Age of Death
Six-hundred years ago the necropolis fell from the sky; debris rained down and devastated entire cities, kingdoms and nations. War between these feeble rogue states erupted, and the people suffered for it. Uncaring, alien elves, enslaved all who crossed their path, forced to work at their pleasure palaces and to serve the whims of their new masters. The dwarves hid from conflict, content to toil away in their great underground cities. Their knowledge gave birth to iron-monstrosities that whined and spewed smoke and steam, fire blazing in their eyes. Humans did as they always had; they fought and killed each other over land, resources, religion, and the right to call themselves lords or kings.
The ancient necropolis, meanwhile, sat dormant, until a band of would-be robbers entered its corrupted halls. Inside they found the Slender Crown, the rotting god from another world. As the adventurer's screams echoed through the chambers of the ancient palace of death, droves of demons, undead, and things far too horrible to name spewed forth into the world.
Now, in the Age of Death, a cold mist dominates Ayo'tha. Entire cities wall themselves off within their borders to hide from the terrors that lurk outside once the burning light of Aith'na sinks and darkness consumes the countryside. You are a foolhardy adventurer, you seek your fortunes outside the cities walls. Searching ancient ruins, seeking out artifacts and relics of powers long forgotten. You'll either live long enough to reap the benefits of your exploits and claim power, or die alone in some dark corner of the world. Either way, this is your story.
Birth of Magick
RUINATION OF MAGICK AND RELIGION:
The world is a fragmented, ruined shell of what it once was, and magick is what ensures it stays that way. In ages past, before the Night of Prophecy -- when humankind and the other races of Ayotha were given a chance to meet a sliver of what it was that they had foolishly called their Gods -- the world followed the rules set out for it at its creation. Arcanery, in a very generous sense of implying it existed at all, was only a theoretical, philosophical exercise, conducted in meeting halls and lounges by societies that simply enjoyed dressing their social circles in a different kind of trapping. It did not exist; not merely as the world sees it now, in this broken age of horrors, but at all, and when it did arrive, it did so on the wings of nightmares.
Magick is not some mystical recipe its practitioners follow on a day-to-day basis to casually manipulate the world around them; while it effects very real results in the world around it, these results are consequences of another reality being imposed upon ours and causing the one we live in to shatter, albeit in -- at least hopefully -- a controlled fashion. As far as scattered records can ascertain, the application of this knowledge came at the hands of the humans of Ayotha first, as most of their peers and the other races struggled not just to rebuild but to survive in the lloigor-wracked wasteland that was once a comparatively peaceful, fertile world. After the Night of Prophecy, rumors of uncovered writings which allowed real magick, real power, to be channeled through a dedicated practitioner and out into the world. These writings were collected in an utterly forbidden grimoire that came to be known as the Black Book, a tome with many speculated origins. Some say the Book is a legitimately living, sentient other, an alien and conscious entity with an unknown and sinister purpose. Others say that it exists simultaneously in other times, other places, other worlds, and exists conterminously to spread its influence in the past, present, and future all.
What is incontrovertible, however, is that the following of parsed and translated rituals found in this book or copies of it has wrought unmistakable horror upon the world and those in it. While the Night of Prophecy was responsible for the destruction of cities, towns, and life, the magick found in the Black Book is responsible for the corruption of what remains and what has been built to try and effect repairs upon those shattered remnants. While there is real power to be found in the practice of these rituals, the overwhelming vast majority that even know of the existence of the Black Book are far from willing to pay the cost of not just their sanity, but that of their friends, loved ones, and fellow men. Every so-called spell cast brings the known world closer to a tremulous reality merged with that of wherever the grimoire truly came from, and even among the universally-loathed practitioners, all but the maddest can recognize that that would bode very, very poorly for our world and those living in it.
Most do not know the intricacies of magick, of course, but they know enough and have heard enough of rumors to wish to stamp it out where it exists. People have been strung up and burned, tied and quartered, even tortured to death over days over the mere mention of witchcraft, and this is the case through almost all of actual civilization. There exist, of course, esoteric societies, occasional outposts, even whole races of people who feel differently, but these people are outside their own universally reviled as destroyers and corrupters of the highest order, and they are ruthlessly hunted and slain by those who catch wind of them. Only in the vast, far reaches of the untamed world is this viewpoint ever relaxed, and even then it would still be a poor idea to reveal oneself -- fear is the most powerful motivator of violence.
