Matthew returning for another blog on The World Below!
Last week we asked the question “What do you do?” in The World Below, covering some of the game basics surrounding your motivation to act, the challenges you might face, and the rewards you can gain by exploring the many sublime caverns of the Vast Underneath.
This time we’re answering a request by Nicolas, one of our fans and frequent commenters (hello Nicolas!), and we encourage you to likewise comment with what you want to see. We’ll keep up with these previews, and would really love it if you expressed what content or information you’re interested in for this, our upcoming fantasy game!
The existence of spirits in the World Below is something of a faithful and philosophical oddity. Followers of the Hades Tract believe that everyone in the Vast Underneath is already dead, so what does that make spirits? Bodies and even objects decompose rapidly in this environment, and many graybeard types enjoy studying the transmutation from matter to ectomatter.
But whatever the case, spirits do exist in the World Below. Some could be described as the spectres of the dead, others as nature and elemental essences taking the form of identifiable creatures, or even creatures from myth and antiquity.
Spirits exist in many forms. Some are aggressive, otherwise are quite neutral, and a rare few are benevolent. It’s believed that in the World Below, if you give respect (and make a sacrifice) to your surroundings, the spirits will in turn respect (or at least not annihilate) you.
Here’s how they’re presented in one of our upcoming books:
The World Below is home to a great number of incorporeal flying phantoms, the “ghosts” of human lore. Often unseen for long periods, these apparitions take many shapes and exhibit as varied characters, interests, and aims as living humans (from whose ranks many of them came), but none of them are friendly to the living; most are actively hostile, and most are filled with some sort of passion or rage (this fire in their minds is the reason they persist). Many of them keep secrets and want to share them with the right living — and may share them with the wrong living, for the right price.
Weaker spirits are bound to a location, but stronger ones can travel, usually to haunt living beings they’ve targeted for some reason of their own. A few spirits have unique powers, and these often make them very dangerous, for they know all the details of how to exploit and deploy their abilities if they wish to harm — and spirits delight in nothing more than lashing out at the living.
Negotiating with a spirit, as opposed to fighting one, is always a matter of offering them something, a sacrifice accompanied by a rite. This can get a ghost to leave you alone or to perform a service. The Well Liches can bind spirits into lasting service with casual ease, but these bindings are difficult and dangerous to accomplish for those who wield lesser amounts of Kaos — and impossible, without the aid of an item storing the power of Kaos, for someone who lacks Kaos power entirely.
Anyone killed by a spirit eventually becomes one, and this has become widely known throughout the World Below, so most living beings who encounter spirits prefer to pay their price or do what they want the living to do, to escape the cold fate of becoming a spirit themselves.
Dead Spirits are the restless ghosts of those who spirits murdered or who killed themselves, typically to escape a worse death they couldn’t otherwise evade. They often torment the living out of jealousy, trying to possess living bodies for short periods to do things they couldn’t accomplish or finish in life or even draining life energies from the living, and they seek (by how they haunt) to frighten and to be noticed for their tragic passings, and remembered.
Dream Spirits are rarely seen in most locales of the World Below; they cling to sites near the Fade where that twisting of Kaos known as “dream-power” — because despite much research, we lack any better term or understanding — is strong. A few dream spirits become more mobile, and fare across the World Below, disturbing the dreams of sleeping living creatures by appearing in them. They can shift amid several forms, and spin forth illusions. They may be hostile and dangerous or harmless, depending on the memories, desires, and aims that brought them into being. These mobile dream spirits will wither away to nothing if they don’t seek to reward their essential memories, desires, and aims by their actions, and they know it. Some eventually seek such oblivion, but most will persist in passionately trying to do things to remain ghostly forces in the world.
Nature Spirits were ancient before the Descent, and are what is left of gods worshiped long ago that were tied to a striking natural place or feature (like a waterfall, or deep-hole cavern), or that were important to a people now vanished or much changed, their essence clinging to something sacred like an altar bowl or crumbling weapon or other relic. They crave power and importance, and will lash out at living creatures who slight them or what they believe in, epitomize, or hold dear, or who disturb or damage something tangible they’re linked to. A nature spirit who deems a living creature a foe will reach out to something akin to their own nature (a wooden tool if they’re a tree or forest spirit, or a precious stone with a hole in it if they’re a cavern spirit) that the foe carries or will keep close, and work out of it, casting illusions and seeking to influence the foe’s actions or the thoughts and deeds of someone else who can strike at the foe. Beyond preservation of whatever they’re linked to, nature spirits are proud and willful, and have causes or aims of their own. Even more than settling scores with foes, nature spirits will strive to further their causes.
Naturally, spirits have traits too, but we’re not going to give everything away just yet!
What will we cover in next week’s blog? That’ll depend on what you request, so get commenting below!
Please continue to share these blogs. Post about them, message them to your roleplayer friends, and discuss what you want to do with this game!
16 responses to “[The World Below] Spirits”
Nicolas is in House! Bounce! You already know what I’m about! (Spirits, I’m all about spirits rn)
Seriously good stuff. I can see a use for each type in my future games;
Dead Spirits would the main army of a enemy lich lord
Dreams-Spirits would be part of a commune inspires by hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s,nobody dreams quite like those folx
As fur Nature spirits, I believe a good plot hook would be have a Nature spirit who claims they used to be part of the spiritual make up mythical sun of the setting.
Yep, you can definitely imagine a Well Lich enlisting the help of dead spirits, though they may not wish to be enslaved.
As for future blogs,now that I have my spiritual buddies with me. Is love to know just what is the whole Kaos thing?
Kaos seems to be a very popular topic!
Very interested as we see more and more. Keep up the good work
Thank you! Let us know what else you want to see.
I second the look into what Kaos is. Previously it seemed to be just akin to mutative Chaos, but then it was dropped that is it “alive” in some fashion – which is way more interesting to me, because it indicates utter moral neutrality – yes, it might remake you in bad ways, but that’s because it wants to live. The cow thinks you’re evil for eating beef, too, and yet the cow may only exist because the farmer bred it for meat.
It looks like we’ll have some Kaotic previews this Thursday!
I agree with Nicholas! I want to know a little about Kaos.
It looks like Kaos is our next topic, nominated by an overwhelming margin.
Lovely stuff! I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see a bit of info regarding those lovely Dragons we saw pictures of last year!
We will definitely get to dragons in the blogs ahead!
I’d love to know more about Kaos, it seems an important part of the setting 😉
You’ll be pleased to know there will be more detail on Kaos coming this Thursday!
Reminiscent of the Chronicles of Darkness’s ghosts, Astral entities and spirits.
Absolutely. CofD established a wonderful method for how spirits might appear and operate.