The world of Spyragia is ruled by its Creator and by nine other immortals (the Powers) that the Creator made. Together these beings shape the world. They are above mortals. But they can be encountered by those brave enough to seek them out.
The Powers are grouped according to when they were created:
- When the world was new, in the Age of Greatness, the Creator made three Powers to oversee mighty heroes: Yarnspinner, Oxbow, and Speleoth.
- The second age, the Age of Goodness, began when the Creator made three more Powers to encourage ordinary people to also seek out adventure and challenge: Maw Lute, Little Humble, and Futhorc.
- The current age, the Age of Troubles, began when the Creator made three new Powers that encouraged and equipped violent people: Gnash, Voker, and Frosty Kostkey.
The Creator has plans for the world. These plans are wise and inevitable. Yet the Creator desires the chocies made by mortals to change the pace and manner in which these plans unfold. Additionally, the Creator wants nine specific themes to have extra significance and intentionality, and for these has created a Power.
These nine Powers govern the world with the authority, power and status granted to them by the Creator. They shape the world when working within the boundaries of the authority the Creator has granted them. But they also seek wider control and will influence events subtly, within the deepest layers of intrigue.
These nine Powers can manifest with physical bodies. Each can only observe the location in which it is present, but can instantly travel to any place they have previously been. They cannot be killed, but can be wounded if cut by weapons whose blades are made of the mineral Jadeite.
Although very different from one another, all these nine Powers share six similarities (described earlier as their dominions):
These nine Powers help make the world ripe for adventuring through what they oversee: dungeons and temples, heroes and villains, monsters and secret societies, artifacts and quests. They also cause adventures to sprout through their overlapping interests and authorities. Exciting and daring events happen as they vie for influence by trying to convince, manipulate, trick, or coerce significant characters.
The world of Spyragia has a background of myths rooted in fact. Its people know many stories of ages past that grant them a sense of identity and purpose. Although these stories may have details that are inaccurate, overall they are trusted because they involve the Creator and the nine other Powers, all of which are still active today. Thus religion is an integral part of most lives and most people are actively devout. Both individuals and groups have important reasons for giving devotion, service, and worship. Religious activity helps individuals to find comfort, experience joy, receive guidance, build identity, and gain a sense of purpose.
Unlike in many fantasy role-playing game settings, the Powers do not correspond to character races or classes. (It is not true that all Dweorgs worship Speleoth, all machinists worship Frosty Kostkey, etc.) This allows more subtle and realistic conflicts. For example, the people involved a legal dispute might argue about which Power's temple should help resolve their case: one party might favor Gnash's strict justice, another Oxbow's acceptance of ongoing conflict, a third the non-materialistic perspective of Little Humble.
Because the Powers are not tied to races or professions they can be used to allow adventures to spotlight or evaluate spiritual and moral topics: issues such as contentment, temptation, pride, faith, forgiveness, and service can be woven into adventure plots and character personalities to create a setting more worth talking about. (This must involve the nine created Powers rather than truly divine beings, for the realities of knowing and following the divine contradicts the types of suspense and uncertainty necessary for a fun RPG adventure.)
Jadeite is one of the two minerals commonly called jade. According to some Chinese legends, jade weapons can harm mythical or immortal monsters and people.
The Planner of Planners spoke to me,
But not about the plan.
My spouse was ill, I shouted complaints,
I asked, "Please help! You can!"
The Creator only told me a joke,
My spouse giggled for days.
Did that laughter help my spouse to heal?
Can a miracle be a phrase?
- Therion nursery rhyme
The Creator is called "Planner of Planners" because the Creator's plan for the world will inevitably be fulfilled in every detail despite the agendas of people and of the Powers.
The Creator's plan is secret. Questions abound. Which events and circumstances are among the plan's details? When will prophetic events unfold? At what pace will the plan progress? Where will key events take place?
The Creator maintains no dungeons, sponsors no contests, chooses no champions, creates no monsters, grants no wondrous feats, and gives no gifts besides an occasional conversation.
The Creator apparently does not mind that so many people take being created for granted. According to some philosophers the Creator owns everything because crafters own the items they craft. Other philosophers claim the Creator gave each part of creation itself as gift, so everything owns itself. The Creator has not spoken up in favor of either view.
The Creator has ultimate authority and patience. Exasperated people often proclaim "May I have the Creator's patience!"
The Creator is the only divine being: existing before creation and responsible for the world's existance and fate. The Creator knows everything, can observe any place, can do anything.
The Creator still acts, yet prefers to remain subtly hidden. Usually the hand of The Creator is only recognized in hindsight.
Although The Creator's actions are ambiguous, spoken prophecy is always clear and public. On the rare instances when The Creator reveals more about The Creator's plan for the world, this always happens with hundreds of people hearing, and time after the proclamation to answer questions.
The Creator recently revealed that the island of Theralin is the geographical center of the world of Spyragia. The Creator then prophesied that the island would be instrumental in the upcoming creation of a tenth Power. At the time the island only had a small village. But the village quickly grew as people flocked to the island to search out its secrets and perhaps witness its prophecy unfold. It became Arlinac Town, now one of the region's busiest and wealthiest ports.
The Creator uses no visible form—not even in dreams—and has no gender (and is referred to by name instead of using a masculine or feminine pronoun). The Creator cannot be physically touched or hurt.
