I'm releasing all the material I've done so far in a series of blog posts so I can somewhat of line through this project sooner than never.
It will also help consolidate what's been done and , if I decide to eventually publish it , help advertise the position of Content Editor that the project sorely needs.
At the moment I'm stuck in a cycle of fractally expanding what I think I need to do until paralysisation strikes, then coming up with a simpler approach that I work on for awhile before anxiety overwhelms me that I'm doing it wrong. Then I slip back to either paralysisation or fractal expandition.
(yes this is the second attempt at just giving the fucking thing away the first attempt was here )
(a bunch of stuff has been rewritten since then and I'll try and pace it better between blog post than dumping all the text in a single post)
Anyway here's part 1.
The Planes, Meta-realms, Terminus, Afterlife, Netherworlds, . Heavens and Hells, Nirvana's and Purgatories. Where the gods sit on their thrones and lotus flowers; where souls are called to for their rewards or possible transmutation into greater forms.
Arranged in a ring, or torus, each Realm is a psychopompic node pulling souls of a like philosophy towards it. They are physically continuous with each other, one can travel from one to another merely with walking.
There are currently 8 Realms regarded as the most fundamental. They are orientated on the twin axis of Law/Chaos and Good/Evil. However, this is not an eternal arrangement. Metaphysics are as stable as continental plates, and as potentially destructive too. The Realms will shift and change in concept, number, and positioning. There are currently 3 “minor” Realms that don’t neatly map to the twin axis, and these are examples of a what a Realm can grow from or decay into.
A portal is suturing of space, belonging to both a mortal world and an Outer-realm at the same time. Most often created by magics but sometimes by dense history, they are unstable and will collapse or go dormant after a certain amount of uses. If they are proving too disruptive to the Realm, they will shut down. It is uncertain if this an act of agency by the Realm itself or an action as mindless and automatic as the eventual cloudburst of rising humidity.
These will have a realm that they are linked to and something that must be offered to them to open them.. The most classic is a stone altar where a particularly rare person is sacrificed. The offering of a life or a similar destructive act are not the only possibilities for a Sacrifice. Having not spoken or touched someone in a year is an example of this.
these might be a stone circle, a particular woods, a mistfull cave, etc. The thing in common is that they open at a particular time, often indicated by astrological events. Being on the other side of such a gate and trying to keep track of the time passing in their original world is not an easy task however.
If the conditions of a Realm are recreated accurately enough elsewhere reality itself can be confused and this makes it possible for people or things to slip between a World and Realm.
Certain dream states can allow one to both be asleep in a mortal world and awake in a outer realm.
Sorphic Chanting of Select Mystery Societies
The low drones of colossal aerophones
Advanced Hypnotism Techniques
Extensive Deprivation Ordeals
When the character wakes up any damage they take is transferred to their body, minus their wisdom stat. Instant death effects still kill the character.
Their dreamwalking self only has their clothing and one item significant to them. They can return to the waking world with an additional item, but no more than one. If they see their sleeping body they must make a saving throw or die. If they succeed, they immediately wake up.
DEATH AS A TRANSITION
Most living beings have souls. A soul is an invisible intangible ëxtra bit that makes a living thing have self awareness,dreams, and complicated additions to emotion.
If you want some worryingly specific details: it seems to form about the same time as a certain amount of consciousness, self awareness and protean internal language .. So infants and animals may or may not have souls depending on their degree of development.
Memory and identity imprint on the soul but can by lost by certain (rare) disruptive events.
If a soul loses all its memory and its on a Realm , it will be absorbed . If it’s on a World it will form some kind of spectral undead, unless it’s contained by certain magics.
Gods each can generally do a couple of things with souls (imprison them , assign them , re-assign , re-incarnate them, give them to things that didn’t have them etc) but none of them can do as much they and their followers claim they can.
Entity : There are numerous examples of being that can think and feel and have complicated emotions , but somehow lack a soul.
Upon death or destruction, no essential essence of them will remain.
The only consistent trait among Entities seems to be none of them need sleep or can dream.
As gm the consistent trait is you not having an interest in having an afterlife for them.
If you can , then they are a mortal. So mortals have souls that are contained in body.
If the body gets broken , i.e death, Soul will move through the following stages:
The Soul thinks their alive still and can’t form short term memories. Generally this means they wander around repeating furtile actions. They appear as they were before they died.