"What I know of divinity is not much at all. I know that there are many beings that might be considered gods, but in reality are just as mortal as you or I. Old spirits, ancestors long dead, demon lords, queens, kings, alien horrors, and rarely, true gods. I know that the gods are cruel and uncaring; that they all display very little regard for humanity and are worshiped mainly to be placated rather than adored. I know the gods have little power to force their wills upon this world and that they are dependent upon their chosen worshipers to further their unfathomable agendas... I also know that many despise us, hate us, and wish to see us return to a silent age of death while they laugh into the void."
Cosmology of Ayotha
The endless void was incomprehensibly dark and vast and time itself had not yet existed before the light of consciousness illuminated the darkness.
The Keeper was the First; the one above all. She weaved the beginnings of fate and celestial bodies into one. Stars, planets, and the very fabric of reality itself was her doing. With each new star or planet, she gave the void a part of herself. Eventually, her form was spent and the Keeper was gone, but her presence would always be felt in the tapestry of time.
The Second was Kor'nu, a brilliant mind who sought to explore the cosmos that his sister had created. He was amazed at all the things he saw, but so terribly alone. His contribution to the void was the divine syllables. These words, the sublime commands, began to further shape and mold the immense space around them. Nu was volatile and expansive. Ohm was subtle and unifying. From these words, matter was created, condensed and re-forged for an unknowable, fluid amount of time. In this age of dreams, time did not yet exist, and its constraints and laws had no bearing on the creation of worlds. New syllables of reality emerged in the complexity; new words gave form to sentences and stories.
In this newly lit cosmos, physical laws began to structure and solidify. Events became predictable and somewhat linear, lending time to reality. Kor'nu, the only mind in a vast, lonely, captivating universe, began to explore the galaxies and stars. He lit suns and molded plants as his sister before him. He spoke new commands of even greater complexities and seeded life throughout the galaxy, but Kor'nu was never truly satisfied. As the eons passed, and his nexus grew, he desired a creation of his own; and others of his kind to share it with. Kor'nu called out into the void, his voice carrying into the blackness of the cosmos. It was here he found Shaldrot.
Shaldrot, chaotic, blind, and stupid, was the Third. Both male and female. Kor'nu was appalled at the sight of his sibling, a sad and terrible creature, and he attempted to banish the monstrosity back to the void but it proved to be impossible. Shaldrot became consumed in a masturbatory self-impregnation cycle which birthed terrible things into the vastness of the void. Destructive and terrible gods that still linger outside of reality. Kor'nu retreated from his grotesque sibling and attempted to escape the loneliness of the void a final time. When he uttered this bizarre word of creation, Kor'nu lost his material form and was cast among the stars in a destructive display. This sundering created an unfathomable number of individual consciousnesses that spread throughout the universe and were bound to biotic forms; separate, but still connected by origin and essence. Many lifeforms look to the stars and dream of what must be waiting there, never knowing it is themselves. This divine spark brought sentience to life on an unknowable number of worlds. One such world was Ayotha.
Gods of Mortis
The Ogdoad | Petty Kingdom Gods
"We are to love them-worship them in their absence. But where were they during the Long Dread, when we had to shield our young from death's icy breath? Only Wenafar showed her wrinkled face when it came time to claim our dead. The Gods have their own intentions concerning Ayotha, and what those are, we do not know. Our prayers go unanswered, and yet still we pray."
Shaldrot's Children | Dark Gods of Eld
"If we know very little of the Gods, we know next to nothing of Shaldrot's children. Abominations birthed from their progenitor, they linger in the void and have vanished from most written records. Still, many cults have appeared around Ayotha after discovering the 'divine truth' that is hidden in the Black Books. Many of these cults have dedicated themselves to fulfilling their patron god's wishes and seeking a path towards materializing the eldritch gods within the Waking World. Gods save us, if they were to succeed."
THE ARKKADIAN FIRE GODS | IMPERIAL GODS
"These Arkkadians believe that the gods blessed them with fire, the first to tame the flame. They see themselves as above all others, worthy of rulership over all men. I would have laughed at that, had they not proven themselves. Though the Empire has fallen, I write these texts remembering the immediate aftermath of Emperor Minas' death. It was chaos, the world collapsed around us. We now live in the shadow of the once was, the ruins of a past that we might very well never be able to reclaim."
- Aodh - Saint Aodh of the Arkkadian Empire, skilled alchemist and champion of the gods. His sacred anointed oils have been utilized in Arkkadian rituals since the Empire's inception.
- Asherat - The Mother Goddess of Fire and Sacrifice, the prime fire goddess of the pantheon. Mother of men, breathed life into the clay bodies of men molded by the god Atar.
- Atar - The Shaper God, Lord of Fire. Used red clay to mold and shape the bodies of men. Used his eternal flame to bake their bodies, hardening their shape. Father of the Arkkadians.
