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Fallen reflections of the Supernal Realms

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    Like I said, Heaven. If Hell is isolation from the God-Machine's influence, then Heaven would be the opposite, the heart and soul of the God-Machine.

    All that said: my current view is that none of the major Realms that we've been introduced to are Fallen reflections of the Supernal Realms. You have Realms that resonate on the whole with one symbol-set more than another (finding places in the Underworld where the Stygian symbols are especially prevalent is really easy); but they aren't in and of themselves reflections of the Supernal World.

    Which is not to say that Fallen Reflections of the Supernal World don't exist; they absolutely do. Only, they're not called Reflections; they're called Emanations. And they're detailed in Signs of Sorcery.
    I disagree. Even if they arose independently their similarities demand an explanation. Especially the Arcadias.


    • #17
      To the extent that there are similarities, it isn't because Changeling's Arcadia is the Fallen reflection of Supernal Arcadia; that argument is countered by the fact that we have bona fide “Fallen reflections of Arcadia”, in the form of Arcadian Emanations; and they are not Changeling's Arcadia. This can be demonstrated by the fact that you can find (Supernal) Arcadian Verges in (Changeling) Arcadia, as well as Pandemonium Verges, Stygian Verges, Aetherian Verges, and Primal Wild Verges; but most of (Changeling) Arcadia won't be any kind of Verge. And if a Gentry or Huntsman or Hobgoblin finds a (Supernal) Arcadian Verge and encounters its natives, they will quickly come to realize that said natives are not Gentry or Huntsmen or Hobgoblins; they're something else.


      • #18
        Arcadia, the Shadow and the Underworld are only drawing from one of the two ruling Arcana from their associated Supernal Realms, and are generally quite lacking in the other. There is very little of Life in the Shadow; mostly just instincts and prey/predator behaviours. And there is absolutely nothing of Matter in the Underworld, barring exceptional circumstances. Arcadia does have Time, but as far as I can remember, the Durances of changelings do progress in a mostly linear fashion. Sometimes time passes faster or slower than in the material world but still forward, which is decidedly different from Awakenings to Supernal Arcadia which can displace you both forwards and backwards in time as well as into new timelines.

        If the various realms of the Fallen World are supposed to reflect off of specific Supernal Realms, then they're pretty poor mirrors, generally only catching parts of their wholes.

        Bloodline: The Stygians
        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
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        • #19
          I agree that these places are not specifically, cosmologically reflective of the Supernal any more than anywhere else is (in a sense everything is, but in a more accurate sense, some things resonate more in some Supernal realms than others, and some have little relevance to anything interesting). So I don't think that there is an Arcadia of the Aether. There's just places which resonate more with the Aether. Arcadia is part of the Fallen World, as is the Hisil, Underworld etc. These places are not easily defined, and may not exist in a particular chronicle, or may be different, or more conceptual.

          As I get older I enjoy the idea that one should be less interested in codifying a laid out cosmology for the CofD which includes every piece of published material. Beasts might not exist in your Mage game, the Awakened Mages might not exist in your Werewolf game. It all should be considered on much more woolly, mysterious terms IMO.


          • #20
            I remember that someone on came up with a similiar concept back in 2011, when he decided to do a nwod/owod reimagining.

            Here is how he had put it:

            The world has five “Shadow Realms”, dark reflections that lead into terrifying alternate realities. Each of these Shadow Realms seems intimately connected with one or another form of Supernatural creature.

            The Empyrean – the Empyrean Shadow Realm is the source of Qashmallim angels, terrifying creatures of fire and Will that sometimes manifest in our reality. It is probably impossible for mortals to enter the Empyrean, and almost certainly impossible for them to survive it if they did. Everything within the Empyrean, including the Qashmallim, is made of a Divine Fire called Pyros.

            Faerie – The second Shadow Realm is a bright and mysterious reflection of our world overgrown with sharp thorn-bushes and strange plants and animals. It is the road to Faerie, a dark and twisted realm where the most horrifying of fairy-tales come true. Human beings have been abducted and returned by creatures from Faerie since the beginning of recorded history, to unknown ends. Ephemera that reside in the hedge are called Hobgoblins or Faeries, depending on their power. Everything in Faerie is made of strands of woven “false fate” called Glamour.

            The Astral Realms – The Astral Realms are the easiest Shadow Realm to enter – simply fall asleep and begin dreaming. The Astral Realms are split into multiple “layers”, which require more and more effort to surmount. The first layer, the Oneiros, is created by a sleeping person's own subconscious as they dream. It can be very difficult to pierce the bubble of the Oneiros, but if one accomplishes it, they find themselves in the Temenos – the Collective Unconscious of mankind. Within the Temenos, a dreamer may “dream-walk” through the bubbles of other sleeping Oneira, and even attempt to enter them and share dreams with another person. Or, he may plumb the depths of human consciousness to uncover long-lost secrets and mysteries. Beyond the Temenos lies the Dreamtime, the collective dreaming shadow of the entire biosphere. Only deep religious and shamanistic practices can prepare one for the trip into Dreamtime, which follows rules all of its own. Everything within the Astral Realms is made of the deepest desires and fantasies of humanity, a substance called Passion which takes solid form within the Dreaming.

