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Among the Pillars [Mummy/Hunter Dark Era/Shard Concept]

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  • Among the Pillars [Mummy/Hunter Dark Era/Shard Concept]

    So just a wild idea that has been buzzing in my head for some time...

    Deep in the mythic past of the CofD's, there is Irem, the Nameless Empire. Its existence is a fact- Irem was, Irem is, and Irem will be for all eternity. Perhaps it was a small empire in the ancient middle east. Perhaps it was an all encompassing sorcerous empire. The details aren't clear- but it existed, and its legacy carries up to modern time. Its memory, however, is hazed, devoured by the constant flows of the Ocean of Time and the devious magic of the Shan'iatu. Even if it was confined to North Africa and the surrounding territories, the Arisen would still argue that Irem is still the very pillar of civilization and the source of all cultures- every civilization since Irem owns its existence to the Nameless Empire, and as such, the Arisen are the rightful owners of every relic and every figure created by those civilizations. Is it a cheap propoganda? Sure- but like every good propoganda, there is still a grain of truth for their claims. Irem was indeed a great power in the ancient times, and its impacts (especially because of the Arisen and their service as oracles throughout their broken Descents) can not be denied.

    And as such, it is a little wonder that some people may be interested in examining Irem in the time it was still standing. In the time it was not yet Irem.

    In the time it was just the Empire.

    So one of the things I really liked in 2e was how one could piece out the life in the Empire from the Guilds writeups, both major and minor. Suddenly, the Empire felt alive, and with it came the urge to think about presenting it as an actual setting for the players. Now, considering that Irem, while existing in the context of the CofD, is not an actual "era", I am nto sure if it could be treated as a Dark Era proper- even though that it should be mentioned that most of the Sundered World Era is also not well based in actual facts (as far as we know, there was no Pangaea, after all), but I'm still not sure how such setting should be classified.. Still, how to call such a setting is less of an issue overall- what that important is the content itself, and that brings with it another problem- Irem is, after all, a concept brought from Mummy (well, technically Vampire used it first, but it is not very relevant for the subject)- and as such, it makes sense for the titular characters of this setting to be the protagonists of that game- which means that they should be mummies. The problem is, that the whole point of Irem is that it was the origin of the Arisen- and as such, there should not be mummies in the Empire.

    Now, there are all kinds of ways to go around it- for example, you could just throw the words "non linear time!" and use it to justify the eixstence of the Arisen in the Empire- and while there is certainly a way to add actual Arisen into the setting through temporal shenanigans (I won't be suprised if someone were to suggest that the Shan'iatu are in fact mummies of some kind, for example), I prefer to focus on a different aspect of the Empire- that is, the mortal members of the Guilds during the time of Irem. However, even if we were to take this path, there are still many options we could take in order to model those protagonists- we could, perhaps, take the story hook from the Dark Eras Companion and present a "major sorcerer template" for the Empire, to represent the fall of sorcery through the ages. We could perhaps just use sekhem sorcerers, utilyzing the organization rules for Krewes from Geist in order to model the different Guilds of Irem. Maybe we could just use the sorcerer template itself, with perhaps giving some specialization/ affinity based on the Guild to which they belong to...

    Wait- mortals who use a form of hedge supernatural powers which depends on the organization to which they belong?

    Ah.

    That sounds awfully familiar.

    So yeah, it may be just because I am a Hunter fan, but something really clicked to me when I thought about it- the idea that we could, perhaps, model the Guilds of the Empire through the lens of Hunter. Again, there are many ways to go around it, from special Sorcery rotes to Mystery Cult Initiations, but I personally find the idea very... fitting. We could treat each of the signature relics of the Guilds as the Endowments that Guild grants to its members as they live and die in the name of its cruel gods. Heck, if you give some thought to it, you may even picture a very appropriate "enemy" which does Guilds may have to deal with during the time of Irem. For example...

    [Guild] - [Endowment] - [Enemy]

    Maa Kep - Amulets - Demons
    Mesen Nebu - Regia - Prometheans
    Sesha Hebsu - Texts - Mages
    Su Menent - Uter - Bound
    Tef Aabhi - Effigies - Spirits

    Heck, we can have go with it to the Minor Guilds-

    Akhem Urtu - Seba - Eldritch Horrors (void spirits/ idigam/ abyssal entities/ some other kind of starry horrors, maybe even their own unique antagonists)
    Kher Minu - ??? (perhaps some primitive form of Advanced Armory) - ??? (not very specilized)
    Maar Kherit - Ankhs - Vampires/ Contagious?
    Wadget Itja - Vision (an homebrew Endowment I am using for my own Pythian Oracles) - Slashers?

