The world of Vrahode is both massive and entirely original. You’re not going to find orcs, elves, kobolds, demons or the undead here. Every creature is original, as are the creation myths.
In this episode, we talk about how the world was created and who lives there.
Vrahode will be coming to Kickstarter most likely in quarter four of 2023. When that campaign goes live, you will not only be able to buy the core game, Vrahode: The Calteeryn Ascension, but its three expansions as well.
00:00:00 Who Created The Massive World of Vrahode (In-Universe)?
00:01:32 Where did Vrahode come from?
00:05:21 Vrahode is a brand new fantasy world
00:10:16 Who created Vrahode (in-universe?)
00:15:30 Ruhl vs. Keere Magic
00:17:12 Quick Overview of the 6 Playable Races
00:23:57 The Shapeless
00:26:13 Yeah, you gotta do the outro
Brandon Rollins: Who would win in a fight? A trillion lions or the sun?
Jeff Irving: Uh, oh man. I’m, I’m thinking a trillion lions would bake up pretty quickly in the sun. So I’m gonna go with the sun.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. Yeah, my money’s on the sun, but honestly, a trillion lions is kinda a lot.
Jeff Irving: My name is Jeff Irving, and this is the Vrahode Tavern Podcast. I’m the creator of the Vrahode Game System. And in this podcast, we’re going to do a deep dive into the lore and gameplay of Vrahode. I’m joined by Brandon Rollins, Brandon.
Brandon Rollins: Hey, everybody!
Jeff Irving: Who will be acting as a stand-in for you, asking many of the questions you might be curious about yourself. Brandon, what’s the topic for today?
Brandon Rollins: Wait a minute, stand in?
Jeff Irving: I know, I know.
I think moderator is better, moderator,
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, I’ll be a moderator. I’ll be. I’ll be like Chris Wallace or something.
Jeff Irving: I like it.
Brandon Rollins: All right. So that’s a deep cut.
All right. So I think the first, the natural first topic we should cover is probably what actually is Vrahode? And so, obviously, you told me that it’s a bunch of things all at once. You know, it’s, um, it’s the world in which these creatures live in.
Jeff Irving: Mm.
Brandon Rollins: It’s a game that people can kind of take and riff off of and create their own stuff.
And of course, it’s a Kickstarter campaign coming in, uh, we’re thinking end of 2023. So, I mean already that’s a lot. I say let’s just start with what is Vrahode, the world, the universe itself?
Jeff Irving: Okay.
Where did Vrahode come from?
Brandon Rollins: So I know that’s a bit of a loaded question. So it’s like, first let’s just start with this. What does, what is Vrahode like? What games does it resemble?
Jeff Irving: What games does it resemble? I have to say if Gloomhaven and HeroQuest had a baby in an art gallery, which was subsequently adopted by Shadows of Brimstone and ISS Vanguard, that’s probably what we’re looking at here.
Brandon Rollins: Okay. So that’s already a pretty intense family lineage right there.
Jeff Irving: Right, but no, I mean, Vrahode, obviously, I was, you know, I’m a college kid.
I, I just had, I’d played every damn game out there. I’d read all these fantasy books and I was just… Everything was the same. And I was so tired of, “okay. I have to roll up a half elven mage now, so that I can save the village of Bree from a red dragon.” And that makes a lot of sense. And, and obviously the most beautiful girl in the village has been taken up to the mountain by said dragon.
And that it’s my job to do it. You know, go, go fix the situation. I was tired of it. So Vrahode the world kind of came out of my initial desire to write some books. But I found out in the journey of gaming and gaming, I gamed a ton, started having, you know, started an adult life, having kids and said, “Hey, someday, when my kids are grown, I’m gonna write these books.”
“I’m gonna write these novels. I’m gonna be that guy, you know, the great American novel.” But I did a lot of writing and I, and I became a graphic designer in my adult life. And I just found out that writing really wasn’t that fun. It, it wasn’t. I labored over it. I stressed over every word. I had a constant devil on my shoulder saying “you suck. You’re terrible. Cash it in and, you know, find a day job.”
