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Dark Eras - The Fall of Fenris

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  • Acrozatarim
    started a topic Dark Eras - The Fall of Fenris

    Dark Eras - The Fall of Fenris

    The Wolf and the Raven is a great Dark Era. There’s a bit of the setting that I want to play around with a bit more – something that doesn’t necessarily quite fit into the official Dark Era, but is the sort of thing I’m a real sucker for. I’m talking about bringing Fenris front and centre.

    TW&TR touches on the link between Fenris-Ur and the Fenris of Norse myth. It’s one of those things that’s always fascinated me. We have the Firstborn, all archetypes of concepts but not directly linked to real-world mythological figures – and then we have Fenris, standing separate. What I’d love to do in a Forsaken Viking-era chronicle is play that up to the max. So, here it is – a summary of how I’d do that, along with some antagonist stats because hey, why not.

    The Fall of Fenris
    It’s not down to chance that Fenris-Ur appears in the religious stories of the Scandinavians. Destroyer Wolf’s large role in the myth cycle of the giants, gods and Ragnarok isn’t a result of a breach of the Oath of the Moon, of some unruly Uratha spilling secrets to humans – it’s because it is based on real events, real and recent. Right now, in this era of reavers and the clash of religions, Fenris is in trouble. Fenris is in chains.

    Something dark dwelt in the northern reaches, where the numbers of humanity dwindle to a bare few before the cruel grasp of the cold seasons. Something dark took its prey from amongst those hardy folks, in the days when Rome was still a shining jewel and the heart of a powerful empire. It made more like itself. By the current day, with Rome a fallen polity and raiders on the seas, it is the bloated heart of a court of shuddering, groaning horrors. The people of the north rarely see these abominations, but those sightings are the root of the stories of jotnar that they tell amongst themselves.

    The Uratha of the north fought the jotnar, where they could. The jotnar captured Uratha, where they could. What they did to the children of Wolf and Moon was horrific, almost unthinkable. The People petitioned their greatest patrons for aid against the terrors, and Fenris’ wrath stirred. The Destroyer came forth from the deep, distant Shadow and, with eyes of flame and jaws of vengeance, set about the brood. Yet the jotnar had planned for this, hoped for this, because their sire had long nursed a grudge of its own against the Destroyer. They trapped Fenris in impossible chains and, now, the roaring and thrashing wolf tears great gouges in a Shadow-prison. Too strong to be slain easily, the Destroyer nonetheless weakens as the jotnar work dark rites to sap Fenris’ fury.

    The Uratha and Fenris
    Fenris may be bound, but he is not dead. His Blood Talons, incensed and maddened, would free him if they knew how; yet the Shadow-strongholds of the jotnar are said to be impregnable, and many of the People have died – or worse – at the hands of the giants. The other Tribes watch, fearful of what will happen next. Their own great totems hold back from vengeance, for they have not known such power as might entrap a Firstborn since the times before the Sundering broke the world.

    All is not lost. The Blood Talons gather allies, where they can. They pile high treasure-hoards of fetishes and talens in preparation for a battle that will shake the world – a battle that the humans have caught some vague notion of, and mistakenly woven myths of Ragnarok around. The priests of the Suthar Anzuth have divined a further tool to exploit – the very nature of their totem. Fenris is the Destroyer. Chained, he cannot act in accordance with his essence, but he shares a bond with his Tribal followers. Thus do the Cahalith of the Talons sing songs and tell tales stirring their kindred to action, to hunt and reave and destroy not just amongst the Scandinavians but further afield. Thus do the Blood Talons take to the seas and raid and kill and plunder – not for profit or glory but to feed Fenris. Each Talon who sails to far shores and slaughters with axe or claw gives Fenris strength. Each warrior of the wolf who kills an Uratha on a raid renews Fenris’ power and weakens the hold of the eldritch manacles that bind him.

    The Uratha of the north join with the humans on their raids and fight their kindred in other lands not out of pride or greed but because these acts are a sacrament, a holy offering. If enough blood flows, enough fires rage, then Fenris will be unbound and the jotnar will be destroyed.