A group of strange yet similar legends describe a special doorway through which the Creator will some day enter the world in bodily form. Differences among these legends include what the doorway is made of (diamond, gold, pure light, etc.), where it will be located, and what this arrival will signify.
The Creator enjoys when mortals speak to him aloud. The Creator will sometimes reply privately using a quiet tone that seems very like normal thought except that it could never be mistaken for anything but the Creator's voice. Many replies are humorous truths the hearer would never have otherwise deduced or imagined.
The Creator refuses recognition or worship from temples, shrines, or altars. If a mortal tries to build one for the Creator then the Creator will knock it down with lightning, a small meteor, or a well-aimed giant watermelon.
A small and belittled sect named Primary Laud claims that only the Creator is worthy of worship. They do so with proclamations and shouting.
The Creator is neither good nor evil, helpful nor hindering, generous nor demanding. Yet the Creator and the Creator's plan are wise, noble, and foundational. Because the Powers and other forces struggle to influence the pace and details of this solid plan the world becomes planned yet uncertain, noble yet corrupt, and overseen yet dangerous: a setting ripe for heroism and adventures!
Take a drink, take a seat, and listen to my tale.
Dangers loom yet bravery shines and unfortunates prevail.
Hope and justice win again, it warms you like your ale.
"Life should be like that!" you say,
Then I agree and start my play.
Enjoy your stay.
Pray do not fail.
- on a painted sign at an entrance to the Enchanted Forest
Yarnspinner was created at the dawn of the Age of Greatness to oversee stories and histories, to help immortalize great deeds, and to encourage worthy fictions.
His dungeons are adventures in the Enchanted Forest, his contests are bardic competitions, his champions are Story Finders, his gifts are annotated maps, and his monsters are witches.
The teachings of Yarnspinner ask people to define themselves in part by the stories they tell about their family and culture.
As the patron of stories and cultural histories Yarnspinner watches over libraries, museums, theatres, taverns, and campfires. Directors pray for his favor. Curators pray for his insight. The guards at libraries, museums, and theatres and the bouncers at taverns pray for his assistance in doing their duties—and his appearance if they encounter more than they can handle.
Outside of Arlinac Town a widespread habit is to compliment a well told story with "Yarnspinner would love that!" and ridicule a poorly told story with "Not even Yarnspinner could belive that!". However, within Arlinac Town these phrases are avoided because Yarnspinner himself is usually at Crashing Place and he does not like when others speak for him when he is near and available.
Yarnspinner seeks to promote self-efficacy in his followers. The concept of obedience is foreign to his worship. His followers either enter the Enchanted Forest seeking adventure or they do not; his worshipers either travel to Crashing Place to meet him or they do not.
Yarnspinner personally greets each person wishing to enter the Enchanted Forest, which is currently on Theralin island, not very far from Arlinac Town.
Yarnspinner has also adopted the largest inn of Arlinac Town. He can often be met inside, lounging in the common room near the huge fireplace, listening to guests and drinkers.
Yarnspinner has no allies or enemies.
As Arlinac Town grew in size and importance, Yarnspinner observed that it was a current locus of stories and an appropriate place to dwell.
He adopted an inn named Crashing Place, which has grown in size and developed physical properties that defy logic. Not only is it now much bigger within than it appears from outside, but it stands in every district of Arlinac Town. (Those who have learned the secrets of its doors can pass through the inn as a shortcut when traveling through the town.) Its floors and rooms are many, and its hallways often extend in impossibly contradictory directions without crossing. Anyone who ascends past the ground floor and tries to hide is automatically successful: only Yarnspinner can find that person.
The bar in the common room never runs out of glass mugs. After an exceptionally well told tale, Yarnspinner will stand and crash his glass into the fireplace to show his approval. Others in the common room often follow his lead. Less commonly, a person about to tell a story will preface it by crashing his glass into the fireplace as a call to attention, a plea that the upcoming account is personal and meaningful and even if not told well should be heeded as vitally important to the teller.
Yarnspinner is the most accessible of the Powers. He is easy to meet at the Enchanted Forest or in Crashing Place. He uses many appearances, but always wears a gold brooch to make his identity clear.
Yarnspinner does not understand "worship". Why would he care of others ascribe worth to him? He knows his own worth.
However, he does appreciate two types of gifts. He loves when his worshipers visit him to tell him a story. He also treasures being given items of historic value that were recovered from abandoned buildings, neglected attics, or old ruins: these he returns to their rightful owners if possible, or gives to a museum if not. (He usually does not do this personally, but makes this the goal of someone else's annotated map quest.)
Yarnspinner is not based on any legendary figure. But a Power in charge of stories, focusing on traditional fairy tale tropes and settings, is worth including!
The name "Crashing Place" refers to both a place to sleep (informally, people "crash" there for the night), the noise of the glass mugs breaking in the common room fireplace, and how the inn serves as a refuge for people facing desperate situations (they have "crashed and hit bottom").
Crashing Place has some characteristics similar to Callahan's Crosstime Saloon but lacks the remarkable empathy of the characters of those stories—a lack which really makes the two places not alike in any important way except in tribute.
A river swift starts under ground,
Tunnels of water slam and pound.
It fills the hill with damp and sound
As it starts its journey.
Down from the peaks the river falls,
Crashing down high, stony walls.
In froth and roar to us it calls
Halfway along its journey.
To the ocean deep it flows,
Wide and deep and strong it goes.
