Nifflas: Where Librarians Mean Business

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An idea for the Library:
The History Monks
The History Monks are a group of vaguely Buddhist-like monks who have taken on the job of ensuring that history passes smoothly. In that sense, as Pratchett says, they straddle the boundary between human beings and personifications. They perform their task in two ways: first, their monastery is home to the History Books; 20,000 ten-foot long, lead-bound volumes that record every event of historical relevance as it occurs. Second, they manage and control the flow of time, much like a public utility. Whenever the orderly flow of time gets disrupted (if, say someone is sent back into the past), the History Monks send agents into the field to repair the damage as far as possible. The principal History Monk in the novels is Lu-Tze, nominally the monastery's sweeper but in fact one of the highest ranking monks in the establishment. The History Monks have appeared in three Discworld novels to date.

Perhaps they could have some equivalent to the History Books. I personally like the name The Diary. Whose diary, no one is sure, but surely someone is writing these things.
While that - like all of Discworld - is awesome, I personally wouldn't want a compleat history of Nifflas in a form theoretically available to the characters. Individual DMs' milages may vary, of course.
Hmm, he never said who's diary it was exactly. It could be a complete history of a completely boring and useless character.
I have a better author for it...

The complete history of Pun-Pun!!

That fits into the setting right?
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"It is rumored that in the depths of the library a few maddened by the crinkle and whispers of the books take up oil and paint and draw the cursed tales we bound back into reality, paint demons back into the world..."

"They ain't lucky, the poor bloody souls unlucky enough to go surviving a dragons breath. They get left as something worse 'n life, something slaved to the beasts beck and call, mutated beyond 'ere true form.

A kobold."
Hey look, flying whales:

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

I've mentioned that a good portion of my ideas are shamelessly stolen and adapted from pictures I like, right? The "Flight" covers (that's volume 4) were actually a big inspiration source - that picture is my Desktop, as a matter of fact.
Hm. If I end up using the stormborn, they may be using whaleships like those ones.
I'm really impressed and digging the whole setting.

The darker aspects of memories and selling of names reminds me a lot of the movie "Dark City".

I'll have to think this setting over some more and see if i can help at all.
I'd like - if we've reached a good point to set the political structure aside again for the moment - to address the stormborn again. Initially, if I recall correctly, they are Nifflas' version of the Eladrin? I really like the idea of these storms (somewhere in the middle of the thread are a couple of breathtaking photos someone posted of a thunderstorm over an erupting volcano) lashing across the islands, and I like the idea of a person changed into the stormborn, with their previous self's memories, but perhaps without the emotional impact and attatchment to them. The WoD games "Land of Eight Million Dreams" and "Demon: the Fallen" do something similar (the players play spirits who have resurrected and possessed the bodies of the newly dead, and in the process gain the memories that are still physically encoded in the body's brain).

I'd just like to put this question back on the table and see how people stand on it (the table, I mean), since the stormborn have been mentioned in passing a couple times in what seems like different contexts.
I don't have time to really contribute just yet (I'm about to head off to class), but just one thing: if anyone has any ideas about the stormborn, don't feel that you have to mush them to be perfect parallels to the Eladrin. I'm not completely sure that I even want to publish this as something that will fit neatly into 4th Ed in any case, so don't be too restricted by it.
If we do end up going with the eladrin=storm-born thing, we could also include gensai as part of it.

It seems like we have plenty of the "character rebuilding options" that the player's handbook had. And that's fun.

Perhaps these storms are the Nifflasian version of primordials. Great big primal beings that go around from place to place attacking islands.
I have never seen the like ... sheer awesome.

Reading it feels like falling through a dream.
People have said some very flattering things about this setting, Book, but that may be the nicest one so far =]

Delfedd - you had an idea a while back (I think it was you), about the storm-born being the ones who ride in the city-whales. It seems to me as though storm-born would be naturally attracted to the sky: the storm in their minds calling them out into the open air. Perhaps all storm-born feel an inexplicable pull to fly, and because they can't naturally, they spend most of their lives on airships. Perhaps the storm-born run the Flying Circus, and perhaps they run the harvesting machinery on the backs of the whales. Perhaps some simply float from place to place, afflicted with a strange wanderlust they can never satisfy and never quite explain.
After the first few pages I really did not think of them as Eladrin anymore, especially after their signature ability was given to the Backstaggers/Tiefling.

