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Author Topic: Savage Age: Argyrian Empire  (Read 107340 times)
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« Reply #135 on: October 19, 2013, 10:30:07 AM »

A conversation between a hierophant and his apprentice


Parmenion: "Speak your mind, pupil of mine, for I can tell that something troubles you."

Dexios: "O master, I cannot grasp the mystery of the numen. If I could be so enlightened?"

Parmenion: "Pay heed then, and contemplate on this. When you tread upon the ground of the palaestra in the morn after a night of rainfall, do your feet not leave their impression on the wet sand, such that long since you've passed on your way will it betray your passage to the eyes of your peers?"

Dexios: "Of corse."

Parmenion: "And when you seat yourself upon the bench on the hippodrome, can you not sense the warmth of the man who but recently sat on that very spot, lingering yet therein?"

Dexios: "That is indeed so."

Parmenion: "Thus are there ways in which one might observe, upon a given place, traces of the presense, of the being, of the power of men that have been there. So it is with gods also.

 Consider now the serene majesty of the sacred grove, the shade of it's ancient oaks and standing stones. Or the hallowed sanctum of the temple, it's peristyle of fluted marble pillars, and it's floor-mosaics, and fragrant incense laid before the golden Image. Or the lofty solitude on the holy mountain's summit, it's nearness to the celestial arch above, with the wondrous vistas about. These all inspire in the pilgrim a profound sense of divine presense, for they are places touched by gods. And where gods have been are their numina most strongly felt."

Dexios: "Is numen then nothing more than the presense of a god?"

Parmenion: "No. Numen is the nature and providence of a god, the power through which they act. When Thalasses the Sea-King assumes his wrathful aspect, it is his numen which drives the waves of the raging seas. When restless Theramenes embarks on the Ravenous Hunt, it is his numen that rouses the packs and herds of beasts to stampede across the wilderness. The numen of the Emperor is made manifest in his authority and magnanimity, while the safety and prosperity of every family is bolstered by the numina of their household-deities. It is verily through the numina of all the gods that the natural order in the world is upheld."

« Last Edit: October 19, 2013, 10:33:30 AM by Ghostman » Logged

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« Reply #136 on: October 19, 2013, 11:43:03 AM »

Nice

So numen is supposed to be some sort of ''supernatural energy'' (like magic???) or is it just something invented by the superstitious many? Or both?
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« Reply #137 on: October 19, 2013, 12:27:11 PM »

It is supposed to be spiritual power - kind of. There's no "generic" numen, as every numen is of a deity and one with the nature of said deity. Hence the plural numina.
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« Reply #138 on: October 19, 2013, 08:08:12 PM »

Very nice post, Ghost.

So, are numina capable of being harnessed in any way by mortals? A priest or oracle maybe? Or is it entirely the power of the gods?

Also, this may have been mentioned earlier and I missed it, or you may have left it intentionally vague, but how "real" are the gods? Is numen a clever way of explaining their presence, or an actual, permeable manifestation of their power?
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« Reply #139 on: October 20, 2013, 05:28:31 AM »

It's not really something that should be thought analogous to substance or energy. It's more like an aura.

That said, numina might well be leveraged in some ways. After all, if it's all numina that make the winds blow, the crops grow and the minds of men form coherent thoughts, then one is already indirectly making use of them in everything one does. Making offerings to the gods is asking them to excercise their will - through their numina - to one's benefit. A traveler might ask that his campfire burn warmer through the cold night, a sculptor that his chisel cuts the perfect contours on a bust, a farmer that the swarm of locusts steers away from his fields, a lover that his illicit trysts remain secret. Since the numen of a deity is the providence of said deity, appeals have to be directed at approriate deities to be effective. Asking Gennia, the Great Mother, to provide rain would be fruitless, for making the clouds shed water is not part of her nature and providence.

As mentioned before, there are certain places with particularly potent numina. Such spiritual auras could be taken advantage of, if their natures are known. For example, a place sacred to Aketos, the Healer, might bolster the chances of survival and recovery of a patient brought to be treated there.

