[World Development] The Pale World

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Well, after a great deal of time, it's now time to move the Pale World into group development. I know a lot of the info is stuff you guys have seen before, but there actually has been a number of changes and depth added in several places. However, there just isn't enough depth to the world in entirety.

So, we're kicking the worldbuilding back into gear and I'll be looking to you guys to help me fill out sections about the world. The main focus for this thread is to develop the locations, customs, people, and other miscellania of the world.
Feel free to do some free form suggestions and if there are any particular bits that resonate or inspire you, let it flow.

The Conflict:
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Long ago, conflict raged across the face of the Pale World, until an event known only as The Cataclysm. The event seemed mundane at the time, but a problem arose, one the ancient civilizations discovered quickly. The world no longer produces colored mana. Whatever happened created what seemed to be an infinite separation from their very identities.
At the time, the civilizations turned their resources away from battling their neighbors and instead researching ways to filter the mana and artificially force the lands in their domains to produce what it should naturally. However, as time wore on, their solutions began to prove insustainable and one by one they failed, leaving them in more and more desperate straits. Their civilizations began to dwindle as they were forced to consolidate their way of life, turning inward and parasitically becoming more and more fiercely protective of their culture, striving to understand what had happened to their world while fighting off the advances of their enemies.

In recent times though, an understanding of the cataclysm has finally come into view. While they don't know what the phenomenon is, they know what the results are. The "color" of the land was being concentrated, crystalized into extremely powerful physical enchantments, hidden somewhere within the expanses of the world. Now the race is on to find these gems and unraveling the secret to releasing the Color back into the manastreams, harnessing the ancient mana to revitalize their dying ways and possibly leading to a rennaisance.
... And all the while, they are searching for a way to harness and control the mana gems of their enemies, knowing that if they can't find their own, they can at least keep their enemies from restoring their own power bases, lest they be dominated by the others.


The Cultures:
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The White Kingdoms

The White Kingdoms are commanded by the ancient angels of the times before. The eternal angels were created by the human civilization of the steppes, charged to be the guardians of humanity for so long as their existences persist. Unfortunately, after the cataclysm and as time went on, the angels began to see nothing but danger in the world. As they fell one by one, their numbers unable to be recreated by the mages without stressing the already delicate systems maintaining their culture, the angels concluded that for humanity to be truly protected, they must be sequestered and safeguarded. The angels began to collect humanity in great fortress cities, places they would be safe in, where they could be watched and cared for by their angelic overseers. Enormous floating satellite citadels were erected to stand sentinel above the fortress cities, places for the angels to monitor the people in their control and build forces of their own to defend against the invaders of the other realms.  (Iztacitlan as a name for the kingdom?)


Angels- Despite their age, the angels of the citadels are a potent force. Having origins that stretch back further than any of them may remember now, they are the greatest of their numbers left, a handful left out of a multitude. Within their satellite towers, they keep records that stretch back before their own creation. When it became clear that the cataclysm had altered the mana streams of the world, the Angels were the ones who advised the white kingdoms to abandon their pursuit of magic to filter their mana wells. Instead they pushed humanity to embrace artifice, knowing artifice was sustainable in ways enchantments were not. As time wore on, the angelic forces grew fearful of what would happen to their charges if their numbers were to diminish too greatly. They began to armor themselves in greater and greater machinery, becoming the heart of ever-growing apparatuses. They became more and more concerned with their own defense, growing paranoid at risking their lives, obsessed with the protection of themselves as well as the colonies in their charge. Now, it is increasingly rare for the angels to venture from their floating citadels, only being drawn forth when it cannot be helped. When they depart the safety of their halls, they are never seen alone, surrounded by a retinue of artifact creatures meant to protect them so that they may continue to guide the people under their aegis. Amongst the angels, the youngest of their number, Quicatlia, is the only one who regularly leaves the sentinel citadels, taking the opportunity to always move amongst the common folk.


Humans- Humans are largely unaware of the world outside, most having no desire to leave the great towers and harmony of the cities where they want for nothing. They are taught the world beyond their walls is a dangerous place and that their best efforts are spent enriching their own society rather than fretting over the outer world. The only concern beyond their walls that they focus on is the continuing effects of the cataclysm and the creation of artifacts to turn it aside. Those few humans who do venture outside the walls are known as Initiates and great pains are taken to bolster their natural abilities with artifice so that they may better survive the battles outside the walls. Unfortunately, once the initiates undergo their enhancement, they become unable to return to the society they wish to protect. Most Initiates live within and upon the wall, so that they are better able to report in emergency when they are actually in the city instead of roaming the outer plains. While the thick walls house many of the forces meant to defend the city, the inner city’s vista is dominated by the great ziggurats where the artificers and spirit-callers work to advance the kingdom. The ziggurats are an omnipresent feature in every city as much as the angels’ citadels, though a special mention must be made to the Pyramid of Ilhuiclan in the capital. It is the largest of the terraced buildings and where the greatest minds of the White Kingdoms pool their inspiration and innovation. Despite the wall and pyramids being the most notable of the city’s features, the myriad plazas and cobbled streets are home to markets, homes, and every other mundane amenity that you could find in any other town.


Elementals- A number of years after the angels turned to artifice, they sought to some way to restore their own depleted kind, to replenish the numbers lost to their fallen sisters. Using the abundant colorless mana to anchor the barest spark of white mana that is so necessary to the magic of their life, they attempted to recreate the spells that had originally created them. However, they found that their own skills were lacking. Instead of the artifacts giving birth to a new breed of angel, the constructs they used were only sufficient to trigger the existence of elementals. The Light elementals were no substitute for the angelic forces they were hoping to swell their ranks with, but the angels were practical if nothing else and the chose to continue the creation of the elementals. The elementals are artifact creatures whose bodies are held together by the precious white mana that is the elemental’s purest essence. They are incredible fighters and the highest ranked fighters in the White Kingdom’s forces. Unlike their angelic superiors, the elementals are a fierce and outgoing populace. While they have the same impulse to protect the kingdoms, the elementals are far more imperious though their loyalty can never be questioned. They are also much less reticent to enter battle themselves and in fact, seem to have no value of their own lives when weighed against any other being. The two most notable elementals are Tonaz, the strongest of their number, and their warlike leader Itonal.


Birds- Since ancient times, the people of the plains have used birds to maintain communications and monitor the far reaches of their demesne. The humans of the cities trained falcons for use in battle and pigeons to ferry messages to their neighbors as well as a number of other birds for various tasks. Once the angels claimed dominion, they continued the tradition of maintaining the city aeries. When it came time to create sentinels to fly the borders of their territories and keep order, they paid homage to the tradition of using birds by constructing magnificent artifact creatures in their image. The idols and constructs range from the meager Glint Hawk Idol, used as a simple means of communication to the massive Roc Engines whose size rival that of ships. The construction of the artifact birds take a sizable amount of skill. The largest and most powerful Roc Engine also doubles as the flagship of the angelic force, the Acalliatototl.


The Oracles- The people of the kingdom have long since believed in life after death, believing the wellspring of all white mana to be the paradise where the souls of the just rested. When the cataclysm struck, the citizens of the kingdoms grew fearful what it might mean for their spiritual lives. Knowing this, the angels chose to shepherd the souls of the people to the Vault of Souls. Here, the spirits are bound to the massive steel orb in the center of the dome. The spirits contained within are kept here for safekeeping until a time comes when the angels can safely release them to their reward. Unknown to virtually everyone except the angels themselves, the Vault of Souls is more than a repository where the spirits of the dead reside. It is used as a massive cell of energy that filters the colorless mana into powerful white mana that can be used. To maintain the Vault, volunteers are bound to rigs similar to those that anchor the elementals. These spirits are known as the Oracles and have access to the memory of every spirit contained within the Vault, the very history of the kingdoms made incarnate.



The Blue Society

The Blue Society was once composed of an enormous nation of humans. In the ancient times, they were a magocracy, their islands dominated by the academies that shaped every facet of their daily lives. This would inevitably be their downfall. Once the cataclysm struck, they could feel the simplest spells taking more and more effort. The most basic foundations of their daily lives were cracking at the seams. It was decided, by the Council of Laogong, the ruling body of the Society, that there were only two options. The first was to abandon every precept of magic they had ever learned, to try to adapt to a world without the hue of mana they needed. The second…. was to redefine themselves. To use their magic to alter their own bodies to do much of what they used their magic for. To change themselves so that they no longer needed mana of any color. The Council of Laogong, by a majority vote of 2 to 1, altered the fate of every living being in their dominion that day.


Shapeshifters- After shedding their humanity the people of Biyan, the blue society, found themselves redefined. Fluid, they were now capable of things in their new existence that they wouldn’t have dreamt of before. As years passed in their new flesh, they came to understand a great deal of their existence in ways they simply couldn’t have before. The magocracy grew to new heights as they attempted to understand the world around them, altering their flesh at will to attempt to better understand the nature of the plane, the cataclysm, and ultimately their existence. Time continued on and the shapeshifting ability became a mark of status, form and function becoming as much a desire for style as for their efficiency. The ultimate irony, centuries after the spell was cast, was the realization that their society had ceased to progress. That though they had attempted to abandon their dependency on blue mana, it was integral to the improvement of their people. When this conclusion was reached, they knew that there was only one way forward. To seize the richest remaining sources of blue mana they could. They pushed their society into the oceans themselves, building down into the depths as they had built into the skies, altering the world around them to fit their needs.


Merfolk- While the shapeshifters above had abandoned their pursuit of the power of the deep, the merfolk were in no position to do so. Finding their magic waning, the merfolk communities pulled together, abandoning the furthest reaches of their domains, pooling their populations in the vortices of power from which the controlled the tides needed to quickly span the breadth of their empire. Unfortunately, these vortices were exactly what the Biyan needed and the merfolk were driven out of their ancestral enclaves anywhere the superior forces of the Biyan appeared. Now, they are a people in decline. Their ancient ways still exist in far flung places, but many have chosen to try to reconcile the old ways with the invaders. The shifters have been surprisingly open to the exchange of ideas and it has split the merfolk people in half. The traditionalists still rally to push the shapeshifters from their homes, but many of the progressives see the advantage of allying themselves with the beings from above the water. The traditionalist leader is a shadowy figure who hides far in the north, in the frozen waters of the Polar region where only the Leviathan dare to swim.


Crabs, Fish, and the Zoa- As the Biyan pushed further under the waves, they found their own forces occupied with the expansion. With the advent of their own bodily manipulation, they came to understand the improvements one could make over nature’s designs and determined that the easiest method to fulfill the roles that had been accomplished by other means above the water was to harness the power of the life around them. Of particular note are the Zoa, who were magically altered to exist above the water, their nature changed so vastly that they could swim through the air as easily as the water. The Zoa and their handlers have effectively replaced the sentries that the shifters had used to guard their borders against the other civilizations.


Drake Serpents- One of the few creatures the Biyan have not altered, but still saw fit to domesticate are the Drake Serpents. An odd combination whose own genesis is shrouded in the mysteries of the past, they are fierce, territorial creatures. Their serpentine bodies have massive fins that run their length and propel them both within and without the water. Aside from that, the only notable feature that separates them from the serpents of other planes is a pair of legs with dexterous claws that they use to manipulate their surroundings. Out of the water, they walk upon these appendages, but within the water, they use them much more like hands.


Leviathan and Kraken- When the Merfolk Empire initially went into decline, the abandoned territories were once again turned over to the wilds. The native life viciously reclaimed their lost territory, and began to grow uncontrollably with nothing to curb their impulses. The leviathans have since become larger than they’ve ever been since the rise of the merfolk and are regarded with terror, even within the cities of the shifters. What is most distressing are the murmured rumors that the beasts are much more intelligent than the merfolk ever believed and now that they have reclaimed their power, it is only a matter of time that they begin to intrude into the settled regions of the ocean, harboring their ancient grudges at being contained.