The Souls location and perception becomes diffuse, expanding through time and they observe various significant moments of their own life.
The Soul returns to the location of its death, now aware of its nature. If anyone can communicate with now is the best time.
The Soul will notice patches of shadow and light appear stretched. Following them will lead to the Realm most closely matching the Souls attitudes in life.
Once in a Realm a Soul can fly with great speed over the Realm, and will be called to by “Callers”, specific bonded souls or Immortals whose vocation is this. The more the Souls attitudes matches the Realm, the louder and clearer the Callers can be heard.
If makes the decision to Settle, their Salt will be based on the Realm and they will become a bonded soul.
A soul can be assumed to have progressed one stage each game session
Which Realm a Soul goes toward will generally be the one most closely aligning with their own values.
Mortals that are strongly influenced by a religion, however, will wind up going to the Realm that religion tells them to. Mortals that are uncommitted or apathetic might drift around the mortal’s world or the fringes of the Realms. Pantheons sometimes send their representatives to try and collect these souls for their realm.
If a Soul’s religion has specific explanations for what will happen (like watching their heart be weighed against a feather with a hungry hippo watching), then that will be happening for the Soul once it arrives at the Realm.
Souls that don’t really fit with any Realm won’t hear any Callers, but could still be tricked by False Callers, See other Vermin Road Racket pgXX for more information.
Souls that spend too long at stages 1 or 3 will have their last emotions around their death subsume them and will become some form of ghost
A SUMMARY OF THE VALUES OF EACH REALM
Pinnacle: Virtue through deed. The strong have a responsibility to protect the weak, and gain glory and merit for doing so. The weak should find a way to have merit and strength and become able to give and protect others.
One should find ones talents and exercise them as to be able to contribute , give , and protect.
Personally ability should be exercised so challenges can be bested. No-one is strong enough to stand alone forever, cooperation always allows for greater strength and ability.
Corresponding to “lawful good”
Serene Night: Corresponding to “Neutral good”
Harm is caused by unacceptance , by wanting instead of becoming. Observation ,adaptation , and inner stillness allow for a harmonious movement through life. One must understand oneself and their environments as to better move in harmonious ways. Harmony begets Harmony.
Blazing World: Hedonism Corresponding to “Chaotic good”
Life without Joy is a meal left to rot. Exalt in ones own path, let oneself be free and let others be free too.
Babel: Newtonianism Corresponding to Lawful Neutral
"Make for yourself a definition or description of the thing which is presented to you, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and tell yourself its proper name, and the names of the things of which it has been compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object that is presented to you in life, and always to look at things so as to see at the same time what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use everything performs in it, and what value everything has with reference to the whole."
Heart of Iron: Ambition Corresponding to Lawful Evil, Egosim.
Power is everything, to have power is to see truth, to avoid evils , and gain desires. Every action that does not advance ones power is to be ruled by fear. One also must not be ruled by similar animal emotions. Logic and thought allows greater gains and power than impulse and impatience.
One must great structures with others in order to gain greater opportunities for power. To work without using others is to be an animal.
Plains of Revelation: Nihilism as an amoral asceticism Corresponding to Neutral Evil Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value
Everything is Everything . Pleasure leads to Pain , Pain leads to Pleasure. Only a perfect awareness of self can remove oneself from everything else and thus be greater than it. Purge one self of simple animal wants, purge oneself of fearful moral qualms, purge oneself of dignity of hope of faith. Take action against what has the power to deceive and entrap, burn universities, churchs, homes, and fortresses. Silence deceivers by revealing their lies to them. Show them the emptiness within
Protean Ocean: Possibility Corresponding to Chaotic Neutral Why ask questions when the answers don’t matter? Things happen except when they don’t. Things work until they break. Broken things are new things and new things are just the old things not broken yet.
Why say things mean things ? Expectation and assumption are just broken clocks. Stop making sense.
The Flesh Rifts: Corresponding to Chaotic Evil , Hedonism one's basic motivation is always and only pleasure; all and only that which is one's basic motivation has value for one; therefore all and only what is valuable for one is pleasure.
If it does not please why do it? With greater capacity to gain pleasure the more pleasure can be had. If a fear or a guilt stands in the way of pleasure, then surely the best path is out grow such quibbles. If you want and try to get it , and fail, find strength in this! Feel your hunger deepen! Find pleasure in the pain of defeat, for it will only strengthen one ! Find pleasure in pain! In Horror! In Self Destruction! To hide fears as calculations, moral qualms as beliefs is atrophy! only action can teach! Only action can strengthen!