    The Jotnar
    At first, the Uratha thought the tales of giants in the north to be mere fancies, or perhaps errant spirits briefly crossing into the realm of Flesh. They soon enough discovered the true nature of the horrors of the mountains. The jotnar are Hive-Claimed; they are shuddering hulks infested with gibbering parliaments of spirits, their flesh twisted and reworked into colossal form. The giants can walk between worlds with ease, have mastery of dark rites and are possessed of immense strength. They can devour wild beasts, but prefer to steal away humans to grind their bones into flour and eat their viscera. Their ravenous hunger extends to spirits; the northern Shadow has stretches of wasteland, scoured of Essence to feed the maw of the jotnar brood. The jotnar die only to violence, not age nor disease nor infirmity.

    The eldest of the giants, Ymir, made this abominable clan. How Ymir came to be is lost to memory, even amongst the surviving spirits of the north – and certainly Ymir himself. He is a cacophony of spirits of stone and mountain, ice and fire, all poured into one unstable vessel of incredible age. Craving children, of a kind, he made more Hive-Claimed through diabolical rites. In time, his children themselves sought children, and the brood grew as fat and bloated in numbers as their bodies were. It was inevitable they would clash with other powers. Their hunger cannot be contained nor limited.

    Ymir seems to bear deep and ancient loathing for Fenris, though even the Blood Talons do not know the reasons why. Regardless, Ymir prepared well to bring down his nemesis. He welcomed spirits of the void into his frozen waste, gathering errant intruders that had slipped past the Warden Moon’s stride; he enslaved things of thorn and madness that foolishly blundered into his path; he used up entire villages in bloody sorcery to imprison nightmare beasts. From this mad, capering court that he assembled, the jotnar worked with their allies and captives to weave the only chains that could ever catch and hold Fenris.

    Hrimthursar
    Attributes Intelligence 3 Wits 4 Resolve 3 Strength 12 Dexterity 3 Stamina 17 Presence 7 Manipulation 1 Composure 3
    Notable Skills Occult 4 Athletics 3 Brawl 4 Weaponry 4 Intimidation 5
    Merits Iron Stamina 3
    Willpower 6
    Essence 40
    Size 9
    Health 26
    Initiative 6
    Defence 6
    Speed 24
    Influences Ice 3, Wind 3
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 3, Earth Elemental, Juggernaut, Monstrous Resilience, Regenerate 3
    Ban: Some hrimthursar cannot willingly leave the mountains, or can only walk across snowy ground, or must fall into hibernation if exposed to temperatures above freezing.
    Bane: Charred wood from a fire which saved a human from freezing to death.
    Frost Breath: By spending 1 Essence, a hrimthursar can subject its immediate surroundings to the Extreme Cold Environmental Tilt
    Frozen Blood: When a hrimthursar touches a mortal or mundane beast, it may spend 1 Essence to immediately kill them and freeze them solid; the victim may resist with a success on a Stamina check with a -5 penalty.
    Frozen Colossus: By shattering a victim of frozen blood with an instant action, a hrimthursar may add their flesh and blood to the ice that clings to its hulking body. Each victim added in this way adds 1 point of armour, up to a maximum of 5 points added in this way. Every hit that inflicts damage on the hrimthursar causes this additional armour to be reduced by 1 point, and immediately spawns a rank 2 spirit of blood or ice from the frozen gore that cascades off the giant; this spirit exists for no more than a few minutes, and is subserviant to the giant.