The Black Realms
After the cataclysm, what was left of the black realms were in ruins. The population survived largely intact, but the infrastructures of their once proud people was torn to its foundations. The unity of their people shattered, the cities recovered thanks only to the brute strength of their ascendant conquerors. As the cities finally found stability something vastly more powerful and ruthless arrived to claim dominion over them. The Vampire Lords. Their exact origins unknown, the first vampire lord appeared in the courts of the most powerful warlord of the time. Within the throne room, she slaughtered his courtiers and the mana that she called ran dark with the life blood of her victims, capable of powering spells more foul and horrible than the warlords had seen since before their rule began. The vampire offered one simple deal. The warlord could continue his rule, so long as he knelt to her power and gave tithe. If he did not, then all the dark power she had called, and could at any time, would be brought to bear against him and she would find a successor more accommodating to her desires. With little choice, the warlord agreed and became the first declared warlord-regent of the realm. The vampires spread, a handful of them conquering the entire land in short order, either intimidating or murdering every warlord until their demands were met. Now the city-states are loosely ruled by the vampire lords, their power over the dark magic tightly controlled and traded in favor. A byproduct of their sacrifices, the blight that has seeped into the land around their strongholds ensures that they control the bonds needed to power the darkest magic. However, the fens now seep a deadly miasma that drive commoners into the protection of the cities, just further cementing the rule of the Vampire overlords.

Vampires- Vampires have a reputation as cruel and capricious masters, beings ruled by their whims. It’s an illusion that they have very carefully crafted. While they are certainly ruthless, their every major action is carefully considered and weighed. The origin of the vampire race is lost to most of the world, even to some of its own kind. Their genesis has roots stretching far back into the time before the cataclysm. During those times, the fens ripe with black mana, the people of the realms had a mastery over the mystic creation of plagues. Using their magic, they created an infection meant to enhance their assassins and elite soldiers. Volunteers were chosen, people who would put their own lives behind the desires of the sovereign. Those that survived the infection and subsequent transformation were the first vampires. They called themselves the Cognate. Together, they formed a terrifying unit that could strike at the heart of the realm’s enemies. Their success was unmatched, but their strength came at a cost. They were forced to feed upon life. After the cataclysm, they were scattered and left without direction. When the warlords seized power, most of them could see that it would inevitably lead to a civil war as each city grew more powerful. They reunited after nearly a century and formed a cabal, crafting an elaborate scheme that would keep war from ravaging their homelands. They would seize control of it themselves, using the influence of fear and ancient magic to manipulate the realm away from disaster. Most, if not all, of the vampire lords that currently dominate the realms are those who have had the duty passed to them from the older generations. While they do not age, as time continues to pass, the plague that grants them their power begins to further mutate them. Many of the vampires, when they reach this stage, adopt porcelain masks of their once human features to hide their faces behind before eventually being forced to step away from their duty and create scion to take their position within the cabal.


Humans- Humans make up the bulk of the population of the black realms. Each city-state is filled to bursting with people, each forming a vastly different culture, and as you could expect, the rivalry between cities grow to be quite intense. Most of the population are poor to middle class, making a living any way they can in the rotting ruins and rebuilt structures of their once glorious homes. In the darkened alleys, crime is a serious problem, with flesh trading, of many different sorts, being amongst the most lucrative of these criminal enterprises. Despite the overpopulation and harsh conditions much of the cities are subjected to, society is kept fairly stable by the iron grip of the warlord-regents and their courts. The nobility is built off the backs of the common people, but it’s understood that a nation in revolt is useless. Holidays are common to keep the spirits high amongst the lower classes, but still resentment festers in the hearts of the people and it is never uncommon for murmurs of revolution to spread. Above all though, is the terror of the true lords of the realm, and the desperation to do anything to gain their favor.


Shades- Vampires encourage duplicity in their servants, but those whose ambitions overstretch their abilities are dealt a dark poetic justice. Failure must of course be punished, but those who are particularly ambitious, or those who make themselves far too useful earn a special reprieve from the sucking void of the abyss. They are favored with a twilight existence instead of simply being killed. These are the shades. The remnants of those who failed to overthrow their lords. They now exist as living darkness anchored to the bones of their former life, their souls and memories preserved only by the grace of their sovereign. It is only by the power the vampire grants that that they manage to stave off the inevitable claim of death. They are forced into thrall by their masters, and given no alternative than to obey… or find a new master.


Zombies and Skeletons- The unintended consequences of the dark magic used to taint the mana of the mires, zombies are considered a distraction at best and a nuisance at worst. When the body of the ritual victim is discarded, a small sliver of mana may take root within the corpse. If it does, the corpse will stir once more, wandering around the land until it either rots through completely or is dealt with otherwise. Skeletons, on the other hand, are the creations of the power. The guards used to patrol the halls of the Vampire strongholds. They are chosen for their versatility and more importantly, the ability to replace and reconfigure their bodies should they be damaged. Skeletons are not known for being particularly bright, but some of them retain much of their identity even unto undeath. These particular undead are highly valued and given much more important tasks.


Demons- The most powerful minions of the vampiric forces, they are granted existence through dark rituals which require enormous sacrifice to concentrate the mana needed to form them. They owe their very being to the vampires that created them, a fact which they absolutely loathe. These forces are the most often seen presence of the black realms in the places beyond their borders, used either as surveillance or a deterrent against their enemies striking against them. Imps are a lesser form of demon whose intelligence was increased during their creation, trading the brute power of their greater forms for more cunning.


Horrors- Locked away in the forgotten dungeons of the ancient ruins, the complexes where the black alchemists crafted the mystic plagues and mutations that birthed the vampires, there are things best left forgotten. Crafted for war, turned into weapons that were never used, Mutations and horrible chimera whose sanity long since fled wait for the day their bloodlust may be finally satiated. Horrors dwell in the darkness, and woe be to those who disturb the long forgotten creatures.



The Red Lands

The Red Lands are the remnants of the massive continent which once stood dominant amongst the others on the face of the world. When the cataclysm struck, the shift in the nature of the mana that ran through the earth caused a massive seismic shock that sank over half the continent, breaking much of it into smaller islands that are now scattered out across the edges of the western coasts. The islands are covered in volcanic ash and hardened magma that constantly spews into the ocean waves. Despite the proximity to the ocean, most islands have an inhospitable, blistering climate thanks to the volcanoes that pepper their surfaces. Constant earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic activities make for an unstable habitat within the interior of the continent. Very little vegetation survives in the wastelands of the mainland, with only the hills and sparse, bedraggled savannahs providing any respite from the desert’s bane. The ranges of volcanically active mountains are where the bulk of the population of the Red Lands can be found, living under the iron claw of the dragons. The volcanoes are the only sources fierce enough to continue to produce red mana, and virtually every caldera and magma pool is already claimed by at least one member of the dragon scourge.


Dragons- The Viashino consider the dragons to be avatars of the ancient gods of war, the only gods to have survived in the mortal realm, having slaughtered the other divinities and driven them back into the spirit realm. Dragons do nothing to dissuade them of this belief, and it seems most have even come to believe it of themselves as well. Though there are a number of dragons in the Red Lands, they very rarely interact with each other. Fiercely independent, the dragons each claim their own territory and are savage to any they view as trespassers. Despite their competitive and predatory nature, they do follow a strange code of hospitality to others of their kind that request it. Of course, most have little interest in the business of their neighbors, but all of them pay homage to the greatest among their numbers, the Dragon Boh. Each of the Boh claim a sizable portion of the continent and every dragon and lesser beast within is considered their property. There are currently 3 Boh claiming territory across the shattered continent and none bow to any authority aside from their own, seeing the others as rivals at best and pretenders to their own right of rule at worst. However, an armistice is held between the dragon lords, but few would dare to call it peace. There is no peace between the Boh. There is only the threat of violence. (They are Jasterica in the west, Zahromzhi in the east, and Rezhna in the south) The dragons have an affectation for phoenixes, both as pets and most distressingly as a constantly renewable source of food. Many of the dragons keep at least one phoenix as a status symbol.


Viashino- The Viashino of the Red Lands have a long history, one which has risen and fallen as often as the contours of the peaks themselves. During the times before the cataclysm, the Viashino were mercilessly oppressed under the boots of the human empire, a result of a war so old and stale that neither side could remember the cause except for the enmity between their races. Their very culture had been stamped out in history immemorial and only the vaguest recollection of their traditions survived the march of time. Once the cataclysm struck, the magic the humans had built their empire upon failed and the Viashino tore through the human defenses, scattering the humans into the far reaches of the wastes, finally declaring victory in their age old conflict. Unfortunately, the urgings of their draconic gods and the bloody coup d’état, have created a culture inspired by the idea that violence is the ultimate judge. Most disputes are settled in the public arenas, right and wrong being determined by right of combat. Despite their bloodlust and warped sense of justice, they are staunch believers in the personal honor, placing it above most principles. The Viashino now inhabit the ruins of the human civilizations still standing, nestled in the canyons of the red lands, having reshaped them to suit their needs. Even if they despise the beings that oppressed them, they admire the fallen warriors and take pains to maintain the art and history of the human cities. This preservation comes from both the keen loss of their own ways and the drive to latch onto some form of tradition.  What little magic the viashino still practice comes in the form of geomancy, trying to coax mana that still runs red with fire from the heart of the earth to restore the natural flow to the land. Most of the power that they use is borrowed from their draconic gods, the shamans able to channel it from the blood of the dragons.


Humans- At their apex, the humans of the red continent reach extended further than any human civilization on the plane, rivaled only by the black realms. After the fall of their empire, most of the survivors turned to a nomadic life, forced to sojourn into the dangers of the deep desert. They managed to find shelter within the deep caves hidden in the far plateaus outside Viashino territory near the border of the deserts. Without their magic to rely on, and thanks to the harsh conditions of the outer desert, the humans have become a hardened people whose reliance is solely upon themselves. Most have abandoned the paths of magic and instead have chosen to embrace the way of the steel. Despite their kinship with the humans of the steppes, they refuse to join the enclaves ruled by the angels, knowing full well that to do so would be to give up the independence they cherish. Despite their harsh life, and the predatory raids from the Viashino, they have managed to eke out a life of which they are fiercely proud of. The human rebellion is violently opposed to the Viashino empire, and know that if the slay the draconic lords, it will cascade until the empire is broken, even if it means attacking one dragon at a time. A growing number have begun to worship the long vanished giants, the ancient enemies of the dragons the Viashino worship, whose disappearance was never fully understood. They believe that the giants have faded into the histories, sleeping the ages until they can come into their ascendancy again.


Moloch- This race of enormous lizards is the result of hundreds of generations of life existing unchanged under the blazing scorch of the desert sun. While they are distantly related to the lizards you can find in the other parts of the world, and even the smaller of their kind in the deserts, the moloch are towering hulks covered in thick plate-like scales. Perhaps their most notable feature is the series of enormous horns that cover their bodies like thorns. The moloch have an interesting relationship with the races of the desert, as the giant lizards are the only reliable way to find water in the deep deserts.


Kavu- While the dragons claim dominion over the magma pools and rivers of lava that pock the face of the Red Land‘s crags, actually occupying those mana rich locations presents a sizable problem. The Kavu. The reptilian creatures dwell along the paths of the molten earth, often sinking into the running lava itself, impervious to the flames that would reduce the other occupants of the desert to cinders and meat. While the moloch are ancient, the kavu are the other side of the coin, having evolved to perfectly match their environment, prey, and predators. Within the desert, the Kavu are the only creature that can oppose the domination of the dragons. Unfortunately, they are far too wild to be tamed and mostly too intelligent to be manipulated to do the bidding of the rebels.



