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  • Prometheas
    started a topic Golconda and conflicting themes.

    Golconda and conflicting themes.

    Has the inherent conflict of themes surrounding golconda been addressed on the forum before?

    On one hand, a lot of VTM writers push the idea that Golconda is a Path of humanity exclusive ability(see v20/DAV20 core). This makes sense because it makes Golconda a reward for being as good as possible and lines up with a lot of the heavily christinized mythos in vampire. Other paths/roads in this case don't get golconda because "the reward for being a monster is getting to be a monster". Allowing players to follow "path of whatever I was gonna do anyway" and gain golconda as an extra power on their character sheet would run completely against the Horror aspect of our Horror Game.

    On the other hand, other writers push that golconda should be achievable by Any path(See V20 Guide to the Talmahera). This Also makes sense, the lore behind golconda pushes it a vampire accepting their nature and resolving their conflict with their beast. If anything, this point of view makes achieving Golconda through humanity make the Least amount of sense because the path of humanity is all about Rejecting your nature as a vampire.
    • It also doesn't help that the game's "the path of Human values" comes off more "the path of Victorian Christian values". This was even Recognized in the Dark ages books, which threw that concept in the trash and created the roads system to represent other cultures or beliefs people would follow in vampire And human life. This has the side effect of making "the reward for being a monster" thing look incredibly reductionist and kind of racist, because it means character's would be barred from Golconda for following the Path of the Eightfold Wheel
    Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    I don't think he is.

    Humanity objectively has a "Hierarchy of Sins", but IRL sins don't have an objective hierarchy and there's no objective proof that being a good person grants you anything. Humanity isn't humanity, as far as anyone can tell. Thus why should Humanity be the One True Way when there's no reflection of that in reality? Good art reflects reality. Author fiat doesn't. In DAV, all Roads are equal, and it's great. In modern nights, one is above the rest? Really? What even is humanity? Is it actually how good you are, or is it the effort of your ego to stave of the Beast? If it's the former, why do we have 1-5 dice of conscience to let us off?
    I'm obviously not being clear enough, so I apologise. I wasn't trying to say Humanity is objectively right because of anything IRL (and I'm happy to leave IRL religion out of it). Far from it, in fact. That's why I kept saying (or trying to say) that RL examples are irrelevant for the game. (I did undermine this by then trying to tie my tangent back into the game, but that was a throwaway comment, really, rather than the thesis of what I had been trying to articulate until that point.)

    What I intended to say, if it's not clear, is that Humanity appears to have an objective nature in the game's canon (because of how it was presented in the Book of Nod), and in the game's rules (because of the specific rules for achieving Golconda, which require Humanity), and that we don't need to appeal to real or assumed examples from reality for that to be so, because it's fiction. But also, I don't think you lose the game by not following Humanity.

    In the BoN, Golconda is expressly offered as an olive branch by the World of Darkness' God analogue, via an archangel, and the implication in that book and in the core rulebook's treatment of Golconda, is that the path to this redemption is Humanity (there is some ambiguity about whether other Paths can achieve the same, I admit that).

    For that reason, I was trying to say that Humanity appears to be the 'authorised' path back into (the World of Darkness') God's good graces. So from a lore point of view, Humanity seems to be the route that's suggested. From a mechanical point of view, it also seems to be the primary/only route that's possible.

    I do prefer the DA approach to Roads, for sure. And I do like the idea of other forms of vampiric enlightenment that don't need or require the approval of the World of Darkness' God. I have said this a few times now, but it maybe got lost in other things.

    That doesn't, in my view, make Humanity the One True Way. Or rather, it only makes it the One True Way to get back into the good books of the metaphorical God of One True Ways (the God of the Book of Nod, and perhaps Revelations of the Dark Mother, who seems very much 'my way or the highway '). But the game isn't actually about attaining Golconda, which is a rare and difficult thing, and so it's not a One True Way to play the game either.

    And that sort of seems fitting to the setting -- the game's Yahweh is a dick, and getting his favour should be ridiculously demanding and not usually something you want to do.