            The Spirit World – the fourth Shadow Realm is called the Spirit World, where reflections of plants, animals and human concepts fight and struggle for dominance. Spirits are strange and alien things, which exist primarily to further the concepts that they represent. It is theorized that some spirits – especially those of more esoteric or artificial concepts – are echoes from the Dreamtime, while others – the spirits of animals, plants, and natural elements – are wholly native to the Spirit World. Everything within the Spirit World is constructed of an ephemeral substance called Essence, which is the defining life-force of everything.

            Twilight – the last Shadow Realm is called the Twilight, a dark reflection of the material world filled with restless ghosts. Deep below the Twilight is the Underworld, a dark, twisted maze of catacombs where ghosts who have “moved on” linger until their energies finally dissipate. The ephemera within the Underworld are called ghosts if they are the remnants of once-living beings, or Cthonians if they seem to be native ephemeral concepts of death and decay. Everything within the Underworld, including the Ghosts and Cthonians, is crafted from a substance called Plasm, which is the slick, cold manifestation of congealed memory and regret.

            The Gauntlet – Finally, there is a sixth place, which is not so much a place as a border. It is called the Gauntlet, and is the skein that separates the five Shadow Realms from our own world. Ephemeral beings that “cross over” from their world must pass through the Gauntlet to do so, and if they do not have enough power to fully pass through and Manifest, they reside instead in a halfway state called “Immaterial”. Unless otherwise specified, Immaterial Beings are invisible both to their native Shadow Realm and to the physical world without some form of supernatural vision. Supernatural powers which grant sight into the Gauntlet itself reveal a world of blurred shadows, where all five Shadow Realms appear hazy and out-of-focus, as if made of smoke.
            And he further refined it here:

            The Supernal Realms
            Awakened Scholars debate whether each of the Supernal “Realms” is even a Realm at all. The Illuminati speak of Atlantis and the Five Supernal Realms as if they were a physical place, while the Free Council speaks of the “Five Supernal Principles”. Nevertheless, each Supernal Realm or Principle has two “echoes”, called the Shadow Realms and the Abyssal Realms. Some mages conceive of the Supernal Principles as lights shining down on the Fallen World, with the Shadow Realms being the shadowy “outlines” of the Fallen World cast by each light, and the Abyssal Realms being the darkness where the Fallen World blocks all Supernal light. Each of the Shadow Realms may be reached through their respective Supernal Arcana. Reaching the Abyssal Realms requires traveling through the corresponding Shadow Realm. Somewhere within each Abyssal Realm might be a path into the Supernal, for those brave or foolish enough to risk it.

            The Aether – The Aether is called the Principle of Creation, and is the Supernal Source of Prime. the Shadow Realm of the Aether is called “the Empyrean”, a shining realm of holy fire and fierce, zealous and unforgiving angels. Deep within the Empyrean is the Throne, a proud Abyssal reflection of the Supernal Aether where the Exarchs of Atlantis play their mad games with reality.

            Arcadia – Arcadia is called the Principle of Story, and is the Supernal Source of Fate. The Shadow Realm of Arcadia is called “the Hedge” by the Changelings. Travel through the Hedge is dangerous, as abyssal-tainted Gulmothi of Fate, which Changelings call “the Others”, “the Gentry”, or “the True Fae”, scour the land searching for mortals and Mages alike, hungry for their souls. Deep within the Hedge is Faerie itself, a dark Abyssal reflection of Supernal Arcadia where the Others live and play their games of Fate and Story. Details on the Hedge can be found within Changeling: the Lost, while Faerie itself is described within Equinox Road.

            Pandaemonium – Pandaemonium is called the Principle of Comprehension, and is the Supernal Source of Mind. The Shadow Realm of Pandaemonium is called “the Astral Realm”, a primal reflection of humanity's collective unconscious. Deep within the Dreamtime of the Astral is the collective dark thoughts and twisted desires of Humanity, a realm of pain and suffering called the Inferno where twisted Demons plot to corrupt man's mortal soul. Details on the Astral Realms can be found in Astral Realms, while the Inferno itself is covered in World of Darkness: Inferno.

