For the record: this is a Scroll mainly for organizing the ideas, rough drafts, and concepts of Kuramen. It was, originally, locked, but then I started bouncing ideas with Siren and now we're more or less both battering it senseless.
A rough listing of the gods of the world, updated as more are settled into place.
-Gods in Kuramen-
Primordials: These are the primal entities of existence, fundamental concepts even deeper than the elemental level. Just by coming into existence, they caused resoanance with the potential in Kuramen's dimension-space, calling those things which resonated with them from Potential into Being, giving a vague sense of form to the former void of raw potential. Each of the three both balances and opposes the other two, in various senses, giving rise to a very dynamic balance. The Great Mother, an entity of Life and Change; the Hollow, an entity of Destruction and Death; and the Shining One, a thing of creation and order, all aware on a level that cannot be readily grasped by mortal minds. The Great Mother is the bringer of Life, Change, Entropy, and the potential for growth and the hope for greater and better things. The Hollow is the bringer of nothingness, destroying and shrouding things in shadow and the ultimate peace. The Shining One is the bringer of order, creating strata and classifications, leaving the core essence untouched while giving it purpose and form. Together, the three of them create the base of the world, and are the headwaters of the force of magic.
Metagods: Six elemental forces, born at the moment the Primordials made Potential become Existence. Far more comprehensible to mortal minds than the Primordials, these are the literal incarnations of the forces they are gods of; as long as the concepts exist in the world, the metagods must also exist. Wind/Destruction, Earth/Creation, Fire/Change, Water/Stasis, Life/Revelation, Death/Secrets - these are the raw elementals forces and concepts which the metagods embody; it is from their existence that the raw stuff of the world formed, and it is their influence on the essence of the Primordials which brought about the birth of the next 'tier' of Existence, and thus made possible the world in which mortals dwell. This is generally the most powerful level of magical energy a mortal can hope to have the potential to tap.
The Lost Gods, Abominations, and Dragons: The first tier of Existence where corporeality is as much a component of their nature as their divinity, these entities are the result of the metagods influence on the energies of the Primordials. Divine energy given corporeal, physical form, these are the gods of things, rather than the incarnate avatars of them. The Lost Gods were born of the Great Mother's essence, and are the most familiar to the mortal races. The Abominations were born of the Hollow, and the whispers of their existence lurk eternally in the hindbrains of mortals. The Dragons were born of the Shining One, and so it is that the two branches of Dragons play an ever-more-complex Game to determine the future of both True and Far Kuramen. Their relics are often the cause for the fourth and final tier of divinity, the duality of the Mortal Gods. Far easier to tap than the metagods, in terms of magical power, but also far more focused in nature than the metagods.
Mortal Gods: The Mortal Gods are the closest to mortals, as their name suggests, and for good reason; the first branch of this tier of divinity stems directly from mortal will and mortal belief; ideas, given veneration and worship, gain an awareness and divine power of their own and begin to answer prayers and watch over their followers. Young gods of this form are often nearly unaware of existence outside of their specific facet of existence, but often they become more complex as they age and need to struggle against other gods for mortal support; without it, they wither and die. The other form of Mortal Gods are true mortals who have, in some way or another, transcended mortality to approach divinity; most often this is a result of the artifacts of the more primal gods, which tend to find 'successors' if the role of the former owner happens to be vacant. Mortal gods are the weakest level which may be tapped by mages in an attempt to fuel spells, but the narrow focus of mortal gods tends to limit what can be done with this power level, necessitating the risk of trying to tap the higher levels of divinity. Go to Comment
Firstly, there is no distinction between 'arcane' and 'divine' magic in Kuramen; all magical energy descendeds directly from the gods, primarily as a side effect of their mere existence. Each tier of divinity holds a wider range of potential than those below it, all the way up to the primordials, but each tier is also exponentially riskier than those below it. The analogy in use is that of trying to fill a fine china teacup with water pouring over the Niagra Falls; it can be done, but there's always a significant chance of having your cup smashed or washed away by the force of the falling water. Low-tier divinities - the Mortal Gods - are relatively easy to draw power from; it's like trying to catch water bouncing off a rock ten feet or so above you. There's only so much you can accomplish with power from, say, the Goddess of Ninjas Hiding In Shadows, though; the majority of it directly involves ninjas and hiding in shadows. Thus, mages tend to look higher on the divine totem pole, for more primal sources. The Lost Gods, Abominations, and Dragons provide a wider array of power - Goge, these days, can be tapped for anything relating to the concept of Slaughter - but the amount of power is also a lot higher, and there's more chance that the water falling from this halfway-point on the waterfall is going to smash your cup and cause a magical disaster, which will almost certainly involve the mage exploding in colorful ways. Still, an experienced mage can use this level of power fairly safely, if willing to accept the limitations on the potential use of the power sources. Some, of course, don't like this idea, and try for the next step up the divine ranks, drawing off the elemental metagods, who embody vast concepts. The Goddess of Death and Secrets has a lot wider range of potential than the God of Slaughter or the Goddess of Ninjas hiding in Shadows, after all. The problem is that at this level, you're trying to catch water that fell right off the lip of the falls and hasn't stopped since. The odds of your cup being smashed, swept away, or otherwise wrecked in a disastrous fashion go up dramatically; mages who screw up while tapping this level of power are why mages in general tend to travel in packs - otherwise, panicky mobs may form spontaneously to lynch them before they do something and blow up forcefully enough to destroy the entire town. And again, there are those who aren't satisfied with this level of power - and so they go for a climb, taking their cup up to the top of the falls and the river thundering along toward the edge, so they can try to pull straight off the Primordials themselves. The problem with this is that, from a metaphoric standpoint, the mage is right in the middle of the river. Getting swept off the edge to be smashed into kibble is pretty much a certainty, and some spectacular disasters have resulted from the few mages who had such insane confidence as to try it.