    And to this we can add some of my own ideas I had for minor Guilds and cults of the Empire*-

    Meten Sekti - Vestments - ??? (a Minor Guild of Weavers which grooms the future rulers, serving as a sister Guild to the Maa Kep to complete the series (I consider the Mesen Nebu as the sister cult of the Tef Aabhi, but if someone has some very cool idea for other sister Guilds for those too we are open for suggestions)
    Senu Jadet - ??? - Amkhat/ Fiends (a Minor Guild of Perfumers based around my Temple of Silence as a Canaanite cult which came as a part of the war with the Ki En Gir which serves as temple harlots and masters of cosmetics and temporary beauty)
    Nehedjut - Consumption - Relics (barbarian witches that live in the outskrits of Irem and use the powers of the Devourer to consume the works of the Shan'iatu, based around my Maw of the River)
    [Traders] - Thaumatech - ??? (I've considered the idea of such a minor Guild which is considered to be lowly due to them not actually creating anything, only giving rise to wealth, and as I have already presented Cheiron's primitive version in my Sundered World expansion there is no reason to not include some version of them also here, especially as being merchants is their schtick)
    Cult of Shaddad - Aharanite Sorcery/ Castigations - Vampires/Infernals??? (a shout out to the presentation of Irem back in Vampire's VII supplement, could be used to present the "local Lucifuge")

    Credits for the name is for Adrasalieth

    And of course, any other ideas for minor Guilds and their like which could be added to explore and expand the culutre of Irem- and we should of course consider some kind of a Slave based compact which is made from the enemies of the Empire, or rogue sorcerer cults/ slasher cabals which deal with forbidden magics, or an expansion of the rest of the Immortal types as Minor Guilds- like how the Kher Minu are "enhanced Eternals" or the Wadget Itja are "enhanced Harvesters". Maybe the Traders could be some "prototype" version of the Patchwork People? Or my version of the Avicii Sutra as "enhanced Reborn"? And what aboud Blood Bathers? Body Thieves? Purified? Visitors? Wardens? Of course, none of them should be immortal RIGHT NOW- but we could use the idea of their theorized immortality in order to design their existence during the Empire's time, as well as connect it to the "missing enemies" which are currently mapped to existing Guilds....

    Well, that's what I have in mind- what about you? Any suggestions/ ideas/ advices?


    Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

    "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    I really like this idea.

    I’m pretty sure the version of Irem depicted in the VII book is non canon, but you could still probably integrate the details into your Irem if you wanted to.
    Last edited by Penelope; 10-01-2020, 01:40 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Penelope View Post
      I really like this idea.

      I’m pretty sure the version of Irem depicted in the VII book is non canon, but you could still probably integrate the details into your Irem if you wanted to.
      It is considered to be "optional canon"- it is canon if you use to choose VII as presented in that scenario, and non canon otherwise, which is nothing new about the CofD in general.


      Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

      I now blog in here

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      • #4
        I haven’t read VII. Are the two Irems consistent?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Penelope View Post
          I haven’t read VII. Are the two Irems consistent?
          They are up to the storyteller to decide, the VII Carrie's a pretty different/incomplete idea of Irem.

          Basically, the storyteller could decide VII is exactly right, or the mummies are exactly right, or they are both completely wrong, or they both carry grains of truth

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          • #6
            Or that both are exactly right. Words and names (especially those known by mortals) are quite often used for multiple things in CofD. Not to mention things like alternate histories and timelines and retroactive changes to the cosmology, etc.


            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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            • #7
              There could be two different Irems.

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              • #8
                So to sum it up- yes, it could be the same Irem, there could be two different Irems, there could be even zero Irems or endless Irems. The CofD is a sandbox world, and the ST can play it around as much as they like. There is no reason, however, to dismiss the connection between VII's version of Irem and Mummy's, especially if there is a cool idea how to tie them together. I think there is such a nice way to do so (I'll detail it later), but lets not all get too fixated over something so minor as deciding that there must not be any connection between VII's version and Mummy's before the idea itself is even detailed or something like that.


                Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

                "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                I now blog in here

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                • #9
                  No! I think connecting them is a great idea and I’d love to hear your idea.

                  Sorry. What’s a sandbox world?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So because this subject drew so much attention for some reason, here is my version for how to connect VII's Irem and Mummy's-

                    In Irem, creulty is the way of life. Suffering is ever present, toil is never ending. People are taught they are meant to sacrifice themselves in the name of the Empire, and cultivate the pain and sorrow generated from their actions into the formation of grand monuments and relics, a physical manifestation of the Empire's ever lasting presence. People live and die in the name of the Empire, and there is no way out of that eternal cycle of suffering. where only the best and finest deserve the attention of the Guilds, and the rest are nothing but a dust in the wind, slowly withering as their lives are devoted to the Empire.