Well, I had a day job, but I couldn’t get the words to flow like I wanted. And so over the years I continued to game. I love gaming and I just never made the connection until I’m like, Hey, “wait, wait a second. I don’t wanna write these books. I want to take this epic three or four novel story arc and invite a lot of talented people in to help me make this into something that’s more interactive where I can invite, instead of just someone to read a book.” You know, I mean, it’s great. And, and the mind’s eye has so much power to finish what a writer starts, right? But I wanted more, I wanted more interaction.
I wanted people to be immersed in this world enough that they were the heroes. And that’s basically kind of where Vrahode evolved over the years and became this kind of huge board game.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, and you say you’ve been working on this since, like what? 1990. That’s when the idea…
Jeff Irving: What’re you trying to do? What are you trying do, Brandon, you think I’m old? You think I’m you trying to take a poke at me?
Brandon Rollins: Oh, no, I’ve already gone off the rails. This has (gone) off the rails. I quit the show. You know what.
Jeff Irving: Yeah.
Brandon Rollins: I’m fired.
Jeff Irving: Next moderator, please.
Brandon Rollins: Next moderator, but yeah, you’ve been refining this for a while. Like you’ve had these ideas in your head and it’s just been over time you’ve, you’ve filled in more of the details of the world and started to understand like who the characters are and how they fit into the world and what the geography of it looks like and all that kind of stuff.
Vrahode is a brand new fantasy world
Brandon Rollins: And see, that’s neat cuz honestly, when you just immediately look at the world, one thing that stands out, and one thing that you’ve actually emphasized to me quite a lot is that it’s not, it’s not the same old, like Kobolds and Orcs kind of thing.
It is genuinely brand new kind of fantasy world. This is a totally, this is a totally different kind of world. It doesn’t even have a north, west, south, and east. There are different compass directions. There are planets and suns and moons that are different than what we have and creatures with their own evolutionary lineages that just don’t have anything to do with the fantasy creatures that we so often see.
Jeff Irving: No, you’re, you’re absolutely right. And, and it just, like I said that earlier, that grows out of this desire to kind of get out of the tropes that Tolkein and Gygax. I mean, they did this so eloquently, but it’s been so hashed and rehashed through every iteration of fantasy in every genre, not just fantasy novels, but game play, you know, game, uh, board games, RPGs, even collectible card games.
It’s saturated. I dare someone to try to pick up a collectible card game and it not have demons and undead and dwarves and elves. It’s just, it’s, that’s just it. And so I, while I was in college, I was dreaming this world up and I had amazing classes. I had classes in anthropology. I had classes in sociology, and I learned about cultures that were isolated in the, in the, in the, along the Nile, you know, in South America that had never had contact with modern, the modern world.
And so I started to think about it. I thought, well, “You know, why does everything have to be like they’ve, they’ve described it? Why can’t we just start to think about new races and, and new descent patterns within their cultures and where do they derive their magic from?”
And so in doing that, I came up with this idea that there are these advanced beings that are essentially the descendants of humanity. And I always loved this concept of how in our world on earth humanity and the fae always had this kind of strained relationship, you know, did humans at one time have magic, like elves, like trolls, like gnomes and were they welcomed into the fae?
Were they part of the fae? And so I took that thought process to its logical conclusion that maybe they did, maybe at some point, humanity was part of the fae and that they had this potent source of magic, but that over the, over the centuries, they slowly, slowly lost that and replaced it with technology.
And then, because we lost that internal magic, we also gained a lot of the negativity of that technology as we went forward as a species and it ultimately ended up with us losing our magic, losing our connection to the fae and having to actually strike out from earth and find a new world and a new way to recapture the magic that we had lost.
And so basically, without giving too much away, I felt like the ultimate bad guy in any fantasy story should be us.
And so I’m gonna, I’m gonna stop there because I don’t wanna give away too much, but I felt like that was the way to do this, is flip everything over on its head, because what in fantasy, in normal fantasy stuff, who’s the good guy?
Well, it’s gonna be the human, you know, the human fighter or of course his trusty sidekick. The Elven Archer. No, no, no, no.
Brandon Rollins: I, I think that’s interesting because I think, maybe it’s Dune that I’m thinking of, but one of the concepts is that it’s like really far in the future and, and maybe I’m wrong about this. I would honestly have to double check later, but it’s like, as I recall it, people it’s set far in the future and people have just had all these kind of technological collapses since, and, and, and people kind of built up interstellar travel instead of using like oil or descendants of oil, like kind of energy like that. It, you rely basically on people who need in their, in their case, spice, drugs, in order to do the interstellar travel.
