How Culture and Philosophy Shapes Magic

I was chatting online with a good friend and started to explain how the practice of magic is a result of both the environment and the philosophy of those working magic. Our conversation was cut short, but I was inspired to take the ideas I was relaying in my impromptu talk and write them out in a more coherent and organized fashion.

The World of Entorais is a low fantasy setting, but not without magic. I wanted to have a few types of magic present, which would be influenced by the user’s culture and philosophy, while still keeping a common source behind all magic for internal consistency.

All magic arose naturally as an emergent property of amassed life-force and creative intelligence. The more life and intelligence gathered together in one place, the more accessible magic becomes. Magic requires a strong affinity or soul to access, but also a capable mind to manipulate and will into existence the power to enact change. Some species of animals might have magical abilities, which they use in an instinctive fashion for a particular effect, and which evolved alongside their more mundane abilities.

Sapience allows for one to become sufficiently aware of the underlying nature of magic to study and refine it to make it more malleable. Thus the philosophical and intellectual study of magic allows individual systems of practising magic to arise.

There are three common cross-cultural magic systems: Psionics, Sorcery, and Theurgy.

Psionics – A naturally and spontaneously occurring type of magic which arises in individuals with an affinity for magic. There are distinct paths of psionic, or mind magic, which define the way in which this magic interacts with the world. One endowed with such magic can achieve different related magical effects referred to as talents within the same psionic path. The paths one might have are seemingly random and often remain dormant within an individual. Stressful experiences or exceptional affinity might awaken these powers, and once an individual is aware of the path or specific talent, they may strengthen and refine their powers. This can be self directed through trial and error or by training under someone who also has psionic powers, ideally in the same path. Most paths have a small number of common talents, but may have more discoverable by persons who have pushed the limits of their psionic powers to open new ways of using their powers.

Sorcery – A philosophical theory of magic which allows people to access and use magic in a structured system composed of six elements: Spirit, Water, Earth, Metal, Fire, and Air. This arrangement arose from study of the four classical elemental psionic paths. In trying to understand these elements, early sorcerers discovered the additional elements of spirit and metal. These are conceived of as a circular wheel. Practitioners will become attuned to one element, and have decreased ability with the adjacent elements, and little or no ability with the diametric opposite element. The more one studies and focuses on their particular affinity element, the greater their understanding of that element, with an inverse regarding the opposite element. So for example, the more one attunes themselves to water magic the less attuned they become with fire magic. It is still possible to attune to multiple elements. Grey mages are persons who have achieved the sorcerous ideal of being equally attuned to all six elements, figuratively moving from the rim of the wheel to the hub. Such a state of balance is mythic, and perhaps unobtainable within a mortal’s lifetime. This is a kind of Nirvana which one may continue to strive towards, but might never obtain.

Theurgy – Belief in the gods and their ability to affect the world through miraculous powers is a common thread in many cultures. To those who believe, magic is a gift from the divine, and those who are pious enough in their service to a deity may be gifted with a small measure of their divine power. Through ritual prayer and ceremony, devout worshippers might enact smaller miracles aligned with their god’s particular domain. Being able to do so is directly tied to one’s piety and understanding of the particular deity’s desires. So a worshipper of Shaelar, the Waejiran fire god, may be able to perform ritual magic to summon forth fire, but not rain. This system of magic is both defined and restricted by the perception of the deity as the source of magic, which is then channelled through the most devout of their worshippers.

An individual might have ability in any system of magic. It is simply a matter of affinity and intellect. This allows for less common systems to arise, which require a different world view or philosophy to understand at a level appropriate for working that magic. Smaller or more isolated cultures may have wholly unique magic systems. For example the Sildaryn practice of Spellsinging.

Spellsinging – The Dalfyn, Sidaryn druid-shamans, work a kind of magic tightly interlaced with their animist beliefs about the nature of all things. They believe that by studying a given entity’s physical nature, and communing with its spiritual form, one might access some essence of the subject spirit, and thence work magic in the world. This is a negotiation between the Dalfyn and the subject spirit, in which the spirit may require the Dalfyn to perform a service on its behalf, or accept a ban on behaviour, in exchange for learning its song. For example the spirit of a fruit bearing tree might allow a Dalfyn to learn how to cause it to flower and bear fruit, out of season in an accelerated fashion. In exchange the Dalfyn must agree to plant seeds in ideally suitable spots for new plants, and/or refrain from eating the fruit themselves. Should the Dalfyn fail in this task, they may have to atone for their lapse or lose the ability to perform that song for effect.

