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Campaign Creation => Homebrews => Topic started by: HippopotamusDundee on March 10, 2012, 08:34:04 AM

Title: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on March 10, 2012, 08:34:04 AM

Out of Character

So, after several years of lurking and a few weeks now of being a member and just hanging around, I thought it was about time I posted something. This is something that evolved out of a simple attempt at world-building some background elements for a casual gaming group I once GMed for. From being a fairly generic fantasy world (in play, that is) it has spun somewhat out of control, but that tends to be the way of these things.

Of Great Mu and Its Children
Coil upon monstrous coil, through the fathomless depths of the endless Void lies the endless length of Great Mu, the Father of All and the Mother of Dragons. Within the firmament that is the outstretched span of Its cradling wings rests the world and all of existence besides. Innumerable and nameless are the countless eyes of Mu, the million and one tiny pinpricks in the great blue-black canvass of Its wings that watch and weep for the waking world. And two more eyes have Mu that matter most of all; aurum Sah and argent Sung, the twin eyes set deep within Mu’s featureless and two-faced head.

Pulsing through every vein and sinew of Mu’s endless coils, sunk into every bone and fibre runs the lifeblood that learned men call dayr. Creation and destruction together, it is the birthing-grave of reality; the ocean from which the elements flow and all life once crawled in squat and misshapen form and to which all things in their time return, be they ephemeral or immortal, for only Great Mu is truly beyond and outside that thing which is called Forever. Through the closed circle of Mu’s mighty frame the dayr flows unchecked, and pools within the hollow of Its sheltering coils.

And as it is above, so it is then below; within the deathless corpses of Mu’s Dayren children flow life and death in an endless cycle, the magic of the primeval wilderness and the Instinct of the elements that separate each Dyranae from the dusty sterility of the world outside. The towering and rime-cloaked mountains of Rhang, the lush and tangled woods of Sheagaw, the basin and archipelago of Meirew and many more, shaped and formed and cradled within the coiled loops of a Dayren’s scales. Oases of life unmarred by the weight of the passing ages and drenched in the catalytic change that  flows in dayr's wake, the Dayranae are jewels set within the wasteland of a calcified and static desert, encircled and preserved by the power that runs along the ridged backs of slumbering and wakeless dragons.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: LordVreeg on March 10, 2012, 09:24:15 AM
Very evocative...

Now, is this a faith/belief, or is it the actual cosmology?

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on March 10, 2012, 06:03:32 PM


Now, is this a faith/belief, or is it the actual cosmology?

This is the actual literal cosmology. The sky is actually the wings of a massive dragon, the sun and moon are his 'eyes' (as far as a cosmic dragon can be said to have eyes).

As far as faith/belief goes, the cultures of Ierddew (an esoteric term used by scholars/mystics to describe the totality of the planet; people otherwise replace the concept of 'world' with their own country and treat everything outside it as 'the Other') believe/believed in Great Mu, Sah, Sung, etc enough that these phrases are embedded in their languages and idioms. Usually they were also folded into the local belief system in some way, usually as a separate mini-pantheon subordinate to the primary figures of worship. In other words - acceptance of the existence of these figures is fairly widespread, worship of them somewhat less so due to their remote nature (they do not answer prayers, so people aren't interested).

Knowledge of the existence and nature of dayr and the Dayren and their relationship to Mu and the involvement this cycle has in the formation of Dayranae, on the other hand, is highly occulted and this specific information is the basic starting point from which flows the various circumstances that allow 'magic' to be performed (whether we are talking about actual magic, alchemy, 'miracles', whatever).

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: O Senhor Leetz on March 10, 2012, 09:37:22 PM
This is really cool, and for some reason, I really like the names you use. Mu, Sah, and Sung are all very exotic but don't automatically make me think of some place or culture, which is a tough thing to do.

Speaking of names, does the whole world refer to Great Mu, Sah, and Sung with the same names? Do different lands and peoples have different views of Great Mu? For instance, do some people look to him as a guardian while others see him as a destroyer to be sated? Are there people that reject Great Mu?

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: Magnus Pym on March 10, 2012, 09:48:03 PM
The continent of Mu appears in some mythology or ancient history. And Sung was the name of an historic Chinese Dynasty. Sah sounds Persian-ish, and rings a bell, so maybe there's another reference there?

