M is for: Murid and Murshid

The Murid are those Oathed sworn not only to an Ascended but also to an order of fellow mortals dedicated to the ideals of one or more of the Host. They date back many centuries, and those most prevalent in the Old Crown tend to trace their traditions back to the old Istani Kingdoms.

The different orders of Oathed, called Taruqah in High Istani, formed around great individual mortal or groups of mortals, as they sought to fulfil the goals of their Ascended patrons.
The oldest orders have followed a succession of great leaders and teachers, or Murshid in High Istani. Sometimes an order will face a schism, an a new leader will strike out and form a new Taruqah with any who would follow him.

Not all members of a Taruqah are Murid or Murshid. There are many layers to the hierarchy of most orders, and the lowest level is generally made up of many Talibe, an archaic word for student, who are newly initiated into the order.

This is not the case for all Taruqah however.
The Black Order, dedicated to the Black Lady and the hunt for and eradication of the Undeath Curse, has no talibe members. Oaths to the Lady Death are generally sworn before or upon joining the order.

Other large orders include:

The Green Order, dedicated to the Green Lady and the preservation of the natural order. Generally they oppose followers of the Storm.

The Order of the Crucible, dedicated to the Fiend and the Storm, who seek to gain power and influence for themselves and their Ascended masters. Use of powerful magical rituals and the Undeath Curse is common among the order.

The Ragged Order are young, following the newly ascended Beggar. They have few members but a strong presence in and around Queenstown. They are generally charitable, working to improve the lives of the poorest members of society.

The Oathed sworn to the Traveller are sometimes called Marabouts, wandering teachers. In theory, they would all be equal to a Murshid, but rarely bind together in organised Taruqah, as too great is their wanderlust.
Some Oathed that do not join a Taruqah may also be given this title by other mortals.

Advertisements

H is for: the Host

The Ascended Host is the pantheon of gods worshipped across the known world. Each of the gods was once a mortal, and through many different methods of apotheosis has transformed, transcended their mortality and Ascended to godhood.

The individual members of the Host do not have a purview over certain facets of life. There is no god of fertility, of war, of death. The gods have affinities, interests and methods, and goals. Often, these goals and interests come into conflict with other members of the Host, but just as often interests can me mutual.

Members of the Host include:

The Black Lady, a guardian of the newly dead who wages a constant war against the Fiend on the borders of the Deadrealms.

The Fiend, a usurper to the power of a previous guardian of the dead (among several other lesser gods), who unleashed the Undeath Curse upon the world in a bid for even greater power.

The Storm, a master of all that is magikal, who created a great ritual that destroyed the continent of Istan in return for his ascension. Many of their twisted creations inhabit the darker corners of the world, ready to undertake any task given.

The Keeper of Dreams, a patron to those who keep watch in the night. Those who take Oaths in his name often take a vow of silence and work to protect the world from… something.

The Crones, a pair of twins and secret keepers, who once were lovely young maidens with untold knowledge but who wasted away when the Whisperer and the Scholar gave all their secrets away.

The Masque, patron to thieves and assassins, but also to revellers of all kinds. He is often invoked by those needing just an edge of luck in their endeavours and during naming celebrations of young children for luck in their lives.

The Traveller, who constantly crosses the world seeking its edge. She is a patron of trade, hospitality and language, and prayers at sea are said as much to her as to the spirits swirling about the waters or stormy clouds.

A is for: Arcanists

After years of quiet and careful study, Arcanists are able to manipulate magikal energy.

Focusing upon the study of rituals and ancient, half-understood techniques, each Arcanist is eventually able to tap into the raw power of one of the two purest elements known – Light and Dark. Only the most legendary Arcanists has ever been able to manipulate both elements.

The element of Light encompasses light itself, as well as some control of heat and sound.

The element of Dark is the antithesis, giving control of shadows and the cold as well as the deadening of sound.

With enough practice, an Arcanist can conjure the elements to such a degree that even a carefully imagined ritual has some magikal power. By this method, Arcanists are able to use their magik at a moments notice should the need arise, though most prefer the slow and careful ritual.

Should an element be invoked incorrectly, all manner of disasters can occur. Often an Arcanist will make use of various ritual implements, and over time these may become imbued with an elemental nature.

Implements can include staves, wands, candles, ritual circles and inscriptions, as well as various charms, jewels and other ornaments.