We hear new songs and old echoes
As it completes its journey.
- Navigator song
Oxbow is the patron of setting goals and pursuing goals, as well as the guardian of rivers and archers.
His dungeons are ruins, his contests are sporting events, his champions are the Oathsworn, his gifts are passports, and his monsters are bigbeasts.
The teachings of Oxbow ask people to define themselves in part by how they compete.
Oxbow originally had a different name. He took the name Oxbow after his early followers became divided by a schism. A faction named the Navigators developed a philosophy named the Water-Way to explain how a river is the best metaphor for setting and pursuing goals. The Water-Way emphasized that just as a river passes through mountains, hills, forests, and plains without diminishing these, different people should respect each other's goals and avoid competition. The other faction was named the Toxophilites, and their archery-based philosophy of Goldboss claimed that friendly competition was the crucible that gave meaning and value to personal goals. Oxbow appeared when the strife finally became violent. He declared that the two philosophies, although apparently contradictory, only had merit when yoked together harmoniously. His new name formally ended the schism. The two factions remain both rivals and allies in the philosophical and cultural development of Oxbow's followers.
Oxbow's connection to both rivers and setting goals has led to the custom of people who live near a river going to its waters and putting on hand the river while declaring long-term goals and resolutions.
Oxbow is the only Power to decree certain calendar days as special days. These days are foremost instructions for optimal fishing, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Oxbow's more devoted followers also use them as appointments for worship. For example, the Day of Flax Planting is a day when all farmers know to plant their flax, although only Oxbow's followers congregate on that day to pray for a good harvest. (Oxbow's oversight of rivers gives him enough influence on weather to make his calendar's guidance trustworthy but not infallible.)
The philosophy named the Water-Way has evolved over the centuries. Its current form has five statements.
Some of Oxbow's followers consider paying taxes to violate the fifth tenant of the Water-Way (a government is taking what is yours). These people negotiate volunteering on the town watch or doing other types of community service to gain exemption from taxation.
The philosophy named the Goldboss has also evolved over the centuries. Its current form has five statements.
Oxbow was created early in the Age of Greatness. The Creator had recently seen mighty people become corrupted and do terrible deeds. The Creator acknowledged that mighty people are driven to compete and excel. Oxbow was created to help them aim this need along productive channels.
Oxbow claims no authority over Arlinac Town, but takes interest in it because it is built upon a river.
Within Arlinac Town, inhabitants of the Navigator district must promptly confess any crimes against the Water-Way, or Oxbow might not take them away during the night. Many members of that district are distrustful of non-Navigators because those outsiders may have unconfessed crimes.
Speleoth is responsible for the Arlin River's unnatural start high within the caves of Arlinac Mountain. Oxbow is grateful for this, and is friendly towards Speleoth.
Oxbow only appears in physical form when attacking. When defending a river he rises from it as a towering and muscular person made of water, with eyes glowing like sunlight reflecting off water and with a long beard of foam.
Oxbow's calendar features many special days of first-fruits sacrifices. As a particular harvest begins, farmers throw the first of their harvest fruit or grain into the nearest river to express thanks to Oxbow for overseeing and guiding their agriculture and to demonstrate trust that the remainder of that harvest will be sufficiently bountiful.
The calendar asks animal herders to participate in a different kind of first-fruits sacrifice. The first newborn animal of each kind is set afloat on the river in a basket. Far down river (out of sight, the distance varies along the river depending upon how smooth is its flow there) poor people gather to collect the animals as their own.
The only buildings dedicated to Oxbow are arenas and archery fields used to host various competitions and help his followers rank (and then publicly display) their achivevements in archery, hunting, fishing, wrestling, chases, games of strategy, and other activities suitable for goal-setting and personal development.
Many people who worship Oxbow prefer that their home touch a river. Whether the home is a boat, house, or even temporary encampment these homes always include a shrine to Oxbow on a small dock. (Usually this is a "ritual dock" too small for actual boat use.) In these shrines are set a bowl of clean river water. The shrines are not otherwise used: replacing the water each day is sufficient to help the home owner remember Oxbow. Some people enscribe the five tenants of the Water-Way on the bowl.
The original name of Oxbow has been forgotton by most people. It was Podag, in reference to the Polish god of hunting, farming, and storms (Podaga) who oversaw all natural cycles and was consulted for forecasting and guessing: when to hunt, when to fish, when to plant, and even when to shoot (pogadjati means "to hit" in Polish).
Oxbow's song is a rewrite of the song Act One Prologue from the musical Into the Woods.
How is Oxbow involved in adventures? Holy days are always opportune times for adventures, as many people are busy with rites or celebration. Before the holy day the preparations might include challenging tasks, and during the holy day devout merchants may need hired help to guard their shops. The Navigators might also be involved in political intrigue or other kinds of adventure plots.
Picks and hammers make crashing profound
Far—below the wind's calls, below our dear halls.
Mine for the ores whose joy we spread 'round
Far—from our cavern home, to brave ones who roam.
Our ancestors' travels and treasures shine bright,
Our hearts' they ignite and and our dreams they incite.
Glory to delving, dark earth will astound
Far—to all that does gleam, the fruit of each seam.
Far—to wonders below, e'er onward we go.
- Dweorg work song
Speleoth is the embodiment of the joys and thrills of exploration, especially exploration that is not searching for anything in particular but only follows curiosity. He is associated with caves and caverns for in those places every passage, formation, and gem is unique and potentially beautiful.
