Chapter Six: Rule of Misticism (p.1)

Mysticism lies at the heart of Archaea. The world of Archaea is full of the fantastic and the mysterious. There are the strange and alluring Mists. There are the ancient and enigmatic Icuni. There are the prophetic Curi. There are the Three Paths and the mistics that call upon their powers. The Elder of the Realm and the players will have more than enough to weave epic adventures as well as add a touch of mythos to their characters.

The material found in this chapter should serve as a guide for understanding the realm of Archaea and for exploring the inspirations, motivations, and superstitions of characters. However, without the skills Mistic Lore, Legend Lore, History, or some other appropriate Lore, much of this information should remain player knowledge and not character knowledge. The Elder of the Realm must carefully adjudicate what player-characters know and do not know.

The Mists

Surrounding the edges of the known world are the Mists. Stretching as far as the eye can see, the Mists are like an ever-present wall of fog that encircles Archaea. The Mists form a barrier in each of the cardinal directions like vast walls. In fact, the Mists are divided into four walls named for each compass point: the East Wall, the North Wall, the West Wall, and the South Wall.

At times in the realm's history, the Mists have shifted and moved, expanding outward as if taking a great heaving breath and filling the world with new space, new land, new life, and new possibilities. Such shifts often bring great changes and epic adventures. To explore, to wonder, and to ponder--that is what the Mists evoke. No one understands why the Mists exist or what the Mists are, but the presence of such a vast unknown sinks deeply into the culture of all of Archaea.

Some say the Mists lead to another place, a new world, to where the Icuni had fled. Some say beyond the Mists is death, and that all the spirits of fallen warriors cross through the Mists to everlasting glory. Some say the Mists are the stuff that the world is made of and that at predestined times, coalesce and weave together forming all creation.

One thing that all people agree upon is that the Mists represent the unknown and the possibility for change. The idea of facing the unknown and the search to know what has not yet been revealed occupies a prominent place in Archaean life. Through divination, through the use of the Curi--the seers, the people of the realm attempt to grasp what few clues fate leaves upon the wind. The Mists are ever-shifting, like life, and every man, woman, and child wonders about, is fascinated with, and fears this mysterious and tangible edge of the world.

No one who has ever entered into the Mists has ever returned except for the hero mage Alatannin and his Companions. Only the extremely brave or the extremely foolhardy venture close to the Mists. It is said that fell voices and enchanting lights can be seen in the Mists. It is said that strange creatures and monsters come out of the mists. Many of the old tales, legends, and myths center around the Mists that are full of truth and equally full of fantasy. Each Archaean must answer the question of the Mists for himself or herself and must come to terms with the unknown and unknowable.

The Three Paths

Below is the beginning of the Lib De Mitas or The Book of Paths, an ancient Curi text written by the first High Seer Iasa during the first Age of Heroes.

I do not know who or what built the Wheel of Time nor do I know the Moment of Its start. But the heartbeat of Time echoes far into the Past and will continue to echo long into the Future. I know that Time shall always weave and be woven by the Threads of Fate and the Pattern of Life.

On the day of Illu Di, the Day of Dawn, I left the perfect walls of Lleander. I climbed the Mountain of Seeking and sat beneath the shade of an oak tree. By midday, the brightness of the Sun fell upon the Mountain and upon my body, though the branches of the mighty tree caught part of the Light and cast a Shadow across half my face.

All grew Silent. And I heard the beat of Time. I closed my eyes and clutched my talim and opened my Mind.

I was amazed by what I was to witness.

I heard Three beats. I felt the turning of Three wheels. I saw Three paths stretching out before my Eyes--one of Light, one of Gray, and one of Night. I understood Three prophecies-one of Good, one of Neither, and one of Evil. An idle hand etched with a simple stick upon the ground a Character of Power. As if practiced, the Symbol appeared before me.

I knew I walked the Path of White and the Knowledge gave me great Happiness. I knew the Realm walked the Path of White but with Change a new Path would be chosen. And the Knowledge that a day would come when the Path of Black could prevail gave me great concern.

It was Then I knew that I, and all who came After, would strive to ensure the Preservation of the Prophecy of Good.

The Three Paths are said to govern the fate and fortune of the Realm. Each Path vies for dominance and puts people, events, and forces into motion to achieve that dominance. Each Path calls upon the great possibilities to tip chance, chaos, and potential to their favor. Heroes are born. Leaders are raised. Knowledge is found. And fortune is served. Like a swinging pendulum, the Realm moves in and out of the Light, in and out of the Gray, and in and out of the Night.

However, there is no predestination, no fixed Path. No Path is ensured "victory" but each attempts to overcome the others. Perhaps, some say, that the struggle that is most important and not the end result. There is a strong sense of destiny-in-the-making and of prophecy as embodied in the Curi and the mistical arts.

The Path of White gathers power from what is good and benevolent, from bringing light and life, from cherishing understanding and upholding the righteous. The Path of Black gains strength from turning what is good to evil, from turning light to darkness, from greed and fear and rage. And the Path of Gray gains power from stillness, silence, and void, from dispellation and cancellation, from the negation of both good and evil so that nothing remains.

The Icuni

Below is a fragment of the History of Erodon. Erodon was a scholar from Dain who studied the ruins in Icuna during the reign of Sar Caval IV. Erodon completed only this fragment while at a site in the valley of the lakes where he is reported to have gone mad and thrown himself from the top of an Icuni ruin.

What is farthest from grasp is the time known as the Lost Age--the Time of the Icuni. Only fragments remain today of what was known in the Lost Age drawn from ancient carvings and tattered scrolls found in the haunted cities of the Icuni valley and from the ruins of once powerful places scattered across the Realm.