A unique player race with an elemental slant would work fine, as we are free to take as much or as little as we would like from core D&D.

My thoughts on the storm-born,
- True-breeding; they were in-fact humans altered by great storms and appeared significantly after the founding of the Day. The alteration turned out to be heritable, leading to the greater storm-born race.
- Ingrained cultural opposition to the generally accepted Inebriate church
- Sky fairing, similar to the elves, perhaps they gather water to sell.

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

@Kords Boon - I think the idea of the storm-consciousness being transferrable has some interesting possibilities. Maybe as the generations go on, the connection to the original gets weaker. Or maybe it can't be transferred - maybe they're just rare, isolated wanderers who occasionally clump together.

An opposition to the Inebriates could be interesting, but don't we already have that in the Rooks? Plus, I'm wary of giving across-the-board traits to an entire race.

I was hinting at that in my earlier post. What if we just mushed the Elves and the storm-born together? I don't see much need to have two sky-faring races, and it would give the Elves more flavor beyond "we live in the sky".

Another thought: what if the storm-born attracted storms? That is, they would be almost constantly followed by thunderclouds and rain, and as such could be both a valued asset (people want the water) and a liability (people don't want it to rain all the time).
I'm all for combining the sky-faring elves and stormborn into one race.

Thinking they'd look like elves, with blue markings (swirls, stripes, etc) covering their bodies. Take the elve's culture (nomadic ship or whale dwelling sky-worshippers). Maybe give them a gliding racial ability (like for one turn you can treat open sky as regular terrain, you must end on a solid surface). Furthermore, as skyborn age they start to change, becoming more and more in touch with the sky itself. The rate of change could be different for each individual (so some are born special, some never achieve it).

When you become in touch with the sky itself you start to have this kind of collective consciousness. Not hive-mind, more like you can tap into the lore of your people. The markings deepen and change color and shape. I see a skyborn meditating through a thunderstorm. They could start to take on the nature of the sky, some being more flighty while others gaining electrical powers (I can see a couple of race-based paragon paths. Stormchild, rainchild, sunchild, etc).

Really old skyborn just start to fade away into mist.

Sorry for the kind of stream of consciousness writing style, it's late. I do like the name Skyborn though.
Hm. If I end up using the stormborn, they may be using whaleships like those ones.

If it helps, the old 3e Arms & Equipment Guide has rules for "soarwhales" - pretty much exactly what's pictured there, except they can also exude a paralytic gas to escape predators. Though Lord knows what would eat a flying whale...a murder of rocs maybe? Or...high-level rooks? :P
@Kords Boon - I think the idea of the storm-consciousness being transferrable has some interesting possibilities. Maybe as the generations go on, the connection to the original gets weaker. Or maybe it can't be transferred - maybe they're just rare, isolated wanderers who occasionally clump together.

That all sound good; I’m just in opposition of ‘new’(those without parents etc.) storm-born appearing. With the backstaggers popping into existence it seems to me the random appearance niche has been filled, if that makes any sense.

An opposition to the Inebriates could be interesting, but don't we already have that in the Rooks? Plus, I'm wary of giving across-the-board traits to an entire race.

That’s true, the opposition comes from their majority religion, which states that Nifflas came into being when the Leviathans sundered a once whole world, rather then being a trash dump for the drunken one. At least one other major religion in Nifflas could go a long way in advancing the idea of plurality, albeit with the Inebriate as the dominate faith.

I was hinting at that in my earlier post. What if we just mushed the Elves and the storm-born together? I don't see much need to have two sky-faring races, and it would give the Elves more flavor beyond "we live in the sky".

I liked them as a distinct race but I don’t really have any principled objection to combining them.

Another thought: what if the storm-born attracted storms? That is, they would be almost constantly followed by thunderclouds and rain, and as such could be both a valued asset (people want the water) and a liability (people don't want it to rain all the time).