    At the same time, I think there's loads of mileage in becoming something else via the other Paths, whether that's Azhi Dahaka turning you into the Tzimisce Antediluvian; the Lilin version of Golconda turning you into an avatar of the Queen of the Night (or maybe an Apostate?); or the epitome of the Path of the Beast making you the ultimate predator, perhaps. Mechanically, such outcomes may even be mostly the same as Golconda, though I would tailor them to each Path.

    All those things are probably even better, in my view, than Golconda, because they are you leaning into what you are, not trying to please some deity who doesn't really care about you. And as always, this is all just IMO and YMMV. You can play it how you like and I'm not trying to convince people they're playing the game wrong.

    Hopefully, this time, I've been a bit clearer. If not, I will politely shut up and we can move on. 😁
    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 05-21-2022, 07:12 AM.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Let's just move on from RL religious practices please.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

    Again, that isn't what I said. I think you're reading my comments in bad faith at this point.

    Villains can have a point. I didn't say they couldn't. I enjoy playing villains and anti-heroes just fine. Most of my games are set in the Sabbat. But Humanity objectively has a hierarchy of sins. If you violate them, you aren't getting to Golconda.

    That isn't to say vamps can't believe in the Abelene Heresy instead. There is literally already a Path for that.

    My point about delusions was about evil vampires pretending to follow Humanity and thinking they were excelling at it when, objectively, they would have a low Humanity rating and so cannot.

    (And this is very in-keeping with canon anyway, as there are several NPCs who are doing just this in the game already. I gave an example in Hunedoara Castle.)

    That's one situation in which that vampire is kidding themselves. That's not me saying all villains are wrong and all heroes are right. It's not me saying 'everything has to be cut and dry' either.

    In VTM, you can believe in Gnosticism all you want. But as a Path, it would be distinct from the Path of Mainstream Christianity, or whatever.

    That doesn't make the Gnostics wrong -- but it would mean they wouldn't excel at the Path of Mainstream Christianity if they didn't actually believe in it.
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    I don't think he is.

    Humanity objectively has a "Hierarchy of Sins", but IRL sins don't have an objective hierarchy and there's no objective proof that being a good person grants you anything. Humanity isn't humanity, as far as anyone can tell. Thus why should Humanity be the One True Way when there's no reflection of that in reality? Good art reflects reality. Author fiat doesn't. In DAV, all Roads are equal, and it's great. In modern nights, one is above the rest? Really? What even is humanity? Is it actually how good you are, or is it the effort of your ego to stave of the Beast? If it's the former, why do we have 1-5 dice of conscience to let us off?
    I think this might be miscommunication.


    I believe adambeyoncelowe is saying that an emotion severance bhuddist and a orthedox? Bhuddist would be on different path of the same road. Like how path of heaven and path of humanity are both paths on the larger Road of humanity.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
    Villains can have a point. I didn't say they couldn't. I enjoy playing villains and anti-heroes just fine. Most of my games are set in the Sabbat. But Humanity objectively has a hierarchy of sins. If you violate them, you aren't getting to Golconda.
    .
    I don't think he is.

    Humanity objectively has a "Hierarchy of Sins", but IRL sins don't have an objective hierarchy and there's no objective proof that being a good person grants you anything. Humanity isn't humanity, as far as anyone can tell. Thus why should Humanity be the One True Way when there's no reflection of that in reality? Good art reflects reality. Author fiat doesn't. In DAV, all Roads are equal, and it's great. In modern nights, one is above the rest? Really? What even is humanity? Is it actually how good you are, or is it the effort of your ego to stave of the Beast? If it's the former, why do we have 1-5 dice of conscience to let us off?

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

    I'm going to be honest, I like the idea of "The devil has a point". Having everything be cut-and-dry with the good guy being completely right and the villain being delusional just sounds Boring.

    I like the idea that the opposite counter philosophy has just as much of a point as the popular version, as otherwise it's essentially morality boils down to the lowest hanging fruit we have. "Everyone go home! The big questions were answered a long time ago by people better than you." and questioning them doesn't just make you a bad person, it makes you delusional and wrong.