The Green Jungles

Amongst all the lands afflicted by the Cataclysm, none have been so radically threatened than the Green Jungles. In the times before the cataclysm, the cultures of the jungles were at peace with the world around them, using the vibrant life force of the forests all around to create their homes, their immense living cities built of the forest itself. The forest-kin thrived, bending the shape of the world around them and caring for nature in turn, a symbiotic cycle of nurturing that ensured the healthy growth of their forests and their own civilization. The greatest among them were the ancient treefolk sages, generations of forest-kin took shelter under their boughs and learned to listen to the heartbeat of the world they were a part of. They were scholars, druids, and stalwart protectors of nature against outsiders who sought to harvest from their lands. Then, the verdant pulse of nature was muted by the cataclysm, the once rich life that flowed from tree to tree turned cold and gray. One by one, the cities broke, the forest-kin choosing to let their cities return to nature rather than harm the jungles that gave them their lives. The people were scattered, the elves retreating to the heart of the jungle while the Loxodon returned to the stands of the Treefolk. The worst affected by the cataclysm were the treefolk themselves. Without the spark of life that the verdant mana gave, the treefolk ceased awakening, their numbers dwindled as they grew old and returned to the source of their life. Their knowledge had to be passed on, but there were fewer in each generation to grant their wisdom to. The treefolk are dying as slowly as they live. The people of the jungle had little option and so they have forced the forest to grow, hoping that if they increased the size of their land, it might yield more of the mana they needed just to regain their lost civilization.


Elves- The elves are the oldest culture within the woods. Their ancestors arrived long before the war in the outer world took hold and remained detached from most of the conflict when it began to escalate. They learned from the treefolk they found in the groves, ancient even then, and learned to bond to the land in ways most had never dream of. They built soaring palaces of living wood, created great indoor orchards from where they drew their nourishment. It was an idyllic life, one of peaceful reflection, but then the cataclysm robbed them of the source of their culture. It was slow, but they were forced to abandon their cherished homes as the jungle began to reclaim its natural way. They were overgrown, and now stand only as once majestic ruins. A few elves still protect the heart of their culture, keeping the memory of their civilization alive, though they live secluded lives in their former homes. As the most stolid of the treefolk students, many  elves have learned to channel the mana from themselves. Unfortunately, this process is exhausting for them and a difficult skill for most. Those that can are used to shape the villages where the elves dwell, though they are poor replicates of the massive cities of their race’s youth. With their limited talents, they try to guide the forest growth in clearings and have trees grow near each other so they can build up the base for structures. They build their villages out of wood from trees that were naturally downed by large predators and use canvas skins from said large beasts as both decoration and binding. They now build vertically since it's easier on the forest in total and they are able to fit more of their kind in with less stress on their surroundings. Amongst the most important locations in their cities are the libraries. They are VERY fond of keeping vellum scrolls. Knowledge is precious to them.
What little metalwork they do is mostly with softer metals, so you see a lot of inlaid work on leather and wood, but not much in the way of metal armor and the like. A lot of their weapons are traded from the loxodon smiths, so they have a different styling than what they usually use. 


Loxodon- The Loxodon tribe have changed little in the time before or since the cataclysm. The keepers of the groves, they are the treefolk’s most loyal protectors, having followed the teachings of the treefolk since they first began sharing their wisdom with the nascent tribe. The Loxodon seem split between primal displays of strength and brutal violence and an appreciation and pursuit of enlightenment.  As they grow older and stronger, they begin the path towards shamanism, but balance their spirituality with fierce battles. Until they complete the shaman’s path, the physical toll taken increases, the tribe believing that they must prove their worth to continue, and prove that though they turn to the spiritual, they are still capable of protecting their tribe and the sacred groves of the treefolk. The Loxodon are the only culture in the jungle that practices ritual scarring, with the markings denoting tribe affiliation, chosen path, and lineage. Despite their primal appearance and shamanistic practices, the loxodon do have a fairly advanced society, even capable of sophisticated metalwork exceeding that which the elves are capable of. Legend has it that the tribes were named after the first weapon created by their people, the first creation made without the teaching of the Treefolk.


Treefolk- The treefolk are the oldest beings in the jungle, their influence stretching back to the very genesis of the great forests. Each member of the grove spent centuries nurturing their souls, listening to the pulse of the world, before the vivid mana of the jungle truly awakened them. As spiritual beings, the treefolk choose to take the long view of every event, gathering in the Pardes Valley and treating it as an amphitheater on a geological scale. Some of the other races refer to the treefolk as the cloud-veiled because of the thick mists that come from their leaves, water lost by transpiration, which accounts for a great deal of the fog that hang in the forests around them. The treefolk have a deep love of sharing wisdom, each bringing a unique perspective to philosophy even amongst other members of the grove. Though the grove is considered a collective, each sage is by nature an individual and the culture that they cultivate is far more varied than that of any of the shorter lived people. Since the cataclysm, the treefolk have become more concerned with their collective knowledge, as well as the perpetuation of their race. Without as many awakening in new generations, they have begun to teach the elves and loxodon their most ancient secrets, regardless of if they are prepared for it. Some members of the grove believe that even if the last of them were to die, they could never truly cease to exist. One day, the mana will return, and within will be the knowledge of all that came before. The greatest of the treefolk is massive, towering over three times the height of the others. He is a giant, even amongst the towering heights of the others. He is considered so powerful that a single bite of the fruit from his branches can impart profound revelations. Thought without a doubt the wisest of his kind, many of his statements make no sense to others, none more so than the insistence that there are other worlds beyond the one they live in. A great deal of debate has gone into what that could mean, but none have been able to understand the true depth of his words.


Beasts- Home to more life than can be counted in a generation, the massive beasts in the jungle are of special note. Very, very distantly related, the Baloth, Thoctar, and Indrik are all in the same family of creature, though many forest-kin argue what common ancestor they may share and from whence they sprang. Some believe that they were created, fully formed from the mind of the ancient gods and though the gods have long since departed, their bestial legacy remains.


Insect- As you might expect of a rainforest, it is teeming with insect, from the likes of the humble scute, to the might of the adephage. In many ways the forest could not exist without the insects, as ubiquitous and common as the very trees themselves, but far more varied than anything else under the canopy. Indeed, it seems that each and every form of insect life has evolved perfectly to suit some need, some suited to tasks that aren’t even native to the forest. Many of the larger insects end up sequestering themselves to grow, and these pupae should be avoided at all costs.



Geography lesson time kids!

Location, Location, Location

White Kingdoms: Most of the land is made up of steppes that dominate the terrain. The only exceptions are the mountains in the Northern west and the foothills around them and the western coast. Here, dense forests provide the majority of the trees on this continent. The forests and mountains are haunted by the predator cat known as the Jhovall, which resembles a jaguar many times the size of the regular cat... and known distinctly for having six legs. The people of the white kingdom consider the Jhovall to be the fiercest natural predator on the continent and it is not unusual to see them on the plains, come down from the forests and mountains.
The south of the continent is filled with glades that flow into the canal seas, except where the landbridges span the immense intermittent bodies of water.

Notable Locations: The great walled cities, The southern glades, The Great Goddess statue carved into the distant mountains, The Quartz Cliffs

Red Lands: The red lands are primarily immense mountains, scorching deserts, and sparse savannah. The mountains that make up the coasts of the east and north are occupied by the dragons, though the canyons which make up the interior of the land are the ancient human cities now occupied by the Viashino. A vast stretch of desert winds its way across the center of the continent, occasionally broken by the scraggly savannahs where much of the non-reptilian life manages to scratch out a life. Predatory birds, cobras, and small mammals manage to survive. The humans live upon the other side of the continent, towards the broken coasts overlooking the volcanic islands. Amongst the other indigenous species are scorpions and snakes, as well as predatory birds that prey upon them. Upon the volcanic islands Scavenger Drakes make their nests far from the major powers of the dragons of the mainland. Deep within the magma, dormant in the lava tubes and heat of the earth, Hellions lurk sluggishly. When hunger drives them up out of the core of the world, the kavu and dragons often lose a notable portion of their kin. While the Kavu and Dragon occupy the surface, the hellions rest below, proving that their power can be upset at a moment's notice.

Notable locations- The Tar Swamps, The Mesa peaks, The Imperial Canyons, The Magma Pools, The Caldera Lagoon, The Savannahs, The Dragon Ranges, The Deep Desert, and the Lava Isles.

The Jungles and Mires: Located on the same continent, many of the places are shared by both the Black Realms and the Green Jungle, though there are places where each have something unique.
The land between the mires and jungles is a vast plain of broken wastelands. It acts as the partition that splits the lands from each other, though the green jungles claim much much more land than the Black Realms. The wastelands in the Black Realms are occupied by giant moths whose silk is said to glitter. However, they never fly too close to the jungles on the other side of the plains.

The black realms have several rushing rivers that bring clean water into the massive ruins of the cisterns that surround the cities. A fair number of those have become completely submerged after the cataclysm into great lagoons fathoms deep. Because of the lower lands that drop as you continue further east, waterfalls are very common. None compare to the falls surrounding the massive fortress built at the center of the world's largest cistern. It is known as Column's Keep and is the official meeting place of the Cognate secret society. The falls surround it on three sides and are over a mile long in total.
What few forests manage to survive this deep into the Black Realms are filled with bats and giant spiders. The only creatures able to survive the polluted swamps are Oozes that appear as nothing more than stains of scum or oil spills on the waters.

The Jungles have few landmarks now, though the overgrown ruins of the Elfhame cities can still be seen. Amongst the only notable features are the jungle covered mountains which rise in the north along the furthest north portion of the continent in the west. Valleys dip under the jungle canopy, none more well known that Pardes Valley. Also notable within the Green Jungles are the Faerie Conclaves, which occupy many of the deep wood lakes where the fae make their homes. Of the other indigenous life, the most numerous of them are the birds in the jungle. Which, of course, terrorize the faeries that live there. Boar are present, as are higher order apes and exotic types of frogs as well. Unicorns are common in the deepest portions of the jungle as well.


Locations: Pardes Valley, The Rivers, Loxodon Grove, Elfhame Ruins,

The Blue Society is centered in an island chain to the east of the main continents. Composed primarily of two mega-islands, or demi-continents if you want to get fancy, and an archipelago of tiny islets they are still the smallest landmass any of the cultures occupy. Luckily, they don't need that much landmass, as they have long since extended their reach into the depths of the surrounding ocean. Unfortunately, most of the submarine civilization is as of yet unknown.
The most notable outward feature of the island's territories are the barrier of guard gomazoa that forms a perimeter around their primary holdings.

The Polar Continent: Far in the north is a wind blasted frigid continent that sparkles like diamond dust. Not much is known about this frozen land, but it is known that the leviathan spend much of their time swimming beneath the thick crust of ice that stretches far from the heart of solid land. It is rumored that a handful of the merfolk traditionalists take refuge in the submarine ice caverns, but none can confirm this.



As an aside, once we get the development done, with Pablo's help, we're going to move this into full on YmtC set design.
As our first measure, I thought we'd work on the white kingdoms.
Particularly, I want to focus on working on the White Kingdom's religion to start with.
But we could also use names... of course.

Anyways, what we know of the white religion:
They worship the sun.
They have a magical ritual tied to their afterlife.
The angels are called the Sisters of the Sun and are involved in the religion somehow.

... and, that's all really.
I would like to see some animism added to it, but. *shrug*
Given how bizarre mesoamerican mythology is, should we include things like the Tzitzimitl?

I think their religion would suit well with the cyclical sun eras of the aztecs. This era would be the age of the Moon Sun, when the light is waning. The ruling deity is Tonatiamatl, the caring but sickly Sun, who ascended by burning himself on a pyre made from his own scabs. Much of the ritual focus of the religion is to heal the almost-dying god, but the angels have subtly began to discourage such rituals as they use up valuable mana (see below).