Weave

Also, this may have been mentioned earlier and I missed it, or you may have left it intentionally vague, but how "real" are the gods?

My stance on this has changed somewhat over time. Given the whole polytheistic POV that assumes a mystical world full of gods, with "god" being a very broad term meaning everything from empyreal cosmic destroyers and creators to humble dryads and domestic spirits to impersonal forces of nature to ascended mortal heroes and still-living rulers, I can't really see any way to keep the existence of deities totally uncertain without depriving the setting of flavour-appropriate chances to encounter some of them in the flesh.

Even so, there's quite a bit of room for vagueness. The mythology is supposed to be riddled with internal inconsistensies, with same deities being ascribed different names and attributes by different priesthoods/traditions, some deities not being acknowledged outside of specific cities, entire legends being told in radically different ways (and this not stopping some people from believing they're all somehow true) by different tribes, and with new deities from foreign religions being sometimes "borrowed" and adopted regardless of how well they fit into the existing mythos.
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« Reply #140 on: October 21, 2013, 01:44:55 AM »

I really like the description of House Catacalon. Their slow decline is almost sad, if not a bit touching as well. It must be truly disheartening to watch your power and prestige slowly slip and fade over the eons. You mentioned members of House Catacalon finding greener pastures in other Houses but are there any young upstarts of adequate birth who could join the Catacaloi and revitalize the House with his youthful vigor? Does something like that ever occur?

Also, super jealous of your map of the Argyrian Hippodrome. laugh
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« Reply #141 on: October 21, 2013, 10:30:18 AM »

Elemental_Elf

You mentioned members of House Catacalon finding greener pastures in other Houses but are there any young upstarts of adequate birth who could join the Catacaloi and revitalize the House with his youthful vigor? Does something like that ever occur?
I think such candidates would be very hard to come by. For even minor nobility there's little point in throwing your lot with what looks like a losing horse. Common citizens could always be brought in to the family, but that would risk destroying what's left of the worth of the Catacalon name and public image ("look, they've become so desperate they'll take in anyone!") and would also be regarded by some members of the house as effectively giving up.

Elemental_Elf

Also, super jealous of your map of the Argyrian Hippodrome. laugh
Thanks! smile
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« Reply #142 on: October 23, 2013, 07:45:55 PM »

Numina works for me.  I always enjoy when a setting's esoterica and fantasy elements get beyond the surface, "it's magic' and to how it feels or why it works, or how the denizens of the setting perceive it.
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« Reply #143 on: December 09, 2013, 04:42:37 PM »

I've created a star chart that shows the constellations known to the Argyrians. It's posted over on the Cartographers' Guild forum. Not sure if you can see the attached picture without an account, but anyway: Atlas of the Celestial Heavens.

There are 9 constellations that lie along the path of the Suns, forming the Argyrian zodiac. They include:
  • The Centipede
  • The Chariot
  • The Horn
  • The Hippocampus
  • The Ouroboros
  • The Sphinx
  • The Spider
  • The Tortoise
  • The Vulture

The signs of the zodiac have major astrological importance. Other constellations include:
  • The Amphorae
  • The Bow
  • The Cyclops
  • The Dragonfly
  • The Falcon
  • The Fisherman
  • The Flamingo
  • The Hands
  • The Horseshoe
  • The Ibex
  • The Jellyfish
  • The Maiden
  • The Moth and The Butterfly
  • The Octopus
  • The Palm
  • The Pegasus
  • The Satyrs
  • The Shark
  • The Shepherd's Crook
  • The Sistrum
  • The Stag

On a night of a clear sky, characters might observe omens and portents against the cosmic canvas. Unusual signs manifesting in the direction of a particular constellation could bear occult significance, that those who are wise in the way of divination might decipher.
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« Reply #144 on: December 09, 2013, 06:13:05 PM »

First, let me say, awesome map.  Second, let me say, TURTLE!!!!

