Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

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Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Mon 01 Feb 2016, 23:02

Since I am not very good at being consistent with my conworlding (I am in the vicious cycle of getting excited, creating a conworld, writing about it, growing to hate it, abandoning it, getting a new idea, and so on), I have decided to create a generic scratchpad thread where I would put ideas from the various conworlds.

To start it off, a short primer on a new conworld, christened Golempunk by DesEsseintes:

Tsheke had been making golems for over twenty years now, but he found the process as captivating as when he had first started. It took time and dedication but he would do anything to keep reliving that moment of glory, of creation, of being a god.

He had been sitting in this musty room for hours now, waiting, fishing, his hands on the granite sculpture before him. The artist did her job well: you could see individual locks of hair on the figure's head. The naked body was muscular, youthful, symmetrical... and lifeless. For all the sculptor's perfection, she wasn't able to bring her creations to life, not truly. Not like Tsheke could.

He felt the spirits circling by, probing, curious. They were fish, and the sculpture was bait. He could have them bite at any time. But he wasn't some random golemmaker - he was Tsheke, the Grand Artificer. His children had to be perfect, so he bided his time. Most of his success lay in his patience.

He could barely remember how blind he used to be when he had first discovered his talent. How haphazard his process was. But enough with the idle reminiscing! It was time. He noticed something in the whirlpool of spirits. Strength, resolve, dedication - just what he was looking for. He closed his eyes, and he called with his inner voice. The spirit responded. The fish took the bait.

The stone shuddered under his fingers. It was done. Tsheke took a few steps back, and watched - alert and fascinated - as the sculpture began the transformation. The facial features deepened, the chiseled muscles flexed, the granite lids blinked. Tsheke breathed in, lightheaded. He had another child. A pity that most of his children were for sale.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 01:57

gestaltist wrote:Since I am not very good at being consistent with my conworlding (I am in the vicious cycle of getting excited, creating a conworld, writing about it, growing to hate it, abandoning it, getting a new idea, and so on), I have decided to create a generic scratchpad thread where I would put ideas from the various conworlds.
That's okay! Perhaps WotS wasn't as good a fit as perhaps you first thought. Do yourself a favor though and don't destroy the work you did on it. Bits of place and character and narrative may well find better expression in the GPW (Golempunk World).

This time around, please post more! I really missed reading about your world!
A pity that most of his children were for sale.
I like this. A lot. I'd like to read about this more in depth. You've put some feeling & some human attachment into what is, basically, an industry. Especially I like the twist on the traditional homunculus -- rather than creating a statue and imbuing it with quasi-life (via holy words or whatever) you've created statues and the maker seeks out an appropriate 'soul' or spirit to inhabit the statue. This is one of those "why didn't I think of that!" moments. I know there are such thaumic devices in The World -- well, they're actually quite commonplace, but I don't know anything about how they're mare or animated; don't know whether a kind of soul inhabits them or not. So, chapeau!

I do have the feeling this sort of thing would be Most Definitely Frowned Upon, however.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by DesEsseintes » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 04:04

I'm glad you posted this, gestaltist. [:)]

I have nothing to add, but am I the only one who wishes there was a Like button on this forum?
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 04:26

[+1]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 09:26

elemtilas wrote:Perhaps WotS wasn't as good a fit as perhaps you first thought.
We'll see. I really liked it at first. I don't want to mull over it, but I think I tried to fit too much into it. I looked at you and Micamo with your super-well developed conworlds and I wanted to have something like that. It didn't work.
Do yourself a favor though and don't destroy the work you did on it. Bits of place and character and narrative may well find better expression in the GPW (Golempunk World).
Yes, you keep telling me that. [:)] Don't worry, I don't delete anything, and I definitely reuse ideas. I have noticed I have a strong predilection toward spirit-based magic and I end up using it in almost every conworld. Golempunk is no exception.
This time around, please post more! I really missed reading about your world!
Thanks! I will do my best.
I like this. A lot. I'd like to read about this more in depth. You've put some feeling & some human attachment into what is, basically, an industry. Especially I like the twist on the traditional homunculus -- rather than creating a statue and imbuing it with quasi-life (via holy words or whatever) you've created statues and the maker seeks out an appropriate 'soul' or spirit to inhabit the statue. This is one of those "why didn't I think of that!" moments. I know there are such thaumic devices in The World -- well, they're actually quite commonplace, but I don't know anything about how they're mare or animated; don't know whether a kind of soul inhabits them or not. So, chapeau!