Erebus Catharsis Corresponding to Chaotic Neutral , but more closer to Neutral
Grind: Conflict Corresponding to Lawful Evil But Corresponding closer to Lawful)
These concepts don’t alway translate to the highly contextual philosophy and drives of an individual, so the interface between the realms and actual cultural values is often filled by pantheons, i.e. the gods. The gods serve the realms by facilitating, guiding, accompanying, and testing the journeys of their followers' souls and collecting their Salt.
Their teaching serves what “possibility” actually means in guiding one’s day-to-day decisions.
The gods are replaceable to the realms, however. Each pantheon has their stories of beginning with the overthrowing of titans and subjection of chaos, an inversion of the fear each god feels about failing the realm enough to have the realm manifest primordial titans to dismantle and dethrone them.
DEATH AS A TRANSACTION aka What Souls Do For Realmas
Souls bring with them Salt.
Salt is a distillation of passion and experience. Salt is a direct representation of everything they fought, cried, sweat and fucked for.
When a Soul is accepted by a Realm its Salt is absorbed by the Realm. The Soul then becomes a Bonded Soul
This process could be far more drawn out if the Soul is in the jurisdiction of a panethelon and the particular rigamarole involved there. Most bonded souls then exist on the Realm in some ideal existence.
Tends to look like its favourite version of itself when it was alive. Limited ability to form new memories , no ability to grow in power. Can’t leave the Realm. No easy way to permanently destroy them, Realm will regenerate keep rebuilding them. Under certain circumstances the regeneration will cause loss of memory and therefore identity. If enough of that happens the Realm will absorb them . These circumstances tend be “got self in trouble acting in way uncharacteristic of what drew them to the Realm in the first place
Some bonded souls, however, desire or feel duty bound to continue to grow and gain power.
Immortal: A bonded soul that has been turned into something else by a Realm and can increase in power. Your demons and other afterlife agents. Can be killed, temporarily. They will regenerate back in the Realm but always lose some amount of memory, identity and power. Depending on the enemies in Realm they have , this loss of power and status could set off a chain of assassinations each knocking the Immortal further and further down the food chain, until they can’t remember enough of themselves to not be absorbed by the Realm.
Immortals can leave the Realm. If killed off Realm they will reform on their Realm after a week if it’s their first time. The 2nd times its a month, the 3rd a year the 4th a century, the 5th an eon.. Immortals killed on their Realm will they will lose a “rank” i.e become a the next weaker monster of that type. If killed again before they advance themselves, they will lose 2 levels/demotions. A third death without advancement will reduce them to protean mass and they will be absorbed by their Realm
Characters becoming Immortals
High level characters or characters that have gained the attention of powerful beings can be justifiably fast tracked into become an Immortal.
If you, the g.m want to run this, instead of levels, the character now advances through monster types. So go through various monster manuals, make a sorting list of appropriate other worldly beings. Each monster is a “rank”, and progressing up a rank is the equivalent of going up 3 levels. If they were above 4th level, advance one rank for every 4 levels they obtained in life.
Depending on your base system and your love of fuckery some ungainly hybrid of allowing them to keep some class abilities or exchanging out the Immortal Abilities
Exp can be earned by obtaining Sekem/Salt and consuming it, basically like the gold for exp system. Additionally any Immortal embedded in a pantheon can earn exp by doing missions for their gods.
bonded souls that do this become Immortals, and these are what most demons, angels, and other afterlife classical beings are. The Immortals progression in power will then depend on their access to Salt. If they embedded in a pantheon, this will be steady but still dependent on their favour of their superiors and ability to stand out from their peers.
Immortals not part of pantheon source their own supply of Salt through patrons, mercenaring, exploitation, rackets and tribute. A lot of this Salt comes from off Realm via the Vermin Road and Immortals Salt fueled ambitions are one of the core reasons Vermin Road exists.
It is entirely possibly to be an Immortal getting a regular supply of Salt via your dutiful service to your gods, and also getting a little extra through your own industrianess. No Pantheon openly condones, it and most are quick to punish it, but all are forced to accept that it’s rampant.
The main reasons Pantheons are opposed to it are:
Subverts the role of Gods as the determiners of Salt distribution
It’s seen as Bad that Salt leaves Realms and a Bad that could provoke the Realm into purging itself with Titans and establishing something else that can manage Salt better.