    I'd rather have people like "Yaldabaoth was the main villain" gnostics or "emotion severing" bhuddists be given seats at the Theo-philosophical big-boys table rather than dismissed for not being the intended message.
    Again, that isn't what I said. I think you're reading my comments in bad faith at this point.

    Villains can have a point. I didn't say they couldn't. I enjoy playing villains and anti-heroes just fine. Most of my games are set in the Sabbat. But Humanity objectively has a hierarchy of sins. If you violate them, you aren't getting to Golconda.

    That isn't to say vamps can't believe in the Abelene Heresy instead. There is literally already a Path for that.

    My point about delusions was about evil vampires pretending to follow Humanity and thinking they were excelling at it when, objectively, they would have a low Humanity rating and so cannot.

    (And this is very in-keeping with canon anyway, as there are several NPCs who are doing just this in the game already. I gave an example in Hunedoara Castle.)

    That's one situation in which that vampire is kidding themselves. That's not me saying all villains are wrong and all heroes are right. It's not me saying 'everything has to be cut and dry' either.

    In VTM, you can believe in Gnosticism all you want. But as a Path, it would be distinct from the Path of Mainstream Christianity, or whatever.

    That doesn't make the Gnostics wrong -- but it would mean they wouldn't excel at the Path of Mainstream Christianity if they didn't actually believe in it.
    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 05-20-2022, 08:38 AM.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
    Just as there might be a Buddhist monk who thinks he can attain nirvana by avoiding all attachment, or that he can gain enlightenment without goodness and kindness, there are likely vampires with similar delusions. Take the Inconnu of Hunedoara Castle, who believe retreating from humanity is enough to find Golconda. Or the vampires who emulate humane behaviour without really believing it, and as such will never reach the heights of Humanity 10.
    I'm going to be honest, I like the idea of "The devil has a point". Having everything be cut-and-dry with the good guy being completely right and the villain being delusional just sounds Boring.

    I like the idea that the opposite counter philosophy has just as much of a point as the popular version, as otherwise it's essentially morality boils down to the lowest hanging fruit we have. "Everyone go home! The big questions were answered a long time ago by people better than you." and questioning them doesn't just make you a bad person, it makes you delusional and wrong.

    I'd rather have people like "Yaldabaoth was the main villain" gnostics or "emotion severing" bhuddists be given seats at the Theo-philosophical big-boys table rather than dismissed for not being the intended message.
    Last edited by Prometheas; 05-19-2022, 10:26 PM.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
    That's not universally true. Jainism and Hindi are split into various sects with very different beliefs. Saying they all believe the same thing because they have similar roots is like saying all the pentateuch are all slightly different versions of the same religion because they all have roots in the same five books.
    I didn't say they were all the same. I said they had shared heritage, which is why they all have related ideas such as merit, karma, dharma, atman (or anatman), nirvana, and so on.

    But yes, I was speaking in generalities because otherwise it would be a PhD thesis.

    An example is the hindi denominations of Tantra that believe in reaching enlightenment through mastering the 7 chakras(or 9 chakra, or 13 chakras, or etc depending on sect). Opening the chakra doesn't mean following a moral guideline, its a philosophy built around overcoming the internal emotions that impede a practitioner from attaining their goals through mastery of the self. A person who has learning to open their chakras isn't necessarily a Good person and many sects make it a point to call attention to this.
    Well, Tantra refers to a very, very broad range of esoteric traditions in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but it's often grossly misrepresented in English language sources.

    It's not really a distinct tradition of its own but a term to refer to all the esoteric texts and practices of these traditions (so it's sort of like the Gnostic gospels and the Sufi dervishes, to borrow your analogy).

    In both Hinduism and Buddhism (and sometimes Jainism), Tantra usually supplements the core teachings, rather than replacing them.

    It's also important to note that many of these teachings can be heretical or contentious within mainstream traditions -- they're as much an essential part of these religions as Kabbalah is of Judaism and Christian esoteric traditions are of Christianity. (With the notable exception of trans-Himalayan/Tibetan Buddhism, which has a lot of Tantric activities, but still within a mainstream interpretation of things like nirvana.)