It should be noted that, due to the way magic systems arise and develop, the very act of intellectual study, application of labels, and formation of theories about how things work, establishes the limits of the magical system. The more precise the study, meditation, and experimentation regarding a system, the more defined it becomes, both in what it can do, but also in what it cannot do. This means that while more powerful magical effects are attainable for the truly studious and long learned practitioners, they become more limited in the breadth of their powers. Like the narrowing effect of knowledge with mundane expertise in a field, they know more and more about less and less.

Additionally, there is a common drawback to will working in that it is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Effectively, any individual magic user can become exhausted and unable to functionally perform their magic, should they over extend themselves with specific effects, or make too frequent use of their powers. This can be somewhat mitigated through certain specific practices, which allow pooling of energy, prepared storage in advance, or group work for greater power or wider reaching effects. Some magic users will also combine different effect in pieces to achieve a greater effect once combined.

Magic is also not guaranteed to succeed every time. Small moments of distraction, or other minor errors of concentration, or misapplication of the theories, can result in simply ineffective application of the power, or wild and unanticipated results, or overpowered and dangerous effects. This leads to a lot of self correction amongst those who practice magic, to limit the dissemination of knowledge to those whom are disciplined enough to show restraint and care in the use of their powers. As such, access to magical knowledge and training becomes rare amongst the general population, or rigidly constrained to rank in the clergy or arcane guilds as appropriate.

Due to magic’s rarity, the spectacular and hard to explain or understand effects, and lack of common knowledge, magic users tend to be distrusted by the majority of people without access to such power. Fear is a regular reaction, and laws restricting or prohibiting the practice of magic are often the result.

Competing philosophies have difficulty reconciling the differences between them. Theurgists often see sorcerers as people full of hubris, and trying to claim divine powers for themselves, in a clearly heretical manner. Contrarily, Sorcerers see Theurgist as deluded and unnecessarily superstitious folk, who are dependant upon the whims of their deity to dole out power. Both groups distrust persons capable of Psionic magic, as the non-divine nature, and lack of training or study, makes them more chaotic in the application of their magic. Undisciplined and unpredictable, mind mages are poorly treated by both the general population and those in the arcane guilds or churches.

Beneath these differences, magic is the same at its root. It all comes from the same source, and functions along the same fundamental principles. The philosophy of the user forms the lens through which it is understood and manipulated. Having an underlying cohesive primordial source for all magic allows for special cases, such as magical diseases or curses, to exist within the same structure. For example, Therianthropy.

Therianthrope – A person whom can transform between their natural form and that of a particular beast. This is realized as a infectious disease, with a magical ability that transfers to the infected. Through this system, a victim of such a creature could survive the initial attack and succumb to the disease at a later time. However, if they recover from the disease, the magical ability and infectious nature of the disease will have integrated into their being, such that they now exist as the same sort of cursed being. They gain the ability to transform between forms, but are also capable of spreading the curse, just like the original creature that gave them it.

With this unifying magical conceptualization, I can expand upon the extant lore for the already detailed magical philosophies and practices, and add additional practices or manifestations of magic in different areas of the world of Entorais, which I have yet to explore in detail. Keeping with the idea of consistency, such additions should not contradict or undermine the already extant systems for magic use.

Polite Conversation in Kythus

The following excerpt is a response to a prompt about conversational etiquette from the r/WorldChallenges subreddit. The conversation is in-character; Nölna is speaking in his first language Kythusave. The literal translation into English is for my non-Kythan readers.

With thanks to reddit user u/thequeeninyellow94 Who provided the prompt and an engaging conversation partner.

Nölna: “Źa. Mana paplö Nölna.”

Hi. I named Nölna.

  • In Kythus a polite greeting and introduction is a good start.

TQIY: “Hello Nölna, I’m a non euclydian extraterrestrial being. How are you? A weird summer we got isn’t it?”

Nölna: “Mana zamaty kyägrä mana. Molëŧëv zumaty ŧalödwe tya źelëŧëv. Këxö ka pety kypälömeb kal ökäd?

