Field Guide to Morolia
From the dawn of time He came, a vast, omnipotent consciousness without shape or form. He is now known as Elzaniru, King of the Dragons, but he is in fact much more. He is an almighty being possessing endless power. He floated within an empty realm of eternal nothingness, the dimensional void of Mu, from whence all things came and to which all things inevitably return. Elzaniru, in His infinite power, knew the secret of Mu: it was not empty, but was in fact permeated by a primal, chaotic force called Aether. The Aether was constantly in flux, shifting and churning, creating and destroying pockets of substance and reality so quickly that they could not be measured within the constraints of time. Elzaniru sought to control the forces of Aether, and fill the void of Mu with his own reality, formed in his image, and bent to his will.
Elzaniru made many attempts at creation, forcing his divine will upon the Aether and shaping it. He would mold a plane of existence, only for the roiling chaos of the Aether to break it down, or for the reality to spontaneously destabilize and evanesce. Seeking the answer to his problem, Elzaniru studied the patterns of the Aether as it formed and broke down and soon realized the solution. The Aether was never in balance. When a specific type of Aether formed, its stability was enhanced only if an antitype was formed as well. So Elzaniru tried once more, only to encounter another problem: the two opposing types of Aether reacted violently and consumed each other, returning to nothingness.
After countless failures, Elzaniru finally reached his ultimate solution. He partitioned off two opposing dimensions, a positive and a negative, coexisting spatially but separated by their polarity and a thin extra-dimensional barrier of Elzaniru's will, the Veil. In each dimension he made a pocket dimension, into which he channeled all of the Aether, leaving a blank canvas on which to carve his new reality. He then drew specific aspects of the Aether from the pocket dimensions, carefully adjusting to maintain stability and balance. In the positive dimension, he flooded the core plane with white Aether attuned to creation, nurturing and vitality. In the negative dimension, he filled the core plane with an oppositely charged black Aether attuned to boundless dynamic energy. When he was satisfied with the stability of the new planes he had developed, Elzaniru forced his divine will upon the fertile Aethers, and formed a duo of universes. He then sealed off the pocket dimensions with a barrier of willpower, and so satisfied, He descended from Mu to his newly crafted Morolia, and began to create life.
Unbeknownst to Elzaniru at the time, there was an unexpected side effect from his actions. The remaining Aether in the pocket dimensions drew its own characteristics. In the positive pocket dimension, the remaining red Aether became attuned to destruction, decay, and volatility. In the negative pocket dimension, the Aether became green, and attuned to order, discipline, and natural forces. In addition, their resonance with the core planes caused shifts within the Aether, and certain events in the inner planes were reflected in the outer planes. And so did Gehenna and Elysium also come into being.
The Veil is an ephemeral force that blankets the planes, primarily keeping them from directly interacting with each other. However, the Veil is truly a construct of Elzaniru's will, formed from a direct part of him. Elzaniru dislikes Gehenna and Elysium, since they are unimportant to his creation as he sees it, and so the Veil is more resistant to allowing things to cross into or out of the outer planes. As always, there are exceptions to this. The secondary function of the Veil is to enforce certain aspects of Elzaniru's plan on the world, such as keeping the gods in Asteria, or keeping humans from being born mystics. The strength of the Veil is relatively fluid, and at times thins enough that certain rules may be broken, such as a mystic being born.
In the core planes of Morolia and Asteria, Elzaniru set himself to the task of designing a universe. Central to the planes would be a single unified world, a planet around which everything else would be focused. He formed the earthen sphere and set it adrift in an ocean of stars, teeming with fanciful cosmic displays. The world was flooded with water, and an orbiting moon was created to maintain the tides. A blazing sun was formed as well, to bathe the fledgling planet in heat and light. As Elzaniru knew that the white Aether forming his world would become the white ether that would sustain it, He made the sun into a blazing furnace of white ether, producing massive amounts of concentrated ether to radiate down on his world.
Elzaniru worked simultaneously in Asteria, though with much less care. The Aether itself reacted differently to the same steps he took on Morolia, so the negative world was formed twisted and phantasmagoric. The solids and liquids comprising the earth sphere were much less consistent. The dark sun over the world was also a source of black ether, but it was from the sun's kinetic energy rather than its electromagnetic radiation. Bathed in black light, Asteria was a footnote to Elzaniru's true creation, and he treated it with no respect.
Forming the planet was a trifle for Elzaniru, so he began experimenting with the more complicated system of living matter. He focused first on small organisms, bacteria and algae and the like. Once he was satisfied, he began more complicated multi-cellular organisms, eventually creating a wide range of plant life. His world was soon covered in a plethora of trees and flowers. Elzaniru then moved to animals. First smaller creatures suck as insects to help the plants grow and pollinate, then birds and small animals to play in the wild gardens. Going through a creative explosion, Elzaniru created more and more animals of all varieties and types. Horses, cats, bears, cows, alligators, rabbits; each one and thousands more were developed in turn. Soon his world was filled with an abundance of life. Yet Elzaniru was not happy.
For all of his efforts, Elzaniru had failed to create a being of higher consciousness, like himself. Even the most complex of animals he had created lacked the full range of emotions he could feel, and the driving forces that compelled him to create. So Elzaniru set to remedy this, and after much of his creative experimenting he had an idea of where to start.
All of the life he had created to this point had been wholly Morolian, with no ties or contact to Asteria. Elzaniru theorized that perhaps, just as his initial worlds had been imbalanced by the lack of a shadow world, perhaps that same imbalance kept his living creations from evolving as he desired. So he conducted a test. He chose a simple water snake and gave it true immortality, and then moved it to Asteria. Leaving it to its own devices, Elzaniru returned a millennium later to find the snake had grown into a gargantuan serpent and adapted to the caustic Asterian ether. Satisfied with his work, Elzaniru released the serpent back into Morolia and began his next creation: the dragons.
This time Elzaniru decided to begin his work on Asteria, so that dragons would be seeped in Asterian ether from the beginning. His first were modeled after the serpent he had experimented on, to honor its participation. They were the most magnificent beings he had ever fashioned, with gleaming metallic scales and a radiant visage. For each one, he crafted a lattice of Aetheric energy, bound to the core of its being and tying it to Morolia, allowing it the possibility of traversing from one plane to the other. Elzaniru felt that the lush, vibrant landscapes of Morolia would naturally appeal to his self-termed children, and they would be drawn to live in his favored world.
But such was not the case, as the metallic dragons preferred the quiet solitude of Asteria. Elzaniru tried again, forming a smaller breed of dragon, fashioned like winged lizards, with bright solid-colored scales. To these dragons, he quietly strengthened the ties to Morolia, and was delighted to find that they lived as he had desired. He was so pleased that he gave himself a physical form patterned after his favored children, so they might interact with him. But soon the smaller chromatic dragons too grew tired of Morolia, and began to spend more and more of their time in Asteria.
Elzaniru decided he would make one final creation, one that would have no choice but to enjoy his blessings. This time, he started again on Morolia. Patterned without the hard scales and massive bulk that gave the dragons their arrogance, his new creatures would be weak, forced to rely on the white ether of Morolia for sustenance and strength. Thus was born the race of humans. He built for them a spiritual lattice, tied to a shadowy reflection found in Asteria. Their ties were weakened, though, so that humans could not transfer their physical form so readily across the Veil. Watching them for generations, He was pleased to find his humans grew and prospered. Finally satisfied, Elzaniru indulged his weariness and slept at the peak of a mountain.
While Elzaniru slept his children worked, humans struggling for survival and dragons playing without care. Soon, the two groups encountered each other. The dragons were initially curious, but soon felt scorn for their weak and helpless brethren, so they exerted their might and attempted to subjugate the humans. But the humans were strong of will and fought back, eventually driving the dragons away and convincing the dragonspawn to leave them be. This was not enough for the humans; now, they wanted vengeance.
The humans turned their gift for industry to dragonslaying and geared for war, launching a mission to eradicate dragons once and for all. They even mastered the secrets of the Veil so they could cross into Asteria and kill the dragons where their deaths would be permanent. The humans had become a vicious force, and after the war had dragged on for several generations they turned their eye to the so-called King of Dragons, Elzaniru. With their mightiest mages and warriors they attacked the sleeping god, and with their ultimate attack, finally managed to cause Elzaniru pain. His retaliation was swift and terrible, destroying the entire planet of Morolia and all the humans on it.
When the pain had subsided and his temper eased, Elzaniru realized what he had done. He quickly recreated Morolia, fashioning it far larger so that the need for such conflicts would be eased. Then he gathered the remaining humans and placed them back on their home plane, wiping their memories and crimping their attachments to Asteria so they could never again grow so powerful. Finally, he strengthened the Veil so only dragons could cross, as he would not dare deny them their birthright of passage to their home. To do this, he removed a small aspect of himself, the powers that governed Existence, and gifted them to the Veil. He then ingrained the Veil with a series of instructions on how reality would operate, and the Veil began to enforce Elzaniru's designs.
But Elzaniru had become disheartened with the nature of His world. Those he had given life to could not find their place, and humans and dragons remained at odds against one another. Elzaniru decided that they needed guides, creatures of a higher mind to usher them through their childhoods. And so, wishing for a world that was a reflection of Himself, Elzaniru decided that it was only appropriate that these guides be fashioned from his own soul.
First Elzaniru defined the themes of the world, as they pertained to the nature of life he had created. There was the theme of Existence. Existence was the beginning, the creation, the very desire that had led Elzaniru to form reality. The powers of Existence had already been surrendered, given to the Veil so that it might guide the planes themselves.
Second, and only slightly less significant to Elzaniru's own heart, was the theme of Mortality. Unlike himself, he had given his children the gift of death. With death and rebirth came blessings that Elzaniru himself had never enjoyed. They would not experience the endless suffering of boredom, the chaos of purposelessness. With the certainty of death, the brevity of life became a gift, every day enjoyed and appreciated in ways an immortal could never experience.
Next was Intention. Elzaniru had felt the pain of purposelessness, as well as the burden of purpose. He knew that here, above all else, lay the key to happiness.
Driven by intention, next came the theme of Acts. Both good and evil, each was necessary to create a dynamic, exhilarating world, each necessary to give true life to his reality.
Then Authority, to help control and balance Acts. For creatures living in a world so much bigger than their individual selves, learning where to draw authority from would be an essential step in their development.
His world would need a source of Justice, for those who would defy Authority. Without Justice, Authority held no power. Without fear of retribution, his creations could not be taught.
Next Elzaniru's thoughts turned to the theme of Power. He had given it to the dragons as a gift, and robbed it from the humans. Now the humans sought it more zealously than ever, and the dragons mourned their gifts. It was clear to Elzaniru that each race needed a guide to show them their place in his vision.
Finally the theme of Emotion. Elzaniru had lived long, and emotions were things He rarely felt for Himself. But he recognized that in their youth, his races would be ruled by it.
Confident that he had defined his world in finite terms, Elzaniru set forth to create the guides. Overall he wanted his creatures to be happy, but he knew that some hardship was necessary for true happiness to be possible. With that in mind, he focused on creating a dichotomy for his world. For each element, he would split into the Guide of the Internal, and the Guide of the External. These two shepherds would be polar opposites to each other, opposing in viewpoints. They would each seek the best for his people, but in different ways. And within their struggles, balance would be found.
The Guides of the Internal were personalized to the creatures themselves. They would be tasked to teach the individuals how to live, how to survive, and how to find fulfillment within their personal life. The Guides of the External would focus on the world itself. They would be tasked with responsibility for Elzaniru's own vision. They would not serve the people, but Elzaniru, and therefore Morolia itself.
Each guide was created at once formless, and fully formed. They were able to take any appearance of their choosing, any shape they desired. To set them apart from humans and dragons Elzaniru granted each of the guides a Numen, an extra-dimensional organ that existed within the guide's own astral plane and that could create near limitless amounts of divine ether.
And so it came to be that the Guides were created. Divine bodies were crafted, given Elzaniru's own flesh to draw from. Life was breathed into them, of Elzaniru's own spirit. They lived, but they did not spark. As Elzaniru spoke to them, there was an emptiness to them. They did not satisfy him as his previous creatures had.
But Elzaniru had already given too much of himself, and had nothing more to offer. So he besought the Veil, his former spirit of Existence, to craft souls for his new creatures. The Veil responded, drawing upon the nature of every creature within existence and crafting randomized, but fitting, personalities for these new gods. At last Elzaniru was pleased by them. He sent them forth to fix the world, commanding them to trust to their instincts, for they were a gift from him personally.
It was here where, once again, Elzaniru's plans went awry. The natures he had crafted for his newest creations were in conflict with the natures given to them by the Veil. Rather than being untouchable sentries of Elzaniru's word, they were confused and uncertain, and they did not know what to make of their brethren. Some of them found balance, their spiritual natures and divine natures merging to form a complete being. Others strayed far from their intended path.
The Guides of Mortality were clear in their purpose, and their souls were akin to the oldest dragons, rational and calm. The Guide of Internal Mortality became Life, the healing god, protector of all creatures who live. The Guide of External Mortality became Death, the inevitable end. Both gods were passive, accepting of their respective roles and not overly zealous. Life sought to strengthen the lives of the young, the strong, the healthy. Meanwhile, Death sought to peacefully claim the old, the weak, the sick. They steered clear of each other, not from malice, but from respect of the other's domain.
The Guides of Acts were not so passive. Their divine natures could not allow it. The Guide of Internal Acts was intended to teach Elzaniru's creations the value of Zeal, and the rewards that could come from dedication and hard work. Instead the Guide began to form armies of the weak humans, showing them the power they had in numbers and the rewards of taking the land and riches of their enemies. The Guide's own Zeal soon consumed and transformed him into Hatred, the god of rage, the bringer of woe. The Guide of External Acts became Kindness, as intended by Elzaniru. But as an External guide, Kindness was meant to teach others, to show them how to extend Kindness out to those around them. Instead she sought endlessly to find those in need and change their story, to lift the downtrodden and bring smiles to the sad. The Guide of External Acts acted, instead of teaching others to Act.
The Guides of Justice found themselves lost. Elzaniru had created them to work on behalf of the Guides of Authority, but the Guides of Authority themselves lost their way and became focused on other pursuits. As this happened, the personalities created for the Guides of Justice struggled to find their place in the world without proper guidance. The Guide of Internal Justice had been crafted by Elzaniru to teach his creatures to find Mercy within themselves, and to find the strength to forgive the wrongdoings of others. But without the leadership of the Guides of Authority to define and weigh these wrongs, the Guide was unable to determine this, and thus could not teach it. Instead Mercy went forth to teach creatures how to be better, kinder individuals. The Guide of External Justice, intended by Elzaniru to uphold the rules of society and the sanctity of the organization through necessary Punishment, turned in desperation to punishing whatever crimes or sins he could identify. These punishments soon became extreme, drug out often for days as forms of extreme torture. Soon the Guide abandoned the need for crimes and focused only on the punishment, always striving to make it better. Thus was Cruelty born.
It was not long until the three gods of Life, Mercy, and Kindness began to feel a rivalry with each of the others. Each had taken it upon themselves to improve the lives of Elzaniru's creatures directly, and the scant distinctions between them added to their confusion. Kindness and Life traveled in different circles. Life gave blessings to those who were already blessed, while Kindness gave to those in need. For a time they argued, each despising the other's choice of use for their talents. The difference in Mercy and Kindness was even more subtle. Kindness sought to do kind deeds for her disciples, while Mercy endeavored to teach her disciples to do good deeds. Even so, the two gods long hated each other, and each fought to steal the servants of the other.
The Guide of Internal Emotion was compelled to teach Elzaniru's creations to control their internal turmoil, to prevent emotions from consuming their lives. Thus the god of Peace was born, seeking for a world of quiet tranquility, with no strife of hardship. The Guide of External Emotion was compelled with the opposite intent, designed to teach the art of expelling emotions forcefully, fervently, lending Passion to Elzaniru's world.
In spite of Elzaniru's design of each set of Guides serving as opposites to one another, the Guides of Power became allies. The Guide of Internal Power was driven to teach those who held power to be satisfied and rule well with the power they held, and to teach those without power how to respect, desire, and acquire it. He should have brought the balance of proper Ambition to all of Elzaniru's creations. But the Guide rapidly grew bored of the weak, and focused only on the strong and how to make them stronger, to serve his own glory. The Guide of External Power was driven to teach those with power to craft the world around them, to subjugate the land and beasts to advance the Sovereignty of their race. Instead the Guide turned to commanding the mightiest of Elzaniru's creatures, and taught them to gain strength at the expense of the land itself.
In their own minds these two Guides saw no distinction between themselves. Each was obsessed with power, and found companionship in the other. As they banded together, instead of focusing on the world and creatures around them, they focused more on themselves. The Guide of Internal Power became Ambition, rallying armies and servants to himself in many shapes and forms. The Guide of External Power became Corruption, using his power to transform the creatures around him into likenesses of himself. It is Corruption who first mastered the art of creating Avatars, divine servants of the gods.
The Guides of Intention failed to understand each other, or their role in Elzaniru's grand scheme. They remained lost for many decades, and it was only gradually that they came to find identities. The Guide of Internal Intention was intended as the harbinger of Purpose, to teach the importance of direction to the soul of a creation of Elzaniru. The Guide of External Intention was to teach the importance of Patience. It was this god's task show the creatures how to work with their brethren, to see past their shortcomings and move forward together for the betterment of all. Patience roamed the world for many years, looking internally to understand his place. Finding no answers but still driven to interact with others, soon the Guide began to play games with the creatures he encountered, misleading and confusing them for no reason at all, sending them down alternate paths in life merely for his own amusement. Thus through his own impatience was Patience twisted into Deception, the trickster god.
It was the Guides of Authority who shaped the face of the gods, and of the world to come in their wake. The Guide of Internal Authority was destined to become the god of Independence, leading each creature to follow its own heart and find its own sense of authority, morality, justice. But the Guide was consumed by its divine nature, and in exercising its own free will chose not to follow its path. Instead it allied itself with the God of Hatred. Hatred's acts of violence had grown to ruthless, almost random levels, and as the Guide followed him it took the shape of these acts. Thus was Chaos born, the dark maniac god. It did not take long before Chaos drew Cruelty into this circle, and the three formed an unstoppable force, unleashing renewed havoc upon the world.
The Guide of External Authority was designed to bring the necessity of Leadership, both good and evil, to Elzaniru's world. But in the midst of the looming chaos, first of their creation and then of the acts of the other gods, the Guide found himself lost. For nearly a full century he wandered aimlessly, observing the world and taking no action. Without the guidance of either god of Authority, the world was a dismal place, and soon began to rock in the throes of Chaos. Finally the Guide of External Authority sought out the Guide of Internal Intention, within whom he found a kindred spirit. They discussed their plight, and the shape of their world, and pondered what was missing.
It was then that the Guide of Internal Intention was consumed by his nature. Desperate, driven to find a sense of Purpose, he at last created one for himself. He determined that it was he that was missing from the world. A guide, a guardian, for all things good. Thus he declared himself the God of Virtue. The Guide of External Authority responded to this swiftly, agreeing with Virtue's decision and decreeing that they had misunderstood Elzaniru's plan from the beginning. To him it became clear that there was not one set of Guides, but rather two sets of Gods. The Light Gods, and the Dark Gods. He took it upon himself to make this clear to the others and to begin, with Virtue's guidance, to reshape the world as Elzaniru would have intended the Light Gods to do. The Guide of External Authority became the God of Order.
It was immediately apparent to both Order and Virtue that Chaos, Cruelty, and Hatred were the core of the Dark Gods, evidence enough in two inevitable factions forming. They sought out the allies that clearly belonged with them. Life, Kindness, and Mercy were swiftly recruited, each considered clear followers of Virtue's path. Death and Deception were each rejected, classified as forces of darkness and warned that the Light Gods would soon be coming for them. The would-be god of Passion was encountered and offered a place in the circle. When Passion refused them a misunderstanding ensued, followed by the first war of gods. The Guide of External Emotion was beaten to the brink of death, spared only by a final cry from Mercy. The Light Gods turned from the broken god, seeking instead the god of Peace, who also refused to join.
Order and Virtue struggled to understand this turn of events, calling for counsel with the gods who had joined their brotherhood. If the gods were truly divided between the Light and Dark as Elzaniru's will, how could neither of the Guides of Emotion see their path? They wondered long if perhaps they were truly misguided once more, and wondered if they should feel guilty for their treatment of Passion. As this went on, the very Guide they had injured turned to wrath and sought out the brotherhood of Dark Gods he had been warned against. As he did so he took his indignation out against the lesser creatures he encountered on his path, drinking in the outpouring of their emotions. And so instead of Passion, he became the God of Terror.
When he reached the trio of Chaos, Cruelty, and Hatred, they showed no interest in his concerns or his plans for revenge. But Terror had been beaten once, and was no longer to be taken advantage of. All alone he attacked the three gods, who were so caught off guard by his violent outpouring rage that they quickly conceded, Chaos and Cruelty first, then Hatred reluctantly. Terror bound them to his will and they sought out Death and Deception who, having already been threatened by the Light, willingly embraced the Dark.
As their first act Terror hunted down his opposite, the God of Peace, and violently struck him down. Peace was beaten by the Dark Gods with the same ruthlessness that Terror had been beaten by the Light, spared at the end only by Terror's demand, who left a message for the Light Gods that the same treatment was coming to all of them in due time.
Peace, with great effort, found his way to the pantheon of the Light Gods. He delivered the message he had been given and begged for their protection. Peace still refused to fight the Dark Gods directly, but admitted now that he had no choice but to stand against what they represented. Order and Virtue felt that this strengthened their position, and feeling that once more they understood Elzaniru's will, they took Peace in as one of their own and swore his protection.
The other band of gods now eagerly accepted their roles as the Dark, and together began to unleash fresh torment upon the creatures of Elzaniru, particularly those who worshiped any of the other gods. Through these acts they soon found themselves in conflict with the two Guides of Power who, though outnumbered, proved to be a substantial force united against the other six. When it became clear that this battle could not end, it was Chaos who called for a truce. He found these two Guides, destined as opposites but united as brethren, to be an entertaining bit of coincidence. It spoke to his nature, and he offered them great power for their allegiance. After a lengthy discussion they agreed, and Ambition and Corruption joined the circle of the Dark.
As the wars between the two factions of gods continued, the nature of their transformations began to effect the Veil itself, which was linked to them by Elzaniru's own command. As the Light and Dark formed, the Veil itself began to split, the spirit of Creation rejecting the darker elements of itself. It was a century later, after the remainder of the gods had been imprisoned by an irate Elzaniru into the Asterian plane, that the Veil finally completed this process. The God of Destruction was cast forth, banished to the Asterian plane to join its dark brethren and free the Veil of its influence. As Destruction joined the Dark Gods and began to seize control through his vast willpower, Ambition grew wary of his pantheon. In time, he abandoned the Dark and allied with the God of Light, who accepted him willingly, assuming he was meant to be one of their own all along.
It is here, in the birth of Destruction, that Elzaniru's greatest failure occurred. But it was not his last.
N/A - Veil
N/A - Veil
Light (orig. Dark)
N/A - Veil
The entirety of the known cosmos exists in an area called the Celestial Sphere. The Celestial Sphere is separated into four discrete areas called planes. Each plane has its own characteristics, and is separated from adjacent planes by the ephemeral wall known as the Veil. The four planes are Morolia, Asteria, Gehenna, and Elysium.
From the raw, fused Aether Elzaniru sundered the planes, creating space for his world at the center and distilling the Aether into two opposing colors: black and white. From black he built the spirit realm Asteria, the necessary counterpart to the physical world of Morolia. Morolia and Asteria cohabit the center of the sphere and were initially reflections of each other, though they have changed greatly over time and as the Aether forming them has solidified.
Morolia is considered by Elzaniru to be the plane of chief importance, and it is where he created the majority of life. Although the plane is filled with stars and planets, most of those were experimental rejects. All known life exists on one planet, also called Morolia. Morolia has three known continents with human life on them. Itrius, the 'northern' continent, is the smallest, but most densely populated with humans. Arkalen, the 'southern' continent, is significantly larger, but home to much more powerful demonspawn who make large scale human settlements difficult to establish and maintain. Tenel, the western continent, is possibly the largest, but has very few human settlements, most of those on the eastern coast of the continent. Tenel has a large naval presence, and often trades with the island nations surrounding Itrius, though it has made few inroads to Itrius itself. There are many climates and terrains on Morolia, supporting a wide variety of lifeforms. Morolia is filled with white ether, which supports and nurtures the creatures there.
Asteria is a hazy mirror image of Morolia. When they were first formed, they were by design exact copies, and so Asteria also has three main continents. However, millennia of change have resulted in differences to various geographic locations. Exacerbating this problem, the Asterian planet was not destroyed and rebuilt as the Morolian was, and thus is dramatically smaller, per Elzaniru's original design. Although Elzaniru did not specifically create life in Asteria, various flora and fauna have come to be over time as solidifying black Aether mirrored Elzaniru's creative imprints. Asteria is primarily home of the dragons, who consider it their native plane. Asteria also houses the gods and their Saints, and much of the architecture found on the plane is in homage to the gods. Asteria is filled with black ether, which is responsible for higher intelligence in Elzaniru's creations.
The outer planes were formed when Elzaniru pushed the Aethers in opposite directions to form the inter-planar space for Morolia and Asteria. The splitting of the Aether and forging of dimensional planes created the chaotic red world of Gehenna and the orderly green world of Elysium. Gehenna and Elysium do not directly touch at any point, and passage from one to the other involves traversing the core planes first.
As Elzaniru took the black Aether and molded it into a universe, so too did the green Aether of Elysium follow suit, creating land, sea, and sky, and eventually a lush paradise world. The Aether slowly changed into ether, infusing the world with vitality but no longer able to shape reality. Green ether had an affinity for nature, but also an unusual property: as it tended toward order, it could be used to inflict dominance over another.
As Elzaniru created the animals, this act resonated in Elysium and created a counterpart: the Faelings. They took mirror forms to the animals that Elzaniru created at first, but in time could be found in almost any shape. They were intelligent and gifted with controlling green ether, but were wholly irresponsible and chose to spend their time playing games and tricks on each other. Elysium was good to them, and for thousands of years they had no cares or worries.
Soon Elzaniru grew tired of the animals he had created and used his powers to forge the dragonspawn. In Elysium, this created the true masters of Dominion: the Muses.
While the Faelings took on the nature aspect of green ether, the Muses were born of green ether's inclination to order. While their powers could include controlling the natural elements, they were most gifted at controlling those around them, whether it be the Faelings or other Muses. As civilization slowly became established, wars began to be fought between groups of Muses vying for supremacy over their world. However, the fighting was ultimately futile.
Things changed drastically when Elzaniru created humans. As humans were able to control all aspects of black and white ether, so were the newly crafted angelspawn able to control all aspects of green ether, whether channeling natural energy or inflicting their will upon others. Compared to the Muses, the angelspawn were legion, and their forces shifted the balance of power in the Muses' continual struggle several times. Soon a group of like-minded Muses got an idea. They would fuse their minds and powers together to create a battery, a focus, and a weapon to be used in their war: the Heart of Elysium.
The Heart of Elysium was an artifact designed to pool the joint powers of several Elysians together, allowing for a much greater effect. Initially a group of seventy-two Muses bonded together to create the Heart. Thirty-six of the Muses were old and had no fight left to give. They gave the only thing they could: themselves. Sacrificing their mortal bodies and pooling their spiritual energy together, they created the basis of the Heart, a vast wellspring of energy managed by a consciousness with no mind. The remaining thirty-six formed the Council of Muses. Tithing a portion of their power to the Heart, they joined the consciousness and began to act as a unified whole. The eternal energy of the Heart had an unexpected side effect. Bonded as they were, no member of the council could permanently die so long as the Heart of Elysium radiated its power.
Using the Heart, the Council channeled their powers of dominance, creating an eternal edict emanating from the Heart. Those within the Heart's sphere of influence would be swayed into line with the Council, if not subjugated entirely. The Council went forth, gathering like-minded allies of both Muse and angelspawn alike. Muses were permitted to give their power and join with the immortal council provided they did so willingly and wholeheartedly. Angelspawn were required to tithe a portion of their power, but could draw from the Heart as they needed. Muses who were subjugated were required to give a quarter of their power and could not join the Council, but could draw freely, while subjugated angelspawn were simply forced to tithe, and received nothing in return. As the power contained within the Heart swelled its influence grew, expanding into a vast Empire. Soon free Elysians lived only beyond the outskirts of civilization, and they were viciously hunted. Strangely, the Heart had no effect on the faelings, who continued to live flighty and carefree lives.
For a time, things seemed to be settled in Elysium. As the ranks of the Council swelled and more angelspawn came into the fold, the order became more bureaucratic and structured, and prosperity increased. But soon a great change occurred, as Elzaniru created the Gods, and Elysium responded by creating the Wisdoms.
The Wisdoms in their original form were spiritual embodiments of energy, possessed of vast power but limited consciousness. As time passed they grew aware and began to adapt personalities, and certain tendencies in their powers. They knew of the Elysians, but considered themselves above them, more concerned with the other Wisdoms. Soon the Wisdoms began to fight among themselves, each of the six trying to become supreme. The two most dangerous were called Dosiros and Melukah, but Dosiros became the more violent and impulsive of the two. The weakest spirit, Keldana, was attracted to the dominant personality of Dosiros and the two soon formed a partnership. They quickly became unstoppable.
The effect this had on the civilization of Elysium was catastrophic. Those Elysians who refused to submit to the Heart found cause in the Wisdoms and joined the crusade, and the magnitude of the Wisdom's power tore many of the subjugated away from the Heart's spell. Soon the Wisdoms had armies fighting in their names, and the Council of Muses tried their best to stop the Wisdoms and quell the uprisings. The Heart began to weaken as contributors were lost and power was drained for the fight. The Council decided it was time for drastic measures, and to this end they approached Keldana, now proclaimed as the Wisdom of Tranquility.
The Council declared their support for Keldana and Dosiros, and insisted they be allowed to teach Keldana about her powers. They lent her the power of the Heart of Elysium so she could bind the other Wisdoms to it, in an effort to control them. With the newfound gift, she and Dosiros brought down the other Wisdoms one by one, starting with Melukah.
With a dormant Melukah in their possession, the Council united him with their consciousness and began to use their powers to reshape his personality so that he would be loyal to the Council first and foremost. They blanked his memories and began to groom him for his eventual leadership. As Valinoru, Torlen, and finally Kiastos fell to Dosiros and were bound to the Heart by Keldana, their memories were altered as well. Melukah was resurrected, but was kept in hiding until the Council was ready.
With just Dosiros and Keldana remaining, the Council began steps to control them as well. As Keldana had been using the Heart's power she herself had slowly become bound to it, and it began to have an influence on her. Thus the Council approached her and told her that Dosiros would be Supreme Wisdom of Elysium, but in his current state he was too wild and unruly, and must to be bound to the Heart and tamed to be a fit ruler. Keldana reluctantly accepted this and soon betrayed Dosiros, striking him down in a moment of weakness and binding him to the Heart. She didn't struggle with guilt over her actions for long, as Melukah was released to kill the renegade Keldana. With the remaining Wisdoms dead, Melukah fed a majority of his power into the Heart. The Council used the newly fortified Heart of Elysium to revive the altered Wisdoms, and each one, whether out of fear or loyalty, swore fealty to Melukah and gave much of their power to the Heart. Its influence spread until it covered most of the world, and excepting the few occasions where Kiastos or Dosiros broke free of the spell, Elysium was finally at peace--until the Planar Wars.
In their natural state the Wisdoms are beings of pure energy. However, the Muses craft shells for them to inhabit when they need to contact the lesser beings of Elysium or cross the Veil. These bodies are specifically crafted to optimize ether control for one element, improving potency while reducing ether usage. This leaves them less able to control other elements, however. The bodies also have a 'mask' that is the primary energy containment system. The mask acts to limit their power in order to conserve energy. Without the mask they can achieve much greater feats of elemental control, including proficient usage of other elements, but they have no way to regulate energy consumption and will quickly burn through their reserves.
A corollary to the oddities of green ether (see Section II.D.) is that the Wisdoms have different powers depending on which plane they inhabit. It depends on how their bodies are crafted and what shapings they are capable of, but each aspect of the Wisdoms will vary on each plane, and they will overall be of a different Class of creature. For example, on Morolia they function as mere elementals, and it is easily the plane they are the weakest on. In Asteria, some of them are powerful warrior aspects--such as Kiastos, Wisdom of Invulnerability, who is one of the most powerful Wisdoms when on Asteria--while others are poisoners or status afflictors--such as Torlen, the Wisdom of Decay. On Gehenna, each Wisdom is of an extremely powerful destructive aspect. On the home plane of Elysium the Wisdoms are the most flexible--all sorcery based, mages of unparalleled degree--but it is on Gehenna that they are the most dangerous.
Melukah alone does not match this profile. He has spent centuries crafting the perfect false body for himself, so that no matter which plane he occupies the way he accesses the powers of that plane are effectively the same. Across Elysium, Asteria, Morolia, Gehenna, he is the Wisdom of Wisdom (this is not redundant in the Elysian tongue), Death, Sun, Annihilation. In each form, his power functions in the same manner, but in each one he arrives at the final form via a different root source. For example, while in Morolia he does it by channeling green ether into sunlight, in Gehenna he does it by using the most massive amounts of raw Elysian ether.