This is interesting material. I hope to see more.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on March 10, 2012, 10:05:25 PM
Thanks for the kind words! The names stem from Japanese Buddhist thought (the syllables and Guardians Ah and Ng that begin and end existence in addition to the Yin/Yang) as much as they stem from anything, but I'm glad to hear that they aren't too reminiscent of real-world cultures. And Mu, as MagnusPym spotted was the name of an Asiatic Atlantis-like lost continent.

Señor Leetz

Speaking of names, does the whole world refer to Great Mu, Sah, and Sung with the same names? Do different lands and peoples have different views of Great Mu? For instance, do some people look to him as a guardian while others see him as a destroyer to be sated? Are there people that reject Great Mu?
These names are basically universal, yes. They are holdovers from a common trade-tongue spoken millenia ago during the Dayren-Da that is the equivalent of Indo-European on Ierddew (as in it was the root language for all modern tongues). Some cultures may use derivative terms (Sahri and Sungir, for example are the terms used in the dessicated Dayrana Veigdt), but the linguistic presence is nearly universal.

Great Mu especially (but Sah and Sung to a lesser degree) are not viewed in the same personified manner as gods, due to their distance and remoteness. Rather, they are viewed more as natural forces that simply are, no more good or evil than clouds or the tides. Mu (and therefore Sah and Sung as well) so totally transcends the world he encircles that while his existence is utterly unchallenged (largely due to the teachings of his children passed down in fragmented form since the Dayren-Da) most people give little or no thought to the ramifications, effects and reasons for his existence/presence.

Those people who do tend to be living inside Dayranae and often end up practising some form of esotericism that some might call magic.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: Tangential on March 12, 2012, 03:03:06 AM

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on March 12, 2012, 03:54:42 AM



The Dayren-Da (which will be getting a proper write-up along with several other things sometime in the next week) refers to the long-gone mythic 'golden' (actually more primeval) age when dragons were common and Mu's children the Dayren still walked Ierddew. Much of the early and universal inventions of civilization (fire, the wheel, etc) originate from teachings passed down during this time, as do their knowledge of Mu, Sah, Sung, dayr, etc and the proto-language that was the ancestor (in one way or another) of all tongues spoken in the present day.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: Superfluous Crow on March 12, 2012, 12:53:04 PM
I'm still a bit confused as to the exact nature of the cosmology. Does the world humans inhabit circle his great face or was it embedded in his scales? Does the sun/moon pass across the sky? Could you use a telescope to see the scales/features of Mu or is he infinitely distant?

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on March 12, 2012, 08:27:35 PM

Superfluous Crow

I'm still a bit confused as to the exact nature of the cosmology. Does the world humans inhabit circle his great face or was it embedded in his scales? Does the sun/moon pass across the sky? Could you use a telescope to see the scales/features of Mu or is he infinitely distant? 

The world of Ierddew sits mostly unmoving cradled in Great Mu's coils. His wings (which change colour depending on the time of day) are wrapped around in such a manner as to blot out everything else and so are (effectively) the sky, studded with millions of gleaming eyes that open and close at various set intervals. As far as the sun/moon goes, his head passes across the sky (with only one of his faces and thus only one eye facing Ierddew at a time), again at a sporadic interval. The question of how long a day is and exactly what its divisions are is one I'm still working on.

Back in the Dayren-Da, there were certain great philosopher-sages who did manage with a combination of personal genius and Dayren instruction to develop methods to perceive the features of Great Mu. However, the knowledge to create these is thought to have been lost (though there may some few who remember). Nonethless, the devices they made are still extant, and those that are still operable will still allow mortal eyes to see past the firmament and perceive Great Mu's features.

Hope this helps clear up your confusion somewhat.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on April 06, 2012, 11:05:22 PM
Of the Mysteries Both Lesser and Greater
About Great Mu, who encircles the world and from whose scales and million and one eyes dayr drips like rain, we have already spoken. Time to turn to more esoteric matters, and write of the Mysteries both Greater and Lesser that scholars and sages spend lifetimes contemplating in dark and dusty rooms and the Dayrid expose themselves to, deep in the harshest reaches of the wilderness.

