Spirits & Souls


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While the Immortals have always maintained an iron grip over the domains within Idalos, even they would be remiss not to give some credit to the spirits. It is difficult to tell whether the spirits existed before the Originals came or came into being as a result of the Originals meddling in Idalos. All that is known for certain is that no Immortal has knowledge back that far and if Raliath went back to check, he hasn’t shared the information. Spirits are a natural part of Idalos, existing largely unknown to the vast majority of Idalosian inhabitants. Spirits are life forms comprised of ephemera (ectoplasm), like a Wisp, who serve a specific function in the world at large. Many of these spirits have very simple, animalistic or child-like intelligence, needing only to understand their task rather than debate the unwieldy topics of self-determination and choice. Not every manifestation of the natural world has a spiritual counterpart, but there are many kinds of spirits within the world. Among them there exists a hierarchy with many paying homage and respect to the Immortal who rules their particular realm. Whether it was always this way or if the Immortal and Originals usurped a predecessor is also unknown.

There are two existences at work in Idalos, three if you count Emea. But for the purposes of this article, let’s set Emea aside for a moment. Most Idalosians exist on the physical plane, never seeing farther than the physical world. They may be aware of a spiritual realm, but have little cause to interact with it directly. The spiritual realm is one of spirits and souls, an overlaid existence on top of the physical. Scholars call this world The Beneath. In this realm, spirits are tied to Concepts and often affect phenomena within that very limited vein. A spirit of Laughter, for instance, might not always be present when a joke is made or something funny happens, but it can be created or lured to sites where laughter is occurring. Once there, it will aid its namesake. Have you ever laughed for no particular reason? Or was something funnier than you expected it to be? These, in Idalos, are signs of a spirit being present. For the most part, these spirits are results of the physical realm rather than the catalysts. Spirits feed on their Concept to gain strength and use that strength to encourage their Concept. It’s a simple ecosystem. A spirit rarely, if ever, acts outside their own Concept. It would be like asking an eagle not to soar. They are capable of it they may try, but they would consider it to be a breach of what they are meant to do. Some with absolutely simplistic intelligence can’t be convinced to do anything but follow their Concept.

Spiritual Hierarchy

Anak

Most simple spirits are called Anak and make up the most common classification of spirits on Idalos. These spirits often have a single specific Concept without much variation. They can encourage phenomena when conditions are favorable for that phenomena to exist. A Snow spirit would not cause the sky to snow during a heat wave unless otherwise compelled. Intelligence in these spirits varies. The newest and youngest spirits are often animalistic and instinctual while the older and stronger spirits in this class exhibit child-like understanding of the world around them. The more powerful the spirit, the more power it has in exerting its Concept on the physical world of Idalos. The oldest of these spirits can be immense and powerful, but fairly simple in their logic. A spirit of Cataclysm may encourage the Water spirits to form into a tidal wave not for any malicious reason, but because it fulfils its purpose. Although it is not certain where spirits come from, those who study them have observed that when a significant example of a Concept is created in the physical world, a spirit of it is born.

Moderator Note: Moderation is not required for Anak. Although it would be considered strange for a spirit to pass into the physical world without reason, there are no restrictions requiring a player to request moderator approval for the appearance of spirits. Most spirits granted to the Immortal marked are Anak.

Diri

The second class of spirits, Diri are far more self-determining and sentient. It is unknown what makes these spirits different from the other class or if the other class can evolve into these beings. Familiars and other strange sentient spiritual creatures which prowl Idalos occupy this class. Laughably, little is known about these creatures, save perhaps by Ashan. These spirits do not seem to possess a Concept. They have a Charge or Purpose. In this way, they have been compared to Wisps. Although Famula would argue that souls are different - souls are the ephemera of what was once mortal and Spirits never were - what ties spirits in this tier is that each has a Purpose for existing. This is not to be confused for the way Diri tend to their domain. While similar on the surface, a Charge or Purpose involves a number of tasks and one goal. Sometimes it cannot be determined what sort of decision or action one might need to employ to further their Purpose, but they need the sentience and ability to choose in order to adapt, grow, and develop. There is no straight answer for what creates these kinds of spirits. Some have cited Immortal intervention, in the vein of Sev’ryn Familiars (known in Xanthean as Osẹ-bori), and others believe an Anak old enough that has lost its way can become a Diri and evolve from what they were. Ultimately, there is no hard evidence to support one concept entirely.

