This potent drug is, amusingly enough, the byproduct of a thaumatechnologic process; many factory owners produce the base, unrefined form of the drug, flushing it away nightly as unwanted thaumic pollution, unaware that the clear, vicious sludge washing down the drain is worth more than the rest of their operations combined. It is this alone that keeps the supply of the drug limited, as producers closely guard their secret.
Godsweat is, at the most basic form, thaumic energy distilled into a fluid form. By itself, it has little application, although a Mage may tap it for a boost of power, and a Whisp can happily feed on even a small dose for an extended period. Properly refined, however, it becomes a clear, slightly viscous fluid that has several potent effects, not the least of which is the intense euphoria that accompanies use.
The benefits of Godsweat are enhanced strength and speed, sharpened senses, and wildly creative surges that make the drug popular with athletes, artisans, and thugs alike. Mages also find that the refined form amplifies their spellcasting talent, insulating them from the risk of overloading themselves for a short time.
The detrimental effects are wild and powerful mood swings and the hazard of sensory overload while under the drug's effects; depression and a feeling of sensory deprivation upon coming off the high, as well as a vulnerability to thaumic effects for a short time; and repeated use risks psychological trauma and disease similar to that which can result from long-term exposure to thaumic pollution. Go to Comment
The former. I expect the residents generally make it something like a part of their birthday celebrations; honoring another year of life and light by adding to the Cathedral.
I also expect that in other places, such as Tarralein, there's slang along the lines of 'trying to make a Cathedral' to refer to some overly massive and grand project someone is trying to accomplish; the wealthy baron trying to build a fifty-story-tall statue of himself as a 'present to the city' is the kind of thing. Go to Comment
It is possibly to make a potentially hazardous light source via thaumatechnology, yes.
And actually, since Kuramen uses Siren's elemental gods, the undead are actually creatures of Light, as the Goddess of Death is also the Goddess of Shadows, and tends to regard undead as a violation of Her domain. Go to Comment
Is there a constant tide of pilgrims who spend an entire day of their year performing this act of worship, or do all the worshipers come at once and carve their rune in a designated 'box' marked out by the priesthood? Go to Comment
There is a subtle irony here, that I didn't notice at first. These wizards have learned their lesson forever, but are prevented from learning anything else (normally). Now that's the ultimate lesson!
I would think, that without feeding they would appear a bit more detached from reality, flat and emotionless; and more human when fed. Without this contact with human souls, I suspect they will lose whatever remains of their own soul. There has to be a price for immortality. Go to Comment
They do; they can recall anything they knew while still truly alive easily. Mages, owing to the ridiculous dangers of their profession, rarely have close relationships with anyone save for other mages, however. It happens, but when you may explode in a wash of energy capable of decimating the entire town at any time you do the signature behavior of your profession, it tends to put off potential friends and lovers. Many mages are even estranged from their family for the same reason. Go to Comment
They very definitely cannot be treated like any other undead; even the liches of normal high fantasy are easier to handle than a Hollow One. The closest thing to one of these creatures is the rare instances of a lich that takes the time to work its way into society, gaining social prestige and power as it does so. A Hollow One, on the other hand, is seen as an asset by rulers in Kuramen, as they are spellcasters who don't risk a thaumaturgic backlash that could level the city. More than one medium-size city-state or moderate-sized nation has a Hollow One serving as adviser to the ruler across multiple generations, considering their access to knowledge and their magical capabilities more than worth the cost in spiritual energy they require, usually relying on prisoners or a special cadre of servants for that purpose.
For other worlds, you could indeed vary the damage their touch inflicts, and how long the effects of a feeding last; without the stolen spiritual essence, a Hollow One can only learn in a detached way; the visceral kind of learning that lets people develop learned reflexes and instant recall of knowledge is only possible with that 'charge' present. A Hollow One who steals entire souls and gets merely a day out of such wanton consumption would be a juggernaut, rampaging across the land in a frenzy of hunger; one who merely dazes the victim for an hour or so and can get by for a day or more would hardly raise curiosity; perhaps it could pass itself and a voluntary victim as someone with a spouse who has 'vapours'.
I'm glad you like that turn of phrase. The notion of magic and unnatural things having colors not known to us is one I've been fond of since reading The Colour Out of Space, and was reinforced with Discworld and the color octarine. The Hollow Ones are basically vessels of raw magic, sustained in a terrible half-life by energies beyond the ken of normal minds... It seemed fitting. Go to Comment
That's pretty much it; deprived of their living soul, they can gain an academic understanding of things, but there is nothing within them to allow the interaction to 'take hold' and root itself in their psyches.
When they feed, they gain the ability, for a brief time, to truly learn once again. This alone provides a motive for those tales of the 'dreadful undead wizard' that conquers a settlement and enslaves the populace; rather than a workforce, it requires a steady supply of soulstuff in order to be able to grow at all, rather than slowly collecting the dust of centuries. Without this, their learning is, at best, a distant thing that they have to concentrate on to recall; it is entirely possible that with enough time unfed, they would begin to lose what they had learned while alive, eventually having their sense of self decay away into mindlessness. Go to Comment
The steam-guards and the tinker-trains are some of those derivatives of Kuramen's "steampunk gone wrong" vibe. Kuramen is dangerous enough that most trade tends to be done via armed and armored caravan, and the very best of those are thaumatech-based, without any need for animals to pull the wagons along; instead, you get a line of armored wagons, each one venting plumes of steam as they roll along their set trails, each one usually packing at least one or two people who can operate the weaponry on the wagon itself, and maybe one in three or one in five having a guard outfitted with what amounts to a steam-powered exoskeleton. It's much safer to use the thaumatech to boil water than to drive the armor and wagons through straight thaumatech; sometimes even a single rune is sufficient, while driving the entire wagon or armor by itself would be at least a glyph, and more likely a full script, with all the hazards attendant to such 'dense' collections of energy.
The arrowheads are the result of a conversation with Siren about the trolls. He has informed me that my notion of cancer arrows is just rude. I agree with him, but the notion seems fairly inevitable. I could see something similar in the form of a siege engine that flings a load of organic garbage laced with some fragments of trollflesh; it would seem at first like a typical plague-spreading shot, until you had a troll or three drag themselves out of the heap and come after the inhabitants. I'm sure there are other similarly nasty uses for these monstrosities.
Kuramen is getting a lot more of my attention right now, as I intend to write a story in it come NaNoWriMo at the end of next week. I may post some of the component bits involved in it, like the thaumic meters, or the City Spirits - a kind of Small God that is effectively the living soul of a settlement or city district. Go to Comment