Why read the lore?
Twilight Chronicles: Underworld takes place after the death of your character who has to find out now what awaits them in the afterlife. The setting of the living world is loosely based on R. Scott Bakker's 'The Second Apocalypse' series as well as Greek and Norse mythology.
You should not write your character's biography, because with the arrival at the underworld the memories of your past life have faded. However you still should figure out these things:
- How did you die?
- Where do you come from?
- What is your character traits like?
- What is your cultural background?
Imagine as if you've lost your short-term memory about concrete events of your past, but still you are a person created by certain culture and profession who lived in a certain land.
All of this information will help you roleplay together with other people who come from the same or different regions.
To figure all these things out, we encourage to read the lore of the physical world you inhabited before you died.
The world was created by the Gods - this is known by everyone. Yet almost no one understands the mysteries associated with the Gods, especially the various churches and cults that claim to represent them and act in their name. Gods take no part in the everyday life of men, nor do they care enough to send calamities or provide a plentiful harvest. It might be that the Gods have abandoned the world after its creation, and left everyone clueless about the nature of reality and our place in it.
Despite this cluelessness, there have been several holy wars between various faiths and sects, between sorcerers and kingdoms. The world has been in bloody conflict constantly, because that is the nature of man. The most notable of such events has been the war between the Kingdom of Three Seas and the Cult of Black God, which threw the whole region into disarray for many generations, and caused the eventual downfall of the kingdom.
The advancements of mathematics and astronomy in the civilised world have determined that we are, in fact, on a round planet; however this is rather privileged information, most common folk think that the earth is flat, or don’t concern themselves with such arbitrary issues at all.
The planet is far too huge for its civilized inhabitants to have explored and drawn maps of it all at this point in time. The cradle of civilisation is the region of the Three Seas. There are stories of other, more dangerous and exotic places that only the most daring adventurers and traders have visited and lived to tell the tale.
But no matter where one would venture, the tales always include only humans of various stature and intellect. No other races inhabit the known lands. The darker places of the world are inhabited by weird and scary animals, but none of them are magical or possess any more intellect than a common dog. There are tales of ghosts, of course, and some supernatural beings would sometimes pierce the veil from Outside and gain entry to our world for their own unfathomable ends.
Spirituality and afterlife
Afterlife exists - this is known by everyone, the same as the existence of the Great Outside. Ghosts roam the deepest and darkest places of the earth, people are visited by the spirits of their ancestors, and Daimos practitioners can summon demons from the Underworld. There is tangible proof of afterlife. While many faiths profess profound knowledge of the afterlife and every region of the Three Seas is steeped in ancient and elaborate rituals for the passing of the soul, not much detail is known as fact. There are myths of ancient heroes who have traveled to the Underworld to barter with the great Charon himself, and returned to tell the tale. But they have all been hopeless romantics, mostly saving a damsel in distress, and they have just been generally too concerned with the self serving nature of their story, seldom providing any practical information.
The great Outside is everything that exists in the immaterial plane. It is vast and without beginning or end, just like the night sky. It contains everything, and our little world is but a small grain of sand, a tiny island of light in the endless dark expanse. Many religions have tried to map reality as best they could, but these maps are always distortions, favoring the one God aspect, that is at the center of their faith. However there are several key similarities in most religious texts - the same as the material plane, the Underworld is but another place in the Great Outside, a gateway to other places, a river with innumerable forks that each lead to a different sea. Mostly it is said that your soul will be measured in the Underworld and Charon will ferry you to the final destination that your soul deserves.
Sorcery and the Schools
Sorcery in the world of Three Seas is the use of language to forcibly influence reality. Or put another way, it is the practice of making the world conform to language, as opposed to philosophy - the practice of making language conform to the world.
The Few are able to look beyond the appearance of things, beyond the reality of things, into the ideal. Men, who have forgotten the voice of the Gods, can only see one angle of reality. But the Few - those who remember the voice of the Gods, no matter how imperfectly, possess the sight of many angles, a memory of thousand eyes that look out from this clearing we call ‘here.’ As a result everything they see is transformed, shadowed by insinuations of more. The Gods peer through all eyes, and the Few are those whose sight recollects something of the all-seeing gaze of the Gods and so they can also speak with the timbre of the all-creating voice.
Gnostic sorcery is based on logic - it is leveraged through the use of abstractions, which is why Gnostic sorcerers are often referred to as Philosopher Magi. The Gnosis is an expression of pure logic. Unlike the Anagogic sorcery, which uses figurative analogies, the Gnosis summons the meaning itself. Skill in the Gnosis relies on intellect and purity of meaning, while the Anagogis relies on creative metaphors and raw emotion.
The Mark is the name for what is otherwise known as the “bruising of reality”. All sorcerous manifestations and practitioners exhibit what is called the Mark. Various descriptions of the Mark have come down through history, but there seems to be little consistency in the accounts, apart from the experience’s ephemeral nature.
According to religious accounts, the Mark is akin to the disfiguring of criminals, the way the Gods reveal the blasphemers in the presence of the righteous. But apologists point out that if this is indeed the case, then it is more than a little ironic that only the blasphemers can see the Mark.
In secular accounts, textual analogies are typically resorted to - seeing the Mark is akin to seeing where text has been scratched away and overwritten in ancient documents. In the case of sorcery, since the amendments to reality are as flawed as the men who do the amending, it stands to reason that some essential difference would be visible.
Some religious texts claim that any use of magic is an insult to the Gods and eternal punishment awaits all those who dare to impersonate the Gods and their reality shaping powers even in the slightest way. There are magic user orders who shun such prophecies and regard them as fabricated lies by the religious sects designed to restrict their superhuman abilities. There are magic users who fully believe in the eternal damnation, but regardless accept and embrace the gift, because temptation to shape and circumvent the laws of the physical world is too great.
To get in the mood of the living world you're leaving behind, you are welcome to read the story about the wandering sorcerer Vincent.
There was a saying common to the Three Seas: “Only the Few can see the Few.” Sorcery was violent. To speak it was to cut the world as surely as if with a knife. But only the Few - the sorcerers - could see this mutilation, and only they could see the blood on the hands of the mutilator - the “mark,” as it was called. Only the Few could see one another and one another’s crimes. And when they met, they recognized one another as surely as common men recognized criminals by their brand on the forehead.
Final words of advice
Use the lore as a material for inspiration. Here are just some ideas what you could be:
- A pious and stoic monk from God-Emperor's realm of Vento
- A hard-working smith from Norsirai who is a devoted believer in Kind Giant
- A wandering warrior-philosopher of Sumna who travels in a barrel
Feel free to tweak and figure out something for you, because the world of Three Seas is vast and fragmented and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.