holographica: (arimoi)
like a break in unreality ([personal profile] holographica) wrote in [community profile] arimoi2017-02-05 12:40 pm
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Mythology, History, and Culture

An Eludalsian history of the world begins before written record, with a time when precursor entities roamed and shaped the world, setting the stage for the human age.

Most religions hold no belief in living, omnipresent "gods". Instead, Eludalsians characterize their gods as ancestors, beings whose actions in life directly led to the state of things as they currently are.

Furthermore, the predominant Eludalsian religions share a common cosmogony and stable of mythologies. Differences between these religions are rooted in which gods they focus on and supplemented by the history and politics of the peoples that practice them.

Some basic gods and stories:
Aleni - A respected god in all traditions, but does not have a major sect dedicated to her. In her primary story, she dies, but has nowhere to go because neither death nor the underworld have been invented yet. Annoyed by the unruliness of the process, she digs out a vast trench and locates a passage to the underworld at the bottom. In the meantime, however, rain has filled up the trench, and all kinds of animals have started swimming around, but with no natural order established amongst them, they live chaotically. Annoyed by that, she remains in the ocean for a long time, setting up the tides and the currents and everything about the sea that can be predicted. She never finishes her work, but her children eventually convince her to let it be and go through the passage into the underworld.

Jena  - A solar god, and the central figure of the largest Eludalsian religious sect. As the god embodied by the sun, Jena is associated with resurrection and thus kindling life, and is characterized as fearless and ambitious. She is also traditionally responsible for art and invention, weather, and sending animals into the path of hunters' arrows. She has a number of children, including the medicine god Frohn, the wine god Vurt, and the war god Selathe.

Raes - An agricultural god. Eludalsian agriculture owes a lot to techniques introduced from abroad, so Raes was originally a young, personable hero-god, and only became known as a god of crops after stories of foreign grain deities resembling him in personality made their way into the region. He's a hard worker, a reluctant warrior, and an all-around good dude who is the central figure of the second-largest sect in Eludalsia and decently respected in the others.

Ronas - Culture hero of Eludalsian tradition, and the purported ancestor of the first royal family. He may have had many feats attributed to him to advance the idea that the various states and territories of the time had a common history and identity, and thus unite them under the monarchy. He's not a subject of much modern interest, but is a popular character in the context of Eludalsian history and his image is used to invoke a sense of antiquity.

Jauph - The moon god, who in most traditions mated with Jena to produce many of the other named gods, but later separated from her and became Aleni's apprentice and consort. He is associated with law. Among his children are the Hours, minor gods associated with the hours of the day, the months of the year, and other numbered sets.

The Wandering God - He's generally referred to by a title because the only story in which his name appears is a Rumpelstiltskin-like scenario, with another god having to figure out his name to beat him in a competition, and there's enormous variation in what name is used. The common thinking is that storytellers would insert a name picked at random, specifically because the god's actual name is unknown. The Wandering God is an enigmatic figure, whose appearances usually involve other gods coming to him in search of knowledge to solve a greater problem, and having to pass some test before he will tell them anything. These supporting appearances make him a minor figure in major religions, but he has long been the subject of worship by cults and mystery sects purporting to hold secret knowledge.
The biggest religions in Eludalsia, as mentioned, are the cult of Jena and the cult of Raes. Followers of Jena are more polytheistic, defining gods under a detailed hierarchy and identifying specific aspects of the world that each is responsible for. Jenism involves an individual code of ethics, but is more defined by its dogma about how the world works and what the right way for things to be is - as long as you believe in the organization of the world as put forth by Jenist scholars, then you can call yourself a Jenist.

Followers of Raes, meanwhile, are more concerned with correct behavior, and Agrarians (as they are known) are more likely to have similar moral beliefs than Jenists are. Their sect is focused on the ideal, virtuous life illustrated by stories about Raes.

The two sects coexist fairly well, with Raes having a role in the Jenist pantheon and Jena's place as a ruling solar god having no bearing on Agrarian dogma, but they have come into political conflict in the past.

