The Everway game takes place in a fantasy multiverse. You play a Spherewalker, a person with the special gift to be able to use gates to pass from one sphere to another. It normally takes about a week to travel between spheres. There is a gate on either end of the connection.
Gates take many different forms, from stone henges, to faerie rings of mushrooms, to the doorway of a long-abandoned indoor marketplace or temple.
The Walker is said to have created the majority of gates between the spheres. The Walker is an ancient Everwayan god. S/he built a step pyramid at the center of the city of Everway. The step pyramid is missing its capstone. Legend has it that the Walker will one day return with the Capstone, at which point Everway (or the entire multiverse) will be transformed. In the meantime, a cult of Pyramid priests welcomes visitors to the Walker's Pyramid and collects offerings for the Walker's eventual return.
Spheres are usually Earth-like worlds, with ice caps at the poles, a tropical equator, and a nighttime sky with a Moon and the same constellations that we see. Spheres can also be radically different: discs, hollow spheres, or flat squares with an edge you can fall off. There may be an infinite number of spheres, or the number may be finite but very large. There are certainly at least a thousand spheres. Spheres usually have names. Everway's sphere is called Fourcorner.
Realms are an area of a sphere with a shared story shaped by common cosmic forces. A realm may constitute one or more kingdoms, or something else entirely like a Land of Spiders. A realm will have a common Virtue, Fault, and Fate based on the Fortune Deck. Everway's realm is called Roundwander.
The Fortune Deck is a set of 36 tarot-like cards which represent the most common representations of the cosmic forces at work in the multiverse. The cards are keyed to the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), as well as to Gods and other forces of nature and the cosmos. Each card as an upright face, and a reverse face, typically with opposing meanings. Every character and realm has a Virtue, Fault, and Fate represented by a Card in the Fortune Deck.
A Virtue represents a strength or positive asset, ability, or characteristic of a person, place, or thing.
A Fault represents a weakness or negative asset, vulnerability, or negative characteristic of a person, place, or thing.
A Fate represents a central tension or conflict within a person, place, or thing. This is represented by both upright and reverse signifiers of a Fortune Card. For that reason, a Fate is often represented in readings by a Fortune Card placed sideways. If a person, place, or thing resolves its Fate, a new fate will emerge in time.
The Usurper is a special Fortune Card; in many ways it represents a unique emergent property or wild card outside the normal chain of signifiers represented by the Fortune Deck. Its appearance signifies the arrival of a new cosmic force for a person, place, or thing.
Humans are at the center of Everway's multiverse. Playing non-humans is explicitly discouraged by the rules. It is the players' responsibility to create interesting human characters. You have the entirety of human culture for inspiration; that's a lot to work with.
Everway is the city at the center of the multiverse. All of the gates in the sphere of Fourcorner are in the realm of Roundwander, Everway's home. This frequency and distribution of gates is very unusual. Everway has more gates than any other known realm: a total of 71 gates connect the realm of Roundwander to other spheres. Over the centuries, Everway has become the crossroads of for countless spheres and realms.
Everway is a very old, wealthy, and somewhat complacent city. The city is populous with about a half million inhabitants. Its culture has assimilated many others, which is reflected in its architecture, temples, and customs. Everwayans have a cosmopolitan outlook, but they are rather parochial and conservative on a day-to-day basis.
Everway proper is on the northwest bank of the Sunset River, which empties into Simmermoon Bay and the seas beyond Roundwander.
Key locations in Everway include:
- The Walker's Pyramid in the center of the city
- The Gaming Houses to the west of the Pyramid
- The Council House, the Great King's Palace, and the Emerald family's house lie almost directly north of the Pyramid, on the east side of the Walker's Way
- Library of All Worlds, northwest of the Pyramid, and flanked to the north and south by the Crookstaff and Scratch family houses
- the Chamber Platinum, a society of Spherewalkers who explore the thousand spheres, is sponsored by the Library and located on its grounds
- The Gardens to the northeast of the Pyramid with many temples to the gods of nature and earth
- The Temple of Mercy and associated poorhouses, orphanages, charities and related temples (such as fertility and healing temples) to the east of the Pyramid.The poorest Everwayans live here, except for those who live in Strangerside
- The Houses of Dusk, where Everwayan dead are prepared for sea burial on rafts; other burial traditions can be accommodated as well
- The Court of Fools to the south of the Pyramid; this is a large plaza where all kinds of entertainers perform for crowds.
- The Arenas to the southwest of the Pyramid, where bloodsports and duels are performed; the temples to the gods of war are also located here
- Strangerside sprawls along the South Bank of the Sunset River; the Strangerside Scholar and another half million Strangers and Outsiders make their homes here
- Three bridges connect Everway proper to Strangerside. West to east these are:
- Fools's Bridge (adjacent to the Court of Fools, and close to the Mudbank and Weaver family houses)
- Dusk Bridge (adjacent to the Houses of Dusk and close to the Wailer, Tender, and Moondance family houses)
- Mercy Bridge (adjacent to the Temple of Mercy, which is flanked to the North by the Mother family house and to the south by the Tender family house)
Strangerside lies outside the city walls of Everway on the South Bank of the Sunset River. It has never had a census but it is probably as populous as Everway proper. Visitors from other spheres and realms will be directed to Strangerside, a very diverse and often dangerous foreigners' quarter. You will find merchants, refugees, political exiles, thieves, assassins, sorcerers and witches - and of course, many other Spherewalkers. People from other realms and spheres can enter the city proper to visit, trade, worship, participate in festivals and cultural events, and conduct political affairs, but will usually stay in Strangerside.
Assimilation into Everwayan society is difficult. People from other realms on Fourcorner will be given the surname Stranger; people from other spheres will be given the surname Outsider. Some Stranger and Outsider families have been in Strangerside for hundreds of years after first arriving in Everway. Men can marry into Everwayan families; they then lose their Stranger and Outsider status, becoming a part of the family that they marry into. Women Outsiders and Strangers can't do that, because native Everwayan families are matrilineal; family identity is passed on through the woman's side of the family.
There are about a thousand different Everwayan families. These are essentially clans. Most families are known for their preeminence in one or more specialized trades. A child takes his or her mother's surname. A man will take his wife's surname. Some of the most prominent family names include the following:
- Emerald - the ruling family; the current emperor is Horizon Emerald
- Crookstaff - prominent wizards, holders of secrets and mysteries
- Snakering - courtiers, diplomats, political advisers
- Scratch - scribes and scholars
- Crow - warriors
- Digger - miners and moneylenders
- Stonebreaker - architects, engineers, and builders
- Whiteoar - they are no more, having died out during an ancient civil war (a Council chair is left open for them)
- Host - offer hospitality to travelers
- Gold - the makers of fine jewelry
- Keeper - tenders and guardians of the gates
- Mother - healers and midwives; with this family, the surname comes first (e.g., Mother Patch)
- Moondance - priestesses of Everway's many gods and goddesses - and their guardians
- Mask - officially, entertainers; unofficially involved in all kinds of illicit trade
- Mudbank - leatherworkers, and the removers of dead animals from the city streets
- Tenders - prepare and bury bodies; holy and untouchable
- Wailers - ceremonial specialists
- Plume - imperial guards
- Watcher - city watch
- Weaver - weavers, dyers, early adopters of new trades; friendly to Outsiders and therefore seen as troublemakers by more traditional families
- Smith - armorers, metalworkers, weapons-makers
Families in bold have a seat on the Council which rules Everway. Of course, the Emerald family also has a representative in the person of the King, Horizon Emerald.