I do have the feeling this sort of thing would be Most Definitely Frowned Upon, however.
I'm glad you liked it. I'm rather fond of that idea myself. Golempunk is basically a world with reincarnation. Golem makers simply hack the system.
DesEsseintes wrote:I'm glad you posted this, gestaltist. [:)]

I have nothing to add, but am I the only one who wishes there was a Like button on this forum?
Thrice Xandvii wrote:[+1]
Thanks guys. Yeah, a Like button would be great. I don't think too highly of my abilities as a writer/storyteller, and with no feedback, I get discouraged quicker than I would like. So even a [+1] goes a long way in helping me fend off that inner critic. So thanks again!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:42

gestaltist wrote:Thanks! I will do my best.
Good, you do that! [:)]
I'm glad you liked it. I'm rather fond of that idea myself. Golempunk is basically a world with reincarnation. Golem makers simply hack the system.
Wait... so the spirit that he used in the above story was someone's soul before it found its way back into a human body after the last one had died!?

If so, then this universe is even cooler than I thought it was!
So thanks again!
No problem. The [+1] was super easy to click. [;)]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 15:07

gestaltist wrote:
elemtilas wrote:Perhaps WotS wasn't as good a fit as perhaps you first thought.
We'll see. I really liked it at first. I don't want to mull over it, but I think I tried to fit too much into it. I looked at you and Micamo with your super-well developed conworlds and I wanted to have something like that. It didn't work.
I see. I dunno about M, but the World has been incubating for a long time. Some of its older sediments certainly date to the early or mid 1980s; I think it might be that being well-developed is a function of time. Perhaps you were just cramming too much in without digesting what was going on? Something to keep in mind for GPW anyway.

I don't see any problem with periods of rapid development, but there do have to be balancing periods of stock taking and sorting out what the heck just happened!
Do yourself a favor though and don't destroy the work you did on it. Bits of place and character and narrative may well find better expression in the GPW (Golempunk World).
Yes, you keep telling me that. [:)] Don't worry, I don't delete anything, and I definitely reuse ideas. I have noticed I have a strong predilection toward spirit-based magic and I end up using it in almost every conworld. Golempunk is no exception.
Well, I don't mean it mean it to sound like an order or anything! Just warning from personal experience -- there are things about the World now irretrievably lost due to having been accidentally or purposefully thrown away. Some of those losses are now regretted.

Also, every great artist recycles. Of course, in our modern hyperlegalised society we'd probably call it plagiarism or something, the fact remains. They recycle their own ideas; they recycle the ideas of others. Either way, they give it a new twist (like you did by combining reincarnation & golems). If there is something you really liked about WotS -- a person, a place or something like that -- perhaps it could be fit very nicely into GPW?

Golem makers simply hack the system.
[B)]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 15:13

Thrice Xandvii wrote:
gestaltist wrote:Wait... so the spirit that he used in the above story was someone's soul before it found its way back into a human body after the last one had died!?

If so, then this universe is even cooler than I thought it was!
Agreed. That is 100% pure drop!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by Ahzoh » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 16:30

[+1] I liked the OP. My conworld also has golems, though made of metal.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by Micamo » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 17:01

elemtilas wrote:I see. I dunno about M, but the World has been incubating for a long time. Some of its older sediments certainly date to the early or mid 1980s; I think it might be that being well-developed is a function of time. Perhaps you were just cramming too much in without digesting what was going on? Something to keep in mind for GPW anyway.
The apparent vastness of Micaland is mostly just some clever misdirection: Tricks to make the audience think the world is more fleshed out than it actually is. The vast majority of my creative effort goes into second-guessing and re-writing what I've already written, rather than producing new details.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 18:00

Micamo wrote:
elemtilas wrote:I see. I dunno about M, but the World has been incubating for a long time. Some of its older sediments certainly date to the early or mid 1980s; I think it might be that being well-developed is a function of time. Perhaps you were just cramming too much in without digesting what was going on? Something to keep in mind for GPW anyway.
The apparent vastness of Micaland is mostly just some clever misdirection: Tricks to make the audience think the world is more fleshed out than it actually is. The vast majority of my creative effort goes into second-guessing and re-writing what I've already written, rather than producing new details.
Ah. Subterfugeatory wordwitchery!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 21:16

Thrice Xandvii wrote:Wait... so the spirit that he used in the above story was someone's soul before it found its way back into a human body after the last one had died!?

If so, then this universe is even cooler than I thought it was!
That's exactly right. Which is why almost all golems are created from sculptures in the shape of humans and animals: it is very hard to trick a spirit to enter something that doesn't look like something they've already inhabited. Because of that there are no "soul-powered machines."