His dungeons are caves, his contests are round trips, his champions are Elementalists, his gifts are scene recorders, and his monsters are fuses.
The teachings of Speleoth ask people to define themselves in part by where they have been.
Speleoth actively watches over all his worshipers who live in caverns, caves, or tunnels. (Most of these are Dweorgs, Kobalts, Bergtrolls, and Arzens. The Unseemly do live under hills, but instead of considering themselves a "burrowing race" they view themselves as forest-dwellers who live in ornate palaces that just happen to be underground.) Speleoth aids these followers by helping underground air stay fresh, preventing cave-ins, training intuition about where to mine, and rescuing lost children and trapped miners. However, Speleoth's aid is unreliable because of his spontaneous and disorganized perception of the world.
Racial tensions (even hatred during warfare) can be cooled between those cave-dwelling races because of their shared values and shared devotion to Speleoth.
Speleoth encouraged his followers to travel widely. During the Age of Greatness his followers were both unusually heroic and especially vulnerable to strange ideas and corruption.
During the Age of Goodness, Speleoth was approached by the newly created Maw Lute after she had been created on Arlinac Mountain. They agreed to share Arlinac Mountain, which has since held both the large lair of Maw Lute and a frequently-changing cave dungeon maintained by Speleoth. Both locations are visited by Arlinac Town's more adventuresome residents and by curious tourists.
Speleoth considers Maw Lute his ally. He views Frosty Kostkey as a rival with nearly opposite values.
Speleoth and his followers have many minor conflicts when other Powers or their followers claim underground locations or enter them for reasons other than exploration. (As examples, an annotated map from Yarnspinner might lead someone to retrieve items lost underground, or Futhorc might claim the ruins of an underground settlement for one of his ruin dungeons.)
Speleoth is very rarely seen. He has not appeared visibly for many generations.
Stories claim that on those special occasions when he is physical encountered he appears as giant wearing a huge grin, the universal grin of joyful discovery.
Speleopth is worshipped primarily with percussion instruments. Extensive traditions have developed over the years: upbeat rattles and chimes to recall sunrises and new vistas, solemn drumming to remember the dangers of exploration, mysterious bells to commemorate forests and storms, clacking sticks to recount traveller's footsteps. Yet new melodies and ways of using instruments are always welcome when worshipping the Power who celebrates pleasant surprises.
The temples of Speleoth are usually one large room, whether above or below ground. Benches line the walls so that the young, old, or tired may sit. Musicians stand or kneel in a circle, around a central pit used for ecstatic dancing. Many temples also contain archived scene recorders so his faithful can see the wondrous places their colleagues have visited.
Speleoth is not based upon any traditional creatures from myth or legend. However, a being that oversees cave-like dungeons is simply too useful to not include in the religion of a fantasy RPG!
The word "speleology" means the scientific study of caves and the cave environment. I could not think of a suitable name for this Power based on the word "caving", and the word "spelunker" has acquired negative connotations.
Speleoth's song is a modification of the Pomona College song Torchbearers.
Speleoth's followers worship by moshing in literal circle pits.
Welcome to Arlinac Town museum and bank.
Please do not feed the dragon.
- Brass plaque by that building's front doors
Maw Lute was the first Power created at the start of the Age of Goodness to help ordinary people do big things. She is the patron of music and collecting.
Her dungeons are dragon lairs, her contests are treasure hunts, her champions are Buskers, her gifts are panoplies, and her monsters are dragons.
The teachings of Maw Lute ask people to define themselves in part by which items they value.
As the patron of music she encourages people to be musicans, protects wandering minstrels, and helps melodies spread throughout the continent.
As the patron of collecting she encourages people to have at least a private collection, and perhaps also contribute to a group's collection. She watches over all institutions that protect collections: banks, museums, zoos, and merchant caravans.
Maw Lute understands that weath is a popular type of collection. She values people's inalienable right to work to gain wealth. She opposes excessive taxation, greedy tyranny, and all slavery. But she offers no teachings or guidance about how to properly use wealth.
She also oversees heraldic symbolism, allowing even the illiterate to understand who owns what land, buildings, and famous items.
Maw Lute's respect for group collections leads her to respect town and city governance. Many towns and cities have a small dragon living in the town square to answer questions about that settlement's population demographics and to assist with heraldic issues.
Maw Lute loves hoarding but is also generous. Much of her own immense hoard of treasure is hidden in small portions in many locations. Maw Lute can reveal the location of one of these stashes of treasure to reward her followers with some of her treasures without requiring them to brave her own lair.
Maw Lute herself is law-abiding. But many of her dragons pillage to increase their hoards. Thieves, highwaymen, and pirates also ask Maw Lute to protect their wealth—recognizing that she will not protect them but she might help maintain their treasure as a single hoard that a successor can inherit.
Maw Lute says she was created on Arlinac Mountain, and decided that it would be a perfect place to make her home.
Speleoth had already claimed the mountain's interior. But Maw Lute won his favor with politeness and a song. He gave her half of the mountain's interior. The lair of Maw Lute, named Igneous Halls, has remained under the mountain ever since—although she often renovates and redecorates.
Maw Lute considers Speleoth an ally. She has no enemies.