    Eldjotnar
    Attributes Intelligence 4 Wits 7 Resolve 5 Strength 9 Dexterity 9 Stamina 13 Presence 7 Manipulation 3 Composure 1
    Notable Skills Occult 4 Athletics 5 Brawl 4 Weaponry 4 Intimidation 5
    Merits Iron Stamina 3
    Willpower 6
    Essence 40
    Size 9
    Health 22
    Initiative 10
    Defence 12
    Speed 27
    Influences Fire 3, Smoke 3
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 1, Fire Elemental, Juggernaut, Monstrous Resilience, Regenerate 3, Swift
    Ban: Some eldjotnar are weakened if they travel too far from a natural source of heat, or must build shrines from the charred bones of their victims, or can be sung to sleep by human lullabies.
    Bane: Water collected from rain that fell upon a burning building or forest.
    Ashen Breath: Perception rolls and ranged attacks made in the immediate vicinity of the eldjotnar suffer a -3 penalty; eldjotnar are unaffected by the swirling cloud of smoke.
    Immolate: When an eldjotnar inflicts damage with a melee attack, it may spend 1 Essence to inflict the Arm Wrack or Leg Wrack Tilts to the victim.
    Bonefire Stride: An eldjotnar may use the Reality Stutter Dread Power, but only to the location of a mortal it can see. If the mortal does not suceed at a Stamina check with a -5 penalty, they perish in a brief moment of agony as they incinerate from within, the giant emerging from the ash and embers of their carcass.

    The Wolves of Hel
    Something more disturbing than Hive-Claimed cavorts amidst the mad court of the jotnar. The fate of Uratha captured by Ymir’s children is horrific, for they are subjected to rites that turn them into utter monstrosities.

    The Uratha do not understand how these wolf-monsters are made, but the truth is that Ymir and his sorcerer-giants alone are not capable of working this blasphemy. One of Ymir’s greatest allies is an elder Uratha, seen as a traitor to her own kind – an old predator called Hel, outcast of the Tribes and loathed for her crimes. Hel worships darker and greater powers than even Ymir, the Maeljin themselves, and it is their corrupting, flesh-twisting secrets that she uses to make her own blighted wolf-servants.

    A wolf of Hel is an immense monster, a hound worthy of its giant masters. Its flesh is caught in various states of transformation, and occasionally shifts and changes regardless of the wolf’s will – human, screaming faces sprout from furred flanks, or twitching arms push out of its meat, or bones burst out at strange angles, or mouths of fangs ripple open and gnash and drool and snarl with anger regardless of their placement on its body. Charred, blackened runes in some twisted version of the First Tongue are seared into it, a binding mantra of command and dominance. Globules of liquid fire sometimes drip from the wolf’s eyes, circling around its head in a dimming halo that cools into droplets of black and tarry spiritual poison.

    All that was the Uratha that made a wolf of Hel, all that was thought and glory and prowess – that is all gone. Yet Hel’s creations are not just agonised beasts. They are hateful things, capable of stealing the skins of mortals to briefly walk amongst them as mad-eyed lunatics - scouting out human settlements while hunting for Uratha. They can't hold up the semblance for long, falling into violence and depravity at the slightest provocations and revealing their true natures. Such a possibility horrifies and terrifies the Uratha. They see what they may become, if they fall into the grasp of the jotnar.

    Wolf of Hel
    Attributes Intelligence 1 Wits 5 Resolve 4 Strength 10 Dexterity 7 Stamina 12 Presence 6 Manipulation 1 Composure 1
    Notable Skills Athletics 5 Brawl 5
    Willpower 5
    Essence 20
    Size 8
    Health 20
    Initiative 8
    Defence 10
    Speed 55
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 2, Hunter's Senses (Uratha), Monstrous Resilience, Natural Weapons 3, Regenerate 5, Skin-Taker, Toxic Bite 2
    Warped Flesh: A Wolf of Hel possesses five points of physical attributes that it can reassign between Strength, Dexterity and Stamina each round. It can also manifest the Quicksilver Flesh Facet for free.
    Vice Cauldron: Characters with a Vice gain twice the usual Willpower rewards whenever they indulge it while within 5 miles of a Wolf of Hel.

    The Chains of Fenris
    There is one other way that Fenris might be freed, a way other than bloody war with the jotnar or feeding the Destroyer with a century of carnage and destruction. The chains that bind Fenris are too strong for him to break – but Fenris is not Uratha. Fenris does not have the fusion of Wolf and Moon that roils together in the flesh and soul of a werewolf. Fenris is a god, yet the People can reach farther than he.

