This is a Scroll primarily for gathering and editing the rough ideas behind the world; as each section and component becomes fleshed out, it will likely be made into a full submission and attached to the Codex; possibly some sub-codices to better organize the inevitable mess will spawn in due time.
Kuramen is a world which is divided, quite literally; the mass of the world exists half in one dimension, half in a parallel dimension alongside it, separated by the unseen substance of the dimensions. The division is by no means a logical, simple thing, and the world is still integral, despite the split; vast gulfs of empty air yawn in the midst of an otherwise normal ocean, the missing waters forming an isolated pillar in the other world, each supported by the presence of the other world’s material.
It is also a world where there is an essential conflict; not between light and dark, or good and evil, or anything so simple. Rather, on one side of the barrier lie the forces of logic, order, and rationality; on the other, chaos, madness, and anarchy hold sway. Each is a twisted echo of the other, with only the uncaring material of the world itself truly in common.
While even the gods of Kuramen dwell in relative ignorance of the other half of their world, the fate of existence is being handled by a game that has been in progress since the cataclysm that sundered the world. On one side, the True Dragons seek to restore their world to the shape it held in the dim past. On the other, the Far Dragons seek to lay claim to the rest of the world’s material and fully realize the potential of their parallel dimension. Both sides of this struggle realize that a direct conflict would be more likely to destroy both halves than anything else, and so instead they agreed to play a game for it.
The Great Game has been going on since the end of the Age of Cataclysms, so long ago that the mortal races have only the legends given them by the Lost Gods, and so slow and intricate is the maneuvering and play of the Great Game that a single Dragon may spend the better part of a mortal’s lifetime preparing for a single move. Often, the interference of mortals and gods alike on either side of the Game is a thing of great frustration, leading to the terrible rampages for which the Dragon breeds are feared.
The Gods of Kuramen come in three (four?) sets: the Primordials, the Lost, and the Mortal. The Primordial gods are very limited in form, function, and most other things, although raw power is certainly not one of their failings; the Great Mother, the Hollow, and the Shining One are the Primordials of Kuramen. The Lost Gods are those birthed by the Great Mother, beginning with Koriel, the forger of chaos, and continuing on through numerous gods of ancient myth and legend. Some of the Lost still exist, but the majority have either been slain, such as Valeras, fallen, such as Goge, or simply gone missing, such as Koriel. The Mortal gods are gods either born of the beliefs and will of a mortal race, or ascended from the ranks of the mortals races, either under their own power or through the intervention of one of the Lost. Numerous and much weaker overall than the Lost, they remain the most prolific and active of Kuramen’s deities, and are particularly prone to vexing the Dragons. There may also be a fourth sets of gods, midway between Primordials and Lost; these ‘metagods’ would be the result of the interaction between the early world and the primal aether from which the Primordials were born and the world was forged; more powerful than the Lost, but also no usually corporeal, and focused on the aspect which birthed them and the myriad components thereof.
Additional Ideas (2)
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.
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...