Moderator note: Moderation for these kinds of spirits are on a case by case basis. Usually the write up for each spirit in this class will indicate if moderator intervention is needed.

Induk

The Third and Final class of spirit are identified for their frightening power and sentience. Called Induk, these spirits often take names for themselves that differentiate them from other spirits. Although this is technically a third class, these spirits have more similarities with the first class than the second. While the second class could be considered aberrational due to the unknown nature of their creation, the Third are natural evolutions and may suggest what might have existed before the Originals arrived on Idalos. Induk often grow from simple spirits. A spirit of Snow might eventually become strong enough to trigger a kind of evolution and become a spirit of Winter. These transformations are rare, as the Immortals usually handle the domains, but they do occur. An Induk, then, is a spirit of Concept with a wide array of sub-concepts that make up its power. Furthermore, an Induk will manifest as a specific example of their widened purview. The Induk of Wisp Wood, for example would be the spirit of the entire forest, holding a hierarchy of spirits completing tasks to keep the forest healthy and vibrant. Following the example, a spirit of Winter might have purview over Ice, Snow, Storms, Cold, Frostbite, etc. This Winter spirit might take the form of a winter storm that rolls down from the mountains and name itself as the spirit of the Storm. Now, natural phenomena happen regardless of Spirit intervention. Whether this is because an Immortal sits at the helm of a domain or because it was always meant to happen is unknown. However, an Induk is capable of unleashing phenomena in powerful and unexpected ways. They often differentiate themselves, can be as smart or smarter than humans, and think in strange and alien ways to what those of the physical realm might consider rational. While bound to their Concept, an Induk is far more capable of determining how it manifests and when. These rare spirits occupy ancient places in Idalos, rarely venturing out into the world lest they meet a disagreeable Immortal. No two Induk think alike and are all capable of having their own opinions and goals.

Moderation Note: Induks, like Immortals, require moderation. The scale and power of these spirits is immense enough that their arrival and presence in a plot should be handled by a Prophet.

Examples of Anak, Their Appearance, and Powers

Concepts: Laughter, Sorrow, Snow, Eagles, Wind, Greed, Lust, Stones, Mountain, Lakes, Puddles, Horses. Concepts can cover all range of emotions, creatures and plants, weather patterns, natural phenomena and all others in between.

Appearance: Spirits are variable in their shape and size. When describing one in a thread, creativity is encouraged. As these are spirits of Concept, they may look a bit abstract. A spirit of Laughter may be swirling light that moves with a chuckle and speaks from smiling mouths. A Stone spirit might move on legs of pebbles and shale and speak from grinding its stone arms together slowly. Wrathlings (spirits of Anger) are often small, spiky balls of red pulsating light that snap for blood and destruction with a voice of growls and snarls.

Powers:

Influence: Depending on the age and power of the spirit, minor to moderate influences of their own phenomena can be accomplished. Usually they will only exert this power if conditions are favorable. Knowledge: A spirit intrinsically knows everything about its Concept. A Horse spirit could tell you if your horse likes how you ride it, or if it was sick. A Rain spirit can tell you down to the bit when the clouds will open and spill water, and how long it will last. A River spirit can whisper of upcoming obstacles or hidden stones, and a spirit of Murder can tell you who has blood on their hands. Spirits don’t ordinarily surrender this information without cause, if at all. Usually they accept gifts related to their Concept, something to feed on, as a means of obeisance.

Example: Presenting a Horse spirit with fresh oats, or the preserved material left behind from a horse’s birth. A Rain spirit might appreciate a gift of water for simple favors and may require the sacrifice of a beloved object that can easily be damaged by water to be left in the rain for more significant boons. A spirit feeds on its Concept but also draws power from Intention, a quality all mortal races possess.

Manifest: A rare power among spirits and only exhibited in very old Concept spirits, Manifestation allows them to take a temporary physical body in the physical world. They will usually take a body that is linked to their Concept and an Animal spirit is more likely to have a Manifest ability than a Mountain spirit. Why would a mountain need to manifest? It’s already there. There’s no need. Spirits can appear in the physical reality without manifesting. When they do so their bodies are translucent and hold no real substance, save a vague cool feeling and a minor electrical shock.