The Eyes of the Void
Of the million and one Lesser eyes of Mu, set to watch and weep in the great shelter of Its boundless wings, we have already spoken. Suffice it to say that it is from them that dayr falls like rain to pool and puddle and settle in the Dayranae, and that men have gone blind and wasted their lives poring over star charts in ill-lit rooms trying to find in them a celestial harmony, a chorus of greater meaning; a pattern that simply may not be there.

Let us then speak instead of the Two; the twin eyes of Mu that are forever tangled in a web of opposition and contradiction; each utterly alien to the other and yet they cannot be separated nor thought of in truth as fully apart.

Aurum Sah is First; the female principle – reality whole and united, holding the whole world and all within as Her children. Warm and bright and nurturing, Sah is the womb of every mother and the chamber of every heart. Golden-rayed, Sah stands for movement, passion and emotion – the wild and dangerous leaps of fire and the nurturing strength of earth are both Hers; in Her Domain are living and loving and acting and fighting.

Passion in all its extremes of creation and destruction falls under Her sway, and those who work with Her energy are sorcerers and warlocks and witches; energy blazing bright and unrestrained, driven by passion and upwelling heat and the pounding of blood in their veins.

Argent Sung is Second; the male principle – division and dichotomy, the foundation stone of perceiving the world in its separate parts and analysing it as such. Sung is cold and wan and dim, He is still as the deepest waters and yielding as the remorseless and unfeeling winds. Reason follows in the wake of the Argent light of Sung; logic and dispassion and reason are His strengths and He wields the double-edged sword of the mind and the senses. Dying and thinking, waiting and watching; these are the acts over which Sung holds chill and bitter Dominion.

It is first from the mind and then from the senses that Sung’s disciples draw their power; wizards and scholars and sages poring over tomes and charts and parchments as bloodless and dusty as the chambers of their hearts. Sacrificing power and force for subtlety and control, they weave their magics with care and cold-blooded patience to the time of the ticking of their restless thoughts.  

At the heart of all life and creation itself is dayr, the life-blood of Great Mu that permeates every scale and fibre of Its mighty coils and bleeds and drips from there to pool within the depression in his coils that men call Ierddew or the World. Ancient and primeval, it is the Whole to which Sah and Sung are the halves; the force of life and death united, elemental and titanically powerful. It is the force that rings the borders of the Dayrenae and gathers within to keep time itself at bay.

Rare are those who master the secrets of dayr instead of those of Sah or Sung, rejecting emotion and intellect alike for the power of primal instinct. Wild are the magics woven with dayr – Wild Magic, but not that of unpredictability and chaos, for that is the ground of Sah. Magic of the wilderness, cosmic and elemental and primordial; not learnt like Sung, not natural like Sah, but absorbed by osmosis from the Dayranae and the leyren that connect them.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: Magnus Pym on April 07, 2012, 11:37:50 AM

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on April 21, 2012, 04:39:54 AM
Of Times and Beings Lost Lost
The Dayren
For centuries and longer men and stranger races have written and spoken of Dayaren; dragons, drakes, wyverns and wyrms. Be they winged or flightless, limbed or legless, belching fire or breathing frost, there are scholars and taxonomists and priests who debate the meaning, nature and very existence of the countless lesser serpents that writhe and wing and claw and crawl and wallow across, over and beneath every one of the Dayranae that glitter like the million and one eyes of Mu across the surface of many-faceted Ierddew.

But these lesser dragons are as far removed as Mu’s countless starry eyes are from Sah and Sung compared to the Dayren. Children of Mu, these True Dragons were like unto fountains overflowing with dayr – natural wellsprings of the same cosmic force that runs through every endless loop of the World-Wyrm's great form.

Elemental and titanically powerful beings, the very presence of the Dayren catalysed the development of complex life, their mere words and guidance were in myth the birth of sentience and civilization and in their death they shaped the mountain ranges, scorched dry the deserts and flooded the oceans that form the face of Ierddew today.

Lost and gone now, their legacy lives on in the Dayranae that they gave their lives to create and the innumerable breeds, shapes and forms of lesser dragon that evolved and grew to mirror their shapes and ape their nature during the earliest days of the Dayren-Da.