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

OK. A few thoughts - I think you're right Kords_Boon, and I'm beginning to like the idea of a true-breeding storm-born race. I still like the "isolated wanderer" vibe, but it's a little cliched and could be filled by the Backstagers in any case. So... what if each "storm" serves as a progenitor for a line of storm-born. Each storm-born in that bloodline would be a part of a sort of collective consciousness (as Jaimes_Gaines was suggesting), with each new storm-born being a composite of the individual and their ancestral storm. I don't know whether a storm-born would be a seamless integration of the storm and the person (which is cool) or a person with an ancient storm in their head ("Grandfather Storm, I need your help!").

Jaimes_Gaines - Perhaps the terms Skyborn and Storm-born could be interchangeable? I like "stormborn" because it's evocative and specific, but "Skyborn" just has a nice ring to it.

Also, what if the Storm wasn't passed on immediately after birth? What if it was a ritual, involving going out during a storm? Those cool blue tattoos could be a way to bind the storm into the person.

Finally, Kords_Boon, I think it would be good to have a minority religion, but I'd really rather not tie it to a whole race if possible - I find that having pan-racial traits tends to limit character options.
So I was telling my friends about the sun of Nifflas, and I told them about the possibility that the sun is just some guy on the islands.

Long story short, we decided that "Sun" would be a cool Epic destiny.
But what would happen if there were multiple "Sun"s?

*begins thinking*
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Then the old one passes on, gets stuck in the stars.
Long story short, we decided that "Sun" would be a cool Epic destiny.

Funny how a two sentence description is already more awesome then the combined efforts of Wizards' R&D team

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

*stops thinking*

Isn't there an Epic Destiny that turns you into a star in the Dragon Warlock article?

That aside...

I'd rather there were a battle royale to become Sun.
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Oh, I like that very much. It reminds me of the archdruids from 2ed.
A few bits.

I love the Solar Destiny, perhaps the man in the moon as well?

“There’s one place in all the Day that matters, and it’s the first place I’m going to once we get out of this damnable hole. Where’s that you ask? Well, the Cara Grand Pub, that’s where! Wood and brass, and glass as far as you can see, and more taps and bottles than you can count! A bar so big you could get lost in there for a week, but never suffer for drink the whole time! Yup, I’m going there the minute we get out of this hole. The minute we’re out”
-Nameless Water Miner

“Oi mate, If you lend me ten gold I’ll buy you a pint. Oh, Mother wake me early in the Day”
-P. Mahone S. MacGowan

Honestly with the inebriated one, you need at least one pub of note. Oh and as a side note if I ever run Nifflas The Inebriated One will pretty much be Shane MacGowan.

“All’s a man’s got some times in the Day is his name, and more than a few t’ain’t even have that. It’s a sad time when a man sell’s off his name, it’s a sadder day when one of them there tabloidists steal the value away. Yessiree. Those rats all writing slanderous tales and poems and such; just to make a penny are worse than thieves; they might as well be mill-feeders. I reckon’ it should be illegal to talk bad about folks the way those faceless cowards do. Lock’em all up. That’s what I say.”
-An Irony Impaired Former Trustworthy Source.

“Extree! Extree! Read all’s about it! High Lord John E Hoover Caught in scandalous attire! Will Janitor’s everywhere have new uniforms? Read it here! Extree! Extree!”
-A Street corner Tabloid-boy

Tabloidists
I feel that a place where ones name has an actually monetarily valuable, that the act of slander would be a primal and powerful tool for striking at enemies. Reporters/tabloidists could quickly sway the values of names bringing some up in value and others down. I think it could be another interesting “career” for pcs of the investigative mind set. The more virtuous PC’s trying to report the constantly shifting truths of Nifflas, and the more amoral PC’s abusing the court of public opinion for their own game.

“Grindin’ and grindin’ the mill goes on. Grindin’ and Grindin’. Most folk will tell you the library keeps the mills running; and sure enough they do; but they oft times forget to mention all the hulks of flesh down there under the mill pushing the big gears around. Sure librarian words, and what not, make it work; but sweat and blood turns the crank so the mills can keep grindin’ and grindin’”
-Cadwallader C. Washburn- Mill Foreman

Slaves and the well and the mill.
In a world with abject poverty I can see armies of indentured slaves working to push the big gears all Conan the Barbarian style underneath the mill itself. The magic of the Library would still be the key, but at the mills high level of output, good old fashioned hard labor is required. This slave force would also be possibly used for the water mining activities (which I think is a great idea)

“Way to go brahh! You caught the gust on your board like a total stormborn pro! Ain’t nothing like hanging ten on a sudden gust, with, like, a mad piece of skyboard and running some ba roos backside carving with a buncha betties drooling on.”
-Kit Cloudkicker Local Elven Air-Surfer.

