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A background for an Everway game.
The world of Girandole is a roughly flat semi-infinite plane with a mostly Earth-landscape. A stream of suns fly from east to west across the sky giving a day-night cycle as they pass overhead. More than one are often visible at the same time. There are three moons, Alath, Erishal and Ganth, in a roughly constant position at the zenith of the sky, which oscillate slowly about one another (taking a month to do so); they are always overhead regardless of where in Girandole one is. The sun(s) go in front of them. The smallest of these moons, Ganth, is the same apparent size as the sun(s) in the sky. Some say the moons are where the gods live(d). Whether this is true or not, conjunctions of the moons (which occur every twelve years or so) are times of magical significance; the exact effects of the conjunctions are unpredictable and vary widely. There are stars in the sky. They never move and, again, are always in the same position overhead regardless of where in Girandole on is.
Dragons exist, and are highly powerful and intelligent; unicorns and griffins also exist. There is one other numerous sentient race, the Reptile Men (from GURPS Fantasy Folk). They are a reclusive race and live in inhospitable deserts and the like. They once had a mighty civilisation but it was shattered in the war of the gods, leaving only wandering tribes, who worship dragons. There are also occasional magically 'uplifted' sentients (cat-men, mer-creatures, minotaurs, centaurs etc.) and things such as golems and animated armour.
Long ago there was a war between the gods of two realms, that of light - Girandole - and that of darkness - Erebus. This caused the forcible joining of the two realms, and the shattering of where they joined, in the far north, into hideous shattered badlands at the edge of the void forming an irregular edge with huge sharp mountains and fractured land. Many, if not all, of the Gods of both realms died in the war, and even now their vast corpses are scattered here and there across the land. Some say they did not actually die, but simply sleep, conserving their energies for the final battle between light and darkness.
Beyond the badlands of the north is the black abyss of Erebus, another universe in which a black sun burns in the depths of the void among swirling black clouds, somehow illuminating things in black and casting lighter shadows. Black stars burn overhead; sometimes shapes move across them, occulting stars. Hideous things of all kinds, the enemies of light and life, live in the void and on the northern edges of the badlands.
Deities of Girandole
The great many deities of Girandole are arranged in a pantheon of relatively equal deities, ruled by their Emperor Yarish, of whom the Emperor of the Morreghast Empire is the earthly representative. No one deity holds exclusive sway over any given person. People pray to different deities depending on their needs of the moment (rather like the Roman deities in the real world). The major gods are:
- Yarish. God of life and light, the Emperor of the Gods.
- Alath, Erishal and Ganth. Triple Moon deities, after whom the moons are named. All female, they are deities of cycles, order and fate, one of them representing cycles, one order and one fate. Precisely which is which changes with each conjunction of the moons..
- Vanwe The Protector. Some say he takes the spirits of the greatest warriors to stand by him in the last battle against the gods of Erebus.
- Namris The Hunter. Allegedly responsible for the creation of a number of types of were-creatures.
- Idd, the Purring Goddess. Goddes of dreams and cats. Allegedly responsible for the creation of were-cats.
- Puisne The Judge. Deity of law and justice. Prayed to by those seeking justice or revenge.
- Javdan The Artificer. The goddess who was the maker of the world, and the living things upon it.
- Jaythan The Bronze. Created by Javdan the Artificer, who could not have children of her own by normal means. He is a huge riveted bronze figure, animated and given life of its own by the power of Javdan.
- Zanardis The Singer. God of art and creativity. Source of inspiration.
- Catarayn. The god of Fortune and Change. He has a rivalry with Puisne in some circumstances, spring from his general wish to stir things up.
Girandole has no god of war, but The Judge instead. This is because, before the invasion of Erebus man lived in harmony with himself, the gods, and the world. When Erebus invaded, evil and disorder were sown everywhere, leading to war, strife and various other afflictions.
Most spirits of the dead of Girandole are reborn, shorn of all traces of their previous existence. There is no karmic determination of where one is reborn, and no heaven or hell. Certain types of death, particularly violent death, can suspend this process as the spirit clings to the world of the living, seeking something, and becoming a ghost. All living things have a spirit, and they are reborn in different forms in each life.
Lycanthropy is seen as something given by the gods, and as such is neither good nor evil. However, vampirism is seen as bad, as something given by the gods of Erebus. There are also Bales (as in GURPS Fantasy Folk) whose racial abilities also derive from the dark gods.
Deities of Erebus
There are more powerful beings in Erebus than in Girandole, it seems, but unlike the many gods of Girandole, the powers of Erebus are divided between a small number of powerful gods, and a large number of much less powerful minion creatures. Ravens are thought to have come from Erebus as creatures of Mallendrad, but no-one knows for sure.
- Mallendrad. God of Darkness and Death. The Anti-Life. Emperor of the Dark Gods.
- Akellis The Killer. The god of war and destruction. His symbol is a sharp and jagged fractal triangle, which easily scratches the skin of anyone who wears it.
- Silence. Of the Void or of Death. It stands for unchanging stillness, stasis and boredom.
- Mardranal The Corrupter. Who is responsible for vampires and the like, and who is also allegedly responsible for bringing ravens to Girandole.
- Mekkis. Goddess of Delirium and Illusion. She is like a huge insect-centaur thing - a horizontal torso with four insect legs, and a vertical torso with two insectoid arms, plus a praying mantis-like head, with huge faceted eyes. Oily iridescent colours swirl over her eyes which pull the eye of anyone seeing her and trap their mind in her illusions.
- Vandis The Dark. God of darkness and murder.
- Shikandis. Goddess of beauty and lust.
