Campaign of the Month: November 2007
Glossary of Important Terms
The following are terms that any citizen of a modern Evidian society would understand. Most are directly related to the phenomenon of atma and its effects on nature and humanity.
Atma: A name given to the intense, ephemeral spiritual energy that occupies all living things born into the world. Atma has a physical form seen only rarely over the course of history so far. It appears as a viscous, brilliant blue fog or liquid, filled with millions of tiny crystals that pick up and refract light in numerous directions and hues. No one is sure how atma works so far; all that is certain is that a specific amount of atma is apportioned to a person upon their birth. That small amount of the substance is what most people refer to as a “soul;” it grows with the person and becomes an entirely different substance after a life’s time, having absorbed memories and feelings from countless stimuli. In this way, atma that has belonged to a person is much different from free-floating or “wild” atma. The former is like a creature unto itself, capable of living independantly to some degree as a ghost or spirit would, while the latter is a wild amalgamation of primordeal essences. It is possible for people to come into contact with and absorb a dangerous amount of atma – the substance will cling to any living thing that comes close if it hasn’t already resided in someone or something to begin with. Those who have been poisoned with an overflow of atma are considered to be in a state of “Atma Saturation.”
Preta: Humanoids who have succumbed to atma saturation to the point where they become feral creatures and attack innocent people. Whereas some cases of atma saturation result in “wild card” reactions, the vast majority of those saturated end up as preta. Most preta are easily distinquishable from normal people by their bloated appearance, vacant expressions, and a sickly blue glow to their skin and eyes. Being infused with life force to the point of madness, preta continue to grow and develop as their lives are allowed to go on. Preta who are saturated as children grow into adulthood, and those who reach old age usually die of natural causes if they aren’t hunted down first. This fact tends to be the most disturbing detail of a preta’s existence to casual observers, as the creatures are clearly bloodthirsty monsters at this point, but are still developing as the people they once were. Since the Second Age came about, military powers have formed specialized groups to deal with preta outbreaks by neutralizing them.
Well: General term for a large body of atma contained inside a magically partitioned chamber or building. Wells have almost always been found in the ruins of cities long abandoned, usually so deep underground that mages cannot detect them by normal means. Only two wells have ever been found with atma still in them – one during the First Age on the razed continent of Morose and one recently on the outskirts of the city Cheudre. Both structures have been incredibly large, able to hold at least a small lake’s worth of liquid atma.
Wild Card: A name given those who succumb to atma saturation, but exhibit symptoms different from a run of the mill preta. These individuals are exceedingly rare and often regarded with a misguided sense of wonder by religious groups and select governments. Scientists have determined that the trait which influences wild cards is genetic, but are unable to determine what exactly it is or how to cultivate it. Wild cards exhibit any number of symptoms from the emergance of psychic or magical powers to insignificant genetic mutations. On the rarest of occasions, a wild card’s body will resist the invading atma outright, expelling it into the ether.
Animists: People who possess the wild card trait and are able to shape atma as they see fit to serve them in everyday life or through conflict. Animists are incredibly rare, and when they begin to appear in the world it is said great calamity will follow them. It is rumored that the spilling of the Wells was brought about by evil animists who were trying to bring about a woldbending, but were unaware of their ineptitude. No animists currently exist, but the potential is always there.
First Age of Man: Referring to the time before the first Well was emptied and mankind as a whole succumbed to atma saturation. During the First Age, technology was at an all-time premium and mankind lived a life of collective luxury. During this time, a war broke out between rival nations that led to the discovery of the first Well and the spilling of its atma. The First Age came to a close with the regression of all peoples into a paranoid, feral state. This continued for over six thousand years.
Second Age of Man: Referring to the time after the worldwide atma saturation had seemingly run its course and mankind returned to its intended state of being. There was a collective “wake up call” among the peoples of the world and, after generation after generation of preta had been breeding across the planet, people began to return to their normal lives. As recorded in the history books at Gandharva, this awakening happened in the year 0 (zero) exactly. It is suspected that the reason this date sits at zero is because the calendars of the world were universally reset to this date. This claim is furthered by the suffix PA or “post atma.” Although some religious groups have placed a spiritual significance in this date, it is unknown whether or not their claims are valid.
Dark Ages: Referring to the period in between the First and Second Ages of Man, during which the civilized races of the world were reduced to animalistic behavior due to atma saturation. Few, if any historical records exist documenting this time, although it is rumored that some pockets of people carrying the wild card trait existed and documented the events of the age as it came and went. These documentations remain undiscovered.