Asphodelium is our latest project we started for Winter Visual Novel Jam 2023. The game is set in a fantasy world where traveling guilds aren’t out of place and modern luxuries like phones and the internet haven’t been invented yet.

The original idea for the setting was an RPG-esque world, similar to one you might find in turn-based JRPGs where the world is somewhat accommodating to guilds and your team is comprised of multiple different “classes”. However, rather than being in a general medieval setting, the game takes place in something closer to a fantasy version of the prohibition era (1920s-1930s~).

magic

Magic exists in the world and is something anyone can learn, given the time and resources—think of it something like learning another language. It can be very helpful and a lot of people know a few words or phrases from different languages, but most people don’t dedicate the time to fully learning another language as it is very time consuming and requires constant practice.

Using magic is done by chanting phrases with an emphasis on thoughts. Saying magic words isn’t enough, there has to be emotion and thinking behind it. Trained magic users can recite spells and channel the right emotions behind the words to get the results they want, while more inexperienced users will struggle on gathering their thoughts. A majority of training is focused on channeling specific emotions at the right time. Some magic can even be used silently, by reciting the words in the user’s head and channeling the emotions at the same time. Using magic drains the user’s strength/stamina depending on the power of the spell. To recover, they simply need to rest.

Most magic is cast in person, though portable spells exist and are quite useful. The most common type of portable spell is a fireball, which can be used to create a fire on the go. Portable spells are usually contained in small flasks and jars which can be unsealed at any time, even by people who don’t know magic.

In some parts of the world, magic is treated as a status symbol. People learn magic less to use in a practical or scientific sense but more to show that they are a member of high society, as they use spells that are more flash than useful.

In other parts of the world like the town the game is set in, magic is viewed more as a tool. Artisans and farmers know some magic spells to make their lives easier, but few people truly dedicate themselves to learning a broad range (such as magic that can be used in combat).

People who do end up dedicating themselves to magic are typically scholars, researchers, or travelers. These are people who use magic frequently, either to study it or because they need it on their travels. Some magic users are hired by noblemen as servants, using their skills however their employer sees fit (usually as a bodyguard who can double as a helping hand around their estate).

The main character Hazel knows the most magic of the cast, having grown up in a town where magic was viewed as a tool and he was able to start learning at a young age. He’s always considered himself to be bad at anything with his hands like cooking or cleaning, so he learned magic as a way to compensate, playing instruments he imbued with magic in his free time. When he began traveling with Cyrus, he dedicated his free time to learning magic more seriously.

relationships & community

Society in the world of Asphodelium by in large like to keep private matters to themselves. While there is a sense of community, as things like homecooking and handmade items are considered valuable and things like farmers markets are a daily occurrence, private matters like relationships are considered things that stay at home. PDA outside of handholding and hugging isn’t common unless it’s a celebration. Still, a sense of community is highly sought after for people, whether it’s a community of a handful of people or a large town. People value the work of others and being around others, but they also highly value privacy. It’s a balancing game of relying on the people around you while also keeping personal matters to yourself and your family.

Gay relationships are not extremely common but they’re not unusual or illegal. Gender is even less of a concern as people value privacy and consider a person’s sex to be very private, so gender is not always seen as binary such as with Bryn. Depending on where the person lives and how they’re raised, they may still experience gender roles—a daughter may be pushed to stay at home while the son goes out and works. These can vary depending on region and status.

jobs

There is no universal income in this world, so people have to work for a living—including our adventurers that have just saved the world. There’s a variety of jobs available for people including ways to work independently.

Some towns rely on tourism and travelers for income, being host to hotels, restaurants, shops, and more. Some towns are mostly self-sufficient like the town Hazel grew up in, only having one restaurant for locals and the occasional traveler, with most people in the community working other jobs like community services (teaching, running the town) or farming. Some communities are even more remote like the one Charlotte and Alexei grew up in, meaning townsfolk have to be even more self-sufficient—both of them were taught a deep understanding of procuring and preparing food.

Although it never comes up in the game, there are some fantasy creatures in the world, though they are treated mostly as animals (and thus animal-focused jobs like vets and researchers exist for them as well).

Knights and constables are the main “peace-keeping” groups in the world. Knights pledge loyalty to individuals and are under contract with them, aiding them by keeping them and their estates safe. This can include the towns they reside in and the surrounding areas, keeping more feral creatures at bay. Constables are essentially the police force in towns, with them sometimes working with knights. Bryn was previously a knight before leaving their job to travel the world with Hazel’s group, looking to find a better way to protect people. Now, they work at a children’s home for kids who don’t have stable homes or nowhere to call home.

cults & guilds

Guilds are groups of travelers who explore the world, typically with a purpose in mind. Sometimes they’re more loose goals such as researching guilds that spend time surveying lands while other times they’re created specifically to stop a problem in an area. Before the game begins, Hazel joined Cyrus on his travels to stop a cult called the Sun Mourners, with the two of them establishing a guild for it.

Cults are not a common thing in the world of Asphodelium but they can be more of a problem than you’d expect. As people are very private about their lives and issues and a sense of community is highly valued, people can fall prey to cult mentalities faster than they realize. Groups like the Sun Mourners prey on people looking for that sense of community who have insecurities about death and the afterlife and give them reassurance.

However, most cults are very insular in this world, rarely branching out to other towns and communities. Cults are still a rarity, but it’s especially rare for a cult to branch out and expand their influence so far as the Sun Mourners had.


There’s a little more info on the world of Asphodelium for you! I hope to share more of it soon as I work on the full release of the game.

For now, you can play the demo on itchio—the full game will be free as well.

— Arimia

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