The Icuni are said to have settled the Realm, perhaps created the Realm, before it was one under the Crown, before the Marjorans built the walls of Volagnir, before the dawn of the Talanthi, the Reiellian, the Eban, the Tausian, or the Ashuri, before the tribes of what is now called Lacia and Eldun sailed the sea and founded Sarhall. Some say all the peoples of the realm are descendent from the Icuni. Others believe that the Icuni created the first Five Families of humanity and favored their true children, the Curi.

But now only ghosts and crumbling ruins remain of the once magnificent Icuni. Everything they touched turned to marble, silver, and gold. Everything they wrought was made with detail, precision, and was touched by magic and misticism. Their knowledge was vast and their influence could be felt in everything.

But, their magic prevailed them not for they fell or fled or transcended or disappeared.

Some say that the high Icuni were of such enlightenment that they had progressed beyond the need for war and evil. With the coming of the Five Peoples, the raping steel of barbarians cut them down even as they stretched out their arms in welcome.

Some say, however, that the Icuni could not have been so naive. It is said that their all-knowing minds foresaw their own destruction woven in the web of fate. Thus, they left the world in a mighty exodus and disappeared into the Mists. In the blink of an eye, the once-great people had vanished.

Still others believe the Icuni are hidden, invisible, undetectable. Even the most powerful of divinations cannot discern their locations. They watch. They wait. And they push and pluck at the pattern of life and the lives of humanity for their own cosmic purposes and designs.

Some say they are gone forever. Others say they will once again return. For now, only the mystery of Time and the Icuni themselves know.

The Icuni are an enigma often explained only in speculation, exaggeration, and fantasy. The people of Archaea know very little of the ancient Icuni except that they built great cities--whose few ruins still remain in Icuna, in the highlands of Sarus, and on the island of Teer, that they possessed great knowledge and magic, and that they disappeared thousands of years ago.

Much of the understanding of magic and misticism comes from what remains of the Icuni civilization. The art of spellcraft, of forging magical artifacts, and the basic talent for spellcasting have their roots in the people of the Lost Age. The ways of the mistics, the rites of ordaining and cursing, and the power of the Mists have their source in the time of the Icuni.

What remains is scattered, scarce, and shattered. The bones of broken ruins have been discovered across the realm, often as small piles of brilliant stone or places of eerie, silent unease. No one knows what an Icuni truly is, though their mystery still challenges the minds of adventurers, scholars, and storytellers. Only time and fate know the truth and only time and fate can reveal all the answers.

Player-characters cannot be Icuni. The Elder of the Realm must carefully adjudicate the inclusion of the Icuni in the histories of characters.

Mistics and Misticism

Misticism grew out of the mythos of the Three Paths and the fragments gleaned from ancient Icuni texts. The power of the mistic is the ability to affect the web of fortune and gently push the hand of fate. The power of the mistic comes from the ability to shape the fabric of the Mists itself and aid or avert the course of the Three Paths.

The influence of the mistic comes from the calling and the working. The calling gathers the energies needed-energies lent to the mistic by one of the Three Paths. The working shapes, completes, and evokes the energy with the intent of the mistic to affect the way of the Paths. The calling and the working require great concentration, focus of spirit, and the gift of the Mists. The rituals performed by the mistic create the space, the thought, and the connection to the Paths needed by the calling and the working. The power of misticism is in evocation not invocation. Misticism is spiritual and magical, emotional and intellectual. Therefore, misticism seems magical but cannot be dispelled like the formulae of mages. Misticism is more than enchantment; it is investment.

Depending on the ritual and the Path evoked, the results will reflect either the light, the dark, or the void. White misticism attempts to further the Path of Light with rituals of protection, divination, and benefaction. Black misticism works to oppose and darken the Path of White with rituals of cursing, corruption, and deception. Lastly, gray misticism works to erase the Paths of Light and Night with rituals of abjuration, negation, and destruction.

A mistic must align himself or herself with a particular Path. Though a mistic may know and understand the rituals used by the Three Paths, he or she must choose when and if to evoke a Path that goes against his or her chosen alignment.

White mistics very rarely directly affect the course of fate knowing that tampering with destiny, even in minute ways, can cause later, greater repercussions. The realm of Archaea supports and condones the use of White misticism.

Black mistics have little fear of altering the course of fortune and seize every opportunity to challenge Light. Black misticism is often associated with necromancy and the Arche of Spirit. The realm of Archaea forbids the use of Black misticism and necromancy.

Lastly, Gray mistics attempt to negate the influence of both Light and Dark. Some believe the Path of Gray to be a balancing force, a neutral force but such a belief is naive. Gray mistics are extremely few in number for they live in paradox--their existence is absence, their belief is nothing, and their goal is destruction. The Path of Gray is seen to be far worse than either that of Light of Dark because it is neither good nor evil but between-on the one hand, razing, chaotic, sundering and on the other hand, indecisive, hesitating, forever stagnant.

To take on the mantle of the mistic means to forever walk the fine boundary between the Three Paths and to forever understand the doctrine of consequence--that for every action there is a reaction, for every Light there is a Dark, for every creation there is a destruction, and for every gift there is a price.

Mistic Lore and Mistic Ability

Characters do not begin with the ability to use the rituals of misticism. Only characters with Mistic Lore and Mistic Ability can use the power of the calling and the working. Remember, before buying Mistic Ability, the player-character must have some skill in History, Legend Lore, and Magic Lore. Furthermore, the character must have the skill Mistic Lore equal to or greater than the character's level in Mistic Ability. See Chapter Three for details on Mistic Lore and Mistic Ability.

Unlike most other skills and abilities, the power of misticism must be guarded the closest and carefully watched by the Elder of the Realm. Players who take on the role of a mistic must remember the rule of intent and the rule of elders. The Elder has the final word on any judgment calls regarding misticism.

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