Possession: A very rare power that only manifests in very old Concept spirits. This allows a spirit to meld with a physical being. Used temporarily, this process can be painful and uncomfortable for both parties. Used prolonged, madness and physical mutations as both parties lose their minds.

Intention is nearly indistinguishable from Devotion. Both spirits, Immortals, and even some souls can draw power from this quality. It is the freedom of choice, but the choice to dedicate action, belongings, or even ones life for a concept or other being. While a mortal cannot gain any power from Intention on their own, Immortals, spirits, and souls can. What may seem like a curious sacrifice for a spirit or Immortal is less about the object and more about the importance a mortal puts in it and the choice to dedicate its destruction and that value to the Immortal, spirit, or soul being appeased.

Examples of Diri Appearances and Powers

Names: Harvester (Abberation), SkinWalkers, Familiars, Sprites, Nymphs,

Appearance: The second class of spirit exist as a defiance to other spirits. While they technically share more in common with spirits than they do with humans, some were once human and others eschew the low intelligence of Anak or the Territory of Induks in order to take on a Purpose. In this way, they’re similar to souls. In some cases, these were once mortal souls that were transformed or repurposed either through divine intervention or immersion in Emea. Some, like the Harvester, came from stranger realms still. Many Emean spirits fall into this category, necessitating an entire other method of classification. What is known is that many of their motives and minds are alien, difficult to understand by Idalosians, but in many ways they are easier to parlay or deal with than the vast alien intellects of the Induks or the stubborn simplicity of the Anaks. The field of spiritual study is ever expanding and as it does, this sloppy classification is sure to evolve.

Powers:

More than Induk and Anak, Diri have a much wider suite of abilities. Not tied to concept or territory, these spirits tend to have powers related to their Purpose. Each spirit in this classification has a reason for being that isn’t always hard to ferret out. This Purpose is their core and few deviate it from it. While they share many similar powers to Induk and Anak, the rest of their abilities more often delve toward the curious and unique.

A Skinwalker’s purpose is to attach itself to a mage. Once it does, it has the power to freely enter Idalos and work to its own goals. A Familiar’s purpose is finding its physical being/Sev’ryn and unite with them to grant abilities that neither would have had alone. Purpose and Charge are just ways of defining the Diri reason for being, which often indicates its powers

Examples of Induk, Appearances and Powers

Names: Wisp Wood, Hotlands, the Boneyard, or any other landmark steeped in history. Induk take the names of the area they rule over. Some storms have names that return year by year, likely an Induk in its elemental fury.

Appearance: Spirits of this magnitude often have trouble manifesting as a purely tangible ‘thing’. Their minds and natures are complex and alien to most on Idalos and their forms reflect this abstraction. Many find it insulting to distill themselves down into the limited body and appearance the other sentients of Idalos would consider ‘normal’. They speak with the elements or through the shaking of leaves. They are the place around you and their opinions resonate in your bones. Granted, the Induk are a mixed bunch and some are quite content to cater to mortals in order to make a point perfectly clear. Just as the Immortals have their different personalities, so do the Induk. Most pay their homage to the Immortal whose domains best represent their position but some speak of allegiance to something more powerful still, Idalos itself. These spirits consider Immortals no more than interlopers, pretenders from far off realms of chaos and primordial madness.

Powers

An Induk has all the powers of an Anak, but to much more immense degrees.

Territory: An Induk is often large enough to claim a territory. This could be a mountain range, an entire forest, the length of a river or the circumference of a storm. The Induk is aware of everything that occurs within their territory Command: An Induk has obtained the respect of the lesser Anak spirits. Even the oldest Anak spirits show deference to the might of an Induk, as well they should. An Induk has the power to evoke commands, much like Pact magic, in lesser Anak spirits and even some Diri. It can force spirits to act outside their alignment and use their Influence even when conditions are unfavorable.

Aegis: An Induk is more than a concept, it’s a constant on Idalos. This power gives it immense resistance against harmful magics and incursions. Unless the phenomena that spawned the Induk is destroyed, an Induk will reform within their territory... even if their spiritual corpus has been completely destroyed. Sometimes this process takes a long time and the Induk is never quite the same as when it was first manifested. Some spiritual scholars believe the mantle of the Induk is passed to an old and powerful Anak in that realm, but the truth of such claims have never been verified.

