Setting Core Concepts
When developing the initial concept of Kythar, I planned on several core concepts that it would be built upon…
The Decline of Man
In many fantasy settings, mankind is represented as a kind of young prodigy, supported by the “old guard” of other races (typically elves and dwarves) who have seen their own kingdoms fall in ages past. In Kythar, humans may have already achieved the pinnacle of their existence, after founding an empire spanning the entire Known World and overpowering (and, in some cases, enslaving) the other races of the setting. The game is set some years after a massive rebellion of these slaves has led to the collapse of this great achievement. The Great Dominion of man has broken into a myriad number of seperate nations, many of which have ceased to exist over time. Those that remain often bicker among themselves or fight against nonhuman civilizations. Human civilization is at a crossroads in Kythar, and the next few centuries will determine if man can again dominate the world, come to live in a peaceful balances with the other races, or (if the current trend continues) fall into barbarism and a slow extinction.
In Kythar, technology has advanced somewhat beyond the typical “dark ages” limitations of many other fantasy settings. Prior to the destruction of the human’s Great Dominion, the world may have been on the eve of a true industrial revolution. Black powder weapons exist, but remain rare, expensive, and treasured items, not unlike a magical weapon. Likewise, experiments with steam-powered devices (ships and siege engines) have begun in a few parts of the world. Magic is still a potent force, but it has not come to overpower any progress in more technical fields.
Some (but not all) characters in Kythar develop what are known as elemental affinities, a kind of limited in-born magic. Only 5-10% of the population develops these traits, and most of those have only one affinity, or two, at best. Each element has several of these spell-like powers, and each power grants a benefit tied into the nature of that element. For example, one earth affinity might grant a character great strength when used, while a water affinity might endow another character with fluidity in her movements. While some affinities will have obvious combat applications, many will exist to support non-combat endeavors. For example, fire affiinties can provide damage bonuses when striking in combat, or may allow a character to make passionate performances with an instrument. Most races will be able to choose from only one element (or two, in some cases). Humans, however, will be able to choose from any of the four (but only one per character). This is intended to add an element of the magical to even fighter-type characters. While having one or more affinities is not necessary, most player characters may be assumed to posess these abilities.
Demons take a more prominent role in Kythar. Witchcraft is very common, and many humans within the Dominion made pacts with demons to secure their own power base. In fact, the practice of “demonism” is a malignant disease throughout the Known World. Often, a noble practicing demonism in secret is much more dangerous in the long run than the “mad” wizard seeking artifacts of power he sends a party of adventurers out to stop. Mortal pawns such as these are terrifyingly common, and carefully hidden. The unfathomable goals or motivations of their unseen, demonic patrons are even more terrifying…