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Etiquette 1

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Formality means different things to the different great houses of the Compact, and the degree of rigid protocol has waxed and waned with the different dynasties of the Crown.

With House Grayson possessing the Crown, there has been a degree of egalitarianism that has crept into noble protocol in subtle ways, in so much that it is considered gauche to correct others on rank and title. Very rigid nobles, particular some from the Oathlands, may be prickly upon being given their full rank and honors when appropriate in conversation, but it is considered extremely poor form to violate 'the Courtesy of Crown's Court', a protocol popularized by the courtier Lady Caithness Anthy during the Court of Queen Alarice the Great. The Courtesy holds that anyone misusing a title is given the benefit of a doubt that the slip is unintentional, and unless a violator makes it repeatedly and unambiguously clear that a slight is intentional, then it is very foolish and below a noble's dignity to take offense at the accidental slight. This is particularly true the wider the gap between the very high born and the low, as one doesn't truly expect the low born to know the intricacies of noble courtesy that are used by the high born to know their own.

Typically most holders of a peerage will only use the title that refers to their domain when specifically driving home the formality of an occasion or communication. Some nobles known to be prickly or excessively formal will sign rank and title in all communications- Prince Donrai Thrax, the Prince of Maelstrom was known to sign all messengers as precisely that, but even he rarely corrected others on rank or title, which is a sign of how accepted the Courtesy of the Crown's Court has become.

Spouses of a demesne holder have a unique position in terms of titles. The designation of 'consort' may be added both to the short form, such as 'Queen Consort Symonesse Grayson' or to the demesne longform in referring to the peerage, such as, 'Queen Symonesse Grayson, the Queen Consort of Arx'. Both forms would be considered correct, as would be leaving off 'consort' in forms of address. However, in some rare cases, there may be co-rulers for a single peerage, in which case all rulers would have the same long form of address (Gemecitta as one example.)

Roman Numerals

Question: What's our Arvani equivalent?

Answer: Roman Numerals exist and are called, 'Old Formal' vs arabic being called 'standard Arvani'. Old Formal is considered a pre-reckoning convention, from before written literacy was common, and so primarily just used for noting repetitions of royal names (Alaric Grayson IV).

Types of Polities

Question: How sophisticated is an educated Arvani's understanding of different types of polities. It seems safe to say that Arvani understand the concept of at least one type of monarchy. Do people know what someone means when they say Emperor or does that just sound like another word for King? When Marcus called Arvum a provence, the King a governor, and then spoke of a Senate -- did that mean anything specific to people other than a vague notion of different words for different levels in a fealty and with some version of an assembly?

Answer: For simplicity, I'd say they have a theoretical understanding of other polities, even if Arvum has never drifted from feudal structures except as very short lived, little known experiments

Writs And The Despite

Answer: So while I try to avoid spoilers, and I won't explain this too much for people that don't know what I'm talking about, there's a very important clarification here for these two things so people can RP about them well. Separate but sometimes vaguely related.

Writs: magical compulsion, it affects -intent-. In other words, there's no trying to get around the wording, because it is based on the understanding a character has of the spirit of it, generally. So there's a big loss of agency, but there's an important ooc reason in that characters with them generally are able to compromise other PCs and get them killed through no fault of her own, so it's often necessary for fair gameplay. Because of that, any attempt to rebel or get around a writ has to be cleared with staff, no exceptions on them. Can't sandbox them at all.

The Despite of Fable on the other hand is a bit different. Player Characters -can- draw conclusions about missing information, if they've forgotten something, and there's reasonable reasons to think something might be going on. It's not the same kind of compulsion that would be self-reinforcing, so if they forget something, but there's compelling evidence that would suggest that's the case, characters can reasonably draw the right conclusions from it.

occult 1

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Mirrors: All things in Arvum are reflected, and all reflections trapped behind the surface of the mirror. Raise your hand, and your reflection may appear to raise its hand with you. Blink, and so too may your reflection blink. Yet, stare long enough into that mirror, and you may start to feel a sense of wrongness. It is you, and it is not you. There are so many little things you can't quite put your finger on. Stare too long into the mirror, and you may begin to wonder if you control your reflection -- or if, instead, your reflection controls you.