- Oggun - The fire god of war and dance, the original teacher of the mad war dances that the Arkkadian people practice before, during and after warfare.
- Azhathas - The Burning One, an entity of flame and light, his followers claim that Azhathas lassoed Aith'na herself and pulled her free from the iron grip of Svarog, thawing the chill of the first ice age. He is portrayed as a living conflagration, wicker effigies are often doused in fragrant oils and burned in reverence to his image.
- Ishum - The True God of War, represents the intensity of battle in the fires lit by the Arkkadian warriors before going into battle. The flickering flame that moves in silence before destruction and the screams of dying men ensue
regional | city | lesser gods (not a definitive list!)
Terminology & Additional Information
- Time of Madness - 'The Mist', an unexplained eldritch phenomenon that caused the minds of many of the mortal races to become crazed. The years after the mists arrived are referred to as the 'Time of Madness' and is defined by wars across the many nations and the arrival of the Elder Spawn, horrible monstrosities not natural to the material plane (waking world).
- World Heart - The World Heart (Heart of Kor'nu) is one of the most powerful sources of Aether in the known world, found at the heart of the Adamantine Mountain it is believed to be the very thing that allowed the champions of the Exodus to become the first divine powers of Ainerth.
- Aether - Aether is the essence of Kor'nu the Second Light manifested in a metaphysical plane of existence that allows the use of divine magics on Ohr. To put it simply, Aether is what allows divine magic to be used.
- World Wound - When Kor'nu destroyed himself in his last failed attempt to create beings such as himself, he seeded the galaxy with life but also destroyed the boundaries of reality constructed by the First Light (The Keeper). This caused the World Wound and it is from here that the elder spawn of the dreamer Azathoth are able to enter the waking world.
- Waking World - The physical realm with binding laws of physics, time, reality, etc. The Waking World is home to all mortal races and can be used interchangeably with Ohr or Materiel plane.
- Hebsed Ritual - A ritual used by the people's of the Four Kings to determine who best to lead them into each new age. It is a trial of the body, mind and soul. Only the strongest of the dynasty may reign as the leader, for he or she should be able to lead from the front during confrontations. They must prove their intelligence by undergoing numerous tests and must excel in all things related to strategy and leadership. Finally the chosen primarch must be able to understand that they are part of a divine plan. They must show a willingness to pursue the interests of Andminas above all else while upholding the vision of Menos through ritual and sacrifice.
- Exodial Magic - Exodial magic is the proper term for ‘elf’ magic. Elven magic is born from Aith’na and nature itself. Druids, rangers and some divine casters use Exodial magic. It should also be noted that they can train humans to use the art of Exodial magic to become an ‘Exodai’ mage, cleric, paladin, druid, or otherwise. However, they may never join one of the Exodial Colleges and cannot hold a position of authority within the power structure of the Elven courts no matter how skilled they might be.
- Maelstrom Ward - The Maelstrom ward was a powerful ritual used to combat The Mist that was infecting the minds of the mortal races and causing them to go mad. Powerful Exodai mages performed the ritual as the Assai Empire defended them while at the epicenter of a brewing storm in the ocean aptly named "Black Waters" between Ohrros and the Forbidden East.
- Morga - The Orkon lands of old, now known as the Mercenary Republic. The Orkon are close allies to the Thanasi and Trollkin.
- Elder Magic - Elder Magic is what allows sorcerers, wizards, warlocks and all other arcane magics to function on the world of Ohr. Elder Magic is not some mystical recipe or secreted words in a dusty spell book its practitioners follow on a day-to-day basis to casually manipulate the world around them; while it effects very real results in the world around it, these results are consequences of another reality being imposed upon ours and causing the one we live into shatter, albeit in -- at least hopefully -- a controlled fashion.
- Aith'na - The Sun of Ayotha, often times called Dawn Soul.
- Thieves of Light - The three moons of Ayotha. Somnus, Shal, Tzem.
- The Vault of Mirrors - Space, stars, celestial bodies. When one of the mortal races of Ayotha looks to the skies they are looking at the 'Vault of Mirrors'.
- Dreamer's Realm - The realm outside of reality itself where Azathoth dwells. If this elder creature were ever to be summoned to the waking world, all life would instantaneously end.
- The Long Dread - The Black Age, an age where Aith'na vanished from the sky and left the world in perpetual darkness. This event marked the rise of the Slender Crown.
- Ohr - Ohr and Ayotha can be used interchangably to describe the land or the planet. Ohr means 'light' and is the elven term for the planet. Where as Ayotha is the general term.