I am healthy me. This-summer is-being wetter compared past-summer. How a being does not-full a room?

  • Asking about health and small talk about the weather is typically acceptable – even if it is obvious to everyone.

  • A direct question about a strangers oddness is not considered rude in Kythus.

TQIY: “Does not-full a room? Because it’s a pretty large room? Actually, I think I don’t get your question… could you explain what you mean?”

Nölna: ” Mana foŧömy wö. Mo mëp ŧalämastmü tya pryđ nuk muz ökäd, kylë ko pamagë. Këxö zaty muz odevy?”
I will-give reason. You have more-parts compared seen in the room, but all be-here. How is that possible?

  • Nölna is politely using the genderless pronoun ‘mo’ to refer to his conversational partner, as he does not know it, and assuming is an insult, but using the neuter/unknown is not rude, even if gender is potentially obvious to an observer.

  • The term non-Euclidean means nothing to a Kythan, as they do not know of Euclid, or his mathematical theorems.

  • A non-Euclidean being might be perceived as a demon.

  • Conversing politely with a demon is a grave sin according to the dominant religion of Kythus, best to figure that out quickly.

TQIY: “Fear not, a demon I’m not. I’m fully in the room physically as I’m one, as long as you don’t think too much about my continuity through time and space. I’m some kind of goddess if you want. Conversing with divine beings is fine right?”

(Is there some kind of pronoun to politely address people?)

Nölna: “Mana źalyplu. Mu hyëgrepmü tëfnaŧadytëfva zyhymanaty plo zacü. Zaflëd źëk mu balëma zaty ytwë đalug pegëxö. Ëmamova zaty kylud Pëolüva ud Rylava, mutëfvü hy mana hyöda. Kewö Ëmamova folekwy mana. Mana zaty mefë kal yten pënoköna.”

I unworried. The ways-of gods-and-goddesses never-mine-be for understanding. Speaking with the divine is usually less-direct praying. You are neither Peoluva or Rylava, the goddesses of my people. Why you would-be-shown me? I am only a simple farmer.

  • The extremely formal pronoun ‘Ëmamova’ [divine-2P-fem] is used as soon as you stated your preferred gender.

  • Every pronoun can be preceded by an appropriate adword to adjust the formality or politic of the speakers intent.

  • Nölna is also getting more verbose as the conversation continues. This is a subtle cue that he wishes to keep talking. Fewer and shorter sentences would be a way of indicating a lack of desire for extended conversation.

TQIY: “That’s the point; I’m actually looking for a perfectly normal conversation and there is nobody more qualified to talk about weather than a farmer. Beside, is there any reason I shouldn’t reveal myself to you?”

Nölna: “Mana źacü. Mana falüwam kywö. Ëmamutëfva përävü źulekwy Jödena Pelan, ka tëkapëpäho. Kyŧus hydrut odevy cesku ufomü nuk ka häje. Bleŧmü veflëd mamö zamëp ka zalakym drutyŧydük, kylë mamö xü voklëz vykru acëmü, ad prän usö kyëtömü. Ëmamova hydrutyŧydük zaty lëyp mana hydrutyŧydük?”

I understand. I suppose nowhy. The goddess herselves appeared to Jodena Pelan [Kythan spelling] – a tëkaherd. Kythan weather can change many times in a day. people say we have a blessed climate, but we also will-get savage storms, and deep winter snows. Your climate be similar-to my climate?

  • Responding to inquiries with a similar reciprocal inquiry is polite, and somewhat expected amongst Kythans.

TQIY: “Change many time in a day? Like changing a lot? Like going from clear to harsh storm? Because in that case, my climate isn’t like that at all, it change way slower.

And what is a tëkaherd?”

Nölna: “Mu baspëdë vacesku xö önëd ëgrepmü. Ödypelotok zaty balytwë ypuh kylë ejy ukrä. Ka tëkapëpäho zaty ka pëzapäho hy tëkamü, ka ytwë nokökwybe mamü zaŧüđ äsoc ypryc, öcy, ad wrütü. Ëmamova mëp ka nokökwybemü in ëmamova hylođuđüŧydük?”