Blood Moon: On the night of the Blood Moon, all mirrors shine brighter. Oh, don't look into your reflection then. You won't like what you see. Your reflection might, though.

Blood: Blood is life, and blood is power. Deals made in blood are deals made unbreakable. Be careful the deals you make, lest your blood become your shackles -- lest your blood become someone else's life, and someone else's power.

Ghosts: When you die, you sleep. You pass on to the Shining Lands, you pass on to the Wheel. But what if you don't? Among the dead, as among the living, there are always restless sleepers. You might hear them, might hear their whispers in the night. Cover your ears, close your eyes, you won't want to join them.

The Unseen: Have you ever felt the sensation of being watched? Have you ever felt that shiver travel down your spine? You can't see them, no, never. But oh, they can see you -- and the more you ask about them, the more they watch.

occult 2

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Many occult works speak of The Dream, and by that they really mean reality in total. The presiding theory holds primum as the raw stuff of unformed dreams, and as such can be used to help power changes in reality by shifting what the unconscious mind would expect to see, or what might be acceptable to come next. The expectations of reality matter a great deal, and while power is in the blood, and blood can be distilled into primum, who the blood comes from is critical- a squirrel that will live and die unseen in the woods has an extremely low 'aionic potential' as it has very little impact on the dream of reality, while the blood of a king might be quite high indeed. The expectations of reality are critical and often are impossible to determine, making magic extremely unpredictable according to occult works, and impossible to fully quantify.

occult 3

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Occult works take the existence of much of the supernatural creatures for granted, even as the world as a whole are skeptical of their existence. Beings that need to subsist off blood and embrace vampirism are due to needing primum to maintain their existence, and are often the result of blood magic going terribly awry. Some very minor demons that have had their hold to the primal world severed become effectively vampires, as they lack any other means to restore their slow drain of primum.

Demons come in such a wide breadth of variety that they are nearly impossible to quantify, but very few are held to be able to access the primal world easily, most being trapped in the Abyss unless something allows them to be anchored to the world. Mirrorborn, for example, are minor demonic creations that steal reflections of tainted souls, and use it to create a primal embodiment as a copy of the stolen reflection. If their host dies, they also lapse into vampirism in a weakened state. Other demons bound to the primal plane become vastly more powerful with anchors, and some cannot be truly destroyed, only imprisoned in elaborate rites involving sacrifice, often requiring them to be weakened first.

Sphinxes and their reflections, Simurghs are an example where no reflection is held to be more benign or malign than the other, though both maintain the others are the evil ones. Both are often wise, sometimes compassionate beings, known to aid outsiders even while pursuing mysterious aims, with a few malicious ones to keep outsiders on their toes. Both breeds hate each other passionately, and fight like... well, cats and dogs.

Many occult works speak of dragons, unicorns, griffons, phoenixes, and hosts of other creatures as seeming common to Arvum, with no explanation for their vanishing at all.

occult 4

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: The nature of magic heavily depends upon the source the magic is drawing upon, and occult writings speak of the rituals being specific to the source. Celestial magic draws primum from Elysia and celestial entities, including the gods, who may invest an individual with celestial (sometimes called 'Pure Primum') if invoked in extremely precise rituals that mirror how the dream expect a beseeching to be done. Similarly, Abyssal magic can be harnessed in a beseeching ritual to abyssal entities, in the prototypical demonic rituals that involve sacrifices and the precise incantations and elaborate rituals (often performed by cults) to invoke them. Beseeching to primal entities is uncommon, but can be done, and in fact, occult writings classify familiars as an example of a primal bond, such as a dragon with their human familiar (the occult book, 'The Proper Care and Feeding For Your Human' is mentioned in some occult works but copies have not been found for five hundred years, at least in Arvani rather than Draconic).