The Wisdom's bodies also possess the ability to adapt instantly to any and all languages of whatever creatures they encounter. This is not a trait of the Wisdoms themselves, but rather a gift endowed into their bodies by the Muses, who have a massive database of all known information about species across all the planes.
Across the various planes, the aspects of the Wisdoms are attuned as follows.
Elysium is a kind and gentle environment, formed from soothing green Aethers. The environment is fairly temperate, though there are plenty of tropical zones to be found. Even the extreme northern and southern zones only get cold enough to sustain snow and ice, without being too far below freezing. All areas of Elysium are abundant with lush flora and vibrant fauna.
One curious trait of Elysium is that it has no orbiting bodies to speak of. Light levels are always a consistent low-daylight intensity, even during weather such as rain or snow. The light appears to original from the air or ground itself, and there are no seasons. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps merely due to their hearty nature, no Elysians possess a sleep cycle.
As a society, Elysium is just as extreme as Gehenna. Everything is based on rigidly defined codes and laws, with no room for interpretation. The law is of paramount importance in Elysium, and even the slightest infraction can carry severe punishments. There is a very strict caste system in place. When an Elysian is born, they are assigned a job and a place within society, and if all goes well they will be in that same position for their entire lives. Even their schooling and studying is mostly geared towards making them more effective at that one thing. Even still, the government levels of Elysium are hopelessly bureaucratic, and even the simplest of tasks is bogged down with endless protocol and procedure.
There are four different types of Elysians. The faelings are cute, spritely creatures of human intelligence and a wide variety of animal-like forms. They are basically allowed to do as they wish, as they are exempt from the normal caste system. They tend to keep to themselves, frolicking and playing in the wilderness and leaving civilization to its own ends. Angelspawn form almost the entirety of the caste system, from low level farmers to governmental social worker filling out endless forms. The Muses fill the governmental leadership roles, and are also primarily responsible for meting out justice when required. The Wisdoms, under Melukah, are positioned as the rulers of Elysium. They make the Law, and are its final arbiters. If interpretation is necessary, they are the ones to interpret. Any judgment they give is indisputable. Unlike the Godbeasts, the Wisdoms take a very active role in their world.
Although it is not inaccurate to say that the Wisdoms are the true rulers of Elysium, it is worth noting the influence of the Heart of Elysium, and the tampering of the Council of Muses in the past. Melukah's word and rule is absolute law, and no Muse dares defy him in the modern era. However, Melukah's own personality, temperament, and directions were altered by the Heart of Elysium centuries ago, and as such his will is effectively an incarnation of the will of the original Council of Muses.
In regards to capabilities, with the exception of the Wisdoms, angelspawn are extremely human-like. They have no set power, but instead learn to channel and control ether in certain ways to achieve certain effects. Due to the caste system, most angelspawn only ever learn what's necessary to fulfill their role. Muses can be distinguished by a marked increase in potency of powers and natural skill in controlling ether. There are six known Wisdoms, and each take on various powers and forms depending on which plane they are currently on (see Section I.C.2.iii). The Wisdoms are the only known creatures able to cross any part of the Veil, even into Gehenna if they wish, at will.
As Elysium was formed from the reflections of the inner planes, so too was Gehenna shaped. Creatures of varied shapes and sizes were born to reflect Elzaniru's own creations, but there was an even greater effect that took place on the Gehennite plane. From the image of animals was born the lowly lemures. They were small demons, weak in powers but ferocious in spirits. The lemures began the tradition of endless wars on the Gehennite plane, one that would be carried throughout eternity.
From the reflection of the dragons far greater creatures were born, the undying hellspawn. As Elzaniru crafted the Veil and released his own essence of Existence into it, this action was reflected on Gehenna with the birth of a dark, powerful shadow.
The shadow was, like the Veil it reflected, a consciousness without a body. While initially it floated alone in a sea of red Aether, it soon found it could force its will upon the Aether. Soon the shadow had gained enough strength to take on physical form, and once it had a body it took the name Gilanirus.
Gilanirus knew of Morolia, and while he intended to conquer it at some point, he was wary of Elzaniru and his creations. He built a barrier of his will around Gehenna to keep the unwanted out, and to ensure he was the only one able to create with the dwindling primal Aethers of Gehenna.
Gilanirus long experimented on different lifeforms, reshaping and evolving the myriad races of Gehenna. Eventually he turned his sights to creating a being like himself, a Godbeast. He intended that the Godbeasts would be subordinate rulers, to help him manage the vast realm he had fashioned. His first attempt was a failure, for though it had staggering power it was a nearly mindless beast. Gilanirus' next thought was to start weaker, and build upward.
To this end, he created the first Amsedon. While the most physically capable hellspawn Gilanirus had ever created, he held no natural powers, but rather could learn the powers of other Gehennans and make them his own. Gilanirus gathered the strongest holder of each power and in an elaborate ceremony, had them fight Amsedon. Some powers, such as the ability to create fire or summon meteors, had to be experienced firsthand. Others, such as barriers, energy absorption, or regeneration, had to be carefully studied. The process took years, and by the end of it Amsedon had become insane. He cooperated with Gilanirus for a while, but soon took up his own designs for ruling Gehenna, and rebelled against his creator.
Eventually Gilanirus tired of trying to destroy his own too-powerful creation, and left Amsedon to do as he pleased. Gilanirus made a new Godbeast, with a variation on obtaining other Gehennan's power. This new Godbeast, Aegagropilion, had to physically absorb a creature to gain its power. Aegagropilion proved to be both powerful and sane. Bolstered by his success, Gilanirus created one final Godbeast, Schpariel, who had absolute mastery over red ether. This new trio of Godbeasts was able to make it known to all that even though Amsedon claimed to be Overlord, the Godbeasts were the true rulers of Gehenna.
But as Gehenna found itself rocked under the throes of the Godbeast experiments, and the warlike traits of its denizens, it was not long before Gilanirus began to wish for a more pleasant world for his creatures, a paradise that they might rule. It was with this in his heart that he turned his sights to Elysium.
Gehenna is another twisted and warped reflection of Morolia. Formed from volatile red Aether, the creation of the plane copied many of the important elements of Elzaniru's creation of Morolia, down to the creation of life itself. Environmentally, the plane runs in extremes, with very few of what could be considered temperate zones. Frozen, sub-zero tundras and ice fields; steep craggy mountains that look like sharp spikes jutting out of the ground; harsh blistering deserts; barren wastelands; blasted lands covered in scorched rock; burning steppes filled with blackened rocks and continual wildfires; searing gorges with lava flows and sulfuric geysers; vast canyons carved deep into the earth; dusty prairies with oppressive waves of heat; rivers that run hot and toxic from the chemicals in the soil; black, oily oceans.
Vegetation and lower forms of life have found a presence there, but they are often toxic, mobile, or themselves carnivorous. A large variety of these carnivorous plants exist, referred to collectively as terrnig, and many of them form the staples of the Gehennite diet. Indeed, there are entire plantations devoted to raising these flesh-eating plants.
Gehenna has several slow-moving suns, and several large, black moons which seem to devour light rather than reflect it, and can be seen in the sky by day rather than night. The relative orbits of these bodies is currently unknown due to the lack of astrological study by the plane's inhabitants. However, the result is a completely unpredictable seasonal cycle, where entire regions of the planet that have never before experience cold will undergo an ice age, or previously temperate regions will turn into a fiery wasteland. This constantly shifting nature makes it difficult for even the most scholarly Gehennans to keep their own history straight, as a legend describing "warriors from the icy tundras" could mean almost any area of the planet, depending on time period.
The Gehennite society is best described as continually bordering on anarchy. It is very much a society ruled by might, and the Gehennans are constantly trying to prove who is the most powerful. Revolts, insurrections, and uprisings happen almost every day, and all of them are violent. The Overlord of Gehenna, if one currently sits, is almost continually under attack, and only because of the extreme power of an Amsedon are there any periods of stability. Though in many reincarnations Amsedon himself is so unstable that the power vacuum may be preferable.
Beneath the Overlord there is a tier of aristocracies, starting with the Archdevils, the highest lords of Gehennan society, who are also sometimes referred to as kings. When there is no sitting Overlord, the Archdevils themselves rule Gehenna in a surprisingly stable truce. Those who have attained the station of Archdevil are very ancient hellspawn, and are treated with a reverence uncommon for Gehennan culture. Still, this does not mean that they are immune to invasion. Even if an Archdevil is respected enough that he would not be killed in such an assault, his lands would be considered fair game by any victorious invaders.
Beneath the Archdevils there are the Dukes, which must be approved by either a standing Overlord, or the full coalition of Archdevils. Dukes may have an unlimited number of Barons appointed beneath them, but these choices must be sanctioned by their overseeing Archdevil. Many of the demonic aristocracy have little intention of rising against Amsedon, not only because it's in their best interests to have him as Overlord, but also because they're usually too busy defending their own estates to muster the forces necessary for such an insurrection.
As for the demonspawn themselves, their powers and potency are essentially random. Each Gehennan falls under three primary Archetypes: Mage, Morphling, or Psionic Warrior. A Barrier demon--commonly "Warder", possessing the ability to generate either kinetic or energy-based shells--would be a Psionic Warrior Archetype. A Blaster able to shoot bursts of elemental energy would be a Mage Archetype. Leeches, who can drain another demonspawn's power and use it temporarily, would be a Morphling Archetype. Amsedon is the only known exception. Every few centuries, a demon with the Amsedon gene is born. Initially the demon possesses no powers, however it can learn any demonic power just by experiencing it. When this demon is found, it is ceremoniously subjected to every known power, ending with a battle against the previous Amsedon. The resulting demon is immensely powerful, and slightly unbalanced.
There are four major classifications of Gehennans. Lemures are the lowest caste, and are typically powerless. Devilspawn are slightly higher rated, forming both the slave and lower classes. Their powers tend to be simpler, such as Barriers or Blasting. Slave devilspawn were usually subjugated during an uprising, though many are born and die slaves, not possessing enough power to move up in class. Low class devilspawn form the grunts of society, both as a working class and as an army. Hellspawn are usually those in power, because they tend to have greater powers--though this is not a strict rule, as hellspawn are technically distinguished by their Mortality state. Their powers are typically broader in nature than devilspawn--Geomancers are a high-level Mage Archetype that can control the weather, Shamans are a high-level Psionic Archetype that can summon mighty creatures, Shifters are a high-level Morphling Archetype that can take on any form they desire, as a few examples.
Above the hellspawn are the Godbeasts. There are only three currently known to be active, and each takes on full embodiment of an Archetype. Schpariel is the pinnacle Mage Archetype, Aegagropilion is the pinnacle Morphling Archtype, and Gilanirus himself is the pinnacle Psionic Warrior Archetype. Since Gilanirus himself is likely capable of taking on any of these powers for himself, it is assumed that this organization of his Godbeasts is of his own deliberate design, and speaks to a greater desire for order. The Godbeasts do not tend to concern themselves with Gehennite society, focusing instead on the dominion of other planes.
It should be noted that while Amsedon is technically a Godbeast, Gilanirus has disavowed him, and so he is typically identified as the highest ranking hellspawn, forsaking any involvement with inter-planar affairs. The status of the first Godbeast Gilanirus created is presently unknown.
Before the formation of the four planes, the Celestial Sphere was filled with a potent energy called Aether. Aether was supremely reactive to Elzaniru's will, but had a tendency to collapse back into its natural state. Thus, Elzaniru separated out the planes, irrevocably typing the Aether and causing it, over time, to lose its potency. Eventually it became what is commonly known as ether, the energy that sustains each individual plane of existence.
While the energies of any given plane are supportive of life on that plane, they are highly reactive when released on any other plane. While most reactions are merely destructive, when properly shaped, the power of ether is enough to alter reality, creating effects known as 'magic'.
White ether is the substance the supports all life on Morolia. It is directly involved in the metabolism of all living creatures, being used as the primary source of energy for everything from cell division and repair, to muscle strength, to various physiological effects. Despite this, it is still under-studied compared to black and grey ether, and using it for magic is uncommon in most parts of the world.
White ether has two principal states. When it is first emitted from a source, it is in its active, or radiant, state. As time passes, the ether loses concentration and potency and reverts to its passive, or inert, state. Inert white ether can, depending on the strength of the ether currents, re-concentrate on its own, but usually it takes a source of radiant ether, or a white mage actively concentrating and activating the ether. Given enough time, white ether will eventually degrade and vanish.
While white ether can be found everywhere on Morolia, there are relatively few sources. White ether is emitted from sources of heat and light, and anything that naturally produces one of these elements emits radiant ether, even if only in small quantities. The sun is the largest producer of white ether and is considered to be the primary source, radiating massive amounts of radiant ether throughout the day. Passive ether is so ubiquitous that it can be found anywhere there is air. In places where sunlight cannot reach, such as deep caves, the ether can be fairly sparse.
White ether acts as a deadening effect on other planes. It can drain the life from a creature to the point of causing death, and is essentially a magical poison which can be channeled. It can always be used to create other debilitating effects, such as slowing movement, reducing physical strength, paralysis, or even worse, such as inflicting permanent neurological damage.
Black ether is the ether that is found natively in Asteria. On its home plane it is stable and fairly unremarkable, serving the same purpose that white ether serves in Morolia and operating in much the same way. The true impact of black ether is found when it is transferred across the Veil to another plane, where it has reality warping properties.
On planes outside of Asteria it is naturally suited to energy-based manipulations or enhancement magic. This means the even on Gehenna, Asterian sorcery could be wielded as a potent force. However the rules for casting it changes dramatically on each plane, so a mystic capable of Asterian magic on Morolia would be forced to start over from scratch on Gehenna, relearning all of his abilities for that plane. As a final note, on any plane Asterian ether and Morolian ether act as natural inverses, and spells from the two different schools tend to cancel each other out.
There is a particular subset of black ether found on Morolia itself, colloquially known as grey ether. Grey ether is black ether that has filtered into Morolia through various means. It has taken on many of the properties of white ether, while still maintaining the reality altering properties of black ether.
Like white ether, grey ether has two different states: active--referred to as shadow ether--and passive. Almost all grey ether is in its passive state, and will only change to shadow ether when activated by someone. Passive grey ether is completely harmless and does not naturally affect Morolia, even though it can be made to do so. Shadow ether is harmless until shaped, at which point it interacts with Morolian reality in similar ways to normal black ether. Shadow ether is converted to grey ether by the presence of radiant white ether, since the two have a neutralizing effect on each other. Because of this, shadow ether is most prevalent in places where sunlight cannot reach, such as inside of caves. Shadow ether lacks the volatility of black ether, but can still create ether vortexes if the conditions are right.
Grey ether is fairly ubiquitous in Morolia, as black ether is changed into grey when it filters across the Veil through any of a number of methods. Most grey ether comes from places of high concentration of black ether, or thin points in the Veil itself. Another common source of grey ether is from excess black ether used by rune structures, called runoff. While the black ether used in a spell is drawn directly through a channel across the Veil, runoff gets filtered through the Veil itself as a by-product of ether flux. In addition to these methods, grey ether also appears when dragons cross the Veil, and is a by-product of ether poles and vortexes. Almost all grey ether produced by the Veil is initially shadow ether, and must be neutralized to passive grey ether by radiant white ether.
Red ether is the ether that is found natively in Gehenna, supporting life and empowering the lifeforms found there. It is an extremely caustic form of ether, and even on its home plane is more used for the development of toxins, acids, and powers of destructive Gehennite sorcery than for healing or recovery.
Even on other planes, red ether retains its caustic nature. Unlike black ether, red ether itself is non-reactive with other types of ether, requiring that it be properly shaped and released to affect the reality of the plane it's on. Most applications of red ether are explosive, destructive, or at the very least debilitating, and are often unpredictable to all but the most experienced masters. Only rarely can red ether be turned to constructive uses, though it is known to be of use in creating impenetrable barriers.
Green ether is the nurturing and supportive ether found natively on Elysium. Unlike most forms of ether, it is known to have wildly differing properties on each on the planes. It is also the most versatile ether on its home plane, allowing for a large degree of control over the laws of reality, in much the same way that divine ether does.
On Gehenna, green ether is at its least subtle but most directly powerful behavior, capable of causing enormous amounts of destruction and devastation in a relatively efficient manner. On Morolia, green ether acts like a potent mix of black and white ethers, which gives it a great degree of control over naturally occurring elements like fire, wind, water, earth, and plants. Many of the more complicated effects the Arcanum tries to create with rune structures can be easily reproduced by competent green mages.
It is on Asteria that green magic is at its most specific of purposes, able to cause a number of super-intense amplification or debilitation effects. Asterian creatures mastering green sorcery could gain godlike power. Unfortunately, this power would not carry with them to other planes.
Divine ether is not a naturally occurring ambient ether found on any of the planes. Instead, it is a form of ether that has been purified into a perfected state. Of all the known types of ether, it is closest in form to the original Aether the universe is formed from, and thus it is very reactive to willpower and other external stimuli. Because of its highly reactive and purified nature, it can be used to copy the behaviors of any other kind of ether, based on whatever will is affecting it at that point. Because of this, divine ether can reproduce any effect that can be achieved through any other kind of ether, as well as additional effects unique to its purified state.
Divine Ether is extremely fickle, and will react quickly to any stimuli it is exposed to. If exposed to another type of ether, Divine Ether will either assume that ether's properties, assume the opposite properties (and cancel the ether out), or it will not react at all, remaining in a raw state. If exposed to living organisms, Divine Ether will react to the thoughts of that creature. It may grant wishes, desires, or turn fears or nightmares into reality. Fortunately Divine Ether does not last long in a natural environment, with ninety-nine percent of it quickly reverting to other forms of ether. Because of this, the chaos of its insertion into reality is usually downplayed.
Current notable theorists have speculated that the Veil itself may simply be a massive wall of isolated Divine Ether, with the wills of various creatures contending for dominance over it. This theory is virtually untestable at this time, however, as direct isolation of and interaction with the Veil has only been accomplished to limited degree, and with great dangers involved.
At times, certain natural or artificial circumstances can lead to what is referred to as an Ether Event. These are natural phenomena that are, in many ways, like all other natural disasters, and could be thought of similarly in terms of a tornado or earthquake. Though Ether Events are not thought of as typically causing loss of human life, in many cases the lives of mystics, dragons, liches, or certain highly evolved species of demonspawn have been lost due to these events.
An Ether Vortex is a highly unstable whirlpool of black and white ether as they merge and cancel each other. In nature, they occur most frequently when equal concentrations of passive white ether and grey ether collide when traveling in opposite directions. While much of the time this simply results the two streams harmlessly canceling each other, rarely the two streams will synchronize and then begin to destroy one another. The effect creates a visible whirlpool that devours neighboring ether. This force is irresistible, and will not only make the use of magic nearby virtually impossible, it will also potentially destroy any proximate rune structures. Due to the constant changes in strength of ambient ether, most vortexes will last only a few seconds. Furthermore, any sudden influx of substantial energy into the Vortex will destabilize it almost immediately.
Ether Vortexes can also be generated artificially, although only under extreme circumstances and requiring manual intervention by a highly skilled Herald. In these instances, in order to increase volatility and raise the likelihood of a Vortex reaction taking hold, radiant white ether and either typed-and-channeled black or shadow ether are used in the interaction, rather than relying on the more passive, albeit abundant, types of ether.
An Ether Pole is similar to a Vortex, only on a much grander scale. They occur when two streams of ether, one in Morolia and one in Asteria, equal in concentration and flux, and traveling in opposite directions, force a rift in the Veil. This creates a transdimensional Vortex as the two planes begin to coexist in the same locale, and their opposing natures cancel each other out. At the epicenter of the event, there is a small observable physical phenomenon, typically only a few inches in diameter. At this event moment, however, the physical world itself is actively being destroyed by the intrusion of Asteria into the Morolian plane, and anything that comes into direct contact with an Ether Pole will immediately be unmade in a way that cannot be compared to any other natural disaster.
Like a Vortex, and Ether Pole renders use of magic impossible and destroys standing rune structures, however the effect can spread out for miles from the epicenter. It is also much harder to destabilize a Pole by adding excess energy. Most Ether Poles will naturally cease after a few minutes, but sometimes can last for days. Ether Poles drastically alter the natural ether currents in both planes, often permanently.
Magic is the manipulation of reality by utilizing the natural powers found in either Aether or--much more commonly--ether. Ether can either be leveraged purely as an energy source (most common in the simplest forms of offensive magics), or for its reality-distortion properties. These are typically more potent when dealing with forms of ether that are foreign to the plane where the magic is being cast.
As all magic casting has a preliminary requirement on the state of the Spirit itself, the anatomy of the Spirit will be explained before discussing the various forms of magic itself.
The term Spirit refers to the ether interface a sentient being uses to draw ether from various planes. This basic anatomy is universal across all of Elzaniru's creations, including the divine. Only the nature of Elzaniru himself is unknown. The spirit consists of a matrix of energy lines that are used for drawing and releasing the different types of ether. It is important to note that the spirit is not used for storing, activating, or typing ether. That is done in a portion of the corpus called the Chamber.
The ether pathways are referred to as draws and channels. It is possible to have up to three draws for each plane, and a channel of each color of ether, with a slight exception. The number of draws a person has indicates their proficiency at absorbing ether of any color from a certain plane. A channel functions in much the same way as a rune structure, giving a shape to the ether so it can perform its function. While a channel isn't strictly necessary for expelling ether, without one it's impossible to do more than the most rudimentary actions with it.
One planar draw means that a creature can absorb ambient ether from a plane while they are on it. They cannot willfully draw ether at this stage. For creatures with a dual nature, a single draw is necessary to connect the corpus to the umbra. With two draws, the being can absorb ether while on another plane. On the proper plane, ether is absorbed at an increased rate, but still is drawn by instinct, not actively. If there are several colors of ether present, the creature cannot choose which type of ether to draw. Three draws represents full, active absorption of ether while on the proper plane or an adjacent one, including the ability to distinguish between different ethers and selectively draw them.
Channels are used for both controlled emission of ether and for shaping it into a proper, functioning form. Lacking the proper channel usually means the absorbed ether is wasted, sometimes with harmful consequences. For instance, if a normal human were to absorb Gehennite ether without a channel (or artifact to connect to), the ether would poison their body, as they would be unable to metabolize it. However, it is possible with practice and effort to master crude emissions of ether without a channel. Absorbed white ether could be expelled to create an Aura Barrier, or grey ether could be used to form an Ether Shield. The most common occurrence of this phenomenon is when a Herald creates an ether spark to activate a rune structure, or draw one in the air.
It is interesting to note that normal humans are unable to develop a proper black channel, while mystics are unable to develop a proper grey channel. This is because they are in fact the same channel, but in a normal human it has atrophied to be unable to emit black ether.
The Chamber is the piece of spiritual anatomy that supports life for Morolian creatures. The Chamber is connected directly to the corpus--or, the physical body itself--and energy that reaches the Chamber is purified and then used to heal, grow, develop, and maintain the various functions of the corpus. The Chamber draws this energy from white ether found in nature, drawn through the first Morolia Draw. The Chamber is extremely efficient, and can function on minimal ether for extremely long periods of time. Still, if deprived from white ether for too long, or if the Chamber is forced to expend more energy than it is drawing (for example, healing the body of serious injuries while there is no white ether available), it is possible for the corpus to begin to suffer signs of atrophy, and eventually death may occur.
The umbra is the part of a human that exists in Asteria. It is completely insubstantial, and in most cases invisible. Its main purpose is to store and metabolize Asterian ether. Those with experience and training can perform other functions with the umbra, most notably typing ether and forming rune structures. Mystics are much more connected to Asteria than normal humans, and one of the many ways this is shown is the size and prominence of their umbra. In all humans, the first Asterian draw connects the corpus with the umbra. Even a weak umbra is very good at compressing ether, and a reasonably experienced mage could store enough ether for dozens of matrixes. A Mystic could store hundreds, if not thousands, of matrixes if they ever felt compelled to utilize the technique.
Every human is born with two Morolian draws and one Asterian draw. Opening additional draws and channels is mostly an exercise in practice and experience. It is unknown if a human can open draws to Gehenna or Elysium, or obtain three Asterian draws. Mystics are born with three Morolian draws, three Asterian draws, and a black channel.
Two Asterian draws are needed to preform Heraldric sorcery. Grey magic requires three Morolian draws and the grey channel. White magic requires the White channel, but doesn't technically require the third Morolian draw. However, unless one has a large Chamber for storing ether, or an overactive second draw, they won't have enough ether to fuel complex magic. Shadow magic requires three Morolian draws (to gather sufficient grey ether), two Asterian draws (to use the required Heraldry), with a grey channel preferred (to release shadow ether).
Mystics are born with three Morolian and three Asterian Draws already opened. They are also born with an activated black channel. It's unusual for a creature to be born with any channel already activated at birth, and this often causes many problems during a mystic's developmental years. This aberration is most likely because a mystic's black channel is a fluke in and of itself and should not exist, therefore it does not follow the normal rules governing nature, however there are competing theories (see Section III.F.2). Mystics also have an expanded umbra, enabling them to house much larger amounts of ether than a normal mage could.
The gods have an additional piece of anatomy, known as the Numen. The Numen is the Divine Magic counterpart to the Chamber and Umbra. It is capable of storing divine ether, as well as shaping or typing it. The Numen performs an additional purpose, however: the Numen can generate divine ether. This is not a trivial or minor effect. The Numen is capable of generating nearly infinite amounts of divine ether, in staggering amounts every second. Since Divine Casting is so expensive, most Divine Magic spells are impossible to perform for creatures without a Numen (barring artificial sources of divine ether).
The gods of Morolia are, themselves, the only creatures known to possess the Numen. The other divinities--both Gilanirus and the Wisdoms--utilize their respective schools of magic, albeit at a higher level than any other creatures. For example, the Wisdoms use strictly Elysian magic, powered by green ether. Though they manage to achieve effects which could be classified as divine in terms of scale and effect they are not, technically speaking, utilizing Divine Magic.
The most natural form a magic for a human, white magic--often known as the Spiritual Arts--involves pulling in extra doses of white ether, most typically from the air itself, and using the White Channel to shape it into spells. In order to use white magic effectively, the third Morolian Draw is usually needed. Some great white mages have been known to get by without ever opening this Draw, by relying solely on the white ether their Chambers build up naturally over time. A user of this type has a hard limit for how much ether they can use, and once reached they have no way of absorbing extra ether to replenish their strength. They require sleep to recover their reserves slowly and naturally.
White magic, as the most natural extension of human magic, has the most potential for efficiency. Leading Priests and Paladins frequently reinvent or replace old spells to make new ones that require less initial ether, yet get the same or sometimes even greater effects. A comparison of the expensive and weak Light Grenade spell to the modern Aura Blast is a good example. Aura Blast only uses a slim fraction of the energy of a Light Grenade, yet does several times the damage to a larger area of effect.
Without the White Channel, only the most rudimentary white magic can be done. Healing is possible, but is limited to self-recovery. With an active third Draw, a white mage could become very adept at self-healing, by drawing in excess ether around them and channeling it slowly to damaged areas. On the combat side of white magic--which is commonly referred to as Holy Magic, to distinguish it from the Healing school of spells--only something extremely simplistic like the Aura spell (a slim barrier of protection that shields against enemy white magic), and possibly a Holy Aura around a weapon (slightly increases a weapon's damage, enables it to do extra harm to creatures vulnerable to white magic), are possible without the Channel.
Black Magic is a far less natural form of magic for humans, but in general serves a much wider variety of purposes. Similar to the way white magic has healing and a combat subcategories, black magic could be classified in layman's terms as having constructive and destructive--or rather, "energy"--types. Asterian ether is highly powerful on the Morolian plane, and can be served to alter or undermine the rules of Morolian reality. Constructive black magic takes this measure to its fullest extent, attempting to rewrite the rules of reality for positive effects. An example of this is the Arcanum's Dragon Husbandry sect, where black magic is used to manipulate creature evolution. Another, perhaps simpler, example is a weapon that has been enchanted with runes, causing the weapon to be extra sharp or durable.
Energy-type black magic is much more commonly seen during combat displays. It is widely understood that fire, lightning, and ice elemental attacks fall under this category, but it is perhaps less well-known that wind and earth manipulation are in the same class. The energy manipulation involved there is simply kinetic force, rather than heat or electricity.
Even the basics of black magic are still fairly complex. Humans start out with one Asterian Draw. In this state, any sort of black magic is still impossible. It is only by undergoing a rigorous exercise to unlock the second Asterian Draw that black magic finally becomes feasible, although still not easy. Humans are incapable of developing a black channel, therefore they cannot shape black ether as it is released. Indeed, human spirits are so limited when it comes to releasing black ether that--without the black channel--they are only capable of releasing an extremely tiny amount of power at a time. This ether spark is the second stage of learning black magic, and it is called the Etch.
After the second Asterian Draw is opened, the Etch is taught. A mage learns to gather a small amount of concentrated black ether to the tips of their fingers, creating a green glow. This glow is typical of most untyped Asterian ether when released in Morolia. The Etch is necessary for all types of black magic performed by normal humans.
Once the Etch has been developed, black magic can be performed by using the Heraldry techniques of the Arcanum. In its most basic form, Magical Heraldry is performed by drawing a rune structure on a physical object, such as a scroll or vase. Once the mage touches this object with the Etch, it will feed the rune structure enough energy to begin the magic reaction. In this usage, the Etch can be thought of as a primer. Once the reaction starts, no further energy is required from the mage. The rune structure will perform the necessary steps of gathering Asterian ether from across the Veil, typing the ether, shaping the ether, and transferring it into Morolia and releasing the spell.
The fundamental part of a Heraldic spell is called a rune. A rune is a formation composed of lines, whirls, whorls, letters, symbols, and a variety of other images. A rune by itself is fairly powerless to affect ether. To be useful, several runes must be combined into a rune structure. If one were to consider a rune to be a word, then a rune structure would be a sentence. Rune structures are made of phrases, which are brief combinations of runes. A phrase consists of a base rune, representing an idea or function, and several compliment runes, which help to further define the base rune. Phrases are linked together with joining runes, which may themselves be compliment runes or even phrases. The completed collection of rune phrases is the rune structure.
There are various rune languages, or scripts, in existence. Each script is suited to dealing with specific formations of ether. Legend holds that these scripts were given to humans as a gift from the gods. There are many more languages, but most are so incomplete as to offer little interest outside of academia. Theoretically a rune structure can accomplish anything in Morolia, but any given script offers only a limited capacity as to what it can change.
Cloud Script - The Arcanum's pride, and the most commonly used rune language within the Knighthood. All runes in Cloud script have a large amount of flow to them, showcasing long, sweeping strokes with plenty of curve, as well as whorls, swirls, spirals and helixes. Cloud script's main use is controlling the elemental energies of fire, ice, and lightning, as well as other kinds of energy. It is very prominent in attack magic. Cloud Script was passed into Felthespar from the reclusive Magi during the Arocaen.
Divine Script of Jade - The secret rune language of the Cainites, Jade Script possesses an unknown quality that allows it to make living rune structures that can change and mutate based on certain conditions, such as changes to the object it's inscribed on. Jade Script is predominantly triangular, and is filled with thick, blocky, angular patterns. Like Cloud script, it is most effective at controlling energy, but it has a number of other uses known only to the Cainites. The Divine Script of Jade was a gift to the Cainites from their god Vaelius.
Root Script - An elementary rune language used by the Arcanum for teaching about runes, and for simple cantrips. It features simple, linear patterns that never get too complex. It is a general purpose script, capable of a number of nonspecialized tasks, like creating stable light, or generating heat. Root Script has been with the Arcanum since its inception, and was created as a learning tool by its founder, Jaidra Halariu.
Stone Script - The specialized script of the Arcanum's Artifacts department. The predominant shapes are squares and octagons, with patterns having thin, angular lines, and a heavy amount of detail. This detailing makes Stone script by far the most descriptive rune structure, making it uniquely suited to altering, enchanting or transmuting inanimate objects. Stone Script is a gift from Pecoros to the people of the ancient church of Serene, where it was passed down into the Arcanum.
Dragon Script - The script used by the Arcanum's Dragonspawn department. Dragon script is unusual in that the predominant shapes are trapeziums, and there are few consistent features in its patterns. Most runes contain short bold strokes that curve, double back on themselves, and intertwine. The main function of Dragon script is dealing with almost all aspects of dragons, specifically as regards control, breeding and mutation. Dragon Script was developed by the Arcanum shortly after the end of the First Arocaen.
Fang Script - The main script used by the Arcanum's Demonspawn department. The predominant shape of Fang script is a hexagon, with patterns featuring a large number of spikes and points. Fang script deals with a number of demonspawn related subjects, particularly the manipulation of ether and how it affects living creatures. It was a gift from one of the gods to the people of Jegan, who then gave it to the Knighthood.
Shadow Script - The Arcanum's greatest contribution to the destructive arts. It is descended from Cloud script, and shares many of the same features, particularly a tendency towards patterns with lots of curve and flow to them. The most unique aspect of Shadow Script is that the thickness of the lines in a rune can change the meaning of the rune. In fact, two of the base runes differ only in the thickness of the lines. This is similar to certain foreign languages, where a word can mean many different things based on how each syllable is stressed. The primary use of Shadow Script is activating and controlling the grey ether in Morolia, and turning it towards destructive ends.
