Avaria is a world much like Earth, with a host of cultures and countries spanning a large globe. Many of the various kingdoms, republics, and empires of Avaria have rough analogues within Earth's own history, though none are meant as an exact match. The continent of Idiri can be considered to correspond roughly to Africa, Ruvera to Europe, Ruleska and Altaruleska to the Middle East and northern Asia, and Riendu to southeastern Asia. The island of Jalanjhur, almost a continent in its own right, occupies something like the place of India and is a valued trading partner to some in Avaria and scarcely more than a rumor to others. More information can be found on each of these landmasses in the Geography section, along with descriptions of the numerous political entities that call these places home.
The primary center of roleplay in Song of Avaria is the city of Omrazir, a cosmopolitan port situated on the Adelantean coast of Raziya, a province of the Sirdabi Caliphate. The town of St. Loomis, located in the kingdom of Ensor on the far side of the sea, is a secondary hub of activity. New characters begin within the Faded Zone, a tutorial area that resides somewhere within the mysterious realm of the Otherland.
Between the extremes of gritty realism and high fantasy, Avaria falls close to the middle. Many people in the world remain only lightly touched by the fantastic in their ordinary lives, and most magic that people are familiar with in their day-to-day existence is not terribly flashy. Injuries can be genuinely crippling, fighting can have potentially serious consequences, and though people have been rumored to return from the dead, for the vast majority, PCs and NPCs alike, death is truly the end of their sojourn in the mortal realm. But this is only part of the story. The weird and the whimsical are also abroad in the world, and politics, faith, and the beginnings of science mix freely with the supernatural, the arcane, and the world beyond. Powerful and monstrous beings, non-human peoples, and even extremely potent magic are all real, and strange and fantastical things just might happen to anyone.
Avaria is predominantly populated by human beings representing a wide range of different appearances and cultures, much like on Earth. Rather than choosing a race to play, starting players select a heritage for their character that represents that character's ethnic and cultural background. Fantasy races like dwarves, jinn, and others do in fact exist in the world, but they are much less common than humans. Some of these races may be met with relatively often, while others may be rare enough that few humans would be likely to encounter them through the whole course of their ordinary lives -- or if they did, they might not ever know it. The common run of Avarians nevertheless accept the existence of nearly all such peoples as unquestioningly as they accept the existence of other far-flung cultures of humans, though few would claim to have any great knowledge of the rarest among them, and much of what is "known" about these peoples is only legend and rumor.
Avaria does not conform exactly to any one time period in Earth's history, particularly as social and political structures and technologies vary from one part of the world to another. But roughly speaking the world can be considered to fall between the late Middle Ages and the high Renaissance, with some flavor from both earlier and later periods. Mode of dress, the state of the arts and sciences, and predominant military technologies and tactics vary widely along this range and across regions. The heart of the Kalentoi Empire is the most classically medieval realm, due to the extreme conservatism of their philosophy and their focus on maintaining the status quo. The rest of the world, including some of the countries that are officially under the Empire's aegis, are more Renaissance in mindset and style. Everywhere, though, the world is in a state of flux as ideas and goods travel around the known world along increasingly vital and interconnected trade routes.
Like the overall time period, the state of technology in Avaria differs depending on where one happens to be but tends to fall generally within the medieval to Renaissance range. Shipbuilding and sailing technology lie more within a medieval frame due to the cataclysmic events surrounding the eruption of Mount Elemnis, which rendered ship travel within the once-friendly confines of the Adelantean Sea far more perilous. The printing press is a relatively new invention which has yet to replace the utility of scribes, though its use and influence are spreading. Avaria also boasts some sophisticated and fantasy-tinged clockwork technology, as well as the even more potentially powerful innovations derived by illumineering -- capturing the energy of the sun, moons, and stars to power a range of devices. Science is still in the fairly early stages in Avaria, but its discoveries are increasingly being used to fuel a variety of new projects in engineering, and, among certain circles, in magic use as well.
The dominant faiths in Avaria are monotheistic, with large segments of the population of Ruvera, Ruleska, and northeastern Idiri following some variety of worship of The One God. There are however a great many more localized religions scattered across the globe, particularly faith systems based on shamanism and the worship of ancestors and spirits. A few major deities and demigods, such as Nirzali and Nthanda, have followers throughout Idiri, and even the ancient pagan pantheon known as the Children of Dawn and Dusk still has some adherents in certain parts of the world. In the even more distant lands of Riendu and Jalanjhur still other gods and supernatural beings form the core of their own multifarious forms of worship.
The vast majority of Avarians believe quite matter-of-factly in some deity or pantheon or cosmic force, though there is as much variation in people's levels of piety as in their basic beliefs. Generally the humbler people tend to be the most devout, though their observations of the faith may not always satisfy the most orthodox among the priesthood. The most culturally sophisticated circles -- members of the court, certain academicians, and the like -- tend to be less devout, being usually more willing to entertain doubts about some points of dogma, and to actively pursue intellectual and philosophical endeavors that sometimes clash with orthodoxy. Only the most deeply cynical and disillusioned individuals would ever consider themselves atheists, and fewer still would openly express a full rejection of faith. But not all adhere to an organized religion, and degrees and expression of faith vary widely.
Magic in Avaria is very much like magic as it has been historically believed in and practiced on Earth. Large-scale magic and flashy spells are the fodder of stories and legends, generally taken with a grain of salt -- though there just may be more than a grain of truth in these tales. Yet the magic that most consider real is both commonplace and amazingly diverse: weather magic, harvest rituals, charms and talismans, alchemy, divination, spells to cure maladies of the mind and body, voodoo magic, the evil eye, and a host of other things both helpful and malign. For many in Avaria, magic is also synonymous with religion -- priests are socially-approved magi, prayers are both invocation and evocation, miracles are at once magical and divine.
Starting out, no PC will have access to magical abilities in character generation. Knowledge and ability in magic is instead something that a character may gain over time, by pursuing certain storylines or developing their character in certain ways. Magic is not meant to be an all-powerful force and there may be trade-offs to pursuing the most potent forms of magic above all else, but characters that wish to will have the opportunity to develop unique abilities and become masters of their art with sufficient dedication. Elemental, spiritual, and mental styles of magic all exist, sometimes overlapping with one another and other times coming into conflict.