Maw Lute lives in Igneous Halls, a vast place that resembles both a stately museum and a dangerous dragon lair. Many of its magnificent rooms and passages are large, made of smoothly worked black rock, and lit by candles in ornate sconces and candelabras. Its wondrous treasure is on display in hallways and piled in treasure vaults: coins, jewels, vases, carvings, statuettes, ornaments, jewelry, musical instruments, paintings, tapestries and vestments (and those sconces and candelabras).
Its actual entrance is a cave near the top of Arlinac Mountain. But to show hospitality towards people unable to make that ascent, Maw Lute also creates a portal in Arlinac Town that brings people to and from the cave entrance. She does not mind when hikers or sightseers use her portal as a shortcut get to or from the mountain top.
In the grandiose foyer people may meet Maw Lute. She enjoys when adventurers accept the challenge of questing in her halls, which are guarded by her newest traps, favorite monsters, and strongest minions. Most who enter will quit—exhausted and defeated—after having only seen a small portion of the outermost chambers and having only collected a little treasure. She bestows her compliments and some additional prizes to honor their courage in making the attempt.
Igneous Halls also serves as a secondary prison for Arlinac Town. Criminals who have committed crimes which in other places would earn life imprisonment or the dealth penalty are instead handed over to Maw Loot who henceforth provides them with a room and food but forces them to help guard Igneous Halls.
Maw Lute looks like an enormous red dragon. But unlike an actual dragon, she is the same color all over (without splashes of lighter colors on the wings and chest).
Maw Lute can be met personally by those willing to explore Igneous Halls. She very seldom travels from her lair.
Maw Lute is worshipped with music, especially singing and stringed instruments.
The "temples" dedicated to Maw Lute are large buildings that serve both as museums and banks. (These banks do not offer loans. They only provide a secure location for storing valuables.) Maw Lute often sends a dragon to roost atop these buildings to help guard them. The building's curators maintain collections owned by the building. People often donate items to these collections as an act of worship. Less common is to donate an entire, completed, personal collection—this is often done posthumously. The curators organize string quartet performances to help celebrate the receptions or anniversaries of exceptional donations.
Any public fountain can serve as a "shrine" to Maw Lute. Coins dedicated to her and then tossed into a fountain disappear, and are added to her personal hoard.
Maw Lute's name is a pun on her dual patronage. Try pronouncing it to say both "mother lute" and "my loot".
What's the way to gather the clouds away?
Bitterness can be changed to sweet.
Little Humble dances on, on down Sublimity Street
Every girl and boy can rest in joy.
Don't own, prize, or strive, but love all you meet.
Little Humble dances on, on down Sublimity Street
- Therion children's song
Little Humble was created to teach how exceptional focus could reliably produce a life of peace and purpose.
Her dungeons are isolated keeps, her contests are sporting events, her champions are Errants, her gifts are serendipity bags, and her monsters are bugaboos.
The teachings of Little Humble ask people to define themselves in part by what they can do without.
Little Humble cannot lie. Her name is used to enforce a vow. Even people who do not worship her or follow her teachings swear by saying, "If I do not do such-and-such may Little Humble punish me." This vow, if broken, can cause misfortune. (Often a bugaboo hunts down the vow-breaker.)
Little Humble was the second Power created during the Age of Goodness.
She is respected by almost everyone. But few people follow her teachings rigorously.
Arlinac Town has a special place in Little Humble's heart because she established her first Meek Manor on Theralin island. At that time the only settlement on the island was a tiny village at the foot of Arlinac Mountain, sustained by tourism to the mountain from pilgirms visiting Speleoth's cave and Maw Lute's personal lair. The first Meek Manor was established to be isolated and very scenic, but not overly remote.
Little Humble has no allies. She directly opposes Gnash, whose active ruthlesness completely conflicts with her passive serenity. Her philosophy sometimes brings her followers (who find peace in owning little) in conflict with the followers of Maw Lute (who collect things) even though the collections Maw Lute loves could in theory be small enough to be compatible with Little Humble's values.
Little Humble has no home, but frequently appears to travelers as they walk along roads.
She looks like a young girl, usually a Therion child. Her clothes are plain. She wears neither shoes nor jewelry.
She enjoys being lent a pretty hat. From the time the hat is returned to its owner until the next sundown gently touching the hat will cure any disease.
Little Humble has worshipers among all of the intelligent races. She does not mind when her worshipers also worship and serve other Powers as long as doing so does not interfere with their ability to live according to her values.
There are no altars to Little Humble, even in the many belvedere gazebos constructed in scenic locations as shrines in her honor.
However, quite a few of her devout followers run thrift stores to help people get rid of posessions they do not truly need and to help the poor.
Little Humble is usually worshipped with dance: various slow dances that are often little more than swaying, that allow her worshipers to also be meditating on her teachings and quietly petitioning her for aid in finding tranquility. Her followers also dance joyfully together in celebration, but view these louder and more active dances as social activity instead of worship.
Little Humble espouses a philosophy named Sublimity Street that provides peace and purpose. Its four tenants are:
Little Humble organizes her worshipers into communes named Meek Manors. These large homes for communal living to allow people to meditate and pray about Sublimity Street and together act upon its truths.
Meek Manors function as a small business. The manor owns all property inside its walls; its members own nothing. (Members who often travel may own two sets of clothes and a backpack, stowed under their bed while home at the manor.) All Meek Manors grow their own food but otherwise rely on charity for income. When Meek Manor members are skilled at crafting, the items they produce are given away to the needy instead of sold for personal or manorial income.