    Were a bold, cunning, clever pack to make their way to the court of the jotnar, they might convince or trick the sorcerer-giants into adding them to the bindings that hold Fenris, or briefly offering the god a reprieve if the champions take their place, or perhaps simply challenge and mock the craftsmanship of the giants and their allies and demand the Uratha be allowed to test the manacles’ strength.

    The chains are unbreakable, impossible, strong enough to tether a god.

    The Unchained Facet of the Gift of Strength will immediately shatter them.

  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Originally posted by Acrozatarim View Post
    With the advent of the Storyteller's Vault, it's on my list of Things To Do, but obviously if you want to explore ideas for use in your games then I'm not going to stop you!

    Well, no... I mean you have more important things to do--such as drinking tea--rather than pop down my chimney shouting "'Allo 'allo here, that's not how Fenris Falls! And that NPC--total bollock! Bad cricket all around! No GM biscuit for you, sir!"

    Ehem. That said, I sketch-plot out far in advance (years), and if I know something is eventually coming--as you've indicated may, it helps. So thanks!

    [Current plot points include back-and-forth setting jumps from the 6200BC Storegga Slide and concurrent drowning of the Doggerland (with, ehem, shining Valusia), to the creation of Hela, to the viking raids. Just don't know how it ties together, yet.]

    --Khanwulf

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  • Acrozatarim
    replied
    With the advent of the Storyteller's Vault, it's on my list of Things To Do, but obviously if you want to explore ideas for use in your games then I'm not going to stop you!

    Leave a comment:


  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Acrozatarim - Mr. Chris sir, are you perhaps intending to finish fleshing this out and release on the Storyteller's Vault or somesuch? I'm still quite interested in understanding what caused the Joten's hatred of Fenrir, back in the day (pre-Fall even) but don't want to steal thunder by picking at questions if you have a project in the works.

    Care to inform?

    --Khanwulf

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    I think for gameplay experience proto-Finnish people calling Vikings players as 'Rusi' would be enough - so calling future kingdom Rus (Ruś in Polish ) will be natural. We do not run history course, it's just Werewolf RPG in historic setting.

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  • Seidmadr
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

    Great, I needed this name for my Viking game, had problem with Norse calling themselves in what future be modern Russia. And yes, before even by called 'Rus' by the local Sami people living there. 'Nordbo' it would be then.
    The problem with the word Rus, is that is a name for sailor. Same base as to row. The people of the eastern archipelago of Sweden used this to differentiate themselves from the people who lived inland, and took that term to apply to themselves.
    The reason that is Rus-Land, Russia, is because the Rus settled there.

    In Finnish, Sweden is called Ruotsi today, because it was the Rus who first came into contact with the Finnish tribes. Oh, and that archipelago is still today called Roslagen (compared with Danelagen, the Dane Law of England).

    Names are complicated.

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  • Gullinbursti
    replied
    Nordbo is the modern term used. As mentioned before, there are actually a multitude of groups that get variously referred to as Norse or Viking in the modern era.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Originally posted by Seidmadr View Post
    The Norse themselves called themselves, collectively something that can be translated as "Northmen", and a modern term is used all throughout the North even today; Nordbo. Which means "North-living", that is, someone who lives in the North.
    Great, I needed this name for my Viking game, had problem with Norse calling themselves in what future be modern Russia. And yes, before even by called 'Rus' by the local Sami people living there. 'Nordbo' it would be then.

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  • Seidmadr
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    Nitpicking, but Norse existed long before Viking Age in year 800 AD - they were in Scandinavia at least from last great Ice Age ( circa 12 000 BCE ). Rest of Germanic people are rooting directly from Norse forefathers that left Scandinavia from circa 800 BCE till 600 BCE, with good climate. So, in reality, Norse from 6th century AD were joining Europe to reclaim what they forefathers wanted to grasp in the first place.
    Norse is just a grab-all for the tribes that lived in the North during the early middle ages.
    The actual tribes were Danes, Gutes, Geats, Swedes and Norwegians. And probably another bunch of smaller ones. The Frisians might be considered for this, and there is discussion whether or not the Jutes are a separate tribe, or they are either Danes or Gutes.

