From the Beginning of Time through the Storm Century

But of course I can tell the Story, what do you take me for? Do you not see the mark of Brightnail on my chest, do you not hear the song on my lips? Ach, pass me that flagon and I will say the words. We are all travellers, and it is good to return to the beginning when we can. And push those sugared figs a bit closer, my dear. Now, let me see, let me see — ah, yes, I have it — just as it has been spoken by the members of my order, just as old Prago told me when I was small.

Before Time, we do not speak.

But then the first minutes washed up on the shores of the dark ocean, and a story blinked its eyes and brushed sand out of its hair. We can hear its voice even now, we listen carefully to the quiet groan of the earth, the sky, the jangle of stars in the black belly of night. We tell the Story as it tells us.

At first there were only Two. Father Order and Mother Chaos found themselves here, on this simple globe. The Story does not know if they were born here or if they came from the dark ocean, but suffice it to say that in the first minutes they were here and it was a Beginning.

And they danced.

Mother Chaos would break and tear as fast as her dark hands could move and Father Order would build and mend just as quickly. Father Order would raise tumblr_mwq90d4TZF1sppixgo1_500great towers and shining bridges with his bright hands and Mother Chaos would laugh and shatter and bring them all tumbling down.

And for a time, it was enough.

But then the Two grew bored.

“It is so lonely here,” Mother said. ” So flat and empty. I grow weary of breaking the same towers day after day.”

“As I grow weary of building the same towers,” Father grumbled. “I’m guessing that you have a suggestion.”

Mother grinned “Yes, of course I do. Let’s play a game.”

“A game?” Father mused. “What kind of game?”

“A Game of Making! Together we can fill this world with all sorts of interesting things. We’ll take turns! It requires both of us to create, but we can take turns and see who makes the most interesting thing.”

Father Order scratched his nose and grinned. He was certain that Mother wanted to trick him in some way, but it was a grand idea nonetheless.  Chaos saw the excitement in his eyes and skipped in for a quick kiss before they began.

The Two joined their hands and began to make.  Order and Chaos met and the first living things drew breath. The first plants and the first insects, lichen and moss, fish and fowl, claw and talon, feather and hide. Father and Mother took great delight in the making, growing ever more inventive in their competition, endless variety in the nature of their creations. And in the heart of everything that lives an equal measure of Chaos and Order, the gift of the Creators.

And for a time, it was enough.

But then Father and Mother created People.

They had many shapes and sizes, many bends and ways — different races and faces and gazes, but still all the same, all People. One strange accident made them different than all the breathing things that had come before — or one careful trick that Mother Chaos had laid carefully across the long Time of Making, a tiny tip of the scales. Where before their children had shared equal measure of Order and Chaos – People had a little more of one, and a little less of the other. They gravitated ever so slightly towards rhythm or ruin — and since they were created last, they were the most intelligent, the most elaborate — perfect pieces for a new game.

Mother Chaos crowed with delight and Father Order frowned.

Father freed his hands and sighed. “I’m afraid this last batch is no good, they will be nothing but trouble.”

“No, they are perfect,” Mother insisted. “See, some of them are building away — they are your children, just as mine are blithely breaking and shattering. New dancers, new pieces for the game, they are wonderful.”

“Yes, some of them are quite industrious, and I’ve already been surprised at some of the things they’ve built,” Father sighed with regret. “But they must be destroyed. They are ever-changing and mercurial, see! Those over there have have fallen to you and are setting fire to the tall grass — and those over there have stopped breaking rocks and started building houses. What good are pieces that change sides? No, no – they must be destroyed.”

And Father Order raised his hand to end the People, and found Mother Chaos’ hand raised to thwart him. They locked eyes and the First Argument began.

A century of storms, tireless, ceaseless battle. The first People did their best to weather it and provide shelter to all of the other creations — though many of them were lost, obliterated by the tireless wrath of Mother and Father.

And thus our world would have remained, if not for one clever child and one stupid goat.

Ah, this is my favorite part. Drown my flagon again if you please, I don’t want to pause when I continue. Oh no! Can my plate of figs already be empty?

— Talespinner Marxo, Cleric of Seto, Idolobha

A Spell for Winter

It was cold that year. The grease-trap from the restaurant upstairs continued its slow leaking creep across her ceiling, but at least the snow-chill that invaded her square basement slab froze the yellow-brown sludge’s advance.