The image of air surfing Elves I think is striking, in an odd way. Additionally the concept allows another interesting form of short range air travel as well as the individualism required to make air combat interesting. Rather than having every player on a single craft they can skirmish about an aerial battle etc…

“See that spec over there? Right below that cloud that looks like a dog in a miter? That’s Bethlem. Yup, the worst place in all Nifflas, and just a short trip from the day. Yup worse than the night, and the bottom, and a whole host of other unspeakable places. Bethlem is where they put the people who are to dangerous and too crazy for the dark night under the day. Long time ago my father took me and my little brother there to tour the halls and gander at the unfortunates in their squalor. Never did see my brother or father again after the guards decided to keep them. Yup Bethlem’s not even a good place to visit.”
-Some guy pointing things out in the sky.

The Bethlem Assylum/prison just at the horizon of the day is a tangled weave of rooms, halls and tunnels more complex than even the Day’s maze of streets and buildings. The lower levels of the prison have been lost to the inmates and patients who run their own truly abstract and insane government. The upper levels are still marginally controlled and maintained by the marginally saner guard staff.

“When the wind rains, and snow thunders that’s where you’ll find me. I’ve been captaining this ship for longer than most of you kids have been alive. And there is nothing the sky can throw at me that I haven’t seen three times over and ten times tougher.”
-Jonas Grumby StormBorn tour ship Captain.

“Ever seen a Tempest Jamboree?”
“A Stormborn Gathering?”
“No? Well think of taking a swarm of drunk angry bees arguing politics and religion, putting them in a jar and shaking them up.”
“Yeah, that’s what it’s like when you get just a couple of different StormBorn together, the Jamboree’s have thousands of Stormborn all hooting and hollering at once.”
-William Peterson Bug Collector

I like the idea of the storm born being descended from great epic storms, each familt able to trace their ancesetory back to a single hurricane or blizzard. I still see them personally being very gensai based, but eh… Rather than seeing them as a hive mind I see them as individuals who are more lone wolf, stoic when alone, but gatherings of Stormborn creating high levels of anarchy and chaos; a recreation of the weather that made them.
Have you guys addressed Truenamers?

I can't be sure, there are so many different things floating around here.

They would be a natural fit: In a world where words matter more than most anything else a Truenamer would be all powerful.
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“Both the Day and the night have a lot of doors, honestly it’s almost a city of doors; if that weren’t a ludicrous thing to call a city. And each of those doors has a lock, and each lock has a key. You see where I’m getting with this, right? You hire me and I’ll show you the secrets, and the keys to getting around the day and the night. You don’t hire me and we’ll just see where you end up.”
Schlage Key Master Union Boss.

Key masters
A guild of lock obsessed guides who are frequently rogues. I see the Day as being so twisted and changing that even citizens need a guide at time. There have been a lot of references to hidden secrets and unknowns and I believe the symbol of a lock and key is the most archtypical answer to those. Again another group to inspire players to delve into the secrets of the day, as well as a possible foil to the governmental groups already established. I suppose/hope someone out there has played those Disney/final fantasy games out there, I haven’t but I understand keys are a big deal there perhaps they can flesh this out some more.


“Out in the far skyries is the web. An actual spider web. It’s miles wide and goes from the top to the bottom of Nifflas and back; at least as far as anyone has ever gone in either direction. The web is filled with the flotsam and jetsom of the sky. Lost ships, missing skyries, everything gets caught in the web. If you can get there and avoid getting stuck there it’s a gold mine of salvageable things, just watch out for the natives. No one is too happy to live a web.”

Pytor P. silk merchant/ salvager
Brilliant showing Durendal_mn, the Tabloidists are a very nice and entirely logical addition.