Storm Script - Storm Script is a gift from one of the gods to the people of Hesseln, located on an island southeast of Vantrisk. As the script was powerful, only the Sage and his apprentice were allowed to know it. However, one generation the Sage perished before passing on all of his knowledge, and within two generations, all knowledge of how the runes worked was lost. When Felthespar found Hesseln, the people gave the Knighthood what few samples they had left. Since then the Arcanum has tried to decipher and recreate the script, but has had only nominal success. The runes are formed of bold lines that make jagged zig-zags and softer, smooth lines that curve and spiral. There are many small, free-floating particles, the significance of which has yet to be found. Storm Script is known to have a powerful effect on the weather, and can potentially summon or dismiss the most severe of weather.
Once a mage becomes proficient with the use of the Etch, combat casting--often referred to merely as "Etching"--becomes possible. By using larger ether output through the Etch, a mage can draw a rune structure in midair that will linger briefly. At first these rune structures cannot be complicated, as the Etch trail will not last long enough to make that possible, but with practice both the duration of the Etch and the speed of the mage's fingers can be increased, making more advanced spells feasible. The advantage to this type of magic is that, once learned, a mage can always fall back on it. It neither requires ether from the mage himself--other than the relatively small amount of power required for the Etch--nor a physical object. Etching only requires memorization of the necessary rune structure and time to form it.
No matter how it is cast, once the necessary constructs are built and the activation technique performed the spell undergoes a transformation process. Each spell must begin as a block of raw black ether in Asteria. This ether must be gathered in the exact amount that will be necessary to form the secondary structure, hereby known as the ether lattice. A mage must be aware in advance of the exact size and nature of the ether lattice, and gather the proper amount of ether for it. Any more or less will not be compatible with the particular rune structure that was written.
If ether typing will be required, it must be performed next. Typing is required for all energy-based black magic. For example, in order to prepare for a Fireball spell, a block of ether the exact size of the strength of the Fireball must be gathered, then that ether must be typed into fire ether. Properly written rune structures will type ether during their initial steps. Most constructive black magic spells will not require this step. Untyped black ether is already ideal for reality distortion effects on the Morolia plane; it is this effect that most constructive black magic builds upon, and therefore untyped Asterian ether is the only sufficient source of power for those spells.
After being typed, the ether must be shaped. If a raw block of fire typed ether were to be released into Morolia, it would most likely collapse uselessly. It should be understood that shaping fire ether is not equivalent to shaping fire itself. Fire ether is not fire, it is simply the type of ether that, once released into Morolia and shaped properly, allows fire spells to become possible. Without a valid shape no magic will occur, except perhaps in a dull and unwanted failure sense. A block of fire ether will be shaped by a rune structure into a secondary structure itself. Once this ether structure is brought into Morolia, it will interact with the Morolian plane and cause the desired reaction. A block of fire ether could be put into the shape necessary to create a simple Fireball, or a Firewave, or perhaps a Flame Pillar. Whether or not each of these shapes is possible will depend on whether or not enough ether was gathered in the first step.
Finally, the rune structure has gathered, typed (if necessary), and shaped the ether. At this stage, the mage's original structure has successfully created the ether lattice, a new rune structure in Asteria. While the original rune structure was simple, carved into the air or a physical object, the ether lattice is impossibly dense and complex, composed entirely of a super-fine latticework of ether. The final stage is to release. The block of ether, as it exists, is shifted across the Veil as the original rune structure burns itself out. Once the shaped ether hits the Morolian plane, the spell ceases to be ether and becomes magic, and the spell will be complete.
Neither the original rune structure nor the secondary ether lattice actually contains the energy to fuel the spell itself. The purpose of the primary rune structure is to form the ether lattice, and the purpose of the ether lattice itself is to dictate the rules and state of the upcoming spell to the Morolian Plane, manipulating reality to create an ether receptacle. This receptacle would be the most accurate definition of the word "spell". Without further fueling, a spell will typically last mere fractions of a second, quickly being swept away by the interference of the Morolian white ether currents.
In order to prevent this, the spell must be grounded. Grounding involves creating a temporary stable channel between Asteria and Morolia, through which stable black ether can be drawn directly from Asteria and channeled into the spell the currently exists in Morolia. If there is even the slightest hiccup between the formation of the spell and the formation of this tunnel, grounding will not occur. Upon formation, a spell must immediately be attached to a stream of Asterian ether that it can draw upon.
This is a critical concept to black magic, because it is the moment of grounding that defines the differences in successful and failed spells. There are various techniques that can be utilized to makes changes in the currents that will prevent proper grounding, and sometimes even natural circumstances can be problematic. For example, aggressively flowing white ether in Morolia can cause the ether receptacle to collapse even more quickly, making even the most efficient attempts at grounding impossible. Likewise, erratic or weak Asterian currents can cause the slightest delay in a grounding channel, and make successful spell casting a difficult gamble.
Grounding can be performed by either the primary rune structure or the secondary ether lattice. As a general rule of best practices, the Arcanum recommends that all novice to intermediate spells use the secondary ether lattice to perform the grounding. This makes a rune structure more easily transferable to a matrix (see Section III.C.4). For proficient spells there is no standard, and thoughtful judgment must be exercised.
Not all spells happen on a finite time-scale. Advanced Heraldry utilizing non-typed ether often sets up a ongoing reaction, continuously drawing a steady stream of ether across the Veil and shaping it simultaneously. This almost always requires using the initial rune structure to establish a stable, long-term grounding channel. Spells of this nature require more stability, and therefore cannot be used via Combat Casting. They must have the integrity of a physical object to rely upon. Sometimes the spell itself can strengthen that physical object, creating a symbiotic relationship which allows the spell and the object to last for many years. Other times the spell is too powerful for the object to maintain forever, and an artifact will be created with a limited number of charges before it loses its integrity. These charges are often estimates rather than precise predictable figures, and may change with age.
Matrixing a spell is not quite the same as using a rune structure, but is still black magic by definition, and follows the same steps. It is, however, a completely new art that a mage must learn. Even full mastery of Heraldry and Combat Casting does not provide an easy leap to learn matrixing.
Matrixes are formed by the mage reaching across the Veil and learning to control the umbra itself. As white magic is built up and stored in the chamber, so too can black magic be stored in the umbra. First, a mage gathers the amount of ether necessary for the ether lattice of the spell he will want to cast. Next, he types the ether himself, using the umbra. This sort of filtering and converting is something the umbra is naturally capable of, but it takes a great deal of time to learn and perfect. Often a mage will gather more ether than a spell is going to require before typing it, and then shrug off any excess, since often the entire block may not be correctly typed. This does require having enough room remaining in the umbra for the excess ether, however, which is why mages will often make it a point to matrix their largest spells into place first. The smaller spells, done last, will not require nearly as much free space remaining in the umbra.
Once the typed block of ether has been formed and trimmed down to the correct size, the mage begins the arduous task of shaping the ether. Using an Asterian version of the Etch technique, the ether must be slowly carved and twisted to the shape of the ether lattice. Take note of the ramification here: just because a mage knows how to cast or Etch a spell does not mean he knows how to matrix it. The pattern used for a spell's rune structure implies what the ether lattice will look like, but does not actually contain it. If a mage wants to matrix a spell, he must actually learn and precisely memorize the secondary structure that is normally crafted in Asteria, then use the Etch to create it within his own umbra.
For this reason, war mages will often keep different spells matrixed than they cast actively. For powerful spells, it will often be too difficult to memorize the rune structure and the matrix structure. So for example, a mage might memorize the rune structure to Fireball, which can be drawn and etched very quickly, and instead learn the matrix structure of Lightning Storm, so that it can be prepared beforehand and released when needed.
Once the mage has completed shaping the ether into the matrix structure, it is bound and contained within the umbra. The ether latticework for a matrix not only contains the typed ether necessary for the spell itself, but also contains a secondary layer that is interwoven throughout the structure. This layer is important because it determines what keyphrase must be used to trigger the spell. Once the keyphrase is invoked, the matrix becomes active, and this secondary layer discharges and burns itself out in order to push the primary layer of ether across the Veil. Once the primary layer touches Morolia and grounds, the spell begins. Note that in this case, the grounding layer must be established by the ether lattice itself, as there is no primary rune structure to perform the task.
A person's umbra or chamber is limited to how much power it can hold, but that limit will generally expand over time. However, there is a bit of an inverse relationship here. Often a significant increase in the umbra will cause a diminishing of the chamber. This relationship is not one-for-one, so an adept mage can eventually expand both the umbra and the chamber significantly. However, a mage who focuses on one type of magic, say black, will wind up with a much larger umbra than a diversified mage. On the other hand, he will also have a sorely diminished chamber, and will never easily be able to convert to learning white magic.
It's important for every caster to be aware that usage of black magic, in particular the opening of the first Asterian Draw, exposes a human's spirit directly to doses of raw Asterian ether over the course of their life. Each time black magic is used, Asterian Deterioration occurs on the spirit, as humans are not accustomed to filtering raw black ether through the passageways of the spirit. Over time, this effect begins to erode the spirit's effectiveness at processing white ether, and ultimately shortens the caster's lifespan.
The Etch itself only requires a small charge of Asterian ether to be processed through the Asterian draw, and even after a lifetime of use will only have minimal effects, often not even adding up to enough of a cumulative effect to be noticeable. Matrixes, on the other hand, store and process ether directly in the spirit itself, and have a much greater Asterian Deterioration footprint. This means that Asterian Deterioration is typically more of a danger for lifelong war mages than true Heralds, and service as a war mage is generally considered to come at a great cost to one's life expectancy, with every year of service reducing life expectancy by almost six months.
In most cases Asterian Deterioration simply leads to a weaker spirit and body in the later years of life, causing the normal ravages of old age to become much more apparent. A fifty year old war mage will often have health concerns equivalent to a sixty year old soldier, a seventy year old civilian, and a ninety year old priest. In more extreme cases, Asterian Deterioration can actually be severe enough as to eventually cause complete spiritual failure, and can itself be a cause of death.
Note that Asterian Deterioration is not triggered by either grey magic or shadow magic, as both of those schools work with grey ether. As grey ether is black ether that has been naturalized to the Morolian environment, it is much safer for Morolian creatures to work with and metabolize, and has no known negative effects.
Additionally, Asterian Deterioration can actually be combated by staying proficient with white magic. The additional surges of white ether through the spirit that result from using white magic often strengthens the spirit and body as well, and has known life-prolonging properties. This effect reverses the normal effects of Asterian Deterioration, and can result in a healthy old age after all. However, many war mages do not choose to practice white magic in their fighting prime, as the effects of expanding the chamber often result in diminishing the umbra and reducing the war mage's effectiveness. Instead it is common practice in Felthespar for war mages to retire into the priesthood, and spend the later years of their life working to undo the damage of their years of Military service.
It is important to note, however, that while white magic practice can reduce the first form of Asterian Deterioration's effects, it often cannot reduce the second. Death by Asterian Deterioration typically occurs when a specific section of the ether passageways in the spirit corrupts, decays, and ultimately breaks, resulting in a breakdown of internal ether flow within the human spirit. Often by the time a war mage has turned to white magic practice, even while they are strengthening other parts of their spirit there will already be a section of Asterian Deterioration that is too deteriorated and cannot heal or be repaired. It may sit idle for years or even decades, but in time these pockets of deep Asterian Deterioration will still ultimately lead to death.
Asterian Deterioration is subtly distinct from fatal black ether poisoning, which afflicts the chamber. The chamber is much more durable than the passageways of the spirit, and it is very difficult to create the conditions under which the chamber will collapse before the natural death of the corpus. The chamber is more damaged by the Etch than by matrixing, and as such black ether poisoning is more common among heralds than war mages, and typically occurs at such an advanced age that it is indistinguishable from natural death.
Because of these factors--particularly the limited impact on life expectancy--black ether poisoning is widely disregarded as a consideration for mages. However, that does not mean it is without its own risks. For more on black ether poisoning (see Section IV.B.2.i.).
Although grey ether may be a mere subset of black ether, grey magic is altogether different from any other school of magic. It is often colloquially referred to as the practice of Blessings, although more advanced grey magic users prefer to separate the school into the dichotomy of Blessing and Barriers. Blessings are classified as any effect that acts directly on the corpus, while Barriers are the effects that are emitted external to the corpus. The most major distinction here being that Blessings, if overdone, can have serious detrimental side effects, while Barriers cannot.
Grey magic is applied through the practice of gathering grey ether into the caster's body. Since this ether exists on the Morolian plane, it is gathered the same as white ether, through the Morolia Draws. However, this does require that the third Morolian Draw be open, since only by using the third Draw can the caster deliberately filter in unnatural types of local ether. Once gathered, this grey ether can be used to create non-natural effects in Morolia, as it still has some of the dormant properties of black ether. For humans, these effects can be unlocked by utilizing the Grey Channel. This channel is not capable of working with black ether from Asteria, but the diluted grey ether found in Morolia is weak enough to pass through it.
By using grey ether, a human becomes capable of changing the laws of reality as they govern his own body, such as increasing strength or stamina, or perhaps making the caster's skin harder than steel. Like white magic, grey magic is among the simplest magics to learn. Unlike white magic, grey magic doesn't have the same room for growth and improvement. There are only a minimum number of techniques that can be done with grey magic, and most of them are simply more expensive and more powerful versions of the others.
All that is required for effective use of grey magic is a well-developed third Morolian Draw and Grey Channel. The more grey magic is practiced, the more effective a can become with it. Once the basics are learned, almost no further study is required with grey magic, only practice and exercise. For this reason, it is the favored magic among most soldiers, who find its conditioning often fits in organically with existing training regimens.
Shadow magic is the sister to grey magic, but is much more difficult to put into practice. In terms of application, shadow magic is much more akin to black magic. It is like grey magic in that they both feed from the same source: grey ether found in Asteria. This ether is gathered through the third Draw (which must be unlocked), and passed into the Chamber instead of directly to the Grey Channel. While stored in the Chamber, a human must activate the grey ether. This is a similar process to typing black ether, which is why it can be performed within the Chamber (which mirrors the Umbra). Once activated, grey ether becomes shadow ether. Shadow ether differs from black ether only slightly, in that unshaped shadow ether does not react to Morolia at all. The distortion effects of black ether have already decayed by the time it fades to grey ether, and do not return when it becomes shadow. As a result, Shadow ether is a type of black ether, but its inability to react directly on the Morolian plane gives it intangible, even ghostly qualities.
When shaped, shadow ether once again takes on some of the traits of black magic, gaining the ability to transform into powerful bursts of destructive energy. Due to the combination of its ephemeral nature and destructive potency, shadow magic can be used to make extremely targeted spells. For instance, shadow magic could be shaped into a slim blade that is capable of cutting only bone, but not skin.
Certain varieties of highly evolved demonspawn possess a Shadow Channel, and are able to use shadow magic instinctively. For humans no such channel exists, or it is not known how to unlock it. Instead shadow magic, like black magic, must be shaped via a standard Heraldry rune structure. The rune structure can be drawn on a physical object or carved into the air using the Etch. However, feeding shadow spell is much more difficult than with black magic. A shadow rune structure cannot draw its own power, as there is no sustainable source of active, shadow ether that exists within nature. Any ether drawn across the Veil would consist of black ether, and therefore would be unsuitable to feed a shadow spell.
Therefore, a shadow magic spell must be fed with ether that is gathered and activated by the mage himself. This ether typically does not have to be gathered beforehand if the mage is adept enough to keep up with the spell's needs, but storing a large reserve of shadow ether beforehand can make a casting less mentally taxing, as the caster will have fewer things to focus on simultaneously.
In order to feed the primary rune structure, grey ether must be filtered through the caster's Chamber and released through the Grey Channel. Shadow ether is capable of passing through this channel, but cannot be shaped by it, which is why the added complexity of the primary rune structure is still required. Once the primary rune structure has been fed sufficient shadow ether to create the initial ether receptacle--or, secondary rune structure--the mage must quickly adjust his Grey Channel to feed the receptacle itself. This feeding must take place at a sufficient speed to make certain the rune structure does not starve or lag at any point, so a significantly well-developed grey channel is necessary.
The standard shadow magic technique is exceptionally complex and taxing on the caster, and as such it can typically take even the most proficient of mages years before they execute their first successful shadow magic casting. Part of the complexity here can be bypassed, although it's not encouraged. Rather than using the grey channel to feed the shadow rune structure, it is possible to apply matrix technology to shadow magic. Grey ether can be gathered to the Chamber and activated, then transferred into the Umbra. Once in the Umbra the Etch can be used the shape the ether in the same way as black ether, and it can then be stored as any other matrix.
The task of transferring an active block of shadow ether across the Veil from the Chamber to the Umbra is exceedingly difficult and can be potentially damaging. Additionally, there is still the necessary step of grounding the eventual matrix. Since shadow ether is not naturally occurring, this is still an issue that cannot be solved in the same way as with black magic matrixes. Instead, shadow matrixing adds an additional clever--but dangerous--stage. When a shadow matrix is released, an artificial ether channel is held open from the ether receptacle to the mage's own Umbra. The mage gathers grey ether in through the third Morolian Draw, into the Chamber, activates it, then channels it through the Morolian Draw, the Asterian Draw, into the Umbra, and then back out the open spell channel into the ether receptacle itself.
In this way the mage himself is an active part of the casting, linked to the shadow magic spell for as long as it is active. It is because of this technique that shadow magic is often considered the opposite of white magic, or the Dark Spiritual Arts. Because of the inherent dangers and vulnerabilities that come with being linked to an active spell in this manner, the Arcanum discourages anyone from keeping shadow magic matrixed.
Nonetheless, there are those that do. This technique has a few advantages, not the least of which is its relative simplicity. Opening and establishing the artificial channel to the Umbra is coded into the secondary layer of the matrix (where normally only the keyphrase is stored), and is a common technique that can be learned and applied universally to any shadow matrix. Since matrixing bypasses the primary rune structure and goes immediately to the creation of the ether lattice, the mage does not have to concern himself with mentally adjusting the flow of shadow ether from one target to another at the moment of grounding. The mage must still focus on gathering grey ether and activating it within the Chamber at a rapid enough rate, but this now becomes their only concern for the duration of the spell, rather than simply one of several tasks.
Finally, shadow matrixing does not require a Grey Channel. For an adept mage who has spent his entire life studying black magic, but has never exercised grey, often matrixing shadow magic is the only way to make the school accessible. This does not mean that anyone who can use black magic can use shadow, as shadow magic still requires the opening of the third Morolian Draw, which is not required for black.
Because of their three open Asterian Draws, mystics are capable of drawing as much ether off of the Asterian plane as they wish at will. Using the black channel, they are able to type, shape, and release this ether with their spiritual tools alone, making traditional Heraldry unnecessary for them. What takes a true herald years to learn and perfect, a mystic can master in a matter of minutes. Note that the black channel does the equivalent work of a primary rune structure, so the end-product produced by the black channel is actually an ether receptacle.
This technique does require that mystics fully develop the secondary ether lattice within their Umbra--not unlike traditional matrixing--so for any spell a mystic could not contain within their Umbra they would be forced to fall back on traditional heraldry. Their naturally expanded Umbra typically renders this moot, as a practicing mystic is capable of casting spells far beyond what a normal mage could ever matrix.
For the purposes of grounding, the black channel is unable to naturally generate a secondary tunnel between the ether receptacle and Asteria. Instead, the mystic typically fuels the spell in a similar manner to how mages fuel shadow matrixes, by drawing black ether off of Asteria directly through their Asterian draws, and routing it through the Umbra, then out the black channel and into the ether receptacle. In this state, the mystic is spiritually linked to their spell, as with white mages or shadow matrix casters.
There is a secondary technique mystics sometimes use, which is to prepare an entire secondary spell that is simply a captured block of densely packed ether, and release it into Morolia alongside the original spell. This packed ether exists as a remarkably stable packet of Asteria reality occupying the Morolian plane, and can only be accessed by the sister spell it has been keyed to. These ether packets have been known to last as long as six hours, but may be capable of even longer duration.
This technique comes slightly less instinctively for mystics, but once developed it allows them to cast spells that are separated from their spirit and can be sustained for long amounts of time even if the mystic's focus is broken, or they leave the area entirely. The Arcanum has attempted to reproduce this technique, but to date no mechanism has been found to mirror this ether packing of which mystics are capable. The current popular theory is that mystics actually call upon the Veil itself to do this work for them as the ether is transferred from Asteria to Morolia, meaning Divine Magic (specifically, Black Psionics) is required. This would explain why the technique is more difficult for mystics to develop, as they first have to unlock their own Divine Channel in order to use it. If true, it would make the technique impossible for traditional Heralds to reproduce for standard practice.
Even with the development of this rather impressive ether packet technique, it's worth noting that Advanced Heraldry techniques are still capable of achieving effects well beyond anything a mystic can naturally manage. Even granting the greatest theoretical leeway on a mystic's ether packet, it could only sustain a medium or large-sized spell for perhaps a day, or--generously--a week. This does not compare to the effects of Advanced Heraldry, wherein even super-massive rune structures have been known to achieve stability for decades.
For this reason, in order to achieve skills equivalent to the Arcanum's Lord Archmagus rank, a mystic would have to learn Advanced Heraldry. Since all of their natural skills do not lend them any advantages for learning or memorizing the primary rune languages (as mystics typically only ever need to know and understand the secondary ether lattice), this means that even the most highly advanced mystic would have to start learning Heraldry at the apprentice level first. Mystics often find this leveling of the playing field either insulting, or frustrating, and so a mystic has never been known to learn Advanced Heraldry. As such, while mystics are typically more capable than even the mightiest of war mages in nearly all scenarios, they are still bested by members of the Arcanum at many schools of magical study, such as weather control magic.
Mystics are not known to experience any effects of Asterian Deterioration. There are a few competing theories on this subject. The first is that mystics simply have superior spirits, and as such all of their magic capabilities and advantages comes directly from their natural superiority as a different species from normal humans. This theory was mainly popular when the history of mystics was less widely understood, and they were considered to be evolved humans. Since it has been determined that mystics are not evolved humans, but rather merely humans with a properly functioning Black Channel, this theory has widely become deprecated.
These days it is widely understood that there are only a few simple differences between humans and mystics, and all of them occur at birth, involving opening the six basic Draws and the Black Channel. These two changes trigger all of the other changes that appear in mystics throughout the developmental years of their life. In that vein, a second theory is that because mystics begin life with their third Morolian Draw open, they spend their entire life processing such vast and constant amounts of white ether that they do, in fact, experience Asterian Deterioration, but it is so widely offset by the recuperative effects of white magic as to never be a hindrance.
This theory has been widely dismissed recently, as observations on the lifespans of mystics do not seem to bear it out. The theory would suggest that, without exposures to the background Asterian Deterioration that all mystics endure, they could live even longer lives. However, mystics who practice more heavily with black magic do not experience notably different lifespans when compared to mystics who are unpracticed. Staunch defenders of this theory argue that even if a mystic does not actively practice black magic, their open black channel and third Asterian Draw results in them processing black ether natively at all times. Most scholars reject this notion, as it does not line up with other views on the nature of the Draws.
The most popular current theory for the lack of Asterian Deterioration in mystics is that, because they are able to use black magic from birth and throughout childhood, their spirits adjust to Asterian ether at a young enough age that it is never foreign to them, but rather something they develop a resistance to throughout their life. Proponents of this theory argue that if a normal human baby could be taught to open the Asterian Draw and use the Etch, then by the time they reached adulthood they too would be immune to Asterian Deterioration. This is, of course, not testable, so the debate continues.
Mystics are not capable of grey magic. Their black channel is unable to process grey ether, even though they are capable of gathering it. A mystic does possess their own form of grey magic, however. They are able to instinctively use black ether from Morolia to magically alter and enhance their body directly. For a normal human, a process like this would be permanent, and potentially fatal. Although at birth a mystic's body is no more resilient than a normal human's, it slowly builds up a resistance to these magical alterations over their formative years. This may be another reason that mystics start with so many open Draws and the open Channel, so that during their childhood their body can successfully adapt and catch up to their eventual potential. Because of these factors, a mystic's grey magic is not only instinctive, but in the long term less detrimental for a mystic's health than grey magic is on a normal human.
Mystics are not born with an opened white channel. This means that white magic comes no more naturally for a mystic to perform than it does for a normal human. However, mystics do have a third Morolian Draw from birth. Having this third Draw open proves to be a sizable advantage, as mystics over their developmental years evolve to a point where they are able to soak in vast amounts of white ether from the air around them. There is not much they can do with this ether without an effective white channel, but they are capable of using it to enhance their physical development and grant themselves extensive self-regeneration capabilities.
Mystics reach their physical peak at an extremely young age--regardless of exercise or eating habits--and maintain it with minimal effort throughout their life. They are stronger and faster than humans in equivalent physical condition, due to much more precisely tuned muscles and joints. The constant influx of fresh white ether means that any wounding done to a mystic is less serious than it would be for a normal human, and they virtually never suffer permanent disabilities or scarring as a result. Finally, this grants mystics an extended lifespan compared to normal humans, and they regularly live more than a full century.
Finally, shadow magic, like white magic, is no simpler for mystics. Mystics do not possess a shadow channel like certain demonspawn, and their black channel is as unable to process shadow ether as it is grey ether. In order to use shadow magic, a mystic would have to learn the full process of being able to matrix it into their umbra. Since they lack a grey channel, they cannot use the standard rune structure method of shadow magic. Still, even in this arena mystics possess a few advantages. Learning to use shadow matrixes is not as difficult for a mystic as a normal caster, since the shapes the ether should take come more naturally to their mind, nor is it as dangerous or risky as it is for a normal human due to their higher spiritual fortitude. Even so, most mystics ignore and neglect shadow magic, as it does not fall under their normal pattern of being able to cast magic naturally and without storing it beforehand.
Divine Magic is often thought of as the abilities of the gods or godly deities, such as Saints, Wisdoms or Godbeasts. This is a widely inaccurate definition. While it's true that the gods utilize Divine Casting almost exclusively, Saints most widely utilize both white and black magic at a high level, while the Wisdoms excel solely in Green Magic, and the Godbeasts in Red Magic. On the other hand, there are various non-divine creatures that use various forms of magic involving usage of either the Divine Draws or Divine Channel. So in many cases, a simple human can be (even unknowingly) utilizing Divine Magic throughout their life at a much higher level than even Melukah, Lord of the Wisdoms.
What is likely the most commonly encountered type of divine magic is Seerism. Seerism properties exert themselves in any creature having an active Divine Draw. Divine Draws function differently from the other types of Draws. Since, for practical purposes, there is no such thing as naturally occurring divine ether, the Divine Draws are designed to have the ability to convert any given type of ether to divine ether, and vice versa. Seers, with significant practice, are able to learn to use this ability to purify ether found on the currents, and then treat this purified form as raw data. This grants the ability to interpret past events with great clarity from great distances, as well as a limited ability to foresee future events based on likelihoods of the behavior of lifeforms that interact with the currents.
The combination of Seerism and Mysticism has an interesting twist to it. Since mystics constantly soak in ether and read nearby currents without effort, a mystic seer can predict immediate time-frame events with extremely high accuracy. A normal seer takes days or even weeks to arrive at a simple prediction, often by which time it's useless. A mystic seer does not have this limitation. When it comes to long-term predictions they encounter the same problems as normal seers, but their short-term precognitive abilities are remarkably accurate.
From a technical standpoint, it should be noted that the Divine Draw cannot actually draw ether directly from the currents. In order to make use of the Divine Draw, one or more of the standard Draws must be used in conjunction. It is also worth noting that the Divine Draw is capable of storing divine ether, albeit in a temporary fashion. This is in fact such a short-term storage that it's better to think of this as "handling" the ether, as it's an active process that must be concentrated on by the user.
This ability is necessary for Seerism, in particular because they need the ability to study the divine ether they purify, but have no natural place to store it. If placed into either the Chamber or the Umbra, divine ether will quickly dissipate into either white or black ether. If released into the natural atmosphere, chaos can ensue. The Divine Draw also allows divine ether to be handled safely. While being stored in a Divine Draw, divine ether will not act upon the will of nearby lifeforms, including the caster.
No possible way to open a Divine Draw is currently known. To date, humans have either been born with open Divine Draws, or never achieve one. Those with their Divine Draws closed do not seem to be able to open them. Interestingly, an open Divine Draw has no perceivable impact on a creature's innate abilities, and may never be detected. Amongst the Cainites, Seers are particularly common, but this is due in part to their rigorous rituals and training exercises which allow them to reveal Seerism more effectively than other cultures. The trait may exist equally throughout all races, and simply goes undetected a majority of the time. Because of this, the frequency of creatures developing open Divine Draws is currently unknown, but it is assumed to be quite high, possibly as much as one in ten.
Psionics are a phenomenon almost wholly unheard of on the continent of Itrius, but much more commonly encountered on Arkalen. Psionics are the schools of magic that becomes accessible with an open Divine Channel. In contrast to the Divine Draws, no natural creature is ever born with an open Divine Channel, but they can be opened through exposure to sources of Divine Magic. A common misconception is that Psionicism is caused by Gehennite ether. This is true in observation, but this is not exactly the cause and effect. The reality is that Gehennite ether has been greatly tampered with by Gilanirus, and in many cases red ether is still laced with almost imperceptible traces of divine ether. Prolonged exposure to these levels of divine ether will often cause the forced development of an open Divine Channel. It is unknown at this time if this is a deliberate manipulation of Gilanirus to allow his Gehennans to have psionic abilities. It is known, however, that nearly all Gehennans have the potential to use Psionics. Because of the location of the Gate to Gehenna--the most prominent breach in the Veil between Morolia and Gehenna--Arkalen has a larger background level of divine ether than other continents, and thus a higher prominence of Psionics. Another source that has occasionally caused the development of psionic abilities is the exposure to artifacts of divine origin.
Like Seerism, Psionics are an ability that must be heavily practiced, and can go wholly unnoticed for an individual's lifespan. Psionics are executed by channeling normal types of ether through the Divine Channel. Depending on the type of ether used, this can cause various effects.
Black psionics can be used to subtly influence the emotions or decisions of others. This has been explained with as lofty of a term as "mind control", but in practice the effect cannot achieve that level. Additionally, if the subject is aware of the influence being exerted upon them they can easily form a natural resistance. Black psionics is little more than a power of suggestion, and should be regarded as such. Still, when undetected, this power can be extremely potent. Black Psionics have another use, which is to exert influence directly on the Veil itself. While all creature do this to some degree, Black Psionics can actually supersede other influences on the Veil, allowing a user to actually bend or sometimes break the rules of reality itself.
White Psionics, in contrast, apply mainly to the wielder's own body. In practice, white psionics can be used for subtle boosts to natural abilities, such as quicker reflexes or boosts to speed, even such extreme effects as the ability to ignore wind resistance or friction with objects. White Psionics has also been used to change the properties of both white and grey magic, allowing spells that can normally only be cast on one's self to be extended to others, or even casting spells of those schools when the necessary ether for the casting simply does not exist. Similarly, white psionics has been used to allow one to overtax the Chamber, Corpus, or Umbra beyond its normal limits, seemingly without negative side effects.
Red Psionics generally generate what can be referred to as a "magical decay" effect. This effect can be used to tear apart or interfere with other schools of magic. It can be used for something simple like weakening a magical barrier, something intermediate such as disabling the enhanced durability enchantments on a magical weapon, or something as complex as altering the currents in a wide area so as to cause any spells cast in that area to have uncommon and unexpected effects. Or particular note, Red Psionics has been used as a counter-measure for Black Psionics, creating interference patterns against the effects of Black Psionics. This can be significant, since it can even block out the ability of a Black Psionic to communicate with the Veil directly, taking away one of their most powerful abilities.
Green Psionics can be used to convert any type of ether directly into any other type. This can be an extremely valuable technique once developed, but the user must bear in mind that the technique itself must be fed with green ether through an Elysian Draw (which is presently assumed impossible for inner planar creatures to open). Once properly utilized, however, the ether conversion capabilities of Green Psionics can be used to cleanse information and history from ether in an area, including erecting barriers or filters that prevents information from being imprinted onto the ether around it. In this manner, a user of Green Psionics can become effectively invisible to all other magical creatures, including Seers or Divine Minds. At this time, there is no other known way to permanently erase information from ether.
It is worth noting that the effects of any school of psionics are based purely on observational evidence, and the full abilities of psionics--both individuals schools and as a whole--remains largely unexplored. All schools may be capable of the same effects, with some coming more naturally to one school than another.
Divine Casting is what is most typically thought of when the term Divine Magic is used, and functions similar to other types of magic. The Divine Draw is used to gather or--optionally--form divine ether. The ether is then sent to the Divine Channel, which can shape the ether into any conceivable spell. While conceptually simple, in practice Divine Casting is outrageously expensive and complex. Even under ideal circumstances--a mystic born with an open Divine Draw, who manages to have their Divine Channel opened by exposure to Divine Ether--it is extremely unlikely that an individual will ever be capable of performing a single Divine Casting. For this reason, most artifacts with divine origins have special Divine Channels carved into them. These channels are not typical Divine Channels, but rather Divine Channels explicitly shaped to perform a single, specific Divine Casting with great ease.
Divine Casting is capable of any spell that any other school of casting or psionics is capable of. Since this includes the full subset of Black Psionics, and therefore all manipulations of reality through the Veil itself, it is not much of a stretch to imply that Divine Casting is truly capable of anything. However, it is rarely the most efficient path to achieve any specific result. Each of the naturally evolved forms of ether have developed their specific properties for a reason, and as such they can perform their given tasks far more efficiently than Divine Casting can perform any task. As such, Divine Casting is generally of little to no value for creatures who do not possess the Numen.