During the First of Days (it is whispered), the children of Mu spread their wings and as a vast wing they took flight and descended from its nurturing embrace. Through the firmament and the cosmic dark they went, glowing white-hot like falling stars, and when they landed on Ierddew’s virgin soil and in a sudden flood of dayr began the cycle of evolution and extinction that yet has not ceased, the Dayren-Da began.

Ierddew burst into a frenzy of adaptation, new shapes and forms and lives emerging every second as life flourished in the wake of the concentrated dayr that, fuelled by the presence of the Dayren flooded the land and washed into each and every crack and crevice down to the deepest depths and abysses of Carddena. And not just life - sentience flourished in the presence of the Dayren, and they taught the young and feeble races struggling to grasp the secrets of sapience and self-awareness.

It is from that contact that man owes his existence, for all the foundation stones of civilization were laid in those heady and primeval days; language and fire and knowledge of the Mysteries – all those things that helped humanity to survive and excel and claw themselves a place in the emerging world that they cling to with desperation to this day.

This was the Golden Age of Man; as technology and metaphysics co-existed side by side under the gentle guidance of Dayren tutors, as sages and mystics debated the nature of Mu with his very Dayren children and as rare men achieved the impossible and elevated themselves to the level of gods with stunning feats of understanding and creation the likes of which have never and will never be seen again.

But then the Quiescence came, and an endless and eternal death like the deepest of slumbers came crawling slowly upon the Dayren. One by one they fell, coils stiffening and minds and tongues stilling until they moved and thought no more. Where they had fallen, dayr gathered, pooling at the centre of the circle formed by loop after petrified loop and creating the dayr saturated zones that to this day recall some of the primordial wonder of the Dayren-Da that scholars and mystics refer to as Dayranae.

The Dayranae are rich pockets of dayr left in an otherwise lifeless world, savage and primal biomes enclosed by the long-since ossified coils and loops of a Dayren locked deep in death-slumber. Bounded and trapped on all sides by the corpse of a Dayren, dayr puddles and pools, flowing from where it falls from Great Mu’s infinite scales and million and eyes onto the surface of Ierddew to gather into deep wells of power that preserve many species and wonders that have otherwise become extinct or forgotten in the wasted badlands outside.  

The accumulated dayr not only serves to preserve otherwise vanished creatures like the great Ophidians and Megafauna that once roamed Ierddew but also catalyses mutation and metamorphosis in keeping with the inherent nature of the Dayren whose ruinous carcass now plays host to an incredible diversity of life.

It is also the cause for the occasional throwback or atavism, creatures bearing shapes and forms from a bygone age or creatures in whom Dayren influence or ancestry is spelt out to be read by those few who remember the esoteric lore and still know the signs.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on June 26, 2012, 05:43:26 AM
Of the Ways and Natures of Dayren
No trace now survives of the Dayren as they once were in the Dayren-Da, those long gone and primal days of yore. Where once there were serpentine leviathans that swum through the sea and dragged small islands in their wake and behemoths that carved out rivers with the passing of their scaled bulk, now the wings that shaded palaces and the coils that could wrap thrice around the largest cities that Man could build have turned to nothing but ossified rock and earth,  leaving nought to mark them but the reservoirs of dayr that pool amongst their encircling loops and the strange and primordial lifeforms that flourish like maggots upon their deathless corpses.

And locked deep within the petrified bulk of each Dayren as it falls ever deeper into slumbering oblivion, a great and many chambered heart still beats like a vast and reverberating drum and thoughts and the dreams of aeons still pulse and spark through the synapse-tunnels of an inhuman and forever unknowable mind, treasures sodden and drenched in the energy that is a Dayren’s lifeblood; richer in dayr than anything Man has dared to dream of creating in his wildest fantasies in this or any other world or Age.

Referring to those who are successors in name only to the cosmic and titanic forces that were the Dayren in the time before the Dayren-Da, the word ‘Dayaren’ is common to all the tongues of Ierddew and is used by the common people to refer to the multidunious infinitude of dragons, drakes, wyrms, wyverns, salamanders, serpents and other scaled descendents and cousins to whom the Dayren are the ultimate great-grandsires.