    That is to say, they can be a part of it, but they would usually constitute a second (or third) canon, rather than a primary one. In most cases, they are also considered secret texts, so they aren't widely taught or even spoken about to outsiders.

    There is a history of 'gurus' using Tantra, or alleged Tantric practices, for their own purposes. Given the prohibition on sharing, I am always sceptical of how accurate their teachings are.

    Their are even sects of bhuddism that take an view that overcoming Dukka/dissatisfaction means that one must severe Positive connection with the world as much as it does the negative. In this view, Love and Kindness are just as poisonous as want as it sets up the expectations for good that will inevitably lead to the same cycle of disappointment and dissatisfaction/Dukkha as any other deviation from the paths would. This is completely at odds with the more popular idea that Bhuddism should strive for universal happiness, and some works of eastern fiction pint out that closely following the eightfold way and five precepts doesn't prohibit a morally dubious monk from committing atrocities like slavery or torture as long as they believe they are doing it for the right reasons.
    As you correctly identify, mainstream Buddhism would consider this an extreme or contrary interpretation, for sure. Attachment is to be avoided, but the alternative is non-attachment rather than detachment.

    Similarly, most descriptions of enlightenment require developing mental and emotional traits, rather than avoiding emotions entirely. Then there's accumulating merit, which requires more than merely morally neutral actions (merit is not a neutral term, by definition).

    This is so even in Sanskrit and Pali. 'Merit' is a translation of 'punya' or 'punna', and is beneficial, protective, and only generated by good thoughts and actions. Before Buddhism came along, I understand it referred more to meeting ritualised obligations (e.g., ancestor worship), but the eventual change of meaning also influenced Hindu and Jain uses of the word.

    Granted the above example is like gnostic philosophy in christianity. A smaller denomination taking the opposing, counter-culture interpretation of the popular understanding of a theology is nothing new.
    I think you're right. That's why I kept it to generalities about the mainstream consensus on these religions. There's a difference between 'obscure sect x with canonically extreme views says this' and 'Buddhism says this', essentially.

    All that said (and I appreciate this is already a long and off-topic post, so I'm trying to bring it back together), I think there is an illustrative example here.

    Just as there might be a Buddhist monk who thinks he can attain nirvana by avoiding all attachment, or that he can gain enlightenment without goodness and kindness, there are likely vampires with similar delusions. Take the Inconnu of Hunedoara Castle, who believe retreating from humanity is enough to find Golconda. Or the vampires who emulate humane behaviour without really believing it, and as such will never reach the heights of Humanity 10.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
    So I don't know what the guru you mentioned is drawing upon, but I can say quite confidently that Buddhist enlightenment (nirvana) does require you to be good -- at least, in all the traditions of Buddhism I've studied and practiced under.

    The same seems to be true for Jainism, and I think it's probably likely to be true for Hinduism (since all the dharmic religions have a shared heritage in one way or another).
    That's not universally true. Jainism and Hindi are split into various sects with very different beliefs. Saying they all believe the same thing because they have similar roots is like saying all the pentateuch are all slightly different versions of the same religion because they all have roots in the same five books.

    An example is the hindi denominations of Tantra that believe in reaching enlightenment through mastering the 7 chakras(or 9 chakra, or 13 chakras, or etc depending on sect). Opening the chakra doesn't mean following a moral guideline, its a philosophy built around overcoming the internal emotions that impede a practitioner from attaining their goals through mastery of the self. A person who has learning to open their chakras isn't necessarily a Good person and many sects make it a point to call attention to this.

    Their are even sects of bhuddism that take an view that overcoming Dukka/dissatisfaction means that one must severe Positive connection with the world as much as it does the negative. In this view, Love and Kindness are just as poisonous as want as it sets up the expectations for good that will inevitably lead to the same cycle of disappointment and dissatisfaction/Dukkha as any other deviation from the paths would. This is completely at odds with the more popular idea that Bhuddism should strive for universal happiness, and some works of eastern fiction pint out that closely following the eightfold way and five precepts doesn't prohibit a morally dubious monk from committing atrocities like slavery or torture as long as they believe they are doing it for the right reasons.