Sometimes Arcanists will have some Witchblood in them, and this can be a great source of power to them. Many Arcanists are wary of this ability and will not train a Witchblooded apprentice. The last known wielder of both Witchblood and an understanding of both elements destroyed the many Kingdoms of Istan in a great ritual that Ascended him to godhood as the Storm.

Magic in the Old Crown: A quick overview of how it fits together

Here are a quick few thoughts on how magic is now working in the setting. I’m not throwing rules in with this yet, as I’m still working some of them out. This is more for flavour.

First, a word on elements of magic/nature.

The forces of elemental magic at work in the Old Crown, and indeed in the rest of the world revolve around two pure elements, Light and Dark.
All other elements are subordinate, seen as a mix of the two, with sentience and the element of Mind at the exact balance of between Light and Dark. Other balances produce the elements of Air, Earth, Water and Fire, since scholarly study shows many similarities between the elements at some fundamental level.

What this means for the Old Crown is most important for the magic users themselves.

The various Oathed orders all follow the different Ascended, and each Ascended is associated with Light, Dark, or Balance. These labels don’t necessarily infer goodness or badness; the Burned Man is and Ascendant of Light, the Storm of Balance, and the Black Lady of Dark.

An arcanist of the Old Crown will be schooled in various practical lessons, but will naturally gravitate toward some element that comes easiest to understanding, or manipulating. Many go on to learn other elements after their formal schooling, and the Archmagus of Raethmoor Academy is known to be a master of several.
Some arcanists find they are more strongly drawn to the elements of Light and Dark themselves, and some very few claim proficiency with Mind.

Witches and seawitches have an innate bond with the magical world. They feel an affiliation with the natural world from a young age, sometimes speaking to imaginary creatures only they can see (spirits), or else able to perform small feats of magic without any arcane training.
Many form a close companionship with an animal. Usually, this animal is blessed by an abundance of the element of Mind, much smarter than the rest of its species.
Some bond some part of their spirit to that of a nature spirit, carrying it with them wherever they go. Sometimes this is an elemental spirit instead, such as a fire or water elemental. Some fewer witches claim to have a bond to a Barrowight.

Next, souls and spirits.

All life has a soul, or a spirit. Some have no physical body, such as nature spirits, or the ghosts of the long dead, the Barrowights. Some elemental spirits do have a physical body, and these are called Daimon by most. They might be creatures with little in the way of a mind, residents of some distant existence in the heart of Dark itself.
Some stories persist of Daimon being born to witches bonded to elemental spirits, but most witches scoff at the idea.
The most dangerous Daimon are those with a strong connection to Light and Dark themselves.

Also, when any person creates an object, they put a part of their spirit into the task. If this is a meal, it rarely uses much of the spirit, but a more laboured process such as the creation of a piece of artwork, or a weapon, or an item with some magical purpose, will yield something else. Such Soulforged items gain something from their creation. Whilst not all spirited labour creates a true Soulforged item, when created they have a more awakened sentience themselves.
Tales abound of swords singing in the hands of their wielders, but more common is the kettle that boils when left in the sunshine or fine clothes that remain dry in the fiercest rain.

When an Ascended has a hand in making some item, it will generally absorb a part of their more powerful spirit, becoming Godforged in the process. The most famous Godforged items, like the Black Lady’s Crown of Thorn and Feather or the Masque’s Cloak of Falling Shadows have stories told about them across the known world, and are known to always be in the company of the god that forged them.
It is said that Soulforged items created by an Ascended before they become gods grow suddenly in power and become Godforged on their creator’s Ascension.

The process of giving a part of the soul for the creation of a Soulforged item is generally accepted to be the same process that bonds witches to spirits, though they receive something in return. Some believe the same process is used by the Fiend and his followers in the Undeath Curse, though only they would know if it is so.
It is also generally agreed that whilst the labour of love necessary to create such items can drain a person, leave them feeling particularly empty or vulnerable because of the effort of their spirit, over time they recover, and a person’s spirit cannot be destroyed in this way.

There’s probably more to magic that I’m forgetting, but the various bits on ritual and stuff aren’t that set in my mind yet, so I can work on those a bit first. Feel free to comment and give me some feedback!

Writing 101, Day One: 20 minutes of freewriting

His eye jolted open at the sound of a distant screaming. His arms and legs were cold, his clothes and hair stuck to him with water. Saltwater and gritty sand covered his lips.
He didn’t know where he was.