I'm glad you like the concept. See at the end of this post for a small bonus on this topic.
No problem. The [+1] was super easy to click. [;)]
And yet 100 out of 110 people who saw this thread so far didn't leave a comment. So thanks for taking the time to do that.
elemtilas wrote:I think it might be that being well-developed is a function of time. Perhaps you were just cramming too much in without digesting what was going on?
I think your assessment is spot-on. I was trying to catch up to you guys without letting the creative process take its own pace. Lesson learned.

If there is something you really liked about WotS -- a person, a place or something like that -- perhaps it could be fit very nicely into GPW?
That's already happening. [:)]
Ahzoh wrote:[+1] I liked the OP. My conworld also has golems, though made of metal.
Thanks Ahzoh. I know we have our differences but I enjoy your creative work, as well. I liked your ideas in the religion thread and I should have taken my own advice and left a comment.

Since you mention material: in Golempunk, golems can be made of virtually anything. However, their physical characteristics are strongly dependent on whatever they're made of. True, the spirit shapes the golem's body to an extent, but a stone golem will still be heavy, slow, and potentially brittle. Wood is much more flexible, but flammable, etc. Because of that, one of the most popular types of golems in Tsokkwi is made of caoutchouc/natural rubber - it has a similar weight to the human body, it is flexible but reasonably durable, and it doesn't break easily. These kinds of golems are used as construction workers for their tsazheyn - mound-like palaces - and for many other tasks.
Micamo wrote: The apparent vastness of Micaland is mostly just some clever misdirection: Tricks to make the audience think the world is more fleshed out than it actually is. The vast majority of my creative effort goes into second-guessing and re-writing what I've already written, rather than producing new details.
You may be selling yourself short, Micamo. Or maybe not? You do have a lot of skill as a writer.

I sometimes try to remember what I used to be. It comes to me in flashes. A face of a woman, a starry sky; a bout of depression, a jolt of joy; weeping violins, and screams of pain. How do I know what they are? I don't have eyes that could see, I don't have ears that could hear, I don't have a body that could feel. How do I remember? How do I know?

I travel the vast expanses above the oceans with my brothers and sisters. I ride the Northwind and hop off it when I want to explore. I scratch my belly on mountaintops, and I dive to sleep in mountain valleys. I am free. I am happy. Well... most of the time.

There is something burning deep inside me that doesn't let me rest. You see, there is this one bay, just where the Northwind stops... I am drawn to it, I miss it, somehow. I will let myself go, oblivious, and inexplicably find myself close to it again. It brings back memories. It makes me suffer. I hate it. And I hate what it makes me become. Violent, enraged, suicidal. I want to scoop up the ocean and drown them in it. Suffocate them, kill them, erase them! Them... who are they? What have they done? I don't know. I don't remember. I always turn back. I turn around and go somewhere else, where I can be gleeful and carefree again. Ignorance is bliss, after all.

But I know that the day will come when I won't be able to resist the temptation. I will die that day. But so will they.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Fri 05 Feb 2016, 09:19

A few words about the reincarnation process in golempunk.

Every living creature has a soul. If no spirit enters a fetus at an early stage, it results in a miscarriage. Some inanimate things (like the wind in the snippet above) also attract spirits but this is more an exception than a rule. When the body dies, the spirit is freed and roams the world, searching for a new suitable host. It looks for a host aligned with its emotions and affinities from the previous life: so a violent man is more likely to be reborn as a predator, for example.

Some spirits don't get reincarnated: they ascend to the Otherworld - a spiritual realm. Various religions disagree about the nature of the Otherworld - some think of it as something positive, a way to free yourself from the endless cycle of rebirth, while others see it as a limbo, or even a hell, where you no longer can be active and make a change in the world.

How do we even know about the Otherworld? Some people (I'm calling them Visionaries, but others would probably call them Prophets, Seers or Forecasters) have the ability to visit the Otherworld and speak to the spirits there. According to them, spirits there are mostly powerful - it is unclear whether a spirit needs to become powerful to get there, or it is the Otherworld that lends power to it. Spirits speak in memories, in visions, in cryptic parables - the longer they have been out of the cycle of reincarnation, the harder they are to make sense of.

Some Visionaries claim that the spirits and the Otherworld aren't the be-all and end-all of the spiritual world. A few of them claim to have met even more powerful beings from Beyond that visit the Otherworld. They say that these beings are in charge of the movements of the Firmament, but they also guide the physical world in mysterious ways. some of the Visionaries interpret these beings as gods, some of them claim that beings aren't the final powers and that there is something or someone beyond them still.

As a bonus, a short poem written by a Visionary after conversing with a Being from Beyond:

A grain of dust I am, Oh Ineffable One.
Why did you choose me for your book?
I carry your mysterious words.
Tattooed with ancient truths.