                    Yes, the Empire is cruel- but there is one law crueler than the rest.

                    You shall not pray.

                    Prayer, at its essence, is an act of hope. It is the act where someone believes that they can beseech the Power That Be and perhaps, somehow, change their fate. It is that act where people personally reach out to heavens and beg for tomorrow to be brighter, for their son to be spared from a plague or their father to escape the bloody altar. It is an act of despair, sure, but it provides escape. Whether or not someone or something listens to that prayer is another story- but still, the act of the prayer is the way for the mortal soul to defy the Empire's hold over it- and the Shan'iatu refuse let it happen. Prayer is not allowed, only they, the sorcerer-priests of the Empire, are allowed to turn to the gods and speak with them. Mortals may, at best, turn to the Shan'iatu and beg for them to carry their prayers to heaven- and sometimes, when it fits them, they do take those prayers (especially if someone can find a way to bribe those immortal beintgs). Still, the Shan;iatu hold the monopoly upon prayer- they choose which prayers will be heard, and which god will hear them. While it does help to submit the population to enforce the Law upon them, there is yet another reason for the taboo against prayers. For in the end, prayers which are not provided through the Shan'iatu just escape to the open air to be lost and found be stranger things, and no one knows what could be listening to those products of human despair.

                    But sometimes, people still pray. And sometimes, things will listen.

                    They call it Shaddad, the Missing Pillar and the Lost Judge. It says to be a god long forgotten, one which did not agreed with the actions of its brethren. It claims to be a god of freedom and individualism, of ghope and despair. According to its whispers in the night, it was banished by its brothers for they feared its power, and as such they threw it to the depths of Duat and took over his palaces and treasures, submitting his subjects and forcing them to forget its name. However, Shaddad will not leave its rightful children to the cruel embrace of traitors- it is waiting, deep in the dying deserts of Duat, eagerly listening for anyone who would dare to break the taboo and seek for a way out of their suffering. And when it hears a whispered prayer, it whispers back.

                    Shaddad may have once been a powerful god, but without any prayer to support it is form and majesty has dwindled through the ages. In fact, Shaddad even claim that the taboo over prayers was established solely in order to stop it from gathering back its lost power, so it won't be a threat over the Empire and its gods. But those few brave souls which dare to break the taboo are worthy, more worthy than any other mortal- and when their time would come, it would be Shaddad to judge their souls and not its kin, promising them a sanctuary away in its private garden, away from the torments of the Devourer. And its faithful listen to its words and believe- they keep their secret worship for themselves, for only those which dare to discover the truth of the Lost Judge are worthy for its gifts, and the rest deserve the harsh treatment of the Shan'iatu and the Judges.

                    And it does not end here- while breaking the taboo over prayer is in important part of the faith in Shaddad, it is not enough. It is never enough. There are many taboos, laws and regulations in the Empire, many acts meant to bind and break the soul of its people. The followers of Shaddad can't be satisfied with simply breaking one of those rules, as important as it may be. No, every taboo must be broken, defiled and mutilated, until the Law itself will be defiled. While all of Shaddad's followers are worthy of its mercy during the finale judgement, only the ones which dare to spit in the eyes of the gods are deserve in the highest luxaries that its paradise has to offer. The more they challenge the Law and its taboos, the more that they become worthy, and the power that the Law holds over them fails.

                    The Shan'iatu, of course, are mostly unaware of that heresy- how, they do know that some people break their rules, but they trust the Maa Kep to deal with such nuisances. The Maa Kep themselves do find people who break the taboos or manifest strange powers and send them to be judged and executed by the Sesha Hebsu, but the idea that some hidden conspiracy lurks below the surface is almost unthinkable for them, especially due to the seculded and fructured nature of the cult of Shaddad. Here and there, they find foul idols dedicated for foreign gods, and destroy them without even a second thought. But Shaddad is still there, slowly spreading its influence among the slaves, waiting for them to break in tears as the Law becomes insufferable- and then, it whispers.