Razir had fallen asleep in his room at the inn, exhausted, fresh into port. He didn’t believe it to be a dream, and couldn’t remember a storm that had washed him overboard.
The air filling his lungs was cold, and he could hear the waves lapping at a beach. The sky directly above was grey, clouds filtering the light of the sun in such a way he couldn’t tell if it was dawn or dusk or anywhere in between.

Lifting his head slowly, he found himself on a beach of grey and black sand, and above sheer cliffs, perhaps once white but clearly scorched and cratered as far as he could see, before a pervasively thick mist covered them from view. From the sands and the shallow waters rose wrecks of many small boats, all made of dark wood, or else burned black themselves.

Another scream, and this time the roar of a great crowd, high above, at the top of the cliffs, and then a sound like none he had ever heard, as if a storm erupted from the throat of some great hulking monster. Strange light flashed high above, and then he found himself running for the cover of the cliffs themselves as great clods of earth and stone began to rain down onto the beach and the waters.

Stumbling over something hidden in the sand, Razir barely stopped himself falling head first into the last of the plummeting materiel, and then, eyes widening, he realised this last was the charred and still smoking form of an armoured man.

Razir fell to the ground, sprawling twice as he tried to hastily crawl backwards away from the thing in front of him. His hand fell on the peg of flotsam he had stumbled over, the handle of some oar or tiller.
A low pained moan arose from the throat of the dying man before him, and all too bright eyes looked towards Razir.
“Run, lost soul,” he barely choked out the words. “His forces have almost made the beach. You don’t have long to escape yourself.”

Eyes filled with terror, Razir once again looked about himself. He understood where he was all too clearly. Razir had awoken in the Deadrealms, at the shores of the Sea of Souls itself. And the wild armies of the Fiend, the Lord of Undeath, had almost broken through the lines of warriors loyal to the Black Lady.
And then the sky lit up again.

I think that went pretty well. It’s something that’s been evolving in my head for a couple of months now, but I needed to throw it down eventually. And I managed to get it all done in twenty minutes. Well, barring that last sentence, when my alarm started to go off.
I’ll try write some more on Razir and the Deadrealms soon.

Check out Writing 101 for more on the daily tasks (not sure if I’ll manage them daily!), specifically this one for day one.

Some random thoughts on the Old Crown

I was monotonously busy at work (I work in files) and I came up with some interesting ideas for my RPG setting, the Old Crown.

Whilst there’ll be more to follow in other posts, I just wanted to wander down my mindtrack openly for  a while.

The way magic is set up in the setting, there are three basic ways to access it: intense schooling (Arcanists), divine sponsorship (Oathed), and natural affinity (Witches).

The Arcanists learn to bend the various elemental energies of the world to their will. The Oathed have more powerful abilities, but with a narrower focus, bound to the powers of their patron.

The Witches have melded their soul with a spirit to act as a sort of liaison with the magical world. Truly powerful Witches have bonded with several spirits, or else somehow became aligned with strong spirits that needed them in some way – a spirit of lightning springs immediately to mind as one that would cease to exist almost instantly without bonding with/striking a Witch.

But I was also thinking about Barrowights, the ghosts of those long dead. The soul of a deceased mortal might hang around (at great danger) in order to fulfill some task or other.
The thing about Barrowights is, these things are LONG dead.
Somehow, they’ve held on to the last echoes of their life, watching whilst everyone they knew died off as well, whatever their reason for continuing slowly disappearing into dust.

And then they go slowly insane.

Eventually, you get something like a mad ghost/banshee/rusalka, and it might attack anything living out of spite or in abject grief.
Or, and here’s where my interesting idea comes in, perhaps a Witch might bond with one.

Barrowights don’t get about much, as their range of haunting shrinks from ‘everyone and everything they knew in life’ to ‘close to their physical remains’ (since everyone/thing they knew is now all gone). Maybe one isn’t quite as mad as all the others, and it somehow finds a kindred soul in the mortal Witch.

So, along with flashy spirits of lightning that make the Witch mildly static at all times, and pack one hell of a magic punch, there’s little lights and heat from candles or campfires, light and sound from Will O’Wisps, silence and shadow from spirits of the dark, growth and healing from earth or tree spirits, and now some kind of other powers brought from a bond with the long dead.

Could be cool, right?

The Dead Nights

The high holiday of Lady Death, the Dead Nights see the moon disappear from the night sky, and angry spirits manifest across the world.
Powerful witches are able to dream travel to the shores of the dead with ease and without ritual, and the spirits of departed relatives sometimes appear in mortal dreams.
It is also the time when the Undeath curse is most powerful, and the bodies of those who die are most carefully watched.