the sudden and completely unexpected closure of the gates from Bastion to Dawnhome, the human home world. 

Custom Races

Another intentional aspect of Evenfell is the mixing of character races beyond the traditional half-orcs and half-elves found in the Player’s Handbook. As a group, we found this aspect of the game a little restrictive and honestly, not reflective of the diversity we wanted in the world. 

Currently, we have two new playable races - the Drük and the Qiron - as well as a reimagining of the tiefling, which are described in detail in the linked blog posts.

A Young Era

While the Tempest System itself is old beyond reckoning, its known history is relatively young. From the perspective of our PCs, the previous age began when The Gates of Tempest reopened after a long period of slumber and ended with The Night of Blueflame.

Current gameplay occurs roughly two years after General Tabo’s plot hatched and, ultimately, failed. The continent of Nillin holds to a tentative peace with the Athalan Empire, which now occupies the Northern Coast. 

Beneath the surface, we imagine ancient civilizations buried in rock and rubble, waiting to be discovered again. This is hardly the First Age in the Tempest System and it will certainly not be the last.

TECHNOLOGY

Another of the basic rules of the universe is simple, “No black powder.” Personally, I wanted a world where guns wouldn’t become the ultimate weapon of destruction, so we chose another route. In terms of technology, this decision turned us toward magic as the primary drivers of technology. 

For instance, we don’t have grenades, but we do have grenados, which are basically alchemical explosives. The nuance is pretty narrow, but generally steers us more towards a world of wonder than a world of might.

Are We There Yet?

Yep! This was a long dispatch, but we wanted to provide a high-level look at how Evenfell came to be and share some of our motivations. Stay tuned! Tomorrow, Kenneth will be back to tell you about the Sisters of Tempest, the 13 known moons and other celestial bodies. Have an awesome week, friends. I’ll be back on Wednesday.




Other Blog Posts In This Series:

Day 2: The Sisters of Tempest and Other Cosmic Geographies by Kenneth Clark

Day 3: Past is Prologue by Brenden Scott

Day 4: Bastion by Kenneth Clark

Day 5: Bastion Today by Brenden Scott