Ultimately, the elaborate casting of spells and incantations is a matter of conforming to expectations from the Dream, with the shaping of primum going in unexpected directions. Blood magic is regarded in the occult as the quickest and easiest path to primum, in harnessing the aionic potential of others, but it is not regarded as inherently evil, though some more conservative writers regard it as a 'slippery slope'. Elder spirits despise blood magic, because they often lack a clearly defined sense of self, and regard the harvesting of primum from a life force as essentially cannibalism, which is insulting and dangerous, but the more alien and elder the spirit is the more random their reactions will likely be.

Abyssal primum, however, is a corruption of existing primum, and a slow devouring of the dream and turning it into nightmare. Some occultists have speculated that ultimately all of reality could be shifted into a corrupted version of the Dream, which is perhaps one of the reasons demons attempt to spread their worship and draw so much power from it.

occult 5

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: One of the greatest problems in quantifying magic is because the Dream, and reality itself, is at least partially conscious even if its mindset is alien and ineffable. The rules of magic are at best guidelines, because the variables include every being in existence, and all of their shared perspectives, which shift and mold the dream based upon their decisions and what might be seen as expectations. In the Platinum Rules for Casting, it was written, "Weaving can only be done by the most skilled and talented practitioners of the Art, as one is attempting to grasp the loose threads of reality and tug and pull them based on whim. It is vastly more difficult to do a basic weave than it is to ask a man to throw a pitcher full of water into a river and then command him to retrieve the precise same water out."

That is what makes incantations and rituals so powerful, and the most common form of magic, and why its suppression and loss of rituals in the past few hundred years so significant- anyone can perform magic with the right access to primum if they had sufficient training and knowledge, though some are more 'sensitive' to it and the supernatural based on echoes of the past in their souls.

Occultists write that souls that re-enter the wheel and reincarnated sometimes have the lightest of echoes on their souls based on their past beliefs, but to truly remember all that came before would often drive an individual mad... and is why many dark, abyssal mages that cheat death go completely mad by the experience and gradually have any trace of humanity ground out of them. Though once an individual enters the wheel and reborn, even a full recounting of their memory is no guarantee that they will be able to work magic again anytime soon, since channeling primum is often analogous to muscle-memory. An individual reborn, even with regained memory, has intense magical atrophy to recover from, which is why the most dangerous and sinister of the abyss never have their souls go on the wheel and routinely cheat death, despite the madness involved.

theology 1

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Pantheon:

There are three main traditions of worship under the Faith of the Pantheon, with distinctly different regional styles, even if many Domini have rejected the distinctions to attempt to present the Faith as unified under their vision.

The first and oldest is Oathlands Orthodox, with a much more disciplined and hierarchial style. Portrayed as dour, humorless and strict, the Oathlands tradition largely rejects the worship of the Thirteenth and often treats Mirrormasks as heretical, tend to equate shamanism with demon worship, and the orthodox are among the most fervent of the Faithful which also tends to make up the majority of godsworn particularly in the faith militant. In recent centuries, they have become more tolerant of shamanism and Lycene Liberalism, mostly due to post-Crownbreaker reforms as well as charismatic Domini have painted northern and southern faithful as necessary allies against true threats to the Faith, such as when King Darius Thrax violated sanctuary to murder Scholars of Vellichor. None the less, antipathy persists, and a not insignificant minority of Oathlands Orthodox believe only they are 'real' members of the Faith. They have been characterized by more than one Dominus, especially those from house Valardin raised in the tradition but forced to keep a restive faith under control, as a pain in the ass.