A reed in the wind I am, Oh Unbreakable One.
Why did you touch me with your hand?
I bend to the point of breaking.
And I don't understand.

A man in the world I am, Oh Incorporeal One.
How can I hope to be your voice?
I weep, I ache from the burden.
But I don't have a choice.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Fri 05 Feb 2016, 16:34

gestaltist wrote:A few words about the reincarnation process in golempunk.

Every living creature has a soul. If no spirit enters a fetus at an early stage, it results in a miscarriage.
Interesting indeed! Perhaps the soul kind of imprints a shape on the fetus -- no soul might therefore be the cause of malformed fetus?

How are still births explained? Can a soul somehow leave or be ripped away from a baby shortly before birth? (I think it might be safe to assume that by the time a baby is about ready for birth, there must be a soul in it.)
A grain of dust I am, Oh Ineffable One.
Why did you choose me for your book?
I carry your mysterious words.
Tattooed with ancient truths.

A reed in the wind I am, Oh Unbreakable One.
Why did you touch me with your hand?
I bend to the point of breaking.
And I don't understand.

A man in the world I am, Oh Incorporeal One.
How can I hope to be your voice?
I weep, I ache from the burden.
But I don't have a choice.
I like this. What sort of message might this poor fellow be bearing?
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by alynnidalar » Fri 05 Feb 2016, 20:39

Can a spirit leave Otherworld and enter the reincarnation cycle again?
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 05 Feb 2016, 20:48

Yea [je:], this mythology much resembles mine. I would even argue this conculture is like a sibling/neighbour to mine.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Fri 05 Feb 2016, 21:30

elemtilas wrote:Perhaps the soul kind of imprints a shape on the fetus -- no soul might therefore be the cause of malformed fetus?
You're not far from the truth. There is an interplay between whatever this world's equivalent of DNA is, and the spirits. Organisms develop according to the genetic message they bear (so children still look like their parents) but spirits facilitate and guide that process. Without a soul, the fetus won't develop beyond a very early stage. On the other hand, some powerful spirits can override this process to an extent - shapeshifters are more than a fairytale.
How are still births explained?
That depends on the specific culture. Few people understand the true role the soul plays in human development. As an example, more than a half of the pregnancies in the city of Kavintirta has ended in miscarriages in the last century. There is talk of the city being cursed. Few even suspect what the true reason might be.
Can a soul somehow leave or be ripped away from a baby shortly before birth?
No, once a soul is bound to a body, it cannot leave until the body dies. No exceptions.
I like this. What sort of message might this poor fellow be bearing?
Thanks. I tried to write a short story to answer your question but I cannot find the right words. Maybe it will come to me some other day.
alynnidalar wrote:Can a spirit leave Otherworld and enter the reincarnation cycle again?
An excellent question! Under normal circumstances, it cannot. There are two cases when this usually happens. Both are extremely rare. The first one is when a Being from Beyond sends such a spirit on a mission, back into the world. The second is even rarer: it requires a person that has both the Gift of golem making and the Gift of Vision. Such a person, provided they learn to master both of their gifts, can try to lure a spirit from the Otherworld into becoming a golem. Golems created this way are unique in more than one way, and there is probably no more than a couple of them in the whole world.
Ahzoh wrote:Yea [je:], this mythology much resembles mine. I would even argue this conculture is like a sibling/neighbour to mine.
I'll take that as a compliment. I agree, there are several similarities between golempunk and Vrkhaz. There are some important differences, as well, as is to be expected. For one, there are no invasions of evil creatures from hell in golempunk. For another, the planet on which Vrkhaz lies is probably not geocentric.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Wed 10 Feb 2016, 09:55

A sketch on Tsokkwi religion

(The Tsokkwi are my focus culture on golempunk, in case it's not clear.)

This post is now outdated. See next post for the current version.
Spoiler:
The Tsokkwi believe there is only one life, and your fate is dependent on how much good you have done in its duration. They stress proactivity and making a change in the world.

They worship three gods, although these gods are rather impersonal, more like forces of nature: the Wind, the Sun, and the Moon. Each of them represents and guides a different aspect of nature, and each has its own order of priests.

The Wind represents change, life, activity, also destruction necessary for new life to appear. The Northwind is constant and brings rain, necessary for life. It is the Wind Father - unchanging, unwavering, godly. But then there are sea breezes and Soulwinds - his more fickle children, bringing about his will.

