The lycanthropes and their connection with spirits provoked a nice chat with Strolen on the spirits, and their place in the world. We didn't get very far, but at least somewhere:
[Strolen] manfred: Spirits and their sharing of skills. Is there any conflict in the spirit world?
[Strolen] I was thinking that when the spirits lend their skills to the mortals then they leave themselves defenseless in the spirit world. It is the whole balance thing again that I am looking. It should cost the spirits something to give their power to a mortal. Being defenseless when there is conflict in the world could be a huge risk for them.
[manfred] Ah, yes, very logical.
[manfred] I am not a great fan of conflicts here and there just for the sake of it, but I think where there are people, you can't avoid this, right?
[Strolen] Yeah, doesn't have to be a conflict but maybe they lose their personality or nature of self when they give away their powers.
[Strolen] The longer they don't have that power which defines them them stronger the possibility that they fade with lack of purpose.
[Strolen] So it might be possible for a mortal to 'steal' the power, kill the spirit, and keep the power for himself. permanently.
[manfred] It might be... in theory.
[manfred] Spirits don't lend just skills, they lend a part of themselves.
[Strolen] I just think if you are going to use spirits, use them! The idea is too good to let it be at an explanation for magic I think.
[manfred] Spirits are a part of the world's background, literally. Unseen... but still present.
[manfred] They should have a large impact, not necessarily noticed by those still Living.
[Strolen] I may go too far with things sometimes but I am little hooked on the spirit thing.
[manfred] The question is only, what is it?
[manfred] So what will people do when they die?
[Strolen] Ah, motivation. Yes, can't be just _there_ can they?
[Strolen] That would go far to appease my thought process too.
[manfred] One thing I imagined the people would (after the tribes have become naught), was creating some sort of an afterworld byreaucracy, that attempts that thing there ought to be after death: justice.
[manfred] Of course, it is doomed to failed...
[manfred] ...in a world when you can spend an eternity exploring blades of grass, one by one.
[manfred] But some people, I think, particularly city-people, would try this.
[manfred] Bad people shall suffer for their deeds (or get better), good people shall be rewarded.
[manfred] Many would be travellers!
[manfred] There is (?) no natural limit to travelling.
[Strolen] So, are they sentient by default or do they earn it by worshippers? I die, people mourn me so I am around a bit but I didn't do anyting special. I fade quick. Jim Morrison dies and he has worshippers all over, his spirits grows and at a point it becomes sentient.
[manfred] You are sentient, aren't you?
[Strolen] There are A LOT of dead people if they all can do their thing.
[manfred] There is what you called 'purpose', or maybe calling.
[manfred] The question is how strong is the connection to the 'real' world. Worshippers would equal stronger connection.
[Strolen] Oh, some background to that. We have had discussions at work about ghosts. His thought is that ghosts are just recordings of life that get played over and over. Many spirits are a skipped record repeating past tasks. These would be the nobodies, small time warriors and such that recieve enough energy to stay around, perhaps get their powers picked at a few times, but then are forgot about. They just repeat a pattern autonomously with no sentience.
[Strolen] Then they slowly fade as the person that tapped its power dies or stops using him for somebody bigger and better.
[manfred] Oh, and (Tolkien-esque thing: ) people ain't what they used to be. Most people aren't that wonderful souls, so the low, common sorts expire much faster. So they need not be trillions of souls filling the world.
[manfred] Turning that 'record' thing around: if that special thing is your defining feature so to say, it may be the only way for you to make yourself noticeable to the outside world.
[manfred] And while you keep trying to be noticed, you slowly expire anyway... until you are really only the one memory.
[manfred] Hey, what an example: http://www.strolen.com/plots/viewplot.php?plot_id=297
[Strolen] Maybe that is the drive, for the spirits to survive. Without mortals they fade away so they must do what they can to keep their worshippers (this may have been hit on with Iain). That could be the motivation.
[manfred] The old man is slowly loosing himself, so he ends up just doing the same... until the moment when he is helped, when he regains his senses.
[manfred] Well, they could merely fade away from _us_, the Living.
[manfred] (The actual reason for their fading was my thinking about entropy - nothing runs forever, so souls can't either.)
[manfred] (The alternative is that the world from a spirit's point of view is too big handle for mortal minds, and they simply loose themselves at some point.)
[manfred] (Now I remember something from The Hitchhiker's Guide: an execution dingus that projects the whole universe into your mind, effectively erasing it.)