With all this fresh creativity flowing around I’m beginning to feel a bit out of my league.

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

The idea of stormborn as genasi (rather than eladrin) makes a lot of sense. Of course, I don't know much about genasi in 4e. So, just to summarize, if you'll pardon my going on about this, for races in Nifflas we have:

Humans - unchanged
Elves - nomadic flyers/potential stormborn
Eladrin - potential stormborn/potential backstagers
Half-elves - unspecified
Dwarves - unchanged
Halflings - the nameless
Tieflings - unspecified/potential backstagers
Dragonborn - saurians
Genasi - potential stormborn
Warforged - junkfolk

Have I missed anything?

Durandal - love the pub, the keymasters, and Bethlem Asylum. I can see Bethlem being a truly disturbing static dungeon. Perhaps run by a Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether? :D
I would like to add something that I used in my campaign.

Goblins are also nameless. When a creature sells his name for greed or power and not out of necessity, they are warped by the deep magic of the name into short, brutish creatures that live only to hurt.

Also, I called the Dwarves Junkers.
@Great Zamboni - I think there's been some confusion over the whole Backstagers/Tieflings thing, partially because I haven't been very clear. It seems to me that, if we're finding mechanical equivalents for races, the Eladrin racial power of slipping into another world for a moment fits the backstagers the best. However, Backstagers started out as Tieflings in look and feel (they had horns and other demonic traits).

Tieflings, meanwhile, could form a good mechanical basis for the storm-born (infernal wrath could be replaced with "wrath of the storm" or something similar), but in flavor terms, Storm-born would borrow more from Elves.

@Delfedd - Neat idea, but why would anyone sell their name if they knew they would become a monster? Becoming a pariah is bad, but some might do it if they were desperate. Transforming into a Goblin seems like it would keep almost everyone from selling their name.

@Derendal - Great ideas! I'm mired in the middle of v1.2, which is a revision and update of what's currently on the front page, and I'll definitely include the Pub, the Asylum and the Keymasters in some form or another.
I'd like to take a moment and address the backstagers, because they're one of my favorite parts of the setting. Right now, it looks like we're torn between tieflings, eladrin, or possibly a homebrew race to be the backstagers in Nifflas. I'll say up front that my vote is for tieflings.

Eladrin:
Pros: Otherworldly, ethereal, and their "fey step" power fits the flavor of backstagers perfectly.
Cons: They're otherworldly but not creepy - they seem out of place materializing in closets and under beds.

Tieflings:
Pros: They are exactly the kind of creature you'd expect to appear in a closet or under a bed.
Cons: Their signature ability, "hellish rebuke," doesn't really fit the feel of backstagers - or, at least, doesn't fit nearly as well as "fey step."

There was discussion on the PbP forum about switching around the racial powers of dragonborn, tieflings, and eladrin to make them fit the flavor of Nifflas. My inclination is to change the mechanics as little as possible, since we'd ideally like people to be able to pick Nifflas up and play without a lot of adjustment.
Well, MG did say that they were ok with doing away with straight conversions.

It occurs to me that we haven't discussed the Saurians for a bit. Are we still going with them or have they been phased out? I'm ok with losing them, but I think that's mostly because we never got any real discussion going on them like we did with the backstagers or stormborn.
Well, MG did say that they were ok with doing away with straight conversions.

I'd still argue that we should convert directly where possible - I think that so doing will help the setting appeal to the widest group of potential players.

It occurs to me that we haven't discussed the Saurians for a bit. Are we still going with them or have they been phased out? I'm ok with losing them, but I think that's mostly because we never got any real discussion going on them like we did with the backstagers or stormborn.

I was surprised that dinosaurs weren't in the 4e MM. One aspect of Nifflas that hasn't gotten a lot of attention is the idea that dinosaurs are common (which brings up a question of how big the average skerry is, if they can support a population of some of the largest animals in history) and that the saurians are a relatively small, intelligent species who can breathe fire for some reason. A proposed alternate explanation is that dragonborn are the true-breeding survivors of dragon attacks, thus adding to the list of races that are transformed humans. Another proposed alternate explanation is that the dragonborn are people who have begun the process of becoming a Nifflan dragon by consuming memories and stories. The problem with the latter is that it implies that there shouldn't be any low-level dragonborn.