Arvani Traditional is the far and away largest tradition, and what can be seen as the common baseline. Sometimes called Grayson Pragmatism, the common tradition finds the more rigid dogma of the Faith practiced by the Oathlands Orthodoxy tempered by a very practical need to minimize conflicts between different aspects of the Faith. While this would suggest permissiveness, under some Domini the opposite has been the case, with strong leaders unapologetically expelling any of the pulls from the right or left- expelling Oathlands faithful for calling northerners or southerners heretics, or expelling libertines from the Lyceum who intentionally rub the Oathlands faith in their practices or doing the same to northerners who are too bold about integrating shamanism into the practice of the Faith. A great deal of dogma was spawned by this pragmatism that hammers home how northerner beliefs about shamanism are in no way contradictory to the Faith of the Pantheon or that southern beliefs are an extension of existing dogma rather than a contradiction of it

Lycene Liberalism, also sometimes called Marachian Reformed (though the term has largely died out in the last two centuries), believes that the idealized positive exemplars of the Gods are not complete unless one also factors in the necessary worship towards negative exemplars. For example, they believe that the strong worship in truth between the Sentinel only has meaning by being able to show the context of kind, white lies or performing something inherently dishonest for a greater good. As many, particular in the oathlands, feel that an individual is only as good as their word, the willingness of the Lycene to lie is in large part the single largest reason for their scandalous reputation. Mirrormasks in particular are notorious for challenging the orthodox by presenting situations where in order to achieve a moral outcome and prevent disaster, a minor act of relative immorality is necessary.

Shamanism:

The different Paths of shamanism do have some extremely common, universal beliefs. For one, it is known that spirits of the dead (those who are Back on the Great Wheel) and Great Spirits are not the same thing. Great Spirits, also called the Old Gods, are sometimes called the First Ones, having been born before the gods of the Pantheon and made when the world was born, though legends speak of new Great Spirits being born from the breath of The Great Dreamer. Becoming in tune with the spirit lands (often through religious drug use) allows one to commune with ghosts of the dead, or spirits of the land, if one has their eyes opened, but that is seen as rare- many shamans go their entire lives praising and giving thanks to the spirits without ever speaking to one, but that can be seen as just as well. Old Gods are very alien, and the older and more powerful they are, the less they can understand mortals or vice versa.

Other:

Cardia and Eurus have their own religions, that are rumored to be similar to pantheon worship. Shav tribes often have more barbaric forms of shamanism using blood rites (which shamans hold that spirits hold as taboo) and are rumored to barter with demons.

theology 2

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Pantheon:

The Faith of the Pantheon, with the Oathlands Orthodox in particular, is known for its very elaborate rites and heavily ritualized faith. Each of the gods has a Canticle, a sung prayer that summarizes the beneficial ideals that the deity embodies, and each has hundreds if not thousands of prayers, and between them all scores of feast days. But what is striking is how much of that knowledge was lost since the Crownbreaker Wars. Which King Darius Thrax attacked the great archive and executed the current legates, supposedly many of the oldest prayers and rites were hidden so as to not be burned, but record of extremely elaborate rites for beseeching the gods largely vanished during the chaos of the Crownbreaker Wars, and have been gone for centuries.

There had not been a great deal of effort in trying to recover old rituals partly because of the drift away from ritualism following the Crownbreaker Reformation. King Darius Thrax, after slaughtering the Faith, had armed guards surrounding the new conclave as they appointed new legates and a new Dominus, the Dominus Dorian Thrax. The majority of the Faith declared these actions a heresy, appointed their own Dominus in a conclave of the Faith held in Sanctum, and the Dominus Dominic Valardin declared Dorian Thrax an anti-Dominus, and they both excommunicated one another. After the Crownbreaker Wars ended and the Thraxian elements of the faith were purged, the Dominus Dominic ushered in the Crownbreaker Reformation- a period of stripping away all Thraxian elements that had been placed in the Faith, and only reinvited Thrax back into the Faith of the Pantheon after highlord Evgeni Thrax traveled to Arx and knelt in the snow outside the Rectory for a week in a show of penance. Due to the Crownbreaker Reformation, most of the older, lost elements were treated as suspect, and never pursued to any great degree.