It frequently changes by little ways. Rainfall is normally brief it, but much amount. A tëkaherd is a herder of tëka(s), a common farm-animal we grow for wool, milk, and meat. You have any farm-animals in your hearth-region?

  • Clarifying remarks are made without prejudice when the query comes from proper ignorance of the facts, as with foreign entities.

  • Had these questions come from a Kythan who should know better, the questions would either be ignored, or given a terse and dismissive response (depending on the relative status of the speaker to the listener).

TQIY: “Isn’t it problematic for managing your fields moisture (?) level?

We have animals which can produce both milk, meat and wool; they are called sheeps. How big are tëkaherd?”

Nölna: “Manü nokömü zamëp jynek pepalupäźy.” -he laughs- “Ödü tëkapëpäho fapakwotü aga mëtermü, kylë gry zaty ŧazö. Moge mu tëkamü mumü zapëpäho fapäkwotü bekrod aga mëter, ad fapakravy rä mëter. Kë zapaflät ka ‘shëps’?”

Our fields have good drainage. (Laughs) Some tëkaherds tall two meters, but most are more-short. Now the tëka they herd tall about divided two meter, and long one meter. (How) big a ‘sheeps’?

  • Answering a question literally (how big is a ‘tëkaherd’), when the intended meaning is apparent is a type of witty humour in Kythus.

  • A polite person will also answer the intended question (how big is a ‘tëka’).

TQIY: “Do you use all that water for something?

I’m not sure about the exact size of a sheep but they are slightly bigger than tëkas.”


(While not done intentionally, this is a error on the part of the writer.)

  • Nölna has been quite rude and left you hanging in conversation.

Nölna: “Lyu valüđäk vrepmü źoŧuđ. Ödü ejöfëmü vatöc lyu valënä ŧaflät oplumü ad vabrök ogëmü. Këlë ëmamova źođötru mana, mana źofräm mana hypezëv. Ëmamova äkë ëmamova hypejët.”

Water helps the crops grow. Some mills use water to-roll great wheels and grind grains. If you would-allow me, I must-return my labouring. You enjoy your visit.

This is a much more polite manner to disengage from a conversation.

  • Answer any last questions.

  • Politely suggest ending the conversation with a reason.

  • General wish for a positive departure.

TQIY: “I dismiss you mortal, go back to your mortal occupation. I’m kidding, thanks for your answers Nölna; may your fields flourish.”

Kyŧusave Phonetics




English Example




Open Front




Close-mid Front




Open-mid Front




Close Front




Open Back




Close-mid Back Rounded




Open-mid Back




Close Back Rounded




Close Front Rounded




English Example




Labial Plosive




Labial Plosive




Alveolar Plosive




Alveolar Plosive




Velar Plosive




Velar Plosive




Labiodental Nasal




Alveolar Nasal








Labiodental Fricative




Labiodental Fricative




Dental Fricative




Dental Fricative




Alveolar Fricative




Alveolar Fricative




Postalveolar Fricative




Velar Fricative




Glottal Fricative




Labiodental Approximate




Palatal Approximate




Alveolar Lateral-Approximate



Labalized Alveolar Fricative

Suupi – Experiment in recreating a fantasy recipe

So in the interest of having well rounded cultures for the World of Entorais I have established local culinary delights for several of the detailed cultures. One such dish is:

Suupi – Iskander

Suupi is a milk-broth chowder with pot roots, cubed whole fish, scallops, and fermented kelp. This particular dish is only served in the Isk Archipelago, or on-board Iskandean ships, and alongside a hearty dark grained bread with a mug of the dry pear-cider Apetil, it is a signature dish of Iskander. Different cooks may argue as to which fish are better than others, but generally any bony white-meat fish is used.

Sharing this in response to a worldbuilding challenge on Reddit generated some excellent Q & A:

Q: What kind of milk is commonly used?
A: Teica milk is most common, a rich creamy milk. Cebuc milk tends to pick up flavours from the plants eaten by the animals, and given their propensity to eat nearly anything, can sometimes be off-tasting. Rabbuc have few species hardy enough for the wet climate of the islands, but there are a few, and when available their milk will be more often used for cheese making.

Q: Is fermented kelp a common food in the Isk Archipelago?

A: It is a regional preference (something like sauerkraut), the wetter climate proves to be challenging to making dried seaweed. Fermenting is different from pickling mind you.