                    So what is Shaddad? If it some devoious fiend which crawled from Duat, taking the guide of a god for its own twisted amusement? Is it an infernal thing, a true demon which came from unknown reaches to feed upon the suffering of the Empire and teach them the pleasures of sin and vice? Is it exactly what it claims to be, a broken aspect of a dead god which god corrupted yet still hold true to its original will? Or maybe is it something else entierly? No one knows, and in the time of the Empire, no one cares. For the Guilds, Shaddad is simply an abiomination and heresy which needs to be destroyed. For its faithful, Shaddad is their only hope, a savior sent to teach them the truth about the Empire. Whatever Shaddad may be, it is indeed a powerful and smart being, one which can read the omens and understand the strange mechanisms and goals of the Shan'iatu. Because of that, when the Empire start reaching its twilight and the Rite of Return draws near, Shaddad would make sure to secure it own idols, making his faithful to carry them to the outskrits of the Empire just before it would be swallowed by the shifting sands. There, in the ruins of the Empire and powered by the souls which submitted themselves to its will, it would make a seoncd city, a second Irem, a twisted mockery of the Nameless Empire. But the gods are jealouse for their power, and they have long memories, and eventually the second city will too be lost to the sand under the burning gaze of the Judges- but by then, Shaddad will have a new way out. After all, it long watched the Shan'iatu in their attempts at defying life and death, and it learned just enough to make its own ceremony. And when the second city will be lost, Shaddad would already have new faithful to crawl into their heart, bestowing upon them its own version of flawed undeath, where it would whisper for all eternity.



                    Ok! Now, with that out of the way, we can return to the subject. I'll make some detailed version of the Guilds (both major and minor) later today. Hope you liked it.


                    Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

                    "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                    I now blog in here

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Penelope View Post

                      Sorry. What’s a sandbox world?
                      Sandbox means that the world is "flexible"- there is no rigid canon, and as such the ST is encouraged to piece out their own cosmology, history and overall "truth" of their setting.


                      Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

                      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                      I now blog in here

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Awesome. Thanks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Question about the trader guild. Doesnt the Mesen Nebu already do that? They arent only alchemists in the traditional sense, but also stock brokers, having pretty much brought the concept of commerce into being

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                            So because this subject drew so much attention for some reason, here is my version for how to connect VII's Irem and Mummy's-

                            In Irem, creulty is the way of life. Suffering is ever present, toil is never ending. People are taught they are meant to sacrifice themselves in the name of the Empire, and cultivate the pain and sorrow generated from their actions into the formation of grand monuments and relics, a physical manifestation of the Empire's ever lasting presence. People live and die in the name of the Empire, and there is no way out of that eternal cycle of suffering. where only the best and finest deserve the attention of the Guilds, and the rest are nothing but a dust in the wind, slowly withering as their lives are devoted to the Empire.

                            Yes, the Empire is cruel- but there is one law crueler than the rest.

                            You shall not pray.

                            Prayer, at its essence, is an act of hope. It is the act where someone believes that they can beseech the Power That Be and perhaps, somehow, change their fate. It is that act where people personally reach out to heavens and beg for tomorrow to be brighter, for their son to be spared from a plague or their father to escape the bloody altar. It is an act of despair, sure, but it provides escape. Whether or not someone or something listens to that prayer is another story- but still, the act of the prayer is the way for the mortal soul to defy the Empire's hold over it- and the Shan'iatu refuse let it happen. Prayer is not allowed, only they, the sorcerer-priests of the Empire, are allowed to turn to the gods and speak with them. Mortals may, at best, turn to the Shan'iatu and beg for them to carry their prayers to heaven- and sometimes, when it fits them, they do take those prayers (especially if someone can find a way to bribe those immortal beintgs). Still, the Shan;iatu hold the monopoly upon prayer- they choose which prayers will be heard, and which god will hear them. While it does help to submit the population to enforce the Law upon them, there is yet another reason for the taboo against prayers. For in the end, prayers which are not provided through the Shan'iatu just escape to the open air to be lost and found be stranger things, and no one knows what could be listening to those products of human despair.

                            But sometimes, people still pray. And sometimes, things will listen.

                            They call it Shaddad, the Missing Pillar and the Lost Judge. It says to be a god long forgotten, one which did not agreed with the actions of its brethren. It claims to be a god of freedom and individualism, of ghope and despair. According to its whispers in the night, it was banished by its brothers for they feared its power, and as such they threw it to the depths of Duat and took over his palaces and treasures, submitting his subjects and forcing them to forget its name. However, Shaddad will not leave its rightful children to the cruel embrace of traitors- it is waiting, deep in the dying deserts of Duat, eagerly listening for anyone who would dare to break the taboo and seek for a way out of their suffering. And when it hears a whispered prayer, it whispers back.