    Granted the above example is like gnostic philosophy in christianity. A smaller denomination taking the opposing, counter-culture interpretation of the popular understanding of a theology is nothing new.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Ditto

    In the WoD, God's almost certainly not a good dude. Reality's a prison and the morality of God is suspect. If noddism is true, Caine murdered Abel due to an injustice on the part of God. If it's not true, well, the world sucks, isn't that God's fault? It'd thus be improper if we granted enlightenment purely to those with good morals or to those that live in accordance with God's will. Enlightenment doesn't come from being a good person, enlightenment comes from self actualization, transformation, transmutation... whatever.

    Also it's just not punk if you only win by playing nice despite the infeasibility of both being nice and enacting some kind of wide-scale reform. "be Jesus" and perhaps encourage everyone else to be Jesus? Well, if you're stated correctly, you can do that, but it's not achievable for most characters and therefore most souls, and I'd like to believe everyone's capable of enlightenment.

    The first few editions said "Morality is chosen, not ordained". Of course Revised threw that out the window and 5th took it out back and shot it, but I think it's not right to impose humanity on everyone. Self is about more than just being nice. Altruism for selfish goals is not fulfilment. Working out who you are exactly and what you want to be, and achieving it, is fulfilment.

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  • Rhywbeth
    replied
    At this point in VtM, Golconda is whatever the ST says it is. I usually tend to borrow themes from the gnostic angle that tends to crop up in the WoD. The world is wrong, inherently unjust and can go fuck itself.

    To me, Golconda isn't an external spiritual salvation or enlightenment per say, it's the consilidation of the rational mind and the beast. Sating the hunger within yourself by filling the void with your own soul, forming a complete being free of the drawbacks of vampirism with all the benefits. The answer to "A beast I am, lest a beast I become." Your sense of self and willpower must be strong enough to let the beast completely consume you and survive intact. Some view it as an act of rebellion. If you have been damned for a crime you never comitted, then give god the middle finger by destroying his shackles and stealing the power of his curse for yourself.

    Part of me says that spitting in the face of the WoD and being kind in spite of the grimdark hellhole deserves a reward, and it should be humanity exclusive. The other part adheres to moral nihilism and says it's extremely fitting for said grimdark hellhole that the human concept of "good" is insignificant, morality has no place in the equation and all vampires can attain it. Besides, if they really are damned due to circumstances beyond their contol, all vampires deserve the ability to spit in the universe's face by undoing the curse but keeping the benefit.

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  • Shadeprowler
    replied
    No definite time line was given
    But the Land of Eight Million Dreams (and I think the thousand Hells) describes how the Yama King fooled the Dragon Kung Kung (I think that was his name) who caused the Deluge and the Wan Kuei was already fallen that time. so... IF we piece together the mentions and information sniplets scatered around in several books, Saulot's travel and meeting with Xue totally in the realm of possibility the way it was more or less desribed
    Not to mention a few soruces claims Saulot was embraced not in the First but the Second city (those not really align with the rest, better to ignore it tho')

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  • AnubisXy
    replied
    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

    This is a bit tangential, but was the timeline ever resolved for that?

    For Saulot to have studied under the Early Wan Kuei would mean that the Wan Xian would have had to have Already fallen, meaning their first three ages had passed by the time of the second city and the second city was supposed to be more ancient the Egypt. The KotE concept of ages also comes baked in with the idea that each age is shorter than the last until the sixth age, and considering the second city-to-modern day timeline was just the 4th and fifth ages, means the first three should have been Uber long.

    This possibly means Caine's "First City" would have been closer to the ten thousandth city if we count eastern cultures alone(not even counting any other Fae/Were-critter/Mage/Demon weirdness going on in the other continents at the time like africa, australia, the americas, etc).

    I don't believe there was ever a strong timeline.

    All that's been said is that at some point after the Deluge, Saulot traveled to the East. He was gone for a long time (it never said how long, hundreds or thousands of years) and studied under many people. While there he encountered Xue and studied under him. Xue was the first Wan Kuei to reach Golconda or achieve enlightenment after the fall of the Wan Xian and Saulot studied under him.