Scholars have argued for millennia past and will continue to argue until the end of time about the naming and nature and meanings behind the various strains and breeds of Dayaren, and the meanings and relationships between them and how that bears upon the cosmological arrangement of Great Mu’s million and one eyes even though the Dayren who could have solved such questions are long since lost in Quiescence – for such is the nature of learned and sagely men.

To most of the peoples of Ierrdew however, such knowledge is regarded as being as devoid of common sense and practicality as its ink-stained and dusty-robed authors – to the common Man matters are somewhat simpler; if it is larger enough to threaten man, woman or child and has scales or some vestige thereof then it is assumed to be Dayaren and is named as such.

An obscure term used only by wise men and those who study the folklore and mythologies of Ierddew, Nadayar are those fey and elfin spirits and beings within the Dayranae that spring from dayr itself and have the pure lifeblood of creation as their birth-place. Devolved and diminished manifestations of the elemental essence of a single Dayren, each breed or species of Nadayar is almost exclusively native to a single Dayranae and is incapable of leaving the bounds of its’ parent Dayren’s coils.

This geographical specificity means that most Nadayar are thought of as mythological and folkloric creatures of a particular region by its inhabitants, and as a result the concept of the Nadayar as a family of like creatures is largely unknown outside of scholars and students of myth and legend. Instead the hardy mountaineers of Rhang whisper of the kaubalt, the gatherers of Sheagaw huddle in their tree-top shelters and watch the dark canopy mistrustfully for signs of the pwcka and the caravaneers of Veigdt swap tales of ganni and afret in their oasis-side camp and none suspect the common ancestry of the spirits grown from the dwindling legacy of the Dayren.

Out of Character

Alright, and there ends the obscure and wide-ranging metaphysics that were needed to establish the overall milieu - time to focus in on individual Dyranae and flesh them out. First on the list is the mountains of Rhang (where most prior development has been done) and also where I will be running a campaign with a bunch of gamers back home, so hopefully that should prompt me to actually get some work done.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: HippopotamusDundee on August 04, 2013, 12:34:49 AM

Out of Character

A little over a year on and I'm finally working on this setting again, largely because my gaming group is just about to start a campaign tenatively titled "The Annals of Rhang: Nadayar Rising" Accordingly I'll probably be writing a fair bit of stuff to post up here over the next few months as and where we need/develop it in play, but if there's anything you're particularly interested in feel free to ask. Obviously, as ever, feedback/con. crit/etc is most welcome.

Encircled by steep-sided cliffs and locked in bitter and unforgiving frost, Rhang is a rime-cloaked tangle of jagged and towering mountain peaks rising past sheltered valleys and windswept plateaus to rake the shroud of hoary clouds above and set the wind to howling between and through its peaks. The air is thin and crisp enough to freeze the lungs within anyone unprepared or unadapted to the omnipresent cold and freezing gales race and howl through the many passes and over the high mountain roads to steal the heat from blood and flesh alike.

Foul and inclement weather is just another fact of survival here, with storm and snowfall and sleet more common than clear and cloudless skies, and even on those occasions when the light of aurum Sah pierces through the sullen and glowering clouds it is brilliant and blinding against the all-encompassing white but heatless and heartless and chill. Most of the beings here that cling so desperately to life have left the bare and barren surface for the relative comfort of the sheltered valleys or the winding tunnels and caverns that honeycomb the mountains, and that little which remains above has grown as harsh and fierce as the wind and weather and wintry rime to survive.

The Steps of Aoroc
A series of adjacent plateaus that rise like a great spiral-stair in jagged steps separated by steep-edged drops passable only along narrow and precarious mountain trails carved long long ago, the Steps of Aroc mark where Aurch legends say that they descended from their ancient homeland in the sky-steppes drifting high above even the summit of Raekor's Spine. What little settled occupation the Aurch practice revolves almost entirely around the Steps, with wise men and ascetics dwelling on the lower steps to safeguard the holy places above and a campsite near-constantly in use throughout the year on the lowest Step as tribes make pilgrimages to be with their ancestors and speak with the spirits. And once every year the shamen and visionaries of all the tribes travel to the highest Step in the midwinter dark of the year and through the unearthly-clear sky they glimpse, only for a moment, their lost homeland dancing in great veils of ghostly color across the sky.

