Archaeologists have long wondered about the origins of “cup and ring-marked stones”, the mysterious rocks found on deserted tracts of moorland bearing markings resembling small shallow pits with concentric rings and dating to the Bronze-age. They can be found in their dozens in my region, even on rough agricultural land. They are usually passed off as “ritualistic” objects or simply as graffiti, but there must be more imaginative ways to explain these odd objects…
I challenge you to come up with the most imaginative (which is still useful from a gaming point of view!).
Additional Ideas (10)
These curious plants are extremely rare. Found in deep caverns, they resemble large, rough boulders; you would be hard-pushed to find anything less vegetablesque anywhere in the world. But left to themselves, after decades of gestation, they sprout tender, fist-thick tendrils which grope their painfully slow and convoluted way through the tunnels, seeking the light above. More often than not, they are not left to themselves. Rats, trolls, insects and other cave-dwelling species feed on the nutricious tendrils, sucking out the slightly sweet flesh and leaving a menagerie of toothmarks. After centuries of trying, the cave potato will exhaust its starch supplies and shrivel up, dropping its tendrils to leave a rough husk covered with the weird circular markings of tendril-sockets.
Just occasionally, maybe once every hundred years, a cave potato will succeed in reaching the surface, where the sprout buds into flower and the entrance to the cave will be garlanded for a few days with pretty white blossoms. The blossoms scatter countless amounts of pollen to the wind and the resilient pollen hangs around for a long time (sometimes up to a thousand years) until it eventually lands on the stamen of another cave potato flower. Then the strangest thing of all happens.
With its last remaining energy the mother potato grows its tendrils yet more. As the baby potato begins to swell and harden it is pulled back into the caverns and pushed on to uncharted depths far from the mother's resting place. Eventually it becomes too heavy for the mother to carry and she shrivels up and dies, depositing the baby in a deep cavern of its own so that the whole cycle can take place again.
The ancients of the moorlands were led by powerful sorcerors who enjoyed their privacy.
In seeking this oft-disturbed resource, the moor-wizards erected great stones, carven with fearful signs which scared off intruders.
But the time came when audacious trespassers discovered that fearful signs do not a fearful death make, and once more went to disturb the privacy of the moor-wizards.
So the moor-wizards took their pylons, and, utilizing old magic from the birth of time, incised them with rings and pits, in patterns, erasing the fearful signs of before, but instead carving powerful defense systems.
The next time that the trespassers came to cross the pylons, laughing at the new signs they saw, flames, lightnings, rays of light, howling spirits, swirling storms, blasts of water and ice, screams of destructive force, the fists of beings from beyond our world, and other baneful things spewed forth from the cup and ring markings, and obliterated the haughty disturbers of the sorcerors of the moors.
The Sect of Beustra is made up of a group of talented people that have the gift of spirit sight and the ability to trap the most harmful of the spirits. It usually takes two of them to complete the capture and when they do it is not often that dramatic.
Once an evil spirit is identified and detected the Beustra collects a rock of a large enough size to use as a capturing device for the spirit. Nobody is quite sure if the rock is simply a gate to return the spirit to their world or if it is actually a prison. The Sect of Beustra believes it is used only as a gateway through to the spirit realm.
The Beustra, through chanting and beckoning can lure the spirit into a confined area. When the spirit becomes stationary due to the chanting of one Beustra, the other holding (or grasping if it is too large) the chosen rock will begin the meditations to drag the spirit through the rock to its home plane. The size of the rock isn't as important as the location of it when the spirit becomes trapped in the chants. Smaller rocks have the danger of missing when the spirit is hurled towards it. Larger rocks are prefered for safety. An angry spirit gets much angrier when somebody tries to trap it and fails.
Through this chanting over the rock, the rock takes on a jelly type consistancy. It is soft to the touch and depressions can be left in it but nothing nonethereal can be found to penetrate it. The consistancy allows any rock in any configuration to be used as the trap. Often the same rock is used for multiple spirit trappings.
At a predetermined time the two Beustra finish their chat sending the spirit hurling into the rock. As it enters the rock it creates a ripple as if a rock is dropped into the water. As it enters the Beustra stop their chant and the rock returns to it's solid nature. Depending on when the Beustra stop their chat determines how large the ripple on the rock is. For multiple spirits it takes multiple Beustra. Each one is in control of a portal for one spirit.
Since the Beustra do not believe anything is held in the rock it is simply discarded or left where it is.
The spiral focuses energies (or dispels it depending on the direction of the spiral). If the spiral is it widdershins (counter clockwise- counter sunward) disperses or spreads, if Deosil (sunwise-clockwise) it concentrates.
Stones could manipulate the ambient energy in an region (bounded by ley lines) or node (where leys crossed). If you wished to create more energy there, you would seed it with stones with that are deosil. If the region has "evil"/ bad energies (or you want to sabotage another mage's region) you would put dispersing stones.
The Earth God, Udh, was a huge, bellicose, and melancholy god, prone to deep broodings and long, dark introspection.
So it was no surprise that, when he created the bedrock of the earth, the creation of every single stone was like a wound to his heart, and when he had finally birthed forth all of those stones, he sat upon the highest mountain on the Earth and cried for ninety days. Eventually, his tears formed the ocean, but at first, he cried stones (being the Earth God), and when these stones struck the rocks he had made for the floor of the world, they rippled the rock as tears ripple the water's surface.
Thus, we see the stones which are rippled by the tears of Udh.
I was asking myself, "Hunter, what do these things look like." After a (very) brief run of google-fu, I came up with some images. These are very different than the pieces I was visualizing, so I thought the rest of you might be having the same issues. Sooooo. Here you go.
(it loads fast in comparison to the rest of the pages)
Some interesting write ups
Waystones are "maps" of the mystic flows, trods, and astreal places for a region. The Mystics/ shamans were taught to read their markings and the colors included in the grooves (long since worn away).
By using a waystone, a mystic would know where there were nodes to tap for magical purposes (and nodes not to tap). They could find the gateways to the trods and in certain cases how to access it. But most importantly, the flow of leylines and the asteral navigation allowed them to access the spirit realm "safely", by allowing them to find correspondence to the real world, flows to follow for greater leads, and guideposts for a variety of spirits in the region.
The Cups and Ring pattern is actually the ancient Fey Language. The stones spread around the land serve a variety of purposes. Some are maps (giving directions), some are claims (statements of reality - very important to the Fey for which all reality is fluid), some are boundary markers (showing correspondences between places and the material world), but most are simply graffiti (I was here. The food is great. Watch out for the Bog Beast).