Q: With the suupi being mostly seafood products, why isn’t it also cooked in other coastal regions close to Iskander?

A: Probably the fermented kelp. Most coastal areas around Entorais will have sea food chowders amongst their dishes. Few foreigners like the particular melange of tastes that define suupi.

Q: Have Iskandeans (or foreigners) come up with some cool modified foreign recipes with fermented kelp added in?

A: There is one fellow, a Waejiran immigrant, and proprietor of a tavern who has tried to blend Iskandean tastes with recipes from his homeland. Curries and other spicy dishes adapted to locally available seafood including the fermented kelp; it is a work in progress still.

Q: Are the spices required for those foods actually grown in the Isk Archipelago?

A: Aethios imports most of the spices he requires from his former homeland of Waejir. Efforts to grow them in a local garden so far have failed completely, or produced an inferior product.

So in the interest of getting a deeper appreciation for my imaginary people and their strange ways I decided to try making suupi on my own.

It was simple enough to start with a chowder based on my father’s old kalamojakka recipe, which I still know how to make, and adapt a few other ingredients to simulate the texture and flavour of the fermented kelp:

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 lb of fish, cubed – traditional recipes toss in the head, and fins, skin and all – (I used a flank of salmon with the skin on)
  • 1/2 lb of scallops – I skipped these altogether as I didn’t feel like going to buy some just for the experiment in case I had to dump it out.
  • 2 cups of green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups fermented kelp – an ingredient I didn’t have on hand so I faked the texture and flavour using (1 cup of dried black fungus – sourced from a local Asian grocer, comes cut in thin ribbons
    1 package of dried seaweed, chopped
    2 cups of fresh brewed coffee )
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Fill pot to cover ingredient with equal parts fresh milk and water
  • boil until potatoes are soft throughout and skin falls of the fish.

Like Aethios himself, I set the pot to boil and then simmer to mix the flavours. When finished I ladled myself a hearty bowl full and sat down to eat.

Suupi experiment – looks about right, taste… an acquired one.

8/10 will eat again, especially as I have about six quarts of the stuff to get through since I can’t seem to cook one-person meals. Not for the light of stomach or those with delicate palettes. I can say it was definitely close to what I expected. The sour seaweed flavour is noticeable enough to be off-putting to anyone not used to such flavours. The slightly chewy slippery texture from the black fungus certainly meets my imagined texture for the kelp it simulates.

I can certainly commiserate with my fictional tavern keeper, and his efforts to improve upon such a unique cultural dish to no avail.

The Songs of Neelam

Gather round young ones, for I shall tell you the story of Neelam the Brave.

Neelam was a young Sildaryn of barely ten cycles, when his adventures began; about the same age as some of you.

You see, he was always wandering about the woods near the hinta sites, as is common for young ones such as yourselves. That is until one day he wandered a bit farther than usual, and he couldn’t find the familiar trees, or any trail marks to guide him back to the hinta.

Neelam was not worried at first, for he knew that foresters and gatherers from the hinta often traveled quite a ways in search of food and other resources, which they brought back for the rest of the clan.

But as evening approached and the night creatures began to wake, long shadows darkened the forest. Unfamiliar hoots and howls erupted from the darkness, as beasts which only moved about at night began to search for food, or prey.

Neelam felt very small and alone, without the safety of the hinta homes. He had no fire to drive back the darkness, he had no spear, he had no club. In fact all he had was a small knife, and a karo fruit he had found to nibble on should he feel hungry.

Neelam thought to himself – What good would a tiny knife be if a night prowler decided to make a meal out of me? What good was a karo fruit against the great serpents which squeezed the life from prey before consuming them whole? Thinking such thoughts made Neelam nervous, and then scared.

As he became more and more afraid, Neelam felt the humid breath of the jungle pressing in on him from every direction. He could hear murmurs, and far off voices calling to him. His eyes beheld faint blue lights, which danced and weaved, inviting him to come join them.

Now, as you all know, there are things out in the woods; older than any Sildaryn; older than the forest itself. And when these ancient ones call out, their voice can be so inviting that none can resist their pull.

Neelam knew that he should not listen, but how could he not; They offered him a warm place to rest, fresh food for hunger he did not feel, drink to quench a thirst he did not have.