Sink: The most fearsome ability of the Induk falls in their ability to create powerful vergences or even shift in and out of manifestation without creating a vergence at all. An Induk bleeds through the barrier and can force physical beings to sink back into the spiritual realm with it. Image

Spirits and Immortals

Although it cannot be determined whether Spirits predated the Originals or came after, it is at least obvious that the Immortals play a role in a Spirit’s hierarchy. For the most part, the Immortal sits at the head of the totem. Spirits of warfare and violence bow down to Raskalarn just as plague Spirits show deference to Lisirra. The Spirits treat the Immortals as if they were the strongest Spirit within the pantheon. They are always happy to help the Immortal out in spreading more of their Concept and most Spirits can’t differentiate that the Immortals aren’t Spirits at all.

This confusion also applies to the marked and Mortalborn as well.

Note: Every Immortal, Marked, and Mortalborn can see Spirits. Whether they are manifesting, appearing, or passing unseen in the physical realm. Immortals can without trying but for the others, except in special cases, they have to actively ‘try’ to see spirits in order to perceive them. No one save the Immortals, or perhaps special marked can see into the Beneath.

All spirits talk in their own sort of tongue. This is a tongue rarely understood by outsiders or even some other spirits. However, those who fall under a domain automatically understand a spirit’s speech and, in turn, have their own speech understood by the spirits of their domain. A Wrathling’s gnashing teeth and growls can be understood by both Syroa and her marked. However a Rain spirit would just sound like falling water to the same Immortal and marked. While a spirit is always of favorable disposition with an Immortal or their servants, they still expect to be appeased when performing tasks. The level of the mark determines the deferential respect given. First marked are considered similar rank to most new spirits. Adored command the respect of an established spirit, on neutral terms with most. The Exalted is treated with immense deference, but near obedience from most Anak in their Immortal’s domain is what a Champion can command. Mortalborn are treated with a mixed range of emotions from spirits. Given they are both of an Immortal and of the physical world, most Anak can’t figure them out. A Mortalborn might have the most varied responses from spirits who cannot decide what proper respect might be. More than a few view the marrying of physical and spiritual in the hybrid of a Mortalborn to be a complete aberration.

Can a Spirit Die?

Yes, although it isn’t death as mortals understand it. When a Spirit is destroyed, their ephemera rended beyond recognition, they simply cease to be. A spirit destroyed cannot be ordinarily brought back. There is no known afterlife for a spirit. Sometimes spirits fight each other. Bravery Spirits will hunt Cowardice spirits while sun Spirits will try and devour local Snow and Ice spirits. There is a hierarchy of things, but it is as natural as predators hunting prey. Some powerful spirits manifest in the physical world when they perish. A powerful River spirit that is slain might cause the nearby river to flood over the banks or cut through stone and dirt to carve out a new tributary. It is rare when a spirit of such power perishes but it is always felt on Idalos.

The Familiar Pact

The Sev’ryn are a peculiar race that are forced to seek out their bonded spirit, the Osẹ-bori. Since the destruction of their race by Lisirra, their souls became tightly bonded to a specific Diri. Since birth, their reincarnated selves have sought their specific Osẹ-bori. Until one finds the other, neither are complete.

The Sev’ryn Familiar is considered a second class spirit as they share a Purpose with their physical counterpart. Each party is destined to find the other to complete themselves. Until then, they feel a constant pull of Purpose towards one another; however, an Osẹ-bori is inclined to have their Physical person seek them out to create a Vergence so that it might enter the Physical world. A Sev’ryn might feel a yearning for companionship or a desire for a particular kind of environment. Sev’ryn with aerial creatures as their Osẹ-bori may seek wide open places where the wind rustles their hair while others with small, nocturnal creatures may prefer careers after dark. Rarely will a Osẹ-bori create a Vergence to seek out their person.

The Sev’ryn race are capable of seeing their own Osẹ-bori without high spirituality or a mark from an Immortal. It is generally considered rude and inappropriate to seek out another person’s Osẹ-bori. Even marked and extremely spiritual people try their best to avoid communication with another person’s Osẹ-bori, as this may be considered peering into someone’s “soul” without permission. Those that do not understand how the Sev’ryn race communicate with their Osẹ-bori often learn this rule the hard way.

