Friday, August 30, 2013

Myths and Heroes: Kusseth

This is posting late because apparently I don't know the difference between the publish and save buttons. Sigh.

Many moons ago, Lance decided to just fuck everything up and forget that Andorian told him to help him find Evandor, the Briar King. Then he decided to forget that Andorian told him that Evandor would be masquerading as a powerful supernatural creature, as Evandor's Gifts were rather potent and Nel are kind of easy to pick out as being weird, even the ones made of flesh and blood. Then he forgot to tell Andorian about the supernatural creature on top of the Black Mountain making Immortals and pacts and such. One of the things Eran said to Andorian when this all went down was that he didn't even know if the Briar King was real, as he left Serethnem like 4000 years ago (I think, it might only be 1400, I don't have my timeline handy) and was just a story to Eran, and Eran had heard of Immortals and the being on the Black Mountain, but he didn't know if they were real or just stories and tales of this foreign land (nevermind that you know, he's met two, technically three, actual Immortals that have shown actual supernatural powers, heh heh).

What Eran/Lance said about stories got me thinking. I'm big on the mythology of ancient cultures and stuff. I've always been into the tales of Norse and Greek gods and folklore about stuff like vampires and werewolves and such is neat to me. Part of why I like DnD is because that stuff is not only real in most games, but as a GM I can put my own spin on it. For instance, you don't have to be undead to be a vampire in my campaign and my dragons are basically dire Komodo dragons that spit acid and have a poisonous bite. Still deadly and not to be taken lightly, but you get less treasure for beating them. Hehe.

Anyway, this got me thinking. What is the folklore of The Known World? What ancient cultures do they study? Who are their mythic/heroic figures? Who is their equivalent of Paul Bunyan? Paul Revere? Part of the problem with this question is that lots of races in The Known World are either immortal until physically destroyed (Children of Volung, Elduman, Fallen, Rankethlek, Soulless), or live for three or more "human" lifetimes in the natural course of their existence (Sereth, Vyanth). So the past is never really truly the past as much as it would be if these were humans we were talking about. I mean, to some people the destruction of Kaleshmar is just a vaguely recalled bit of important history, like how I imagine 9/11 will be viewed a hundred odd years from now. For others, mainly the Elduman, it was a really really bad day for them and their loved ones and still probably weighs heavily on their minds 10000 years later. Until they get Elduman dementia and stuff.

One of the things Lance and I were discussing during the Andorian/Evandor arc was the lifespan of the Sereth affecting how they perceive the past. I think I said it before on the blog, but what I came up with in response to Lance saying that Andorian and Evandor coming back was like Zeus coming back in our world was that Hekinoe is a magical world with a bunch of immortal (with caveats) and long lived races. It's more like Magic George Washington told Magic Congress and the Magic Senate that he had to go do a thing for a while, so they had to run things till he got back, and then disappeared for a long ass time, and then came back still looking and acting like Magic George Washington and expecting to be in charge and shit.

In terms of ancient cultures to study, there aren't really that many to study. But, The Known World is slightly larger than the US, so I suppose that makes sense. Most of the current countries/cultures have existed for several thousand years. I mean, we know the Builders lived in a giant ravine where Serethnem now is, and the Glenwighta lived beneath The Fell Peaks till they were subjugated by the Fallen turned Fell Humans migrating from the Necropolis.

There are archaeologist types that study fragmented ruins of Kaleshmar when they are uncovered. There are Fremwightan who seek to discover their race's lost history (which was more or less erased by the conquering Fell Humans), and yeah, there are probably digger types that try and burrow beneath that sands to study the pyramids of the Builders. Since Whurent predates Kaleshmar and as their civilization has aged they have dug upwards from the depths, I imagine that they do dig down and study the ruins of previous eras of their history.

So what are the myths of The Known World? Who are the heroes? As per usual, some of this is made up on the spot and some has been rattling around my brain for a while.

