By Deren Ozturk
"From that island at the end of the world, no soldier returned without tales of wonder—walking forests, talking fae, enigmatic shapes half man and half beast: things that you ought not to believe unless you see them yourself.” —Kaato the Sage, writing on the invasion of Avallen
In this blog post we’ll give you a quick peek into the deep lore of Legends of Avallen, a brief run-down of the two main cultures on the island, and note how Gamemasters can use the mysterious Otherworld during play.
Inspired by Celtic-Roman Britain, Avallen (ah-VAH-len) is a mystical island home to the Vallic, an Iron Age people divided into five major clans in constant conflict. The clans are scattered across Avallen’s diverse biomes, worshipping gods that embody the lands—enchanted forests hosting mischievous Fae and druidic rituals; rolling meadows scattered with earthen fortresses and cattle-raiding Vallic queens; mountains shrouded in mist hiding ancient sanctuaries and terrifying beasts; and so many more.
Avallen is not all nature, magic, and mysticism, though—a new kind of people have settled on its shores. The Raxian Empire, whose concrete buildings, urban living, taxes, and other cultural oddities arrived from the mainland to the east a generation ago. As the Vallic always have been, their response was divided. Some welcomed the Empire, with their technology and power, onto the land while other clans put aside ancient rivalries to stand up against the invaders. For now, peace has been called but it balances on a sword’s edge as all seek to tame the Otherworld.
A place of legend that lies parallel to Avallen, the Otherworld is the domain of the Vallic gods, the Ever Ones. It serves as the final resting place for the spirits of the dead, but also as the birthplace of creatures of myth such as the tricksy Fae and the dreaded Ffieidd-Dra (fee-AYTH-dra).
The Ffieidd-Dra—dragons, giants, and other monstrosities—once plagued Avallen, but were banished to the Otherworld by great heroes who sacrificed their lives for the quest. However, imbued with the magic of the primordial beings they had defeated, the mourned heroes ascended within the Otherworld and returned as the Ever Ones, founding the five great clans that thrive till this day: a tale known to the Vallic as the Wild Hunt.
Through their gods, the Vallic believe their worthy ancestors are reborn as Fae, with the greatest of them joining the noble fair families of the Tylwyth Teg (TUHL-with Tehg). Despite their connection with the Fae, all Vallic are still cautious and sometimes hostile in their dealings with them. There are many stories of unwitting travellers who wander into the unearthly Otherworld never to be seen again...or return so rattled, they never wish to speak of their experiences so long as they live.
Questing in the Otherworld
While playing Legends of Avallen, the Otherworld is an integral part of the setting through which a Gamemaster can truly flex their creativity. This multifarious realm often hosts dungeon-like experiences with puzzling, reality-bending layouts and effects. Players can purposefully seek hidden portals to the Otherworld to hunt down terrorising fiends or engage in parley with mythical entities. But more often than not, players will haphazardly pass through such doors to find themselves in bewildering surroundings in desperate need of finding a way out.