Suddenly tired, and hungry, and thirsty, Neelam stepped away from the roots of the tree he was cowering against. His feet slowly plodding forward through the ferns and moss. He began to follow the dancing blue lights which weaved amongst the trees, and vines. Though they were faint, he could still see the path they led him along.

Neelam wondered where they were taking him, if the comfortable bed, food, and drink they whispered about would satisfy his growing needs. He wondered so much that he decided to call back to the voices, and ask them.

“What is this bed? What is this food? What is this drink?” asked Neelam.

And the voices from the shadowed forest answered. “The bed is your grave. The food is your flesh. The drink is your blood.”

These answers were no comfort to Neelam; How could he wake from a grave? How could he eat of his own body? How could he drink from his own veins? As he pondered these questions he realized that he would get no rest, or food, or drink from the whispers. They were not offering him comfort, they were offering him death.

Now we Sildaryn do not fear death, for it comes for us all in time, but neither do we rush to seek it out. Neelam knew this, and he was not ready to die. Certainly not scared and alone, and so small in the night-black forest.

Neelam knew something else; He knew that our ancestors, the family that came before us, our departed loved ones, are never gone, but watch from the trees. They would not want him to listen to those voices, which offered only death. So he called out. “I need no grave, I need no food, and I need no drink. I am Neelam, and I am watched from the trees!”

He threw down the karo fruit from his hand, and stood defiantly, holding his knife out before him. Challenging the whispers, “Show yourselves, or be gone!”

This act of brave defiance of the night caught the attention of kindly spirits. Three came forth from the bushes, trees, and shadows.

A yellow eyed tomka knelt before Neelam, offering its songs of strength to stand beside one so brave.

A bird of the high canopy flew down to rest upon his shoulder, whispering in his ear the song of flight.

And thirdly the very karo fruit he had thrown to the ground burst forth sprouts, which grew up around him in a ring of tangled branches, and as it grew he heard its song in the shake of its leaves, and the creaking of its branches.

Neelam sat down, and the tomka curled around him providing warmth, and comfort. The bird kept watch, and the karo trees provided shelter from the night. Neelam felt safe, he was not alone, and he did not fear the night any longer.

In the morning foresters from the hinta found Neelam asleep in a forest clearing, still holding his knife and clutching a karo fruit to his chest. No tomka, or bird, or tree nearby.

Neelam told them of his night, but they did not believe him, for no tomka tracks or feathers were seen, and the earth about him was not disturbed by any newly grown karo trees.

Neelam said he would prove that his story was true. When they returned to the hinta, he gathered the whole clan together… and he sang.

He sung the song of the karo tree, and the fruit in his hand grew sprout after sprout, taking root at this very spot.

He sung the song of flight, and rose up to seat himself upon the branches we now gather upon.

Thirdly, he sung a song of the tomka, calling out to the beast that kept him warm through the night. And as the hinta watched in awe, a tomka with two cubs walked forth from the forest, to circle below him.

Because Neelam was so brave, and pushed away his fears, we learned new songs.

Now we know to plant food at our hinta sites, so we need not travel so far into the forests.

Now we make our homes up in the branches of the trees, safe from the creatures of the night.

And tomka live beside us, protecting our young, and helping our foresters on patrol.

Listen well young ones, for the forest is full of songs yet to be sung by Sildaryn. Perhaps you will be the first to learn and teach a new song to our people, that we may continue to prosper and live in harmony with the forest we call home.

This is a short tale about a legendary Sildaryn, who became one of the first Dalfyn (Druidic spell-singers) of the Sildaryn people.

The Rook of Singing Water

Rook of Singing Water Token

The Rook of Singing Water

Having chosen to climb the escarpment and travel along the crest to avoid the marshy ground at it’s base I found a game trail. Presumably, local wildlife preferred the higher ground as well. The bluff had a back-slope, and a small river ran parallel to my chosen route. As I travelled I could hear some falling water ahead, and was eager to take in the view from above this unseen falls.

The trees cleared and I found what I initially thought was a tribal marker, denoting the bounds of some claimed territory. A forked cedar branch had been propped up by a mound of stones some 3 feet in diameter. Strung from the branch by leather thongs were carved tokens of bone, stone and wood, and a hardened clay disc about the size of my palm, marked with unrecognizable runes. I have included a rubbing I made of this ornament.