    We don't know how long the First City was around for and it's possible that it really was the first city and existed for thousands and thousands of years before the Deluge finally wiped it out. At least looking at the Biblical perspective, there would many cities, kingdoms and nations at the time of the Deluge, so it's not like there was one and only one city at the time.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    So I don't know what the guru you mentioned is drawing upon, but I can say quite confidently that Buddhist enlightenment (nirvana) does require you to be good -- at least, in all the traditions of Buddhism I've studied and practiced under.

    The same seems to be true for Jainism, and I think it's probably likely to be true for Hinduism (since all the dharmic religions have a shared heritage in one way or another).

    In Buddhism, you have to cultivate compassion, nonviolence and non-reactivity on the path to enlightenment. You can be wise without compassion or compassionate without wisdom, but then you aren't enlightened. Enlightened beings are usually described as having motherly love for all sentient life, and acting in a way that avoids causing even minor harm.

    Gods in Buddhism are not usually enlightened beings and so act differently. Most forms of Buddhism that believe the gods are literal entities (and not embodiments of concepts or meditation tools) also believe you can only attain nirvana as a human. Gods are beings that are seen as having an incomplete state of grace, at best, as they are often selfish, deluded and superior (remind you of anyone in VTM?).

    In general, Buddhist vows and precepts are guidelines rather than absolute rules, but they are all things we'd recognise as good in a Western context, even if we had to have some of the guidelines explained to us (e.g., why right concentration is so important).

    As it happens, VTM Humanity covers Buddhist morality pretty well. E.g., selfish thoughts are discouraged in Buddhism (though it's not a matter of feeling guilty for having selfish thoughts, but rather taking positive steps to train yourself out of them and using mindfulness to steer unskilful thoughts back on track). Buddhists also try to avoid harmful or violent speech, because it can incite further problems.

    In the game, I have no problem with the path to Golconda requiring Christian ethics. In canon, the path was apparently laid down by an archangel at the behest of God, so it makes sense that it should follow God's word. I think we just have to separate Humanity, in the sense of the path that was offered to Caine as a route to salvation, from 'being human'. The writers weren't always on the same page about that. Either Humanity is an integrity stat, separate from morality, or it's a morality stat and therefore just one of many paths that can be walked. As the game was written with a strong undercurrent of Christian millenarianism, I think we should lean into that: Humanity is about morality, not being mortal. Let Humanity as 'being human' be VTR's thing, because it works there!

    That also said, I am in the camp that thinks there is more than one form of 'vampire enlightenment', and for vampires at least, it doesn't need to be like real-life Buddhist (or Jain or Hindu) enlightenment. These are monsters, descended from blood gods, after all.

    Like AnubisXy, I believe Golconda is just one end state, but that Azhi Dahaka and others exist if you reach the pinnacles of the other paths. It's just that only Golconda has the benefits of reduced hunger and walking in the sun. The others make you some form of monster, as defined by the path itself. That might be why Azaneal, for example, became a demon — as part of his mastery over the Path of Screams/Evil Revelations. Someone on the Path of Typhon might become an avatar of Set or Typhon instead.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
    Maybe, maybe not. The Wan Kuei claim that they existed as the Wan Xian and many of them were thousands of years old when they were cursed and turned into Wan Kuei. Someone like Xue could have been just as old or older than Saulot by the time they met, even if he was much younger in terms of cursed condition.
    This is a bit tangential, but was the timeline ever resolved for that?

    For Saulot to have studied under the Early Wan Kuei would mean that the Wan Xian would have had to have Already fallen, meaning their first three ages had passed by the time of the second city and the second city was supposed to be more ancient the Egypt. The KotE concept of ages also comes baked in with the idea that each age is shorter than the last until the sixth age, and considering the second city-to-modern day timeline was just the 4th and fifth ages, means the first three should have been Uber long.

    This possibly means Caine's "First City" would have been closer to the ten thousandth city if we count eastern cultures alone(not even counting any other Fae/Were-critter/Mage/Demon weirdness going on in the other continents at the time like africa, australia, the americas, etc).

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