Salt is suspected to be able to taint the consumer with its specific origins. Weird personality shifts, falls from grace, unexpected incompetence, etc are often blamed on Vermin Road Salt use
GODS AND PANTHEONS
For an Immortal god-hood is the potential end goal here, commonly by replacing an existing god, but keeping the name. Most gods known to mortals have actually been replaced numerous times over the aeons, the name and titles remaining more or less unchanged. The inconsistent behaviour of any god as inscribed in the canons of any religion are the results of these.
As the actual power of the god, consider having it be reasonably higher than the upper tier monsters but not so high that they couldn’t be defeated by a vast plot.
Gods are replaceable, and most of their actual power is bestowed to them by the Realm. Think of them as Super Kings or something. This book doesn’t have any pantheons covered in any detail, as the real world mythology has massive amounts of material readily available.
The gods tend be self contained in the realms, like (pearly) gated communities. Few panethelons benefit from their followers knowing about the greater meta-reality of the Realms.
OTHER OCCUPANTS OF THE REALMS
Most mortals here come from worlds or timelines that no longer exist. Rendered unlivable due to apocalypse, invasion, or reality shearing incision, their lives are here now. Very few of them entertain the idea of returning, even the ones that remember their worlds are often too bitter or defeated to see any merit in this.
Countless exiles disappear into existing mortal populations that exist as part of a pantheon or a realm. The ones that remain independent (as opposed to overly influenced by the Realm ) are concentrated in two population centres, Dead Flags and 3-Hares.
Dead Flags is found the outskirts of Blazing World and is named for the field of abandoned flags that surrounds it. 3-Hares is on the other side of Serene Night, near Pinnacle. The exiles living in both these places both reject their former cultures but also build from them, having no other anchor for their identity. The most obvious effect of this is a people with a lot traditions and customs that they don’t seem to care about but fiercely cling to.
Other Exile populations centres are located in Bedlam (in Solitary), Detropolis (Protean Ocean) and the sprawling cityscape in Heart of It All
Incarnates are aspects of a Realm itself manifested.
If you’ve ever noticed supernatural agents in the early stages of a religion seem weird and inconsistent that’s because the Realm was manifesting some incarnates to do the yelling and the burning before the pantheon has had chance to mold souls into immortals.
Incarnates can be encountered by delving into some deep Realm stuff; layered strata or ruins indicating destroyed former pantheons, or even alternate Outer Realm configurations. Messing about here tends to trigger the Realms equivalent of an immune system, The Incarnate.
If a Realm needs to purge itself of gods it will manifest Primordial Titans (Referred to as Titans elsewhere in the text). These are God-killing Godzilla type deals. If represented mechanically, it should be at the breaking point of the mechanics.
Time and Travelling in the Realms
Traveling in the torus is a little different as the physical distances and even the passage of time are not stable, and warp and shift to currents unknowable to most.
The time units used for describing travel time and encounter frequency are the Dérive and the Fugue.
Dérive: Time spent focused on something with incomplete concentration, like a half day trek or the first day on a new job. A mix of stimulus and boredom that makes awareness of time difficult. Roughly corresponds anywhere from an hour to a day.
Moving through a dense area will take a Dérive.
If the exact time is needed for purposes of spell durations or meal consummation roll a d12 and assume that many hours. This is more a guideline and if there seems to be any more natural criteria for ruling if a duration has finished, use that (i.e everyone has forgotten about it).
If the party is separated you can determine different amounts of time for each grouping if that would make things more interesting or significant.
Fugue: time spent in routine, but one with stuttered cycles. Adjusting to night shift, jet-lagged air travel, recovering from bad illness or injury. Could be a day, could be a week, could be a month. Again if you want an exact number, d20 days or d30 if you have one.
Fugues are use for pissing about in safe areas or travelling through environments with scattered points of interest.
Night and day:
There is no central light source like a sun. Light is effectively everywhere , the more open the surrounding area , the more light there is. The more closed off , the darker. Effectively like it was a property of the air like oxygen.
Night is an additional quality which comes in an erratic tide from Serene Night, and pours from there clockwise around the realms , like a somewhat behaved flood.
Even if time did not stretch , dawdle and jump in the individual Realms themselves, the Night tide would not provide a regular cycle.
Night is basically reverse light here, however smaller (i.e not sun sized) light sources are still treated the same