Endless Blue – Week 83 – Ahto, the Indifferent Sophist   Leave a comment

Theology

Ahto, the Indifferent Sophist

It is easier to go along with the flow of the tide than to swim against it.  Too much worry and pain stems from trying to alter that which is not alterable, to react out of emotion instead of contemplation.  Whatever will happen, will happen, and you will survive it if you do not struggle against it.

Ahto was once a god of creation, credited with the complexities of Elqua’s coral reefs and the lattice-work of ley lines.  As His concern spread across all the globe more and more, the minutia of every tiny plankton and protozoa has consumed all of His attention.  Slowly, the god’s attention has dwindled away from His faithful.

Now a withdrawn god, Ahto is more intent on contemplating the larger issues of Elqua’s existence; the course of her currents, the health of her biomes.  With each passing moment He is drawn deeper into a megalithic abyss of contemplation, and He sighs.

As Ahto has become more withdrawn, He communicates less frequently and more abstractly with his congregation, as His attention is focused elsewhere.  Instead, he depends on established dogma to guide his flock’s travels.  His lessons teach that focusing attention on an obstacle and forcing it aside is foolhardy.  Now that the Creator of Coral has given the gift of Xanthellae to His faithful, it is their responsibility to carry on His work.  His attention lies elsewhere…

Ahto, the Indifferent, the Sophist, the Reclusive Sage, Creator of Coral, Xanthellaette, Acedia of the Despair

Alignment: Neutral Good
Symbol: Wave of water
Domains: Animal, Good, Luck, Magic, Protection.
Preferred unguis (weapon): None
Clerical Weapon of Choice: Any
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic good, lawful good, neutral good, neutral.

Divine Visage

Ahto is depicted as a swelling wave of water, scintillating with blue and green streaks and veined with ley lines.  His eyes are two glowing nexus points that flicker as if in dream, below a crown of vibrant, living coral.

The Church of Ahto

Byzantine and tsaristic in demeanor, bhuddist and taoist in behavior, Ahtoism is charactarized by the right to privilege.   Ahto dogma concentrates on the aristocracy of the Chelon.  The Chelon Emperor rules by right of decendence from Ahto.  To try and change this is folly.  It is easier to cure favor with the aristocracy.  It is futile to work against the establishment, so instead let it work for you.  Forcing change is disruptive; let change happen as it will.

The Church of Ahto is controlled through the Chelonite government.  It is their right, as decedents of Ahto’s spawn.  The head of the Ahtoan Church is called the Minister of Theology, and below him are the boyar (head called Daedal Boyar).  The duties of these priests are more political in nature.  Below the boyar are the counts, lead by the Baroque Count.  These clerics are responsible for the Church’s bureaucracy.  Then there are the barons, with the Rococo Baron as their head.  They are assigned domains across the Chelon Sea and are in charge of the sacerdotal operations of their area.  Priests of local parishes do not have a claim to Ahtoan lineage.  These clerics, called viceroys, have a bestowed nobility backed up by the Church hierarchy.  There is no leader figure for the viceroys, all of whom must pay respects to the Church’s “true” nobility.

Priesthood for Ahto is served by specific family lines.  These line claim relation to one of the many spawn of Ahto, and thus claim divine right.  As death comes to the Ahto lineage, the soul is reincarnated in the next generation.  Should a successor line ever be killed off, the Count Baroque and his court must research the closest genetic tie to the bloodline to inherit the mantel of divine leadership.  As the centuries have past, the number of “researched” heirs has increased, and this has led to an elitistism among the faithful for the “old religion”, a time when those that should have been in charge held power.

Shrines and Ceremonies

All Ahtoan churches maintain coral gardens near their buildings, which are always located on the nexus points of ley lines.  These three-dimensional paths through the colorful environment form mazes that are beautiful to behold.  The reef thrives on the energies from the ley lines, and will maintain their splendor long after the natural surroundings are in decline.

Critics have posited that the building of the Chelon Spires are in many ways a plea for the errant god’s attention.  The Vastness above the waves is seen as hell, and with each spire being built coming closer and closer to breaking the surface of the waters, the Chelon are metaphysically challenging Ahto step in and protect them from their own folly.  And since no Ahtoan miracle has happened, His followers despair.