There are many other minority religious sects in Eludalsia, and most of them are henotheistic practices focusing on one of the gods considered subordinate to Jena by Jenists.

Most religious sects have a preoccupation with the link between death and life, and deal heavily with easing anxiety about death and identifying the ways in which lives flow into one another. The theme of the death of the gods, especially, is ubiquitous. This theme is thought to be a remnant of the ancient use of blood magic, or a reflection of the effect it had on the world's formation. Animal sacrifice is an active part of Jenist ritual, performed in temples on specific holidays or for very significant events. It's less common in Agrarian tradition, but both groups (and other, minor ones) consider sacrifice, in the general sense of giving up or destroying things of value, to be a very standard spiritual act, similar to prayer.

In all versions of Eludalsian mythology, monsters existed during the era of the gods. What role they played varies - some traditions hold that they were like the humans of the day, living in great numbers while the gods did their thing, and others hold that they were rare and usually created intentionally by gods. Many stories feature monsters as servants of gods, enemies of gods, or just other people present in the story.

Unlike gods, though, monsters didn't stop existing entirely after gods vanished. Their numbers declined over time, but every now and then, a monster or two has popped up to make people very excited for a couple of decades.

These appearances mean that, while NPCs don't have any actual lived experiences with monsters until the PCs show up, they do have a concept of them as real things that exist, and their attitudes towards them are shaped by history and by the roles monsters play in the tales they've learned. You can customize those attitudes to whatever the RP scene calls for (fear, acceptance, reverence, etc).

In general, NPCs will initially be alarmed by the emergence of monsters in modern life, but as more monsters appear and go about their lives, they will start to anticipate some of the weirdness that comes along with dragons (etc) being real and likely to land on your roof or sit next to you on the bus at some point.

In areas where monsters have been associated with human death, illness, or misfortune (either by legend or by PC action), NPCs will, of course, be less friendly.

The monster categories as listed in the bestiary for player reference don't necessarily match up to how Eludalsians define or describe monsters, due to the range of powers each monster type can exhibit. Characters may find literature on manticores, wyverns, werebears, selkies, etc., described as though they are distinct beings, and may not find any indication that "parent" monster types exist, except by their own experience as monsters.

Prehistoric - Gods purportedly roamed the earth and established the laws of nature. A new era began with their death.

About 3000 years ago - Early written history. Humans lived in various city-states, territories, and free lands in what is now called Eludalsia. Monsters lived among them and in the wild, and were an inescapable part of human life.

About 2000 years ago -  The agricultural god Raes absorbed attributes from foreign mythologies and the Agrarian religion took off in the Dalsian River Valley and other agriculturally productive areas. The Ronas dynasty came to rule a united Eludalsia, known then as Ronassia, from a city that came to be called Haven. They claimed direct descent from Ronas-the-god, who was incorporated into the family trees and local legends of various regional powers to establish the dynasty's right to rule. Monsters were largely barred from Haven, but their presence in rural provinces was well-documented, and Ronassian law accounted for many situations involving monster-human interaction.

2000 to 1000 years ago - Various families occupied the Ronassian throne, which waxed and waned in importance. Most adopted the name Ronas upon ascent, though some tried without success to replace the founding mythology with their own family's lore. Monsters became rarer and rarer before finally vanishing around 1000 years before the present.

About 800 years ago - Plague decimated Ronassia and destabilized the government. Bukar culture was hugely influential on the region as it rebuilt its society in the wake of the plague, via traders and via Ronassians who had fled to Bukarakdi and received an education there before returning.

760 to 450 years ago - Organized, hierarchical worship of Jena as the primary god originates within the Caiver people as an attempt at reconstructing a pre-Ronassian religion, and spreads when a new government is formed. The seat of power in what-is-now-Eludalsia hops back and forth between the east and west, usually peacefully if not usually happily.