Shamanism

There are strong elements that more senior shamans recognize in shamanism that show a similar starting point between the faith of the pantheon and shamanism. The belief in the spirit lands spoken by shamans and the Shining Lands in the faith are largely identical. The Faith holds that the most virtuous after death may ascend to sit by the side of the gods in Elysia, the most wicked may be pulled down to the Abyss, and the others may be pulled into the Shining Lands to grant wisdom to those that follow. Shamanism teaches that almost identically, though it uses different names- the Realm Above, the Spirit Lands, and the Realm Below. But it further emphasizes that most souls and touched by the Great Spirit of the Wheel to be reborn again from the wheel, while the Faith does not particularly speak about reincarnation. The last statement by Dominus Kirsk two centuries ago was, "After death, we go by the will of the gods, and it is not our place to know."

Other:: General knowledge that Eurusi religion very closely resembles the Faith of the Pantheon, and their cities seem to be bastardizations of the names of Pantheon deities.

theology 3

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Pantheon:

Following the Crownbreaker Schism and the Reformation that followed it, a new school of thought was popularized by Dominus Benedictus and adopted as Faith dogma, the Doctrine of Responsibility. It held that it was insulting to the gods to attempt to explain mysteries by placing credit or blame for the unknowable upon them, stating the Gap Declaration, "Should every gap in the knowledge of man be credited falsely to the divine, then the faithful will forever be vexed as understanding follows and prove beliefs false. Therefore, we hold that mysteries are no sign of the work of the divine or the abyss, and true miracles or deviltry are of the rarest variety, and it insults the gods to attribute the folly of man's imperfect understanding to them."

This was also paired with the Declaration of Frailty and Fate, stating, "Men are frail and imperfect children of the gods, but our faults and successes are our own. The gods did not create us to walk in a straight line to a predetermined point of success or failure. They provide inspiration and soothe us, but our failures are not their fault, and our successes are that of a child succeeding at the remembered encouragement of an absent parent. We pray for guidance and aid, but we do not insult the gods by demanding miracles." At the time of the declarations to support the Doctine of Responsibility, the Faith was dealing with numerous cults that were created in the wake of the schism of the faith, particularly ones that attempted to combine shamanistic mysticism with the Faith, and a massive rise in charlatanism that defrauded the commons by selling useless trinkets blessed by the divine. The church attempted to stomp that out with the dissemination of the new doctrine by the scholars of Vellichor, and petitioning the crown to have the inquisition arrest anyone cheating the commons by selling 'magic'.

Shamanism:

Those who have the Second Sight are special. Most shamans believe they have it, but in truth, very, very few do. In theory, anyone could be trained to see it by someone that does, but it's a long and arduous process, and most who believe they see or hear spirits are delusional. This in turn has made some of the northlands treat shamans with respect but taking their proclamations with a grain of salt, and has led to religious conflicts, particularly from shamans who suspiciously claim that spirits deeply want others to support a position that just so happens to personally benefit the shaman in question. For the relatively few shamans that have the Sight, most realize the spirits are just too alien to communicate often with humans. Younger ones may, but the oldest spirits are completely ineffable, and only with a great deal of effort do the spirits communicate anything, such as their distaste for something, or asking humanity to take an action.

Others:

Much of the demon worship practiced by the most barbaric of shavs are bastardizations of ancient rites of the Pantheon, and are more similar to Pantheonic rituals and ceremony than they are to those of shamanism, though some of the language used in each is similar enough where they all point to a common ancestor.

theology 4

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Pantheon:: While much of Dominus Marach the Apostate's works have been destroyed, his Doctrine of Ideals has continued to influence the Faith from when it was first penned. "The gods are personifications of our ideals and concepts, and our dearest held virtues, and their reflections are reminders of the vices that mirror those virtues, or the painful concepts that give all our hard-won joys meaning." From that, it was taught that the gods are less beings as would be conventionally understood, and more manifestation of ideas made flesh. Similarly, many shared virtues or concepts that overlap gods are personifications of the relationships between them, and this is often seen in common prayers of the Faith that more often than not pray to a series of the deities due to their involvement in a particular concept, rather than praying to a single god in particular. For example, a soldier keeping his word to defend the innocent before a battle would be honoring a vow (fidelity, Limerance), caring for their fellow man (Gild), and fighting honorably (Gloria). Marach postulated that demigods would exist that are derivations of merged concepts and overlaps, as personifications of the relationships between the deities.