This is really cool, Ghostman.  One nitpick - and it's a minor one - is that constellations need not be as literal as the spider or vulture.  While Orion actually has stars for all the important bits, most constellations lack them. 
Case in point:


Don't feel so constrained by the stars themselves when picking out constellations.

All of that said, this is just awesome.  I've never really seen this particular detail included in a setting, and it has me wondering what I can do with Starfall.  Fantastic thing to include!
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« Reply #145 on: December 10, 2013, 02:27:47 PM »

Good to hear smile

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One nitpick - and it's a minor one - is that constellations need not be as literal as the spider or vulture.

I'm well aware of that, because I studied the RW constellations quite a bit before starting to work on my map. Giving all of them fairly recognizable shapes was something I consciously decided to do, as there's no reason why stars couldn't be aligned in a more obvious way in a fantasy universe.
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« Reply #146 on: December 10, 2013, 03:55:07 PM »

Ghostman

Giving all of them fairly recognizable shapes was something I consciously decided to do, as there's no reason why stars couldn't be aligned in a more obvious way in a fantasy universe.
I like that you did that. The real constellations are... weird.
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« Reply #147 on: December 10, 2013, 08:03:28 PM »

Nice touch there, Ghostman. Will you come up with some fluff that includes such spiritual (astrological and whatnot) stuff in the future? Like, short stories?
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 08:05:53 PM by Magnus Pym » Logged


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« Reply #148 on: December 15, 2013, 07:35:11 AM »

On Dueling

In those ancient times when the world was more wondrous, when Men knew simpler ways and when heroes were towering goliaths nine-feet tall, it was customary when two tribes made war upon each other and their hosts met on the field, that one of the warlords might call a challenge upon his counterpart. Thus would the two leaders engage each other in mortal combat before the eyes of the assembled hosts, to determine in this manner the outcome of the battle. Such days are long gone; for as Man cast away his primitive ways and as warfare grew more refined and organized, the custom of the warlords' duel was abandoned. Although no longer relevant in war, some vestiges of the archaic ideal of a heroic one-on-one clash of arms survive to this day, manifest in honorary duels between champions of the noble houses.

What dueling isn't

Argyrians do not practice judicial duels. Indeed, their laws do not even recognize the act of dueling in any manner. Disputes are supposed to be solved by trial, with arguments and evidence and the mediation of judges, not by illicit bloodshed. Neither is dueling ever an affair between individuals - any fight between two men initiated out of personal enmity or over some object of contention is not a true duel, but a mere brawl.

What dueling is

Dueling in the present era is exclusively the domain of the aristocracy. It is something that happens very rarely, and never without careful consideration by both parties. A duel is a means for the families to solve a grudge or feud that cannot be brought to trial - either because it is over something the laws do not address (such as perceived insults), or over something that could embarass both sides if it were to become public knowledge. When two houses agree upon a duel, they will choose a time and place suitably removed from the public eye, and each house selects a champion to represent it. This champion is almost always the house's senior spatharius - a professional swordsman who usually also commands the household guard and acts as a personal bodyguard for the head of the family. The duel is fought to the first blood, witnessed by representatives of the two houses and possibly a trusted third party. Both sides are expected to abide by it's outcome - the house whose champion was victorious is considered to have won the argument, and the matter is considered disclosed.

While this custom isn't legally sanctioned, it is practically never suppressed by authorities, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the few people who do know about the duel are not interested in raising lawsuits over it, even if their champion ends up accidentally killed. Secondly, noble houses typically command enough political influence to ensure that local governors won't interfere in their private affairs. Most importantly though, the imperial government is willing to overlook duels because they present a means for rival nobles to solve budding disputes before they escalate into blood feuds. Given that blood feuds tend to be extremely bitter and destructive affairs that span several generations and often only terminate when one side is completely eradicated, the policy of quietly ignoring duels is nothing short of pragmatic.
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« Reply #149 on: December 15, 2013, 10:34:38 AM »

I like this take on dueling. It still retains the elements of its judicial roots, but with a distinctly martial tinge.  Nice stuff
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