Osẹ-bori fall into two categories: Category I and Category II. Category I Osẹ-bori have been with their bonded through many lives and take the appearance of normal animals. They are the older Spirits. Category 2 Osẹ-bori are young and have been through significantly fewer lives with their Physical counterpart. Familiars will travel back to the Spirit world when their time in the Physical world is complete for that life. They will wait in the Beneath until their physical counterpart seeks them out in the next life.

There are ways to kill a Osẹ-bori, but since the pact between it and the Sev’ryn is considered ‘high-risk’, the death of a Osẹ-bori is devastating to the physical person. If their familiar dies prior to bonding, they will feel an eternal loneliness and lack of purpose. Many of these Sevir are shuttled into groups and tended by family and community members that take pity on them. Those that lose their Spirit after a bonding will often be more difficult to manage. Having their Osẹ-bori torn from them is often extremely painful and leaves a mark on the mind that will never heal. They will bounce from depression to periods of extreme aggression and back again. Osẹ-bori that lose their physical counterpart will often return to the Spirit world and await the rebirth of their other half. The destruction of a Osẹ-bori is considered sacrosanct. While the physical half can always be reincarnated, if the Osẹ-bori is destroyed than that Sev’ryn is lost forever, and will not reincarnate.

More information can be found in the Familiar Primer.

Mortal/Spirit World Crossover

Because the physical and the spirit world are not separate entities and are overlaid upon the other, it is possible for holes to appear, just as Fractures appear in the world and cross the boundaries between the physical world and Emea. These mostly unknown gaps, called Vergences, create an opening between the physical world and the Beneath. These openings are never stationary and even the largest and most stable of Vergences will last no more than a few trials at most, before closing. Surprisingly, they can also be created by mortals.

In the case of the smallest Vergences, the process is so simple, it is most often triggered by complete accident. Whenever a mortal, knowingly or unknowingly, creates a class 1 spirit through exhibiting that spirit's Concept, that person and others might catch a glimpse of the Spirit they have made. Examples of events that may cause a Vergence include a rampage of rage and destruction of property, reducing a crowd to hysterical laughter, or many mortals mourning over the loss of a loved one. These tiny windows, appearing sporadically throughout the world, might be the only evidence that most will ever find that there is a world beyond their own, excluding Emea. The amount of a Concept that needs to exist before a Spirit is born tends to be immense and happens only in rare circumstances. More often, Concept Spirits can be seen when the spirits themselves open a Vergence and use them to feed from their Concept in the physical world. Afterwards they quickly slide back and hide where they have their strength.

Larger Vergences, ones that affect class 2 spirits, require significantly more effort to open. Therefore, they can never be opened accidentally. Larger Vergences can also be opened by Diri and sufficiently powerful Anak. Spirits can bridge the gap between the physical and Beneath by using Vergences to partially, or in some cases, completely cross over between the worlds. Most notably, these Vergences are often created by mortals or Familiar to form a bond. Because the nature of larger Vergences is different to that of smaller ones, it takes more than a simple alignment of Concept to open a larger Vergence. A person must share the same purpose, the same drive, and the same unrelenting ambition as the Spirit does. Unless a mortal has a specific ability or knowledge, opening a Vergence in this way is never conscious, usually a flexing of soul at the right time. This is why it is impossible for a Familiar to not share the same ambitions as that of their physical companion. In most cases, if having this raw drive is not enough to open the Vergence, it is enough to draw the attention of the spirit and make them open the portal instead. However, this is still no simple task. A Diri is somewhat vulnerable when transitioning from the Beneath to Idalos and won’t undertake the task lightly. For more powerful and larger Anak, this opening can be a precursor to direct meddling in the physical world, aligned with their Concept.

The largest of Vergences are rare and tend to warp the reality around them. In Massive Vergences, the laws of gravity and physics may skip or stutter as a strange blending of the Beneath and the real world swirl in. These Vergences can be created by the oldest of Anaks and any Induk, but most will choose much smaller ways to slip into the physical world. An opening of this size usually means the Induk or Anak wants to use the full range of their powers or has the desire to pull someone or something into the Beneath.