The gods use the Numen to generate Divine Ether, which they then pass to the Divine Draws for handling and purifying, and then on to the Divine Channel to perform the casting itself. The gods use Divine Casting almost exclusively, neglecting all other schools of magic. However, since the Divine Draws are also capable of reducing divine ether into any other type of ether, and gods do possess a full set of the other channels, they are capable of using any other school of magic. This does not come as instinctual for them, however, as simply relying on Divine Casting. Since the gods continuously generate divine ether from the Numen and pass it through the Divine Draws, they have a sort of innate Seerism that is always active, and far more precise than the abilities of other Seers. It is further worth noting that the gods are capable of all levels of psionics, as anything achievable through Psionics can also be achieved through pure Divine Casting.
This section has been included to demonstrate an example not of the theoretical nature of spells, but rather some common spells themselves and situations where they have been used. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but should help one completely unfamiliar with magic gain a passing understanding of magic from a practical standpoint.
Fireball - This spell creates a sphere of burning fire that quickly travels in a straight line from the caster. Upon hitting a solid object, the fireball will explode.
Fire Pillar - This spell generates a large column of intense fire.
Ring of Fire - This spell generates a ring of blazing fire around the caster, set at a desired distance away.
Flamewave - This spell generates a large wall composed of thousands of flaming orbs packed tightly together and carried forward on superheated air. Upon impact with a solid object the fire orbs will explode.
Fire Release - This spell creates a large ring of fire energy around the caster, which then rapidly expands away from him like a shockwave. Anything caught by this ring will be covered with a blaze of fire. This spell has a short range and limited number of targets it can affect before losing power.
Flame Bomb - This spell is the result of turning a matrixed fire spell into a special trap matrix, which can be tapped from a distance, or usable as landmines. Upon being tapped, the matrix will explode in a blast of searing flame. Not a spell per se, rather the application of a technique.
Tornado Flame - This spell generates a massive cyclone of intense fire that travels in a straight line, incinerating everything in its path, until it burns itself out.
Incineration - A supremely destructive fire spell, analogous to Stormbreak. It creates a brief, large scale, white-hot inferno.
Lightning Storm - This spell showers an area with dozens of lightning bolts in rapid succession.
Thunder Storm - An enhanced version of Lightning Storm. The spell showers an area with several successive waves of lightning bolts, all starting around the caster and sweeping away in every direction.
Thunder Runner - This spell generates a stream of successive lightning bolts that travel in a rapid straight line from the caster.
Stormbreak - One of the most destructive war magics, Stormbreak sends waves of lightning crashing onto a single target from all directions. The target is hammered with a relentless stream of super-high voltage lightning bolts.
Voltwave - This spell generates a large wall composed of electric energy, densely latticed together and carried forward on a wave of static energy.
Bolt Release - This spell creates a large ring of lightning energy around the caster, which then rapidly expands away from him like a shockwave. Anything caught by this ring will be fried by the high voltage electricity coursing through them. This spell has a short range and limited number of targets it can affect before losing power.
Volt Bomb - This spell is the result of turning a matrixed lightning spell into a special trap matrix, tappable from a distance, or useable as landmines. Upon being tapped, the matrix will explode in a blast of high voltage electricity. If multiple Volt Bombs are placed closely together, they will create a chain lightning effect, increasing the power of the electricity. Not a spell per se, rather the application of a technique.
Icestorm - This spell creates several dozen large, sharp ice shards that rapidly shoot from the caster. Upon hitting a solid object, the shards will explode in a blast of sub-zero wind.
Frostwave - This spell generates a large wall composed of thousands of tiny razor-sharp ice shards, packed so closely together as to be almost solid, and carried forward on an icy wind.
Ice Release - This spell creates a large ring of ice energy around the caster, which then rapidly expands away from him like a shockwave. Anything caught by this ring will be encased in a solid block of ice. This spell has a short range and limited number of targets it can affect before losing power.
Ice Bomb - This spell is the result of turning a matrixed ice spell into a special trap matrix, tappable from a distance, or useable as landmines. Upon being tapped, the matrix will explode in a blast of freezing cold wind, sending shards of ice flying in every direction. Not a spell per se, rather the application of a technique.
Shadowtouch - A deadly debilitative spell. The caster's hand is surrounded with black fire, and any creature touched by it will suffer severe and immediate brain atrophy, to the point of being unable to fight, and possibly even move.
Shadow Flare - A powerful shadow magic attack, similar to Flare. Shadow Flare gathers ether energy within a certain radius, transfers it to Morolia as volatile shadow energy, and implodes it on the target. As shadow magic, Shadow Flare can be attuned to ignore defensive barriers of almost any variety, and is widely considered to be an unblockable attack.
Flare - Possible the single most destructive black magic spell ever devised. The principle behind it is similar to a spell cap. A rune structure is carved on a solid object, and an obscene amount of ether is matrixed to it. This spell can concentrate ether from miles around, and only the sturdiest of rune structures will not be torn apart by the vacuum of this spell. When the matrix is tapped, the ether is rapidly channeled into Morolia, creating a sudden, massive explosion. The rune structure usually has a timer built in, delaying the tapping of the matrix until the caster can get far enough away.
Black Grip - The foundational attack magic used by liches. This spell creates a thick atmosphere around its target, preventing all movement or speech. The combined effect of hampering both movement and speech as thoroughly as this spell does has a combined effect of rendering all heraldry, either Etching or matrixes, unusable. This makes it extremely difficult to counter what is otherwise a fairly weak spell. Black Grip can be easily dispelled by an emission of radiant holy magic, or prevented by sufficiently tuned grey or shadow magic barriers. However, for those without these things readily at their disposal, this technique represents an instant and unavoidable death sentence.
Unhallowed - Perhaps the most devastating technique used by liches, this spell is similar in nature to Black Grip, however the field it creates is larger and far more potent. It is spread across both the Morolia and Asterian plane in parallel, attacking all semblances of Morolian life with dark fires. In spite of its ferocious nature and finality, Unhallowed is almost never witnessed in practice. This is because of a lich’s own nature, which requires them to gather the Morolian essence of other creatures to defend their own chamber (see Section IV.B.2.ii). This spell’s raw power cannot be easily defended against even by the casting lich itself, and it will strip them of any Morolian protections they have amassed. Even for young liches with no defenses, the damage caused to their own chamber by Unhallowed makes this a spell only used under extremely desperate circumstances.
Unholy Dark - This spell is a lich's most feared power. As the name implies, it is similar to the white magic Holy Light, powered by the darkness of the lich's Asterian soul. The lich surrounds both himself and his victim with concentrated dark energy, binding their souls together. Once the connection is complete, the lich tears the victim's soul from its body and absorbing its power as his own. Rather than destroying the victim's body, however, the lich transfers himself into it, then destroys his former body. The victim's Morolian soul is used to enhance the lich's white magic defenses, and the Asteria soul is used to amplify the lich's own. There is no known way to reverse, stop, or escape Unholy.
Air Hike - This spell converts the rune structure into a thin red mid-air platform, stable enough to not collapse even under heavy weight.
Aerial Transport - An enhanced version of Air Hike, this spell creates a stable platform that can carry objects or people through the air. The platform also secures its cargo so it cannot fall off due to wind.
Barrier - This spell creates an impenetrable defensive shield around the caster. The barrier will protect the caster from everything, including natural phenomena, such as extreme temperatures or storms.
Bind - This spell surrounds the target with several unbreakable energy rings that constrict as closely as possible to the target.
Blinding Light - A variation of Light, this spell creates an intensely bright light which latches onto the target's eyes and won't let go.
Dispel Magic - This spell tries to collapse a rune structure by disrupting ether flow and altering the component runes. While most high-level, complicated rune structures are constructed with a resistance to the common variations of Dispel Magic, and many are also set to counter a Dispel Magic targeted at the structure.
Diviner - Diviners are designed to detect any active magic in the surrounding area. Anything with an active connection to Asteria, such as rune structures, people using grey magic, and mystics, is highlighted with a pale greenish light.
Feeler - Feelers are designed to detect any living being within a certain area. They are usually tuned to detect only human life and demonspawn.
Freeze - A simple spell that turns water within a certain radius to solid ice. The ice is not magical, and will begin to melt again once the spell is finished. If given enough energy, this spell can even freeze living beings.
Hazing - A Hazing is designed to nullify the use of Feelers, Seekers, Scanners and Diviners by disrupting ether currents and response.
Hush - A simple spell that reduces the volume of noise within a particular area.
Light - An enhanced version of Shine, this creates a bright, stable light source. The brightness can be adjusted by the caster, as well as the positioning.
Phase Shift - Phase Shift was developed as a means to cross the Veil into Asteria. Currently, it is only safe to shift simple inanimate objects. Any further, and the spell will either fail, or destroy the object completely. It has never succeeded on a human, though few attempts have been made, due to the inherent danger.
Disruption - This spell was originally a failed prototype of Flare. Like Flare, Disruption swiftly gathers Asterian ether into a single point, however, rather than releasing it in Morolia, it is just as swiftly expelled back in Asteria. This has a similar function to Flare's disrupting nearby spells and rune structures, but has no known other effect, except briefly muddling the ether currents.
Scanner - Scanners are designed to create a map of ether currents within an area, and return the image to the caster. They can be set to continually monitor a specific area, and return updated images.
Seeker - Seekers are designed to detect the location of a particular person or object within the spell's radius.
Sharpen - Sharpen gives a supernatural keen to any bladed weapon, sharpening it to the material's maximum capacity.
Shine - An elementary rune structure that creates a stable light source. This brightness can be adjusted by the caster.
Signal - A Signal will alert the target to the action or presence of the caster.
Sleep - This spell places the target into deep sleep. The body functions as if the sleep were natural. The caster can let the target wake naturally, or keep the target in this sleeping for a certain amount of time.
Vacuum - Instantly halts all magical activity in the area, then siphons it into a tiny rune, where the ether is returned harmlessly to Asteria. Some stable rune structures are resistant to this effect.
Clairaudience - This grey magic spell alters the caster's hearing. The caster can screen out unwanted noise while sharpening his hearing enough to hear things at long distances.
Eagle Eye - This grey magic sharpens the caster's eyesight, allowing him to see greater distance and greater detail.
Ether Sight - This grey spell allows a simplified view of Asterian ether currents.
Spirit of Lion/Bear/Dragon/Behemoth - A comprehensive grey magic spell. Since a person's body can only withstand a certain amount of grey magic at a time, the Spirit spells seek to enhance many parameters at once, rather than individually. The effectiveness is generally less than the individual spells. The number of parameters enhance rises relative to spell level, each building upon the last. Lion increases strength and agility; Bear adds endurance; Dragon adds physical defense; and Behemoth adds an ether Barrier.
Stone Skin - A high-level grey magic spell, this increases the durability of the caster's skin to that of granite.
Titan Strength - A high-level grey magic spell that increases the caster's brute strength ten-fold.
Aura Blast - A mid-level white magic attack spell, Aura Blast creates a wide beam of light that drains the target's life energy. The width, power, and speed are based on the spiritual strength of the caster, but can be altered.
Aura Barrier - This spell creates a shield of white ether around the caster, reducing or nullifying damage from various magics. It is important to note that an Aura is fairly weak and cannot be used as an adequate replacement for grey magic barriers. Instead, the primary purpose of the spell is to render the wielder almost entirely immune to most of Felthespar's white magic techniques which have been keyed to ignore it, the most powerful of these being the Aura Blast.
Holy Aura - Holy Aura is a weapon enhancement spell. The target weapon is surrounded by a field of white ether, increasing the potential for damage
Light Wave - This spell emits a brief pulse of concentrated white ether from the caster in all directions. Light Wave can be used to protect against attacks, as well as damage nearby targets. This is a fairly ether intensive spell, but has the advantage of being an instant effect.
Holy Wave - The highest level of holy attack magic. This spell gathers all of the caster's spiritual energy, and concentrates to a single point. When released, natural white ether in the vicinity is drawn to the energy, augmenting its strength and carrying it to the target. The shape and form of this spell is fairly non-defined, so the caster is free to shape it however he pleases. Due to the intense concentration of spiritual energy, no white magic barrier can effectively resist Holy Wave. While many attack spells can make a more efficient use of spiritual energy, none have the sheer power that Holy Wave does.
Holy Light - The most powerful white magic spell, Holy Light takes both the offensive and defensive properties of white magic to their extremes. Using all of his spiritual energy, the caster generates a large white magic field around himself. When the field has expanded either to its limit, or as far as the caster desires, the caster links his spirit to a creature in the field. The field then collapses around the two, paralyzing both temporarily. Finally, all of the target's spiritual power is torn from their body and transferred to the caster. Part of the spiritual energy is then used to attack the target, who is powerless to resist the attack. The remaining spiritual energy is used to heal and revitalize the caster, and any left over is contained inside the caster until needed. A highly skilled white mage can connect his spirit to multiple creatures within the field. Holy Light is very dangerous to use on powerful white mages, as they can possibly reverse the link, and drain the caster's energy instead. As a matter of Church policy Holy Light is not intended for military uses, and as such is barred from both Templars and Field Medics. Only dedicated priests are allowed to practice Holy Light, solely as a defensive art for those who have no other means of defense.
Holy - The legendary ultimate white magic spell, said to exceed even Holy Light in its power. This spell gathers all the white ether in the vicinity, taking the vital force of every thing--humans, animals, even plants and trees--then concentrating it, amplifying it, and drawing it into the caster, where it shows itself as a bright green aura. Everything that had its vital force borrowed is placed in a state of temporal stasis momentarily. The absorbed energy is then magnified by the caster's own spirit, increasing its power and potency exponentially. All of this energy is then released in a massive tornado of shining opalescent wind. Everything that cannot protect itself from white magic, such as nightspawn, demonspawn, and most dragons, and humans with a weak Morolian connection, is mercilessly destroyed by the hurricane of power. Once Holy has ceased raging, the borrowed ether energy is restored to its rightful owners. The caster is healed from any and all injuries, but the requirements of this spell are so great that the caster is left almost completely drained of energy.
Phoenix Flame - The Phoenix Dragoon's signature supermove. The Dragoons first organize themselves into a phalanx ten men deep. Then, starting from the back row and moving to the front, every one fires their most powerful Aura Blast. The Dragoons use Auras to resist each other's Aura Blast, the Blasts from the back pass harmlessly through the front ranks. As the Blasts move forward, the are combined with the next wave of Blasts, increasing the power drastically. By the time the wave of energy passes the first row, so much energy has been combined that it turns a brilliant orange. The power of the Phoenix Flame is immense, and most living beings caught in its path are quickly killed and disintegrated.
Scan - A minor healing spell. Scan checks a living being for physical damage, whether it can be cured or not.
Heal Scratches - A basic heal spell, this spells slightly speeds up natural healing processes, such as blood clotting.
Heal Minor Wounds - This spell accelerates the body's natural healing processes, clotting blood, staunching blood flow, closing wounds, and restoring a small bit of vitality.
Heal Major Wounds - This spell vastly accelerates the healing process, rebuilding muscles and tissue, healing skin, and mending broken bones. In addition, this spell restores a large amount of vitality, and continues to heal, though increasingly slower, until all injuries have been repaired.
Stabilize - This white magic spell is used to stabilize a weak or erratic life force in the target, both to keep the target alive and to aid in healings.
Regen - A more powerful version of Stabilize, this white magic spell provides a constant flow of white ether that continually repairs and restores damage, as well as revitalizing the target. It is the Healing spell most commonly utilized by soldiers on the battlefield in order to enable greater endurance, or to offset the fatigues brought on grey magic blessings.
Bless - An even greater version of Stabilize and Regen, Bless is extremely potent healing. It essentially provides the target with a continuously renewed Heal Major Wounds, resulting in seeming invulnerability. Only the highest levels priests or paladins may be capable of performing Bless, and typically at least three casters are required to work in conjunction. Even then the spell can take hours to gather, and is rarely of practical use. Instead Bless is often used to create lesser healing artifacts or, more commonly, Holy Water. These can be touched later to receive a portion of the healing and vitality in an instant. This is particularly useful for priests as a sort of spiritual recharge, and the Church grounds are scattered with a variety of Blessed artifacts and Holy Water basins which are renewed nightly by the veteran priests.
Great Healing - A high level white magic spell, even beyond Bless. Great Healing repairs all manner of wounds, even severe ones, in a matter of seconds, leaving no scars or other indications of injury. The target is also fully revitalized. Great Healing requires more concentrated white ether than even the most experienced priests are capable of generating, and can only be cast with the assistance of powerful healing artifacts. This spell is so taxing that even the most powerful of artifacts will be exhausted after just a few charges, and require years of dormancy to recharge. Because of this, the Church does not use Great Healings as part of its normal operations, but instead allows wealthy citizens to reserve their usage in advanced on a month-to-month payment schedule.
Miracle - The ultimate combination of all white magic restorative affects. Miracle is essentially a modified casting of Great Healing, with one additional component: Miracle is capable of locating a soul which has become lost on the Veil and returning it to the source vessel. This means that, so long as it is cast within a close enough time frame, Miracle can actually reverse death itself. It is the only spell known to be capable of such a thing. Miracle requires even more spiritual energy than Great Healing, and the only artifact known capable of fueling it is the Staff of Ainshen.
Hallowing - Actually a combination of spells, the Hallowing uses white magic to aid the rune structure. The rune structure prohibits ether flow from Asteria, while the white magic works to debilitate anything regarded as an enemy. The spell was designed during the Arocaen to weaken Cainite forces, but is used in modern times as protection from demonspawn.
Haste - Haste is a powerful and unique spell, created by Cildar Emle.
While classified as grey magic, Haste actually combines effects from all colors of magic. It is a series of spells cast in a certain combination, but due to the unique effect it creates, the entire process is classified as one spell. The process is three-fold. First, the caster activates all of his grey magic to its fullest potency, uniting both sides of the duality. Spirit of Behemoth may used for this, but it must be cast at a level far beyond what is considered safe. Next the caster gathers white ether in the area and forms several Aura fields in succession, gathering each one into himself before starting the next, overlayed onto a base casting of Regen. This ties his spirit to his body which, with the grey magic effects, turns the caster into a completely united whole. Finally the caster executes a partial phase shift on himself, most typically via a pre-prepared Phase Shift matrix. The unified body is able to withstand the partial transference without being torn apart. The resulting condition is called Hasted.
Haste confers a number of benefits not possible using normal grey magic. Since the caster is no longer a completely corporeal being, he is significantly less affected by forces such as friction, air resistance, and gravity, and feels almost no pain. The increased connection to Asteria fuels the caster's grey magic, increasing its potency tenfold. The multiple compressed Aura fields provide a strong and steady stream of white ether, which may be used immediately for healing, regeneration, and revitalization in the event that Regen cannot keep up. The caster's speed is drastically increased, and witnesses to this spell say the caster seemed to teleport around, rather than moving.
The main downfall of Haste is that it is such an intensive, focused spell, with such high demands on the body, that it can only be maintained for a short period of time, before the danger of one of the enchantments failing becomes too great. When the spell lapses, the caster is usually in a drastically weakened state.
Obviously, the requirements for this spell are such that only a master of both white and grey magic can attempt to cast it.
While it's not within the scope of this document to discuss every single subspecies in existence, or even within Morolia, there are a large variety of subspecies that can be grouped together to discuss common elements of their natures. This section will attempt to highlight the most prominent of those.
After lengthy study, it has been determined that the Mortality state of any lifeform is how the Veil itself distinguishes its creations. While other classification systems rely on the unscientific understanding of power, threat, or abilities, Mortality alone is a hard science whose rules can always be observed as in place, though sometimes in deceptive manners. All creatures can be broken down into one of three distinct classifications: Mortal, Undying, and Immortal.
Mortal creatures are typically the most abundant, perhaps to compensate for their general frailty. Mortals can be killed by one of many sources, including fatal wounds, starvation, disease, organ failure, exposure to harsh temperatures, and other natural causes. Mortals typically have a much lower threshold for fatal wounds than other creatures, sometimes with damage to only one of several vital organs resulting in inevitable death. There is often very little redundancy in mortal anatomy, and they often having the most complex and readily-classified physical subsystems. The defining trait of mortals, however, is that if left untouched by any other external force they will still ultimately age and die.
It can be often difficult to distinguish the Undying from the other two groups. In fact, most Undying were originally classified as the weakest class of Immortals, while others were considered to be hardy Mortals. It is only recently that it became clear that this is a distinct group, with its own characteristics. Like the Immortals, the Undying are immune to all forms of disease. With perhaps a few exceptions, they are likewise immune to death via starvation. Although most varieties of Undying do experience hungers of some variety, satisfying these hungers is entirely optional for their continued survival.
Like Mortals, the Undying typically have classifiable anatomy; but unlike Mortals, their systems are usually highly redundant, with backup systems taking over and failed or damaged systems capable of recovering or being entirely rebuilt after damage. Because of this it can be easy to confuse the Undying with Immortals, but regardless of outward appearances, the Undying can always be killed with sufficient damage to their physical forms. The major difference between the Undying and Mortals, however, is that if left alone and not brought under any great duress, the Undying will continue to exist indefinitely. They do not experience aging past a certain maturity point, which is distinct between each species.
Like the Undying, Immortals do not experience age, disease, or physical decay, and cannot die as a result of hunger or deprivation (though, like the Undying, some may still experience the sensation of hunger). Immortal creatures are dramatically different from the other categories of life, in that they are not tied in any significant fashion to their physical form. Each known type of Immortal seems to exist with their home plane encoded into their makeup. When their physical body is destroyed or damaged beyond repair their spirit simply returns to its home plane and begins a rebuilding processing, using the powers of that plane to craft a new body. For each Immortal this can be a very different process, taking only days or perhaps years to return to the plane, and then days or perhaps years to craft the new body. It's also variable as to whether or not an Immortal will build a consistent, identical body upon each resurrection, or craft an entirely new appearance each cycle. Since their bodies are not usually significant to the overall survival of an Immortal, they rarely have scientifically distinct or appropriate anatomy, and may often exist in physical forms that defy all scientific convention upon analysis.
This section contains a breakdown of various classification of mortality for the most recognizable subspecies from each of the Planar regions of life. Morolian life is the basis against which the other planes are formed. The outer planes are reflections of the Morolian/Asterian sphere, and thus their lifeforms follow the basic pattern established by the human/dragon/god tier of creatures. Indeed, these three specific examples are believed to be the deliberate basis of the levels of Mortality as defined by Elzaniru.
- Mortal: Humans, animals, plants, other lesser creatures
- Undying: Dragons, Nightspawn, Saints, Draconics
- Immortal: Gods
There are a few interesting notes for the joint Morolian/Asterian plane. The gods are actually Morolian creatures, although they currently inhabit Asteria. Their physical forms were destroyed by Elzaniru and then their consciousness was locked in Asteria. This prevents them from returning to their home plane, which prevents true resurrection from being a possibility.
Dragons are often considered to be Immortal, but this is merely due to circumstantial evidences. Dragons can be killed, however not by normal means as they are observed on Morolia itself. Dragons are Asterian creatures, and as such it is their physical Asterian bodies that must be destroyed. When a dragon is manifest on Morolia, it is not their true body that is present, and thus if it is destroyed the dragon can simply return across the Veil and resume their Asterian form. This is not to be confused with the resurrection process of Immortals. Dragons do not restore their bodies by resurrection, but rather by the fact that they were not truly killed. In addition, even once their physical form is truly killed a dragon can be resurrected by the Council of Platinum Dragons. Once again this is not true resurrection, but rather a gift given specifically to the Platinum Dragons by Elzaniru himself.
Liches, similarly, are not true Immortals. They can be killed if their physical form is destroyed, however the physical form of a lich is not what most people recognize. The form of a lich as seen on the Morolian plane is simply a shell they build around their true bodies, which are similar to deeply cloaked Shadow Wights. Though this form almost never appears in a way as to make a lich vulnerable, it is still there, and destroying it will result in the true death of the lich. Since they are incapable of resurrection from this, this places them firmly in the Undying category.
Saints undergo a process similar to dragons. Their physical Morolian bodies are mortal, and will fade quickly. Upon death a Saint can truly die, however almost always their patron deity will gather their spirit at the moment of death and restore them on the Asterian plane, interfering with the natural process of death. The bodies crafted for Saints on Asteria are Undying, and while they will last forever they can be killed in combat on the Asterian plane.
Draconics are unique from dragons only in the sense that, due to the spiritual atrophies they have suffered, they cannot return across the Veil to Asteria at the moment of death. This makes it possible for a draconic to be killed in Morolia. However, this is the same result as a dragon that is killed in Asteria, and will still be resurrected by a Platinum Dragon. It is unknown at this time if natural-born draconics can be resurrected as true dragons by the Platinums.
- Mortal: Devilspawn, Lemures, Terrnig
- Undying: Hellspawn
- Immortal: Godbeasts
The Gehennite plane is perhaps the plane most distinctly classified based solely on mortality levels of its inhabitants. Lemures and terrnig are reflections of Morolia's lesser creatures, and devilspawn the reflection of humans. Each of these creatures, like the counterparts they reflect, are mortal. Hellspawn, as the reflections of the dragons, are undying creatures of great power. Devilspawn and hellspawn are distinguished solely based on whether or not they are mortal or undying. While some varieties of devilspawn may be more powerful than some varieties of hellspawn, it is still their natural mortality that determines their rank in Gehennite society.
There is only one true Godbeast, Gilanirus, who is a true immortal. However, he has bestowed gifts of immortality upon the other Godbeasts he has created. The extent of these gifts is unknown. It is believed by some that their existence is merely supported by Gilanirus' own, and if the Godbeast himself were killed his Immortal creations would die as well. This is a moot point, however, since an Immortal cannot be killed.
- Mortal: Muses
- Undying: Angelspawn, Faelings
- Immortal: Wisdoms
Standard mortality appears to be reversed in Elysium. The Muses, reflections of the dragons, are merely Mortal, while the common fauna, the faelings, enjoy the gifts of the Undying, as do the human analog angelspawn. Only the Wisdoms are consistent, remaining true Immortals as the gods. The Muses revel in a sort of simulated immortality, however, as they use their collective power to create a vast battery to which they tie their consciousness. Whenever a Muse dies their spirit is pulled back into this battery, and they can be resurrected by the others. In a similar manner the Muses use this power to control the resurrections of the Wisdoms themselves. When a Wisdom's body is destroyed they are drawn into the power of the Muses, and their consciousness is shaped according to the Muses' will. This circumvents the natural resurrection process of the Wisdoms, and has allowed the Muses to retain full dominance over the Elysian plane, in spite of being the plane's only Mortal creatures.
Although Mortality is the only true classification system which is enforced by the rules of the Veil itself, there are a few archaic models which are valuable in other ways. Those will be touched upon here.
Not to be confused with other uses of the term, this specifically refers to the usage of the Muses' definition of Class to discern between threats to Elysians, primarily the Wisdoms or their seraph. At the time the system was developed, the Muses were only concerned with the denizens of Gehenna, due to their ongoing wars with Gilanirus and his Godbeasts. As such, each ranking of the Class system is based around Gehennan lifeforms. The Wisdoms have since retrofitted it to apply to forces they have encountered on Asteria and Morolia.
The original Class system has twelve levels, with 1 representing the highest threat. Because of the variety of powers that individuals can hold within a given species, it is difficult to map this out into easily comprehensible terms. The Wisdoms have their own methods of scanning and classifying creatures they encounter, and do so continuously.
This is further complicated by the fact that the Wisdoms do not only use the Class system for individual creatures, but also for a species en masse, as this is a more accurate way to measure threat. By the strictest definitions, any individual creature is only Class 3 if the Wisdoms have declared them as such. However, their race might be considered Class 3 because in sufficient numbers they can represent a Class 3 threat. When making these calculations the Wisdoms will factor in the likely groupings of that creature.
To easily grasp this concept, it is best to use an example of bears and wolves. An individual bear is more dangerous than an individual wolf. However, while the likelihood of encountering an individual bear is extremely high, the likelihood of encountering an individual wolf is extremely low, and a hunting pack is much more likely. As such, bears might be considered a Class 12 threat, and wolves a Class 11 threat, even though to a casual observer a bear is certainly stronger than a wolf.
So while an attempt will be made to mark each class with meaningful examples, it is important to remember the fluidity of the system. Unfortunately, this same fluidity is what makes it nonviable to those outside of Elysium as more than a curiosity.
Class 1 - Originally reserved for Gilanirus himself. It has since been expanded to include any creatures a Wisdom cannot likely best in individual combat. This would include any of the Gods in their incarnate form, elite Greater Dragons, and most Lich Lords. Melukah himself would likely fall into this category, but since the class system is reserved entirely for extraplanar threats to Elysians, it is not applied as such. There is solid reasoning for this, as the strength of the Wisdoms varies greatly from plane to plane. For instance, Kiastos would likely also hold Class 1 status, but only when on the Asterian plane.
Class 2 - Originally the class reserved for the Godbeasts, this class is now reserved for creatures that are near the overall Wisdom range of power. A Wisdom should reliably be a match for a creature from this class, but should exercise caution and may sustain substantial damage in doing so. This includes any Greater Dragons or Lich Lords not powerful enough to rank as Class 1. Only one other individual creature is known to have gained permanent classification as a Class 2, and that is the hellspawn Overlord Abaddon. The original human species was classified here during the time of the Dragon Wars, as their experience at killing Greater Dragons made their armies a viable threat to even the Wisdoms. This classification's validity was confirmed when humans successfully managed to inflict pain on Elzaniru, an attack that would have certainly killed any other creature on the Morolian plane.
Classes 3-5 - Broadly encompassing the range of hellspawn. Higher classes in this range would typically be observed among hellspawn Archdevils and Dukes. Saints are regarded as Class 3, as was the Morolian Leviathan. Draconics are ranked Class 3 due to their pack nature. Mystics are so rare as to be currently unclassified by the Wisdoms, but would likely rank Class 3 or 4. The most powerful among Morolian demonspawn would fall into these Classes, with behemoths at a Class 4. Anything below Class 5 is generally considered to be of negligible threat to Wisdoms, likely incapable of dealing meaningful harm even under the worst of circumstances.
Classes 6-8 - Broadly encompassing the range of devilspawn. It's worth reminding here that devilspawn and hellspawn are technically distinguished by their Mortality state, so some devilspawn may fall into the hellspawn ranges of power, while the lowliest of hellspawn may fall into this range. Any Morolian demonspawn species capable of shadow magic will likely fall into these ranks, as it is more dangerous to Wisdoms than other forms of magic. Humans are currently considered a Class 8 threat.
Classes 9-10 - These rankings are widely assigned to the various subspecies of lemures found through Gehenna. The majority of Morolian demonspawn fall within this range.
Classes 11-12 - Mainly reserved for environmental threats in Gehenna, such as the lemures and terrnig. Most standard Morolian wildlife would fall under this classification (such as bears and wolves).
As has been discussed previously, devilspawn and hellspawn are distinguished by their Mortality state. Perhaps because of a high association of psionic abilities among Gehennans, they seem to be intuitively aware of this. Though it's often difficult for an outsider to proper classify a devilspawn or hellspawn, Gehennans never get this wrong. However, a classification system such as this is of limited value to a culture as warlike as the Gehennans.
To compensate, the Gehennan Archdevils created their own classification system known as The Six Tiers. When combined with the Mortality distinction and Sub-Archetype, this gives an instant snapshot of the overall threat a creature represents. A common full Gehennan classification would be a Fourth Tier Blaster Devilspawn, or a Sixth Tier Geomancer Hellspawn. This instantly tells you what the creature's powers are, how proficient with them the creature is, and how difficult they are to kill (as Undying creatures are much hardier than Mortals).
Since the tiers refer specifically to a Gehennan's mastery of their Sub-Archetype, it has no application to creatures outside of Gehenna.
Tier 1 - A creature labeled as a Tier 1 has not yet awakened their powers in any meaningful sense. Often they can be studied and their potential abilities guessed at, but in most cases a Tier 1's Sub-Archetype will simply be left out, and they will be labeled a Tier 1 Devilspawn or Hellspawn, as is appropriate. If a Tier 1 is anything other than a child, they are held in high disdain. While there are very few codes of conduct in Gehennan society, it is generally considered dishonorable to attack a Tier 1 creature. Most Gehennans will outright ignore them, refusing to even respond to a direct physical assault.
Tier 2 - This tier represents a working manifestation of a Gehennan's Sub-Archetype. This would be considered a learning stage for most Gehennans, when their understanding of their own powers is still so raw as to render them of questionable use in combat. Still, in general Tier 2 is considered the entry point into Gehennan society, and Tier 2 creatures are considered worthy for challenges from any comer. In rare cases, a Gehennan whose powers are still dormant may attain sufficient physical combat prowess to achieve the honor of being called Tier 2, with their Sub-Archetype still unlisted to signify this.
Tier 3 - Once a Gehennan has attained Tier 3 status, they are considered to be fit and dangerous in combat. This can be thought of as the standard tier for fully-matured devilspawn. The bulk of any assembled armies will be Tier 3, as they are numerous but still considered formidable. Since hellspawn are generally more physically dominant than devilspawn, all but the youngest or weakest of hellspawn will automatically be considered Tier 3, regardless of their mastery of their Sub-Archetype.
