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Old Laws and the Nature of the Underworld

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  • Old Laws and the Nature of the Underworld

    So, from what we know (and were hinted) from the Kickstarter preview and post blog, there seems to be a certain weirdness about what role the Old Laws and their terrifying enforcers actually serve in the dread metaphysics of the Underworld- as it was mentioned again and again, the Underworld in hungry. The will of the Chthonic Gods (no matter if they exist or not) drains the Essence of its inhabitants, feeding upon the ghosts of the dead and absorbing them into its fabric. The Reapers, ghosts chosen by the unseen masters of the Bellow, act in order to harvest the dead and cut them from the world of the living to the world of the dead. Fighting the hunger of the Underworld is a constant struggle for ghosts- unless they are found inside a Deep Dominion, ruled by the Hounds of Hades. As long as they follow the Old Laws, they can avoid being drained and dissolve. Also, the Dominions themselves seems to eventually collapse and fall into the Ocean, as if after fighting countless years against the metaphysical weight of the Bellow, they eventually surrender to its pull and are erased from existence. The Dominions were also mentioned as possibly coming from failed Catabasis attempts, as Krewes attempted to challenge the very nature of the Underworld and its gods, only to miserably fail. As such, one would expected that the solace provided by the Dominions would be at odds with the will of the Chthonic Gods- but it does not seems to be the case. Instead, the Kerberoi seems to have either power or authority over the Reapers, as it is mentioned that when someone breaks the Old Laws, the Hellhounds send those ghosts after the "criminals" to be punished for their sins.

    So- what is going on?

    While we are only at the very beginning of the Kickstarter, and there is much yet to be seen (such as the part of the preview which actually includes the sections about the Kerberoi), I think I have a theory for the exact connection between the Underworld and its Laws- which is, in one word, Catabasis. While the preview says that there is no record for a successful Catabasis attempt, it doesn't mean it didn't actually happened, only that if it happened it was so long ago, that no one actually remembers. Also, as we know from Sundered World, the nature of the Underworld was really different in the old days, until something changed it and caused the water to recess- which sounds a lot like what a Catabasis should do. We also know that as long as the Ocean filled the whole Underworld, there weren't any Dominions (as nothing seems to survive the touch of the Ocean bu the Chthonians, and they don't really count). So, what if the outcome of either the first Catabasis (which caused the water to recess) or perhaps of a second one (which caused the formation of the Dominions and the Laws afterward- even though Occam's Razor demands simplicity, and having only one such world changing event to explain the phenomenon), was the establishment of the Laws as a form of giving solace to the dead? That is, if we were to consider the single Catabasis scenario, those who preformed the act has demanded from the Bellow that ghosts would have a safe place inside the Underworld, but had to balance it out by using the Old Laws to limit the effect of the event, for the Chthonic Gods were still powerful enough to enforce their will upon that ancient "bargain"?

    (of course, there is a much simpler theory that if the Dominions are the outcomes of "failed Catabasis attempts", the Old Laws simply define how the Underworld of the fallen Krewe should have looked like, making any such Dominion into miniature Underworld which is metaphysically separate from the rest f the Bellow, granting some protection to the dead as long as they act according to what the Underworld should have looked like, if it was successful. Some sort of a ghost of an Underworld which was never born. It still doesn't explain the connection between the Reapers and the Hounds, however).

    So- what do you think?


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  • #2
    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
    (of course, there is a much simpler theory that if the Dominions are the outcomes of "failed Catabasis attempts", the Old Laws simply define how the Underworld of the fallen Krewe should have looked like, making any such Dominion into miniature Underworld which is metaphysically separate from the rest f the Bellow, granting some protection to the dead as long as they act according to what the Underworld should have looked like, if it was successful. Some sort of a ghost of an Underworld which was never born. It still doesn't explain the connection between the Reapers and the Hounds, however).

    So- what do you think?
    If Dead Dominions are almost-Catabasis-Underworlds, then the Kerberoi of such would have control over the Reapers, since Reapers serve the "Cthonic Gods" - and in the Dead Dominion, the Kerberoi are the Cthonic Gods (even if that doesn't hold sway outside the Dominion's borders).

    Related, Dominions last by whatever mechanism allows them to exist against the greater pull of the remaining Underworld/Ocean of Fragments. When that runs out/fails, then "reality" reasserts itself and the Dominion collapses.

    Maybe?
    Last edited by Vent0; 07-07-2018, 06:09 PM.


    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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    • #3
      Dominions as mini-Underworlds, and Kerberoi having a form of state immunity within them, giving them sovereignty over Reapers within the bounds of the Dominion’s “state actions,” do seem a fine theory.


      MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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      • #4
        Is it worth considering the literal meaning of the word 'catabasis': A descent or downwards movement, or the decline of a disease.

        EDIT: This seems to imply, to me, that catabasis is either a method of 'curing' the Underworld in some fashion - not completely, but somewhat - or is named for such in-universe, or else it somehow forces the 'base' of the Underworld (that is, the Ocean of Fragments) 'downwards'. This would seem to fit with LostLight 's theory regarding whatever happened between the modern day and the Sundered World.
        Last edited by ajf115; 07-08-2018, 07:25 AM.


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        • #5
          Fun fact: the Ocean of Figments has a Hound of it's own: Leviathan. It enforces Old Laws.

          This strikes me an odditity. Should not the deepest part of the Underworld be controlled by it's natives? But a Kerberoi, even an ancient monsterous one is not a Chthonian. Heck, the whole idea of Old Laws was to tie them to a Dominion.

          And that name bothers me. Under whose Dominion?


          Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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          • #6
            Cabeiros, to me, hinted that this might be at least a portion of the birth of Kerberoi. Force feeding Geists even more Dead River water.

            Consider:
            - Drinking from the river over time causes ghost's identities to slowly be replaced with the underworld itself becoming a Geist (becoming less human and more a mini-corpse-god.)
            - Some Geists can bind themselves to new-ghosts at a specific period of time to stitch the ghost and itself into the old body (emphasis on the word stitch).
            - When Geists die, they leave behind a DeathMask (essentially only the human part parishes and the mask is the congealed and concentrated piece of the Underworld that the Geist took upon its birth)
            - Ghosts putting on Deathmasks gain the powers of the dead Geist, but are overwhelmed to do the bidding of the Underworld (which makes sense if they are wearing concentrated forms of the Underworld and are not strong enough to have their own will like Geists presumably do).
            - Kerberoi are described as strange amalgamation creatures and can command reapers.

            Then my assumption: Force feeding a stitched together Bound Geists more Underworld River water just places more of the underworld into not just the geist but both halves of the Bound. They'd become even more horrifying and underworld like, and might even fuse even more together than they already are (like a Kerberoi amalgamation). Being essentially Uber-Geister they'd likely be able to command Reapers which are just Geist but with less human intent.


            I'd bet you that killing a Kerberos leaves behind a mask too.



            Frequent Story Teller for the Circle of Five gaming group.

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