    The Norse themselves called themselves, collectively something that can be translated as "Northmen", and a modern term is used all throughout the North even today; Nordbo. Which means "North-living", that is, someone who lives in the North.

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  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
    Most? That's a bit much to say. Some of course never left the farm, but they would hear the tales and it seems quite clear from the historical and archaelogical evidence that the Scandinavian Germanic peoples traveled widely and returned--often bearing the objects they traded for, plundered, or were given.
    Okay, reading ( and quoting ) article you linked I can see that some southern groups of Norse would make longer contact with Rome and related kingdoms even in 6th century. So true revolution of Viking Age was that they founded route to Europe by sea, not on long haul of walk on your feet from North.

    'According to Jordanes (485-552) there was during the 6th century AD a federation of several Norwegian tribes under one leader, Rodulf (Hrolfr), and the tribal names mentioned are easily recognizable from (still existing) Norwegian regional names, people from the ancient tribal lands of Ranariki (“Ran´s Realm” – Østfold in Norway and Bohuslän in Sweden), Grenland, Agder, Telemark, Rogaland, Hordaland, Háleygjaland and Sami people (Granii, Augandzi, Eunixi, Taetel, Rugii, Aprochi). Apparently these warriors were “taller and wilder than the Germans” and “fought with beastly ferocity”. Rodulf traveled all the way to Ravenna in Italy and was well received by the Gothic king Theoderic. Modern archaeologists are less and less surprised by such tales, since the southern and western coast of Norway had been in contact with southern European culture and aristocratic families for a long time already. The Scandinavians who ventured out also often returned. The death of Attila in 453 resulted in the freedom of several tribes who had been subject to the Huns for centuries already. The Rugii tribe, for example, had traveled all the way from Rogaland and south-west Norway (Avaldsnes high seat) and made a little realm for themselves in “Rugiland” close to Vienna since the year 408 AD. Here they converted to Christianity, but to the heretic branch of Arianism. Together with the Herulii from Skåne in Sweden, most of them actually returned to their Scandinavian homelands after trouble with the Romans. The sources show that even after centuries abroad, the ties to the original homeland tribes were strong and thriving.'
    Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
    Let's be clear as well: Norse were a people between 800 and 1300 AD--a specific group of Germanics who were one of the last to spread themselves in excited settling throughout Europe and parts of Asia.
    Nitpicking, but Norse existed long before Viking Age in year 800 AD - they were in Scandinavia at least from last great Ice Age ( circa 12 000 BCE ). Rest of Germanic people are rooting directly from Norse forefathers that left Scandinavia from circa 800 BCE till 600 BCE, with good climate. So, in reality, Norse from 6th century AD were joining Europe to reclaim what they forefathers wanted to grasp in the first place.

    Wikipedia on Germanic people:
    'Climatic change between 850 BCE to 760 BCE in Scandinavia and "a later and more rapid one around 650 BCE might have triggered migrations to the coast of Eastern Germany and further toward the Vistula.
    The cultural phase of the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age in Europe (c. 1200–600 BCE in temperate continental areas), known in contemporary terms as the Hallstatt culture expanded from the south into this area and brought the early Germanic peoples under the influence of early Celtic (or pre Celtic) culture between 1200 BCE to 600 BCE, whereupon they began extracting bog iron from the available ore in peat bogs.'
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 05-22-2018, 12:56 PM.

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  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

    Okay, but most of Norse population simply did not know what was on South, correct? Because I do not hear any sources stating that Normans were in, for example, Rome in 4th century AD. I do not even think their are sources pointing for them to be in nearest Teutoburg Forest of Germania even. I just do not think that there will be proper Order culture - NOT Darshana cults, they spring all around us as Mage canon - but proper structure of Diamond IF there will not one or two mage 'going over horizon'. Orders are something more than one or two lone walkers in the new terrain.
    Most? That's a bit much to say. Some of course never left the farm, but they would hear the tales and it seems quite clear from the historical and archaelogical evidence that the Scandinavian Germanic peoples traveled widely and returned--often bearing the objects they traded for, plundered, or were given.