But the whole reason it’s that way in the first place and the whole reason there’s a Imperium and all the weird politics is because somewhere deep, deep, deep in their history, farther away than the ancient Egyptians are from us. Farther away than Mesopotamia is from us, someone screwed up, like real bad. Um, and, and I think that’s a, that’s an interesting concept to start with.
Let me think about how to word this.
Who created Vrahode (in-universe?)
Brandon Rollins: So yeah, just so listeners know, we actually had an internet disconnect just a moment ago. So you might notice that, but, um, right before we disconnected, I was gonna ask basically, who was it that, in the world of Vrahode, in the universe of Vrahode, the lore itself, who was it that actually created the continents and the oceans and the land that creatures dwell on?
Jeff Irving: Um, okay. So essentially, there’s, there’s a lot of layers. Um, ogres are like onions there’s layers. Um,
Brandon Rollins: God. (With the Shrek jokes.)
Jeff Irving: Yeah, but, but so our story, I think, I think the easiest way to approach this is to look at where the story begins and the story begins at a place on, timeline wise on Vrahode, where you have these conquistadors, these conquerors, if you will, that have come to Vrahode and they have with their ma, their own unique magic and their own unique bid for the planet of Vrahode, crafted these 10 races from bits of flora and fauna, the environment, the elements of the world, essentially to create a congregation, if you will, to create worshipers for them.
Brandon Rollins: It kind of, It, kind of mimics the biblical creation. In that way, wouldn’t it?
Taking the land and crafting the people.
Jeff Irving: It is. But these Accourish, who are, who are the known as the creators by the races, they didn’t create the world. They came with, with essentially their own unique bid to take over this world. And in so doing, their goal was to create, uh… their own, um, use their own unique form of magic and craft these races that would ultimately in, in their hope, um, become just congregations of worshipers of them as gods.
And again, we talked earlier a little bit about the humanity and the fae. Well, if the Accourish are our evil descendants, if they are the worst of what we have to offer in existence, then we’ve sent these folks out into the universe, but we don’t do it in a science fiction way. We bump up against science fiction, but we, we, we stop at that.
We say they came from afar. We don’t talk about their spaceships. We talk about them coming and being and arriving, but we don’t, we don’t because this is, this is fantasy. Um, so we, we talk about the Accourish as coming as our descendants, the worst of us, because we’ve lost our magic. Well, of course we’ve lost our magic.
You know, all we can do all day long, all of us is look at our damn phones. Right? Well that we just take that to its logical conclusion. No magic.
Brandon Rollins: So it’s kind of like what, what the Accourish did. It sounds like is that they initially started out as being quite human,
Jeff Irving: No, they, they are us. They are us. I, yeah, I think they’re us.
Brandon Rollins: So, so like metaphorically or literally?
Jeff Irving: I literal, I, well, if you believe, as I believe that, that there is, there is truth to myth, there is, there is validity to legend and that if you go back far enough, I think there’s a real good chance that elves and, and dwarves and, and, and trolls and gnomes and lepruchans and humans were all part of the same family.
And they all honored the earth and they all had magic. Well, you know, things happen, you know, we have falling outs, we replace magic with other things, in our case, technology. And what does that technology do to us? What do we look like? At the, at the mercy of that technology, well, it’s gonna hurt your physical being, you know, it’s gonna hurt you as a person, physically, cuz you’re, you’re basically holding a piece of radiation in your hands, right?
And maybe, maybe eventually it makes you lose your ability to reproduce and maybe it, it costs you your physical, your physical strength and it just kind of diminishes you to this. Uh, to, to, to borrow a term from Gary Gygax maybe it almost makes you lich-like.
Brandon Rollins: Maybe. And, and like it sounds like these guys just went way too far in.
Jeff Irving: They went way too far. So, so, so it’s time to leave. Leave the earth go elsewhere, not by spaceship or whatever in a fantasy way they’re leaving. They’re going somewhere else. They’re arriving. And that’s kind of how we handle it. Because, because ultimately this is a fantasy setting, so we have to kind of make it almost more metaphysical in that way.