Their holy books tend to be rather unpleasent tomes. For example, a holy book of Akellis might be bound in black leather, with pages of vellus which look rather like human skin, and words on the pages which appear to have been tattooed on, rather than simply written.
- Dakoril. Father of dragons. As far as the dragons are concerned, just the oldest, largest and most powerful male dragon, who, with Mlandis, long since moved on to higher things (or planes).
- Mlandis. Mother of dragons. As far as the dragons are concerned, just the oldest, largest and most powerful female dragon, who, with Dakoril, long since moved on to higher things (or planes).
The gods sometimes give people or families magical gifts, usually in the form of unusual powers of one kind or another, and also back the learn-able powers people call magic. Schools of magic evolved from the temples of various gods. With the going of the gods they still teach how to use the gods powers; how this is done differs. Some are still very religious; some are not. Many gods are still worshipped, though little magical power derives from them.
It is entirely possible that there are other gods of other races, as yet unknown...
The largest known state in Girandole, the Morreghast Empire extends for thousands of miles south, east and west, encompassing many cultures. It is linked by roads and shipping routes, and lines of magical communication. It many districts are ruled by nobles appointed from the capital. The upper classes of the Empire tend to have names reminiscent of those of ancient Greece and Rome.
Clothing styles in the Empire are generally medieval. For nobles these are long robes for men and long dresses for women when inside; when outside nobles tend to wear doublet, hose and long coats. Lower class individuals of both sexes tend to wear just doublet and hose whether inside or outside, plus coats and the like in cold weather; these are obviously of lower quality than those worn by nobles (or are nobles cast-offs).
The currency of the Morreghast Empire is divided into Imperials, Librium, Shillings and Pennies. These relate to one another as follows:
The Morreghast Empire is ruled by the God-Emperor from the Bronze Palace, a magically constructed palace which really is of bronze - a mass of hemi-ellipsoidal 'domes' and 'towers' glistening with windows, many of which fly flags and banners, in the capital of Kallidan. Kallidan is situated around Jaythan Bay, where the god Jaythan plummeted from the sky after being killed in battle with Akellis. The Bronze Palace, is allegedly made from fragments of Jaythan�s body, and covers an island a little offshore in Jaythan Bay, linked to the shore by the Bronze Causeway. The Iron Citadel adjoining the palace is the headquarters of the Emperors Guard and centre of the Morreghast military. It is allegedly made from parts of Jaythan's weapon.
Kallidan is warded against the presence of dragons. None have ever been seen there.
On the tip of a peninsular furthest north lies Fortress Mallendrad. It is the furthest northern outpost of the Morreghast Empire. It is built on and around the immense petrified corpse of Mallendrad, a dead god of darkness. His corpse is more than ten miles long, a huge demonic humanoid merged with the ground. Mallendrad's power, even in death, is tapped by a huge shaft into its heart as a black stream of power and drives a warding of vast power which protects all the lands of light, using like against like. It is a garrison to protect the lands of light from the creatures of Erebus, and is the largest such defence, at the centre of an array of large Egyptian-style obelisks which run along the edge of the void and also form part of the warding.
Mallendrad is a huge, rambling half-abandoned structure (similar to Castle Gormenghast from the Mervyn Peake trilogy). There have been no serious attacks from Erebus in nearly a thousand years, so the fortress has been allowed to slide somewhat, becoming essentially a punishment posting. Because of its position it never sees more than blood-red twilight which leaks over the badlands. Living things found at Mallendrad include black birds and bird-like creatures, bats, rats, cats, black lichen/moss and many types of fungi (up to tree-sized). The Fortress is lit with many candles (in huge candelabras) and oil lamps; all public places are kept lit. The candles are of a special type made from some dark-dwelling fungus which essentially evaporate, leaving only a little water and a pleasant smell.
The Skeleton Lands
The location of the final battle between Namris the Hunter, and his pack of Hounds, against Mekkis and Vandis plus many dark minions. It is a high alpine plateau at the edge of a mountain range. In the centre are the petrified body of Namris, locked in death with that of Mekkis. Nearby is the skeleton of Vandis. For tens of miles in all directions lie the bones of the Hounds of Namris and the dark minions, lying where they fell. The bones go very high, the tallest higher than the mountains.
There are several temples in the area, some dedicated to the worship of Namris, others to Vanwe, where they maintain the wards against the effects of the presence of Mekkis and Vandis, who are held responsible for the slightly dark miasma which hangs over the area, a heat-haze-like shimmer in the air, which seems to twist unpleasantly, and the high level of ghosts, illusions and madness in the vicinity. The temples are named after the body part which they are closest to. Examples of this are the Temple of the Third Rib and the Temple of the Scapula. Temples tend to be large and sprawling complexes, with large main meeting halls, chapels to both specific gods and the gods in general, and gardens, both vegetable and ornamental. They are usually walled, but the walls are not always terribly strong or well-defended.
The monks and nuns in the temples perform various roles, warriors and mages as well as simply priests. One of the rituals performed each year, in high summer, is the Sacred Hunt of a single, sanctified beast, the Sacred White Hart, a wily and dangerous creature, which carries the regalia of Namris - a crown and neck-chain. This is done in honour of Namris, the Hunter, to keep his presence strong in the Skeleton Lands, and the honour of performing it rotates from temple to temple over the years. The Hart is hunted across the land by a single hunter, and is either killed or escapes (this latter happening roughly one time in ten); whichever outcome occurs, Namris has been honoured. Tribes of worshippers of the Dark Gods, Akellis in particular, have made attempts to abduct the Hart and butcher it, thus weakening Namris' influence in the Skelton Lands.
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Copyright © Tony Jones, 2005.
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.