She had one window, covered with a

image
Artist – Bruno Vergauwen

lattice of mud and frost. From her desk piled high with paper and feeble penny-candles she could see boots pass in the street outside. Her means were few, so this afterthought coffin was all she could afford. Her gold had better use than wood, or steel, or bowls of wheat. Her gold was for paper, for ink, for magic.

The student held her aching hands as close as she dared to the forest of tiny yellow flames, a rainbow of mismatched candles. The cold would not leave her joints, and the rudimentary spell she had been attempting required an exacting sequence of hand gestures.

“Preposterous,” she grunted, as she often did privately at the endless flailing and chanting required to produce even the most basic of magical effects.

She re-read the passage again, her eyes blurred with repetition and the dull ache between her ears. With grim focus she spoke the arcane words, stumbled over the final consonant, began again, her knuckles full of broken glass she made the careful sigils.

And to her surprise, it worked.

A small gout of flame appeared. Golden and bright, but only for an instant.

The student stared at the empty air in disbelief.  She let her hands fall to the cluttered desk, her gaze empty.

“I did it.” The student whispered to no one. “I finally did it.”

She let her head fall slowly to the desk for a moment, then pushed herself up. No coat, no scarf she walked up the cracked stone steps and out into the snow. She took a deep, cold breath. Her lungs full of winter she looked up at the heedless stars and told someone, “I did it.”

World Under Construction – Matters Divine

Pray to the Gods if you must, but do not mention my name if you catch their ear.
—  Dwarven saying.

Cynus is a strange land, filled with an extremely diverse population both racially and culturally. Some scholars have made note that the widespread worship of the Balance across many geographic and ethnic divides is less than likely  but those same scholars keep these observations private. This pantheon of primal gods are not known for their positive attitude towards criticism or mortal interpretation.

The Six, as they are sometimes called, also provide ample proof of their existence on a regular basis. Sometimes in the form of a vicious sandstorm or a unexpected drought or an earthquake on the eve of winter. Other times in the blessings of a bountiful harvest or a sudden break in a heatwave or a gentle breeze on the eve of summer.

The foremost are Father Order and Mother Chaos. Their names are never spoken, one out of respect, the other out of fear. These deities affect and scope are so beyond the mortal ken that they have never recognized any sort of church or acolytes. A few have appeared throughout the centuries, but none were able to display any sort of true connection or divine power, so they soon were discredited and forgotten.

Mortals have much more luck with the other four gods, the children of the Two. Or perhaps it is misfortune, because the other gods never tire of meddling in the affairs of the world. And much like the four elements they represent they can bring great bounty and great destruction to the world in even measure. It is said that Father and Mother ceased their tireless battle only once to couple, but only with the foreknowledge that their children could multiply the conflict between Chaos and Order a thousandfold.

Seto – Goddess of the Sun [Fire]
Banu – God of the Sea [Water]
Marrus – God of the Sky [Air]
Jocasta – Goddess of Stone [Earth]

The gods are neither malevolent nor benevolent, not truly. Human experience and custom has lead many to consider Seto and Banu as generally more giving and understanding than their siblings — but a flood can still drown, and the sun can still scorch.

The Children of the Balance speak when they have a will, through their chosen vessels – clerics, paladins, druids, oracles. But any can invite the gods’ attention through the proper rituals — though this is usually done only at times of great need.

A few other deities are recognized in some locations throughout Cynus, and they seem to have similar influence to the Balance. The worship of these minor gods seems to have begun during the Blank Time, a period of years where the the entire pantheon of the Balance seemed to have vanished entirely.

World Under Construction – Matters Divine

Pray to the Gods if you must, but do not mention my name if you catch their ear.
—  Dwarven saying.

Cynus is a strange land, filled with an extremely diverse population both racially and culturally. Some scholars have made note that the widespread worship of the Balance across many geographic and ethnic divides is less than likely  but those same scholars keep these observations private. This pantheon of primal gods are not known for their positive attitude towards criticism or mortal interpretation.

The Six, as they are sometimes called, also provide ample proof of their existence on a regular basis. Sometimes in the form of a vicious sandstorm or a unexpected drought or an earthquake on the eve of winter. Other times in the blessings of a bountiful harvest or a sudden break in a heatwave or a gentle breeze on the eve of summer.