About 450 years ago - Eludalsia becomes The Republic of Eludalsia by way of long, boring talks between provincial powers and the abdication of power by the current Dalsian ruling body. Twinsgrace, once a very minor city, becomes the new capital.

About 150 years ago
- Industrial revolution causes Arcrion to get huge. The effect isn't as jarring as the IRL industrial revolution because of the existence of magic, which enabled more "futuristic" tech earlier on, and which cuts down on the proportion of technology that causes serious pollution.

The small portion of Eludalsians who've heard of the Joyous Order know it as a bizarre but largely harmless mystery cult. Monsters, who are the object of the Order's apocalyptic designs, may come to know better.

The Joyous believe - though they keep this information jealously guarded - that the Wandering God sacrificed his divine peers to a great chimeric serpent known as the father of all monsters, then sacrificed him in turn. This, according to them, was that first act of blood magic that set magic free in the world, and which set the deeds of the gods in stone and enabled the rise of humankind. The Order exists to prepare for the arrival of a second great chimera, the mother of all monsters, by perfecting the blood magic ritual so that she can be sacrificed and the Joyous can become the ancestor gods of a new age in turn.

The summoning rituals that bring player characters to Eludalsia are performed all over the country, and almost never under the supervision of the Order's core hierarchy, making it hard to hunt down members of the cult by crashing any single summoning. Monsters hoping to seek out the Order themselves are in for a challenge. Much less challenging will be locating individual Joyous, who may deliberately seek out monsters and be genuinely thrilled to help them with everything short of guiding them to other cultists. Individual Joyous are monster enthusiasts with some odd priorities; the Order proper is dangerous and wants to use characters to its own end. Be ever cautious.

New arrivals in need of charity will find it readily in any city's places of worship. All Jenist temples feature a flat, circular table (which will be plated with brass in fancier temples) where devotees are supposed to sacrifice food, money, and other commodities, to become more aware of the cycle of sacrifice and benefit that drives the world. The sacrifices are then given by temple staff to those in need. Player characters can easily acquire food, clothing, and other sundries at these giveaways. Temples of Jena also always feature a library of some kind, dedicated to cataloging and disseminating knowledge on the order of the world (i.e. the sciences, in general), where player characters can look up information on things and also get a moment of peace and quiet.

Shelter can be found at motels and hotels of all stripes, but also at Agrarian meethalls, which - if they are well-funded enough - will generally keep a few rooms available for travelers. They largely expect these travelers to be Agrarians on something like a pilgrimage, tracing the steps of their hero-god, but player characters will be welcomed in too as long as they don't hog the room indefinitely (and as long as they don't mind being gently pressured into attending a service). Agrarian meethalls are also very good for networking, as their services are very chatty and familiar affairs, and new arrivals may find it easy to pick up a job or even a host family by spending a night there.

Most law enforcement is left up to local agencies, and communication between them can be slow, a fact that is the subject of a lot of NPC complaint and political hubbub. In general, suburban and rural agencies work well with one another, as do the officials of the larger cities, but it's not exactly rare for a criminal from one of the cities to simply vanish into the countryside or vice versa. Magical implements are used in law enforcement, like in most areas of life - many sentences involve the use of an ankle-monitor-like device that tracks the offender or restricts their movement/behavior.

The three major cities don't allow people under 16 to buy alcohol/cigarettes/anything of the sort. Outside of the cities there aren't legal obstacles, but 16 is the cultural norm for drinking in formal settings. 18 is the legal age of majority.

The currency is formally known as the Eludalsian Turtle Medallion and informally as the "shell" because come on, really? The name comes from the use of carved turtle-shell tokens along the coast in ancient times, which were valued inland because they were super neat, which inspired the use of turtle-shell patterns or turtle motifs on later coinage. Modern medallions/shells come in coin and bill form. The smallest denomination is the "terrapenny".

The main axis of social tension in Eludalsia is urban vs. rural, over economic and cultural interests that conflict at worst and don't overlap at middling-best; within cities or regions, between economic classes or between professions with bad histories with one another, for the same reason.