The angels themselves are more like the high priestesses of the religion. In historical periods they were the direct link between mankind and the Sun deity (the ones predating the Tonatiamatl cult), but after the decline of coloured mana they gradually lost this religious function. Some angels still believe in Tonatiamatl, but most are now atheists who think that the religion is a hollow one, designed to keep the masses hopeful. 
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Okay, since I haven't been a part of this, I don't know the history of its development. However, it strikes one of my biggest pet peeves, so I feel the need to ask:

Why is the world so incredibly color-segregated?

Yxoque wrote:
This forum can't even ****ing self-destruct properly.

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Okay, since I haven't been a part of this, I don't know the history of its development. However, it strikes one of my biggest pet peeves, so I feel the need to ask:

Why is the world so incredibly color-segregated?



Most "colour factions" are reasonable seperate nations of their own right, that simply happen to be aligned with a particular colour of mana.

Now that coloured mana is disappearing, it stands to reason they'd viciously want to preserve their identity. 
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Okay, since I haven't been a part of this, I don't know the history of its development. However, it strikes one of my biggest pet peeves, so I feel the need to ask:

Why is the world so incredibly color-segregated?



Most "colour factions" are reasonable seperate nations of their own right, that simply happen to be aligned with a particular colour of mana.

Now that coloured mana is disappearing, it stands to reason they'd viciously want to preserve their identity. 


Well, sure, I don't mind that they are aligned to a color. I'm just wondering how come there's not a single group of individuals that are attributes to more than one color. Why aren't there scholars in some white area, trying to unearth all information about this phenomenon, so that they can better help solve it. Or maybe some of them turned to druids, helping their friends communicate with a dying world. The kavus are born natural predators, doesn't that give them a hint of green? Since the green and black nations intersect so much, isn't there a chance that some treefolks have turned to nourish on the dark swamps, and gotten some occult influences and new prespective on the circle of life, or whatever.

I'm just saying, having everything be monocolored just strikes me as highly unlikely, and needlessly limiting. As far as I can see, it doesn't add anything.

Yxoque wrote:
This forum can't even ****ing self-destruct properly.

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I think one of the prevailing points of the "block" is the feeling of increased segregation between the nations. Mono-colored is the norm and should be represented in card form. This, of course, doesn't mean that characters will not deviate from the norm, only that it will be an outlying occurence.

I believe Barinellos is trying to evoke the feeling that each Nation is scared/worried about every other nation because, since the mana turned colorless, they feel less powerful, and are unsure if they can stand against the might of an enemy force should war erupt.

So there is as little interaction between factions as possible, which in turn continues to fuel the prejudice and paranoia.

 
Given how bizarre mesoamerican mythology is, should we include things like the Tzitzimitl?

I think their religion would suit well with the cyclical sun eras of the aztecs. This era would be the age of the Moon Sun, when the light is waning. The ruling deity is Tonatiamatl, the caring but sickly Sun, who ascended by burning himself on a pyre made from his own scabs. Much of the ritual focus of the religion is to heal the almost-dying god, but the angels have subtly began to discourage such rituals as they use up valuable mana (see below).

The angels themselves are more like the high priestesses of the religion. In historical periods they were the direct link between mankind and the Sun deity (the ones predating the Tonatiamatl cult), but after the decline of coloured mana they gradually lost this religious function. Some angels still believe in Tonatiamatl, but most are now atheists who think that the religion is a hollow one, designed to keep the masses hopeful. 


Prooooobably want to avoid Tzitzimitl and the monsters as actual divinity, but setting up a resonance between that and how they view the black realms can make some good cross cultural development.

I like the idea of cyclical epochs since it fits a lot of the finer points. Not a huge fan of Tonatiamatl as a name, but the entire thing does inspire me. Similar to Brahma, I think it would be interesting to have a reincarnating deity that rules each epoch.
Naturally, he'd be responsible for the heavens, where his predecessors rule the afterlife.
When the cataclysm struck, they beleive the connection between the current incarnation and his former selves was severed.
The major religious holidays would probably coincide with the solar cycles, like the solstices.

As for the angels, the high priestess thing is good, but I feel like they need more divine significance. Created in the previous epochs as... I dunno, guides and protectors? They were made by humans, but I want some inspiration from the religious texts for them. I do like the concept of them more or less losing their religion as time goes on, but considering the Vault of Souls, I don't think they'd want to discourage religious practices.
Well, sure, I don't mind that they are aligned to a color. I'm just wondering how come there's not a single group of individuals that are attributes to more than one color. Why aren't there scholars in some white area, trying to unearth all information about this phenomenon, so that they can better help solve it. Or maybe some of them turned to druids, helping their friends communicate with a dying world. The kavus are born natural predators, doesn't that give them a hint of green? Since the green and black nations intersect so much, isn't there a chance that some treefolks have turned to nourish on the dark swamps, and gotten some occult influences and new prespective on the circle of life, or whatever.

I'm just saying, having everything be monocolored just strikes me as highly unlikely, and needlessly limiting. As far as I can see, it doesn't add anything.


Hey, I spent a LOT of time trying to make the geography diverse so it didn't end up with Mirrodin Syndrome, even if each culture is predominantly aligned to one color, they aren't isolated in that terrain.
Anyways, blue doesn't have any monopoly on scholars. It's a common misconception that something HAS to be aligned to one color and no other color can have access to it.

And not everything is monocolored. Just the bulk of it, which is what we have to focus on. There are a tiny tiny fraction of angels, for example, that have gone to black. They are the Eclipsed, rather than the Sisters of the Sun... but you don't focus on them when there are so many others who didn't bleed.

Besides that...
I think one of the prevailing points of the "block" is the feeling of increased segregation between the nations. Mono-colored is the norm and should be represented in card form. This, of course, doesn't mean that characters will not deviate from the norm, only that it will be an outlying occurence.

I believe Barinellos is trying to evoke the feeling that each Nation is scared/worried about every other nation because, since the mana turned colorless, they feel less powerful, and are unsure if they can stand against the might of an enemy force should war erupt.

So there is as little interaction between factions as possible, which in turn continues to fuel the prejudice and paranoia. 


This is accurate.
Besides that, when all color has fled, there is no advantage in trying to spread into other colors because they are just as colorless as you are. On top of that, your own civilization is the only ones who will grant you the color. If you went to another society, they'd think you were a spy trying to steal their mana.
And Multicolor really is out of the ordinary. Things like Shards and Ravnica happen far less than things like Zendikar.
I can accept Ruwin's explanation. It was just that when I read it, I got this massive feeling of "WE DRAW THE LINES OF THE COLOR PIE HERE", and I wanted an explanation.

And while I understand that there is some flexibility within a nation, I still think it's reasonable to expect some duality within it. You say that Zendikar is the norm, however, dual colors is pretty common in set designs, not only the multicolor focused ones. You already mentioned Mirrodin, but that plane only had focus on two factions for the most part, so that's a given. However, both Innistrad and Lorwyn have multicolored tribes all over the place. Time Spiral had GB fungi (and slivers), Kamigawa has ogre/demons in RB, BW clerics in Onslaught. You catch my drift. I'm just saying I would have at least expected someone to think "Hey, maybe it would be beneficial if we pooled our resources?", or otherwise had a two-colored ideology.

Edit: And Zendikar had UB Zurrakar and RGB Eldrazi, while I'm at it.

Yxoque wrote:
This forum can't even ****ing self-destruct properly.

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However, both Innistrad and Lorwyn have multicolored tribes all over the place. Time Spiral had GB fungi (and slivers), Kamigawa has ogre/demons in RB, BW clerics in Onslaught. You catch my drift. I'm just saying I would have at least expected someone to think "Hey, maybe it would be beneficial if we pooled our resources?", or otherwise had a two-colored ideology.

Edit: And Zendikar had UB Zurrakar and RGB Eldrazi, while I'm at it.


The thing is, Innistrad and Lorwyn both abutted multicolor blocks. They were allowed more leeway to set the stage for the meta they were leading into.
Kamigawa was a much stranger sort of block since color wasn't as important in the grand scheme as the spirit vs non-spirit aspects. The mechanics, in general, didn't have any specific color identity and could appear anywhere as a result.

It's all a matter of focus really. Things like the Surrakar are outliers, and actually barely had anything you could call a civilization.

But in the end, with the Pale World, color identity is a major aspect of the civilization. Bleeding wouldn't be something the vast majority would encourage. As a theme, this comes across as a color matters build.
In flavor terms, all the civilizations were enemies before the cataclysm. Rather than show any weakness, they turned inward and consolidated because they didn't want others to take advantage of their vulnerability.
Maybe the solution is to play up the diversity of the terrain a little more. I know that was important to you in the early design so it makes sense to emphasize it in the style guide.
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Maybe the solution is to play up the diversity of the terrain a little more. I know that was important to you in the early design so it makes sense to emphasize it in the style guide.



Well, that was one reason the "notable locations" was such a factor in what we're going to do here.
Aside from that, I plan to do a lot of "off color" fauna to fill out those portions of the world. Hence things like Giant Spiders and White Moths in Black Realms and Black Scorpions and Drakes etc in the Red lands.

.... hrm... Scorpion Drakes... *daydreams*
@Shamsiel:
While I was pondering over the deity and the signficance of the sun, and in general wondering if I should do something as far as an Alien Sky goes, it occured to me that the moon should probably have some sort of significance just for also being a heavenly body... However, I kind of like the idea of them only having one deity active at a time, so I don't think the moon should have a representative as well.
Aside from that, I'm also trying to think what kind of significance their sacred animals should have, given the fact that the aztecs put a lot of merit into sacred animals.
Birds and the like socially kind of replace dogs in the kingdoms, but I wonder if they should garner any special attributes.
Jhoval are more or less replacing Jaguars in the aztec significance, but can anyone think of any other animals to toss in.

Since we have a few holidays already lined up to the solstices, any suggestions for what those should be?
Lastly, I think they should measure their years according to a sidereal solar calendar. Just my preference there, but it gives some significance to constellations, which opens up potential divine significance... So, there's a way we can tie the divinity into animals, even if they aren't gods themselves.
Well, while not aztec, the greeks did thought that the light of the Moon was sunlight after all, as they describe Helios giving his flames to Selene, so maybe this religion also treats the Sun as the true source of light.

Birds sound good to me; all MTG angels have feathered wings, so birds = sacred is a "logical" leap. Aztec sacred animals are tricky because some of their reasons are directly tied to functions - hummingbirds are the reincarnations of the dead, while jaguars are the Sun wandering the earth at night. Maybe the Sun deity walks the night as some sort of animal, perhaps a Jhoval, and part of the rituals are done to protect him in his travels as a fragile mortal being.

Spring and Autumn festivals are a given, as both seasons always beared a lot of spiritual significance in the growth and decadence of the Sun. Maybe some unique feast periods where hope is renewed.
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Well, while not aztec, the greeks did thought that the light of the Moon was sunlight after all, as they describe Helios giving his flames to Selene, so maybe this religion also treats the Sun as the true source of light.


Given the importance they've put on artifice and magic as a science in general, I could see how they would come to the conclusion that the moon didn't produce its own light. They should probably realise it's a reflection, but what could that mean in terms of how they interpret divinity? Maybe that's where we can tie in the angels, have some legend about how angels protected the light as it went across the sky. But that still begs the question of what that would make the moon as a physical object...
maybe a cylix that catches the light that falls to the world... yeah, that has a good feel to it. What do you think?

Birds sound good to me; all MTG angels have feathered wings, so birds = sacred is a "logical" leap. Aztec sacred animals are tricky because some of their reasons are directly tied to functions - hummingbirds are the reincarnations of the dead, while jaguars are the Sun wandering the earth at night. Maybe the Sun deity walks the night as some sort of animal, perhaps a Jhoval, and part of the rituals are done to protect him in his travels as a fragile mortal being.


You're really focusing the target of the rituals on the wrong being. The rituals aren't dedicated to their deity, they're supposed to guide the dead to the afterlife. Without the white mana, they don't have the mana for the ritual, hence why they're collecting the spirits in the Vault of Souls. Aside from that, the afterlife is supposed to have some significance with white mana... Just not sure how.
I could use help determining the specfics of the ritual as well, maybe grab some part of sacrifice rituals, like burning the hearts, as part of that...

