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  • Two dates for the Sundering?

    EDIT: Oops! The title of my post is wrong. I didn't mean two dates for the sundering, but rather two dates for the creation of the Shroud. Sorry folks. Still have the same problem, but it isn't really tied to the Sundering.

    So I just realized that The Hierarchy (page 30) states that the Sundering happened around the time of the Third Great Maelstrom, coinciding with (or describing) the "emergence of the Shroud". That section goes on to explain the consequences of the "arrival of the Shroud", leaving no room for misunderstanding: the Hierarchy sourcebook places the creation of the Shroud around the 1500s.

    Um, WHAT? How did I not notice this before? I had to scramble back to the core book to confirm that the Sundering was originally stated as occurring before Charon's arrival, right around the time when the Lady of Fate was wandering around dreaming of his coming, and coinciding with the emergence of Oblivion itself.

    I realize that the Hierarchy passage is written as an in-game document (attributed to the Annals of the Dead), but it is presented as general fact for the reader, and so wildly contradicts the established timeline as to preclude the idea that such an important document would be confused on this point.

    Does anyone have any insight on why the gamemakers changed the timeline this much? For the record, I'm ignoring the revised timeline; I think it's silly to make the Shroud pop into existence so late. It also goes against the previously established idea that Gilgamesh, Persephone, and their like waltzed into the misty Darkness in ancient times--before the Sundering--which makes their journeys less special and suggests that others have done the same as recently as the 1500s.

    Please illuminate me! (But not by turning me into a balefire torch, pls)
    Last edited by Callishka; 12-07-2017, 09:50 PM.

  • #2
    The part of that section that most bothers me is actually the bit about everything reshaping around the axis of Stygia, and Stygia being the heart of the Underworld. Heart of the Dark Kingdom of Iron, sure. The entire underworld? Certainly doesn't seem that way. But that's easy to chalk up to in character bias.

    What I think is going on here is less a dramatic reordering of Wraith history and more a subtle disagreement (among both Wraiths and writers) on what the Shroud is. Note that Hierarchy still says that travel between the worlds of the living and the dead was possible but uncommon back at the beginning. More importantly it still puts the rise of the Guilds before the Third Great Maelstrom, and guilds like the Proctors make no sense at all if a Wraith can simply walk to the land of the living and appear for all to see. So obviously there was still some significant difficulty or barrier to interacting with the living, but it wasn't as strong, didn't have the same feel, and wasn't yet called the Shroud.

    So I think we are looking at two separate events. There's a pre-Charon sundering that divided the Underworld from the living one, and there's the 3rd Great Maelstrom that separated the Shadowlands from the rest of the Underworld and drew the division between the living and the dead into stark relief.


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    • #3
      That's probably how I'm going to interpret things, but it seems like a pretty big oversight to call both of those events the Sundering and to describe both of them as periods when the shroud was created. I'm really curious how the writers thought readers would react to that

      Edit: Oops. They don't call the event The Sundering in the Hierarchy book. They do say that the Shroud "arrived" then, though.
      Last edited by Callishka; 12-08-2017, 01:38 PM.

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      • #4
        EDIT: Oops! The title of my post is wrong. I didn't mean two dates for the sundering, but rather two dates for the creation of the Shroud. Sorry folks. Still have the same problem, but it isn't really tied to the Sundering.

        To those without the requisite books, here are relevant quotes. I think this was a sloppy move. "Sundering" and "Shroud" are not exactly obscure Wraith features, and I wish there was basic agreement on their appearance.

        The Dark Before Time
        There was a time before time, before these shadowed realms came into being. The legends speak of a world where the bounds between living and dead were thinner than they are now, separated by a flimsy arras through which the dead could pass back into the living world. And the living could pass through this insubstantial break to the world of the dead, to receive word of their comrades' well-being on the other side of the void. Some heroic personages came--Gilgamesh, Aeneas--these and others risked the travails inherent in the crossing.

