Talking Vast Kaviya with Mike Myler

EN World’s own Mike Myler (EN5ider, 2099 Wasteland) has a new project crowdfunding at GameOnTabletop, Vast Kaviya for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. I talk with Mike about Vast Kaviya, his other projects, and why he moved to GameOnTabletop.

Vast Kaviya 01.png

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for reaching out about your RPG crowdfunding on GameOnTabletop. What is Vast Kaviya for 5e?
MIKE MYLER (MM):
Vast Kaviya is a decentralized campaign setting and NPC resource of primordial sword and sorcery, low magic, and high adventure! It’s an ode to old school fantasy (strongly inspired by Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice) and, also, my last 5E campaign setting.

EGG: The pitch on the website is a large, primitive world with little magic, no gods, and no economy played against lots of moons, land, and monsters. Assuming this world is too “new” to have them, do you see this as Dragons Without Dungeons?
MM
: The world is incredibly huge (bigger than Kappa Andromedae b even) and there’s no real formal knowledge to speak of, but that doesn’t mean there are no dungeons. Given its size there’s a lot of hollow space beneath Vast Kaviya’s surface (6 of the 20 warlord lairs are underground), so dungeons are going to be primitive, few, and far between--still there, just a bit of a rarity and not as complex as something you might find in Golarion.

EGG: You’re creating a primitive fantasy setting, but you did not immediately invoke Conan in the description. Did you intentionally avoid Conan or is this world a different vision than Robert E. Howard’s?
MM:
The world is definitely a similar vision--Vast Kaviya is compatible with Conan and that was one of our design goals here (and the bestiary chapter has a barbarian-thief, berserker wanderer, and a jungle master to boot). Most folks have a homebrew world they’ve been developing around their table with their gaming group (or groups!) that they’re invested in already, so the setting is as much its own world as it is a supplement to include with existing worlds. It started because a few fans of 2099 Wasteland have been on me for years to do more warlords, but I wanted to get this old school feel going for one of my settings (they are largely futuristic compared to medieval fantasy) so after much brainstorming, throwing ideas back and forth, and playtesting, ultimately that developed into Vast Kaviya. Once I knew what the world was going to look like (and certain it would plug-in equally well with an apocalyptic wasteland as it would for Greyhawk or Faerun), I put together a few warlord entries as examples, then went looking for writers, found 9 with solid pitches, and helped them get their bits written and up to shape while I filled out most everything else (the exploration rules, the bestiary, and so on).

EGG: Vast Kaviya is coming out through Legendary Games. What made them the right partners for this project?
MM:
The closest companion product among my campaign settings is 2099 Wasteland and that’s licensed to Legendary Games, but moreover they’re just good people. They’ve always got my back, they do a terrific job of managing a book after I’m done making it, there’s the occasional art piece of theirs that I want to use, and I like them (the wereshark in the section of the primer for Tohgai the Awakened Reef is on loan from them). Plus, it’s content I think Legendary Games fans will be interested in, many of whom are already familiar with the crowdfunding platform we’re using (GameOnTabletop).

EGG: You’ve used the D&D 5e and Shadow of the Demon Lord engines on other projects, why was 5e a better fit for Vast Kaviya than any other system?
MM:
On its outside, D&D 5E has this extremely simple approach throughout the rules--advantage or disadvantage, low bonuses (capped ability scores, slow-scale 1:3 proficiency), and little real variation (see the dozen core armor options). That makes it extremely well-suited for a world predicated on primitive gaming. This is a more inclusive project than the last couple as well and using D&D 5E gave me a larger pool of designers to choose from when considering warlord pitches.

EGG: Without gods or magic, will there be magic-based character classes? If not, how does Vast Kaviya maintain the balance of 5e?
MM:
Of course! There is magic, just no formal magic. No wizards or mage academies. And there’s little magic because anyone with a talent for controlling weird is wearing a giant target on their backs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play a sorcerer or warlock, only that it’s a dicier choice than usual. We’ve even got two archetypes for each of those (animator and dreaming sorcerers, and the Grandmother and Hivemind patrons). Otherwise the GM can dole out some limited spell access with raw mana (chunks of supernaturally-charged gems that increase in potency with level and have limited uses to cast spells), there are some prestige classes at least partially to do with magic (magic-eaters that forsake it and primal shamans with basic psionic abilities; those are all 8 levels and based off of the model Luis Loza brilliantly established in Book of Exalted Darkness), and then if the group is interested there’s also an optional Mana ability score that can be used as a negotiation-narrative element.