Jhovall shouldn't be the earthly avatars, but I feel like there is something there that we can use. Hmm... riffing on jaguars having spots and playing on the entire heavenly vault idea, we could have jhovall be bits of the night sky that fell, looking for the deity/sun. The stars are the spots they left in the sky. Does that sound resonant?

Still leaves a few spots open for sacred animals. Any suggestions?

Spring and Autumn festivals are a given, as both seasons always bore a lot of spiritual significance in the growth and decadence of the Sun. Maybe some unique feast periods where hope is renewed.


I feel like the autumn festival, with the waning of the sun and the harvest coming in could probably have some resemblance to Passover. Hmm... maybe find some way to tie it together with the Dia de los Muertos. How would those blend, I wonder... 
And what kind of change would the retention of the spirits in the material world have on it?

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
Maybe that's where we can tie in the angels, have some legend about how angels protected the light as it went across the sky. But that still begs the question of what that would make the moon as a physical object...
maybe a cylix that catches the light that falls to the world... yeah, that has a good feel to it. What do you think?



I think they would see the Moon as something of a heavenly prism, allowing the sunlight to protect and illumine in the darkness. They would no longer officially worship the Moon of course, but they would see it as a symbol of hope and renewal, and the Moon's phases could be taken as the highs and lows of life.

Angels themselves could be associated with the Moon, claiming to be the ones reflecting the sunlight on it's face. Hell, maybe there is room for lunar worship as a sacred activity the angels do.


Aside from that, the afterlife is supposed to have some significance with white mana... Just not sure how.



 Maybe their afterlife is becoming one with the light, seeking an almosty literal connection with sunlight as some sort of radiant spirits. Not very "aztecish", but then again a perfect replica is discouraged.

I could use help determining the specfics of the ritual as well, maybe grab some part of sacrifice rituals, like burning the hearts, as part of that...



Sacrifice in is always lovely. Though more personal bloodlettings a la the Maya ressonate more with me.

Does that sound resonant?



As a matter of fact, yes, as feline spots have always been used as star metaphors.

 Still leaves a few spots open for sacred animals. Any suggestions?



Maybe snakes? Besides being common in suncults, the snake skin shedding does remind one of renewal. Maybe also boars as a twist; believe it or not, boars did had some relevance in european solar cults. 
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I've done some thinking and picking through things while I was at owrk, and I've managed to work out some of the issues revolving around the white religion.
1) I don't think we're looking at a creator deity, but rather an uplift deity. Supposedly there should be some sort of ur-gods that actually created the world and then gave the responsibility to this deity and began the cycle of reincarnation and etc.

2) The angels carrying the moon is something I've decided against. Rather, celestial birds should be the ones carrying it. Gives them a reason for being sacred. Angels, meanwhile, are sort of demi-goddesses whose origins come from an entire population of wizards having funky sex dreams featuring the ur-deities. Some time later, angels burst forth from their minds like Athena, fully formed. So, looking at the myth of Athena and correlating that to protection as well will help us establish their origins.

3) I like the idea of boars, even if it means moving them from the green jungles to the green forests of the kingdoms. Of course what they are sacred for is... up in the air. Maybe clouds or something. (It's not that unheard of for boars to be solar in some fashion. Gullinbursti is a thing after all.)

4) Funeral Pyres are definitely a thing. I came to the conclusion that the specifics of the ritual aren't important, just that the ritual involves spells needed to guide the spirits to the afterlife and without the white mana to spare, the spirits hang around. Hence, the spirit vault.

Still kind of nebulous about the holidays, but a lot of this has come a long way.
Thanks Shamsiel, you're a good person to riff off of. Still wish I could get some other people in here to comment.

I've done some thinking and picking through things while I was at work, and I've managed to work out some of the issues revolving around the white religion.
1) I don't think we're looking at a creator deity, but rather an uplift deity. Supposedly there should be some sort of ur-gods that actually created the world and then gave the responsibility to this deity and began the cycle of reincarnation and etc.

2) The angels carrying the moon is something I've decided against. Rather, celestial birds should be the ones carrying it. Gives them a reason for being sacred. Angels, meanwhile, are sort of demi-goddesses whose origins come from an entire population of wizards having funky sex dreams featuring the ur-deities. Some time later, angels burst forth from their minds like Athena, fully formed. So, looking at the myth of Athena and correlating that to protection as well will help us establish their origins.


3) I like the idea of boars, even if it means moving them from the green jungles to the green forests of the kingdoms. Of course what they are sacred for is... up in the air. Maybe clouds or something. (It's not that unheard of for boars to be solar in some fashion. Gullinbursti is a thing after all.)


4) Funeral Pyres are definitely a thing. I came to the conclusion that the specifics of the ritual aren't important, just that the ritual involves spells needed to guide the spirits to the afterlife and without the white mana to spare, the spirits hang around. Hence, the spirit vault.


Still kind of nebulous about the holidays, but a lot of this has come a long way.
Thanks Shamsiel, you're a good person to riff off of. Still wish I could get some other people in here to comment.



Well, I'd be happy to oblige, of you don't mind. I love a good bit of worldbuilding. A lot of this will be kinda rough, but as long as we're bouncing around ideas...

On a general note, I think it's a bad idea for the languages of the different societies to sound too different (without good reason). At least, they should all sound like they're derived from a common proto-language. I'm not a fan of the aztec-sounding names. I think that derivation of general motifs and cultural philosophy is fine, but a lot of the aztec names just seem long, clunks and unwieldy. They also fall prey to 'how the heck do I pronounce this' syndrome pretty easily. 

As for the white religion, I love the general direction it's headed in, but there are a few things I'd tweak. I think that the creator gods should be a little better defined, while still keeping the religion focused on the uplift deity(s). How's this:
Sun deity and moon deity create the world, and represent balance, ying-yang style. The first people eventually upset the balance of the world. Saddened by their failure, the sun and moon deities each shed a thousand tears, then enter eternal sleep, bound in the sun and moon. The uplift deity is born from their tears; I'm thinking (s)he's some kind of god of justice. Justice traps the remaining tears in a crystal, which (s)he keeps on a staff. The whole dying world thing could also lead to some sort of crisis of faith regarding Justice. It might be cool if one of the other societies views Justice as a villain(?). 

Some other things:
Angels come about through (funky, non-sex) dreams people have of the creator deities. Justice, among other things, watches dreams (I think that the afterlife/religion should have something to do with dreams). When someone dreams of the sleeping gods, Justice visits, and touches them on the forehead with his/her staff harvesting(?) the dream, and blessing the dreamer with good fortune. Later, (s)he visits a sacred pool/lake/river/thing, and touches the staff to the water. A new angel is born out of the water. Only works in the moonlight?

The celestial birds carrying the sun and moon is an awesome idea. Do people use feathers as talismans? How else do the birds feature in the religion? I think that sacred elk would make a little more sense than sacred boars. I guess boars seem a little to feral, and oxen are a little too common in mythology. Elk seem adequately graceful and sacred. Does the religion feature animal sacrifice, blood sacrifice or both?

I'd be interesting in seeing how the afterlife develops. I love the funeral pyres and soulvault. I think, mirroring the sun/moon thing, there could be a sacred fire/water motif as well. Fire for sun, water for moon. (This wouldn't have anything to do with red/blue mana, though.) Perhaps the sacred pool from before has an eternal flame at the center, like on a little island. Perhaps the religion is built around two different, cooperating orders, one for sun, the other for moon. The angels could be aligned with either sun or moon as well. I like Shamsiel's lunar worship idea, but I think it could be expanded to solar/lunar/uplift deity worship. Perhaps the statue of the Goddess is a depiction of the uplift deity.

I think that equinox and harvest holidays are a great fit. Perhaps eclipses could be a HUGE deal. Architecture could be influenced by solar and lunar movement, like the Celts or the Navajo. Instead of just temple pyramids, perhaps the cities themselves are built in pyramid style, with a temple/shrine at the very top. A sacred tower, maybe? Or do a lot of the buildings use a pyramid-style architecture? During holidays, there could be sacred fires lit on top of every pyramid. Perhaps each household has to maintain a small fire during the holiday as well.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Maybe you can do something with mountains. Those were sacred to the Incatec and people nowadays think that most stepped pyramids (which I think are cliche to use) were built in mimicry of the mountains. Peaks and other high places are still enormously significant there. Caves are also sort of like the private parts of the world, from where stuff like rainclouds and emotions were born. That's also interesting to use especially in a mountainrich world such as you have now.
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Re: Pepperjack

Well, I'd be happy to oblige, of you don't mind. I love a good bit of worldbuilding. A lot of this will be kinda rough, but as long as we're bouncing around ideas...

On a general note, I think it's a bad idea for the languages of the different societies to sound too different (without good reason). At least, they should all sound like they're derived from a common proto-language. I'm not a fan of the aztec-sounding names. I think that derivation of general motifs and cultural philosophy is fine, but a lot of the aztec names just seem long, clunks and unwieldy. They also fall prey to 'how the heck do I pronounce this' syndrome pretty easily. 

As for the white religion, I love the general direction it's headed in, but there are a few things I'd tweak. I think that the creator gods should be a little better defined, while still keeping the religion focused on the uplift deity(s). How's this:
Sun deity and moon deity create the world, and represent balance, ying-yang style. The first people eventually upset the balance of the world. Saddened by their failure, the sun and moon deities each shed a thousand tears, then enter eternal sleep, bound in the sun and moon. The uplift deity is born from their tears; I'm thinking (s)he's some kind of god of justice. Justice traps the remaining tears in a crystal, which (s)he keeps on a staff. The whole dying world thing could also lead to some sort of crisis of faith regarding Justice. It might be cool if one of the other societies views Justice as a villain(?). 

Some other things:
Angels come about through (funky, non-sex) dreams people have of the creator deities. Justice, among other things, watches dreams (I think that the afterlife/religion should have something to do with dreams). When someone dreams of the sleeping gods, Justice visits, and touches them on the forehead with his/her staff harvesting(?) the dream, and blessing the dreamer with good fortune. Later, (s)he visits a sacred pool/lake/river/thing, and touches the staff to the water. A new angel is born out of the water. Only works in the moonlight?

The celestial birds carrying the sun and moon is an awesome idea. Do people use feathers as talismans? How else do the birds feature in the religion? I think that sacred elk would make a little more sense than sacred boars. I guess boars seem a little to feral, and oxen are a little too common in mythology. Elk seem adequately graceful and sacred. Does the religion feature animal sacrifice, blood sacrifice or both?

I'd be interesting in seeing how the afterlife develops. I love the funeral pyres and soulvault. I think, mirroring the sun/moon thing, there could be a sacred fire/water motif as well. Fire for sun, water for moon. (This wouldn't have anything to do with red/blue mana, though.) Perhaps the sacred pool from before has an eternal flame at the center, like on a little island. Perhaps the religion is built around two different, cooperating orders, one for sun, the other for moon. The angels could be aligned with either sun or moon as well. I like Shamsiel's lunar worship idea, but I think it could be expanded to solar/lunar/uplift deity worship. Perhaps the statue of the Goddess is a depiction of the uplift deity.

I think that equinox and harvest holidays are a great fit. Perhaps eclipses could be a HUGE deal. Architecture could be influenced by solar and lunar movement, like the Celts or the Navajo. Instead of just temple pyramids, perhaps the cities themselves are built in pyramid style, with a temple/shrine at the very top. A sacred tower, maybe? Or do a lot of the buildings use a pyramid-style architecture? During holidays, there could be sacred fires lit on top of every pyramid. Perhaps each household has to maintain a small fire during the holiday as well.



