Introduction to Vaargnign
Everything always has been and always will be, but it will never be wrought in the same shape twice. In time immemorable a primal scene1 began to emerge on a world unheard of. In the place known as Vaargnign2, the races of man walked among the gods.
During the tribal period of Vaargnign, the races of Man, Beast, and myriad Gods3 and Idëas4 (divinities descended from the plane of Forms) intermingled and organized into various factions. The land was vast and her bounty was great, and for a long time the world was enveloped in an idyllic peace. But the tribal factions grew greedy and began to bicker and fight over some of the then communal resources. Bickering evolved into skirmishing, until eventually the skirmishes precipitated an all out war (The First Great War). There was one great faction, composite of eight different tribes who was dragged into the fighting against their will. Although they managed to defend their lands and preserve their culture, they were stuck in a war of attrition and running out of resources. In a last ditch effort to put an end to the conflict and unite the world (as they knew it) so that they could move forward, the patriarchs of the eight5 great tribes sacrificed themselves in an elaborate ritual to give flesh to the Idëa of a True King. They succeeded, and the One True King led their faction to victory, and united the world of Vaargnign.
After an era of peace and prosperity had been ushered in, and the various peoples and factions began to self-actualize more and explore sciences, philosophies, and the arts, however, eventually they began to grow dissatisfied and bored with the state of the world. Although the One True King had allowed the various peoples and factions to govern themselves in a way, over the course of hundreds of years it was no longer enough. The people's faith in the One True King has began to decrease, and the common people began to question whether or not he was real. The officials appointed under him who served in his court has began to question him and express their dissatisfaction with being unable to have one of their own sit on the throne. The One True King counseled them earnestly, warning them that if they were allowed to rule, the world would fall apart. But they did not listen. Later, the One True King's cabinet asked a second time, and he patiently counseled them again, that if they were to persist in being allowed to rule themselves, it would bring nothing but ruin. Finally, they asked a third time, and the One True King left without a word, vanishing from reality.
The consequences were immediate and dire. The roads built by the kingdom started to crumble in an unnatural and disorderly way, and the distances between locations were no longer constant or predictable. The buildings had began to warp out of shape. Disease and monsters became commonplace, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. This phenomenon became known as the Flux.
In the power vacuum left by the absence of the One True King, the now more civilized factions from the Tribal Era, in the form of city-states begun a scramble for supremacy. After an incalculable amount of bloodshed (The Second Great War), coupled with the already disastrous consequences of the Flux, ultimately the various states decided to give it a rest, and negotiated a ceasefire. After the war they established something of a federation/republic, where the seniors of the various factions could sit on a legislature and decide policy as equals. Needless to say, corruption was rampant, and every faction continued to act in its own self-interests, but after things stabilized and the fighting died down, the people of Vaargnign began to thrive again and resumed the innovation they had enjoyed during the Kingdom era.
In order to re-establish trade networks, explore the world, and provide for the safety of the common people, they needed to find a way to explore the Flux, and create functional roads between townships in the same vein as the roads that existed during the Kingdom era. To this end, Trailblazer's Guilds began to appear in the various states, and they utilized a combination of powerful magics, ingenuity, and hard work to establish routes and go on adventures. Oftentimes parties from the Trailblazer's Guild would take advantage of the Flux restoring dungeons/caves/forests back into an almost random state to continue to find more and more artifacts and treasures to sell to the other guilds or to keep for themselves.
The Trailblazer's Guild, Warrior's Guild, Mage's Guild, Culinarian's Guild, and others all flourished during this time. There were a great many legendary adventures, and the hearts of the young and old alike were filled with hopes and dreams.
Eventually, one mage from a powerful but eccentric family, Jean-Jacques Monet (name going to be changed later) came up with a great plan. He believe that it would be possible to utilize his massive pool of mana (most of which he inherited from his ancestors) and his own life as a sacrifice to create a device that would drain the Flux from Vaargnign, and allow the world to become fixed and stable again. There was a great deal of protest from the various leaders of certain guilds which made their fortunes from the Flux, as well as the Patriarchs of some factions who were uncomfortable with such a drastic change to the status quo. But eventually, with the accompaniment of his friends, Jean-Jacques retreated to the forest deep into the thickest and most powerful density of Flux and erected a building entombing himself within it.
Afterwards, the spell began to do its work, and the forests surrounding the monolith began to clear up and monstrosities and diseases faded away. Ultimately the spell had enveloped the whole world, and delivered what was promised. A stable, easily navigable geography, and no Flux related issues such as the disease or monsters. The trade routes previously protected and guided by Trailblazers were a thing of the past, and now anyone and everyone could easily travel between states and as a consequence of this an economic and cultural Golden Age had occurred. Literacy flourished amongst all peoples, and not just those who required it as a matter of faith. The infrastructure of the Republic had become magnificent, surpassing even that of the Kingdom era. And finally, the Cartographer's Guild had completed their magnum opus, a complete and accurate map of the entire world.
This Golden Age continued for some hundreds of years, until something strange began to happen.
Early Modern Era:
Starting with the smaller villages that rose up in between the larger states, which emerged from the rest stops along important trade routes, a strange sickness began to occur. Among the young and the elderly, it seemed as though their life force was being directly drained from them and spontaneous mortality became commonplace. Eventually the sickness started to become noticeable in larger settlements as well, by this time people from all walks of life began to develop strange blisters and their immune systems were compromised. Eventually their life and mana began to drain faster then it could be replenished leading to a sudden and painful death. The greatest mages from every state began to investigate the cause of this, and continued to overlook it because of their disbelief.
It turned out that Jean-Jacques Monet was more selfish than he appeared. The function of the monolithic spell he cast was not simply to drain the world of the Flux, and then entomb himself, he had created an Experience Machine to live his ideal fantasies out for as long as he wanted. After getting a taste of his ideal life, he subconsciously overwrote the part of the spell that was supposed to automatically terminate once the Flux had been exhausted. Because the spell continued after the world had been drained of Flux, it naturally required another external energy source, the lives of those in the surrounding area. This phenomenon is called the Drain.
A party of adventurers from various guilds, namely 3 descended from those who used to travel with Jean-Jacques Monet as his party, and one foxy archer, are voluntold to fight their way to the Monolith and kill whatever's left of Monet himself.
They make it there, and after a battle of epic proportions succeed in killing him, the party leader inherits his rapier for himself.
Now the world is free from Flux and Drain. The Federation/Republic is disestablished, allowing the member states to become sovereign inthemselves. The party that killed JJM are now the protagonists of their own story and life goes on.
The Chamber of Reflection
It's said that when one dies, if their spirit is strong they retain their consciousness long enough to traverse a Tower. Within the Tower there is a Chamber. Some have said it to be Velvet, some have suggested Burgundy. Regardless of its colour, there's said to be an eccentric wise man within who wears a chicken head mask and calls himself Abraxas. He is the arbiter of what happens next.
Derived from the Yiddish word, פאַרגעניגן which means pleasure/joy/delight. I've always loved the song Rumeneye Rumeneye which features the word extensively in its refrain ↩︎
Gods are somewhat like forces of nature, nature before man begun to control/manipulate it. Subtly influenced by how they're perceived ↩︎
Ideas are entirely like the idea of Platonic Forms (in Greek, actually called ἰδέα (idéā)) coupled with Jungian Archetypes. They represent concepts are they're archetypally “meant” to be. The world of Forms/Ideas exists alongside the other worlds, and the entire setting will be heavily influenced by concepts found in Platonism, Jungian Psychology, and Gnosticism ↩︎
Expect to see this number a lot. ↩︎