Vast Kaviya 03.jpg

EGG: You were behind EN Publishing’s A Touch of Class and A Touch More Class, both for 5e, and funded through Patreon and Kickstarter. What did you learn from them that you will apply here?
MM:
Credit where credit’s due I wasn’t behind it--Morrus told me to get material together for another class book, made the Kickstarter campaign, managed that, and Eric Life-Putnam did the book layouts. I commissioned, developed, and edited the classes (most of them; James Haeck was still EN5ider’s editor for the gunfighter and I wrote the gemini class), and implemented revisions to the original book. I’d be remiss not to mention art director Michael McCarthy too, and that Indi Martin as the primarily illustrator makes a huge difference in how together the final book feels, and the thousand plus patrons of EN5ider giving us feedback and critique before the KS even began. My big takeaway from the wild success of A Touch More Class’ Kickstarter was definitely the crucial importance of a mailing list. That’s why you, most excellent gamers, can sign up for the Vast Kaviya mailing list right now at the Vast Kaviya website to be notified as soon as the project launches!

EGG: This is our third sit down, I believe. Our first was about your Kickstarter for Eastern Fantasy Adventures for D&D 5e and Shadow of the Demon Lord. How has that project gone?
MM:
True to form I’m overdelivering again. The final draft of Imperial Matchmaker is 167,000+ words and getting a continuity edit from Editorial Assistant Andrew Engelbrite (a rising star among EN5ider’s contributors) to make certain that all the twists and turns throughout aren’t running into each other. All of the illustrations are done (including a drop dead gorgeous isometric 2-page city map by Indi Martin; here’s a very tiny version of it), as are the maps (more than 40 of those aside from her fantastic piece), and I’m incredibly excited to get it into layout (should be proofing it in the middle of October). After that I need to convert it to Shadow of the Demon Lord and then go into layout again. That’ll close up the rewards--the other half, the Trade War adventure path, went out in December 2018 and February earlier this year (minions of demon lord head here).

EGG: The other interview we did will likely remain on my hard drive for the time being because that project did not come to pass. You were hired to write for a project that did not reach its goal on Kickstarter. Last I heard, it’s being repackaged for another go. To be clear, this was not your project, you were a hired freelancer on it. Since freelancing is the art of scheduling gigs and hoping that they pay, did that project’s failure to fund impact your schedule/income? Did that event have any influence on Vast Kaviya’s timeline?
MM:
Not at all because in this case the publisher paid for my work up-front and I cashed the check last week. That project is Zagora Games’ Mother of Monsters Adventure Path (they have a website and mailing list, too), and I’m 100% positive that after some retooling, they’ll fund successfully. It’s a solid set of Greek-themed adventures (I know because I wrote two of them!) with deep lore, fantastic cartography, and gorgeous artwork. I’ve been slotting a week to work on Vast Kaviya every month this year so while I would’ve gotten a little further along, it didn’t impact the workflow too much.

EGG: For fans interested in learning more about Vast Kaviya for 5e and you, where can they look?
MM:
[The Vast Kaviya website] has a mailing list! Anyone on it will get early access to the Vast Kaviya Primer, a free 33-page PDF that’ll be available on the GameOnTabletop project page when it launches. I’m on Twitter (@mikemyler2), have my own website, and post regularly on Facebook so, if you have any questions about the campaign setting, don’t hesitate to ask me here or elsewhere. 😀

VAST KAVIYA by Mike Myler

END DATE:
11/03/2019 21:59 (GMT-5)

“A primordial sword and sorcery campaign setting of low magic and high adventure for D&D 5E!”
 
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Egg Embry

Comments

Mike Myler

Explorer
Browser is fine. The app shows only the interview questions for me.
Maybe it's something to do with the forum software change? I dunno. @Morrus might know more (and if there's anything to do be done for it he's in much better shape to do something about it). Thanks for the heads up!
 
As someone who back your project I admire you sticking to your beliefs. But I think it is going to cost you quite a bit too. This project would easily fund on Kickstarter plus a couple stretch goals. It does not appear it will fund on GOTT at all.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
The setting has a paleolithic and neolithic vibe.

Not just medievalesque in skimpier costumes and substandard weapons! But an exploration of what life might have been like.

Prehistoric nomadic clans wander thru a great unknown world. Here and there, neolithic settlements, with farming and structures sometimes appear.

I havent seen this kind of setting in D&D before. It is pioneering.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
The setting has a paleolithic and neolithic vibe.

Not just medievalesque in skimpier costumes and substandard weapons! But an exploration of what life might have been like.

Prehistoric nomadic clans wander thru a great unknown world. Here and there, neolithic settlements, with farming and structures sometimes appear.

I havent seen this kind of setting in D&D before. It is pioneering.
Thank you! We're doing our best! :)

 

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