Ahtoan diviners have recently discovered their abilities of precognition have been hampered.  Where once they could cast their minds into all the future of Elqua, now they can see no further than a few years forward.  Previous prophecies told that the current Cerulean Epoch was to be a grand era in history, lasting for centuries.  Now, is seems that promising future has been cut short by an indigo darkness, featureless and endless.  Some claim this is more evidence of Ahto’s indifference to his congregation.

Allied Organizations

With the seeming diminution in ability of faithful Ahtoan diviners, some reached out to the Synesthete Synod, only to discover they too have had their powers dimished.  An unofficial pact has formed under the name of Second Sight, in order to discover a cause and to bypass the apparent barrier that obscures further divination.

Opposed Organizations

The Order of Anthozoa believes that Ahto’s gift of coral shaping has been leeching the animus vitae from Elqua’s coral reefs, and thus contributing to the death of the water world.  They take it upon themselves to rend the ley line connections that Xanthellaettes use to power their shaping.  Ahtoan priests, as representatives of the Chelon Sea government, have been given carte blanche when dealing with criminals of the Anthozoa Order.

The Church of Ahto has further persecuted a sect of ascetics known as the Kappa Eremite.  These eremites have denounced the Ahtoan dogma of passive resistance, and instead espouse a philosophy of active determination in one’s life.  Only through effort can anything withstand the strength of time and nature.  Without effort, both will wash you away with the currents.  While the Kappa Eremite believe in action, they shy away from violence.  Instead, they focus on verbal sophistry and  chicanery to sow dissent among the populace.

Relations with other Religions

Sashelas has stepped in and taken up the responsibility that Ahto seems to have abdicated.    Proclaiming Himself the new protector of Elqua has made things difficult between the two organized religions.  Ahtoans feel their domain is being usurped, while Sashelites feel they are the only ones that can restore the balance of the Endless Blue.

Schisms

Acedia of the Despair: As a member of the Pantheon, Ahto represents not just the sloth of not acting, but the acedia of not believing, not wanting.  As Acedia, Ahto takes on even more of a dissuaded, uncaring light.  Passivity and disinterest keep Acedia from His duties, making the god into a parasite among his other deities.  Acedia’s moral lessons mostly hinge upon the lesson of sharing information or acting to avoid problems.

“Only once the silt has settled and the sea is clear
can the truth be seen by the patient learner.”
— an Ahtoan axiom

Endless Blue – Week 82 – Sekolah the Dominar   Leave a comment

Theology

Sekolah the Dominar

Life is divided into two parts: the prey, and the predator.  Every living thing consumes something lower than itself for sustenance.  It is this predacious cycle that elevates the lowest wretch to higher standing.  Sekolah is the apex predator, and his chosen are His school, destined to hunt the horizon-less oceans for eternity.  Eat or be eaten; but be sure you’re the former.

To say Sekolah does not care about his followers is to misunderstand the religion’s dogma.  It isn’t that He does not care for them; instead He insists they take care of themselves.  Sekolah personifies the belief of “only the fittest shall survive”, and His greatest desire is nothing less than all His congregation should survive.  It is His greatest commandment, and it cannot be accomplished by mollycoddling they young fry.  If a sahaguin cannot survive on its own skill, it does not deserve to live.

Sekolah, the Dominar, the Great Predator, Devourer of All

Alignment: Lawful evil
Symbol: A shark
Domains: Destruction, Evil, Law, Strength, War.
Preferred unguis (weapon): Jaws
Clerical Weapon of Choice: Jaws. claws, cestus
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic evil, lawful evil, neutral, neutral evil.

Read the rest of this entry »

Endless Blue – Week 81 – Olyhydra: The Mistress of Law   Leave a comment

Theology

Olyhydra: The Mistress of Law

Life is toil.  You must work to survive, and even then you are not guaranteed a respite from your labors.  But following the Law is the only path to salvation.  Strict adherence to the dictates of Olyhydra ensures that however brief the anguish in this world, by doing Her bidding secures your reward in the next.  Eschew temptations that steal you away from your work, and dedicate your life to doing Her will.

Unlike most other Elquan religions that foster morality through promises granted in this lifetime, Olyhydra promises eternal salvation after death.  The un-saved are buoyed up to the surface world, where they suffer unending torture and anguish among the aberrations there.  This is why the dead float upward.  It is how things work; it is the natural law.

Olyhydra, The Stern Goddess, Mistress of Law, Mother of Suffering, Matron of the Waters,  Judge-of-All, the Path to Salvation.