Further, the term 'Seraph' as the head of a parish is derived from the term for a head angel that acts as the avatar or embodiment of a deity in the world, sometimes spoken of as mortals that were elevated after death to serve at the right hand of a god as their Voice in the world. Since each deity covers a number of related ideas, it is further thought that below the Seraphs are 'Aspects', individual powerful divine figures that best embody a particular part of the ideals of that deity. For example, the Sentinel might have an aspect of Truth, and another of Justice, while for Mangata she'd have aspects of the Sea or Wind or the like.

Of course, the gods have an antithesis in the Archfiends, who embody everything they do not, with a herald serving as their avatar, and then Facets who embody a particular part of their domain. Of that, relatively little is known, since the Pantheon never recorded them in great detail, save that they must surely exist, if Marach was correct. His Doctrine of Duality was challenged and largely purged by the Oathlands Orthodox, resulting in a brief and violent civil war in the templars as the Knights of the Library, also in the templars, refused to permit any armed templars into the archive or other hosts of knowledge who were intending to destroy it.

Shamanism:

It has become less known now, but elder shamans teach of the Great Mirror that separates the world from the Spirit Realm, and how everything in the primal world are mirrored by a soul on the other side if they have a soul, or by something else created in the world that mirrors them perfectly. Most hold the great old spirits or old gods are mirrored souls of the lands they embody, and the ancient great shamans, sometimes called the Druids, were masters at communing with them, and able to harness the spirits of the land wherever they traveled.

Others:

Some travelers have noted that Eurus is much more open about including mirror imagery in its worship, and the Magistrates of the Mirror are some version of a theocratic ruling class that practices blood sacrifice rituals. They teach that all wisdom and power comes from beyond the mirror, and only by beseeching with sacrifices can that be properly obtained.

theology 5

Question: What would someone know with a skill of this rating?

Answer: Pantheon and Shamanism:

It's a mystery to priests and shamans alike why the creation myth of the world has become such uncommon knowledge. Most priests believe it is a sign that the church does not want to encourage mysticism with a story so seeped in allegorical poetry, but for whatever reason, the Canticle of the Dawn that relates the creation myth is no longer sung in Faith of the Pantheon services or taught. Shamans find it interesting that the Tale of the Dawn is nearly identical to the faith's creation myth.

The Canticle of the Dawn goes as follows:
"From his dreams, a world is born. But a waking nightmare watches preordained Fate with scorn.
The first children arise shackled by Fate, the Nightmare listens to Destiny's reflection with hate.
The First Choice is made, casting Destiny down. Death is born, shattering that by which Chaos and Order were bound.
The gods are born, the first children rebel. The elves are created, so the First Children they'll quell.
With the First Children and elves constantly at odds, the First Choice creates men, unbound by the gods."

Supposedly, the Canticle of the Dawn had many more verses, but those are lost to time. Shamanism's Tale of the Dawn includes that the Nightmare judged the world 'not a true reflection of the heavens' and 'seeks to turn the World Around Us, the primal world, into a true terrible mirror of paradise', and it is why demons wish to corrupt existence.

Others:

Cardia is claimed by some to be an atheistic nation, but that isn't quite true. It has neither an equivalent of the Faith of the Pantheon nor Shamanism, and such religions are banned, by proclamations by their skylords to not worship 'foreign powers', holding the deified figures of other religions as peers, or adversaries.