The glacial pace continues. Spirits of the Underworld took me a while because I wasn't sure how to approach them, and I wanted at least one of the nifty fiction sections like in Spirits of the Land.
Spirits of the Underworld
The souls of Men long for the Celestial Spheres, but are
drawn by morbid gravity to the Depths.
For those souls that have found neither fate, there is the Underworld, a
place of cold and darkness. The
Spirits of the Underworld were once human souls. Some might be again, purged of their
past stains until they are light enough to ascend and be reborn. Others have been twisted into something
Souls are bound into the Underworld for several
reasons. Those who die without
proper funeral rites to clear their way to the heavens have nowhere else to
go. Worse yet, there are rites that
will bind a soul to the Underworld.
Even with all spiritual care, some souls are so burdened that they cannot
make the journey. An ill-chosen
oath can leave a soul so bound, as can unfulfilled vengeance or desire. And finally, those slain by creatures of
the Underworld are often transformed into creatures of the Underworld
themselves. Thus does the curse
The great majority of spirits of the Underworld are
incorporeal and trapped within the cavernous depths. They can be called up by sorceries in
the dark of the night. Such spirits
might have greater or lesser power.
The strongest can kill men, or drive them to madness. The weakest might be able to do no more
than dim the light in a room or create a chill. But even the weakest of spirits might
have knowledge. Those who practice
the Dark Arts most often seek knowledge.
Spirits do not willingly part with their secrets, however. There is always a motive or a
price. Only the most powerful or
clever of Necromancers escape such transactions
This was the fall of Ahankara, that the people were
prideful and haughty, and denied hospitality to a passing traveler. This man bore the dark mark, and saw the
world through one dead eye. He
spoke no ill of those who wronged him, but in the dark of night dropped a
polished black stone into the town well.
Every night thereafter, the dead arose to howl through
the city on dark, cold winds. They
grew stronger with the waning of the moon, and weaker under Her light. Under the new moon, anyone caught
outside was in risk of death, and of arising as a shade himself. At other times, the howling was enough
to sunder sleep and to erode sanity.
The people of Ahnkara were wealthy, and promised gold to
any wizard who could banish the ghosts, but the ghosts whispered to the
necromancers of Ahankara's sin, and none would stay. To this day, no one knows what sin
Ahankara committed against the wandering sorcerer. Her once proud people were reduced to
being wanderers themselves, and if they settled anywhere, ghosts would come to
hound them. In time, few people
even remembered where the city was.
And at the center of a ruined city, at the bottom of a
well, perhaps the stone still sits.
Some Spirits of the Underworld do not need to be
summoned. They are bound to the
Land, fettered to some place or thing or time. Most often, this is the result of a
sorcerer's spell. The slaves of a
mortal king might be bound to guard his grave and protect his grave-goods from
robbers. Rarely, though, an object
or place exerts such a strong pull that a soul might be bound to it
Spirits so bound are more resistant to the light of day
than others. Their powers are often
diminished, but they can still act or speak.
Kal the Bloodwulf took the land of Geth by force of arms and force of
will. The symbol of his rule was
Kallenfang, a sword crafted for him by the greatest swordsmith of his age. Fire and Blood were bound into the
blade's metal, and the heart of the Dragon of Geth was set into the pommel. With the blade in his hand, Kal was
unbeatable until slain by trechery.
His son, Kel, took up Kallenfang, and with it, took up the might of his
father. Kel died in the plague
years, and the whole land mourned, for Kel was as dauntless as his father, but
far kinder. The blade passed to his
grandson, Dal, a child of Kel's daughter.
Many thought that when Dal came to rule Geth, he would have to face the
dragon, but the great wyrm recognized his claim, and he ruled with his
grandsire's wisdom and his greatsire's courage.
The land of Geth fell many years ago, but the line of
the Bloodwulf survives. They are
slayers and reavers and men of great renown, with the courage of heroes and the
wisdom of kings. And one day, one
of them will destroy each of the petty kings who rule what once was Geth, and
rebuild the Bloodwulf's domain.
Still other Spirits of the Underworld are able to leave
its depths in corporeal bodies, grotesquely reanimating their own corpses or
sometimes the corpses of others.
Ghouls, Revenants, and Vampires are of the Underworld even though not in
it. The Land rejects such beings,
and the light burns them to some degree, although they might withstand it longer
than fleshless shades. Animate
Un-Dead are often very difficult to destroy. Magical rituals might serve, or weapons
of Power. Fire is often
efficacious. One fortune of Men is
that many such creatures are vulnerable to some special thing, often silver, the
Moon's metal. But in the night,
when ghouls are shrieking for your blood, silver might be in short
Gamespeak: Spirits of the Underworld will be handled in a
similar manner to the Spirits of the Land.
They'll have a list of capabilities the GM can "shop" from. I expect that there will be some kind of
bestiary of sample monsters, but I want the setting to be mysterious, so I'm
leaving a clear option for unique Spirits.
One power Spirits of the Underworld might have is the
ability to possess humans. This
could be good or bad, depending on the degree of control and the motives of the
spirit. I'm particularly
considering it in the case of fettered spirits. Someone wearing the torc of a bound
ghost might be able to draw on his strength and skill. Alternately, the medallion of an ancient
sorcerer might hold his soul and take control of whoever puts it on so that the
sorcerer could live again.
Some basic rules that bind all Spirits of the
-Light is bad for them. To some degree, they're bound by
-The Land rejects them. Spirits of the Underworld have some sort
of taint they spread. It could just
be a chill in the air, or it could be that plants die, milk sours, and so
on. The worst ones might spread
plague just by existing.
-Spirits of the Underworld exact some price on creatures
of the Land. Ghosts will share
their secrets, for a price.
Revenants need revenge.
Vampires drink blood. A
Spirit of the Underworld can't just exist, although the price doesn't have to be
particularly terrible. In one of
the above examples, it's just that the holder of Kellenfang has to uphold the
Bloodwulf legacy, or the sword will reject him and the spirits won't advise him
or lend him their strength.