Sometimes, if conditions align correctly and a Spirit is particularly strong, it can engage in Possession. Ordinarily this power is not available to Spirits. Trying to merge, even temporarily, with a Physical being, especially one who still possesses a soul, is painful. For powerful Spirits, when possession is achieved either willingly or by force, they can communicate through the possessed in the language their victim knows. Should a Spirit overstay its welcome in a body it curiously begins to merge with the possessed. To stay too long in the Physical realm invites a madness to these Spirits and those who remain in the bodies of mortals or beasts can change them into monsters, both lost to the madness of the experience.

A partial merge, or Shadowing, occurs when a spirit invades the mind of a physical being, but without the power or intention to seize control. Instead it can only communicate. While touching the mind of the mortal, they are aware of the spirit and can see it whether it has chosen to appear or manifest. Although it communicates in images at first, the easiest transition between the language of spirits and mortals, prolonged contact will begin to interpret the spirit’s communication as words rather than simple images. This is also a rare occurrence, as a spirit must make itself vulnerable to attempt this method of communication. A strong Resistance, Meditation, or Discipline can usually shake the spirit out, except in cases of the truly powerful.

Another phenomenon, completely unrelated to the alignment of Concepts, is the changing seasons and their effects on the connections between the Spiritual and Physical world. At certain times of the arc, most notably around the beginning and late days of Ashan, as well as the middle of Vhalar, the lines that separate the physical world and the Beneath blur in convoluted ways. It is completely unknown why this happens, with no amount of outlandish speculation able to justify, and so remains one of the great mysteries of Idalos. It’s assumed that they come at times of great change in the world; the death of Daia, the Great Shattering, even the first appearance of the Immortals. Even though the dates of these events are not actually known, it can only be speculated that they are related and little more.

Notable Days

7th-15th of Cylus

With the birth of the new arc comes a major shift in the world and its connections to the Spirits. Though the true scale of the changes is staggering, there are few that have any noticeable impact on the physical world and those inhabiting it. Most notable is, for a short time, the ability for those able to see Spirits (gifted, spiritually-tuned or most likely marked individuals) to exploit the weakness between worlds to perform reverse-possession. Usually unintentional, a person might, during a limited time-frame, exit their physical body and possess a first-class Spirit. Second and third-class Spirits are often competent enough to resist the possession process but lesser Spirits, in their child-like intelligence, will find themselves completely overtaken. From that point on, until the person finds their way back into their body, they will only be able to interact with the physical world in ways relating to the Concept of the Spirit they have chosen. Unfortunately, this event is not all fun and games. For those who accidentally possess a Spirit, they must find a way back into their bodies before the connection breaks, which will cause their souls to completely separate from their bodies, turning them into Spirits in their own right. Many individuals have died in this manner over the past arcs.

12th of Ashan

A widespread phenomenon that allows, over the course of the day, even unmarked mortals the opportunity to partially see the Spirits that surround their world. They form as translucent flickers of light and darkness to those without the ability to see them already, and to most, often appear to dance through the air and across the ground. Many speculate that this might somehow be related to Daia.

31st of Vhalar

An important date for Famula. For one night only, souls are able to return to the physical world, allowing loved ones to see and talk with their deceased relatives, should Famula accept the rituals carried out across Idalos. Not all souls return during this time, but it is presumed that any soul not being punished (or that isn’t led from punishment as an example) has the choice to return. A soul that does so cannot remember the world beyond and can only vaguely recall their own death.

Difference between Spirits, Souls, and Familiars

Although both made of the same substance (ephemera,) (ectoplasm to those who study souls), a soul was once a mortal who lived and died on Idalos. A spirit was never mortal and was always a spirit. This distinction is vitally important, although the lines can blur toward class 2 spirits, whose very existence seems an effort to defy this divide.

A Soul / Ghost = Deceased Mortal
A Spirit = Never Mortal, an entity of Emea.
An Anak = A simple spirit that has one single Concept (Snow, Water, etc.). It is not a human.
A Diri = Familiar spirits occupy this class.
Induk = A frightening and powerful spirit that has a single Concept (Snow, Water, etc.) and multiple sub-concepts (Ice, Storm, etc.).