Building A World: Astvolk, the Land of Eternity

The world of Seliit continues to grow!

The nation of Astvolk is, admittedly, one I haven’t put a ton of work into yet. It occupies the same continent, Dulsa, as the rest of the nations I’ve profiled here so far, and I wasn’t sure what function I wanted it to fill in relation to those other countries. However, I eventually realized that a lot of those other places had fairly homogenous populations–Ark Sakon was mostly orcish, Rehledar was mostly elvish, and so on. The Free Wilds were a little different in that they had various smaller diverse kingdoms, but I didn’t have any one nation yet that felt multicultural. I decided to address that in Astvolk.

Astvolk is a true melting pot. It’s meant to (in theory, at least) be a repudiation of the Rehledar Empire’s insistence on the superiority of the Elder Races. People of all cultures live together peacefully here. And that stance of opposition to the Empire isn’t just me framing it that way for world-building purposes–that’s the official political stance of the nation itself. That’s where things got a little interesting for me when thinking this place up.

See, Astvolk occupies an interesting place on Dulsa’s map. It’s south of Selethor and east of the Free Wilds–aside from the Rockhalt Republic (more on them another time), Astvolk is the country most isolated from Rehledar. The idea is that it’s a collection of former Free Wild kingdoms that all banded together to create one larger nation, ostensibly to stand against Rehledar… but because the military powerhouse of Selethor stands between Astvolk and the Empire, Astvolk has never actually had to back up their anti-Imperial stance. I don’t know that this will come up in the game I’m running in this setting right now, but I sort of like the little wrinkle it puts in the politics of the region; I’m curious how the nation would react were something to happen to Selethor, opening a more direct possibility of actual conflict between Astvolk and their supposed foes.

The other thing I focused on while devising Astvolk was this: given that the kingdoms who eventually formed this nation were relatively insulated from Imperial assault, why would they bother to consolidate in the first place? I figured some impressive people must have made a series of very persuasive arguments. Enter the Immortal Council.

The Immortal Council runs Astvolk. It is a collective of beings who all, for one reason or another, are either fully immortal or, at the very least, have lifespans far beyond the norm. One is a vampire; one was gifted eternal life by a genie; one was cursed to never know the release of death. I think I want to determine a few more to round things out; I haven’t decided yet whether I want the Council to consist of five or seven members total. Regardless, I love the idea of this group of powerful beings ruling openly–I feel like the “conspiracy of immortals running things behind the scenes” idea is a fairly common trope, but I want to have this group be more forthright about it. Instead of some twist like “the King is secretly a vampire who feeds on his subjects,” in this case one Councilor is openly a vampire who asks for a modest blood tax from citizens.

To be honest, this is about as far as I’ve gotten with Astvolk. I don’t have big plans for it in my current game, so it’s kind of on the back burner right now. But I have high hopes for it; I think once I get going on the Immortal Council, there’s a lot of fun places that I could go (I have a few ideas, such as some of them being able to bestow a longer life on individual citizens to build an elite unit of nigh-immortal soldiers). For now, though, I’m curious what you all think, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

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