I propose a take on the tale of Prometheus. The dragonborn are the decendants of a tribe of humans on a forgotten skerry whose leader tricked a dragon into revealing the secret of dragon's breath and, in keeping with the idea that people change to fit the stories they live, the tribe was transformed in the process of mastering the dragon's power.
Just a few things. When I think about it, the focus of 4e (tactical combat and a more anime-ish tone) really doesn't fit the setting. I'm not attacking the edition, I'm just saying that the tone of Nifflas and the tone of 4e are so different that it would take a lot of squeezing to fit the two together, and that that the problems and compromises that arise from said squeezing are not worth whatever benefits it might give.

Also - about the Dinosaurs. My reasoning for including them was essentially "I like dinosaurs, and I would like to see someone running away from a T-Rex or soaring between Islands on the back of a Pterodactyl". Also, I thought the idea of a refined velociraptor sipping tea in a top hat was funny. So, they were never an integral part of the setting, just something cool I wanted to try and fit into it.

I think the "survivors of dragon attacks" idea works best. I definitely want to keep the idea that Dragons are shaped by their surroundings and their diets, and that they are story-creatures. But the idea came up a while ago that not all dragons are lizard-like. Some are made of paper, or musical instruments, etc. ([awful_pun]They really are what they eat[/awful_pun]). I also like the Prometheus story, and I came up with something similar myself. It was buried in an old post I made - there's a sort of magic that use the discovered secret of Dragonfire to transform things, and I think it fits better there. The man who tricked the secret of Dragonfire from the old Drake could simply be the founder of the school of Pyromancy.
Also, I thought the idea of a refined velociraptor sipping tea in a top hat was funny.

Velociraptors with monocles running over their idiot cousins in a jeep.

There was also an old CCG called Arcadia: the Wyld Hunt, which was based on Changeling: the Dreaming and created by White Wolf's ccg division (before they axed it). Long story short, there is an enemy card called "Proselytizing Velociraptors" which features art of two (guess) dressed as Jehovah's Witnesses with the Good Book (you had to beat them on a Savvy roll, but you could switch it to a tougher Combat roll with the right cards). Sadly I can't find the art online (nor my old cards), but trust me it was hilarious.

(And yes, it even predated Raptor Jesus! Or at least His meme. Nothing predates the Anointed Scaled One.)
Just a few things. When I think about it, the focus of 4e (tactical combat and a more anime-ish tone) really doesn't fit the setting. I'm not attacking the edition, I'm just saying that the tone of Nifflas and the tone of 4e are so different that it would take a lot of squeezing to fit the two together, and that that the problems and compromises that arise from said squeezing are not worth whatever benefits it might give.

It’s true the tactical combat is one of the major foci in 4e; however I’ve found the system very flexible (most notable skill challenges and ritual casting) when it comes to non-combat situations. And from fairly extensive play with 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4e, including my own Nifflas 1.0 campaign the tone a particular DM sets seem to universally override any disposition the ‘system’ supposedly has.

I suppose I’m trying to say if you don’t feel comfortable with importing a particular 4e aspect, say “needing” to include the core races, then we should abandon it. But in the larger perspective I’ve seen very little that would require a shoehorn to navigate into 4e terms, in fact many aspects fit very well.

Don't drink the holy-water; we don't like it when you drink the holy-water.

I'd love to be involved in this how I could and...
If you needed anything mechanical doing, especially, I could try and help out. (Either some special paragon paths, epic destinies, maybe a mutli-class path for librarian?)

Maybe have the Tieflings and Eladrin both with a theatrical theme of some sort, appearing from 'backstage'. However, the Tieflings are the 'Leading Men', those intended to come on and showcase on the Great Stage(Racial power goes from 'infernal rebuke' to 'devilish one liner'), whereas The Eladrin see themselves as the 'Prompters', the truely 'backstage' group, often slipping between the two realms...

You could even build a religion round it, involving some Eladrin God 'The Great Director, Cyril B De Mill' that maybe both races worship... Possibly a lesser deity in the force of 'Charlie Houston'. :D