Established only generations ago during the latest Alvarr push for expansion and extension of their dominion, Larexk is among a small handful of the far-flung settlements established during that period of explosive growth to have survived the economic and military pressure brought to bear both during that wave of growth and since. Built within a cavern-complex leading to a rare hot-spring sacred to local tribesmen, those parts of the settlement that lay within the site of power have been torn down and an agreement of co-ownership and access has been negotiated and bound in blood with the nearby Aurch tribes in exchange for food and Larexk’s continued existence.

Sheltered from harsh weather by the high fells that enclose the Gwirig Dale and protected from the usual interference of the lauruin aristocracy by their Wose trading partners in the pine forests that cling to their upper slopes, the commote of Nalaufin is a loose coalition of smallholdings and farms that pool resources and labour between themselves and are governed by an informal council of local elders. Though it started as a refuge for Hauflin tired of living in fear under the tyrannous whims of their lauruin landlords, Nalaufin’s egalitarian meritocracy and openness to all who wish to join it have led to it becoming one of the few places in Rhang where members of all species are represented and coexist in peace.

Raekor’s Spine
Mightier than the towering shapes that surround it and rise with it to bite deep into the clouded sky, the many-spired cluster of peaks named Raekor’s Spine by the ancients after some long-forgotten godling or dayaren remain largely untouched by the working of mortal hands, with the market-town of Xumek and the scattered iceslag mines that dot the lower slopes representing the farthest the living have encroached upon the lonesome shape that looms at and broods in the heart of Rhang. The secrets of the Spine’s inner workings remain a mystery even to those who work and dwell upon and within it – iceslag miners whisper stories of ghostly knocking on tunnel walls and in the deepest crypt-tunnels of Xumek tales are told of watching eyes and bodiless footsteps and even, in the very oldest and innermost reaches of the catacomb, of hands waiting in the dark.

Coaxed into the honeycombed caverns and casts that lay beneath the smooth stone that lies furlongs deep at the bottom of Gaerem’s Folly, the Warreg craft-school and the small settlement of master-craftsmen, merchants and artisan-guilds that have sprung up around it is among the few places where the Dwerg will trade and deal with strangers from the wider world. Specializing in stonemasonry and smithing – in forges fuelled by loose coal that was transmuted from rock and dropped into the deeps when Gaerem cracked the floor of the natural cavern now split by the mouth of the Folly – the Dwerg artisans and craftsmen of Warreg are famous not only for their legendary skill but also their patience and generosity as teachers, attracting eager students from all the species of Rhang.

A scrubby tangled forest of pines, conifers, yews and alder that half-chokes the hotspring-laced nadir called Riekthar’s Hollow before sprawling its way up the foothills to the lower slopes of Sharnir beyond, the Wessynweald shelters not only the largest settlements of the reclusive Woses in all of Rhang but also an unrivalled richness and diversity of ophidian and megafaunal life. Nearly a virgin tract of woodland despite the extraordinary richness of fuel it represents, the Wessynweald has survived the years untouched through both the fierceness of the life that it shelters and the fierceness and desperation with which the priest-chiefs of the Wose defend their taboos, leading it to acquire an unsavoury and fearsome reputation through the remainder of Rhang.

A jumble of weathered stone walls and slate-grey roofs, the town of Xumek huddles against the wind on the plateaued stone where the smooth-topped range of hills known in Alvarr lore as Varinox’ Causeway meet the jagged crown of solitary peaks called Raekor’s Spine that dominate the skyline of all Rhang. Ancient beyond reckoning, the town has grown and spread out from its roots in the crypt-tunnels once coaxed out of the hollow veins and arteries that lay just beneath the mountain’s skin to wind and sprawl its way through natural cracks and faults out onto the flat bare stone of the Causeway at the meeting-place of several of the high mountain trade-roads.

Title: Re: Mu
Post by: LordVreeg on August 06, 2013, 05:12:10 PM
Out of all o these, Wessynweald calls to me with hit a home run on that one