The Windpriests wear grey clothes of their chosen profession with green-and-blue ornamentation and/or jewelry. They are the only one to not have monasteries (like the Moonpriests) or temple-palaces (like the Sunpriests). They live among the people, and always have a "normal" profession, showing the ideal of active life the Wind represents. Anybody, of any sex, can become a Windpriest if they want. It requires becoming an apprentice of another Windpriest for a couple years, and passing an exam before a council of five priests. The main task of the Windpriests is performing blessings - usually pertaining to the profession they have chosen, but not only. They will bless crops, new merchanthouses or craftsmen's shops. They will bless new soldiers. But they are also allowed to administer Holy Punishment. Normally, the local nobles perform judiciary duty. However, a Windpriest can be chosen by a council of five priests to administer punishment to anyone for anything deemed to be a serious crime. Such a Windpriest wears a special green-blue robe, and is given an ornamental weapon (usually a spear). He is allowed to hurt or even kill with impunity while wearing the robe. However, the accused is allowed to defend themselves. It is not uncommon for groups of Windpriests to be sent to kill someone they suspect won't go easily. Retaliating against a Windpriest for Holy Punishment is considered one of the greatest sins one can commit.

The Sun represents light, nobility, energy and strength. The Sun blesses the strong, the brave, the ones who exert their will. He is the most revered in the upper classes.

The Sunpriests wear intricate yellow-and-orange clothing. They were trousers and shirts, and very long shawls they wrap around themselves. The shawls have crystals woven into them, so that they seem resplendent and radiant. The Sunpriests value riches and status, and it is expected of them. They are few, and they choose new members. It is an invitation-only club, and they usually only choose highborn or very rich people. A Sunpriest's child can never be a Sunpriest themselves. Sunpriests are always men, they are expected to have many wives as a sign of status. They carry swords, and spend a lot of time training in martial arts - the Path of the Sun.

The Moon represents death, the afterlife, rest and acceptance. The Moon, and her servants - the stars, welcome people to the afterlife. They are the administrators of eternal reward or punishment. The most noble of people become stars themselves. The evil ones live in eternal Darkness beyond the Firmament. The so-so people are allowed to bask in the stars' light.

The Moonpriests - exclusively women, are supposed to be Stars on Earth - bringing light to live by. They are teachers and healers. Although they do not formally marry, they are allowed to have male companions, who live in common areas in their monasteries and take care of the children, if there are any. Any girls born of Moonpriests are expected to become Moonpriests themselves. Boys are free to choose their own path. Due to the excellent education of Moonpriests, they often get administrative jobs with the nobles. The Moonpriests wear dark-blue robes dotted with white cequins, representing the Stars. They have white cords around their waists, with a pommel at the end of the cord, representing the Moon. They are also responsible for burial ceremonies.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Sun 14 Feb 2016, 01:49

Religious Orders in Tsokkwi - an updated sketch on Tsoketan religion

The religion of the Tsokkwi is very down-to-earth. It doesn't have well-defined deities - it believes in the powers of nature that run in their inevitable circles. The man is the only one that can act independently and leave a mark upon the world - and this is the man's main duty.

They believe in the existance of spirits but these spirits are evil and demonic. If the Creator (seen in a very distant and deistic sense) wanted men to commune with spirits, he wouldn't have given them bodies, the thinking goes. A sad collateral of this belief are the mentally ill who are treated as possessed and are usually outcasts.

The modern religion rose in opposition to the ancient belief in spirits and reincarnation, and was inspired by the Immortal - a fact that noone remembers anymore. The Immortal himself is seen as one of the powers of nature and is revered by many.

Since the religion encourages practical life, it doesn't have priesthood in the usual sense of the word. It has religious orders: the Kosm (kosw̩̃) - societies of people who identify with one of the forces of nature and follow specific traditions. The orders are divided into Greater Orders or the Kosumi (kosuw̩̃i) and Lesser Ones - the Kosopa. Originally, this was a divide by gender: into male-only and female or mixed orders. With time, the most popular and most ancient orders have gained the privilege of being called Greater, with less popular, regional or newer ones being dubbed the Lesser. It is not a strict division, and there is some controversy as to the classification.

It is to be noted that the Kosms' focus is on the practical life. For many of them, one would be hard-pressed to find specific religious rituals they would use. In fact, the term Kosm is something in between a religous order and a guild - and it would never occur to a Tsoketan to try to distinguish between the two.

## The Greater Orders

The Greater Orders are widespread in Tsokkwi and most people recognize every one of them. Most of them have specific, universally recognized privileges.

### The Kosm of the Sun

The most influencial Order on the political scene, the Order of the Sun, is a male-only order, and arguably the oldest persisting religious organisation in Tsokkwi. It is actually an evolution of an ancient priesthood of the Sun, adapted and evolved when the winds of change blew. It is the only Order to have temples - although none of their original ancient temples survived, the tradition to build them did - although they are now more palaces than places of cult. The temples are said to represent the palace in which the Sun rests during the night. Also, the members are the only ones to be still called priests. (Although the meaning of the word for a simple Tsoketan is closer to "lord" than to anything else.)