Re:Language
I do understand where you're coming from, but I really am trying to drive home the diversity. Besides... modeled after Earth, we have a lot of romantic languages spawned in the western civilization, but there are TONS of languages developed without latin as their base. If it helps you feel any better, the Green and Black will probably share a common ancestral language.

Re: Ur-gods.
While I don't mind borrowing little tidbits here and there from various other cultures, this strikes me waaaaaay too close to the Shintao origins revolving around Izanami and Izunagi. Aside from that, I definitely want to avoid any sort of labeling of the ur-gods as being deities of blank and the only celestial body I'd like to see the white kingdoms worship would be the sun itself. Aside from that, the uplift deity really only riffs off of being the god of Civilization, of which law and order would be part of. But he'd also be responsible for learning, agriculture, and medicine. He nurtures them, as the sun, as well as holding ideals up that they should live by, so narrowing him down to just being the god of Justice is putting him in too small a frame and removes the solar symbology dealing with him.

Re: Angels
The dreams bit could tie into the afterlife, I can see a lot of potential there, but I don't want the angels to be natural manifestations or it sort of robs a lot of the identity they have. They were produced by man, divinely inspired though they may be, to act as the defenders of mankind. By having them actually produced by divinity, it... takes away an integral part of their identity.

Re: Animals
Boar may be feral, but they make sense in the ecosystem. Elk might not, but I do sort of like the concept of them. I'll need to look into if there are any species of deer and the like that would be native to a warmer climate like that found in the kingdoms. If there are, I could see them having significance tied to the clouds. Dunno why that association comes to mind, but... shouldn't fight it, ya?
Birds, as a cultural icon, basically replace dogs in most significant ways. Very common for a household to have a falcon or other such bird as a pet. As for how they directly feature into the religion... uuaeh? That's what the worldbuilding is for. Feathers are a common accent, if for nothing else, how common they are to come by.

Re:Sacrifice
Blood sacrifice seems like it would tie into the Initiates, in a literal pound of flesh sort of sense. They replace body parts for the sake of gaining the power to defend their homes from outsiders. I could see some resonance being developed there in "give of your flesh for divine might" way.

Re:Afterlife
I like the comment you mentioned regarding dreams (as I said earlier) so having something to do with that could build some solid resonance. Dreams are often associated with water, so modeling the afterlife in such a way can help cement that connection. We have all sorts of afterlives like Mag Mell that already use a water motif in expressing paradise. Aside from that, going back to the cultural source, we have Tenochtitlan, the aztec capital, which was built on a lake. So there's a lot of potential in making the afterlife marine in some fashion. Probably some vast lake upon whose shores the spirits of the cleansed rest for eternity. Maybe with an island out in the middle where the previous incarnations of their deity preside.

Re:Holiday
A lot of the buildings are shaped after pyramids, rather than just using towers. So you have these large plazas/parks with pyramids built up around them, interpersed with residential districts and more mundane structures. Basically, if it's some form of "industry", then the guild responsible for it built a pyramid instead of a tower.
But I digress. I think we need to hash out what the purpose of the holidays are before we can dictate what customs they follow.

You provided some really interesting directions to work with. Thanks.
Now just to see how they develop in the back and forth.



Maybe you can do something with mountains. Those were sacred to the Incatec and people nowadays think that most stepped pyramids (which I think are cliche to use) were built in mimicry of the mountains. Peaks and other high places are still enormously significant there. Caves are also sort of like the private parts of the world, from where stuff like rainclouds and emotions were born. That's also interesting to use especially in a mountainrich world such as you have now.


Eh, might be cliche, but you can't fight the iconography. Hell, if you want to be technical, I'm using Ziggurats, which were mesopotamian in origin.
The mountains having significance for storms and rain is fitting given the climate patterns shaped by geography. Most of their weather blows in from the west, where the desert is too flat and too hot to allow clouds to form in the bulk they need to rain. It isn't until they're pushed upward against the mountains in the east of the Red Lands that they start to build body, then drift over the sea to the mountains in the west of the Kingdoms, having picked up a lot of moisture from the trip over water.
So storms coming from the mountains fit the evidence at hand for a proto culture.
Aside from that, there are the quartz cliffs, which probably have some significance to the people, but in terms of what and how... *shrug*
That's why locations are so important to develop alongside cultural cues.
3) I like the idea of boars, even if it means moving them from the green jungles to the green forests of the kingdoms. Of course what they are sacred for is... up in the air. Maybe clouds or something. (It's not that unheard of for boars to be solar in some fashion. Gullinbursti is a thing after all.)



I was thinking more in the lines of "raw power of sunlight", as boars specifically have that connection besides fertility in greek and norse traditions (they are basically death and rebirth symbols, in that aspect symbolising solar energies in destructive ways like with Ares/Apollon dealing with Adonis or Freyr's own use of Gullinbrusti as a war steed), but clouds is good enough.

 I think that sacred elk would make a little more sense than sacred boars. I guess boars seem a little to feral, and oxen are a little too common in mythology. Elk seem adequately graceful and sacred. Does the religion feature animal sacrifice, blood sacrifice or both?



Nothing prevents both from being featured, though, with elks being hope and the dawn while boars are defense and destruction of the enemy (hell, both even could take part in afterlife rites, with the boar being the destruction of the physical body and the elk being it's renewal) 
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I was thinking more in the lines of "raw power of sunlight", as boars specifically have that connection besides fertility in greek and norse traditions (they are basically death and rebirth symbols, in that aspect symbolising solar energies in destructive ways like with Ares/Apollon dealing with Adonis or Freyr's own use of Gullinbrusti as a war steed), but clouds is good enough.

Nothing prevents both from being featured, though, with elks being hope and the dawn while boars are defense and destruction of the enemy (hell, both even could take part in afterlife rites, with the boar being the destruction of the physical body and the elk being it's renewal) 



The boar as the beast that drives the sun might work in the same way the bird carries the moon. After all, even if we have a sun personification, people do tend to like to attribute locomotion to them. But I'll still need to think on it about how best to implement things.

As for having both elk and boar, I just don't want to overload the sacred animals. 4 is fine, but I think 5 would be the max. If a really good argument could be made, I could see going all the way to six, but absolutely no more than that.

In other news, enjoy these:

The Origin of the White Kingdoms, a religious overview
The religion of the white kingdoms follow the gods of the Sun. In the ancient aether of the first epoch, there were five beings. Together they created the world from primordial chaos and gave it shape. The sculpted the earth and the great dome of the heavens. Soon, the plane began to grow, and the peoples of the lands rose from that growth. Of the five ur-beings, only one seemed to notice the trials of the new life. The others departed from the world, but he stayed. He saw that his creation was a dark and frigid place, full of suffering, and in that moment, he felt pity for the children of his world. So he created a great pyre in the sky and lit it with his own blood. To ensure that it would burn forever and cascade its shine on the world without end, he gave his life, throwing himself into the fire. In the moment he died, he was reborn as the first god. He had become the sun, and in his new being, he uplifted the people of the land and taught them the secrets of agriculture and medicine. He nurtured them, from the sky, but as the many years went, he saw them grow restless. He worried, but did not know what to do. Finally, he saw them become violent, and he wept. In penance for his hesitance, he threw himself onto the eternal pyre, dying once more and plunging the sun into blackness. He strode out reborn as a new goddess, and named an end to the era of restless war. She came as more than the god of civilization, she came bearing the decree of law and order, justice and retribution. She punished those who made war against each other and when peace reigned, she passed her laws down to her followers, ideals to live by. When she saw that her need was done, she stepped into the sun once more and returned reborn as the god of a new era. So it has been since time immemorial, the Sun teaching us how to live, each god’s rule marked by an eclipse, a sign of a new epoch and progress. The old gods go to their rest, to preside over the paradise of the afterlife, as their reincarnation takes on their ancient responsibility.



Angelic origins
In ancient times, the gods of the underworld looked into the dreams of mortal kind and saw great suffering and ignorance. They looked to the sun of the time, but he stated that he could not help, as it was not his place. So, the gods of previous epochs conferred and came to a solution. They visited the dreams of the greatest mages of and joined with them in intercourse, giving them a small fragment of their power. Months later, all upon the same day, the angels were born, springing from the magic of those whose dreams had been touched. The angels taught their followers the spells needed to create more of their sisters, and so the time of angels began.


So, there we have the establishment of the solar cycle and angels.
Feel free to suggest adjustments or make modifications.
No modifications needed, it's wonderful.
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Can't you approach it making, like, all the animals sacred? Or to be more true to the source setting, symbolic? That way you don't have to keep a count to make sure that you're meeting the flavour quotum for wildlife but actually produce something that's organic to the setting. Even if you still end up having 4 to a max of 5 animals, which I think is perfectly fine, it's a different approach which I feel may make more sense.

Quartz cliffs immediately stirred the image to me of a place made from the crystallised bodily fluids of your choice from the gods and therefore filled to the brim with vitality and coloured mana. This is not-so-incidentally also in line with at least some south american ontology

And yes, mountains arrange the climate and it is probably for this climatic control that they gained so much of the spiritual significance in mesoamerica that they had and still have, but that's ultimately just a distant reasoning which does not at all approach the viewpoints of the cultures themselves. That's the p.o.v. that interests me most, if you can do something with it.
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I love the reincarnation angle. One question; are the gods of the underworld (the ones involved in angel making) the past incarnations of the same deity? As far as the mythos on the whole is concerned, I'm impressed with what you have so far. Just needs a little fine tuning and fleshing out. If you don't want to use it, I'll be keeping the myth I came up with; I wanna develop it a little more. I had an idea for tying a lot of the sacred animal elements together. Since the angels have assumed the role of demigods, we could have a trifecta of archangels, I'm thinking Hero, Healer, and Harvest deity. The three sacred animals (boar, bird, and elk, respectively) could be the symbols of the three angels, and the three angels themselves could be the heads of three religious orders, each focusing on one aspect of the worship of the main deity. Would this be too much in conflict with the sun worship, or would they make sense as subsets of the same main religion?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Can't you approach it making, like, all the animals sacred? Or to be more true to the source setting, symbolic? That way you don't have to keep a count to make sure that you're meeting the flavour quotum for wildlife but actually produce something that's organic to the setting. Even if you still end up having 4 to a max of 5 animals, which I think is perfectly fine, it's a different approach which I feel may make more sense.

Quartz cliffs immediately stirred the image to me of a place made from the crystallised bodily fluids of your choice from the gods and therefore filled to the brim with vitality and coloured mana. This is not-so-incidentally also in line with at least some south american ontology

And yes, mountains arrange the climate and it is probably for this climatic control that they gained so much of the spiritual significance in mesoamerica that they had and still have, but that's ultimately just a distant reasoning which does not at all approach the viewpoints of the cultures themselves. That's the p.o.v. that interests me most, if you can do something with it.


Mostly it's an issue of having to come up with symbolism unique to each animal, down to different breeds. It might be more organic, but it is SO much more work to give significance to everything.
Keep in mind that the kingdoms stretch over an entire continent, meaning that the diversity involved is quite "oh god why!?"
We have mountain goats, jhoval, possibly boars and elk, rats, rabbits, birds birds and more birds. There is a lot. As an aside, Elk definitely have associations with clouds and storms. Thunder is what happens when the sky-elk clash antlers.
Re: Cliffs. We already have a bit where the first god wept so... Seems like a legend associated with that would be easy to plug in. Once we start doing notable locations and their significance. Which, everyone should feel free to suggest. I should probably start coming up with names for a lot of this.
Re: Mountains
They are obviously home to the elk that make/are the clouds. Of course, the kingdoms are arranged in the plains past the foothills of the mountains and the forests, so... People don't go to the mountains that often, it's not something they have a lot of exploration with. So, as much as any of their cultural view, it's largely mystery because it's poorly understood.
If you have suggestions, I'm all ears.