        The Sundering
        Then it was that a great rift appeared in the world, and the realms of the living and the dead were forced apart in the period known as the Sundering. The gash between the worlds widened to an insurmountable degree, forcing a great Shroud to be drawn twixt the two realms. The realms split into that of the Quick, known thereafter as the Skinlands, and the Land of the Dead, known also as the Underworld.

        The Lady of Fate
        It was also during the Sundering that the Lady of Fate emerged from the chaos of the rift between the realms of the Quick and the Dead, and read the skein of Fate and foretold the coming of a great guide, a journeyer named Charon, who would sail the River of Death and lead those souls who had passed over the rift to the Far Shores in safety, away from the minions of Oblivion. (W:tO 60)
        The Settling of the Shroud
        In the wake of the Third Great Maelstrom, the Underworld experienced profound and lasting alterations. First and foremost, perhaps, was the inherent change in the nature of the inchoate substance known as the Tempest. But there were other new factors to contend with: the separation of Stygia from the Shadowlands and the emergence of the shroud.

        When the last winds of the Maelstrom had blown themselves out, Stygia and the Shadowlands emerged as two distinct regions in the Underworld. Those whose interests lead them to cosmological speculation have likened the separation to a wheel with Styiga as its hub, the Shadowlands as its rim, the byways and riverways as the spokes, and the Tempest as the spaces in between. More modern minds posit a similarity to the separation effect achieved by the use of a centrifuge, in which the densest matter collects at one end while the lighter substances form a spectrum moving away from the "heavy" end. Onion skins and spiderwebs have alsi been used to illustrate the post-Maelstrom order of the Underworld.

        All images aside, one truth remains: Stygia lies in the heart of the Underworld. Travel from Stygia to the Skinlands involves traversing the Tempest, emerging in the Shadowlands, and finding a way through the Shroud.

        Why the Shroud descended upon the Underworld, forming a nearly impenetrable barricade between the worlds of the living and the dead, is a mystery that may never be solved. (Hierarchy 30-31)

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        • #5
          I think it was just a lot easier to push through before the Third Maelstrom. The Skinland and Shadlowland were separate, but crossing was easier.

          The book I immediately want to check when I have the chance is Proctors, since their job kind of depended on manifesting being difficult for everyone else.

          The part I don’t get is where was Stygia before the Third Maestrom?


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
            The part of that section that most bothers me is actually the bit about everything reshaping around the axis of Stygia, and Stygia being the heart of the Underworld. Heart of the Dark Kingdom of Iron, sure. The entire underworld? Certainly doesn't seem that way. But that's easy to chalk up to in character bias.

            Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
            The part I don’t get is where was Stygia before the Third Maestrom?
            Here's my take on their metaphors about wheels and onions. First off, this opinion is informed by the various descriptions of the Tempest as a place where things are located about where you expect them to be located, making geography (and weather) a function of your imagination. That said, the spoked-wheel and onion metaphors may be a way of saying "All Romes Lead to Rome", only replace Rome with Stygia. It's a way of saying that western Wraith see Stygia as the heart of their world (which might be spelled "underworld", lowercase u, not the entire Underworld), and that all other rumored locations down there are just a certain direction outward from Stygia. It's a reflection of Stygia's relative stability to Stygians, its dependability in the shifting stormclouds. And since all (most?) Necropoli rely on it and communicate with it, all byways (more or less) lead there in the end. That puts Stygia at the "heart" of their known world, and at the center of the wheel. We can presume that those in the Kingdom of Jade think of their kingdom as the core of the apple and put Stygia somewhere off in the directionless margins of the Underworld--because, to them, it is.

