Glossary of Atheria

   Here are a few of the common terms you’ll find in use on Atheria, along with the rules for using the Blood of the Dragon. Other materials for Atheria are linked on the Atheria page and on the general d20 tab.

 

An-Ywor: The monotheistic creator-god of the Varnic Church. Traditionally the first Namer and the bringer of order to the multiverse. An-Ywor has never been known to intervene directly, but messenger spirits from him are said to have appeared at times. Most Varnic priests wield clerical magic, although rarely very much of it. Most other religions acknowledge the existence of a creator-god, as well as the observable existence of the Dragon, but doubt that he/she/it actively intervenes in affairs as small as those of any single universe.

Barbarians: According to the Imperium, and to HuSung, anyone who doesn’t live within their respective borders. According to most reasonably civilized regions the inhabitants of the “Barbarian Lands” (i.e: anyone who’s birth-imbuement is Totemistic). Barbarians are generally mistrusted and seen as somewhat “less than human” due to their difficulties with highly organized social environments. The fact that this is an inherent feature of their birth-imbuement is one of the major reasons why the Barbarian Lands remain a collection of squabbling tribal holdings and why the Imperium’s periodic attempts to take the area over always fall apart eventually.

The Blood of the Dragon: The terrible energies of the dragon – the forces which define universes and their separations – run deep beneath the structure of reality. A would-be magus can reduce the effective level of a spell by up to 5, and commit it permanently to memory, by giving up permanent attribute points equal to the reduction. Casting such a spell radiates alien energies – those of the dimension that the caster is tapping into – into the environment and produces extremely disturbing “special effects”. As an example, a dedicated magus might have given up two points of strength to forever afterwards be able to cast “fireball” as a L1 spell. Unfortunately, Transmutation spells which actually change something , including Universal spells but not spells which simply move things around (such as Animate Rope, Levitate, Control Water, Move Earth, Telekinesis, and Control Weather) cannot be reduced in level by the Blood of the Dragon. The natural resistance of items in one universe to the powers of an alien universe seems to cancel out the benefits of drawing on energies from elsewhere.

   Characters who have replaced portions of their essence with the Blood of the Dragon have essentially turned themselves into the embodiment of a personalized pocket-realm in which certain powers are far easier to tap. Unfortunately, this turns them into aliens in their own world. Most of the major religions of Atheria forbid the use of this technique, believing that each spell cast with the assistance of the Dragon undermines the structure of reality just a little more.

The Breath of the Dragon: Mana. Mana is rarely found in it’s “pure” or purely spiritual form. It’s normally filtered through living creatures or through the energies of the land itself. Mortals are very limited in their ability to control pure Mana: it places them in dangerous contact with the unity of the Dragon. Tapping into anything more than a trickle of Mana is said to place the recipient at risk of losing their true name to the Dragon.

The Coils of the Dragon: Time, particularly in its cyclical aspects. Also the immense “river” of stars apparently wrapped around the world.

The Dragon: The primordial embodiment of space, time, matter, energy, and spirit. In theory, everything in existence is simply an infinitesimal shard of the Dragon, separated from it simply by being Named. In practice, most people consider the “inanimate” – or at least nonbiological – universe as being fundamentally different from themselves. While this conveniently ignores the existence of elementals and similar creatures, it’s easy and somewhat comforting.

   The people of HuSung supposedly worship the Dragon directly, revering it as the Emperor of Heaven – however most of their day-to-day faith concentrates on the lesser spirits they believe responsible for keeping particular aspects of the world running smoothly. Most other faiths say that the entities they invoke may be powerful, but that they lack any kind of “divine mandate”.

The Dralithar, A.K.A. “The Great Darkness” or “The Ancient Enemy”: According to a few (very) old fragments, whoever, or whatever, drove the human race to colonize Atheria and seal the dimensional paths behind themselves. Any details seem to be long lost, beyond the reach of any ordinary divination magic.

The Eye of the Dragon: A nearby lenticular galaxy, seen at a slight angle and nearly bisected by an immense dark streak – the “pupil”. According to legend, the Eye has glanced towards Atheria at least once before, unleashing massive disturbances. When the eye turns fully towards Atheria, the world will end.

The Imperial Lords: The Emperor and prior Emperors of the Alarian Imperium. While they are worshiped as Deities within the Empire, head up its official religion, and are reported to make regular appearances to advise and support the current emperor, most outsiders do not believe the Emperors to be divine. Actual “priests” within the Empire never serve the Emperor or his ancestors (The current Emperor, the Imperial Generals, and the Patricians fill that roll). The common people, most priests, and the patriarchs of the great houses, generally respect their ancestors, but mostly worship local godlings. Imperial Priests tend to be Witches, Mages with a religious bent, or servants of local powers.

Languages: The major languages of Atheria include Illerian (a somewhat lilting language spoken in Dernmarik and the Iretan peninsula. Most of the best current poetry and music is in Illerian. For conveniences sake, Illerian names can be drawn from Gaelic and Celtic sources. Illerian is fairly young compared to most of the other major languages and is written using the Imperial alphabet), Havril (the rigid, formal, and somewhat harsh tongue of the Alarian Imperium has been nearly unchanged for thousands of years. For convenience’s sake, Imperial names can be drawn from classical Latin and Greek. Legal documents and engineering manuals are usually written in Havril, using its simple phonetic alphabet), Varalung (a complex tonal language spoken in HuSung in numerous dialects and in High, Middle, and Low forms – which is a headache for visitors. For conveniences sake – and because the cultures are in some ways similar – names for characters from HuSung can be drawn from Chinese and Japanese sources. While it’s little-known in the west, HuSung has a rich novelistic tradition and a substantial printing industry despite the large number of characters needed to record its several-hundred subtly-different basic sounds), Ikunn (spoken throughout the Barbarian Lands, as well as – oddly enough – in Mri. For convenience’s sake, names for these regions may be drawn from Old English sources. Ikunn supports a tradition of sagas and heroic tales in the Barbarian Lands, but the people of Mri forbid all non-religious writing. Ikunn is something of a puzzle to read, since its runic written form has no vowels), Dravisan, Ortic, and Laran (spoken in Chelm. Given the wide variety of small tribes in Chelm, and their fierce independence, virtually any obscure tribal source will do for names from the area. Many ancient magical documents are written in the complex symbolic glyphs of these languages, apparently in the belief that it would serve as a code to protect them against misuse), and Chordath (the old tongue of the Iretan peninsula and Dernmark area, mostly suppressed during the last Imperial occupation of the area. Unsurprisingly, it was written with a minor variant on the standard Imperial alphabet).

   Minor languages include Mordan (a tongue found in a few ancient documents and druidical spells, apparently imported from another dimension. Surprisingly enough, quite a few nature spirits are familiar with Mordan), Takkon (the most common demon-tongue, if somewhat unpronounceable by mortals. Fortunately it also has alternate gestural components. It’s commonly studied by summoners), Baassinn (a language cobbled together to communicate with the Vorinax; the insect-like inhabitants of one of the nearby realms. They’re formidable, if less then overwhelming – but are favored by summoners thanks to their specialized caste-talents, the ease with which they can be contacted, their extreme reliability, and the fact that – while they are nearly impossible to control directly – their services can simply be purchased. The tongue has no written form; all record-keeping Baassinn have eidetic memories. The “true” Baassinn tongue uses hypersonic vibrations and chemical cues as well as words), Draconic (the near-legendary tongue of the lesser Dragons. Most Dragons reportedly insisted that no one else could speak it without an awful accent and mangling the pronunciation. It’s written form is highly ornamental, as the coloring of its complex glyphs is as important as their shape), Honodath (at least in legend, Honodath is the ancestral form of Havril, and possibly of many of the other languages of Atheria. These days its only of interest to scholars), and Yeth (a droning language demanding excellent breath control, Yeth is said to be spoken by some of the more dangerous creatures of the glaciers and icefields. Oddly, those who become fluent in Yeth tend to suffer from hot and cold flashes, icy breath, and very peculiar dreams).

The Lord and Lady: A pair of fertility-nature-hunt deities worshiped in Parack and the Iretan Highlands. Their priests normally wield druidical magic. They reputedly intervene quite a lot, manifesting themselves by taking worshipers as temporary avatars at regular festivals to bless the flocks, fields, and people. While this does seem to work, most outsiders feel that this is merely a bit of ritual magic built into the festival traditions and that the Lord and Lady are hardly what they think of as “Divine”.

The Otherworld: The Spirit Plane. The home of most magical entities, including the Fey/Nature spirits, ghosts, elementals, demons, benign spirits, and similar creatures. It may or may not include the various “afterworlds” (if it doesn’t, there are certainly links). The spirit plane is accessible via some spells, astral projection, on certain days of the year, and through natural nexi. It is NOT another dimension, it’s simply an immaterial – and perhaps the most important – aspect of Atheria.

The Thousand Scales of the Dragon: The relatively “nearby” worlds/dimensions. Apparently a mixture of worlds which are physically nearby and worlds which are simply easy to reach from Atheria. Several of them host dangerous entities that mages are known to occasionally bargain with. Humans are an immigrant species on Atheria, but their world of origin is long lost.

True Name: Everything has a true name, although people may go by nicknames or use-names. Sentient beings normally have individual true names. These are always unique – although sometimes they sound a lot alike – and are both links to their owners and a magical definition of their very essence. Only the most powerful and terrible of magics can affect a true name.

Walking the Dragon’s Spine: Dimensional travel in general, unshielded dimensional travel in particular (note that this will replace a mortals birth-affinity with a magical domain of Atheria with the “Extradimensional Human” template thanks to his or her exposure to, and forcible imbuement with, the unfiltered energies of the Blood of the Dragon), and ESPECIALLY the practice of simply using Reality Editing and Dernmarik’s loose dimensional structure to simply walk between the Thousand Scales of the Dragon. As a note, the northern spur of the Rian Mountians running through Dernmarik is also commonly known as “The Dragon’s Spine”.

 

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