Whisps are a race that basically resulted of the gnomish imperative to test for magical ability; as the tests had a tendency to cripple and/or kill those who lacked magical potential, over the generations this selectively removed the non-magic-capable gnomes from the species, and the interbreeding of the magic-capable ones eventually resulted in a race which has innate sorcerous abilities. Unfortunately, to fuel these abilities they need magic, and the abilities are so entwined to their nature that they die without having magic to feed on. Since they're also still a mortal race, there's a marked tendency to have thaumaturgic disasters result. Whisps tend to be feared as walking time bombs as a result, given the propensity for exploding in colorful and highly deadly blasts of magical backlash.
Goblins are a subrace of dwarves, curious and prone to experimentation, who are taking the basic thaumatechnology known to most races (a sizable portion of which was pioneered slowly and cautiously by the dwarven race) and pushing it forward. This tends to result in all manner of mishaps, but the nature of thaumatech is such that the disasters tend to be smaller-scale than raw magical experimentation. Basic thaumatechnology, to use the waterfall analogy of magic, is the rain barrel someone set out where all the mist off the falls comes down. You may slip on the rocks and hurt yourself, but it's a lot safer and easier than trying to get water off the falls, and best of all, you can pay someone else to bring you water from the barrel. Experimental thaumatechnology, on the other hand, rapidly begins to look like steampunk gone wrong. Ouroboros may be partly to blame for this, due to the Locastus submissions I've been reading... Go to Comment
In some corners of the world, a graverobber that caused an Unclean One to rise, will be punished by being exposed to the creature. If that seems too cruel, just imagine that it was your family, that walked in unrest after death... and it is justice after all.
I like them. They have this almost silly touch, that is very sad in the end. Now I only have to reconsider the burial customs of my world again. :| Go to Comment
That particular bit of mythology was, indeed, a major inspiration for this; and I have a weird fondness for devising strange and oddball undead, so it was inevitable that this would happen sooner or later.
The physicality results from a random late-night thought when I was wandering by the Remaking the Undead codex - undead are almost invariably thing of fear and death and the like; yet I've read tales where there are undead who you can't really help but pity. So I applied the latter to the former and we get the Unclean Ones. Go to Comment
It seems like a fair bit of justice, to me; the trick would be keeping the Unclean One under control while the graverobber is caught and brought in; not to mention that a wily graverobber could easily divest themselves of whatever the Unclean One seeks and get away unharmed, or if a fair combatant could defeat it and condemn the soul therein to oblivion. Of course, you could always tie the thief down...
I'm glad you like them; too often I see the undead as being nothing more than monsters to fight, so the Unclean Ones are an inversion of it - to be pitied, and helped to their final rest, rather than fought and destroyed. They only rise up because they can't pass on without their funerary rites, after all... And if given them, they gladly return to their resting place once and for all. Go to Comment
A few creatures, really. On the one hand, you have the sad state of the zombie, a rotting thing dragging itself back from the grave, usually at the behest of someone or something else; then you have the shades which stood on the riverside, lamenting that they had no coin to pay the toll across to the afterlife. Mix them together one way and you get a ghost terrorizing the living. Mix them another way, and you get the Unclean Ones... Go to Comment
Dangerous in a fashion, yes. A powerful soul might well keep pulling the body together rather than fall to oblivion easily, but aside from the jagged fingerbones the Unclean Ones aren't all that hazardous, really. If you see them limping about, it's more of a sign that someone isn't doing things properly when burying the dead than anything else; given what they seek, they hurry back to their grave as quickly as they can. Go to Comment
I personally feel that the Unclean Ones wouldn't be 'aware' enough to do something as complex as accusing in a court of law, as the entire animating essence is the soul, without the benefit of any of the natural lifeforce of the body. However, I could easily see a religious order in a large city rife with graverobbers and the like that has some divine magic to speak with the Unclean Ones to determine who was guilty and bring them to justice. Go to Comment
Thanks. I enjoy messing with the notions behind the undead, really.
Even in settings where they technically can't exist as they would normally be presented. I have something in the works for the Steampunk quest coming up, which will fit into Kuramen despite the only True Undead being the Hollow Ones. Go to Comment
I do like this submissions. It is the sort of Ghost/undead thing that comes across the world that is not a "monster" but a puzzle to solve. And yes you could bash this problem away, but it has easier ways to solve the issue. Go to Comment
The Citadel is THE place when it comes to pioneering ever more innovative forms of the undead. This is indeed a beautiful piece. Would an Unclean One be able to accuse the one that denied it rest in a court of law? I can envisage the existence of some kind of religious order that dedicates itself to reaching out to these beings and finding out the identity of the the ones that conducted their improper burials. Go to Comment
For a more dangerous twist - the mightier the prson was in life, the greater the anger at an improper burial. A hero's corpse could prove to be a rather tenacious Unclean One, pulling himself together after 'death' over and over again. Go to Comment
Great concept. Reminds me of ancient Greek rites: the dead had to be buried with coins over their eyes to pay the boatman on the River Styx. Without the money, they spend their afterlife as phantoms lamenting their improper burial. Sophocles' tragedy "Antigone" is based partly on the whole concept. Adding a level of physicality to it - literally having the dead rise from the grave demanding their proper rites - is an excellent addition. Go to Comment