            Come to think of it, I'm struck by how picturing Stygia as the hub of a wheel leaves no way to move on to the Far Isle, even in your own mind. The wheel map cannot possibly include a Far Isles, because where can you go once you reach Stygia? Why, back to the Shadowlands! It's as if after the 3GM, Stygians generally stopped viewing Stygia as a coastal capital on the near end of a long journey; stopped viewing it as that city in the delta of the River of Death, the capital where one sets off for the Far Isles. After the Tempest, I think they quickly began to think of it as the final destination. It is where all the other wraith say it is, where all the River's tributaries lead, but as the final destination within a maze of winding paths. Cosmology as propoganda! The maps don't show it so it doesn't exist!

            I'm being a bit silly, I know, but there's a grain there, maybe.
            Last edited by Callishka; 12-08-2017, 02:21 AM.

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            • #7
              Ok, but before the Third Great Maelstrom, where was it? Physically. Before it was separated from the Shadowlands, did it have a geographic location in the Shadowlands? If not, what was the difference then that the Third Great Maelstrom changes?


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              • #8
                Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                I think it was just a lot easier to push through before the Third Maelstrom. The Skinland and Shadlowland were separate, but crossing was easier.

                The book I immediately want to check when I have the chance is Proctors, since their job kind of depended on manifesting being difficult for everyone else.
                Is that in the sense of 'when we get one'? 'Cause Proctors were one of the Guilds that didn't get a book of their own.


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                • #9
                  speaking of the sundering however.. do we have an actual date? it seems strange to me that it is only 3000 years old.. are the neverborn really that young? cause some older things imply that they were born with the universe

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                    Ok, but before the Third Great Maelstrom, where was it? Physically. Before it was separated from the Shadowlands, did it have a geographic location in the Shadowlands? If not, what was the difference then that the Third Great Maelstrom changes?
                    Underworld geography is simultaneously the coolest and the most headache inducing thing. Given the way the Tempest seems to have worn everything away (in my imagination if nowhere else) I think the underworld was more akin to the other Umbras. One where the borders (what became the Shadowlands) gave way seamlessly to great thoroughfares and landmarks (what became byways and islands) before giving way to the great seas. Not necessarily a coherent world, but more than a few strands of safety through a raging storm.

                    Originally posted by mark View Post
                    speaking of the sundering however.. do we have an actual date? it seems strange to me that it is only 3000 years old.. are the neverborn really that young? cause some older things imply that they were born with the universe
                    Unless there were wraiths who saw them emerge from Oblivion and survived to tell the tale, the records are only stating when they made an appearance. They could have slumbered for eons and been roused by the sundering.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mark View Post
                      speaking of the sundering however.. do we have an actual date? it seems strange to me that it is only 3000 years old.. are the neverborn really that young? cause some older things imply that they were born with the universe
                      I used to think that the general time described for Charon's arrival in the original core book was uncomfortably recent in time, but then I realized that he is a Minoan and we have to face the fact that the earliest European civilization was the Minoans, and they only existed around 2,600 bce. Western, and therefore stygian, civilization is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things.

                      There were settlements as early as 100,000 BC, but civilization took a few thousand years to arrive, and it seems like the writers of wraith are saying that it took until civilization developed for someone to arrive in the Underworld who would finally organize some shit. I imagine that before that time, there was simply a collection of ghosts who wandered about and often got lost in the Darkness.

                      Now as for the sundering, that happened before Charon's time, and the writers are very vague about when that was. I think we can assume that any time from the earliest human settlements to the rise of civilization, the Shroud popped into existence, and it was ready for Charon when he arrived
                      Last edited by Callishka; 12-08-2017, 11:49 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                        Ok, but before the Third Great Maelstrom, where was it? Physically. Before it was separated from the Shadowlands, did it have a geographic location in the Shadowlands? If not, what was the difference then that the Third Great Maelstrom changes?
                        My understanding is that stygia was not in the shadowlands, but was in the deeper underworld, as it is when the Tempest permanently establishes itself. The difference is that the deeper underworld wasn't filled with a tempest pre-3GM, so there was no horrific storm to push through to reach stygia. I'm not sure if that implies that Nihils didn't exist at this time.