            Gaia – Gaia is called the Principle of Essence, and is the Supernal Source of Spirit. The Shadow Realm of Gaia is called “the Spirit World”, the land of ephemeral nature spirits. The Spirit World, often merely called “the Shadow” because it is the easiest and most accessible of the Shadow Realms, is traveled by spirits of all types, incarnations of the world's primal nature. Deep within the Shadow is the Outer Darkness, an Abyssal reflection of the Primal Wild where creatures beyond mortal ken stalk the Abyss, seeking entry to our reality. The Spirit World is covered more thoroughly in Werewolf: the Forsaken. For dealing with the Outer Darkness itself, use Intruders: Encounters with the Abyss.

            Stygia – Stygia is called the Principle of Stasis, and is the Supernal Source of Death. The Shadow Realm of Stygia is called “the Twilight”, a dark reflection of the material world filled with restless ghosts. Deep below the Twilight is the Underworld, a dark, twisted Abyssal reflection of Supernal Stygia where the most horrifying of Spectres live in mutual torment and insanity amidst beings called “Cthonians”, the Gulmothi of Death. The Underworld is detailed in Geist: the Sin Eaters.
            His reasoning is pretty interesting:
            And that right there is the key to answering your prior question. There ultimately is no distinction between Mind, Fate, Spirit, Death, or Prime, in exactly the same way that there ultimately is no difference between Space, Time, Life, Matter, and Forces. We've got a dualist world (maybe) with two kinds of substance and two kinds of extension, but ultimately we have different kinds of manifestations of those substances and extensions.

            Saying that Mind and Spirit and Soul seem too similar is essentially one of those E=mc^2 realizations. Of course they're the same thing, in the same way that Life is just made out of Matter, which is made out of Forces, which is just fields in Space-Time.

            The lines aren't drawn in reality; they're drawn in the human Mind. Incidentally, that's why Mind and Space are seen as reflections of each other - Mind is the thing that perceives distinctions and similarities, while Space is the thing that defines separations and regions.

            I don't want to go all Sapir-Worf here, but you're basically complaining about how people use language. Sure, there are no primary colors called "red", "yellow" and "blue". Heck, if you look at the whole EM spectrum, there's no "primary" colors at all - just a continuous variation of frequencies. And there's no fundamental "reality" to color spectrums like RGB or CMYK or Pantone. But if I'm a graphic designer, I don't want a goddamn physics lesson; I want to communicate with my customer so I know what color of cornflower blue they want their logo. And neither "cornflower blue" nor "logo" exist; I could say "only the photon-emitting diodes on my monitor exist", but even that's bunk. All that exists is a bunch of fields in Hilbert space, but that doesn't get me paid, now does it?
            Since we have "everyday stuff", let's talk about what it is. Space, Time, Forces, Matter, and Life are a natural way that people divide up the world. They certainly aren't the only way, but if you tell someone "ok, in this game there's five categories of things, and they're called Space, Time, Forces, Matter and Life", people are going to be able to get on board. Heck, in another game you could call your five things "Earth, Water, Wood, Air and Fire" and people would be on board. You'd get different collections of effects, but generally people would get where you were going with stuff, you know? (well, maybe not that one guy that says "if you have Wood you're using the chinese system, and you should replace Air with Metal", but that same guy would say "Metal isn't really different than Earth, this is dumb" if you went the other way - because there's just no pleasing some people. So screw him.)

            So, if Life is just a particular way that Matter behaves in certain circumstances, why have a separation? and if Matter is just a particular way that Forces behave in certain circumstances, why have a separation? And if Forces are just a particular way that Space behave in certain circumstances, why have a separation? And why those separations?

            This is a question that oMage and nMage struggled with, and definitely one that needs to be answered.

            My favorite answer is the Robert Anton Wilson cop-out: "these aren't lines in the universe, these are lines in our head." The Arcana are simply cultural lines drawn by a particular hegemony, and most mages don't question them because they're too busy doing magic. Certainly, there are constraints that are imposed by accepting any dogma, but those constraints are preferrable (to most Mages that even care) to dancing with full-blown Paradox. At the very bottom, Mage is about people for whom "philosophy of science" issues carry ontological weight.

            So, the distinction between Space/Time/Forces/Matter/Life may very well be arbitrary. Certainly, in my universe the Free Council would argue that it is, and they've likely produced all sorts of fascinating results that confirm it. And I'd have no problem supporting that in-game - simply allowing any effect to be attempted free-form, even without any Arcana at all, as sort of a "wishing game" with a particularly sadistic genie. In which case the Arcana don't exist to allow magic, they exist to constrain magic, and keep undisciplined minds from just burbling off horrible reality-breaking effects when they get bored.

            Anyway, we have five "gross Arcana", because five is a neat number and it's easy for people to keep track of and there's all sorts of mystical connotations and the Discordians are happy. Now we have to define what they do.

            "Space" manipulates the separations and relations between different physical entities. It convinces the universe that physical entities are closer together or further apart, or that things are or aren't able to affect each other. The point of realization for Space magic is that all lines are arbitrary.

            "Time" manipulates the rate at which physical entities change, and the separations and relations between different configurations (or "moments" or "events") of the same physical entity.

            "Forces" manipulates the causal interactions between physical entities. By definition, if a physical entity's pattern of change through space-time is distinguishable between time T and time T+n, then somewhere between T and T+n a "force" acted upon it.

            "Matter" manipulates the actual "substance" of the physical universe. It directly affects the physical entities themselves, rather than the processes that affect them.

            "Life" manipulates the relationship between the physical world and the non-physical. Specifically, it manipulates those processes that are complex enough to create homeostatic patterns of Matter, Forces, Space and Time, that are coherent enough to acquire autoteleological properties. Yes, this means that a sufficiently advanced self-replicating robot could be affected with Life magic, even if it wasn't made out of meat. Heck, this means that computer viruses might be affectable by Life magic, if you could figure out how to target them.

            Once we accept those distinctions, we can talk about the Supernal Arcana. The whole Atlantis orthodoxy says that the subtle Arcana are the "real" ones, and the gross Arcana are the inferior "reflections". More pragmatic realists might argue the opposite - that the gross Arcana are verifiably "real", while the subtle Arcana simply supervene on them. The game itself doesn't really have to take a stance on that debate; it just has to acknowledge that each gross Arcanum has a subtle "reflection", and then make sure that those reflections hold up. (remember, my goal is to recycle as much as possible from both WoDs, and still make it coherent.)

            So, if Space is the study of the separation between things, what does its subtle reflection look like? "Meta-space" would need to be something that hacks at perceptions, identities, and distinctions in concept. Space draws and erases the lines on the physical grid; "Meta-space" needs to draw and erase the lines on the mental grid. So Mind is specifically about hacking beliefs, perceptions, ideas, and understandings, but not necessarily wants or desires. I don't have too much trouble calling that "Mind". By these rules, Mind can convince you that something is desirable in the abstract, but it can't make you actually want it. But in the same sense that if I use Matter magic to convert a nail at the bottom of the swimming pool into sodium, it's going to explode whether or not I use Forces, using Mind to convince someone that Bob Sagat is the sexiest person they've ever seen is probably going to make them feel funny watching Full House reruns.

            Also, in the same sense that all gross effects and phenomena ultimately inherit from fields in Space, all subtle effects and phenomena ultimately evoke from ideas in Mind. A "rock" is just a particular quality of a given configuration in spacetime; similarly, a "ghost" is just a particular quality of a given perception in my worldview.

            The next parallel is Fate / Time. Time is the separation of changes-of-state in a particular perceptual direction that we call "past/future"; "Meta-time" is our perception that these changes have teleological significance. Calling this "Fate" or "Entropy" depends on how much romanticism you want the name to evoke. Ultimately, Fate is Entropy - both in the thermodynamic and the Shannon information-theory senses of the term. Fate relies on distinguishabilities and definitions to actually exist at all; it's an attempt to grasp at Time and "events" in a human-comprehensible way.

            Then we have Forces. Whatever "Meta-Forces" is, it needs to operate on the realm of ideas and qualia in the same way that "Forces" operates on the realm of physical objects. So while Fate mucks with teleological directions, "Meta-Forces" needs to muck with causality itself. It needs to be some sort of essential Prime Mover.

            Next, we have Matter. "Meta-matter" needs to operate on the composition and configuration of ideas and identities, in the same way that Matter operates on the composition and configuration of physical objects. Note that Mind is operating on the relationships between ideas; this Arcanum is operating on the ideas themselves. There's a bunch of different interpretations of this, but the one that is easiest to fit into our "recycle everything" goal is to say that this sphere operates on the essential "isness" of things, independent of their physical existence or place in spacetime. Hence, souls and ghosts. When a thing is destroyed, when the Matter is stripped away from it, what is left that still makes it up?

            Finally, there's Life. Life is the "bridge" between the gross Arcana and the subtle Arcana; therefore, 'meta-Life' should be the other half of that bridge, going down. It's essentially the animating essence that causes the physical world and the non-physical world to interact at all. On one side, "meta-Life" is the Arcanum of wants and desires. On the other, it's the Arcanum of qualia and actual in-the-moment consciousness, separated from awareness of any particular thing.
            Last edited by ryu238; 01-15-2021, 09:19 PM.


            • #21
              I should think that in Second Edition, the depiction of how the Supernal underlies absolutely everything as apparent under Mage Sight, combined with the very clear delineation between what is and is not Supernal by way of what Dissonance affects, should have deprived the idea of "Fallen reflections" of what little traction it ever had.

              Oh, also the stronger idea given to how discrete Supernal Realms are kind of a momentary imposition of the Watchtowers and framing device of the Paths to render the Supernal comprehensible to unAscended minds.

              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
              Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.