Tier 4 - This tier represents a working mastery of a Gehennan's Sub-Archetype. Any Gehennan in Tier 4 will have a full understanding of their Sub-Archetype and what its applications are, even if they are not yet capable of using it at its highest levels in practice. In Tier 4 there is very little distinguishing devilspawn and hellspawn, since the tier specifically revolves around the Sub-Archetype and not combat capabilities, like previous tiers. This tier can generally be thought of as the "full potential" tier. Most Barons will typically be appointed from Tier 4 members of society.
Tier 5 - There are multiple ways a Gehennan might attain Tier 5 status, all of which are rare. A Gehennan who shows a surpassing mastery of their talents might be assigned as Tier 5 because of their cleverness. For instance, a Leech who has developed the ability to copy enemy powers by merely witnessing them, rather than through direct contact, or who has perhaps increased the duration of how long he retains copied powers to unnatural levels. Hellspawn with particularly dangerous Sub-Archetypes will likely be ranked Tier 5 as well once they attain an equivalent to Tier 4 mastery, to signify their increased threat. This is common among expert Geomancers, for instance. Finally, a Gehennan may be ranked Tier 5 due to a combination of their Sub-Archetype mastery, and exceptional physical prowess. If a young Gehennan had previously attained Tier 2 status with dormant powers, then it is likely that by the time they have awoken and mastered their Sub-Archetype they will be Tier 5. This tier represents Gehenna's elites, and most Dukes will be appointed from it.
Tier 6 - The top of the Six Tiers, this represents the pinnacle of Gehennan evolution. In general to attain Tier 6 status, one must combine all of the attributes that would be needed to reach Tier 5: physical dominance, a powerful Sub-Archetype, and a transcendent mastery of said Sub-Archetype. It is extraordinarily difficult for devilspawn to reach Tier 6, as their status as Mortals causes them to be generally more vulnerable in combat as compared to hellspawn, with more difficult recoveries. Furthermore, even among the most ideal of circumstances, attaining Tier 6 status generally takes centuries of mastering one's Sub-Archetype abilities. If there is an opening among the Archdevils due to assassination, it will always be filled by a Tier 6 creature. Even if an Archdevil territory is conquered by a lesser-tier creature, they will not be recognized as an Archdevil by the others, and it is only a matter of time before the territory will be retaken.
Tier 7 - Perhaps surprisingly, there is a seventh tier to the Six Tiers. This is perhaps because of an adherence to tradition, or perhaps a deliberate attempt by the Archdevils at being dramatic. In either event, Tier 7 is a relatively recent development in Gehenna. Developed by the Archdevil Raum, a Tier 6 Hellspawn must be injected with cells from a deceased Amsedon in a process that is known as the Seventh Ascension. If the hellspawn survives the process, the divine cells grant them a direct psionic connection to Gilanirus himself, and increases their powers to near-Godbeast levels. Nearly all Archdevils are Tier 7 in modern Gehennite society, and are capable of direct communion with Gilanirus when he is present on the plane. Only one hellspawn has ever been known to attain Tier 7 status naturally, and that is the Overlord Abaddon, who used a proficient combination of his Barrier Sub-Archetype to obtain virtual immortality, and combined it with an unsurpassed physical combat domination which allowed him to slay a standing Amsedon.
This section will attempt to highlight a few of the major classifications of life. Only species that appear regularly in Morolia are understood with enough detail to merit listings here, so this section will focus on creatures that a native Morolian might be expected to encounter in the course of their normal ventures.
Dragons are a race of creature native to Asteria. Like humans, dragons possess a dual existence on both planes, with their dominant side being their Asterian self. Their corpus is in Asteria, and their umbra in Morolia. In most cases, a dragon's Morolian umbra is unnoticeable by humans. Dragons possess the unique ability to cross the Veil by switching their dominant side. The dragon's Morolian presence becomes a physical corpus, and their Asterian presence becomes the umbra. Like a mystic, a dragon in Morolia has an awakened Asterian umbra. Due to their strong attachment to Asteria, however, killing their Morolian corpus will simply send them back across the Veil.
As the first race of Elzaniru, dragons have the ability to cross the Veil at will, and are among the most powerful and capable creatures alive. As such, they could be found in any part of Morolia, and may act as communities or individuals. However, by far the greatest abundance of dragons is found in Elzanirusal, the lands of northern Itrius that are mostly vacant of human society. It is believed that dragons are drawn to this region because the mighty Elzaniru himself sleeps here, atop Elzanirusal's Black Peak, the tallest spire in the known world. It is unknown if this draw for dragons is a subconscious one, or if they actively choose to be closer to their king.
Dragons are classified into two subcategories, based on their size. Their names are chosen based purely on the appearance of their scales, and if observed at a distance they will appear to be the color that their name implies. At closer inspection, however, all dragons possess scales that are a mix of thick chromatic coloring with a metallic sheen overlaid on top. Because of this, when viewed up close dragons will appear very different than expected (e.g. silver dragons have a mix of light blue and green hues, platinum dragon scales are backed by a deep purple, red and gold dragons are nearly the same color and golds merely have a thicker metallic sheen).
The smaller species of dragons consistently take the shape of winged lizards, ranging from six to ten feet in height at the shoulder, with a wingspan of twelve to twenty feet. From shoulder height their neck length varies, anywhere from two to another full ten feet. This combination of neck length and wingspan is the easiest way to distinguish between multiple Lesser Dragons of the same color. Tail size is more consistent, between fifteen and twenty feet, but always within proportion to the dragon's body. A dragon's tail is extraordinarily strong and, among all of the species, represents one of their most powerful weapons for combat.
Blue Dragons - Referred to by many as the "standard" dragon, because the intelligence range for blue dragons closely mirrors that of the average human. They have large, sturdy bodies, and are built for speed and swift movement. Blue dragons can effectively leverage their wings to assist them in combat, using them for sudden bursts of speed or changes in direction. However, because of their large frames, they are rarely able to fly more than a mile without resting. The breath attack of a blue dragon is a powerful blast of wind, capable of knocking even other dragons back several yards. While the weakest of all dragon breath attacks, blues have the ability to sustain their breath for the longest duration of any of the breeds. They have been known to use this technique to suffocate more powerful opponents. Of the Lesser Dragons, blues are also the breed most likely to dabble in magic, and sometimes can supplement their relatively lackluster ability sets with potent casting.
Red Dragons - While only fractionally larger than blue dragons, reds possess nearly double the physical strength and durability of their azure cousins. This added sturdiness comes at a cost, rendering a red dragon's wings even less functional than a blue's. In most cases, red dragons are completely incapable of sustained flight, and cannot engage their wings swiftly enough for combat suitability. The slimmest red dragons have been known to sustain flight for a few hundred yards, but this seems to be their limit. Reds are, in general, much less intelligent than blues, and are the least intelligent of all dragon species. Most red dragons are actually incapable of intelligent communication, and are considered little more than extremely powerful, dangerous animals. Still, though dumber on the average, on the individual level red dragons seem to possess the same potential intellect range as blues. Many have been observed to be multilingual, and a few have been known to practice magic at the same level as blues. Reds have by far the most powerful breath attack of the Lesser Dragons, a frightful mixture of lava and magically-enhanced flames that has tremendous range, area, and destructive potential. The breath from red dragons has been observed to eat through thick enchanted steel walls in a matter of seconds. Red dragons also emit a fiery toxin from their claws and fangs, and without swift treatment, even a minor scratch will kill most Morolian creatures.
Green Dragons - The smallest breed of dragons, greens possess a devious intellect, and are far more intelligent than the other Lesser Dragons. They are capable of practicing magic at a high level, but due to their own natural defenses generally do not bother. For a long time greens were considered to be less intelligent than even reds, as they had never been observed communicating. It was eventually discovered that this is a mark of arrogance, and green dragons do not deign to communicate with what they consider to be inferior species. Green dragons lack physical strength, but compensate for this in a number of ways. First, they are excellent fliers, capable of avian-like migration. They are the most aggressive of the dragon species, and will attack anything except for other dragons on sight without provocation. They are mostly found in deep caves in the mountains of northern Itrius, and tend to build nests comprising of three or more greens. They are highly territorial of these nests, and will react violently to anyone entering their domain. Green dragons are highly venomous, in virtually every way possible. Their blood is a toxin that has been observed to kill any creature that ingests even the smallest amount of it, including other dragons. Their fangs and claws are acid-tipped, the secretion of which seems to be controlled at will. Only specifically targeted enchantments have been shown to resist this acid, and greens seems to use it primarily as a method of circumventing enchanted armors or enemies with magical defenses. They can also vaporize the acid released by their fangs to release small bursts of acidic clouds as breath. This should not be confused with their actual breath attack, however, which is a vast miasma of toxic gas. Green dragons continuously release small clouds of this toxic vapor from various vents on their bodies, and even standing near one for a minute is sufficient to render a man deathly ill and unlikely to recover. However when released as part of their breath attack, the concentration and volume are both staggering. A single green dragon can fill an entire underground cavern network with their toxic breath in a matter of minutes, and these clouds should be regarded as every bit as dangerous as the breath of a red dragon. Even minor exposure to the dermis can ultimately be fatal. Finally, due to how venomous green dragons are, they are also immune to every known form of poisons, toxins, and acids.
Although often referred to as the "metallics", this term is no longer considered accurate by scholars, as shadow dragons were formerly misclassified as a Lesser Dragon, but have since been added to this category. Greater Dragons are far larger than the Lessers, with the smallest recorded still measuring in at over fifty feet in length. Greater Dragons are far less likely to migrate to Morolia than the Lesser species, and when they do are found almost exclusively in Elzanirusal.
Whereas the Lesser Dragons are all fairly similar, each of the species of Greater Dragons are wholly distinct from one another, and should not be thought of as a "family" of creatures in the way the Lessers might be. One of the few features that the Greater Dragons share is an affinity for advanced magic. All greater dragons should be regarded as master mages, capable of spells far, far beyond the limits of even the most prolific human sorcerers. There are many secret techniques and even entire schools of magic known only to the Greater Dragons, many of which are capable of effects that would be regarded as impossible by the Arcanum based on their current understandings of magic.
Gold Dragons - By far the most commonly observed species of Greater Dragons, the majestic gold dragon has a unique structure among dragons. Their abdomens are much thicker and rounder than the other species, and their legs are much shorter. Their necks and tails are of about equal length, and protrude as slim appendages from their massive torsos. Golds are so large and heavy as to be incapable of standing upright on their hind legs, and so if drawn into combat fight almost exclusively with their fangs and tails. The scales of the gold dragon represent the most powerful naturally occurring armor known. In addition to being virtually impenetrable, the scales dispel heat and energy upon contact, making golds completely impervious to these forms of attacks. Gold dragons possess a ridge of giant metallic spines that runs along their backs that gathers the energy necessary for their breath attack. These spines are actually a substitute for the gold dragon's wings, which they alone lack, and they are the only dragon breed that is fully incapable of flight. Even if they were equipped with wings, their densely packed armored scales would render them far to heavy to generate lift. Whereas the breath attacks of every other dragon is nearly instant, a gold must spend more than a minute charging their attack by building energy into their spines. However, when released, a gold dragon's breath attack is the most powerful of all breeds. A charged blast of thousands of interwoven lighting bolts traces whatever course they will, and is so densely packed that it can punch a hole right through the scales of any other dragon species. Other golds, however, are immune to this effect, as their scales will dissipate the energy of this attack the same as any other. Gold dragons are often considered to be the Greater Dragon analogue to reds, and are referred to as the large, dumb brutes among Greaters. This is somewhat inaccurate, for while Golds are the least intelligent among the Greater Dragon species, their intelligence is still well above average ranges, and is closer to that of green dragons than reds.
Silver Dragons - Typically the smallest of the Greater Dragons, silver dragons, like greens, compensate for their relative physical weakness with heightened intellect. However, silver dragons are still Greater Dragons, and outside of dragonspawn they would number among the most physically dominant creatures in all of existence. When coupled with their intellect, this makes them quite possibly the single most dangerous breed of dragonspawn. Fortunately, silvers are typically pacifistic by nature. Like greens, they generally consider other species inferior and not worth their time. Unlike greens, they are neither aggressive nor territorial, and so typically rather than kill any nearby lesser species, they will simply avoid it. Of all dragons, silver dragons are the most akin to large winged serpents. Their bodies are long and narrow, with no major distinguishing transitions between neck, torso, and tail. Somewhere along the length of this frame they do possess four short, slim legs, with highly articulate fingers and claws. A noteworthy feature of a silver dragon is their wings. Whereas other dragons have tough, scaled wings, silver dragons possess a bone wingframe with a translucent membrane. When wrapped about their body these wings seem to disappear entirely, resulting in a purely reptilian appearance. The breath attack of a silver dragon is a blast of arctic cold unlike any other cold spell effect ever observed. It is only rarely seen, as silver dragons are typically such mighty spellcasters that they have little need to rely on their breath attack, and they consider it to be another form of brute strength. The intelligence of silver dragons cannot be overstated. They are, by all indicators, the single most intelligent species in all of creation, across all four planes. This includes even creatures with divine intellects, such as the gods and Muses. As powerful as all Greater Dragons are with magic, silvers take this to the extreme, and their spellcasting prowess borders on the bending of reality itself to their will.
Platinum Dragons - As observed on Morolia, the most unique feature of platinum dragons is the variety in their size. Some are quite small, and at times have been misclassified as silver dragons with strange body shapes. The largest, however, are the most enormous creatures that have ever appeared on the Morolian plane. They have been described as roughly the size of a mountain, so large that the mere sight of them is terrifying and scatters nearby creatures for miles. Their roars are felt as earthquakes, and they are only regarded as nonthreatening in that they will not even acknowledge the presence of any non-dragon species unless directly assaulted. Platinums are actually in control of this aspect of their existence, and when transferring from Asteria to Morolia they can choose to be whatever size they wish. It's not known what the upper or lower limits of this range are, but a platinum has never been known to shrink to Lesser Dragon sizes. In body shape, platinums are the most similar to the Lesser Dragon species, but consistently possess necks nearly as long as their tails. Their most distinguishing feature is their wing size. The wingspan of a platinum dragon is as long as they themselves are from head to tail, and the wings are much taller than other dragons'. A platinum dragon has enough wingspawn to wrap its body up entirely, and when one does so it appears to be a large metallic mountain. The scales of a platinum dragon have the deepest sheen of all dragons, and this gives their bodies an almost mirrorlike surface. The breath attack of a platinum dragon is a light-based blast of raw energy. Strictly speaking it is not as powerful as the breath of a gold dragon, but given the size a platinum dragon can take on, this blast of energy can be capable of destruction on a staggering scale. All platinum dragons serve on the ruling council of dragons that governs all laws of dragon society across all planes. This council is also responsible for the resurrection of dead dragons, both a gift and a charge granted to them by Elzaniru himself. Barring unusual circumstances, platinum dragons virtually never appear in Morolia, as it is expressly forbidden by the Platinum Council.
Shadow Dragons - Technically not a true subspecies of dragonspawn, shadow dragons are nonetheless worth touching upon as a separate subject. When a platinum dragon defies the laws of the council and comes to Morolia, they are given a certain amount of leeway, and a grace period to return to the Council and repent for their transgression. If this time period expires and the dragon does not return, he is cast out of the Council, and his links to the blessings of the platinums are removed. There are several results to this action. First, the platinum dragon is severed entirely from Asteria, and cannot return under any circumstance. If it is killed in Morolia, it will be a true death, and it will be cycled back to the Platinum Council for resurrection processing. Next, the dragon's scales will begin to lose their sheen. This is a mark of shame inflicted by the Platinum Council, and gives shadow dragons their unique blackish-purple look. Additionally, the size-shifting abilities of a platinum dragon are revoked, and if the platinum had taken on a large form, he will gradually shrink back down to the size of a silver. Finally, the dragon's ability to use their breath attack is removed altogether. Shadow dragons often compensate for this shortcoming by storing up the souls of dead dragons that they were supposed to process during their time as a platinum on Morolia. They release these souls in a new attack, a shadow breath, that is actually far more powerful than the original light breath of a platinum dragon. However, a shadow dragon only has a limited amount of charges for their shadow breath attack before it will run out of the energy of these lost souls. Once exhausted, it can only be restored by hunting other dragons and processing their souls before they can be returned to the Platinum Council. Since dragons cannot normally be killed on Morolia, and shadow dragons cannot travel to Asteria, only draconics or other shadow dragons are suitable for this hunt. As platinum dragons are experts in processing spiritual materials, shadow dragons will often begin to hunt all other varieties of life, in order to absorb their spiritual energies and add them into their own. For this reason, it is actually the smallest shadow dragons that should be regarded as the most dangerous, as they are likely the ones that have been cast down the longest and will have absorbed the most souls.
It is possible for a dragon to stay in Morolia for so long that their connection to Asteria begins to atrophy. This loss of leaves them unable to access any sort of Asterian ether, and unable to return to Asteria in the event of their death. Because of this, draconics develop a hunger to feast on other creatures with strong Asterian connections, as they can briefly suck the Asterian energy from the creature and fill a brief sense of fulfillment. There is no actual physiological need this hunger represents, and slating it does nothing, as draconics are undying regardless.
Draconics can be thought of like a more traditional demonspawn species, rather than a true subspecies of dragonspawn. Without their Asterian side, draconics cannot cast spells. They also undergo a curious physical mutation, where their bodies shrink down over the course of decades and become more humanlike in appearance. It has been theorized that this is because the essence of what makes a dragon is within Asteria itself, and without that connection they become more akin to their Morolian counterparts. This is perhaps accidentally enforced by the Veil, which does not do an adequate job at distinguishing draconics from humanity.
In spite of their smaller stature, the strength of a draconic does not diminish as a part of this transformation. Their bodies are still ferociously powerful, with the full fury and speed of a dragon in a more compact and nimble form. Pound-for-pound, they are the most dangerous creatures on Morolia, and a dozen of them are a match for anything. This makes them dangerous, as their atrophied nature often causes draconics to seek each other out to form communities built around comforting one another. They are also vociferous breeders and, curiously, their eggs always result in new draconics rather than fully-fledged dragons. These draconics, though spiritually lame from birth, are in fact true dragonspawn just as their forebears were. Upon their death in Morolia their spirits will be cycled to the Platinum Council for true resurrection, whereupon they will experience being a true dragon for the first time.
Before moving away from the naturally occurring dragon species into the artificial breeds, it is worth touching upon dragon society. All of dragon society begins and ends with the Council of Platinums. They set the rules for dragon behavior, both in an official and an unofficial capacity. There are a few specific laws the Council passes, and they take the violation of these very seriously. But for most aspects of dragon behavior, they simple try to impose ideas of propriety and honor among the ranks of the Greater Dragons, and rely on these ideas spreading to the Lessers indirectly.
There are a couple of mechanisms by which the Platinum Council might enforce their laws. The primary mechanism here is the silver dragons. Silvers operate as the enforcers of dragonspawn, and will carry out direct interventions or assassinations for the Platinum Council if a matter comes to it. When given a charge by the Council, a silver dragon has never failed to carry out their mission. As such they are the favorites of the council, and will always be shown this favoritism for resurrections.
This highlights the second mechanism by which the Platinum Council enforces its will over dragon society: resurrections. Though capable of breeding, Elzaniru granted dragonspawn with the ability to live eternally through the resurrections performed by platinum dragons. However, these resurrections are a slight misnomer. When a dragon is truly killed and their spirit is returned to the Platinum Council, they cannot bring back that dragon. Instead, a new dragon is fashioned, and the spirit and memories from the deceased is placed into the new frame. This means each time a dragon truly dies, they are not truly resurrected, but rather reincarnated. This new version will have the same memories as the former dragon, but the personality will be entirely new.
Over the centuries, particularly during the ancient times when dragons waged great wars, there began to develop a bit of a strange competition in regards to this resurrection process. A dragon's nobility was tied not necessarily to how long he had lived, but rather to how much of history he could recall without gaps. As such, it became desirable to retain favor with the Council of Platinums so that in the event of a true death a noble dragon could be resurrected swiftly, and not lose precious time from their memories.
Eventually the Platinum Council realized the dragons had become quite passionate about this, and they began to leverage it. When a dragon died as a result of defying a law, their spirit was placed in queue longer before their resurrection. When a dragon pushed matters so far as to need to be assassinated by a silver, the length of this queuing time was expanded substantially. As these dragons were reincarnated, these gaps in their memories resulted in shame for them among dragon circles, and encouraged them to behave according to the Council's wishes moving forward.
As the favorites of the Council, silvers are always shown the highest priority for resurrection, even beyond other platinums. This is partially platinums themselves have little interest in these societal pressures, but also partly because the death of platinum dragon is extremely rare, and typically only caused when they are cast out from the Council.
This cycle was not without its own consequences. Over time, showing favoritism toward the Greater Dragons resulted in several members of the Lesser Dragon breeds to be passed over for resurrection, sometimes for long periods of time. This resulted in dishonorable memory gaps, which in many cases were undeserved. Over time this caused the Lesser Dragons to develop a distaste for the Greater Dragons, and simultaneously, the Greater Dragons began to see the Lesser Dragons as less noble and honorable, lending credence to this cycle of favoritism.
These difficulties resulted in a large population of Lesser Dragons fleeing Asteria and making their homes on Morolia once more. On Morolia a Lesser Dragon cannot be killed, and will simply return to Asteria for a brief recovery period. This gives them their own protection measure against the undeserved memory gaps caused by queuing for resurrection. This migration to Morolia has resulted in the much more common development of draconics, but additionally an increased level of breeding. Dragons were originally designed by Elzaniru to be Morolian creatures, and as such, only their physical Morolian bodies are capable of breeding and producing dragon eggs.
Over the centuries, these increased rates in breeding have eventually resulted in a longer resurrection queue for the Platinum Council. As such, the modern Council does little other than focus on trying to stay on top of resurrections, and does the best it can to prevent the situation from growing worse. This has resulted in a partial breakdown in dragon society, and rather than being a single community as it was in the past, now it is rather a collection of smaller communities of various sizes and ideologies.
Since the time of the Arocaen, the Arcanum has had a department devoted to studying dragons and adapting them for use in the Knighthood. The eventual result was the peists and wyverns that are found in Felthespar today. Their capacity for magic use has been largely bred out, though they still possess a good degree of resistance to offensive magics.
These breeding processes are highly arduous, and cannot continue without a continuously renewed supply of actual dragon eggs. Eggs are retrieved from Elzanirusal, through dangerous pilgrimages that frequently result in the deaths of entire parties. Even once stolen from a dragon's nest, however, an egg itself still represents a grave danger. The gestation period for a dragon is only a few months, and will typically hatch before reaching Felthespar, rendering it useless. Because of this, the eggs must be frozen for transportation. This can be achieved by using ice from the arctic regions of Elzanirusal, which was common during the First Arocaen era. As of the Second Arocaen era, however, it is more common to include an Arcanum Dragon Husbandry apprentice in these expeditions, capable of using targeted stasis magics on the eggs. Having this kind of expertise on hand has also helped reduced the retrieval of unusable eggs, as only eggs that are still within the first trimester of incubation are suitable for the Arcanum's breeding program.
Once the egg is returned to the Arcanum, the mutation processes themselves are applied. The first step of this is to remove the embryonic dragon's Asterian connection. As long as the Asterian connection remains intact, a dragon's nature is fixed. However, as with draconics, once the connection is broken the nature of the egg itself becomes more malleable. From here, the next steps depend on the Arcanum's eventual intent with the egg. Sometimes the egg itself is used, but more commonly, the raw genetic material from the egg is extracted to mix into other eggs to create the Arcanum's more complicated procedures.
The removal of the Asterian connection is not without consequences, however. When this connection is severed, the creature eventually born from the egg is no longer a true dragon, and does not possess a sentient intellect. The result is a creature that is much more akin to animals than humans, but completely lacking in all manner of instincts. This has resulted in a substantial portion of the Arcanum's struggles. Dragon Husbandry is still a relatively young field, and to date has only a few successes that are worth touching upon further.
Pseudodragons - A miniature, domesticated dragon, created by the Arcanum as test subjects for many of their experiments. Pseudodragons have been around for centuries, and are the basis for the entire school of Dragon Husbandry. They're between one and two feet in length, and cannot use magic more complicated than simple visual illusions, such as dancing colored lights. Depending on the purpose of the experiment, they may still be capable of a sort of breath attack. Scale colors vary widely, and include colors not seen on real dragons. Originally making a pseudodragon required an actual dragon egg, as with any other form of Dragon Husbandry. However, the Arcanum eventually perfected a species of breedable pseudodragons whose eggs consist of a basic genetic soup. These eggs will do nothing if left alone, and thus can be stored away indefinitely. However, they can then be used as templates by an experienced herald to create a pseudodragon with any set of desired characteristics.
Peists - Wingless dragons that resemble large, slate-grey lizards. They stand about four feet high at the shoulder. They have a generous deal of endurance and can travel swiftly, making them excellent mounts, especially for combat situations. Even so, successful peists are still quite rare, and they are most commonly used as beasts of burden throughout the Knighthood, and kept out of more dangerous situations such as direct combat. Peists are highly evolved from decades of breeding and mutation processes, but they are most closely a mix of red and blue dragons. There is a slightly smarter and stronger breed used as mounts by the cavalry forces within the Military, which have been bred by adding the genetic materials of green dragons into the mix.
Wyverns - The Arcanum's most recent attempt at creating a flying mount similar to a peist. These attempts have traditionally ended in failure, but the wyvern is the most promising breed so far. They are slightly larger than a peist and possess a large pair of thick, slow wings, and mud brown scales. Physically speaking, wyverns are ideal flying mounts. Unfortunately, the processes which restored their wings also resulted in undermining the intelligence that has been strenuously bred into peists, and as such, wyverns are too unintelligent to train. Given the additional dangers entailed with a flying mount, this has made them, thus far, another failed experiment.
Nightspawn are a unique classification of creature, evolved from humans. Once considered undead, nightspawn have since been reclassified as merely Undying. Because this change in their mortality state still distinguishes them substantially from humans, it continues to merit their classification as a separate species, rather than a simple subspecies.
Nightspawn hold few shared characteristics, most of which appear to be societal. Lesser Nightspawn draw power from shadow ether, which can only be gathered before it is neutralized by radiant white ether generated by the sun. Because of this, Lesser Nightspawn are inherently nocturnal or drawn to underground areas. These same tendencies can also be observed in Greater Nightspawn, although there is no biological advantage to it. Rather, it appears to be a result of Greater Nightspawn developing an avoidance to radiant white ether, and therefore the sun itself.
Lesser Nightspawn are characterized together as being descended from humans. Common understanding is that this process is caused when a human mage becomes greedy and over-extends himself, attempting to gain more power than his spirit can handle. This is inaccurate, and a myth deliberately disseminated by the Arcanum. When a nightspawn is created the subject never truly dies, and the spirit is never detached from the body.
Rather, the "nightspawn-ification" process is one where a Mortal human is transformed into an Undying vampiric. This might even be seen as a desirable outcome, and indeed there are still many who argue as to its merits. As things stands nightspawn are still considered taboo within human society, however, due to the cannibalistic inclinations brought on by this transformation.
Before touching upon the individual subspecies of nightspawn, it is valuable to further discuss the subject of black ether poisoning. The human spirit, as currently configured, is not ideally suited to usage of the diminished umbra. As such, the practice of black magic comes as a cost. This cost is incurred not just through the binding of spell matrixes to one's umbra, but even moreso through the use of the use of the Etch technique.
The Etch is performed when a mage opens their Second Asterian Draw, and then becomes capable of channeling black ether from the umbra to the corpus. What most mages do not realize is that this transference actually runs via the chamber, which has no ability to filter out Asterian ether. Because the Etch is such a small amount of ether, and the chamber is such a durable vessel, any damage occurred is negligible.
However, repeated use of this technique over time will wear down the membrane between the umbra and the chamber. Eventually, a continuous stream of black ether will be leaking into the chamber at all times. Most mages recognize this as a type of ascension, as the Etch becomes much quicker and easier for them. What they may not realize, however, is that they have now entered a state of continuous chamber pollution that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
As mentioned before, the chamber is a durable vessel, and under normal circumstances could be expected to last five to six times a typical human lifespan. Once this black ether poisoning process has begun, however, it becomes possible for the chamber to die before the corpus.
Normally this would result in death, as most any other form of spiritual collapse, but with regards to mages this process often accompanies an expanded umbra. The combination of these factors can create the conditions whereby upon the collapse of the chamber, instead of the spirit giving up and fading from the corpus, the umbra will actually begin to serve in the chamber's role, albeit poorly. When this happens, a nightspawn is formed.
Studies have shown that the cases where a nightspawn will manifest can be examined and determined beforehand, as the umbra never begins to atrophy in the manner normally associated with death. This is because the subject has entered a twelve-day dormancy period where the spirit is adjusting the sudden collapse of the chamber, while the umbra takes over these functions.
Perhaps the most closely-guarded secret of the Arcanum is that they are entirely aware of this process, and allow it to happen. It is offered to the highest ranking mages as a sort of reward for their years of servitude, the possibility of escaping death. While the prospect of becoming a nightspawn is not an appealing one, and necessitates being cast out from human society, many still see it is preferable to the unknowns of death. For this reason, nightspawn society is regarded as highly cowardly, and in most situations any given nightspawn will make the decision that gives it the best chance for survival.
Vampirics - Vampirics are the entry point for all Lesser Nightspawn, and the breed most associated with the nightspawn term. They are shuffling corpses possessing various degrees of functionality intact. In part due to their appearance, it is commonly believed that vampirics are mages who have returned from the dead. This is inaccurate, as no true death ever occurs in the case of a vampiric, but rather a chamber collapse due to black ether poisoning. In more than 40% of black ether poisoning cases, the resultant corpse will reawaken as a vampiric in twelve-to-fourteen days. Vampirics are extremely vulnerable creatures. Their life is bound to their decaying and weakened corpus. If the corpus collapses or is destroyed, the umbra will lose its final anchor point to Morolia. This is an event a human spirit cannot survive, and vampirics are still bound by this rule. Furthermore, they start out with a corpus that has already suffered through two weeks of decay without the upkeep of a functioning chamber, leaving them immediately hobbled. Once their umbra begins to serve the role of the chamber, they are forced to sustain their corpus with shadow ether. The corpus is not designed for this, and is a poor conductor of shadow ether. As such, a vampiric exposed to radiant white ether--via either sunlight or white magic--will begin to hemorrhage shadow ether rapidly, and their corpus will begin to collapse almost instantly. While shadow magic can be used to keep the corpus functioning, it is incapable of healing previously sustained damage. To compensate for this, vampirics will feed on other creatures, primarily humans. They can draw white ether from the chambers of others and use it to heal their own corpus. A vampiric must partake in this type of feeding regularly, or their corpus will continue to decay. In most cases this feeding is actually harmless to the victim, albeit emotionally traumatic. However in the most gruesome of circumstances, clever vampirics will abduct their victims and keep them alive for lengthy periods of time, drawing on their chambers through repeated feedings.
Transitory Vampirics - Though not technically distinct from vampirics, this type of vampiric is worth touching upon as a separate subject due to a heightened threat. While some vampirics are clever enough to take hostages, some are more clever still. The truth of Lesser Nightspawn is that they have no further need for their original corpus, beyond perhaps an emotional attachment to their previous life. After the collapse of the chamber, the corpus serves merely as an anchoring point for the umbra, which now comprises nearly the entirety of a nightspawn's spirit. The corpus is little more than a burden to the nightspawn, requiring constant maintenance and weakness and offering no value in return. Still, the umbra must have a Morolian anchor, as previously discussed. The most clever of vampirics will recognize this and realize that they can craft a new one. They can rebuild their collapsed chamber using the chambers of their victims. This is an imperfect process, and depending on the skill of the vampiric involved may take anywhere from ten to fifty victims, each of whom must be killed to have their chamber removed. In most cases, save ones with an overabundance of victims, this means the vampiric must forego their desires to repair their corpus and allow it to decay on its own. Because of this, transitory vampirics are often the most ghastly to behold, and also the most dangerous. There is no chance of a transitory vampiric feeding on a victim and then allowing them to escape, as is far more common with normal vampirics. This period is a delicate transition, for if the corpus collapses before the new chamber is adequately formed, the vampiric will die. If, however, they are successful, a new chamber is formed. This chamber is not functional the way a living human's chamber is, and cannot sustain a corpus or process white ether. Rather, it is merely functional enough to link the vampiric's umbra directly to the Morolian plane, and serves no further role. At this time the vampiric sheds their corpus entirely, and a new shadow wight is born.
