Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fantasy Version of the Hisil

Animistic Shrine
(The Witcher)
Animism can add a whole other level to Fantasyland and it depends on how you want to play it.  In  Fianyarr, the easiest method is to simply make the Hisil a divine realm where the sins and good deeds of the populace create patches of hell, heaven or something in between depending on their actions.  It would make sense to worship such a divine realm and give pleas to spirits of rain and where leaving offerings in small shrines or praying at sacred groves has a definitive effect of strengthening the spirits people wish to have around.  Naturally spiritualism is far safer to practise in such a world than in the World of Darkness with fewer spirits having the Possession and Claim Numina.

All of the rules for the Gauntlet (dice bonuses, sensations) can be found in Chapter Two: The Shadow Realm in the Book of Spirits.


Loci could then be monster spawning points in wounds, critter spawning points in wildlands or places of honor and reverence.  People and certain creatures can draw essence or glamour from such locations though while essence can be drawn via the normal routes (one can even extinguish it), only one point of glamour can be drawn by any one person at any particular time and as many people can draw glamour as the loci's rating x 5.  This doesn't affect its pool of essence.  There are certain rituals that may allow a person to cross at a loci - though it's up to the Storyteller whether they would like to provide them and what they will consist of.  A loci is often protected by spirits though as one can draw glamour without affecting the loci's levels of essence spirits are often willing to make deals or turn a blind eye to those regular people wishing to draw from it.


More consistent verges would soon become holy places of pilgrimmage or places that people avoid at certain times of the day or night.  Some verges would be captured in myth while others would be virtually unknown - though perhaps hinted at in a child's nursery rhyme.  Try to keep the Verges in keeping with mythic ideals and seed a few clues into the location even if the characters have no chance to identify them except in retrospect.

Dead Spots

These headache-inducing places appear afflicted by rot and decay with deadened colours and drained sensations and are what might happen in a place where a powerful magic has drained or sealed away the Hisil - often in response to a gateway that unleashed monsters upon the world or due to a single individual whose own terror or fanatical disbelief toward the Hisil has caused this mark.


Some places are filled with positive emotions - not to an overbundance as a drug-addled populace would still create a Wound - but enough that the good outweighs the bad or at least that compassion far outweighs cruelty.  Most often these occur in places with nice villages or towns filled with decent people but sometimes they occur in places of potential cruelty where great or wonderful actions occur.  A besieged town whose invaders merely took over and left all present alive and were thus welcomed into the location might gain this kind of Hisil as might a battlefield where great care was taken to haul in everyone alive as prisoners.  Patches of this sort of Hisil might appear when people make a great sacrifice out of the goodness of their hearts and such patches are often quite resistant to interference - even when they are surrounded by a wound.  They are pleasant places to be and often both the spirits and locations are pleasant to look at - even if they don't match contemporary ideals of beauty.  A much loved ramshackle hut may still be ramshackle but it could be bathed with a warm glow and all the splinters are gone.

Regular Hisil

There are good acts and bad acts that have colored this land and thus some of the spirits will help, some will hinder, and some really couldn't care less.  The landscape is coloured by the lives of those on the other side (human, animal, plant or rock) but it isn't overwhelmed one way or another.  Important buildings may be seen in a more stereotypical appearance on the other side, regardless of whether they still stand, but generally it isn't too different from the mundane world and one might wander it for awhile confused by the differences but unsure of where they are.


There are some places so cruel and depraved that they scar the divine lands with their vice.  This might be the Other Side of a village whose members protect themselves with hypocrisy and cruelty - blaming others while they themselves rape, steal and sell each other out.  Or it could be the Other Side of a monster's lair, a well-used battlefield or a place of slaughter and cruelty.  It isn't enough that something bad happened there.  It must have happened with either such great effect or regularity that it morphs the Other Side.  A wound will be crawling with malevolent spirits stained by those actions and both the location and the entities will be marked by that sin.  A savage battlefield might appear to be an open maw with churning blades as teeth buzzing with carrion fly-like spirits with human faces while a vicious town might have houses embodying secrets with locked doors and hidden windows that is plagued by ghostly dogs.


There are some places that are touched by misery so much so that is stains the Other Side.  These tend to be smaller than wounds - often encapsulating only a single house - and occur when one or more victims suffer so much it seeps through into the Divine Realm.  This could be caused by a great plague or the loss of a village's menfolk to a distant war or perhaps even a famine or even if a person's depression grows too overwhelming.  Such places are often drab and depressing.  The environment itself can be dangerous with ooze-like spirits, digestive acid in bathtubs and basements, and raindrops that slowly drain one of willpower.  Generally even the spirits are too filled with ennui to attack or assist though their mere presence might be dangerous.


There are some places that have lost their energy.  Everyone does the same thing every day.  They're not miserable, not exactly, but they don't feel much either.  Well-kept slaves, overly disciplined soldiers, and people who live a puritanical and joyless lifestyle can all create barrens though more often than not it is caused by a great and powerful magical battle or alchemical experiment that has scoured the other side of the Divine Realm and caused it to weaken.  Such a place might look like land scoured by sands or as a translucent version of its prior self or it might just be an empty plain filled with fog.

Wild Lands

There are places within this world that are dominated by nature and within nature simpler laws of procreation and consumption are upheld.  This isn't an element of cruelty or even callousness but simple pragmatism and practicality.  The Hisil of the wild lands is similar to the canonical Hisil with spirits both dangerous and puzzling yet at times beneficial - if you can offer them something they need or otherwise subdue them.  Loci in these locations often have an emotional aura that lingers across a location and can be felt by any person on a successful Wits + Wyrd roll.  Verges in such places are more invisible than most and often shift about according to natural laws though those who follow the local myths are safer than others (i.e. don't step into a ring of toadstools at night).  Wild Lands are often more primeval versions of themselves with taller mountains, thicker jungles, and wider rivers and its spirits are often of the Nature or Elemental Choirs.


So there you go.  A simple guide to using the Hisil in a fantasy land that uses all of the main categories of places you could find there.  I'd really recommend the Book of Spirits for further advice as, while it deals entirely in the modern world, it's really not too difficult to extrapolate to a fantasy or historical one.  Bear in mind, though, that in Fianyarr the Hisil should be more of a divine place than a dog-eat-dog hunting ground with certain areas being quite safe and others being more typical Hisil.  The Hedge fulfills the role of being the ever-dangerous locale.

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