Together, Members practice dance and unarmed martial arts to develop the body, and memorize and discuss poetry and philosophy to develop the mind. Most of they day is spent quietly doing these activities or community service. When a town or city has a Meek Manor, senior members are often asked to judge legal disputes as well as officiate trials, coronations, confirmations, marriages, and burials.
Little Humble exemplifies what the Tao Te Ching calls "non-Ado". But her philosophy has differences from the Way of Taoism, so the words "Way" and "Path" were avoided when inventing the name Sublimity Street.
Little Humble's poem pays tribute to the Sesame Street theme song. The line "gather the clouds away" is a tribute to Sean Russel's masterpiece, the two Initiate Brother novels.
Little Humble's fondness for hats is a nod to Neil Gaiman's comic book character Death.
Little Humble represents truth: she cannot lie, her champions can detect lies and must avoid lies, and her name makes a vow binding. Note, however, that there are no oracles in the setting of Spyragia: completing an adventure in the Enchanted Forest is normally the only way for a person to beseech a Power to answer a specific question.
A belvedere gazebo is simply a small pavillion structure open on all sides situated and perhaps furnished to take advantage of a scenic view.
If you are resourceful quit your worrying
If you clever aim for what's free.
Futhorc offers no-risk adventures!
Quest this morning and be home by tea.
- Kobalt playground rhyme
Futhorc was once a lowly Kobalt who only excelled in courage. When he became a Power he decided to create safe yet excting opportunities for ordinary people to adventure and become special.
His dungeons are ruins, his contests are ruin races, his champions are Casters, his gifts are spell-scrolls, and his monsters are oozes.
The teachings of Futhorc ask people to define themselves in part by what they have tried to accomplish.
Futhorc loves when people attempt something fun and reckless without worrying about the chance of success. Parents will reprimand their children's dangerous and foolish ideas by saying "Futhorc would like it, but you better not try that!"
Futhorc became a Power by succeeding in the most difficult quest the Enchanted Forest has even known. That ordeal still haunts his memories. He avoids the Enchanted Forest.
Futhorc sometimes visits Arlinac Town. He avoids ascending Arlinac Mountain, from which the Enchanted Forest can be seen.
Futhorc still appears as a small Kobalt.
Futhorc is worshiped at small, enclosed shrines with few chairs but many tables and notice boards. On the tables are boxes in which his followers leave puzzle-folded papers with written petitions. On the notice boards his followers post philosophical, mathematical, or logical puzzles for other visitors to ponder.
At equinoxes and solstices children write letters (often with parental aid) requesting a spell-scroll and explaining how it would be a great help. These letters are put in a box on a table. In the morning the letters might be replaced by a spell-scroll. A child who requests a spell specific to a single, detailed need usually receives it as requested. Children learn to ask for "a scroll to heal Grandma Woodbox of her sickness, during the first week of Spring in the year of the Yodeling Dragon" rather than "a scroll that cures disease".
The name Futhorc refers to a runic alphabet, with an echo of orc because Kobalts are the literary ancestors of orcs.
The practice of leaving various types of puzzles in shrines is broadened from Japanese sangaku geometrical puzzles.
All tax-paying residents of the Gardeners district
may expect and enjoy the benefits
of a community inflexibly devoted to
security, cleanliness, and public lawful behavior.
- plaques at the entrances to the Gardeners district
Fie! Fume! What do I hear?
A man who hurts what he should hold dear.
He beats his child and calls it love.
I'll take them both and drink their blood.
- Ogre nursery rhyme
Gnash is a being from another star, brought to Spyragia to signal the beginning of the Age of Troubles. He elevates ruthlessness: an uncompromising and unyielding loyalty to purpose and people that shows focus, intensity, and strength.
(The ruthlessness Gnash favors allows no room for mercy towards those deserving of punishment. But towards innocents it need not be vicious or violent. It may feel pity and remorse. It may include generosity and charity.)
His dungeons are mansions, his contests are last one standings, his champions are Bounty Hunters, his gifts are necrotic weapons, and his monsters are undead.
The teachings of Gnash ask people to define themselves in part by those things for which they are fearlessly willing to die or kill.
For all of history Ogres have been afflicted by the Ogre's Hunger. Most are predatory, and all are shunned, persecuted, or hunted when discovered by people of the other races. One day many Ogres gathered and pleaded for the Creator to help them. The Creator brought them Gnash. Gnash rallied many of the Ogres and taught them to live in cooperative packs that fed on those neighbors who abhorred them. "Cannibals!" cried the members of the other races. "Justice!" cried Gnash.
But Gnash soon became dissatisfied with leading the Ogres. He realized that he was serving their interests, and they saw him as a tool they were using. Gnash desired the reverence and devotion enjoyed by other Powers. He withdrew for several years. He reappeared with a new identiy: the patron of all ruthlessness, willing to elevate all who act with unbending loyalty to an ideal or person.
Gnash treats every person and Power based upon their recent deeds. Other Powers may consider Gnash an enemy, but Gnash does not have favorites or hold grudges.
Gnash did not care about the island of Theralin until the other Powers decided to share governance of Arlinac Town by each supervising a district. To their surprise, Gnash appeared and declared that he would also oversee a district. His portion of the town would exalt security, cleanliness, and public lawful behavior. The streets and public buildings would be free of crime. The old or infirm could live without fear of violence. No resident would be troubled by litter or graffiti. Those fleeing from persecution or feud could find safety.