I love the reincarnation angle. One question; are the gods of the underworld (the ones involved in angel making) the past incarnations of the same deity? As far as the mythos on the whole is concerned, I'm impressed with what you have so far. Just needs a little fine tuning and fleshing out. If you don't want to use it, I'll be keeping the myth I came up with; I wanna develop it a little more. I had an idea for tying a lot of the sacred animal elements together. Since the angels have assumed the role of demigods, we could have a trifecta of archangels, I'm thinking Hero, Healer, and Harvest deity. The three sacred animals (boar, bird, and elk, respectively) could be the symbols of the three angels, and the three angels themselves could be the heads of three religious orders, each focusing on one aspect of the worship of the main deity. Would this be too much in conflict with the sun worship, or would they make sense as subsets of the same main religion?


Afterlife, not underworld.
Bit of a semantics difference, but important. And yes, they are all the past incarnations of the Solar deity.
The demigoddess angle is less about them being representative of things and more them being significant. More like Hercules and Perseus rather than lesser gods like Nike or Nemesis. They aren't deities themselves, just more divine than the merely mortal.
Right now, I only have two angels thought up, Quicatlia, the youngest and most outgoing of the angels (and keeper of the sacred Angelheart Vials) and one of the oldest and most influential, Cihaumantli, who is rather... set in her ways and inflexible. If you have any interesting ideas for members to fill out the angelic numbers, totally open to suggestions. We'll need them in the same way Innistrad had Gisa and Geralf.
Not really all that enthused with splitting up the religious into different orders. Really want to focus on getting a feeling of unity to the place, rather than subdividing it up.

Reminder to self: Outline the way the religion and such have changed as a result of the cataclysm and the cultural shift spawned because of it. IE: How they interpret what happened at the time.
Other topics: Initiate Hierarchy & process (leave origins murky)
I think that there should be an angel who's only concerned with keeping the peace, at any cost. As in, she's willing to overlook morally ambigious actions as long as they keep the people happy and calm.

And then another one who is all about the justice. Because I'm a sucker for conflict.

Also, I'm very happy that you decided to make the Elk one of the sacred animals, because that made my walker concept for this week more interesting. 
Are angels constrained to White on this plane?

How set are you on the idea of the humans creating new angels (after the first wave shows up)? This has been done a few times before, and it might be interesting if the angels themselves created new angels using some sort of mystical (not sexual) ritual. I think it would play into the focus you laid out. "We will protect and sustain both the human society and our own ranks". Perhaps they lose this ability post-cataclysm, leading them to embrace artifice and elemental summoning instead. Or, maybe the ability is merely diminished ,with the same result.  

Instead of the three Archangels assuming the role of goddesses, could they simply be the heads of the three 'orders' (the orders would not be at odds in any way, and would all cooperate to keep religious affairs running smoothly*)? 

Idea: After cataclysm, worship of uplift deity is diminished in favor of straight-up sun worship, Angels become more central to religion, while religion and society both become more insular. 

*I get that you want a feeling of unity, but I disagree that the idea of three cooperating orders conflicts with this, and I do think it would help focus the symbolism, especially considering each of the orders I suggested would contribute to the defense and survival of the society.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Okay, I confess that I was forced to skim some of this. There is a lot, and many of the references were over my head. Anyway, I had a lot of probably useless thoughts. Like Moth-winged Angels. Since it seems that you've established the ties between feather-winged angels and feather-winged birds, this would probably be something for another time. I was also struck with the thought of Sky Burial. It seems particularly resonant, although funeral pyres do not lack a similar feeling. 

I love Scorpion Drakes. Can we do this please?

I feel like I had more to say, but then I was distracted by a little person. The only other thing I remember is that I feel like there should be major misrepresentation and misinterpretation of religious and secular cultural aspects from one culture to another. What I mean is that, the other cultures of the plane should mock, ridicule, and misunderstand both the White religion and the other cultural traditions of its peoples. I wouldn't stop at White either. Each society is the object of derision for each other society. I would be interested in seeing how the other societies misunderstand the White society.

My first thoughts involve the Sky Burial thing I mentioned. Blue society, and maybe the others as well, interpret the White Sky Burial as an offering not to the birds, but to the bloodthirsty Angels that flock menacingly across their skies. 

Of course, now I'm digressing to a point of sillyness. Funeral Pyres could be misinterpreted as well, I guess: They cook the flesh of their dead, they inhale the fumes of their corpses in some sort of attempt to induce intoxication, something like that. Not as cool as Angels eating the dead though. If nobody likes that for The Pale World, I might have to use it somewhere else.

I know we're not creating cards yet, but Misinterpretation could have some really interesting design implications as well. 

139359831 wrote:
That is a lovely painting of Richard Garfield. It really brings out his feminine side.
I think that there should be an angel who's only concerned with keeping the peace, at any cost. As in, she's willing to overlook morally ambigious actions as long as they keep the people happy and calm.

And then another one who is all about the justice. Because I'm a sucker for conflict.

Also, I'm very happy that you decided to make the Elk one of the sacred animals, because that made my walker concept for this week more interesting. 


The first angel sounds a lot like Cihaumantli, who is one of the most influential angels and dead set on nothing changing, violently supressing that sort of thinking if need be. She's very cold..
The one who is all about justice is probably less likely to be an angel and more likely to be one of the Solar Elementals, whose passions run a little hotter than the angels.

Are angels constrained to White on this plane?

How set are you on the idea of the humans creating new angels (after the first wave shows up)? This has been done a few times before, and it might be interesting if the angels themselves created new angels using some sort of mystical (not sexual) ritual. I think it would play into the focus you laid out. "We will protect and sustain both the human society and our own ranks". Perhaps they lose this ability post-cataclysm, leading them to embrace artifice and elemental summoning instead. Or, maybe the ability is merely diminished ,with the same result.  

Instead of the three Archangels assuming the role of goddesses, could they simply be the heads of the three 'orders' (the orders would not be at odds in any way, and would all cooperate to keep religious affairs running smoothly*)? 

Idea: After cataclysm, worship of uplift deity is diminished in favor of straight-up sun worship, Angels become more central to religion, while religion and society both become more insular. 

*I get that you want a feeling of unity, but I disagree that the idea of three cooperating orders conflicts with this, and I do think it would help focus the symbolism, especially considering each of the orders I suggested would contribute to the defense and survival of the society.


There are a very very VERY few angels who have defected to black. They are called the Eclipsed. Not a lot of details about them yet.

As for the angels creating other angels, review the Elementals section. They tried it, it didn't work.
Prior to that, the firstborn angels were reputedly the ones who taught the humans how to create their numbers by regular means. They left it to the humans because they felt it wasn't their place to dictate their creation. They were meant to serve and protect, and they'd only be created when the humans felt they needed them.

There's no real way to separate the worship of the sun and their deity. They believe the sun IS their god. It isn't symbolic, it is a literal belief.
The angels, meanwhile, are moving away from their position as religious figures and becoming a lot more central to the government and rule in the kingdoms.

This is another reason why I'm so reticent towards dividing them into different orders. They no longer really serve a religious function like in the past. They address the policies of the entire nation, with the individual cities being presided over by a small handful of angels, each with her own responsibilities. When they took over, they sort of supplanted the high-priestess thing. Functionally, they've become the Queens of the kingdoms (though the don't really interact that much with the common man. They don't handle the courts or pass judgment, they just make the laws.)
That's an interesting direction to take it in... I like.
Also, oops @ Angels and Elementals. 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Okay, I confess that I was forced to skim some of this. There is a lot, and many of the references were over my head. Anyway, I had a lot of probably useless thoughts. Like Moth-winged Angels. Since it seems that you've established the ties between feather-winged angels and feather-winged birds, this would probably be something for another time. I was also struck with the thought of Sky Burial. It seems particularly resonant, although funeral pyres do not lack a similar feeling.


Both sky-burial and moth winged angels are interesting, but don't feel like they fit here. Will be interesting to put them elsewhere, though I make no claim to them.

I love Scorpion Drakes. Can we do this please?

well, I already have drake serpents in blue, but I'll try and see if I can find some way to make this natural. As it is, we already have Scavenger Drake on the docket, and it might be a bit weird to divide up the black drakes.

I feel like I had more to say, but then I was distracted by a little person. The only other thing I remember is that I feel like there should be major misrepresentation and misinterpretation of religious and secular cultural aspects from one culture to another. What I mean is that, the other cultures of the plane should mock, ridicule, and misunderstand both the White religion and the other cultural traditions of its peoples. I wouldn't stop at White either. Each society is the object of derision for each other society. I would be interested in seeing how the other societies misunderstand the White society.


Misinterpretation born of ignorance will be a big part of things, but I feel like it's something we'll hav eto do after we have more of the cultures on the page.

Of course, now I'm digressing to a point of sillyness. Funeral Pyres could be misinterpreted as well, I guess: They cook the flesh of their dead, they inhale the fumes of their corpses in some sort of attempt to induce intoxication, something like that. Not as cool as Angels eating the dead though. If nobody likes that for The Pale World, I might have to use it somewhere else.


Funeral pyres are pretty baked into the world now. Aside from that, the afterlife shouldn't resonate with the sky for them since the sky is so much a living domain for them.
Oh, I also love the Eclipsed. That was maybe one of the things I forgot to mention. I want more information about them.

Okay, can Clouds have significance? Perhaps purifying significance? They are white - often - and having black smoke flowing into them, and losing itself within the brilliance of these atmospheric bodies. Since the sky is a realm accessible, and you mentioned animism earlier, there could be those who seek spiritual fulfillment within them. This is a primitive relic, before the temples and holy locations of the ground were constructed and/or sanctified. Clouds are significant in an animist sort of way to some, but perhaps not all. A place where souls are purified. The shapes that they form could also be read by priests (which would be a good thing for the other societies to mock). 

139359831 wrote:
That is a lovely painting of Richard Garfield. It really brings out his feminine side.
That's an interesting direction to take it in... I like.
Also, oops @ Angels and Elementals. 



Yeah, the cataclysm has really driven the entire culture into a more secular nation.
Anyways, I think I'm ready to talk about the Initiates, since we have religion nailed down pretty soundly.

Okay, the Initiates, we know, have traded body parts for artifice that can empower them. Trading a pound of flesh for some "divine might". Of course, this isn't a religious organization anymore, but they are all leftovers from before the angels took over.*
They are the guards on the walls**, as well as the scouts that patrol the plains.
So far, I'm thinking the ranks should be Monk, Apostle, Knight, General. Not entirely set on that order.
As to what each of their duties are... Up in the air.

*The history of the Initiates is something else we could stand to hash out.
**A duty they share with the Solar Elementals.

Aside from that, there's a dark spot in the history that could stand some illumination. Basically how we got from the religious theocracy to an artifice based secular nation. We know what's RESPONSIBLE, but not the path they took to it.
Oh, I also love the Eclipsed. That was maybe one of the things I forgot to mention. I want more information about them.

They'll probably end up being more developed in the black realms rather than here since we need more insight into the intricacies of that culture to figure out why they defected.

Okay, can Clouds have significance? Perhaps purifying significance? They are white - often - and having black smoke flowing into them, and losing itself within the brilliance of these atmospheric bodies. Since the sky is a realm accessible, and you mentioned animism earlier, there could be those who seek spiritual fulfillment within them. This is a primitive relic, before the temples and holy locations of the ground were constructed and/or sanctified. Clouds are significant in an animist sort of way to some, but perhaps not all. A place where souls are purified. The shapes that they form could also be read by priests (which would be a good thing for the other societies to mock). 



