Five Random Facts about Aruvalia – A Modern Fantasy World

Five Random Facts about Aruvalia – A Modern Fantasy World

When I announced my newest project – tentatively titled Once Upon a Dream – I promised I would share more details as the project came together. I spent about a month outlining, making notes for both the plot and the world where it takes place. Now that I’ve had some time to let those seeds germinate, I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about the new setting.

The bulk of the plot takes place in the kingdom of Aruvalia. Formed in ancient days in the wake of a bloody war, Aruvalia started as a haven for a series of war-torn refugees of various races. Which means they have always had a greatly diverse population compared to their neighbors. The ruling line originated from a union between human and Fae blood, which has made many of their monarchs powerful mages.

It has long been the policy of Aruvalia’s monarchs to use their abilities for protection, rather than expansion. Thus, Aruvalia’s laws favor security, trade and equality for its people above all else. As Aruvalia has moved toward modern times, the peasant classes have gained more power. This has led to some struggle between the noble classes and the commoners as they vie for advantage over the monarch’s advisory council.

But the most fun and interesting pieces of this world for me to build haven’t been the nitty gritty political and cultural details. Instead, I prefer the subtle little details that give the world flavor. Let me share a few with you today!

Guilds

In days of old, the purpose of guilds was to ensure the quality of the products produced by various craftsman. If an object bore a guild stamp, it was generally regarded as better than one that didn’t. In modern times, guild stamps have largely been replaced by corporate brands.

In Aruvalia, guilds still play an active role in modern society. Not only is it still common to look for the guild stamp on various products, the guild plays an active role in verifying and promoting the skill of their members. It isn’t enough for a professional to register with the guild; they have to prove their skill in order to gain Guild Bonding.

Guild Bonding is beneficial to a professional because it means the Guild will not only vouch for their skill, but advocate for them during employment disputes. Sort of like modern unions. Guild Bonded professionals often tend to earn significantly more pay than non-bonded professionals. Most companies also prefer to hire Guild Bonded because the protection of the guild extends both ways; members will be expelled for failing to uphold the guild’s standards.

Guilds also offer other benefits to their members. They might buy their student debt, for example, to erase it. Or offer scholarship and apprenticeships to particularly promising young protégés. Pretty much every profession has a guild as well, from doctors to lawyers and blacksmiths to mercenaries.

While most guilds are government sanctioned, there are a few that fly beneath the radar. The thieves’ guild, for example, ensures honor among the society’s underbelly. But isn’t legally able to operate within Aruvalia – or any other kingdom, for that matter. Still, if you need to partake in some illicit dealings, it’s better to seek the help of a guild than go it alone.

Potions and Charms

Of course, a modern fantasy world needs to be filled with magic. Aruvalia has powerful mages that perform great magical feats. But they aren’t as noticeable as the dozens of small ways magic affects a person’s daily life. One of the most popular and numerous forms of magic is charms.

Charms are simple but potent spells that continuously deliver a specific result. The best thing about them is that they can be woven into anything; a piece of jewelry, a keychain, even your favorite t-shirt! So you might have a ring that brings you good luck whenever you wear it. Or a set of earrings that help you block out the world and focus on an upcoming project deadline. Your favorite keychain might help keep anxiety at bay whenever you touch it. Or you might have a mug that staves off fatigue (whether or not it’s filled with coffee)!

Potions are similar to charms, except that they’re one-time use. Consume it when you want the spell to take effect and it wears off after a certain amount of time. In order to compete with the popularity of long-term charms, modern potion sellers have grown creative. The latest craze is a series of potion ‘shots’ sold to local coffee shops which can be added to various drinks for a short-term magical boost. Have a job interview coming up? Get a shot of courage in your morning brew. Big first date later this evening? Try ordering a hit of charm in your next latte.

Of course, there’s a great deal of variation in how each potion mixer brews their potions, so results may vary according to which shots a coffee shop stocks. Try shopping around. You might want to get your luck from a different place than you seek your inspiration!

