Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day Twenty-One; we’re inching our way towards a week left in Loremageddon, can you believe that? Time flies when you’re dealing with eldritch horrors that completely undo our understanding of the cosmos–anyway, today we’re looking at lighter fare: some of the workings and lore of Divine Servants, the exact customs behind fighting one-on-one in the Black Havens, and another arcanatech device of, shall we say, peculiar insight?
Uh… let’s just drop below the asterisks before I make any puns worse than that.
Today’s Snippet: Divine Servants (Worlds: Any)
Divine servants are a particular class of spirits who, as their names suggest, work directly as servants of a particular deity. As such, they have the broadest range of common origins, with certain deities preferring to accrue servants by different sources than others. Bidras, Canno’s God of Death and the Dead, exemplifies the common model; he draws his servants from illustrious mortals of the past. Because of his domain’s breadth, Bidras also has the widest range of Servants out of any Cannoan deity.
In trade, Bidras’s servants are weaker on average, though with a few exceptions–power and vitality are naturally traits of living people, not dead ones. Shepla, at the opposite end of the spectrum, calls each of her servants into being herself. She of Thorns and Bracken prefers to create something new rather than repurpose the old. True to her nature, Shepla keeps a loose hand on her servants and expects to have disagreements with them. How can she consider them properly wild in her own image if they obey her every dictum?
There’s often a significant disconnect between the personality of an “original” servant such as this and those of servants uplifted from past mortal lives. The created servants perceive the world through a lens much closer to that of their creator-patron than the mortals they’re called to serve. And this can pose problems, for the one universal purpose of a divine servant is to appear in answer to the prayers of their patron deity’s mortal flock.
Different gods use this workaround for different reasons; some, like the Tonnish war god Intei, prefer to keep their distance. Others, like Shepla and a few of the Fringe’s oldest surviving deities, dislike the mind-altering influence they and some other deities have on mortals, and use servants as far-weaker intermediaries to avoid overwhelming the very creatures they’re acting to aid. In the case of the Cannoan Pantheon, divine servants and priests are also the only ways for deities to express their will on the world under the Celestial Pact.
Servants vary widely in power and the ways they may wield it. Hosri’s servant Chakhet, for example, has extraordinary power at its disposal–Chakhet is a genderless entity manifesting as a multilimbed accretion of golden light–but can use it only to preserve the health and wellbeing of flocks tended by Hosri’s disciples. The Tonnish minstrel god, Rai, empowers his servants to do damn near anything, but only to aid performers and musicians.
It’s rumored that even more stringent pantheons such as Canno’s use their servants for power plays amongst themselves, attempting to arrange displays so as to seduce worshippers from each other or generate greater awe. But of course, such noble deities would never be so petty. Right?
Full Segment #1: Black Havener Dueling Etiquette (World: Canno)
“Stoßdär is a very civilized country. Every time I stab someone in the throat, we have given each other a week’s advance notice, updated our wills, and are wearing our best clothes.” Thus Dieter von Salvig, a Blood Aspirant, summarize his home country’s approach to dueling. While delivered with an Aspirant’s customary glibness about matters martial and murderous, Dieter’s words deliver more information than it might first seem.
Stoßdär’s Blood Aspirants have set the mode for the Black Havens since the Age of Splendors when dueling with live weapons in any form was seen as barbaric and had theoretically been banned. This ban achieved nothing since Stoßdär’s leaders despised it just as much as their subjects, and made no efforts whatsoever to enforce it. However, the duels still had to be kept out of the public eye, and this led to an unusually cordial system out of necessity. Each duelist had to trust that the other wasn’t plotting to betray them for political gain, just for a start!
Over time, these early Blood Aspirants arrived at the understanding that a duel should be fought ought of a mutual desire to test each other’s skill, not to settle petty grievances. An insult could be grounds for a duel, but ideally duels should start from respect rather than disdain; this would ensure that each duelist fought with a clear head and reduce the likelihood that either sought to rig the match. The victor, having killed their opponent, would be expected to fulfill any reasonable requests their opponent wrote into their side of the pre-duel contract.
This near-alien politeness extends to the duel itself. When the opponent makes a good stroke, the duelist should acknowledge it, and vice-versa. No dishonor should be shown to the enemy’s corpse; it’s considered a mark of special esteem to clean the fallen in the aftermath, but best to leave this duty to a mortician if the victor isn’t absolutely certain in their skills on this front. After the killing blow, the duelist traditionally cleans first their enemy’s sword, then their own, with the same silk handkerchief before applying a fresh coat of oil; this symbolizes their equal worth.
Humans being humans, someone eventually determined that–combined with a certain flat expression–mimicking the motion of this sword-cleaning with neither sword nor handkerchief to hand looks more than a little dirty, and it became a popular gesture of insult. After all, etiquette only dictates that duels should be fought from mutual respect, not that they must be!
Full Segment #2: the Omniscope (World: Canno)
An invention of the Age of Splendors, the Omniscope epitomized that brighter era’s desire to perceive and understand as much of the universe as possible. Built from multiple interlocking, telescoping tubes actuated by kinetic enchantments, the Omniscope used many of the most advanced neuroscience and physics discoveries of the day. Rather than simply converting incoming light and energy signatures into readings in the visual spectrum, the Omniscope featured a well-cushioned chair and arcanatech “braincage” that allowed its users to interface with it.
In short, the Omniscope let humans and other species see in parts of the visual spectrum they could not normally perceive. This was disorienting enough, and anyone wishing to use the Omniscope was expected to undergo psychological analysis to ensure they’d emerge from the experience whole. However, the Omniscope’s range extended beyond the electromagnetic spectrum; a skilled controller could look through portions of multiple planes wherever they came together.
In at least one instance, it was used to spy on demons in the Seventh Plane. This caused mixed reactions; most were irritated at feeling a random mortal had invaded their “off-duty” hours, and even those otherwise flattered by the attention had to ask why the idiot didn’t just summon someone if he was that desperate. Still, the Omniscope remained in operation. Outside such frivolous pursuits, it allowed in-depth analysis of the spirit realm and other such planes. The Omniscope let mortals witness the interactions between ghosts and other spirits in unprecedented ways.
Moreover, the Omniscope could look beyond Canno’s isolated realm. Prior to the Loar invasion, efforts were underway to catalogue the innumerable planar entities and otherworldly horrors thus glimpsed. These particular studies required tight controls; sometimes the operator looked too far, saw something their mind couldn’t take, and went insane. As the Omniscope needed a mage-operator for best effect, the results could be catastrophic if not contained.
True to their nature, it never occurred to Canno’s peoples to just stop the project entirely.
There we are, Day Twenty-One all tied off and shipped! As always, please let me know your thoughts in the comments, leave a like, and share this post wherever you think it might find favor. I’m getting a tad more active on Twitter now, so follow me there if you’d like to see a little more from me.