The World of Karyst: An Overview
The World of Karyst
Karyst is an ancient and magical world of adventure, intrigue, and lost secrets. During the last few centuries, the world has been on the verge of collapsing into chaos and barbarism, balanced between darkness and light, hope and despair. Through the demise of the old kingdoms and the near-destruction of the elven people at their own hands, much of the old world’s knowledge has been lost. The collapse of these great powers has left a major void which the world’s darker denizens have sought to fill, though the stalwart efforts of the civilized peoples have, until now at least, held them back. While there are some who say the gods have failed them, in truth the gods of Karyst still keep a close and careful watch over the world. Indeed, it may be that it is the grace of the gods which has kept the full darkness at bay.
The Physical World
The known world of Karyst is composed of the continent of Kryos and the island complex of Taeryhs. These land masses are surrounded by six major seas, beyond which lay the unknown world. Centuries ago there existed another continent, that of Hakuna, which was situated somewhere across the eastern seas. Hakuna was utterly destroyed by an unknown catastrophe, and those who survived that cataclysm fled in ships to the eastern shores of Kryos. Deep below the surface world lies the dark realm of Gahenna, a near-mythical region about which little is known.
In the heavens above Karyst circle the sun Orus, and the moon Lua, along with countless stars. Orus rises each day in the east, a great golden globe in the sky, while the soft blue shimmer of Lua is seen mostly at night.
Time and Seasons
Time is reckoned by the cycles of the sun Orus and the moon Lua. Orus marks the changing of the days, the seasons, and the years, while Lua marks the counting of months within a year. Orus moves east to west across the sky to mark the beginning and ending of each day. Orus also makes a slower journey from its southern most point in the heavens at mid-summer to its northern most point at mid-winter. The complete cycle, from its northern limit to the far south and back again, marks a full year, or 384 days. Each year is divided into four seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn, with mid-winter marking the changing of the years when Orus begins its journey over again.
The moon Lua marks the changing of the months. Lua moves through a cycle of dark and full stages, with a complete cycle from full to dark and back to full taking 24 days. Lua will complete this cycle 16 times in a given year, each complete cycle marking the start of a new month. Lua also moves west to east across the heavens, with a single journey taking a full day and night.
The gods take an active interest in the world, and as such religion is a major part of life in Karyst. Worshippers make prayers and offerings to those gods whose favour they wish to attract, while also making offerings of appeasement to ward against the disfavour of other gods. While many people hold one deity in higher reverence than others, they still find cause to worship the entire pantheon. A blacksmith may find more cause to seek the favour of Ahzel the Artificer, but still observes the rites of Holtus come harvest time, negotiates trade in Orym’s name, and leaves offerings to Mortahs on the Longest Night to ward against Night’s Shadow. Even the priests of a given deity will make time for prayers and offerings to the other divinities.
Those of the druidic faith revere the gods in a somewhat different manner. The druidic faith is centred on the Uerdi: elemental spirits who were both a mechanism for and by-product of the creation of the world. The Uerdi are ethereal beings, barely sentient, and are connected to the very essence of the living world . The druids and their followers are charged with the guardianship of the Uerdi through an ancient pact with the gods. Followers of the druidic faith do not worship the Uerdi, rather they revere them, tend to their needs, and watch over them. They still worship the gods, but their efforts are focused on the needs and desires of the Uerdi.
When the gods created the world and the heavens they did so by drawing upon an immense store of energy known as jioh, the essence of the First Ones, who preceded the gods and were ultimately destroyed by them. Being one of the basic elements of creation, jioh infuses nearly every aspect of the world, although it cannot be sensed through normal means. The practice of magic is the art of sensing and drawing upon jioh and using it to manipulate matter or energy. Compared to the gods, mortal magic users are severely limited in their use and control of jioh, although those most skilled in the practice are capable of performing truly powerful feats.
The two basic forms of magic use are Divine and Arcane. While both methods draw on jioh, the methods used to do so are quite different. Whether knowingly or not, arcane magic users draw directly on jioh and then focus that energy into their spell casting. The techniques used to recognize, access and then utilize this energy require intense concentration, learning and practice. Divine magic users cannot access jioh in the same direct manner, but rather channel it through the connection to their deity. If that connection is removed, by straying from ones faith for example, then they can no longer access jioh.