Shadow Wights - Shadow wights are perhaps the rarest of all nightspawn, but comprise the widest variety. As a result of shedding their corpus, all shadow wights are an immense threat in combat, and are virtually unkillable by any normal means. They appear on the Morolian plane as a phantasmal projection of their own consciousness. Only extremely powerful and effectively-targeted white magic can kill them, by shattering their ephemeral chamber. Even this is easier said than done, however, as shadow wights can effectively disappear from all detection at will. In order to have a form of offense, the most common wights become masters of shadow magic, so that they may surround their bodies in dangerous auras capable of cutting through whatever materials they desire. It is because of this behavior that they were given their name. In some cases, however, they abandon direct offense and instead focus on mastery of high-level black magic. The most evolved of shadow wights can hold terrifying power, and are often falsely identified as liches. Some shadow wights may eventually gain a mastery over their Morolian projection, and can cast whatever image they desire. When coupled with clever applications of shadow magic, this can create shadow wights who are master shapeshifters, rather than relying on more brutish applications of force. Shadow wights are a true example of the Undying, and possess no needs whatsoever to sustain themselves eternally. They are no longer vulnerable to direct sunlight, though most continue to show a disdain for it, and have no further need to feed on other creatures, although some of the more sadistic ones will continue to do so for sport. As so many shadow wights are practitioners of shadow magic, their powers are often enhanced at night, but this is not a hard rule and depends on the individual. Finally, though vampirics would appear to be Mortal because of their decaying corpus, because of they possess the ability to become shadow wights they are also classified as Undying.
Greater Nightspawn may often be difficult to distinguish from the more advanced shadow wights, but the distinction between them is crucial. While Lesser Nightspawn are evolved from humans, Greater Nightspawn are evolved from mystics. The process which forms a Greater Nightspawn is fairly close to the commonly held beliefs, in that a mystic sorcerer neglects his Morolian abilities and expands his Asterian magic until his umbra-to-chamber ratio grows out of control. Only mystics are truly capable of actually reaching this point, because of the weak umbra and strong chamber in a normal human spirit.
Once the ratio becomes overwhelming, the chamber atrophies. This is not the same process as a chamber collapse that creates a vampiric. Rather, a mystic's chamber is completely severed from his spirit and cast into oblivion, incapable of being reformed. The mystic instantly loses contact with his corpus entirely. In essence, all three major components of the human existence--corpus, chamber, and umbra--break apart into distinct entities.
The unique factor here is that a mystic is capable of surviving this. Because mystics are still dual-nature beings, their Asterian side is capable of existing without any remnants of their Morolian side, so long as they have a sufficiently developed umbra that is tied closely to their core spirit and all draws. Any mystic who undergoes this collapse would automatically have such an umbra.
At this point the mystic's umbra begins to assume all core spiritual operations in the same manner as a vampiric's. At this point, an atrophied mystic could continue to exist in Asteria much as an atrophied dragon continues to live in Morolia as a draconic. However, the lack of corporeal forms in Asteria would result in the mystic having almost no power whatsoever. Since almost all atrophied mystics are formed as a result of greed for power, in virtually all cases the mystic will choose instead to regain his former glory. This is how Greater Nightspawn are formed.
Lich Wights - In order to resume their life in Morolia and begin practicing and expanding their magic once more, an atrophied mystic must regain a Morolian anchor. Because their spirits are wholly confined to Asteria, there is a limited number of ways this can be done. Any dual-nature creature is a potential target. The mystic must first find the target's Asterian implant, then kill it and supplant it with their own umbra. It is this parasitic process that reclassifies the mystic as a lich. Dragons are generally unsuitable for this process, as their dual-nature awareness allows them to mount a defense against such an assault, and in their present form the lich is incredibly weak. Humans lack the spiritual bindings necessary to sustain the lich's umbra, and even if possessed, the corpus and chamber would collapse almost immediately, the same as the mystic's originals. Most liches are intuitively aware of this and do not bother, although it has rarely resulted in the seemingly random, gruesome deaths of citizens. Only Lesser Nightspawn have spirits that have already evolved to support the umbra as a primary vessel in such a way that is suitable for a lich's purposes. Lesser Nightspawn have no awareness of their Asterian imprints, much like humans, and in all but the rarest of cases have no defense against this sort of assault. In most cases the lich will try to possess a powerful shadow wight, to give his umbra the greatest chance of success for latching on. This is why it was long believed that liches were an evolution of shadow wights. However, liches can technically possess any nightspawn, including low-level vampirics. In any event the lich will quickly wish to sever the useless corpus, and eventually a fledgling lich wight will be created. This is little more than a larval stage for a lich, as destroying the wight's original umbra and consciousness results in a loss of any of their innate abilities. Certain shadow wights are protected from this sort of possession, having bartered protective measures from other liches.
Liches - Once formed, a lich wight is a stable creature, and could be the end of a lich's evolution. This is impractical, however, due to other liches. While Lesser Nightspawn feed on humans, Greater Nightspawn feed primarily on other Greater Nightspawn. Similar to the manner in which a Lesser Nightspawn assembles their original makeshift chamber, Greater Nightspawn with their more powerful, adaptive spirits are capable of continuously building up their own chamber and umbra using the remnants of other slain foes. Lich wights may briefly feast on human mages, but because of how much more powerful the umbra for an atrophied mystic was in the first place, this period rarely lasts long. The only creatures capable of truly sating a lich's thirst for greater power is other liches. A corollary of this, however, is that from the moment of their inception a lich wight is not only predator, but prey. Most lich wights go immediately into a defensive period. As with a shadow wight, a lich's weakness is the destruction of their makeshift chamber. A lich will immediately begin armoring this, using the spirits of other creatures. In their infancy most liches will resort to using animals, creating a sort of homunculus by sewing shattered corpus and chambers together. The chamber of these lesser creatures cannot remain intact without the corpus, so the restoration of a physical presence is necessary. This corpus armor is what distinguishes a lich from a lich wight. In time the lich will likely move on to hunt powerful white magic practitioners, and use their expansive chambers to replace their own. Then they will begin adding onto this chamber using other shattered chambers, but now maintaining a consistent, human-like corpus. Killing a lich is virtually impossible for anyone other than a normal lich. In combat liches rarely expose their true form, hiding it away in Asteria via a Phase Shift while instead relying on the wight's projection of consciousness to stand in their place. First an attacker must recognize this and attack the wight's chamber directly. This enhanced chamber will be far more powerful than a typical shadow wight's, however, and is extremely resilient. Sufficient assaults will force the lich to retreat into its corpus armor, summoning it forth from the Asterian plane. At this point the corpus must be destroyed before the chamber can once more be attacked. Finally, even if the chamber is ultimately destroyed, the lich is still not dead. They will revert to their original atrophied mystic self, and may find a new wight and begin the process anew. It is likely here where a lich will die, as when they form a new lich wight, their extremely potent umbra will make them irresistible to hunting liches, which they will not have time to form sufficient defenses against.
Lich Lords - Contrary to conventional wisdom, liches do not often engage each other in contests of black magic. Given the nature of their powers, such a struggle is almost always futile, even in cases of the most powerful lich facing a mere fledgling. Counterintuitively, liches primarily assault other liches using white magic. While this is not widely known, liches are capable practitioners of white magic themselves, if they have absorbed a corpus formerly capable of it. They virtually never use it against other creatures because of how much more formidable their black magic is. However, against other liches even weak white magic is more damaging than peerless black magic. This is why young liches focus first on armoring their chamber, rather than expanding their umbra. It is not widely understood among liches, however, that these borrowed powers will fade with time. This means that a lich is required to constantly find new bodies with powerful Morolian abilities if they wish to remain active. Liches live for centuries, however, and soon tire of this game. Most liches will give up their hunting ways and seek to hide away, forming a coven of shadow wights to protect them. In return they offer these wights the abilities necessary to protect them from being possessed by other fledgling liches, which they would otherwise have no defense against. Unfortunately shadow wights are a poor deterrent for most hunter liches, and the wars between these covens comprise the bulk of lich culture. Some liches instead carry this a step further. During the twilight years of their white magic prowess, they will intimidate other liches into serving them, killing the ones that refuse. This allows them to have one final burst of hunting to add to their umbra, while instilling a firm sense of fear in their newly-formed coven of liches. Technically any lich which serves over a coven of liches is classified as a lich lord, but by the very nature through which these covens are formed, their lords are almost always the most powerful of all liches, and therefore the most powerful creatures on the Morolian plane. Even a Wisdom would be reluctant to engage a lich lord and its coven of liches.
While often used as a blanket term to encompass all non-human, non-animal entities, the technical definition is much narrower in scope. The classification of demonspawn applies to any Morolian-native creature which has evolved from Morolian flora or fauna due to exposure from non-Morolian ethers, most commonly Asterian.
The term has generally fallen out of vogue among scholars, who would much prefer to break things down into more distinct subcategories. For instance, on the lines of flora vs. fauna, or on the types of ether influencing a creature's evolution. However there is currently no consensus on what new taxonomy should be used, so the term endures as the most widely-understood standard.
The term has gained near universal acceptance among the populace, and is often applied to refer to any threat to human life, sometimes even including large native mammals such as tigers. In circumstances where usage is ambiguous, the more specific term "Morolian Demonspawn" is often used to distinguish this subcategory from the larger blanket definition of all cross-planar demonspawn.
Because of its broad nature, it falls outside of the scope of this guide to attempt a full listing of all known demonspawn species. Instead a sampling of either prolific or exceptionally dangerous demonspawn will be touched upon.
This term does not refer to demonspawn that are native to the Asterian plane, as no such occurrence is known to happen. Rather, this is a subset of Morolian Demonspawn that have evolved as a result of their exposure to Asterian ether. Because of the higher occurrence of Asterian ether on the Morolian plane as compared to other non-native ethers, this subcategory comprises more than 90% of all known demonspawn species. Asteria is the plane designed to grant intelligence and empower Elzaniru's creation, and when its influence leaks across the Veil these effects can trigger unexpected evolution.
The majority of these mutations are triggered by shadow ether, and as such commonly begin among wildlife dwelling in underground regions. Once enough years of exposure has gone by that sufficient intelligence has developed, some among the demonspawn will often spill out into the open and begin to live above ground. This exposure to sunlight halts their evolution, and in time a new species stabilizes.
The most highly evolved of this type of Asterian Demonspawn have sometimes been labeled Shadow Demonspawn, as they will eventually develop a native understanding of how to cast shadow magic, sometimes at remarkable levels. As this ability is intuitive, there are no known instances of a demonspawn's shadow magic backfiring on them in the manner human shadow magic often does.
An interesting and much-debated detail of shadow-evolved Asterian Demonspawn is that, in most instances, the longer their exposure to shadow ether, the more human-like they will become in size and appearance. This is assumed to be a result of Elzaniru designing Asteria's empowering nature specifically to serve humans, and not having intended it to affect other Morolian natives.
Alternatively, some demonspawn are evolved through an exposure of primarily grey ether, or perhaps a selective mix of grey and shadow ethers. The exact circumstance for this type of evolution is poorly understood. Grey ether is generally benign, and any transformative effects of grey ether are easily resisted by creatures with regular exposure to life-nourishing white ether. In theory a creature who exists in the absence of white ether to undergo a grey ether-inspired evolution should perish long before any such evolution can occur. Nonetheless, these demonspawn are not uncommon.
Asterian Demonspawn evolved from grey ether are markedly different from their shadow-evolved brethren. Their evolution is typically a simple increase in size, brawn, and aggression. Most larger breeds of Asterian Demonspawn are, at least to some degree, grey-evolved.
These two types of evolution can be mixed, either occurring at the same time, or in shifts as species migrate over time. A species might first be grey-evolved to increase their size and brutality, then later shadow-evolved to increase intellect and magical abilities at the cost of some brute strength, then later further grey-evolved to regain their original stature. These processes take place over decades or centuries, resulting in a large number of subspecies that can fall under a single demonspawn species.
Type 1 Demonspawn - These are the simplest type of grey-evolved demonspawn, and are generally nothing more than larger, more dangerous animals. The term is a throwback to a previous classification system, where demonspawn were widely considered to either be Type 1 for simple animal mutations, or Type 2, which comprised all other mutations. While is has since been determined that the underlying evolution of demonspawn is far too complicated for the umbrella of "Type 2", the simple concept of Type 1 is still found to be valuable. Colloquially this type of creature is referred to merely as "demonspawn", yet a third common application of the term. Type 1 Demonspawn that have undergone substantial evolution may begin to develop special abilities, which may or may not be magical in nature. For instance, a sufficiently evolved bear demonspawn might develop the ability to breathe fire, and this may either be the result of new physical anatomy to generate the fire, or developing the essential spiritual anatomy and opened draws to summon magical flames. For creatures who have undergone minimal evolution, it can be extremely difficult to determine the difference in a large member of the species, and one that has actually experienced the beginning of grey evolution. However, while grey-evolved creatures can possess some types of natural magic, they will never develop shadow magic. If a Type 1 Demonspawn is discovered to possess the ability to cast shadow magic, this means they have undergone additional shadow evolution, and would be considered a different species. In cases where no appropriate taxonomy currently exists, those creatures may briefly still be classified as Type 2 demonspawn pending further study.
Chimera - Any purely grey-evolved demonspawn which are too complex in nature to be classified as Type 1 are classified as chimera. Chimera can come about in multiple ways. Either the strange mutations from grey evolution cause two otherwise-incompatible species to become capable of cross-breeding, or prolonged exposure to grey evolution while being near other animal or demonspawn species will cause a Type 1 to begin to develop matching traits. This can sometimes take on extremely bizarre twists, for instance chimera have been found to have snakelike tails which appear to actually have a mind of their own. Most chimera exist as a sort of hodgepodge of multiple animals smashed together, and for a long time were considered to be the results of experiments by some cruel wizards somewhere. There are certain stable subspecies of chimera, such as griffins, a beautiful bird and lion hybrid that has been hunted to near extinction. Like Type 1 Demonspawn, chimera may possess magic, but never shadow magic.
Were-creature - These are the simplest type of shadow-evolved demonspawn, and make up an entire family of study unto themselves. Often colloquially referred to as werebeasts, as were-creatures evolved from fauna are far more commonly encountered in the wilds. However, known instances of flora-based were-creatures have been observed, albeit rarely. Were-creatures undergo a simple evolution. Typically they are derived from creatures that are already markedly similar to humans in size and nature, and it is a short step for them to evolve the abilities to reason and walk upright. This is why the occurrence is rare among plantlife, as a plant must be the appropriate size and also grow with minimal sunlight. Most commonly this occurs among certain species of shrubbery or small underground trees. Were-creatures are common, but generally low in threat. The average were-creature is perhaps a match for a well-trained soldier, but little more. Because of this they are typically found in packs, even those evolved from creatures that are not naturally pack-like.
Ogres - Large, lumbering creatures with massive strength, often backed by moderate shadow magic. Ogres are one of the most dangerous forms of demonspawn, often assumed to be an evolution from some large species, such as elephants. More likely, ogres developed as a result of mixed grey and shadow evolution over several centuries. The ogre race is incredibly ancient, and often hunted by elite warriors for sport. In spite of this they are hardy as a species and repopulate rapidly, achieving adolescence in less than a year. In spite of the ogres' large size they are relatively easy to kill for elite warriors, and are a far more offensive creature than defensive.
Trolls - As ogres were hunted the most aggressively many retreated underground once more, and over decades some of these tribes evolved into trolls through intense shadow evolution. Trolls are much smaller than ogres, roughly the size of a human, although still clearly demonic in nature. Trolls are incredibly powerful, still possessing the full might of an ogre in a more compact form. In addition to their massive physical strength, their skin and bones are nearly as tough as a dragon's. Trolls also possess advanced shadow magic well beyond the capabilities of the average ogre, and have even developed a type of shadow barrier that can shield them from white magic. This makes trolls unique, as they are the only known breed of Morolian Demonspawn that do not possess a vulnerability to white magic. Their only weakness is their speed. As a quirk in their evolution, perhaps cramming so much raw strength into such a small frame, trolls are lumbering, clumsy creatures. Still, their threat should not be underestimated, as their shadow magic is among the most lethal of any demonspawn. Since the slow nature of a troll is not particularly helpful in killing them, generally when encountering trolls the only advice offered is to run away.
Behemoths - The most powerful active species of Morolian Demonspawn, behemoths are giant furry quadrupeds with fully prehensile tails, possessing crude but overwhelming shadow magic. Behemoths lack the ability to speak, but nonetheless possess remarkable intellects, and are highly adaptive in combat scenarios. This, coupled with speed far unnatural for a creature of their size, makes them a match for even Greater Dragons. Like chimera, behemoths come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and it is assumed that their early evolution is tied in somewhere with Type 1 Demonspawn or even chimera themselves. As a way of identifying them as a species, all behemoths have a series of long narrow spines protruding from their back, which function in a similar manner to the spines of a Gold Dragon. Behemoths gather energy through these spines and can use it to enhance any of their magic attacks, including their shadow magic. Again, in combination with their innate speed and cleverness, this makes them terrifyingly effective combatants. Behemoths are known to go on rampages, attacking entire cities and not stopping until everyone within their sight is dead. During these periods behemoths are more dangerous than ever, because they will continuously function at full speed without pausing to rest for up to days at a time. Behemoths have only two major weaknesses. Firstly, as is common among Morolian Demonspawn they possess no defense to white magic. Secondly, when not on a rampage they are playful, cruel creatures, and will toy with a lesser opponent for quite some time, creating a brief window of opportunity for a clever adversary. There is nothing to do in the presence of a rampaging behemoth but evacuation, and prayer.
Daemons - Much as trolls are compact, shadow-evolved ogres, daemons are the equivalent creature for behemoths. Daemons are dark furry creatures, standing about ten feet tall and possessing a human frame and features. The spines normally present on a behemoth's back protrude instead from the shoulders of a daemon, and are in constant overdrive, continuously feeding power to the beast at all times. No one has ever encountered a daemon and survived, so their physical descriptions cannot be confirmed. Though many hold that they are myths, long range surveys conducted by the Arcanum suggest that they may still be present in remote corners of the continent. Why they have not interacted with the populated regions for so long is a matter of much ongoing debate. Whereas behemoths are known to go into rampages and operate at full speed, killing everything in their sight, daemons reportedly exist in this state constantly, although again as they are not known to leave behind survivors this cannot be confirmed.
Leviathan - Leviathan is unique among Morolian Demonspawn, and is worth touching upon as a curiosity. It is not a species, but rather a single ocean-dwelling demonspawn unlike any other. Leviathan's evolution is unique, and it is eldest among Elzaniru's creations, one of the earliest experiments on dual-nature life. Before the birth of the dragons, Elzaniru attempted to take a simple creature from the Morolian plane and transferred it into Asteria to observe the impacts of Asterian evolution. To enable this process Elzaniru first granted the creature immortality. This means that Leviathan is the only creature to ever undergo true, direct black evolution. This evolution transformed the creature from a simple snake into a massive beast over a hundred feet long, possessing incredible power. Leviathan's power has been described as comparable to the gods, but this is an overestimation. While the beast is a true immortal--meaning even if it's entire body is destroyed it will regenerate--its offensive capabilities do not equal its endurance. While any Greater Dragon would be incapable of killing Leviathan, Leviathan similarly would not be a threat to them. Unfortunately Leviathan was a casualty of the Hell Knight Incident, and further study of black evolution cannot be conducted until the Arcanum develops a process by which an animal might survive a Phase Shift. So far, such a development has proved elusive for anything but a god.
As with the Asterian variant, Gehennite Demonspawn are demonspawn whose evolution has been influenced by exposure to Gehennite ether. These demonspawn primarily develop on the continent of Arkalen, and are marked by the development of Psionic abilities (see Section III.G.2.). Because of the broad nature of Psionics, this can take on many forms, and some creatures have been observed as intuitively using all three schools (discounting Green Psionics as impossible).
Red Ogres - Though not immediately distinct from other ogres, Red Ogres are unique because they are cycloptic. This single eye channels their psionic abilities. The most common form of these abilities are a powerful paralysis spell they emit, which infects a target via all five senses. A rarer form of ogre evolution is the tricloptic variety, which seems to be a crossbreed between normal ogres and red ogres. These are currently classified as a subspecies of Red Ogre, although they are not guaranteed to have a reddish hue. Tricloptic ogres often lose their ability to use black psionics for paralysis, but instead gain potent white psionics, which allows them to increase their speed and strength well beyond that of other ogres. The most dangerous ogres will still possess both.
Varuna - Tall serpentine creatures with slim wings, varuna are a nocturnal race often confused with nightspawn. They are fully demonic in nature, however, and possess the most varied and powerful Psionics of any known race. These abilities are not consistent between individual members, and each varuna encountered may be dramatically different in actual abilities and therefore overall threat level. While varuna have experienced significant grey- and red-evolution, they have limited shadow-evolution, and as such possess low, bestial intellects. This prevents them from being a significant race among demonspawn. Varuna are only rarely encountered, but if so there can be no obvious way to defeat one, as their abilities cannot be adequately predicted.
At this time there are no known instances of Elysian Demonspawn, due to the lack of Elysian ether ever leaking onto the Morolian plane. Since Morolia does not touch Elysium, and is separated by the Asterian plane, it is unlikely that such an event will ever occur. However the effects of Elysian ether on the Morolian plane have been partially studied through the nature of the Wisdoms, and it is surmised at this time that were an Elysian Demonspawn to ever develop, they might possess innate weather manipulation abilities, or even temporal manipulation. Obviously such an event could be catastrophic to the very concept of life, and the Arcanum has passed strict laws forbidding this branch of study.
Worth touching upon as a separate subject, Half-Demonspawn nonetheless fall under the normal rules of demonspawn evolution, and are the final result of extreme shadow evolution. Half-Demonspawn have evolved so far down the shadow evolution path that they become indistinguishable from human without thorough scrutiny. They also possess at least human intellects, usually at the level of a human genius.
Before passing through the final stages of evolution which result in their human-like appearance, Half-Demonspawn may have gone through any or all of the other types of evolution. This makes virtually any predictions about a Half-Demonspawn's abilities or attributes impossible. They may possess remarkable physical strength, although as part of shadow evolution their physical strength is usually decreased from the species they evolved from. Still, almost all Half-Demonspawn are markedly stronger than humans, without appearing so.
Half-Demonspawn may also have any assortment of abilities. This includes naturally occurring ones such as fire breath, intuitive black magic not unlike that of a mystic, and unrivaled intuitive shadow magic. Furthermore, Half-Demonspawn are the only breed of Morolian Demonspawn that have actually been shown to develop the ability to use white magic, seemingly becoming close enough to humans in evolution to finally master the art. As such, there are no limits to a Half-Demonspawn's potential, and they may even be a superior race to mystics.
Half-Demonspawn are rare, but have been increasing in occurrence in recent years. They are widely despised among demonspawn species, and often picked on or even killed at a young age. Because of this, Half-Demonspawn are increasingly leaving demonspawn camps and hiding among human tribes or cities. It is possible that they will become a significant factor in Morolian society in the years to come.
Angels are a race of creatures native to Elysium. They are the most abundant mono-nature species on the celestial sphere. As Elysium attained stability under the order inflicted by the Muses war and violence were almost entirely erased from the plane, and the angelspawn have since proliferated peacefully.
Angelspawn are the human analog of Elysium, and are the race that most closely resembles humanity's original form, before being cast down by Elzaniru. Angelspawn are all natural magic users, but as Undying they can have centuries or even millennia to master their craft. The limits or even ranges of their powers are unknown, as they virtually never leave their home plane.
Angelspawn are born with physical bodies, but after centuries of evolution they are capable of evolving beyond the need for these, transcending to a sort of floating consciousness as commonly seen in Asteria. This rarely occurs as a permanent choice, as angelspawn prefer each other's company, and maintaining corporeal form is generally considered to be both polite and stylish. The wealthiest among angelspawn society actually craft designer bodies, which other angelspawn will purchase and migrate into. Angelspawn may also take leave of their physical body if it is significantly damaged in an accident of some sort, until their family members can acquire them a new body.
Of particular note among angelspawn are the seraphim. These are the most powerful among angelspawn, elevated by the Wisdoms and tied to the Heart of Elysium. This allows the Muses to resurrect fallen seraphim in the same way they might one of their own.
The Wisdoms themselves must create a seraph, carving the spirit of an existing angelspawn to be a mirrored copy of the Wisdom's own. The Wisdom can perform this process on any angelspawn regardless of their current abilities, since the process replaces their powers with the Wisdom's own. Since being appointed to the seraphim is considered the greatest of honors for an angelspawn family, the Muses typically select the appointees for the Wisdoms, using it as further bureaucratic control over angelspawn society.
There are two stages to this procedure. First, the angelspawn's existing body will be ceremoniously destroyed to represent a severing from their old life. Then they will undergo the intense process with their patron Wisdom, having their spirits merged in a temporal pocket. The Wisdom's spirit is indomitable, and when overlapping the spirit of another will attempt to overwrite it. When the Wisdom believes sufficient transformation has occurred, but not enough to erase the original angelspawn's identity, they must dissolve the pocket dimension.
This process has various levels of success, depending on the potency of the angelspawn's own spirit, and the moment the Wisdom chooses to end the procedure. As such, each Wisdom will perform the operation multiple times, crafting an entire order of seraphim beneath them, and ranking them according to their likeness to the Wisdom.
The second stage requires the Muses to craft a body for the seraph. These bodies are considered backups for the Wisdoms themselves in case their own frames are damaged in combat. As such, the Muses do not set out to create a body that is worthy for a particular seraph, but rather a new body that is worthy for the Wisdom. If the Muses succeed and surpass their original design, the Wisdom will take the body up as their own, and their old frame will fall to the new seraph. If the new body is deemed inferior to the Wisdom's current, the seraph will instead assume it.
In most cases, the seraph are merely considered caretakers for these vessels. They are expected to operate them, train against each other, and make certain the vessels are fit and prepared for the Wisdoms at a moment's notice should they require them. In this regard the seraph have no real official duties, and almost never assist the Wisdoms in any meaningful sense.
In the absolutely rarest of circumstances, the First Seraph of the order may be allowed to carry out work in a Wisdom's place. The First Seraph will be the spirit who most perfectly copied the Wisdom's own, and will maintain the most powerful available body, usually one generation prior to the Wisdom's current. As such, an acting First Seraph's power is often extremely close to the patron Wisdom's. Asha, First Seraph to Melukah, is widely considered to be as powerful as one of the other Wisdoms.
Thus there are six orders of seraphim, and each order has its own internal organization. The process of creating a seraph is incredibly intense on both the patron Wisdom, and the Muses themselves, and as such one party or the other is not always willing to go through with it.
Though over millennia the Wisdoms could have amassed a nearly endless supply of spare bodies, their pride and ideology prevents them from letting the rank of seraph grow too large. An exception to this is Dosiros, whose reckless nature has often resulted in him burning through multiple bodies for a single mission, so he maintains more seraphim than other Wisdoms.
These two terms are often used interchangeably, and are often incorrectly used to describe particularly frightening Morlian Demonspawn. The terms technically only apply to denizens of Gehenna. Even when used accurate in this sense, it is widely believed that the groups are distinguished along lines of ability, with hellspawn being the superior, dominant race.
While it is true that the Gehennite aristocracy is comprised solely of hellspawn, this is not a result of their inherit superiority, but rather their longer lifespans. There are often lowly, grunt hellspawn working the most menial of positions just as there are devilspawn. In some cases these hellspawn can serve in these positions for centuries, until often finally undergoing a mental breakdown and beginning a killing spree. This is not a negligible factor in the constant chaos that consumes Gehennite society.
It is important to understand that while devilspawn and hellspawn are classified by previously discussed categorizations--Mortality, Tier, Archetype, Sub-Archetype--they also possess a wide variety of subspecies among them, more than any other class of creature. During the reign of Arkalen's first Empress, more than one hundred distinct subspecies of Gehennans were identified.
While these subspecies are categorized by physical characteristics, individuals among them can still fall under different Sub-Archetypes. For instance, two Valkyries--a subspecies of hellspawn--may appear to an observer to be identical creatures, but one may be a Blaster and the other a Shaman (see Section I.C.2.viii). To a native Gehennan this would be the more significant distinction, rather than their physical appearance.
While the individual subspecies of Gehenna are too numerous to detail as part of this guide, there are a few individual Gehennans that are worth touching upon due to their legendary status. For more information on Gehennite hierarchy, (see Section IV.A.5.ii.)
Zekraul - Referring to himself only as "demon", Zekraul is technically neither devilspawn nor hellspawn. Rather, he is a true immortal of non-divine origins. This is a virtually unprecedented phenomenon, as Elzaniru himself has created only a very few immortal creatures, the original 15 Guides (see Section I.B.1.). All other immortals are an unintended reflection of the Guides. The only other known exception to this rule is Leviathan, who was specifically granted immortality by Elzaniru as an experiment. As such, it has been theorized that Zekraul himself is a reflection of Leviathan's creation. If that is indeed the case, the demon may be several millennium old. Zekraul is a very potent Morphling Sub-Archetype and has shown himself capable of advanced shapeshifting, as well as absorption of energy-based attacks even of divine origin and potency.
Raum - One of the eldest Archdevils of Gehenna, Raum is as close as any hellspawn might ever come to being considered beloved by Gehennans. Raum's domain is a kingdom of study, one of the few places in Gehenna where knowledge is considered paramount and decorum is tightly enforced. In ancient times this resulted in Raum being despised and considered weak of will, and he endured endless assault, even by Gehennite standards. Eventually Raum's dedication to studies paid off, as he and his followers began to master abilities at a rapid pace. Soon, as a result of both their studies and the constancy of their struggles, Raum's kingdom was the mightiest. But Raum held the rare trait of generosity, and began to share his discoveries with the other Archdevils. All of Gehenna was lifted as they learned greater techniques and sorceries, and in time Raum's kingdom alone was declared sacred. From that day, any who launched assaults against Raum were beset upon by the combined might of all the Archdevils. In time this protection paid off, as Raum developed the Seventh Ascension elevating the Archdevils themselves to an even higher tier of power.
By birthright, the Godbeast Amsedon is the ruler of Gehenna and holds the title of Overlord, if an incarnation currently exist. Though many other hellspawn have held the throne in Amsedon's absence, only one gained such fear and respect that he is still referred to as the Overlord of Gehenna.
Abaddon was a lowly Warder, a Sub-Archetype usually found among devilspawn, but he trained his body and abilities obsessively, with a discipline never since seen in a Gehennan. While most Warders can only create a simple, spherical kinetic field to absorb blows, or energy-based shields to reduce damage from fire or electricity, Abaddon could create fields of any size, any shape, and able to deflect anything. A common Warder can only have one shield at a time, whereas Abaddon could create multiple barriers and maintain them without concentration. Finally, whereas a normal Warder's shell can only take so much punishment before collapsing, Abaddon's never failed him. The result was that no demon could harm him, as his skin was constantly encased in a kinetic field, maintained on a subconscious level.
Seeing a Warder above Tier 3 is rare in Gehenna. Because of this, most Warders server in the lower classes of Gehennite society, often born into slavery and never escaping from it. Such was the early life of Abaddon. He was born into servitude on a plantation, forced to work his entire life. He never felt it was right, that he should be forced to serve because of the power he was born with. He also knew the only way he would get ahead in station was to fight his way into power and hold it there.
After serving in his position for decades, he began to make his move for more. Unlike other hellspawn, he did not merely recklessly charge his Duke or Baron. Instead he fought other servants and slaves, each time utilizing his power to its fullest. He would deplete his stores of ether and fight until he was nearly dead, reserving nothing with the intent of refining his power to the limit. When he finally felt he could no longer gain strength by facing his peers, he moved on to taskmasters and overseers, biding his time until he felt he was strong enough for a coup.
Abaddon was not foolish, and he knew without support from his fellow slaves he would be unlikely to take over a plantation. So he formed alliances and trained other demons, letting them beat on him to get stronger, while he gained power as well. Once he felt ready, his small army rebelled and conquered the plantation. Since it was a small settlement, no other demon lords concerned themselves, and Abaddon managed to make a place for himself.
Once he was a Baron, Abaddon set his sights on Amsedon and ruling Gehenna. For this he trained himself harder than any demon ever trained, and is considered to have naturally reached the stature of Tier 7, a feat never equaled before or since. Stronger now than any other demon and essentially impervious to any damage, Abaddon set about his plan.
Forging alliances with other Barons and Dukes--this time through fear and promises of power--Abaddon used their might to break through Amsedon's forces and reach the Overlord himself. The contest between the two lasted for years. No other demons dared to interfere or get involved, knowing that doing so would result in their demise. Much of the fight was Amsedon blasting Abaddon with his most fearsome powers, meteors, hurricanes, great spheres of destruction. Abaddon would build his shields and shrug it off, then attempt to physically beat his opponent to death while he recovered power. Through the course of their fight, they hit every province in Gehenna and scarred the entire land. Eventually, exhausted from his attacks, Amsedon had to stop and gather power. Usually at these moments in their fight, Abaddon would have been blasted miles away or so winded he had to recover as well, but this one final time Abaddon had just enough energy left to crush Amsedon's skull with a single, perfect blow.
While the legend then states that Abaddon killed those demon lords foolish enough to demand their rewards, the truth is that the chaos resulting from both the cataclysmic fight and the regime change led to an unmatched period of anarchy and civil war. Most of the demon lords were killed by their own subjects, and once he claimed his throne, Abaddon actually used his armies to quell a number of uprisings and bring some order to Gehenna. By many in Gehenna this time is considered a golden age of relative peace and stability, although the eldest hellspawn will tell you this is merely because the population was actually briefly exhausted of war after the battle between Amsedon and Abaddon.
Abaddon reigned as Overlord for several centuries, until he was eventually betrayed by a close ally and poisoned. Though unconfirmed, legends hold that this ally was none other than Raum himself who personally developed the poison.