Probably no significance for purity, but they strike me as having fertility significance (along with elk).
The purifying sort of significance would more likely be driven by water flowing, so rivers and the like. The afterlife is meant to be a huge serene lake after all, so... Fire also has some purifying significance, but thaaat gets a little harsh.
Could there be one angel (she may have been living in exile) who eventually figures out how to call new angels? The whole 'dying race of angels' thing is pretty close to an idea I had a while ago, and this might be a good place for it. Not in the initial background info, per se, but it would make a cool part of the set's story. Whatever, that can come later. Do you have any more thought on the three orders idea? Should we just scrap it? Also, scorpion drakes have to be a thing.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Could there be one angel (she may have been living in exile) who eventually figures out how to call new angels? The whole 'dying race of angels' thing is pretty close to an idea I had a while ago, and this might be a good place for it. Not in the initial background info, per se, but it would make a cool part of the set's story. Whatever, that can come later. Do you have any more thought on the three orders idea? Should we just scrap it? Also, scorpion drakes have to be a thing.


It might be possible to staple part of that onto Quicatlia, the youngest angel, since she's the one responsible for holding the Angelheart Vials. Part of it has to be a law of diminishing return though (sort of like the vial itself). Of course, if you wanted to tell that story, then you'd probably be the best one to write it. We are, after all, looking for short stories (though I'll edit them) to build the world with.

The main thing that doesn't work for me with the orders is that the angels really are individuals working as a group, rather than a functioning organization. Codifying them in the orders defuses that by giving them an actual structure. I realize that I haven't really been explaining that, mostly because I couldn't put it to words.
Could there be one angel (she may have been living in exile) who eventually figures out how to call new angels? The whole 'dying race of angels' thing is pretty close to an idea I had a while ago, and this might be a good place for it. Not in the initial background info, per se, but it would make a cool part of the set's story. Whatever, that can come later. Do you have any more thought on the three orders idea? Should we just scrap it? Also, scorpion drakes have to be a thing.


It might be possible to staple part of that onto Quicatlia, the youngest angel, since she's the one responsible for holding the Angelheart Vials. Part of it has to be a law of diminishing return though (sort of like the vial itself). Of course, if you wanted to tell that story, then you'd probably be the best one to write it. We are, after all, looking for short stories (though I'll edit them) to build the world with.

The main thing that doesn't work for me with the orders is that the angels really are individuals working as a group, rather than a functioning organization. Codifying them in the orders defuses that by giving them an actual structure. I realize that I haven't really been explaining that, mostly because I couldn't put it to words.

I'd be glad to write it up; I don't want to shoehorn a character into the role, but if you like the general idea, I'd be more than willing to provide more details. If nothing else, this'll motivate me to finally get the story out on paper. 

Ballpark estimate, how many angels are left?

I suppose that the orders could be populated primarily with humans and elementals. (The elementals are sentient, right? You mentioned that they have names and personalities.) I really do think that the synergy between the orders and the sacred animals would be a great detail, and that the orders themselves could go a long way towards providing a structure for the religion.

As for the 'initiates' (Would Oathbound be a better name?) I think a good structure would go Acolyte (foot soldier) -> Knight -> Apostle -> Radiant (general). Monks could be the scouts (they live alone in the wilderness, right?), and the Vigilant would be the ones who guard the walls. It might be cool to have the initiates retain the religious overtones of the past, while in reality being a (mostly) secular organization. Might the initiates be one of the three orders?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I'd be glad to write it up; I don't want to shoehorn a character into the role, but if you like the general idea, I'd be more than willing to provide more details. If nothing else, this'll motivate me to finally get the story out on paper. 

Ballpark estimate, how many angels are left?

I suppose that the orders could be populated primarily with humans and elementals. (The elementals are sentient, right? You mentioned that they have names and personalities.) I really do think that the synergy between the orders and the sacred animals would be a great detail, and that the orders themselves could go a long way towards providing a structure for the religion.

As for the 'initiates' (Would Oathbound be a better name?) I think a good structure would go Acolyte (foot soldier) -> Knight -> Apostle -> Radiant (general). Monks could be the scouts (they live alone in the wilderness, right?), and the Vigilant would be the ones who guard the walls. It might be cool to have the initiates retain the religious overtones of the past, while in reality being a (mostly) secular organization. Might the initiates be one of the three orders?


I'd wait yet for a bit before you start writing, mostly so we finish up here and hash out more details. Just so you know Ruwin will also be doing some stories, including the main narrative for it all. (Between Nala and Elanda)

As for how many angels are left... probably between 50-90, but that's including the Eclipsed (who probably number around 9-11) They are also the most powerful of all their numbers and preside over tens of the thousands of beings.

The elementals are, indeed, sapient. They were meant to be angels after all, even if things didn't follow the proscribed path there. There's actually some peculiar activity as the Elementals begin to follow a path very similar to the angels before them, but without the constraint of numbers. They are not religious at all. Too new, and too anchored in this world.

As for the Initiates, Monks don't live alone in the wilderness. The lowest of the brotherhood guard the city walls, making up for skill in numbers and bolstered by the Solar. The Knights are the ones who patrol the outer reaches, in squads. The Apostles would man the outposts along the borders (this is playing off of the meaning of Apostles), and the Generals at the highest orders. The classes assigned would probably be a combination of Monk, Scout, Knight, Advisor, and Soldier. (Soldier Advisor would be a cool class for the Generals)

For an aside, while focusing on the Eclipsed, it made me stop to consider that it might behoove us to have a cycle of enemy colored gold in the set. B/W Angels of the Eclipse for one, but also playing on both the significance of the bird and reincarnation, a W/R Phoenix divergent from the imprisoned phoenixes of the Dragons.

Oh, and uh... I've been subtly updating the first post with information here and there, such as the inclusion of Hellions and phoenix in the red lands.

Did a fair amount of updating, a little bit of tweaking to some existing text, but I think I've gotten a much clearer picture of the society as it stood and as it stands now. It was important to establish how things were to show how they've changed.

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The White Kingdoms

The White Kingdoms are commanded by the ancient angels of the times before. The eternal angels were created by the human civilization of the fields, charged to be the guardians of humanity for so long as their existences persist. Unfortunately, after the cataclysm and as time went on, the angels began to see nothing but danger in the world. As they fell one by one, their numbers unable to be restored without stressing the already delicate systems maintaining their culture, the angels concluded that for humanity to be truly protected, they must be sequestered and safeguarded. The angels began to collect humanity in great fortress cities, places they would be safe in, where they could be watched and cared for by their angelic overseers. Enormous floating satellite citadels were erected to stand sentinel above the fortress cities, places for the angels to monitor the people in their control. Within each tower a handful of angels handle the intricacies of running each city, their tasks divided amongst each other by some arcane method as they are attended by their constructed servents. Within the cities themselves, the humans go about their lives as always. Without the color to give meaning to many of their rituals, however, several of their traditions have been discarded by their once devout people. They have become practical, eschewing frivolous use of white mana, rationing it for only the most sacred of their traditions and learning to use artifacts to fulfill their needs. In the great pyramids of the nation, tireless artificers toil to build forces of their own to defend against the invaders of the other realms and to solve the plight that has befallen their world. (Iztacitlan as a name for the kingdom?)
The Origin of the Kingdoms, a religious overview
The religion of the white kingdoms follows the gods of the Sun. In the ancient aether of the first epoch, there were five beings. Together they created the world, shaping it from primordial chaos. They sculpted the plane and the great dome of the heavens to dam the chaotic aether. Soon, the plane began to grow and life stirred, the peoples of the lands rising to take their place. Of the five ur-beings, only one seemed to notice the trials of the new life. The others drifted from the world, but he stayed. He saw that his creation was a dark and frigid place, full of suffering, and in that moment, he felt pity for the children of his world. He created a great pyre in the sky and lit it with his own blood. To ensure that it would burn forever and continue to cascade its light upon the world, he threw himself into the fire. In that moment he died, but he was reborn as Achtonal, the first god. He had become the sun, and in his new being, he uplifted the people of the land and taught them the secrets of agriculture and medicine. He nurtured them, from the sky, but as the many years went, he saw them grow restless. He worried, but did not know what to do. Finally, he saw them become violent, and he wept. In penance for his hesitance, he threw himself onto the eternal pyre, dying once more and plunging the sun into blackness. He strode out reborn as a new goddess, Cihautil, and named an end to the era of restless war. She came as more than the god of civilization, she came with the decree of law and order, bearing a macana, a blade of retribution. She punished those who made war against each other and when peace reigned, she passed her laws down to her followers, ideals to live by. When she saw that her need was done, she stepped into the sun once more and returned reborn as the god of a new era. So it has been since time immemorial, the Sun teaching us how to live, each god’s rule marked by an eclipse, a sign of a new epoch and progress. The old gods go to their rest, to preside over the paradise of the afterlife, as their reincarnation takes on their ancient task.

The records of the Cataclysm
A number of texts written during the time of the cataclysm claim the light of the sun became wan and pale. The sky turned to ash and the light of day flickered for weeks, the moon vanishing completely during that time. People were left unsure at the portent, and as the magi attempted to unravel the omen, they found their task more and more difficult. While this was not an eclipse, and most likely attributed to the volcanic eruptions of the Red Lands, it never the less marked a new age. The people whispered amongst themselves, claiming that though the sun still hung in the sky, he had fallen into a deep slumber and was unable to guide the people of the kingdoms. The sky cleared, but the fear and uncertainty remained. Something had changed, and the citizens of the kingdoms could feel it. In these dark times, they clung to their ancient faith, but it offered no warmth. Even the angels began to doubt the wisdom of going forward, and so, the high priestesses conferred. They vanished for months, so long that at last the magi priests met and in the greatest ritual of their generation, created the angel Quicatlia, a routine task made monumental. The magi priests sent her to speak with her elder sisters. They returned bearing the secret that the light in the land had become dim.


I'm still working at implementing some of the other addendums that have been developed, but it's hard to find an organic way to slip some of it in.

Also, relevant tumblr post is relevant: dougbeyermtg.tumblr.com/post/49101958772...
It's difficult to not post that Americans alien guy meme after reading that tumblr Not to take a stab at you guys, but because I've never had that problem ever while playing for years, and I suspect it's because everyone in the Netherlands speaks at least two languages and is used to some more. Phonetic diversity is an awesome thing.

But to get back on topic, you said 'legends' while responding to the cliff idea, but I think that just like the sun being their literal divinity, you can go the extra mile on all those things: stop treating legends and myths as symbolic stories and make them have actually happened (from the culture's point of view). Give them a tangible time depth, like 7 generations before the cataclysm, so that it's still distant enough to be before a history they can themselves relate to, but at the same time grokkable as something they think was real. Cut out the part where you feel the need to describe however they believe reality is as something that's symbolic/a legend/or otherwise non-real, because I think you don't need to.

As to animals, each and every animal already has a load of symbolism present. That's their natural habitus. There's a theory out there somewhere that holds that in indigenous thought every being is the same because they all live in the same cultural reality - but because they're different on the outside this behaviour is expressed differently according to their body. As an in-world illustration, squirrels eat nuts but for them that's the equivalent of human bread, and dragons live in calderas because that's physically a house to them, whereas a human city is like a mud pool, or something. So if you want to do something with the habitat of a different being, like the sky of the birds, you're actually trespassing and need to deal with all the symbolism to be able to do so safely. Otherwise you turn into a bird yourself.
So in a nutshell, you don't need to make up some symbolic link between whatever you think needs a symbolic explanation and whichever animal you think could use some cosmic superpowers. Just exploit what's already there by developing a common background which each creature expresses differently. Think of it as a cheatcode

Suggestions for mountains, hmm. Aside from assigning them as the habitat of creatures higher in the cultural hierarchy than humans (like those elk or jhovall), do you do something with different earth layers? Then you'd have a connecting medium. Or they're petrified gods from before lesser beings walked the world. I underscored some of the words that you can just throw in a random sentence generator and see what kind of symbolic (argh) you end up with

Also, I can't help but notice that in your world-building projects that I've read, angels are always some powerful presiding beings. Isn't that something you can toy around with, if not in this project, than in the next one? If there were more of them I'd say have the Leviathans enslave them in the second set. But alas :/

Eh, wall of text. Sorry :$ Just bubbling out some inspirating thoughts
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