                            Shaddad may have once been a powerful god, but without any prayer to support it is form and majesty has dwindled through the ages. In fact, Shaddad even claim that the taboo over prayers was established solely in order to stop it from gathering back its lost power, so it won't be a threat over the Empire and its gods. But those few brave souls which dare to break the taboo are worthy, more worthy than any other mortal- and when their time would come, it would be Shaddad to judge their souls and not its kin, promising them a sanctuary away in its private garden, away from the torments of the Devourer. And its faithful listen to its words and believe- they keep their secret worship for themselves, for only those which dare to discover the truth of the Lost Judge are worthy for its gifts, and the rest deserve the harsh treatment of the Shan'iatu and the Judges.

                            And it does not end here- while breaking the taboo over prayer is in important part of the faith in Shaddad, it is not enough. It is never enough. There are many taboos, laws and regulations in the Empire, many acts meant to bind and break the soul of its people. The followers of Shaddad can't be satisfied with simply breaking one of those rules, as important as it may be. No, every taboo must be broken, defiled and mutilated, until the Law itself will be defiled. While all of Shaddad's followers are worthy of its mercy during the finale judgement, only the ones which dare to spit in the eyes of the gods are deserve in the highest luxaries that its paradise has to offer. The more they challenge the Law and its taboos, the more that they become worthy, and the power that the Law holds over them fails.

                            The Shan'iatu, of course, are mostly unaware of that heresy- how, they do know that some people break their rules, but they trust the Maa Kep to deal with such nuisances. The Maa Kep themselves do find people who break the taboos or manifest strange powers and send them to be judged and executed by the Sesha Hebsu, but the idea that some hidden conspiracy lurks below the surface is almost unthinkable for them, especially due to the seculded and fructured nature of the cult of Shaddad. Here and there, they find foul idols dedicated for foreign gods, and destroy them without even a second thought. But Shaddad is still there, slowly spreading its influence among the slaves, waiting for them to break in tears as the Law becomes insufferable- and then, it whispers.

                            So what is Shaddad? If it some devoious fiend which crawled from Duat, taking the guide of a god for its own twisted amusement? Is it an infernal thing, a true demon which came from unknown reaches to feed upon the suffering of the Empire and teach them the pleasures of sin and vice? Is it exactly what it claims to be, a broken aspect of a dead god which god corrupted yet still hold true to its original will? Or maybe is it something else entierly? No one knows, and in the time of the Empire, no one cares. For the Guilds, Shaddad is simply an abiomination and heresy which needs to be destroyed. For its faithful, Shaddad is their only hope, a savior sent to teach them the truth about the Empire. Whatever Shaddad may be, it is indeed a powerful and smart being, one which can read the omens and understand the strange mechanisms and goals of the Shan'iatu. Because of that, when the Empire start reaching its twilight and the Rite of Return draws near, Shaddad would make sure to secure it own idols, making his faithful to carry them to the outskrits of the Empire just before it would be swallowed by the shifting sands. There, in the ruins of the Empire and powered by the souls which submitted themselves to its will, it would make a seoncd city, a second Irem, a twisted mockery of the Nameless Empire. But the gods are jealouse for their power, and they have long memories, and eventually the second city will too be lost to the sand under the burning gaze of the Judges- but by then, Shaddad will have a new way out. After all, it long watched the Shan'iatu in their attempts at defying life and death, and it learned just enough to make its own ceremony. And when the second city will be lost, Shaddad would already have new faithful to crawl into their heart, bestowing upon them its own version of flawed undeath, where it would whisper for all eternity.



                            Ok! Now, with that out of the way, we can return to the subject. I'll make some detailed version of the Guilds (both major and minor) later today. Hope you liked it.
                            OMG I love this!!!

                            What if Shaddad was the fiendish patron of the Canaanite city of Ubar conquered by the Shan’iatu? And then many thousands of years later Shaddad’s servants the Akhud spread out from Ubar and infested Sodom and Gomorrah and then were basically wiped out by the other four clans (not the Ventrue, they weren’t around till Rome) when they used powerful blood sorcery to incinerate the servants of Shaddad and turn Sodom into a pillar of salt?

                            Damn that was a long sentence lol

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Penelope View Post

                              OMG I love this!!!

                              What if Shaddad was the fiendish patron of the Canaanite city of Ubar conquered by the Shan’iatu? And then many thousands of years later Shaddad’s servants the Akhud spread out from Ubar and infested Sodom and Gomorrah and then were basically wiped out by the other four clans (not the Ventrue, they weren’t around till Rome) when they used powerful blood sorcery to incinerate the servants of Shaddad and turn Sodom into a pillar of salt?

                              Damn that was a long sentence lol
                              Not to drag you down, but I think you're kinda bringing Lost Light's thread off topic, he may correct me though

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