                        What it does seem to imply is that from the shadowlands, it was relatively easy before the third great maelstrom to walk into the deeper underworld and find your way to the River Styx and onward to stygia, but after the third great Maelstrom, there was this wall of storm in the way through which you had to find an nihil and a byway.

                        The way I see it, after the third great Maelstrom, there's basically a second shroud that is put up, a kind of storm wall, and that's the membrane that wraith need to use nihils to cross.

                        All this to say, that I don't think stygia was in a different location, it was just suddenly much harder to reach and required knowing precise by ways, whereas before it was simply out there in the Darkness and could be found if you wanted to reach it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Callishka View Post

                          I used to think that the general time described for Charon's arrival in the original core book was uncomfortably recent in time, but then I realized that he is a Minoan and we have to face the fact that the earliest European civilization was the Minoans, and they only existed around 2,600 bce. Western, and therefore stygian, civilization is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things.

                          There were settlements as early as 100,000 BC, but civilization took a few thousand years to arrive, and it seems like the writers of wraith are saying that it took until civilization developed for someone to arrive in the Underworld who would finally organize some shit. I imagine that before that time, there was simply a collection of ghosts who wandered about and often got lost in the Darkness.

                          Now as for the sundering, that happened before Charon's time, and the writers are very vague about when that was. I think we can assume that any time from the earliest human settlements to the rise of civilization, the Shroud popped into existence, and it was ready for Charon when he arrived

                          the problem is that(at least IIRC) the sundering is"when life and death got separated" this could mean the shroud.. but it could also be taken literally aka "let there be light" and "the darkness understood it not"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mark View Post


                            the problem is that(at least IIRC) the sundering is"when life and death got separated" this could mean the shroud.. but it could also be taken literally aka "let there be light" and "the darkness understood it not"
                            The core book literally states that the separation of the lands of life and death caused the shroud to come into existence, though:

                            The Sundering
                            Then it was that a great rift appeared in the world, and the realms of the living and the dead were forced apart in the period known as the Sundering. The gash between the worlds widened to an insurmountable degree, forcing a great Shroud to be drawn twixt the two realms. The realms split into that of the Quick, known thereafter as the Skinlands, and the Land of the Dead, known also as the Underworld. (W:tO 60)
                            I'm not sure what you mean by that second interpretation.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Callishka View Post

                              My understanding is that stygia was not in the shadowlands, but was in the deeper underworld, as it is when the Tempest permanently establishes itself. The difference is that the deeper underworld wasn't filled with a tempest pre-3GM, so there was no horrific storm to push through to reach stygia. I'm not sure if that implies that Nihils didn't exist at this time.

                              What it does seem to imply is that from the shadowlands, it was relatively easy before the third great maelstrom to walk into the deeper underworld and find your way to the River Styx and onward to stygia, but after the third great Maelstrom, there was this wall of storm in the way through which you had to find an nihil and a byway.

                              The way I see it, after the third great Maelstrom, there's basically a second shroud that is put up, a kind of storm wall, and that's the membrane that wraith need to use nihils to cross.

                              All this to say, that I don't think stygia was in a different location, it was just suddenly much harder to reach and required knowing precise by ways, whereas before it was simply out there in the Darkness and could be found if you wanted to reach it.
                              It all seems like head canon stuff without some definitive answers plumbed from somewhere in the books (improbable), being addressed in Wr25th (again, page count, probably not) or from a Voice from the mighty (e.g. the developers).

                              But, trying to riff off some of your basics.... Before the Sea became the Tempest, I'd venture the ways to go deeper from the Shadowlands into the Dark Kingdoms were the ur-Byways: going down the Road or boating down the River. Perhaps Nihils and the ability to use them are a result of Sundering(s), more an aspect of the "rot" caused by the turmoil of the Tempest (aka the influence of Oblivion) eating away at the underside/sky/whatever that separates the Shadowlands and the realms and places beyond them.

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