Gnash was allowed his district, which he named the Gardeners district. At first, rumors spread that the district was populated by Ogres and everyone within would be eaten. But the rumors were false, and people slowly moved in to enjoy its safety and neatness, its efficient trimness in appearance and laws.
Gnash appears in a variety of forms, appropriate to the temperament and beliefs of those watching.
Gnash receives no worship from the people of his district of Arlinac Town. He occasionally appears in the district square to give an encouraging speech. He acknowledges that living under his supervision can make them misunderstood and mistrusted, and he thanks them for holding fast to his values, demontrating that ruthlessness to civic virtues can be noble and meritorious.
Most Ogres feel a sentimental loyalty to Gnash, and perhaps even a kind of kinship with him as the "black sheep" of the Powers. They often worship him at secret altars hidden inside buildings or caves. Ironically, through abandoning headship of the Ogres, Gnash did inspire in them the genuine reverence and devotion he felt they lacked.
These Ogres believe they can "give ruthlessness" to Gnash by sacrificing ruthless intelligent creatures on their altars. The origin of this belief is debated. Did Gnash teach them? Is it a confused extension of the Ogre's Hunger? Is it a lie from the oldest Grand Ogres, invented as part of their complex game to control Ogre society, in which the winners feast upon the losers?
Some of Gnash's Ogre worshipers secretly distribute religious texts that use metaphor to explain how to worship Gnash. These texts promise both ecstasy and peace of mind to those who properly offer Gnash ruthlessness. Such texts are mostly pleasant proverbs, oddly interrupted by short stories featuring acts that are shockingly calllous, dreadfully brutal, or eerily malevolent.
A popular rumor claims that Ogre altars allow Gnash's followers to create undead, proving that Gnash heeds and approves of that murdurous worship. But perhaps that rumor lies. Many Ogres collect necrotic weapons, and sacrifices performed with those would explain the creation of undead.
Another rumor claims that Gnash will be able to summon more of his kind from his star if he absorbs enough ruthlessness from his worshiper's sacrifices.
A third rumor claims that Gnash sometimes give a tome of forbidden knowledge to an extremely fanatical worshipper. Reading it can unlock a strange and fantastic ability, but at great cost to health and sanity.
The Sagacious claim they do not worship Gnash despite being Ogres.
Gnash is based upon the Great Old Ones of the Lovecraft Mythos: an immensely powerful creature from outer space, with ruthless followers, who perhaps thrives on merciless devouring.
Gnash differs from the Great Old Ones because he might not actually be evil. But three similarities remain: knowledge relating to Gnash can be found in obscure and foreboding arcane books, pursuit of such knowledge causes depression and insanity, and adventure plots may still center around a fanatic cult that is planning an evil and maddening ritual.
A fun list of Lovecraftian adjectives can be found on the yog sothoth forums.
Gnash allows philosophical musing on the "otherness" of ruthlessness and harmful consumption. Our inclinations towards actions we acknowledge are merciless, self-interested, or gluttonous can sometimes resemble an external influence that tempts and coerces, rather than an internal desire or yearning.
Gnash's nursery rhyme ponders Fee-fi-fo-fum. Do the "Fie! Fume" belong to the villainous father or the speaker? This version is perhaps less gruesome than what Jack's giant chants, but irrationally offends more by its blatant unfairness (Yet Jack's giant would also have eaten both father and daughter).
When problems cause panic, when life gets haywire,
Voker will be there to help and inspire.
If the ground is all swampy and you are stuck tight,
Let Voker free you, in exchange for your sight.
When no one will listen, and scoffers cause rage,
Voker can lift you up to center stage.
If bitterness has drained your cup to the dregs,
Let Voker refill it, in exchange for your legs.
- whispered rhyme
Voker is the patron of things getting out of control. She is worshipped by liars, zealots, criminals, demagogues, lovers, and fighters.
Her dungeons are avocations, her contests are revokings, her champions are Evokers, her gifts are invocations, and her monsters are convocators.
The teachings of Voker ask people to define themselves in part by what they call important and call upon—especially when getting into or out of trobule.
Voker loves watching what people do during crises and pandemonium. She never acts on her own to cause or resolve difficult situations. But she never needs to. People do enough of that themselves, and Voker enjoys aggravating bad situations in a small way. She will also help someone escape from trouble, but only in a manner that worsens the situation for everyone else, or gives rise to a larger future crisis.
Voker uses a philosophy called the Five Contrasts to help her followers understand why situations get out of control. Some of her followers use those insights to sow discord. Others use the philosophy to live a more peaceful life.
Voker believes that violence should never be encouraged. Yet sometimes violence is unavoidable or necessary. She uses the imagery of a snake, since that animal is famous for being dangerous yet only using violence to hunt for food or defend itself. Voker's philosophy does not call violence a virtue or a vice: she sees violence as a tool to calmly use no more than is needed. Soldiers, guards, bouncers, and executioners worship her and pray for her guidance, assistance, and protection.
Voker has no special tie to the island of Theralin. But Arlinac Town is currently a focal point of religious and political intrigue, with a multitude of issues slowly and quickly growing out of control.