In Kusseth, most of the myths and folklore deals with law and order and fears of the underground. A well known legend is the story of the Wayward Lawman. A warden errant pursuing fugitives that was betrayed by townsfolk and gunned down in an ambush. The Wayward Lawman only appears on the road, never in cities or towns, and only after bandits have gotten away clean. When thugs sit laughing around a fire, enjoying a drink, a smoke, and their ill gotten gains, a small ember flashes in the night. The Wayward Lawman lighting a ghostly cigarette. He is no hero coming to the aid of the innocent, he is a vengeful ghost bearing archaic pistols and a ghostly grey duster, his form insubstantial and uniformly grey. Some versions of the story have him call the thugs out, naming them and their crimes, in others he just draws iron and fills the lawbreakers with lead (figuratively speaking). The end result, regardless of the beginning, is always their spilled blood, with one thug left living to carry the tale. Bullets and blades pass through the ghostly grey warden, and his gaze fills the guts of lawbreakers with ice. His incorporeal bullets always find their mark and his hammers never fall on empty chambers. He is merciless and can never be bought or bargained with in the tales.

In terms of heroes, Kusseth's most well known heroic figures would be the ringleaders of the original prison breaks that kicked off Kusseth's rebellion from The New Empire. Kusseth was initially twelve prison camps of criminals, sorcerers, and non-Elduman. There were twelve ringleaders, which is why Kusseth has twelve lords. Those original individuals were: Handsome Sven, an Elduman descended Uncout enchanter with a tongue so (quite literally) silver that he could supposedly talk the stink off shit. Korhellon, a Child of Volung with eyes so mean he could kill men with a glance, and if that didn't take, he had a knack for snapping necks. Aluenel, a Vyanth contortionist with bones so flexible and fingers so long he made use of them as garrotes. There was also Victoria Goltham, a wasted and ruined Fallen with only the most basic sorcery, but had repaired her rotten form with leather and stitches to the point where her "flesh" was as tough and thick as the hide of some beast from The Beast Lands and she became renowned for deadliness with a blade and her unflagging vitality. The fifth was Bra'ehm Stoh'kkher, a Fell Human dubbed the Nightwalker, and known for his sharp fangs, wraith-like presence, and his hunger for the blood of the living. There was Mad Doc Skinner, a barber/taxidermist/tanner/leatherworker/physician (though physician might imply more training and knowledge than he possessed), a small and unassuming Elduman descended Uncout thrown into Beltan for engaging in all of his various trades on anyone he could ambush and capture and known for tanning and curing the faux-skin of Elduman and crafting it into surprisingly durable armor the supposedly granted him resistance to the mental powers of Elduman guards. There was also the Elduman Kormic Iron Fists, cast out by his people for blending sorcery and psionics into a single art and corrupting the fighting techniques of The Old Empire by incorporating his strange powers into them and using them to warp and change his crystalline bones into base iron. From the depths of Whurent, The New Empire jailers dragged the Shrieker, a savage and brutish Dwenoren capable of emitting shrieks that could shatter bone and rend flesh. The Black Hunter, a Sereth that dyed his grey flesh and turned it black, who became a legend and terror of the mining tunnels due to his reputation for quick and dirty knife work and stealth. One of the more feared ringleaders was Cerf, a red-eyed Elduman capable of forming blades of energy from his fists with his psionic abilities, and known for whispering quietly to the sparking blades in the midst of battle and unleashing bloody and sadistic slaughter when interrupted during his communion with his weapons. The Sleeper was a hulking Solwighta, cast out by his people and captured by The New Empire for practicing dark arts and creating legions of undead to fight by his side. Among the prisoners, even some Fallen knew him to be more a master of his arts than they were of their own. Finally, there was Dar, an Uncout of The Wild Lands that communed with beasts and with a will so strong he could command the great beasts of those lands to fight at his command.

Hmm. This is getting long in the tooth, and I am enjoying it, so I think I'm going to call it good here and continue with the other nations in later posts. 

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