The Sun rules upon the sky, and so the Sunpriests represent the ruling class. Their role is to give the rulers an example to adhere to, and good advice. They live in their temple palaces - complexes centered around a small ziggurat facing the east where the priests gather during sunrise to welcome the return of the Sun. Around the ziggurat, there are usually training grounds for soldiers, and around them - palace grounds. The whole complex is almost always surrounded by a defensive wall.

The Sunpriests' duty is to exemplify the perfect rulers. They are encouraged to marry multiple wives and enjoy the perks of their status and riches. Every temple palace rules over the surrounding land. It usually doesn't have more than 3-5 priests at any one time, and new members have to be invited to join. As hereditary rule, and especially patrimony, is seen as weak and egoistic, they are forbidden from inviting their children and grandchildren to priesthood.

The Sunpriests usually invite rich and influential people among their ranks, and it is seen as the ultimate recognition. Upon invite, you are supposed to give up your current title, but you are also expected to give a substantial gift to strengthen the temple's economy. In praxis, this often leads to invitations being based on bribery, and is a way for nobility to find a good and safe place for some of their progeny.

Sunpriests wear intricate yellow-and-orange clothing. They wear trousers and shirts, and very long shawls which they wrap around themselves. The shawls have crystals woven into them, so that they seem resplendent and radiant.

There are several Lesser Orders associated with the Sunpriests, which usually have an ancillary role in temple palaces: the Order of Fire, the Order of Lightning, and the Order of Sandstone. (See below.)

## The Kosm of the Wind

The Northwind is a constant feature of Tsokkwi climate - with the exception of its southern part that has the ITCZ pass over it in the summer, most of Tsokkwi experiences constant winds from the north, bringing cold and moist air from over the ocean. The Northwind is something inevitable - unchanging, unwavering, godly. It brings rain, which means life, but also gloom and lack of direct sunlight. But there are sea breezes, soulwinds, and other reasons for changes in wind direction - so the wind is seen as a symbol of constancy, but also of unpredictability.

The Windmonks are the most widespread order - they are seen as necessary for daily life due to their role in ceremonies, and there is also a low barrier to entry. They live within the society, performing a "normal" profession and showing the ideal of active life the Wind represents. They wear grey clothes of their chosen profession with a characteristic green-and-blue jade pendant carved with a symbol of wind.

To become a Windmonk, you need to become an apprentice to an existing Windmonk. In that time, you learn the Blessings and the Curses, which are the main responsibility of the Windmonks. The Blessings are formulaic chants reaching a few hundred years back - there is at least a couple dozen of them, and a Windpriest needs to know them by heart. They are related to common ceremonies such as births, deaths, harvest, being initiated into a profession, etc.

The Curses, also known as the Exorcisms are also formulaic, but there is less of them - they are used to fend off evil spirits, and are invoked in case of illness, insanity, war, and similar misfortunes.

In addition, the Windmonks are often used for masters of ceremony, and are expected to uphold and promote tradition.

Every village tries to have at least one Windmonk - having noone to properly bless crops, new babies, etc., is seen as exposing yourself to the evil spirits.

## The Kosm of the Moon

The Moon represents light amid the darkness - the knowledge which helps to survive hardship. The worshippers of the Moon, also known as the Moonmonks, are mysterious and seclusive. They are revered due to their wisdom, and feared due to their secrecy.

Moonmonks live in Houses of the Waxing Moon - oval-shaped monasteries with no access to outsiders. Their main ideal is transmision and advancement of knowledge, and these monasteries are like secret universities: with libraries, scriptoria and labs. There aren't many of them, and you need to be truly brilliant to be admitted.

The Houses of the Waxing Moon are funded from tuition paid by nobility to have their children educated. There are schools next to monasteries, but you can also get a Moonmonk for a personal tutor - it is prohibitively expensive, and all of that money goes directly to the monastery. Moonmonks are rich enough to be able to afford teaching gifted but not affluent youngsters for free. It doesn't happen too often, though - you still need to have basic literacy before studying with them, and this is more than most of the society can provide.

The cornerstones of the Moonmonk's education are philosophy, history, rhetorics, physics, and mathematics. They also conduct experiments in chemistry, botany, and other arts.

The Moonmonks are celibate, and exclusively men. Gay practices are frequent among them, and not frowned upon - the main concern is that they not beget children, which would distract them from their studies.