Um, but yeah, we’re there we are there as the Accourish, we’re there to conquer this world and to regain our magic.
Ruhl vs. Keere Magic
Brandon Rollins: So you have these basically flawed gods who created creatures out of just what happened to be there. And they live themselves and, by the looks of it in a kind of, not just pre-industrial, but perhaps like pre-ironworking kind of age in which they just, you know, it’s stone tools and traveling by ships made of wood and that kind of thing throughout dangerous lands.
Jeff Irving: Well, the Accourish brought with them this kind of failed magic, which is called the keere, the keere magic. Magic in this world has two facets. It has ruhl and keere. Ruhl is the functional magic that the races that were crafted by the Accourish are able to wield. They’re able to wield it, to do functional things, to help their societies, to help their villages, to help protect their children.
And, and so they have this wonderful ruhl energy and the byproduct of the ruhl energy is just the keere energy that the Accourish used to craft these 10 races. And so it, it, it ends up being this kind of red mist that just, it just drifts away into the soil. And it’s forgotten because it does nothing. It has no function, but it is, it is a reality.
And it’s part of the crafting of these races. But the real power comes in ruhl. Ruhl is the ability of these 10 crafted races to interact with the world of Vrahode. And that is the potency of the magic in this world is Ruhl. So we’ve got six playable races, um, and we’ve got four non playable races.
Quick Overview of the 6 Playable Races
Jeff Irving: Um, the, the, the, um. The six playable races. Um, you’ve got the Toreln, which the Toreln were crafted by the Accourish from the forests. And so the magic of the Toreln is of these forest dwelling creatures that are fairly reclusive and they interact with trees and wood and roots and dirt every day of their lives.
And that is the, the currency at, in how their society works, is the ruhl of the forest. And then you’ve got the Cautuuk. And the Cautuuk basically the Accourish said, “okay, We found these beautiful prong horns or antelope or whatever, let’s create some sort of sentient being of the plains of the grassy seas of the world of Vrahode and of the storms that, that rage across the plains.”
And let’s make a race crafted from that. And they used their magic and boom, the Cautuuk came into being, and there are these kind of diminutive humanoid forms that are also combined and they almost they’re like little mini centaurs. They’re like a human combined with a little, a deer. Um, and their magic is kind of based on that it’s wind, it’s pressure. It’s lightning, it’s storms, it’s enhanced movement because of how they were crafted.
And then you have the Athak-uul and the Athak-uul. When the Accourish crafted the Athak-uul, they went into the deep underlands of Vrahode and they said we, we wanna bring a, a being about and use our magic to craft them from the darkness, from the caverns.
And so they’re kind of bat like, and they’re, they’re ugly in appearance, but they have these beautiful little delicate wings that allow them to fly over short distances to allow them their, and their magic is based on the darkness, and their own sacrifice of their blood because they live in one of the harshest climes on Vrahode, which is the Underlands.
I mean, things are, are, they’re evil, they’re dark, they’re chaotic, they’re dangerous. They’re the Underlands are where the Athak-uul are at home. And so having an Athak-uul in your party, uh, taking on the, Athak-uul as a hero, you’re getting this kind of unique perspective to Vrahode because the Accourish crafted them, only them from the Underlands. And so that’s cool.
And so then you go to the swamps and you go to like watery kind of Rivery marshy coastal areas, and you’ve got the Drelrhune and the Drelrhune are these kind of slick, smooth skinned, white, or light colored lizards. And I always loved lizard men in D&D as a kid, but I just felt like, “Hey, there’s a lot more culture here than what you know, Gygax did with the lizard men.”
So in our world, in Vrahode, there’s actually three different races of lizard, of reptilian. There’s the Drelrhune, the Sahrhune and the Ju’Airne and they’re all cousins, but each one has a little bit different take on their magic and on the environments or habitats that they are, are living in.
Um, but anyway, the Vrahode, I mean the Drelrhune, their magic is about water. So everything that they do comes from water and their control of it and anybody that happens to be in those habitats, um, with them.
And then you’ve got the Mahorii and the Mahorii, I think in my mind, the Accourish set out to kind of marry these top tier predators, these predatory animals that they found on Vrahode and to say, how can we make sort of creature that is smart enough to worship us, but can also kind of embody these top tier predator behaviors and use that in their magic.