The Faenet

The Internet is a staple of the modern world. It allows us to communicate quickly across long distances and stay abreast of what’s happening in the world. When I was in high school, my parents talked constantly about how I would drift away from my friends after we left home. But thanks to the Internet, my closest friendships have remained intact.

Aruvalia has its own version of the Internet, except that it’s run by a particularly enterprising group of faeries. Typically referred to as the “Faenet,” Aruvalia’s version of the Internet was originally established by Faeries as part of a mass courier service. And because it was much easier for them to make bargains with people who could send them messages any time, day or night.

The Faenet works just like the Internet, except that it’s completely in the hands of the Faeries. Which means ads, pricing and availability are completely subject to their terms. (And you don’t want to negotiate with a Faerie.) Instead of ‘googling’ a question to find an answer, you might ‘ask the oracle’ to find the pertinent information for you instead.

Not only is the Faenet the most convenient way to communicate, shop or find the most recent news, the Faeries who maintain it offer an extra courier service – available for a small additional fee. Need to send a private message in a hurry? Need to ensure the utmost security? Just hit the summoning button on your mobile device! A Faerie will arrive within seconds to carry your message to its destination. The Faeries ensure absolute secrecy. Delivery is guaranteed and no record of the message is kept. Best of all, the Faeries use a series of small portals built into mobile devices to make their delivery, so the message arrives almost instantaneously!

Airships

Since Aruvalia mirrors our world in many ways, you could reasonably expect to find all the same forms of transportation we make regular use of. Plenty of people have cars. Many cities also have mass transit systems made up of buses and subway systems. Trains regularly run from one end of the country to another, and you could easily catch a cruise ship out of any port.

Air travel is quite common in Aruvalia, but travelers have a choice between speed or comfort. If you want to reach your destination quickly and don’t mind crowds, you can take a simple airplane and your experience would be much like in the mundane world. But if you’d rather take your time and enjoy the trip, you could book passage on an airship instead.

Airships are similar to what we think of as zeppelins, though they tend to be powered almost completely by magic instead of using any kind of gas or electricity. This also makes them extremely safe ways to travel. The downside is that they’re also extremely expensive. This is the preferred method of air travel for royalty and nobility, since most airships boast private quarters and fancy dining cars. Though you can book cheaper passage in a common room, it’s still going to cost a pretty penny.

Some very special airships are designed to look like sailing ships. These ships can take off and land from bodies of water (large lakes, rivers and oceans). These tend to be the luxury cruise ships of the air, and are generally used only for long trips. The most infamous of these airships is the Twin Moons, which belongs to the even more infamous pirate captain Silkfoot Lightvolt.

Pocket Spells

Pocket spells are similar to charms and potions. These are spells which have been pre-prepared by a skilled spellcaster, but haven’t actually been activated yet. The main difference is that charms and potions are designed to take effect as soon as they come into contact with a subject. Any time you wear a charmed object, the spell activates. Potions tend to take effect as soon as they’re consumed.

Pocket spells aren’t active when they’re acquired. You could think of them like ritual kits. Everything needed to complete the spell is included, but the person who has purchased the spell has to do something in order to activate it.

Pocket spells vary in strength and price. The more potent they are, the more expensive they tend to be. And unlike charms and potions which have relatively guaranteed results, pocket spells can produced mixed results depending on the time and place where they’re used.

For this reason, the most popular pocket spells are included in the purchase of some other object. A refrigerator which is enchanted to produce different types of ice, for example. Or applied directly to an object by the practitioner at a later date. These types of pocket spells usually have some sort of activation condition – a word or a gesture – that makes the spell take effect.

Domerin has a series of pocket spells woven into his motorcycle. One of them allows the bike to drive itself to a small set of pre-programmed addresses in case he’s intoxicated and needs to get home. Another amplifies his hand signals, making it easier for cars to take notice of him, especially when he’s driving on the highway.

That’s it for now! What’s your favorite flavor detail so far? Let me know in the comments!

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