When the other Powers established their own districts in Arlinac Town she told her followers to do the same. Various guards, mercenaries, visionaries, and treasure hunters tried to organize themselves but had irresolvable differences and interests. Voker did not assist in the structuring or governing of her district. It has become an eccentric and argumentative place, avoided by respectable people because of its poverty and the occasional outbursts of violence.
Voker has no allies. The other Powers regard her as untrustworthy and unproductive.
Voker appears as a very beautiful woman from any of the eight intelligent races with her lower body replaced by the tail of a snake.
Voker's worshipers are a motley lot: criminals and guards, loners and soldiers, bitter old warriors and naive young lovers, quiet swamp hermits and unrestrained fanatics.
Voker watches over all swamps and slums. Her worshipers pay her honor by leaving statues in those places. On the bottoms of the statues the worshipers write brief accounts of how a crisis has been a crucible that helped them grow and mature.
Voker has decided that most examples of things getting out of control happen because of five vices. These are compared with their opposite virtues in the Five Contrasts.
Voker's followers appreciate these Five Contrasts. Some of Voker's followers want situations to get out of control, and promote the vices. Others of Voker's followers try to avoid things getting out of control, and devote themselves to the virtues.
Voker physically resembles some versions of the Greek mythical Lamia, but has none of the themes of revenge, gluttony, child-eating, or sorcery.
Biting Cold wants your despair.
Weep and moan for Winter Glare.
Abandon hope, for don't you know?
None escape from Kostkey's snow.
- hiker's chant
Frosty Kostkey is the patron of conquest, Winter, and machinery. He is the original machinist.
His dungeons are ice fortificiations, his contests are zip tag games, his champions are remotes, his gifts are oversprings, and his monsters are abominables.
The teachings of Frosty Kostkey ask people to define themselves in part by what they sustain, and what places they occupy.
Originally Frosty Kostkey focused on the sustaining and occupying done by his armies. He encouraged his followers to conquer, and to share in the glory of his military forces. His military leaders proclaimed the motto "Each gear deserves the glory of the machine".
However, Frosty Kostkey learned that his values were more widely applicable, and could be presented in a more universally attractive manner. For the past three generations he has done little to lead his armies in conquest, and instead has focused (successfully) on making machinery use alluring and captivating.
Frosty Kostkey now avoids mottos. He does not want people to notice the parallels he instills between the bleak snows of Winter and the impersonal uniformity of machinery—and the relentless toil needed in both to sustain oneself and one's works.
Frosty Kostkey remains the most skilled of machinists. He personally builds his armies' most dreadful machines: massive weapons mounted on enormous sleighs, or elaborately fierce whimsical contraptions.
Frosty Kostkey is in many ways the opposite of Speleoth. He focuses on creating or claiming, not discovering and visiting. He secretly delights in the despair caused by repetition and monotony, perhaps the opposite of the joy of exploration and discovery. He is amused when people are valued impersonally as a part of a bigger system. He likes frantic searches where the goal is not to find something new but merely to find a means to endure.
Yet Frosty Kostkey loves and cares for his followers. He is not always successful in moderating his natural cruelty, but compensates by generously providing positive attention. He challenges his followers to sustain, expand, build, and occupy. He sometimes sneers coldly at their failures, but always smiles brightly at their successes. He might mock a person who despairs and quits too early, but merrily celebrates when a follower perseveres to accomplishment and triumph.
Frosty Kostkey longs to conquer Arlinac Town, either literally or symbolically, because it is treasured by so many other Powers. But so far he has not (apparently) acted on this desire.
Frosty Kostkey has no allies. He is often opposed by Speleoth.
Frosty Kostkey appears as an immense humanoid made of ice and machinery.
The worshipers of Frosty Kostkey do not beseech him. Instead, he appears to them and gives them orders as their commander.
Altars dedicated to Frosty Kostkey create regions of Winter around them, in which his monsters and armies flourish.
The only ritual worship of Frosty Kostkey appears, to outsiders, to be a huge snowball fight. Frosty Kostkey himself appears. Then the temperature begins to drop mercilessly. The snowball fight continues at least until the cold forces at least one person to quit. The Sagacious ponder if these bitter contests serve to identify his toughest worshipers or are simply pleasing to Frosty Kostkey as morbid, frantic situations.
Frosty Kostkey is obviously a parody of Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and other Winter characters in Western culture. Frosty Kostkey is also based on Koschei the Deathless, a villain in Russian fairy tales with some ties to Winter through the name Crnobog.
Most stories of wolves or bears that prey upon people happen during the hungry winter months, making it natural to categorize "Winter" as a category of evil similar to undead or dragons. Many fantasy authors use winter animals as predators or villains.
Note that the machines constructed by Frosty Kostkey's champions can remain functional until encountered. This allows the GM to create locations populated by machines.
How is Frosty Kostkey involved in adventures? The PC might need to stop a temple of Frosty Kostkey from being built, or find a hidden, newly built temple to halt the spread of Winter; either task may involve fighting one of Frosty Kostkey's champions. Alternately, a PC might need to sabotage one of the potent mechanical items Frosty Kostkey has given one of his followers, or foil the newest scheme to make machinery alluring yet depressing. Frosty Kostkey's dungeons can be of any size and shape, and are suitable locations for a powerful PC to raid. Frosty Kostkey might even be sought for his technological expertise to help bring down a mad scientist who is giving machinery a bad reputation.