Alignment: Lawful neutral
Symbol: Elquan scales and the melusine tail
Domains: Force, Law, Protection, Strength, Water
Preferred unguis (weapon): Bident, a two-tined trident
Clerical Weapon of Choice: Tridents at lower levels (priest through deacon), bidents for upper echelons (bishops on up).
Cleric Alignment: Lawful neutral, neutral, neutral evil, lawful evil.

Read the rest of this entry »

Endless Blue – Week 80 – Nautilus   Leave a comment

Archeology

This is one of the earliest images I envisioned for the Endless Blue setting: a Roman-style nautilus helmet.

Nautilus Helmet

Nautilus Helmet

Piscean aesthetics favor the natural coloration of a material, and artisans compliment that rather than obscure it with pigments or plating.

Endless Blue – Week 79 – Tidal Malaise: Sickness in the Seas   Leave a comment

Biology

Tidal Malaise

Wherever life thrives, other forms of life evolve to prey upon it.  Such is the ancestry of the great oceanic predators like the carcharadons and pleisosaurs, but not all aggressive creatures embraced the evolutionary path that led to massive size.  Some of the most lethal forms of life in Elqua are too small to be seen.  These are the microbes and viruses that take advantage of the ocean currents to travel from host to perspective victim.

Complete submersion makes transmission of communicable diseases easier.  Unlike our world, where the air makes it somewhat more easy to avoid contaminated sources, water flows every where, and eventually through the gills of all pisceans.  Because it is so easy to catch a disease when you float in shared fluid, Elquan society has created social taboos and mores to govern daily life, all with an eye on preventing the spread of maladies.  Dietary constraints are a major deterrent used by piscean life, and especially the Church of Olyhydra.  The lists of animals and plants that are deemed “unclean” by the Olyhydran dogma is long and convoluted.  Further sanctions on where bodily waste may be expelled, avoidance of spawning waters, and a myriad of other laws dictate the life of the devout Olyhydran.  It is no faint claim that Olyhydrans call their diety “the Harsh Mistress”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Endless Blue – Week 78 – Whispered Secrets in the Deep Sound Channel   Leave a comment

Physics

Whispered Secrets in the Deep Sound Channel

It cannot be emphasized enough how much water engulfs the world of Elqua.  At only 5% of its surface being land, it is a world that is nearly submerged beneath vast, deep, and consequently heavy oceans.  The pull of gravity on the great expanses of water overhead makes the layers beneath become more compact.  As the accumulating weight above pushes downward, this increasing pressure makes the water below compress more and more, which as a result creates such problems for oceanic life as crushing pressure and maintaining buoyancy.  However, there exists an interesting positive effect of this highly compacted water molecules: the Deep Sound Channel.

The deep sound channel is a phenomenon where the speed of sound is heightened to a maximum due to depth pressure, water temperature, and salinity.  Water is a superior medium for conducting sound, since there more molecules closer together to propagate the sound wave.  Distilled water is approximately 4.3 times a better conductor of sound than ambient air.  Adjusting for saltwater, colder temperatures, and pressure, and that rises to over five times as conductive.  As these factors increase the deeper you go, the water takes on superior sound refracting qualities that rival sound propagation above the waves,  Sound can be carried more easily and farther at the expense of less energy.  This is the manner in which whalesong travels so far and remains viable.  And here, both literally and figuratively, is where the magic happens.

Read the rest of this entry »

Endless Blue — Player Race Illustrations by Vincent Coviello   Leave a comment

In the fall of 2013, I had the pleasure of commissioning a series of nine digital paintings by Vincent Coviello (V4m2c4 on DeviantArt).  Each image has a tight line drawing, a full color illustration (as seen below), and a final background composite.  Many of the magnificent details in these drawings came from Vincent himself, and his input was spot on.  During the whole process I could not help myself from checking my email compulsively for the newest sketch or update.  I may have suffered a little bit of withdrawal when he finished the project.

Illustrations of the player races in the Endless Blue Campaign Setting.

Illustrations of the player races in the Endless Blue Campaign Setting.

 

This and some of his other work has been recently featured on IO9.com in the article “Can We Please Have More Diverse Dragon Designs Like These?”  His hard work and talent are plain to see.  It was a pleasure working with Vincent, and hopefully, someday I will again…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: