The Path of Penance
- Animism: People pay homage to spirits, rather than worship gods. Spirits reside in all things in the world. Some of these spirits have grown strong enough to have awakened a sentient form. These spirits are arranged into a hierarchy known as the Infinite Choir. The Choir is sub-divided by both power and aspects. For example, the spirits of the sun and moons are in the Celestial Choir and spirits of the sun are in the Solar Choir. The Sun is generally considered to be the top of the Choir. Clerics, druids, and other divine spellcasters make contracts with spirits to share in their powers. While many spirits make individual contracts with divine spellcasters, some spirits are powerful enough to contract with entire orders of spellcasters. The Empire’s official spellcasters is the Order of the Everlasting Sun.
- Arcane spellcasters: With the proper resonance and constant effort, Bards have awakened enough of their soul to have access to arcane magic. Wizards are not known to exist (They do exist and are an available class. Please speak to the GM if you want to play a wizard).
- Dragons: Dragons are servants of the Empire. Over 800 years ago, they attempted to destroy the Empire. The dragons took to the skies for generations, called the Flight of the Dragons, but were eventually defeated. This period was known as the Subjugation of the Dragon Lords. They now serve the Empire willingly and unwillingly under the power of magical collars.
- Elder Races: In the beginning of time, there were two races of beings, the Godkins and the Daimons. Both worked together to bring the universe and all the creatures in it into existence. The Godkins, with their penchant for order, led the great endeavor, while the Daimons, with their vast imagination brought color and depth to the worlds. However, a rift developed between the two races. The Godkins followed a complex plan to develop a singular paradise. Conversely, the Daimons kept changing things, destroying and mutating at their whim. This eventually led to open conflict, which threatened to destroy the universe they both had created. As a final measure, the Godkins created the Labyrinth to imprison the Daimons. They expended almost all of their power in saving the universe, bringing it to the form it is in today, and trapping the Daimon forever. Before falling into a deep slumber, the Godkins transferred the last of their power to worthy creatures of their world, entrusting them with its protection. These creatures were the first Sorcerers.
- Guilds: Adventuring Guilds began during the time of the Subjugation of the Dragon Lords. Elite groups of mercenaries sought out and brought down dragons and helped reign in the chaos they caused. Their continued existence is due not only to a dangerous world, but also for two reasons. First, at the end of the Warring States period (around 600 years ago), the Emperor decreed that Guilds, rather than armies, would resolve issues between the States. Secondly, they provide the entertainment of the Guild Wars. As the Guilds fought, they gathered crowds. Arenas were built to house their battles. People backed their favorite guilds and rooted for them. The Emperor’s personal Guild is the Reapers. The Mask of Gems Guild is the Burning Blades.
- Karma: People believe in the cycle of karma and reincarnation. The actions you perform, the promises you keep or break, affect your eternal soul. The state of your soul matters when you are reincarnated into your next form. Oathbreaking is considered one of the highest sins to karma.
- Labyrinth: People believe in an ultimate punishment for those souls who reject their soul’s resonance. That punishment is being sent to the Labyrinth, sometimes called the Maze. The Labyrinth was created by the Godkins to imprison the Daimons for all eternity.
- Masks: The ruling class uses masks for two reasons. First, sorcerers can not be directly looked upon by the masses. In order for them to interact with society, masks are used. Secondly, masks preserve the sancitiy of the offices of the Empire. It is the mask, not the sorcerer wearing it, that is revered. Masks range from the ornate full masks of the Sorcerer-Kings to a simple veil. Many masks are enchanted to provide additional benefits to their wearer. The Emperor’s mask is called the Mask of the Watchful Steward. The ruler of the Kugyo Isles is called the Mask of Gems.
- Planes: The planes are visible from the world as thirteen moons. The four inner moons (roughly the same size and though a little further distant than our own) are tied to the elements, air, earth, fire, and water. There are nine outer moons (just visible with the naked eye) tied to the alignments. This is where souls reside while awaiting reincarnation. They are: Abaddon (NE), The Abyss (CE), Elysium (CG), Heaven (LG), Hell (LE), Limbo (CN), Nirvana (NG), Purgatory (N), and Utopia (LN). Educated arcanists theorize that there are many more planes that cannot be seen. In addition to these moons, there are several planes that coexist with the world. They are: the Astral Plane, the Ethereal Plane, the Shadow Plane, the Positive Energy Plane, and the Negative Energy Plane.
- Resonance: Along with karma, people are taught to believe that their soul resonates with a particular aspect. For example, a fisherman is a fisherman because his soul resonates with fishing. A soul that resonates with fishing would make a poor blacksmith. By following your resonance, you refine your soul into a purer form. The purest souls are those that become sorcerers. Youthful people often rebel with this concept, but usually come to believe it as they mature.
- Sorcerers: Sorcerers are the ruling class in the Empire. The Empire teaches that people only become sorcerers after their souls have been refined over lifetimes of trials. The Empire actively seeks out those who are born with the Talent for sorcery, known as the Rapture, and brings them into the Empire. This is generally looked as a great blessing, as the child and their immediate family are taken into the Empire, all their needs are provided, their social status raised to Blooded. Only Blooded and Sorcerers are permitted to look directly upon a sorcerer.
- Soulless: Being named Soulless is the highest sentence that the Order of the Everlasting Sun (and thus, the Empire) levels at its greatest enemies. This sentence is basically condemning the individual to the Labyrinth without hope of reprieve. Teaching claims that every so often people are born without any resonance, only existing to tear apart the fabric of society. The term comes from the myth that as the Daimons were being entrapped, they leveled a curse at the world. They vowed that their presence would always be felt. Thus, the Soulless were born. In common use, it is the worst curse you can level at someone.