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.

 Divine Visage

To the devoted, Sekolah appears as a massive dire helicoprion shark.  With a hulking frame and a look of cruel clarity in His eyes, Sekolah has a colossal Regious Oyster shell (a bivalve shell with long protruding spikes) clenched in His radially toothed jaws.  It is from that shell that early sahaguin myths tell of the origin of their species.

The Church of Sekolah

Sekolahite clergy is comprised solely of females.  Much like how the religion lacks an over-reaching hierarchy like that of Olyhydraism, the Sekolahite church does not enforce a strong chain of command.  The majority of the church’s duties are handled by the senior females of a settlement, and are normally referred to as Elder.  They are overseen by a single Priestess, who is the most ruthless, intelligent, and savage from among the Elders.  The only other rank in the worship of Sekolah is that of Aspirant, which only applies when there is no current Priestess, and is given to the pool of applicants that wish to head the congregation.

Shrines and Ceremonies

The most infamous of Sekolahite ceremonies is the Calving of the Shoal.  It is a proving tradition that all sahaguin, male or female, must surpass to be accepted as a true member of the group.  The process begins soon after birth, when all newly hatched fry are inspected by local clergy in order to weed out the weak or malformed.  Those that fail this stage are either killed outright or abandoned to nature.  The rest, judged worthy enough to be allowed to live, continued along Sekolah’s path.

The second stage of the Calving is harsh training in hunting and combat.  Here the fry are taught to depend on themselves above all other things.  By making the children forage for their own supplies and food, Sekolah’s message of overcoming absolute adversity is learned.

The final stage is the most iconic.  This is the agoge given to each sahaguin of age wherein they must survive by themselves in the wilderness and prove they are worthy of being a predator.  The burgeoning adult is hooded suddenly in the night and taken to an undisclosed location, and left there.  It is the sahaguin’s task to free themselves, survive the harsh terrain, and return to the settlement.  Usually there is a significant battle with wildlife involved in the return, and the location the aspirant is dumped is typically chosen to facilitate this.

The Trial of Carcharodon is a similar tradition, but this time upheld by the clergy of Sekolah.  Those wishing to become the settlement’s new priestess go out into the blue by themselves and stays there until they have encountered an avatar of their god.  With the ceremonial terminology stripped away, the aspirant must face and slaughter a shark.  It is considered a good omen to be confronted with a megalodon instead, as tales have told of the “blessing of Sekolah”, which is infection of wereshark lycanthropy.

Sekolahites have little reverence for the dead.  Once the animus vitae is gone, a corpse is just so much detritus to a sahaguin.  While other religions will have grandiose ceremonies to mourn the passing of their brethren, sahaguin treat the bodies as an obstacle to be rid of quickly.  Some of the more extremist believers see the casting away of cadavers as wasteful, and reportedly resort to cannibalism in order for nothing to go to waste.

Allied Organizations

While Sekolah has no qualms with His faithful making deals with other divinities, rarely do those faithful do so.  The self-sufficiency ingrained by Sekolah’s teachings directs the faithful to manage by themselves.  This is not an active form of isolationism, such as with the Kouton, but instead more of a disinterest.

The Resurrectionists, operating under the guise of the College of Doctors, ply a heavy trade with the sahaguin for cadavers, both their own and of those they’ve predated.  Not really a trade agreement, per se, but since the sahaguin place little importance on the body of the deceased, they find little problem in exchanging what they essentially see as trash to interested parties.

Opposed Organizations

The Narwahl have a strained relationship with the sahaguin, and Sekolah strains that relationship even further.  The basic tenet that sahaguin are the superior predator will sometimes bring conflict between the two, especially the more extreme Sekolahites that view hunting of sentient pisceans — namely the Narwahl themselves — as a religious dictate.

Relations with other Religions

In many ways, the Pantheon is the biggest opposition to Sekolah’s religion.  The Pantheon is based on a balance of deities, each of essentially equal sway.  Within the Pantheon, Sekolah is often at odds with the other gods, as is his nature.  But it is the concentration of Sekolahism in the Sahaguin Lagoons sets Sekolah above the other gods in the Pantheon, and that unbalances Pantheonic dogma.

Schisms

Ira of the Wrath:  Sekolah is also one of the eight deities that comprise the Pantheon.  As Ira, Sekolah has taken on a more cognizant, interactive persona.  He interacts with the other seven of the Pantheon if not as equals, then at least contemporaries.  Ira is a more interactive deity, and shows a greater degree of interest in his worshipers.  This idealization of Sekolah is more prevalent in the Yaun-Teel Bights (where the interactions of the eight gods plays more of a philosophical guidance than a moral compass), but has found acceptance in centers of commerce and industry.  In the Pantheon, Ira has more of a piscean appearance than his Sekolah incarnation, as if permanently locked in a hybrid were-shark form.

This schism has be exacerbated recently with the spread of Olyhydranism from the north.  Sahaguin have been slowly abandoning the other deities of the Pantheon as Olyhydran missionaries encroach in the Sahaguin Lagoons.  Essentially, they are digging in against the invading ideology by focusing solely on reverence of the Devourer of All.

“You exist to hunger; you hunger to drive you to eat.
Everything else exists to sate your hungers.”
— a lesson by Sekolah the Dominar

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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…

Endless Blue – Week 77 – Aquatic Prosthetics: Restoring What Was Lost   Leave a comment

Archeology

Aquatic Prosthetics: Restoring What Was Lost

Life beneath the waves is a perilous existence.  The constant battle between the well-honed ungues of the predator and the evolutionary adaptions to escape of their prey is a constant specter.  Those escape tactics don’t always succeed, and by some twist of fat should the prey survive an attack, they rarely always survive unscathed.  The lucky remain relatively intact, with scarred-over gashes where tooth tore flesh.  But many other creatures pay a dear price for their freedom, losing limbs to the jaws of the aberrations above or the ocean predators below.  For these victims, their loss need not be completely permanent.

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