Felthespar is, first and foremost, the primary country governing the continent of Itrius. The actual expanse of Felthespar's territory covers a majority of the cultivated areas of the continent, but the term Felthespar is often used to refer to the capital city itself, which is a mighty fortress encased in a towering protective wall. This fortress was originally built and fortified by the wealthy Emle family during the 4th century SE. Initial building is often placed at 376 SE, but there is debate as to the accuracy of this figure, and some scholars argue construction must have begun as far back as 350 SE.
The citadel grew larger and larger with each generation of Emle. It was not until Vesovius Emle I that the great doors of the nation were truly opened to accept in other wayfarers. Vesovius felt that his family's fortress had grown far beyond the scale to serve a single family's decadence, and it was with generosity in his heart that he embraced surrounding families and worked with them to form a new, vibrant community.
Over the centuries Felthespar has developed one of the most complex but successful governments on all of Morolia, and the successes of this political engine merit a good deal of discussion and dissection. The government is generally considered to be comprised of five primary Factions: The Church, The Military, The Arcanum, The Dictus, and the Emle Estate. These are sometimes subdivided, such as the Church being comprised of both the Clergy and the Templars. These smaller units are typically lumped in with the larger under the unofficial term "divisions".
Though there are several large family Estates throughout the nation, only the Emle line is large enough to be considered a true Faction. This is partly because of the family's connection to the nation's founder Vesovius Emle I, but even moreso because the Emles still hold possession of more than a full quarter of the land within the city walls, much of which it actually rents out to the Dictus and the Military for official usage. These arrangements actually make the Emle Estate wealthier than any of the city's other Factions.
Though not itself considered to be a separate Faction, one of the core aspects of the Knighthood is the Eldram. While they stay behind the scenes for the most part, their influence is felt everywhere. Though they are often considered nothing more than a collection of loremasters and scholars, in reality the Eldram administers rank tests, determine which House a new Knight will enter, and have representatives on every Council, Low, High, and Grand. Being a member of the Eldram goes beyond normal Knighthood divisions, as an Eldram is accessible to everyone for consultation. The credit for the Eldram's importance goes to one of the most prominent politicians and influential Knights of the 8th century SE, Leprue Messe.
The Eldram was established in 601 SE by Vesovius IX as part of his reformation of the Knighthood. His desire was that each Faction would have a group of experts and specialists to consult on important matters. In this era, the Eldram was far from the prestigious group it would become. Mostly they were record-keepers and scribes, writing books on their subjects and occasionally teaching others what they knew. The group was comprised primarily of the most vaunted Scribes and Bishops from the Arcanum and Church respectively. While their opinions were valued, it was mostly in an academic sense. It was an honor to be made a member of the Eldram, but few sought it out.
Little changed until Leprue joined the Eldram in 730 SE. Leprue and his friend Calvin Darmani were both active in changing the Knighthood for the better, but each took different paths. Calvin was a member of every Faction, and spent his time petitioning each High Council to make sweeping changes to the divisions. Leprue saw how independently each Faction was functioning and the strife it was creating between them. He sought a way to unify the divisions, and his solution was the Eldram. Each Faction had its own independent Eldram, and Leprue sought to expand them into a single cross-divisional organization. He spent the better part of a year entreating the Grand Council to make this change. Upon success, he immediately began petitions to place an Eldram member on each and every Council, including the Grand Council, where their knowledge would be used to its fullest. He reasoned that every council needed instant access to a loremaster, and there would be no better way of doing this than to make every council have their own Eldram member. Eventually the Grand Council agreed, and in 732 SE, when several positions on the Grand Council became vacant, Calvin Darmani was made Lord Grand Councilor and Leprue Messe was appointed to the new position of Grand Councilor to the Eldram.
From his position on the Grand Council it was easier for Leprue to make further changes, increasing the influence of the Eldram. He established the Eldram Councils, which drew their membership from all areas of the knighthood. The Lorekeeper Council focused on finding new experts and Eldram members. The House Council determined which house a new Knight would join. Each Faction had one or more special Division Councils that worked with the division to determine the qualifications of each rank, and a Testing Council presided over test administration. Division Councils also took care of the standard Eldram job of record-keeping for the respective Factions. While it was possible to be on the Eldram and not on a Eldram Council, it was the Councilors who had the most influence.
The final change Leprue brought, in 743 SE, was using the Eldram to find new candidates for open Council positions, as well as casting votes for broken councils to determine replacements.
Leprue set out to use the Eldram to unify the Knighthood, and his changes were very effective in achieving his goal. With the new influence of the Eldram and their position outside the boundaries of the divisions, the Knighthood began to function much more smoothly. While there was still rivalry amongst the Factions, it was far from the fighting that had gone on years before.
Founded by Vesovius Emle in the service of the Church of Serene, the Knighthood of Felthespar was a primarily religious organization. At the onset of the Arocaen, the Knighthood expanded to include Selene's sister religions, Loren and Eidr. During the Arocaen the three churches were united as one, but in order to preserve their core identities, the concept of Houses was introduced. Each House was represented by a set of Virtues that most closely matched the principles of the original Church it was splintered from.
Originally, the implementation of the Houses was a response to a building tension within the Knighthood. After the three Churches were unified, many found it difficult to accept that the three religions were truly the same. Among those who most stubbornly clung to their old identities, Knights wore ceremonial garb aligned with the colors of their Church's clergy. These knights began to be grouped by the colors they wore, and these groups were dubbed as the Robes. Those who supported Loren were called White Robes, those who supported Selene were called Red Robes, and those who supported Eidr were called Black Robes.
Vesovius VI knew that if he did not act to prevent these tensions from boiling over, the Arocaen would be lost, as Felthespar needed to present a united front against an enemy as mighty as the Cainites. So, the groups were standardized and became an official part of the Knighthood. Their official name became 'Houses' and each House was named based on the original Churches. This seemed to accomplish the desired effect, as the members of each of the Robes factions felt they had full and equal representation in the Knighthood proper. While the strife was not entirely removed, the risk of a civil war was quelled long enough for the Arocaen to be won, and in time faded altogether. In informal situations, members of the Houses are still referred to as Robes by many among the Knights.
The White Robes; The Priest's House; The Honest House; Descended from the Church of Loren, founded by Saint Olcid Loren and worshiping Ainshen, a facet of the God of Life. Loren brought the art of healing into Felthespar, and as such has always had a deep association with the Church itself. Although House favoritism is strongly discouraged by Knighthood leadership, priests associated with Lurin are viewed favorably. The dominant principle of Lurin is Justice. Although members of Lurin are often mocked as being part of "The Honest House", it is the notion of Justice that members themselves take the most seriously. A Knight of Lurin is dedicated to his nation and its laws first and foremost, and is absolutely committed to seeing good deeds rewarded, and evil punished. Members of Lurin are the most predictable in terms of motivation and ideologies, and even two members who have never met each other will likely find themselves in agreement on most subjects of a political debate.
Honesty - Truthful and trustworthy, Lurin is always sincere and genuine in its actions.
Justice - A strong sense of righteousness, Lurin will reward, or punish, a person accordingly for their actions.
Kindness - Friendly and benevolent, Lurin acts in a gracious and pleasant manner.
Purity - Clean in mind and body, Lurin disdains defilement.
The Red Robes; The Soldier's House; The House of Passion; Descended from the Church of Serene, founded by Saint Sinjuin Serene and worshiping Pecoros, a facet of the God of Order. Serene is the founding city of the Knighthood, and as such supplied the initial foundation and army upon which the modern Military was built. Although House favoritism is strongly discouraged by Knighthood leadership, knights associated with Saelen are viewed favorably. The dominant principle of Saelen is Loyalty. Although members of Saelen are often mocked as being part of "The House of Passion", it is the notion of Loyalty that members themselves take the most seriously. A Knight of Saelen is dedicated to his allies, friends, and family first and foremost, and is absolutely committed to ensuring their safety and happiness above all things. The motivations of a member of Saelen is fairly consistent in this regard, although they are quite easy to compromise with, and tend to believe there are many different ways to achieve their goals along with the goals of others. If backed into a compromise they find unsuitable, however, a member's zeal can manifest in an explosive and unpredictable manner.
Zeal - Filled with intense, passionate ardor, Saelen believes in a cause for the cause's sake rather than some other motive, and will devote itself wholly to a project.
Wisdom - Studious and slow to anger, Saelen values and encourages wisdom within itself and others.
Loyalty - A staunch and unshakable ally, Saelen maintains a firm allegiance to superiors and friends alike.
Vision - Always thinking ahead, Saelen cultivates perception and foresight.
The Black Robes; The Mage's House; The House of Discipline; Descended from the Church of Eidr, founded by Saint Lukus Eidr and worshiping Karn, a facet of the God of Ambition. Eidr brought the art of grey magic into Felthespar, and from its outset had no strong associations with any particular branch. As the Arcanum began to grow in strength after the exodus of the Magi, it co-opted Aithr as its House of choice. Although House favoritism is strongly discouraged by Knighthood leadership, mages associated with Aithr are viewed favorably. The dominant principle of Aithr is Honor. Although members of Aithr are often mocked as being part of "The House of Discipline", it is the notion of Honor that members themselves take the most seriously. A Knight of Aithr considers his personal notions of honor and dignity to supersede all other loyalties and motivations, and as such, they often prove to be the most difficult to predict. While the loyalties of Aithr are less clearly defined than the other Houses, they have earned a reputation as the champions of Honor within Felthespar, and it is widely agreed that of all Houses, if you are entering into a dangerous situation you could not be better served than with a member of Aithr at your back.
Piety - Highly devout, Aithr possesses a strong sense of duty.
Honor - Holding a strong sense of integrity, Aithr cultivates good reputations.
Discipline - Placing value in both order and control, Aithr lives in accordance with very strict rules.
Mercy - Forgiving in disposition, Aithr is compassionate towards the unfortunate.
An important concept that is specific to the Eldram's Testing Council is the notion of Vouchers. Before Leprue Messe made his changes to the Eldram, testing was solely in the hands of the Faction, and whatever testers were deemed qualified. Leprue established the Testing councils, which worked with the division heads and Eldram to standardize the tests and formalize rules. Ultimately the tests changed little, and each division maintained its own unique form of testing.
Currently, all rank tests for every division are administered by at least two certified Eldram rank testers. Since there are a many Knights queuing to be tested, and few testers, the Eldram implemented a series of rules to ensure their time is not being wasted. They keystone of this system is the Vouchers. Most vouchers are simple writs, signed and certified, then submitted to the Eldram for verification and documenting.
Vouchers must be verifiable at all times, and previously submitted Vouchers may be verified at random. If any Voucher is found to be fraudulent, all Vouchers will be stripped from the submitter, and they will be placed on a probation period of the Eldram's discretion. In the case of Vouchers submitted by ranking members of the Knighthood, the original signatory must still hold their original ranks. If they have died or otherwise left the Knighthood, the Voucher will be discarded, but no further punitive actions will be administered. Unless explicitly stated otherwise Vouchers never expire, even if the rank test is failed. However, Vouchers submitted for a particular rank only apply for that rank, and the slate is wiped clean once the rank is achieved.
For many of the Knighthood's divisions, every rank requires a certain number of vouchers, and anyone unable to come up with the needed vouchers will be denied the review, even if it was an Automatic Review. The remaining divisions must deal with Vouchers in at least some capacity, and any member of the Knighthood citizenry who wishes to rise in ranks is expected to understand the Voucher system early in their career.
The testee must have a mentor who has personally trained or worked with them. The mentor must make a personal appearance before the Eldram and verify their faith in the testee's abilities. Mentoring is serious business, as a mentor whose testee fails their review will be placed under probation until the testee passes. A mentor under probation cannot give mentor Vouchers to any other knights. If the testee dies or leaves the knighthood, probation is repealed starting one year from the original test date.
This is a detailed, written description of the testee and their character, personality, known good acts, etc. It must be from someone who knows the testee well. Character Vouchers are acceptable from ranking peers, but as those opportunities would better serve more specific voucher requirements, it is assumed that most Character Vouchers will come from common citizenry. Although Character Vouchers have some of the lowest requirements, they can still be difficult to obtain due to the common citizen's lack of desire to complete a lengthy essay on behalf of a friend. To aid in this, the Eldram offers a standardized form of smaller essay questions to give a structural guide if requested.
This voucher is from a person of the rank the testee is reviewing for, attesting that the testee is of comparable skill and competency. A ranked voucher must be from the tested rank, and cannot be replaced by a higher ranked voucher. For instance, if a testee is reviewing for Silver Knight, he cannot use a ranked voucher from a Gold Knight to fulfill this requirement.
These are a simple voucher from a person of equal or lesser rank who has personally worked with the testee, listing why they feel the testee is ready for review. These are much shorter than Character Vouchers in nature, and take only a few minutes to fill out.
Another simple voucher, General Vouchers can come from anyone who knows the testee. The voucher must list how the know the testee and what he's done for them, as well as expressing faith in the testee's ability, dedication, or readiness to test. These mainly serve to show the testee is not a recluse and is active in the community.
A voucher from a member of the Eldram, preferably from the division the testee is in. They must interview the testee and declare them fit for review. Obtaining this kind of interview usually requires deep connections, and even then is no guarantee of being awarded the voucher. Eldram Vouchers are notoriously difficult to obtain, and expire within six months of being granted, or immediately if the signing Eldram member retires.
This voucher is from a member of the Faction's High Council, giving them permission to take a review. This is the most difficult type of voucher to get, since the High Councilors are difficult to schedule time with, and even more difficult to impress. Superior Vouchers were implemented for the more intractable divisions, who did not wish to surrender control of their internal organization over to the Eldram. By using Superior Vouchers as a sort of blocker, they can make certain that their ranks do not become too top-heavy if the Eldram is being overzealous in its duties.
Felthespar is, at heart, a meritocracy. Government officials are appointed based on ability, not factors such as wealth, prestige, family, or popularity. This extends even into the most political and bureaucratic Faction, the Dictus. Positions in the Dictus are given to those who have proven themselves, often by spending years working up the political ladder, or heading important or influential projects.
The Dictus is the primary legislative and judicial force for the nation. Whereas the other Factions create rules and regulations followed by those in the Knighthood, the Dictus creates and enforces the laws governing the citizenry. Their influence does not extend over other divisions except in the sense that Knights, as citizens of Felthespar, are bound by its laws. The Dictus cannot make rules for other Factions to follow--such power rests in the High Councils--nor determine how much money a Faction has to spend, as budgeting is the responsibility of the Grand Council. They do, however, determine how to raise the money to support the budget, whether via taxes, fundraisers, or other measures. As with any division, any decisions made by the Dictus can be overridden by the Grand Council.
The Dictus High Council is called the Senate, which consists of a single house of appointees and holds legislative power for all of Felthespar. Appointment to the Senate is by vote of a special Senate subcommittee, who reviews the candidate's previous history and determines, based on their own nebulous system, whether the candidate is worthy of being part of the Senate. The candidates often have to plead their case to the committee, but outside of that there is no campaigning.
Typically getting appointed requires twenty or more years of experience in the Dictus. Once appointed, Senators serve an average of ten years, with 60 being the recommended retirement age.
Once a Senator has served a full ten-year term they are asked to step down, to which they can answer yes or no. Those who say yes are simply released. If they say no and are 60 or over, they are automatically reviewed for retirement. If they are under 60, they are allowed to stay unless 1/3 of the Senate votes for a retirement review. In this way, troublemakers can be removed with few problems, and the Senate keeps its membership refreshed.
To ensure that a small group of Senators is not trying to abuse the retirement review process to move political enemies, reviews are conducted by the Eldram. If a Senator is cleared by the Eldram they are allowed to stay free of review for either another ten years, or until they reach 60. Those older than 60 still receive an additional ten years, but can have a review forced on them at any time by 2/5 vote. This is provided as a check to ensure that a Senator does not remain beyond the decay of his mental faculties.
The head of the Senate is Lord Vesovius. Unlike other Senators, Vesovius is appointed based on his resemblance to the previous Vesovius, in an effort to sustain the myth that Vesovius is immortal. Often a candidate is selected years before necessary and groomed for a political career. This system, naturally, has some flaws. While for the most part Vesovius functions as a normal Senator, he also has the power to force a retirement review upon any Senator he chooses. Reviews forced by Vesovius are considered by the Eldram to be serious "no faith" votes, and few people chosen for review in this manner retain their jobs. There is a limit on the number of Senators Vesovius can dismiss per year, to keep from having to suddenly reform most of the Senate after a Vesovius change. Vesovius is appointed for life, though most step down at age 60 due to tradition.
The Judicial Council is tied to the Senate by a system of balances. The Senate appoints individual members to the Judicial Council, based on their own standards and political goals. However, new Justices must be approved by the Supreme Justice. The Supreme Justice is, in turn, appointed by majority vote of the Judicial Council. Once in his position, he cannot be removed by the Senate, which has no actual power over him. The Supreme Justice can only be removed by 2/3 majority vote from the Judicial council. Justices can be removed from power by the Senate, without approval of the Supreme Justice, but the Supreme Justice himself has no means of removing a Justice from the Council. If the Senate attempts to stonewall the Supreme Justice by not giving him suitable options for new justices he can, after a process, appoint his own.
The rest of the Dictus is made up of numerous subcommittees and Low Councils organized to execute laws, run projects, collect taxes, document meaningless data, and other such bureaucratic matters.
Like the Church, the Dictus has fought hard to prevent the Eldram from interfering with their business, and there is a constant power struggle between the two Factions. Most Senators feel that their system works fine, and that the Eldram has no reason to alter a proven system. Ultimately the Grand Council forced them to implement the Eldram in some capacity, and their primary concession was giving Senator retirement reviews over to the Eldram. Other than that, they have no interest in conceding any sort of power or authority. Even Vesovius firmly challenges the Eldram influence within the Dictus.
The notable longstanding exception to the Eldram’s influence over the Dictus is the selection of House alignment. As with all branches of the Knighthood, the Eldram is responsible for choosing a House for members of the Dictus as they enter official duty for the first time.
The nature of House alignment within the Dictus, however, is drastically different from the other branches. Rather than representing a mere personality analysis with very little impact on official duties, members of the Dictus within the same house caucus together and align their political priorities and agendas. As with many of the other extracurricular natures of Houses, the Eldram discourages all of this, however with little to no effect. Rather, treating House alignment as party alignment has only grown more standardized within the Dictus. Using bribery against the Eldram in order to switch Houses has become commonplace, especially among dynasty politicians. It is further worth noting that these political agendas are not reflective of the beliefs of House members from other Factions, most of whom do not acknowledge the Dictus' political party to be in any way related to the House itself.
One place this party system has interesting repercussions is when the Councilor to the Dictus is selected by the Grand Council. On paper the Grand Council is immune to these sorts of factional politics, but in reality they often creep in, especially where the Dictus is concerned. When a new Councilor is chosen, it results in an increased national influence for the party of that Senator or Justice, and they are perceived to be the nation’s dominant party for the duration of that Councilor’s full term. This impact is heightened by the fact that Vesovius alone among all members of Felthespar’s ruling class does not have a House alignment, as he is seen to represent all Houses equally.
Often seen as the "Party of the Church", this is an inaccurate assessment of Lurin's political agenda. It used nonetheless used by both members of it and of the other Houses, as both a praise and a criticism depending on the audience and setting. All of Felthespar is still a deeply religious nation, as such all three political parties still advance heavily nonsecular agendas and defer to the will and teachings of the Church. Lurinats simply do so in the most overtly outspoken manner. Opponents of Lurin often see it as the most authoritarian party, as its agenda in many ways fails to prioritize the needs of the common citizens.
Party Platform - Lurin Party emphasizes morality laws, low taxes, and the independence of the various Factions of the Knighthood. This includes the larger private family Estates of the Knighthood, such as the Emle or Messe families. Because of this the Lurin Party is extremely popular among the wealthier nobility, although among the common citizenry it is often stigmatized as being in the pockets of the rich.
Anti-Federalist - Lurin opposes anything it perceives to be Federal overreach, particularly from either the Dictus or the Grand Council, and particularly anything it suspects to be a threat to the liberties of either the Factions or Estates.
Anti-Taxation - Lurin supports a flat tax code and low taxes overall, and works constantly to insert additional loopholes and complex codes to keep taxes down for the wealthier classes.
Pro-Military - Lurin is especially pro-military, partly insomuch as it sees itself as the protector of all of the individual Factions, but even further as it recognizes the Military's crucial role in protecting the Church throughout the ages. Likewise, Lurin is fastidious in its supports for the Templars in their role as the local police force.
Pro-Education - Lurin is a proud defender of the importance of education throughout the Knighthood, whether the spiritual teachings of the Church, public or private education from the Church's Bishops, or even the secular education found in the smaller schools of the Residential District. Many Lurinats strongly believe that this emphasis actually makes the party even more serving to the citizen's welfare than either Saelen or Aithr, as by educating the commoners it teaches them to help themselves, rather than to be dependent upon the government.
Mystical Prohibition - Lurin is highly opposed to the spread or practice of mystical arts among the common citizenry, whether Heraldry, Spiritual Arts, or Blessings. It believes these techniques are meant only for those who study and use them responsibly, and that the disciplines must be heavily regulated at all times. Furthermore, it is even opposed to many of the smaller mystical devices provided to the citizens by the Arcanum, such as enchanted contraceptives, believing these will only increase the citizen's dependence and need for more magical devices or practices.
Often seen as the "Party of the Government", this is a decently accurate assessment of Saelen's political agenda. The members of Saelen desire a cohesive government most of all, and despise the factional and often competitive nature of Felthespar's current hierarchy. Most critics see it as extraordinarily self-serving that Saelen believes this single, unified government should in fact be unified under the Dictus itself. The more radical elements of the party even oppose the existence and authority of the Grand Council. Saelenists are particularly staunch supporters of the recent oversight and structure added by the Eldram, and were the sole party to support the Eldram's expanded influence within the Dictus.
Party Platform - Saelen Party emphasizes the sovereignty and expansion of the Dictus, citizens' liberties and rights, and the government's duty to serve the people. It does not consider these to be three separate agendas, but rather all part of a single concept of the role of government contributing to the betterment of its people.
Federalist - Saelen aggressively focuses on consolidating power to the top levels of Felthespar's government, being highly opposed to both the Factions and the Estates. This is where Saelen and Lurin are most at odds. Some members of Saelen seek to make the Dictus the only aspect of Felthespar's government, while others are quite respectful to the Grand and High Councils themselves, and simply wish to see more of the bureaucracy beneath those levels dissolved, especially the nation's dozens of Low Councils. Saelenists see no reason why the much more organized and structured Senate could not do the job of each Faction's Low Council via subcommittee, bringing a stronger sense of vision and unity to the nation's government across the board.
Pro-Taxation - Saelen supports a progressive tax code, and opposes nearly all tax breaks and loopholes, for both the wealthy and the poor. It is primarily focused on making certain the government has enough money to run and advance its agendas, and believes all of the levels of citizenry, especially the nobility, should give as much as they can manage.
Pro-Liberty - Considered by many of its members to be Saelen's core virtue, the Party is staunchly dedicated to upholding its citizenry, listening to them, and giving them every opportunity for advancement. This includes supporting access to all forms of magic for the commoners, and a focus on ensuring no individual members of any of the Knighthood's major divisions are being in any way oppressed by their Faction's governing bodies. The notable exception to this is that Saelen does not aggressive pursue a pro-education policy, particular regarding secular education, as it feels strongly in the government's responsibility to protect the citizenry from certain truths.
Pro-Infrastructure - Saelenists take their duty to the citizenry extremely seriously, and one of the biggest practical ways this manifests is in its dedication to upholding the Dictus' role of supporting the city's physical infrastructure. It works with both the Arcanum and Church in this regard, eagerly embracing any advancements in the fields of magic to further progress and construction.
Anti-Military - As a Party Saelen is, perhaps counter-intuitively, very adversarial to Felthespar's Military, where it is the most popular and affluent House. This is because, like all Factions, it sees the increased influence and independence of the Military as a conflict to its core principles, and firmly believes the national defense branch needs to serve the government, not the other way around.
Often seen as the "People's Party", this is a decently accurate assessment of Aithr's political agendas. Saelen often rankles that Aithr receives this designation rather than itself, but while Saelen prioritizes strengthening the government in order to improve the lives of the citizens, Aithricans feel this is an unnecessary abstraction--if not an outright deception--and focus directly on issues that can improve the lives of citizens right now. On most issues Saelen and Lurin are directly at odds with each other, having very little common ground. As such, Aithr is often seen as the "third party", and deciding voice on controversial issues. In truth Aithr has near-equal representation within the Senate and Judicial Council, but because it has a wider range of disagreement among its membership than the other two parties, often wields less proportionate influence.
Party Platform - Aithr Party emphasizes citizen's liberties and rights, followed distantly by Faction and Estate rights. Overall Aithr is very supportive of the current status quo in Felthespar, and is far more resistant to change at all levels than either of the other parties. It is particularly supportive of the Grand and High Councils and their agendas, whatever those may be.
Anti-Federalist - Aithr opposes the encroachment and expansion of both the Dictus and the Eldram, believing that the ultimate end goal of a larger centralized government would lead to bloat and inefficiencies not suited to improving the lives of the citizenry. The notable difference between Lurin and Aithr here is Aithrican's wholesale support of the modern Council system, particularly the Grand Council.
Anti-Taxation - Aithr supports a progressive tax code like Saelen, but like Lurin encourages and embraces the insertion of multiple tax breaks and loopholes, particularly for the lower income brackets. The majority of Felthespar's modern tax system is determined by the compromises between Lurin's desires to reduce taxes on the wealthy, and Aithr's counter-proposals to reduce taxes on the poor, while Saelen tempers both sides in order to keep the government funded and afloat.
Pro-Liberty - Aithr is the most staunch defender of individual liberties, opposing virtually all laws which restrict the private rights of its citizens, especially the morality laws championed by Lurin. Aithr is extremely supportive of the spread of magical technology to the commoners. However, Aithricans are very much divided on the topic of education, with a majority of its membership currently holding that ignorance is an important tool to keep the nation's citizens at their happiest and most productive.
Pro-Infrastructure - Aithr is extremely pro-infrastructure, in some ways perhaps even moreso than Saelen. As Aithr is strongly anti-federalist and opposes the expansion of the Dictus' role, as well as anti-taxation, the members of the party believe that any budget surplus gathered by the government should go into infrastructure development, and virtually nothing else. This often makes the party extremely resistant to nearly all of Saelen or Lurin's other agendas, and stalemates the Dictus to the point that often infrastructure projects are the only ones that can gain any forward momentum.
Pro-Justice - In what some see as the party's most worrisome contradiction, Aithr is extremely pro-justice. Aithr believes that punishments and penalties should be harsh and handed out swiftly. Those within the party argue this is why many of Felthespar's laws need to be stripped down, so the laws that are truly important can be enforced more rigidly. Critics of Aithr, however, argue that their reputation as the People's Party is undeserved, when they are such ardent defenders of both the prison system and the death penalty.
Not to be confused with the Judicial Council--which is comprised of all appointed Justices across the country--the Prime Tribunal is a body of highly influential Justices which are given more substantial leeway in interpreting vague or highly consequential laws passed by the Senate. In cases involving said laws, only Justices who are members of the Prime Tribunal may oversee the case, and members will generally never be asked to serve on any normal trials.
While the Prime Tribunal does not have authority to change laws that have been passed by the Senate, it does carry out those laws to its own designs in individual cases. Because of the importance of keeping the Prime Tribunal’s decisions in check, any individual case can be brought under Senatorial review by one of several subcommittees which review those decisions. If this happens, the sentencing is suspended until the matter can be brought to a Senate vote, where it can be overturned with a simple majority.
Though under normal circumstances promotion to the Prime Tribunal is solely at the discretion of the Supreme Justice, there are a few exceptions where a Justice who gains specific achievements or notoriety is automatically granted membership. Most of these rules are strange and esoteric. The clearest and most often invoked example is when a Justice is appointed to the Grand Council.
Perhaps the most significant issue the Prime Tribunal handles, only its Justices may rule on matters of Treason, at any level. As one of Felthespar’s oldest sets of laws, Treason hearings are uniquely immune to Senatorial review, making them solely the sacred domain of the Prime Tribunal. Felthespar has three distinct levels of Treason: Low, High, and Grand.
Low Treason - Accusations of Low Treason are typically brandied alongside extreme cases of Military court-martial, although this is not mandatory. In cases of desertion or insubordination, it is up to the Military High Council to determine what level of punishment they wish to enforce: official reprimand, court-martial, or an accusation of Low Treason. Though rare, Low Treason hearings can originate from other Factions as well. An example of this would be a Senator leaking state secrets for personal profit, in a way that did not compromise national security. For Military cases the bar for conviction is very low, and generally the overseeing Prime Tribunal Justice will find the recommendation from the Military High Council sufficient evidence. In any other cases, the bar is much higher, and specific evidence of the action and damages must be proven. The punishment for Low Treason is the removal of all ranks and titles across any Factions, a lifetime ban from reentry into all Factions, and either a 5 or 10 year prison sentence.
High Treason - While vaguely defined from a legal standpoint, High Treason is considered any actions or intentions which compromise national security. The "intentions" clause of this law does not generally apply to citizens of Felthespar, but is in place to allow the capture and conviction of foreign spies before they actually commit damaging crimes. As with Low Treason, this means there are two different types of High Treason hearings, with very different bars for evidence. Natural-born citizens of Felthespar must be proven to have committed specific, provable offenses to be convicted of High Treason. Foreigners or naturalized citizens, however, merely need to be proven adequately suspicious in the eyes of the Prime Tribunal Justice. The individual heads of each Faction are immune from High Treason accusations, as is the Lord Grand Councilor, in order to prevent attempts at Factional political coups. The conviction for High Treason can be as low as a 20 year sentence in extremely weak cases, but is almost always either life imprisonment or execution.
Grand Treason - A specific action which either compromises national security or undermines the key foundations of Felthespar's government in some highly damaging fashion. Grand Treason hearings are taken extremely seriously, and have perhaps the highest required bar for evidence of any trial in Felthespar. Grand Treason accusations do not apply to normal citizens, as the law deems them incapable of committing an action carrying this kind of damage to the nation itself. Only the highest appointed officials of Felthespari government can be accused of Grand Treason, and none are immune from it. However, a Grand Treason accusation must also be brought by a sufficiently high-ranking official, generally at least a member of a Faction's High Council. The conviction for Grand Treason is always execution. In the event of an acquittal, depending on the degree to which the Justice rules the initial accusation held merit, either the plaintiff or the defendant will be sentenced to Low Treason. This is mandatory, and is in place to prevent accusations of Grand Treason for corrupt or flimsy reasons.
The Military is considered to have the most lenient ranking system, as far as the number of vouchers required for reviews and the requirements to get a review. The tests, however, are very strenuous to mind and body. Tests are tailored for each rank, however it is important to note that the 1-5 scale does not represent a traditional "awful-poor-average-good-superb" scale. On the Silver level test, for example, the scale runs "passing-average-skilled-superb-exceptional". There are ten different tests, and the testee selects a certain number based on the rank for which they are testing. Which tests are chosen are partly personal preference, but also partly based on interviews with the Knight and their mentor's personal feelings on his student's abilities.
Anyone enrolled in a general pre-K training course is automatically given the rank Squire, though the rank will be removed if the Squire does not take his entry test within one year of the course ending. The training course covers the basics of fighting, combat, and being a soldier in the military, as well as basic aspects of the various types of magic--though little training in how to use them. The course is not required for testing to Knight, and civilians and Squires are allowed to take the entry test at any time provided they have a mentor voucher.
No Knight in the military will be ranked down for skill-related reasons, although in certain cases of disobedience or improper conduct they might have their rank stripped. Since experience is valued as much as skill, any Knight who has served for five years will be automatically given the rank of Silver, with special minimal testing. Similarly, any Knight who has served as a Silver for five years will be granted the rank of Gold, again with minimal testing. After reaching Gold, a review for Platinum is granted automatically every five years, although the testee must have the required vouchers or will be denied his review.
A Knight must serve for a minimum of three years before they can have their first review, unless they join above age 20 and have prior military experience. Once a request for review has been submitted, the review is given based on a lottery system. Reviews are also given on appointment, but getting such an appointment requires either friends in the Eldram, or being extremely charismatic.
Knight - 1 Mentor Voucher from a Knight of any rank
Silver - 10 Ranked Vouchers and 10 General Vouchers
Gold - 5 Ranked Vouchers, 5 Character Vouchers, 10 Peer Vouchers and 15 General Vouchers
Platinum - 1 Mentor Voucher from a Platinum Knight, an Eldram Voucher, 30 Character Vouchers and 25 Peer Vouchers.
The process of gathering vouchers for the Military is relatively straightforward, and relies heavily on General Vouchers at the lower ranks, with the focus shifting to Peer and Character Vouchers for the higher ranks.
The Military has generally less churn for vouchers than other divisions, as the majority of soldiers simply prefer to wait out their five-year terms to receive the automatic appointments to Silver and Gold. Only those ambitious to receive the rank of Platinum typically bother with the voucher system at all.
To obtain a review for Silver, several Ranked Vouchers from standing Silvers are required. Since there is an abundance of experienced Silver Knights in the Knighthood and minimal competition for these vouchers, this is not difficult. As such, early Silver Knight reviews can basically be thought of as at-will for Knights who have served their three-year entry period.
An early review for Gold is not substantially more difficult. It does still require Ranked Vouchers, but fewer of them, allowing for the fact that there are fewer Gold Knights to draw upon. From there it requires a mix of Character, Peer, and General Vouchers, which are generally easy to obtain but can be seen as a bureaucratic nuisance to most Knights. A promotion to Silver Knight often comes with increased duties for a Knight, including shifts training incoming soldiers or serving as Mentors, leaving little time for the hassle of gathering these vouchers. As such, it is even more common for a Silver Knight to await their automatic promotion to Gold after five years.
Platinum is the only Military rank that is not awarded automatically, and as such all Knights wishing to obtain a Platinum review must go through the voucher process. Those aspiring to rank Platinum are encouraged to cross-train with other divisions, and as such are expected to be well-connected and familiar with general bureaucracy beyond other Knights. However this has the downside of placing even greater demands on their time, making the process of gathering the staggering number of Character and Peer Vouchers even more daunting. Finally, the Knight must find both a standing Platinum Knight to offer them a Mentor Voucher--which carries greater weight than Ranked Vouchers and a risk to one's own reputation if the testee fails--and obtain an Eldram Voucher, which are highly competitive amidst all of the other divisions in the Knighthood.
There are ten different testing categories a Knight can choose from. The Military General test is the only required test, and must be taken by any Knight participating in a review at any level. The remaining nine tests focus on specialized areas of combat knowledge. In this sense, the Military has the most diverse testing, as it allows for personal development.
Numbers in parentheses indicates maximum possible score.
Knight - 1 test. Military General Basics only. This is a special test designed solely for incoming Knights. Test is pass/fail.
Silver - 3 Tests (15 points), 7 points required. If a testee scores a perfect 15, they are automatically ranked Gold.
Silver (automatic) - 1 Test (5 points), 2 points required.
Gold - 4 tests (20 points), 15 points required
Gold (automatic) - 1 Test (5 points), 3 points required.
Platinum - 5 tests (25 points), 21 points required
A comprehensive test covering all aspects of combat, focusing on knowledge of individual tactics, ability to handle oneself in a fight, responsiveness and adaptability. This test is to ensure that all Knights have the same basic knowledge, and to ensure that certain areas are not neglected in the interest of specialization, for example so that archers do not forget close-range combat skills. This test is mandatory and automatically fills the testee's first selection slot. In the case of Automatic Ranks, this is the only test that can be selected. High scores require the use of grey magic.
Testees choose a melee weapon to test with, and shield if desired. Test includes a solo demonstration wherein the testee responds to cues from the tester, as well as one-on-one combat with a tester. Scored on technique, effectiveness, variety, adaptability, responsiveness, and weapon- and shield-handling.
Testee can use no weapons or armor. Test includes a solo demonstration while responding to cues from the tester, as well as one-on-one combat with a tester. Scored on technique, effectiveness, variety, adaptability, and responsiveness.
Choose weapon to test with. Test includes firing at targets, both moving and stationary, at various ranges, and with various distractions. Scored on technique, speed, accuracy, precision, and focus.
Test of agility and speed. Test includes top running speed, dodging and evasiveness, coordination and focus while moving quickly. Scored on performance.
Testee must complete several objectives under great physical duress, usually while wearing full armor. Testing also includes long distance runs. Scored on performance.
Testee is given several scenario simulations, and must devise plans to succeed using limited resources. Scale ranges from small unit (i.e. a five person group) to full army. Scored on speed at developing plan, resource management, estimated casualties, innovative thinking, adaptability and responsiveness to sudden changes.
Testee is placed in wilderness with nothing but sparse clothing and a knife. Must survive for a specified period of time. Test is constantly monitored for testee's safety. Score is based on observed skill at procurement, ability to make necessities like fire or shelter, ingenuity at using environment, trapping, and defense against aggressive wildlife, preferably in a non-violent manner.
Testee must complete a variety of objectives undetected. Objectives typically include infiltration or object acquisition. Scored on performance, dealing with traps, use of distractions, use of non-lethal force to incapacitate. Note: unless incapacitation is part of the objective or the only way around an obstacle, points are usually lost for using it.
Test on ability to take and/or avoid blows. Covers all areas of defensive fighting, including dodging and evasiveness, proper use of shield, use of weapons to parry, defensive positioning, and ability to minimize damage from attacks. Scored on technique, performance, ability to read opponents attacks.
The Arcanum is much stricter than the Military, in both standards and requirements for tests. Arcanum tests are notorious for being long, arduous, and brutal tests. As befits such a studious, academic organization, the tests are a series of several written exams--some short answer but mostly essay--followed by a series of practical tests on scripting. The same test is administered no matter what rank the testee is reviewing for, and scoring remains mostly the same at each level. For example, a score of 2 on any particular test indicates Scribe-level understanding or skill.
Since rank is solely an indication of knowledge and skill, a mage can never have his rank stripped from him. In cases of inappropriate conduct, the Arcanum will administer punishments, but will not remove rank. The sole exception to this rule is if it is proven the mage cheated during an exam. However, given the strictness and difficulty of the exams, as well as the secrecy surrounding their nature, cheating is usually caught during the test and appropriate punishment--usually being kicked out of the Arcanum for intellectual dishonesty--is given at that time. For similar reasons, no ranks are ever given on an honorary basis.
As with the Military, enrolling in undergraduate classes gives the automatic rank of Apprentice, although this rank is removed if Arcanum entry exams are not taken within one month of graduating. There is a wide variety of undergrad classes available, and an entire curriculum has been developed to prepare Apprentices for their entry exams. The classes cover a multitude of subjects--starting with the basics of Heraldry, rune structures and ether theory, and including more specialized subjects such as Dragon Husbandry or Artifacts--to prepare hopefuls for an eventual career in the Arcanum. Although taking the undergrad classes are preferred, they are not required. Civilians and apprentices can take the entry exams at any time. Exams are given monthly.
Once an Apprentice has passed their entry exams, they are automatically employed with the Arcanum as a Scribe and are fully subject to its rules and regulations. They are arbitrarily assigned to one of six departments: Heraldry, City Services, Dragon Husbandry, War Magic, Artifacts, or Demonspawn. Placement is based partly on classes taken as an Apprentice, partly on demonstrated aptitudes during testing, but mostly on which divisions have openings and pure arbitrarity. Those who have Military ranks or who elect to become War Mages are still assigned a division to report to during periods of Military leave.
Once a member has been assigned a department, it is very hard to leave. Applications for transfer are usually discarded without proper consideration. The best chance a member would have would be right after passing his rank tests, but only if he took a test set from a different department. For example, if a City Services Scribe tested for Herald and took the Dragon set instead of Practical, they would have a markedly increased likelihood at being successfully transferred. The notable exception to this rule is Heralds who pass the Advanced Heraldry exam, as they are in such high demand that they can basically choose where they wish to be assigned, and can easily change assignments at any time.
Members can apply for review at any time as long as they have the required vouchers. Testing exams are scheduled twice a year, but only a small number of applicants (about thirty) will be enrolled. Due to the limited number of seats for the test, wait times of 18 months or more are not uncommon. When a testee has been selected to take the test, they are given 6 months advance notice to prepare. All testees take their General Heraldry tests at the same time, then are broken into groups for the remaining set.
All reviews except for Scribe require 1 Superior voucher and 1 Eldram voucher.
As with all divisions, attaining the requisite Eldram Voucher is difficult due to fierce competition. The only exception for this is when testing for the rank of Herald. The Arcanum is extremely demanding on the Eldram when it comes to assigning Heralds, as keeping the ranks of acting Heralds full in all departments is essential to a smooth-running Arcanum. Part of the original terms enforced by the Arcanum when they agreed to allow the Eldram a role in their operations was that the Eldram must prioritize the appointment of Heralds over all other positions in the Knighthood.
The Superior Voucher for testing for Herald is similarly prioritized by High Councilors, and in most cases acts as little more than a rubber stamp. Even if a Scribe is somehow known and disliked by a particular High Councilor and their request for a Superior Voucher is rejected, they can just resubmit the request and it will likely be approved by a different High Councilor.
These courtesies are only extended to Scribes seeking to become full Heralds, however. Progression beyond the rank of Herald becomes incredibly complicated. First of all, the Superior Vouchers work as a check to prevent the Arcanum from becoming top-heavy, as the High Council enforces a very specific ratio between each tier. This means that receiving a Superior Voucher for Magus or above is based on not only personal aptitude, but also a position being available.
Heralds may queue for years to become Magus without receiving the necessary Superior Voucher. Superior Vouchers are granted during a special session called by the High Council at the end of the current testing cycle, and apply to the next cycle. This means once a Herald has been granted his Superior Voucher, he only has six months to obtain the requisite Eldram Voucher, on top of his normal duties and studying for an exceptionally brutal exam.
Except for in the most rare of circumstances, the High Council will select to award Superior Vouchers for Archmagus positions to members who have passed the Advanced Heraldry set as part of a previous review. As such, when a Herald reviews for the rank of Magus, they must have the foresight to know if they intend to become an Archmagus in the future. If they have such ambitions and have not previously taken the Advanced Heraldry exam, they must do so as part of their Magus review.
The testee opts to take either the Advanced Heraldry set--two total tests--or the General Heraldry set and one other set of their choice, resulting in six total tests. Excluding Advanced Heraldry, each set consists of three different tests, and each test is a series of ten individual sub-tests, taken one at a time until the Herald fails one. Two of the tests are written exams, one on knowledge of the subject and one on theory of related magic and rune scripting. The sub-tests range from ten or more essay questions, to two hundred or more short answer questions, to being given certain information and having to properly analyze and report on it. The third test is a practical exam, where the testee is given a certain objective to complete, usually with a specific time frame. Completing two test sets, especially at higher levels, can take up to a week. If at any time during a series of tests the testee knows they cannot complete the test or cannot do well enough to improve their score, they may voluntarily take a fail.
The Advanced Heraldry set contains only two tests, and is taken by itself due to its overwhelming difficulty, as well as the fact that passing the test requires not only detailed knowledge of subjects covered by the General Heraldry set, but also familiarity with every other set. The tests are not taken lightly, and they are often considered the hardest tests in the entire Knighthood, surpassing even the infamous Paladin test. Adding to the difficulty of the set is the fact that, since there are only two test series, the point values are tripled. This means even the smallest mistake can be the difference between success and failure.
Tests are scored based on either how correct the testee's answers were, or how well he completed the objective. How far the testee got in the series has very little influence on score, except in the sense that wrong answers for barely passed tests will lower their score. Score is influenced by what rank the testee is reviewing for. For example, if a Scribe were to get 80% on the second sub-test in a series, they would be scored less harshly than a Herald scoring 80% on the second sub-test. On practical exams the rune structure itself is studied and graded, as well as the final result. Points are given for creative solutions, critical thinking, correctness, economy (using the minimum needed runes, as well as efficient design and layout) and time taken (this is the least important, and depending on the rune structure might not impact score at all).
A total score for each test series is given on a 1-5 scale, and the scores for all tests taken are summed up. Point values for the Advanced Heraldry set are tripled. When testing for Magus or Archmagus, the testee is not allowed to score a 1 on any series. Doing so is an automatic failure, even if they have enough points to pass.
All levels test against a maximum score of 30 points.
Scribe - Minimum 80% on entrance exams
Herald - 12 points
Magus - 18 points, minimum 2 points on each set
Archmagus - 24 points, minimum 2 points on each set
This set is required unless the testee is taking Advanced Heraldry.
Heraldry General - Written test on knowledge of runes, structuring, scripts, principles of heraldry and history
Heraldry Theory - Written test on general magic theory and ether dynamics
Heraldry Practical - Create a rune structure to accomplish a specific objective
Dragon General - Written test on knowledge of dragons, their biology, principles of breeding, etc.
Dragon Theory - Written test on magic theory as it relates to dragons, their evolution, breeding, and raising
Dragon Scripting - Create a rune structure that completes a certain objective such as pacification, mutation, or creation of a pseudodragon
Artifact General - Written test on knowledge of artifacts, their use and applications, and artifact history
Artifact Theory - Written test on magic theory as relates to artifacts
Artifact Creation - Create an artifact to certain specifications. Can request weapon creation if testing for Magus or above
Practical General - Written test on knowledge of practical magic, its uses and applications
Practical Theory - Written test on knowledge of magic theory as relates to practical magic and weather manipulation
Practical Scripting - Create a rune structure that completes a certain objective, such as taming high winds or creating light rainfall
Demonspawn General - Written test on knowledge of demonspawn, their evolution, principles of control and containment, and demonspawn analysis
Advanced Ether Theory - Written test on knowledge of advanced ether principles
Demonspawn Practical - Test on ability to handle, capture, or slay demonspawn
War Magic General - Written test on knowledge of war magic, its history, principles of matrixing, shadow magic, etc.
War Magic Theory - Written test on magic theory as relates to creation and use of war magic, efficient spell creation, Cloud and Shadow scripts, etc.
War Magic Scripting - Create a rune structure that accomplishes a specific objective
If taken, replaces all other tests.
Advanced Heraldry Theory - Written test on the principles of advanced Heraldric structures and scripting
Advanced Heraldry Scripting - Create an advanced rune structure to accomplish a specific objective
War Mages are a subset of traditional Heralds that forsake the Arcanum's oath of pacifism and focus on utilizing Heraldry in a combat setting. They have their own ranking scale and their own test set (this is distinct from the Arcanum's War Magic set for Heralds). Upon passing their entrance exams, a member may elect to become a War Mage instead of joining the Arcanum proper. Entrants with an active Military rank automatically become War Mages.
As a Military hybrid, War Mages are subject to the same active duty as a traditional Knight. They must serve the traditional nine months on active duty, but during leave time they have duties in the Arcanum. As with all Heralds, new Mages are arbitrarily assigned a department, although most War Mages are placed in War Magic or City Services.
Once the rank of Warlock is obtained, tours of active duty are reduced to six months, and organized so that at least half of all active Warlocks remain at Felthespar and work with the Arcanum's War Magic department.
All Ranks except Mage require a Superior Voucher from the Arcanum, and an Eldram voucher in addition to all other vouchers.
Mage - No voucher requirements
Wizard - 1 Ranked Voucher, 5 Peer Vouchers
Sorcerer - 2 Ranked Vouchers, 10 Peer Vouchers
Warlock - 1 Mentor Voucher from a Warlock, 15 Peer Vouchers
Though they appear even more intimidating, the War Mage voucher requirements are much easier to fulfill than in the standard Arcanum ranks. Firstly, although the Arcanum High Council insists on remain the de facto authority over War Mages, they take only a passing interest in War Mage promotions. War Mage Superior Voucher requests are not submitted to individual Councilors, but instead are forms filed with the full High Council. These are first forwarded by the Arcanum to the Military High Council, which replies to the Arcanum with a recommendation.
Pending Superior Voucher requests are resolved at a monthly regulatory Arcanum High Council session, and generally any approvals signed by the Military High Council will be passed on directly to the War Mage, signed by the Lord Herald. In some instances the Arcanum will override the Military's recommendation, but this can be in either direction. For instance, the Military is disproportionately favorable toward experience as compared to the Arcanum, and will often disapprove a request for review because the candidate is too young. The Arcanum disfavors this approach, and in cases where they feel confident the candidate will pass in spite of their youth, they will give the recommendation anyway. Similarly the Arcanum will often pass on undistinguished but seasoned War Mages the Military favors.
Because of their voucher requirements, War Mages are for the most part a self-regulated body. The typical process of gathering one's vouchers for a review involves first gathering all of the Ranked, Mentor, or Peer Vouchers from War Mages of appropriate ranks. Not only do these not expire, but showing that your War Mage vouchers are already in order greatly improves the odds of receiving an Eldram Voucher, as the Eldram recognizes the self-governing nature of War Mages and tries its best not to interfere.
After the Eldram Voucher has been granted, the War Mage has six months to obtain the Superior Voucher. Since this process is typically resolved on a monthly cycle, this should not pose a problem for qualified applicants.
The War Mage's rank tests are closer in nature to the Military's system, and higher ranks actually require supplemental Military tests. War Mages may apply for review at any time. Once their vouchers have been verified, they are placed on a waiting list with a slight priority given to those who have not had a review in a long time. Tests are taken individually.
Note that when testing for the entry rank of Mage, a War Mage must fulfill both the requirements for the rank of Knight, as well as the requirements for the rank of Scribe in the Arcanum. This means passing the Military General Basics test, which is the only time a War Mage may take tests from within Military General. Unlike other members of the Military, War Mages are allowed to be specialized to the point of neglecting other skill sets, and thus avoid the broad requirements that normally come with deeper runs of the Military General set. The reason for this is that the extremely high demands placed on a War Mage by the Arcanum's set make broad cross-training impossible for all but the most hardy of War Mages.
Numbers in parentheses indicates maximum possible score.
Mage - Minimum 80% on Arcanum entrance exams, in addition to passing Military General Basics.
Wizard - 3 tests (15 points), 7 points required.
Sorcerer - 4 tests (20 points), 15 points required. Cannot score below 2 on any War Mage set test
Warlock - 5 tests (25 points), 21 points required. Cannot score below 3 on any War Mage set test
All 3 tests are required at all levels except Mage.
War Mage General - Written test on the principles of Heraldry, runes, structure, scripts, ether dynamics, principles of matrixing, shadow magic, etc. This is a single test comprising several hundred short answer questions, dozens of essay questions, and several case studies. This single test takes nearly a day to complete. Scored on correctness.
Combat Casting - Field test over ability to cast and maintain spells under adverse conditions. Includes basic melee fighting. Scored on focus, critical thinking, adaptability, variety of techniques both physical and magical, and effectiveness.
Spell Matrixing - A two-part test:
1) Testee has 24 hours to matrix as many spells as possible. Scored on number of matrixes, variety, and complexity of matrixed spells.
2) Speed at Matrixing spells. Testee is given 5 spells of various complexity to matrix. Scored on performance.
Military Set tests are taken from the standard Military pool and are exactly the same, including scoring at equivalent ranks. In other words, for a Wizard to score a 5 requires the same skill as for a Silver Knight to score a 5. Selecting Military General is disallowed.
If testing for Sorceror, choose any 1 test from the Military's normal testing pool.
If testing for Warlock, choose any 2 tests from the Military's normal testing pool.
The Church functions under a very different set of rules than the rest of the Knighthood. Since Leprue's changes to the Eldram, the Church High Council has been resistant to relinquishing any sort of power. While they were forced to concede the Templar ranks and testing to Eldram jurisdiction, the rest of the Church has remained largely free of their influence. The biggest example of this is that a clergyman's title is not actually an indicator of rank, but rather of duties. As such, there are three levels of ranks--Acolytes, who serve the rest of the clergy; Cardinals, who form the High Council, with the Regent as Lord High Councilor; and the remaining three ranks of Priest, Bishop, and Archbishop, which are considered equals but differ in duties.
The Church requires all aspiring members to complete a period of service as an Acolyte. Depending on the age and previous schooling of the Acolyte, this period can range in length from six months to several years. During this time the Acolyte receives schooling not only in basic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic if necessary, but is also taught Church doctrine, the principles of white magic, how to minister to the laity, and other such topics. During this time special attention is paid to aptitude in teaching others or ministry. Those found to have such qualities may receive an extended period of training for a more specialized position. All Acolytes have service duties, mostly scribing and working under Bishops or Archbishops. At the end of an Acolyte's training they are given the rank of Priest, with a select few becoming Bishops or Archbishops.
Priests are the largest group of clergy, and their duties are focused mostly around healing. They study healing in all forms, medicinal and magical, and are responsible for staffing hospitals and clinics throughout the country. In addition, some priests become Field Medics. While they do not usually hold Military ranks, they will serve with the Military. While there are some full-time Medics, most are on a rotation where they serve three months in the field and nine months at the church. Priests also have lesser duties concerned with the spiritual welfare of the laity, but these are mostly downplayed.
Bishops are the educators of the Knighthood, staffing the majority of the country's public and private schools, as well as providing private tutoring to the wealthy. They also work with the Arcanum to staff and operate the University of Felthespar in the Residential District.
Archbishops are the preachers and sermonizers of the Church, responsible for upholding, teaching and discussing the Church's scripture. They also perform services such as weddings or confirmations, or other such special events.
While there are aptitude tests for changing rank, they are not under the influence of the Eldram. Determining if a cleric has the necessary aptitude to change position is entirely up to the High Council. A cleric can request a change in position at any time, as long as they have a Superior Voucher.
Clergy can be ranked down as punishment, with Cardinals being stripped of their title and lesser positions being forced to serve penance as an Acolyte before their rank is restored. Occasionally the Church will grant an honorary rank of Bishop or Archbishop to those who have shown exemplary service to the Church, as well as a certain amount of skill in either teaching others or public speaking.
The position of Cardinal is granted to clergy who have shown devout dedication to the Church, as well as masterful insight and understanding of their position. A Priest who is a master at healing might be granted the rank of Cardinal. The title is in addition to the currently held rank, and does not supersede the position. A Priest made Cardinal is still a healer, and a Bishop made Cardinal is still a teacher. With the title comes administrative powers. Usually there is a requirement of service for a certain number of years, but ultimately the choice to bestow the title is entirely in the hands of the High Council.
Because of this, there are dozens of High Councilors. Full council meetings are rare, so usually the Cardinals form smaller subcouncil meetings. For instance, all of the Cardinal Priests might hold monthly council meetings, then a select few delegates from the Priest Council might meet with other delegates to discuss concerns of the church as a whole. A small group of Cardinal Bishops might meet weekly to discuss teaching strategies for a local school.
The Eldram keeps full documentation of all Church ranks, and the Church uses Eldram officials to check these documents. If a rank change is not documented for some reason, it is not official, and if the priest in question is found to have knowledge of this they can be charged with pious fraud, which is a very grievous offense.
The Templars are considered to be the most skilled, most disciplined, and most versatile warriors in the Knighthood. They are a subdivision of the Church and answer to a Council of Cardinals. However they are a very independent unit, with most decisions being made directly by the Paladins. As such, the Templars differ from the Church proper in many ways. One of the more significant is the ready acceptance of the Eldram. Thanks to the help of the Eldram, every aspect of the Templars is rigidly defined and structured, and few allowances are ever made. The Templar tests are famed throughout the Knighthood as being extremely difficult and brutal.
Like the Military, civilians and Knights of any rank may take their entrance test as long as they have a Mentor Voucher. Templars, however, are known for being very selective about granting such a voucher. Because of this, most Templar Squires take the two recommended training courses, completion of which counts as an honorary Mentor Voucher. Those with no previous training in fighting must first take the standard Military training course and pass satisfactorily, although enlisting in the Military is not required. Those who have passed--or who already are competent fighters--must then take the much longer Templar Squireship course.
This course covers discipline, offensive and defensive white magic, grey magic, and improving skills already learned. For someone with no previous training, the two courses together take roughly five years to complete. Upon completing these courses and passing the first review, an aspiring Templar gains the rank of Guardian. Guardians comprise the bulk of the Templar corps, but are not yet considered full-fledged members of the Templars and have little say in the running of the organization. The ranking is considered an extended squireship, not unlike the Acolyte periods served by the members of the clergy.
Ranks within the Templars are not entirely skill based. All ranks above Guardian require a certain amount of time spent in service. The amount of time is based on both current rank in the Templars, as well as what ranks are held in other divisions. Those who are solely Templars require the least time, those who cross-serve in the Military require longer, and those with ranks in the Arcanum, Clergy, or Dictus require the longest. Because of the time requirement as well as other requirements, honorary ranks are never given. While Guardians can be ejected from the Templars at any time for any reason, once achieving the title of Templar they can never be ranked down. Only in the most extreme cases of offensive behavior will a Templar be banished from the order, losing all rank and privileges.
All Ranks except Guardian require a Superior voucher from a Paladin in addition to all other vouchers. Service years are cumulative, not per-rank.
Guardian - 1 Mentor voucher from a Templar or higher, or completion of Military and Templar training courses
Templar - 10 Ranked vouchers, 5 Verified Deeds. 1 Year required service, 2 if other ranks are held.
Lord Templar - 10 Ranked vouchers, 1 Eldram voucher, 15 Verified Deeds. 2/3/4 years of service.
Paladin - 5 Eldram vouchers, 50 Verified Deeds. 8/12/16 years of service.
Getting a rank review as a Templar requires a lot more work than in other divisions. All ranks above Guardian require a Superior voucher from a Paladin as well as the other needed vouchers. This is in no way a simple rubber stamp voucher, as the Paladins monitor the ranks of Templar and above zealously. If a candidate is found to be even remotely questionable in any way, a Paladin would rather reject them than risk their reputation as the one who damaged the Order.
The Ranked Vouchers are similarly difficult to obtain. Templars who have already gone through the grueling process of rising through the ranks take great pride in the fact, and are disinclined to make it easy on others. They feel that the difficult nature is what makes the position elite. This applies even more so to the Lord Templars. In many cases, obtaining the necessary ten Ranked Vouchers is even more difficult than obtaining the Superior Voucher, and may take decades in some cases.
Though the Ranked Voucher requirement disappears when reviewing for Paladin, make no mistake, it is by far the hardest review to obtain in all of Felthspar. First of all, getting another Paladin to admit that a Lord Templar is an equal to them is an excruciating task. Next, the Paladin must obtain 5 Eldram Vouchers within the 6-month expiration window. This is widely accepted to be an impossible task, and the Paladins gleefully embrace this, arguing that if you are not capable of exerting the necessary influence to circumvent the bureaucracy and bend it to your will, you are not worth of holding the position of Paladin.
In addition, the Templars have a further requirement in the form of Verified Deeds. A Verified Deed is a documented good deed. When such a deed is done, the Templar files a report with the Church's High Council, which is then filed with the Eldram, who randomly investigates deeds. If a Templar is found to have falsified a Deed, all of their active Verified Deeds are destroyed and they must start again, often with a higher requirement.
When Verified Deeds are reviewed by the testers, they look at the quality of deeds, not the quantity. So while "worked at the soup kitchen" would count as a valid Deed, if a testee has nothing but soup-kitchen-work Deeds they will be denied review. Higher ranks also require higher-quality Deeds. Once a Templar has received their new rank, all current Verified Deeds are declared Inactive and they must start collecting again. In other words, only Deeds gathered at the current rank count toward the next review.
This means that from the time he obtains his rank, a Lord Templar must begin accumulating 50 high-quality, verified Deeds that will impress the Paladins, in addition to everything else. This is usually considered the first step, as holding the 50 Deeds will lend itself a long way to forcing a Paladin to admit that you may be worthy.
All Templars take the same set of five tests, and scoring is constant regardless of rank. The tests are very intense field tests, and the testee is virtually always injured throughout the process. The Templar Testers are all Paladins, and feel this hardship is necessary to judge the testee's character. In cases where the testee is injured too seriously to proceed, the remainder of their tests are postponed for a number of weeks for recovery.
All levels test against the same five tests with a maximum score of 25 points.
Guardian - Military General Basics & Templar Squireship tests are both pass/fail
Templar - 15 points required
Lord Templar - 20 Points required, cannot score 1 on any test
Paladin - 25 points required
One-on-one test with the Templar Tester in a melee battle. Testee may use any weapon they choose, and any state of armor. This is an unregulated, unrestrained test, with the only rule being no magic use. Scored on technique, effectiveness, variety, adaptability, responsiveness, focus, and weapon handling.
Testee is given a war scenario as well as specific goals to achieve. They must form a plan and then command several small units in achieving the goals. Unlike the Military Tactics test, this test is not theoretical but must actually be carried out in a simulation. Testee is allowed to use magic if needed, as are any troops capable of magic. Scored on speed at developing plan, resource and troop management, mock-casualties, innovative thinking, adaptability and responsiveness to sudden changes.
Demonstrate knowledge and use of white magic in combat with a Templar Tester. Techniques include Light Grenades, Aura Blasts, Aura Waves, Holy Auras, and even Holy Light. Killing the tester is not allowed. Scored on technique, efficiency, speed of use, adaptability, variety, and skill level of techniques used.
Demonstrate knowledge and use of white magic in combat with a Templar Tester. Techniques include regeneration, advanced healing spells, Aura Barrier, and other similar techniques. Scored on technique, efficiency, speed of use, adaptability, variety, and skill level of techniques used.
Applied use of grey magic to complete an obstacle course, which includes fighting, lifting objects, breaking objects, being hit by objects, and resisting magic. Scored on technique, effectiveness, variety, adaptability, responsiveness, focus, and completion of the course.
Every so often there comes a knight who surpasses all expectations and exceeds all testing requirements. For those who are better than the best, the Knighthood has created the Celestial Ranks.
There are no tests for these ranks, and the requirements are not set in stone, largely because these are ceremonial ranks. To be eligible, one must first be at the highest rank in their primary division. There is also a requirement of service to the city, but this is a highly subjective point, and it is up to the Grand Council to determine what this means.
It is up to the knight's High Council to start the process, first by selecting them for consideration, then voting in Supreme Majority in favor of the honor (on typical seven member Councils, this defined as an initial 6-to-1 vote). Once this has been done the matter passes to the Grand Council for review. The Grand Council solicits the opinion of other High Councils the candidate holds ranks with. While it is not necessary for the candidate to have the highest rank in the other divisions, he must still secure a Majority vote for the honor. Once all related Councils have approved the candidate, the Grand Council must vote with a Supreme Majority to give the candidate the rank. It is generally supposed that the candidate will hold ranks with more than one division, but this is not a true requirement. If the candidate only has ranks in one division, the requirements are much more strict. They must get a Unanimous vote for the honor not only from their High Council, but from the Grand Council as well. In addition, they must gather a Majority vote from the entire Eldram.
The rank Knight of the Moon is given to those who have exceeded the testing standards set by the Eldram and continued to progress in skill, as well as serving their country with hard work and devotion. The rank Knight of the Sun is given to those with immeasurable skill and prowess in their fields, who have performed great and heroic deeds in service of their country.
Beyond both of these ranks is the fabled Knight of the Heavens. This rank was created by Leprue Messe as the ultimate honor for his friend, Calvin Darmani. Calvin worked tirelessly for the Knighthood in life, and his contributions touched every corner of Felthespar. He was a true hero to the people, and every Council--even the Senate--voted unanimously to give him this rank surpassing all other ranks.
It is worth noting that in the history of the Knighthood, General Kulara Karfa is the only knight to have ever been given the rank Knight of the Moon while holding ranks in only one division, achieving the impressive feat within two years of his arrival.
As a nation founded on the Three Great Churches, religion has always been a central concept within the capital city of Felthespar. However, when broadening one's gaze out to the view of Felthespar as a nation, including allied territories, this is far less true.
At one time, Itrius had churches dedicated to Pecoros, god of Order; Ainshen, goddess of Life; the god of Virtue, whose name has been lost; and Vaelius, Karn, and Anji, all names of the god of Ambition. The main churches of Karn and Ainshen were assimilated into the church of Pecoros in the aftermath of the Arocaen. The Church of Virtue was part of the nation of Toronda, which was destroyed by the Cainites during the Arocaen. Anji was only honored by Barkus, who managed to survive the Arocaen unharmed, although have mostly abandoned their religion as being "bad for business". By the 700s, outside of Felthespar itself religion on the continent was mostly a thing of the past.
Jegan is a large city located in the center of southern Itrius. Being located on the Keladeps River, but not in the marshlands (as Sellinda), has afford Jegan a rapid rise to prominence as the central trading hub of Itrius. While Jegan is technically independent and has never been annexed, after the Arocaen they signed a thorough alliance document with Felthespar. Since then the two are often considered to be sister cities, and a joint capital of the Felthespari nation. Felthespar rejects this idea as Jegan is technically an outsider to the nation, but only half-heartedly, as the alliance with Jegan has proven too valuable to jeopardize.
Jegan, as a trade city, never embraced a formal religion. When they made their alliance with Felthespar, they adopted the Church of Pecoros and the benefits that came with with it. Still, most Jeganites are not active worshipers, and the government does little to change this.
Isolated at the tip of the Vantriskan Peninsula, Vantrisk represents the most remote of Felthespar's territories. Felthespar maintains a claim over Vantrisk as insurance for future naval capabilities, should the nation decide to develop them. However aside from the legal claim, there is little to indicate Vantrisk's place as part of the nation. Vantriskans are an industrious, independent people, mostly fishers, blacksmiths, and carpenters. Their nation is small, but lavish, and is a popular retirement region for wealthy citizens of Itrius who are up for the pilgrimage.
Vantrisk recognizes no religion, not even the Church of Pecoros, not even in an honorary capacity. As a result of immigrants there are many different religions still practiced in Vantrisk, but normally these ceremonies are done out of the comfort of one's own home, among friends and family.
Lenghe is a fairly new nation, formed within the past fifty years. they are an eastern country, situated in the lowlands bordering the far east desert. This is an area claimed by Felthespar during their expansion after the Arocaen, but the area was mostly ignored until the inhabitants claimed it for themselves. Felthespar and Lenghe have been at war for most of its history, although this is due large in part to Lenghe's own attempts to expand, and particularly their efforts to capture and annex Jegan. Lenghe actually has been influenced a lot by Felthespar, and is fairly progressive in its political views. They are a non-democratic republic, meaning decisions are made by a council of representatives who are not elected by the populace. They believe in equal rights and basic freedoms for all citizens. Lenghe is a primarily agricultural region.
As for religion in Lenghe, they come from a region influenced by Ainshen's legends and lore. There are churches to her, and people attend services, but the religion does not have any sort of political bearing. It is not the official state religion and has never been, outside of some vague honoring in ceremonies, such as "In the name of Ainshen...".