Their official clothing is white on the right side, and black on the left side, symbolizing the lunar cycle. However, they are not strictly required to carry it, and usually only do it for official occasions or when teaching outside the monastery.

### The Kosm of Stars

The Kosm of Stars is the only Greater Order which is exclusively female. It is seen as the female counterpart to the Moonmonks. Where the Order of the Moon garners theoretical knowledge, the Star Sisters concentrate on the practical. They are folk's teachers and healers. They usually live in small itinerant communities, hosted by local nobility or building makeshift accommodation for themselves.

The Star Sisters are celibate, just like the Moonmonks. They embody selfless service of others - like the stars illuminate the light, but are so small that they don't draw attention to themselves. On the other hand, stars are omens - similarly, Star Sisters are the folk's prophets - explaining the meaning of current events. They are the keepers of Tsokkwi mythos - fables and histories aimed at teaching moral lessons. They are also healers, specializing in herbal medicine.

They wear dark-blue robes dotted with white cequins, representing the stars. They have white cords around their waists, with a pommel at the end of the cord, representing the Moon.

## The Lesser Orders

### The Kosm of Fire

The Order of Fire is an order of warriors. They train from the young age, using formalized martial arts, and fighting with the sword, the spear, and other weapons. The various styles are called Paths: Path of the Sun, Path of the Moon, Path of Fire, etc. They are usually stationed within the temple palaces of Sunpriests, and are at their commands. They are mostly men, although there is no strict rule against women being warriors, as well. They have normal family lives, and are more soldiers than monks.

They are the elite warriors of Tsokkwi - they are prized as tutors to young nobles, and handsomely paid as mercenaries. However, their primary loyalty lies with the Sunpriests.

They wear red clothing and leather armor with golden ornamentation for officers.

### The Kosm of Lightning

The Order of Lightning is the most secretive of all Kosms. They are believed to reside within one of the temple palaces, but there is no proof for that. They embody the ideal of administering justice without regard for one's social status, like lightning strikes wherever it pleases.

When they determine that somebody has commited an atrocity and gotten away with it, they can decide to administer Holy Punishment to them. It usually means death, but can also be an eye-for-an-eye style thing.

If they decide to kill somebody, they traditionally wear clothing and face masks painted with lightning strikes against a dark backdrop during the act. It is considered blasphemous to stop them if you see them like that, and a cause for becoming the next target. Most people don't dare interfere.

However, they prefer nonconfrontational methods such as poison. They make it a point to broadcast that a given death was a Holy Punishment. The typical way of doing it is painting a lightning on a nearby wall.

Very little is known about the Order's recruitment and training methods, their lifestyle or their rituals. The only thing which is relatively certain is that they accept members of both sexes, and that they have been around for at least a few hundred years. A folks story preserved by Star Sisters say that they were created to kill the king Kavm the Foolish, known for his cruelty and unjust rulings.

### The Kosm of Sandstone

The Kosm of Sandstone is a male-only order, harking back at least a few hundred years. They were initially a caste of scribes back when writing was a rare ability, and mostly performed as stone inscriptions. To this day, its members are oftentime called the Stonemasons.

Since then, they have expanded to be architects, as well as scribes, sculptors and calligraphers. You could say they are the closest thing to a guild of artists Tsokkwi has. They have a rather loose structure based on the levels apprentice-journeyman-master-grand master. Every Art they represent has a separate structure: calligraphy, architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry. To become a Grand Master, a member has to become a master of at least two of the Arts.

The most impressive creation of the Stonemasons are the tsazheyn - the beehive-shaped palaces, mostly erected in the capital. Every such palace is created by several masters working together.

### The Kosm of Golems

Limited to its sole location in the capital city, the Order of Golems has the monopoly on golem creation in Tsokkwi. They have agents in the whole country, proactively seeking out any children that might turn out to have the Gift of Golem Creation, and they stop before nothing to make sure these children find their way to the Golem Palace in the capital.

The Gift is very rare indeed - there are rarely more than active 3-5 Golem Makers at any one time. However, the Order is much larger: golem making needs sculptors, metallurgists, sales people, and all kinds of other staff.

The members of the Kosm wear characteristic golden bracelets with arcane symbols.

It is said that the Immortal himself is the Grand Master of the Order, as he has been since its creation about two millenia ago.

There are dozens of other Orders/Kosms which I haven't invented yet, or haven't gotten around to describing them.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Tue 01 Mar 2016, 19:06

I got inspired today. I have been thinking about magic in fantasy for quite a while now, trying to figure out what makes it tick. I don't know if I have an answer to that, but I have come across an interesting idea: I wrote the below in one go. It might become a new conworld, it might become a novel, it might not become anything at all. I don't know yet. For now, enjoy the story.

You asked me why so few people become sorcerers if the power of magic is so great. I will answer you with the most pivotal lesson that my teacher has ever given me.

I was a young apprentice back then: a shy merchant's daughter that bribed her way to the College of Sorcery. My teacher was Halkor - an old grizzled man our school had imported from the deep forests of Marau decades earlier. He still spoke with an accent and had his weird customs, but he was the most experienced mage the school had seen. His powers were legendary: ten years before my arrival, he freed the whole country from the plague. I am sure you have heard of the Miraculous Cleansing. He brought with him the secrets of the forest shamans and combined them with the science our College prides itself with. Long story short: he was the best mage I ever had the honor to meet.

It was a bright, cloudless morning on a calm chilly day in early spring. He was about to perform a routine demonstration. He gathered us young nestlings around the College's central square. He drew the Circle of Protection in white paint over a place where it had been drawn so many times that it shouldn't have been necessary to repaint it. He did anyway. He painted the Seven Sacred Sigils in red paint inside the circle. He lit the votive candles around the circle, each the exactly same distance from its two neighbors. He drank the Nectar of the Woods, sat in the middle of the circle, his legs crossed, and meditated.

We were all freshmen, excited by the display that would soon become rote to us. We waited with bated breath as the old sage hummed softly to himself in his strange native tongue, getting deeper and deeper into the trance. We all wanted to be like him: mystical, powerful, invincible.

It had only taken a few minutes for him to cross to the other side - I still need a good half hour to do it, even after all these years. He truly was the best. We all jumped in surprise as he unexpectedly opened his eyes and cut short his tune. His eyes were different - unseeing, as if covered with a layer of mist. He rised to his feet without supporting himself with his hands, in a movement we wouldn't have thought possible; and he started shouting in his foreign tongue.

We were scared at first but his assistant explained to us that he was bargaining with a spirit, and that he always did it in his native tongue. We would have to learn the language if we wanted to study under him. We all sighed with exasperation at the prospect. It was a problem for another day, however. We went back to watching the show.

Even in this strange state of unconsciousness, the old master seemed imposing, and completely in control: he moved his hand in an imperious way, barking commands like nothing could defy him. We felt the wind die down as he continued his conversation with the unseen interlocutor. His goal this day was to get a protective spirit for each of us, which made us all the more apprehensive.

After a good while into the conversation, Halkor pointed at one of the students, and a gust of wind erupted from his hand in the youngster's direction. He fell, knocked down by the unexpected force. "I feel it" - he exclaimed excitedly - "something wonderful has entered my body. I hear it whisper in my ear!" He scrambled back to his feet with a big silly grin across his face. A wave of murmur went through our group - every one of us wanted to be the next one to receive the blessing.

The white-haired master was silent for a while, and began another conversation. Its tone was different but I seemed to be the only one to notice. I stole a glance at the assistant - was it worry I saw on his face? I shook the feeling and went back to watching the teacher.

He was arguing fiercely with whatever creature he was speaking to. He shouted, shook his fist in anger, and then... the catastrophe happened faster than we could blink. The candles erupted with fire and died down in melted puddles around the white painted circle. All light was sucked out from the place in a blink - don't ask me how it is possible for the sun to stop shining - all I know is we got enveloped in complete darkness.

It only took a second for the umbra to start to dissipate like smoke but it felt like eternity. The rising curtain revealed our teacher to be on the ground, his hands raised as if to protect himself from something, his voice an incoherent bubble. He cried a shrill howl of agony so painful we all covered our ears in horror. Suddenly, he leapt to his feet, his face distorted with hatred, his eyes red pits of fire. I had never seen an expression of such loathing before, such pure malice, as he tried to claw at us with his arced fingers. He started to sputter profanities at us, this time in our own language, and without his usual foreign accent. It was starting to dawn on us what had just transpired. Our teacher was no more.

I understood the role of the protective circle that day. Should our possessed master have had the ability to leave it, we would all have been dead. You haven't yet seen what strength demons can lend to the human body. Most of the group fled the place in terror. Only three of us remained: the assistant, the boy that had received his blessing and now seemed unphased by what was happening, and I.

I looked to the teaching assistant who proferred a bow with a single arrow. I could see its shaft was covered in runes. He chanted as he drew the weapon, and he sent the arrow straight through the master's heart. It was over.

***

You wonder what lesson the poor master taught me that day that was so crucial. It was the most important truth of them all: we are but children to the powers of the afterlife. None of us are safe. You have to be a fool to want to come near them and dabble in the arcane. As it turns out, I am a fool. But thanks to Halkor's memory, I am a very careful fool.
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