    Let's be clear as well: Norse were a people between 800 and 1300 AD--a specific group of Germanics who were one of the last to spread themselves in excited settling throughout Europe and parts of Asia. Earlier groups of Germanics were already present in these areas, often, and were either conquered or some assimilation took place. For example the Normans did not exist until a group of Norse negotiated land from the (originally Frankish, a Germanic tribe that invaded Gaul in the 5th century) king of France, and settled/defended the coast we now call Normandy.

    I'm not going to dig into JSTOR for scholarly articles. Here is a quick Google search: Scandinavia before the Viking Age – Migrations. The point is that the people of this age were much more connected than we've been led to believe, and people moved around much more than the image of peasants and serfs (which were a later social innovations accompanying feudalism) implies. Now did they move around relatively less than during the height of Rome? Hard to say--but probably: Rome was a vast engine for enterprise and the movement of goods and riches, which draws adventurers and traders like iron to a lodestone.

    Looping back to the main topic, it seems clear to me that unless the influence of Ymir and the chaining of Fenrir (in the uttermost north, I presume) was very regional, it would have been noticed and could be investigated by Mages in particular, as well as other Uratha/Pure. What of that? At the very least, once the raids started you'd have folks asking "why is this happening?"

    --Khanwulf

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  • Second Chances
    replied
    Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post

    I also say yes, and leave the radiation-mage puzzled why the hell this particular Forces Pattern he’s controlling looks like a Death Pattern, being inundated with symbols of destructive transformation, and as an extension of that why the hell it screws up nearby Life Patterns so much in ways similar to but different from Patterns of poison and disease, despite being a pure Forces Pattern.
    Obsession time! Excellent description.

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  • 21C Hermit
    replied
    Originally posted by Gullinbursti View Post

    Okay, I know that was just an offhand example, but it does make me wonder. Could an Obrimos who has never conceived of radiation actually create or control it? I mean, I guess the "symbols" or radiation would exist, but would the local mages of the time be able to understand it enough to replicate and use it?
    I also say yes, and leave the radiation-mage puzzled why the hell this particular Forces Pattern he’s controlling looks like a Death Pattern, being inundated with symbols of destructive transformation, and as an extension of that why the hell it screws up nearby Life Patterns so much in ways similar to but different from Patterns of poison and disease, despite being a pure Forces Pattern.

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  • ArcaneArts
    replied
    Originally posted by Gullinbursti View Post

    Okay, I know that was just an offhand example, but it does make me wonder. Could an Obrimos who has never conceived of radiation actually create or control it? I mean, I guess the "symbols" or radiation would exist, but would the local mages of the time be able to understand it enough to replicate and use it?
    Yes, but it would probably take some serious exploration of the Mother's Land the Anima Mundi to really get it. Still, it's important to understand that an understanding of physics is not required for magic. Mages don't fly by manipulating the laws of physics to fly, they fly because, for them, the dream of humanity flying is stronger than the reality of it. A Master of Forces may not understand what nuclear radiation is, but they can certainly feel it out enough to strike people down with it.

    Mankind's dreams tend to always be just out of grasp, at some point or another.
    Last edited by ArcaneArts; 05-22-2018, 03:45 AM.

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  • Gullinbursti
    replied
    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
    The idea that there's no major Order presence is patently absurd in a time frame where the world is demonstrably connected, and there's not going to the usual culture wars between people who literally have the power call up nuclear energy hundreds of years before Sleepers get close to it and deal with entities beyond the comprehension of any culture that nevertheless represent a common connection for mages.
    Okay, I know that was just an offhand example, but it does make me wonder. Could an Obrimos who has never conceived of radiation actually create or control it? I mean, I guess the "symbols" or radiation would exist, but would the local mages of the time be able to understand it enough to replicate and use it?

    Leave a comment:

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