The foremost are Father Order and Mother Chaos. Their names are never spoken, one out of respect, the other out of fear. These deities affect and scope are so beyond the mortal ken that they have never recognized any sort of church or acolytes. A few have appeared throughout the centuries, but none were able to display any sort of true connection or divine power, so they soon were discredited and forgotten.

Mortals have much more luck with the other four gods, the children of the Two. Or perhaps it is misfortune, because the other gods never tire of meddling in the affairs of the world. And much like the four elements they represent they can bring great bounty and great destruction to the world in even measure. It is said that Father and Mother ceased their tireless battle only once to couple, but only with the foreknowledge that their children could multiply the conflict between Chaos and Order a thousandfold.

Seto – Goddess of the Sun [Fire]
Banu – God of the Sea [Water]
Marrus – God of the Sky [Air]
Jocasta – Goddess of Stone [Earth]

The gods are neither malevolent nor benevolent, not truly. Human experience and custom has lead many to consider Seto and Banu as generally more giving and understanding than their siblings — but a flood can still drown, and the sun can still scorch.

The Children of the Balance speak when they have a will, through their chosen vessels – clerics, paladins, druids, oracles. But any can invite the gods’ attention through the proper rituals — though this is usually done only at times of great need.

A few other deities are recognized in some locations throughout Cynus, and they seem to have similar influence to the Balance. The worship of these minor gods seems to have begun during the Blank Time, a period of years where the the entire pantheon of the Balance seemed to have vanished entirely.

World Under Construction – Tone Poetry

Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown

The secret roads of Night
the falling leaves of Autumn
the bright blade
shining in the dark.
Farewell to kith
and farewell to kin
we go forth into the Forest
hunting monsters
and singing strange songs
in the bower of Dawn.
We have no family
except each other
no story
except this one.
The fire burns in the night,
but is ashes come the morn.
Will you come and ride with us?
Will you come and die with us?
This is no time for heroes,
but the road calls all the same.
This is no time for heroes,
but we will remember your name.
— Swordkeep’s Song by Tyrol Limmermere
First Bard, Court of Pondegrance 1501

 

World Under Construction – Notes

An adventure needs a place. A simple place, to start — familiar, but just barely. A starting place, a place of no particular importance other than it is the place where We Began.

I want this one to have trees. A forest, though not an old one. A forest and a small town, a simple town.

Or is that too easy? Is that too much of a cliche?

I already did that one, in Riddlewood and Creon. The Young Heroes.

I’ve already done the Prison, and the Festival. The Devil’s Forge, a stone prison locked in by heat and thirst — -the Festival of the Grove, celebrating bounty among the dust and death of the endless desert.

What else is there? They Meet in the Bar? Drawn by Destiny? A Final Request?

Eh, if the cliche is boring, I’ll add an adjective. The trees are tall, the spire pines. They grow as fast as bamboo, you can hear them groaning in the night — tumblr_mrfenj0Axx1rcagdmo1_400but they never break, except by the touch of crystal axe. Does the town mine the crystal? The wood is useless, it burns poorly, and once cut from the trunk it becomes brittle and gives off a pungent smell, like stinky leather shoes left in the rain.

The town was once a city, but now the vast expanse of it is in ruin.The Spire Pines were summoned by a vengeful [druid? demon? god?] because the people angered him, most of the population migrated because of it — only a small…mine keeps the town in operation.

Is the mine too obvious? Because clearly the first adventure would take place there. Hmm.

What if the mine is suspended in the air by the spire pines? The metal contained there was so dense, that the pines could not pierce it, pushing it higher and higher into the air every year. The miners must first ascend the trees, and take great care, because a cave-in could result in a thousand foot drop to the city below. The denizens of the town take great care that their homes are outside the blast perimeter, as clearly one day the mine will fall. Should it be adamant? A precious resource in Pathfinder, but maybe too useful to give the party access to this early. But it would be unrefined…maybe.

There would have to be an inn directly  under the mine, the Pancake. Hard-scrabble miners and unsavory types. Last call is always the toast ‘Fall flat! or ‘Squish me before I have to go home.’

Why is the party there?