And so the Mahorii, that is it, that’s the way they interact with the world. They, they watch and observe and they do so, so well that they can actually bring to bear in battle the, the behaviors of these top tier predators, even though these they’re these little bitty, tiny humanoids, I mean, they’re probably the closest antecedent we have in the world of Vrahode to elves.
Then you’ve got the Mynoc and the Mynoc are kind of like, uh, I always imagine the Mynoc kind of like Gandalf in, in the Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit, they’re these kind of el, kindly elderly soft spoken, um, folks with a servant’s heart.
And all they wanna do is provide healing and, and solace to the people that are hurting. So they live in these deep, dark, fungal forests, which are probably the most dangerous places on Vrahode, but their magic is all about selflessness. It’s all about healing. It’s all about what they can do to help others live, to see another day.
And so when you take those six races, you got Toreln, Cautuuk, Athak-uul, Drelrhune, Mahorii, and Mynoc. Those are the six playable races. You’ll notice there’s no humans or dwarves in any of those.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. It, it’s all brand new stuff. And what I think is interesting is they all come from very different places. And you can tell just by looking at the art, which I’m gonna pop down there in the, in the, um, long form transcript for anybody who wants to look in that.
Um, and, and, and because they all come from very different places, you know, they all have very different lifestyles and cultures and they probably don’t interact with each other that much.
Jeff Irving: Well, that’s intentional. That’s intentional. Brandon. Think about it. Think about it. We’re the bad guys. Okay. You and I we’re the bad guys. If we’re gonna craft races that we want to worship us, what’s our biggest worry? That they’re gonna get together and join forces and say, “Hey, we don’t need them anymore.”
Brandon Rollins: Mm-hmm
Jeff Irving: necessary that they’re created from these far flung biomes, cuz we don’t want, ’em getting together. We want ’em staying apart.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And I gotta imagine that none of them know probably about the Accourish, about how they were created or anything like that. So it’s all kind of wonder and speculation for them. And as they eventually, inevitably, as the plot requires, interact, they’re probably gonna find out some terrible existential stuff that they just really don’t wanna know but are gonna find out anyway.
Jeff Irving: And I think the best way to deliver that is through the most horrifying and appalling and unsettling, um, character in a story. And that is the Shapeless, and the Shapeless is a collection of souls. That represent the, the past failed conquistadors on Vrahode. So if you come to Vrahode with the intention to conquer and you fail, guess what?
You become the Shapeless and you get to serve the new conquistadors that are now there to do their bid, to take over the, to, to take over the world and that is the proof. That there is a true creator beyond the Accourish, that there is someone, a god that exists and that the proof of that, the tangible proof of that god, in this particular iteration of Vrahode is the Shapeless.
Brandon Rollins: Uh, are they kind of in a sense, pure evil?
Jeff Irving: Well, I mean, in, in as far as they are the past, conquistadors that failed and ended up being kind of bound into this servitude of, of kind of being these wraiths, this kind of collection of wraiths and ghosts and spirits. Um, so I wouldn’t say pure evil, I would say it’s a pretty harsh sentence, sentence though, you know? No, if you fail, that’s not an outlook you would probably want better off to just stay home.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, probably just stay in bed.
I, I actually, I want to save most of the character stuff for some future episodes, because I have so many questions about each of these folks and how they live.
And I, I don’t know. I just, I wanna dive deeper into that.
Yeah, just to let everybody know, we just lost internet connection again, we, I, I don’t know what it is. This first episode recording we’re cursed or something.
Anyway, I, I was actually gonna just suggest that we actually end this one here because there’s so much, I want to ask about the creatures that I actually think that needs to be another episode or maybe two.
Yeah, you gotta do the outro
Jeff Irving: Yeah. Okay. Um, do I have to do that outro thing?
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, you gotta do the outro.
Jeff Irving: Okay.
Thank you for listening to the Vrahode Tavern Podcast. If you enjoyed this show, take a moment to subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts. If you’re on Apple Podcasts, please leave a five star review. It helps more than you know. You can learn more about Vrahode on vrahode.com. That’s V R A H O D E .COM, link in the show notes.
And you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re @Vrahode. Thank you again for listening. We have, really appreciate it. Keep an eye out for our next episode in two weeks.