I looked about the clearing and saw several more of these markers, arranged seemingly haphazard manner, but all had a similar decorated branch. It wasn’t a tribal border at all, the piled stones were graves. I was already well inside the territory of some unknown peoples, and treading amongst their dead.

I recited a short prayer for the unknown departed and hurried through the clearing, leaving the graves disturbed no further. Upon reaching the far side and the welcoming shade of the trees again, I was stopped by a figure on the trail before me. It stood about a head shorter than myself, was leaner, by half, and carried a stone tipped spear in one of its four hands.

It made a gesture bringing all four hands together at the centre of its chest and then spreading them outward, palms open, except for the hand which held the spear. Not being sure what else I could do, I did my best to mimic the gesture.

It was at this exact moment that the blue twin-crested peeper whom I had befriended a while back, with a sample of my rations and some grubs from a dead log, decided to leave its perch in my pack, and climb atop my head. Seeing this the strange figure gave a whistled-snorting sound, and made a drawing in gesture with one hand. I can only presume it was a laugh, as I must have looked ridiculous in anyone’s eyes with my warbling lizard for a hat.

I was fairly certain its intentions were benign. In my experience, anything wanting to eat a person doesn’t bother to invite them to walk themselves to the larder. So, with a small lizard still adorning my head, I followed. As we walked, two more of these strange beings melted out of the woods and fell in step behind me, the green and brown hues of their scales made for excellent camouflage.

The falls it turns out was formed by several brooks and streams all coming together at a small canyon carved into the bluff over time. The rushing water, and my guide, disappeared over the edge into a narrow cleft in the rocks.

Peering over the edge I saw that a deep grotto had formed, extending well back from opening. Thick vines descended to the surface of a dark pool, and my host was climbing down them with alacrity I could not dream to replicate. I glanced back towards the way I had come from beyond the shoulders of my twin escorts, and began my own descent.

  • Excerpt from the collected works of Meihas “Far Walker” Vorshaus, Naturalist, Historian, Lay member of the Temple of Vorsha

The Rook of Singing Water is a unique colony of Etausi-Mal, whom have established a home in a large grotto fed by several mountain streams which culminate at a large cave opening. Numerous streams of water cascade and drop down through the ceiling into a wide deep pool of clear water. Suspended amongst sturdy vines hanging from the roof of the grotto are the individual dwellings of the Etausi; Giant baskets woven from the still living vines, hang like fruit, each housing a handful of the colony’s population.

Below the large pool of the grotto flows down a wide stair-like formation, in a series of mineral crusted pools. These pools in turn drain into a shallow lake. The lake itself is dotted with the floating island lodges of common lodge lizards.

This small piece of paradise is maintained by the rook, who have taken to domesticating the lodge lizards, as a sustainable food source. They practice agriculture utilizing some of the floating mats as garden plots, adding a layer of rich loamy soil and scattering the seeds of wild cereal crops, melons, squash, and some berry bushes. The domestication of animals and sustainable agriculture is rare amongst the Etausi. Most groups remain exclusively hunter gatherers.

Etausi-Mal, have the same four-armed bipedal body form of other Etausi, with long whip-like tails, stand on average about 1.5 (5′) tall, weighing approximately 60kg (130 lbs), their scales tend to greenish hues, some shift through the seasons to yellow, orange or red in step with local foliage.

They wear little clothing beyond simple harnesses for carrying tools, and pouches of supplies. Their tools are generally manufactured from wood, antler, bone, and stone.

Mother and Father

A pair of mytho-historical figures whom are often the protagonists in tales of wisdom or cleverness.

The pair are universally portrayed amongst the many cultural groups of Arkian ancestry. Details vary from culture to culture, and there are smaller regional differences within cultural groups.

They are usually described as a married couple, but sometimes as brother and sister, one mortal and the other spirit, and so on, but they are always together in some fashion.

Sögan ad Sögav (Father and Mother) – The Layor

To the Layoran people they are Sögan and Sögav and elderly married couple whom find themselves in all sorts of difficult situations, but manage to resolve the problems and obstacles, often in a clever and humorous manner.

Cögva ad Cögna Tyasmü (Mother and Father Fox-Rat) – Kyŧus

In Kythus the pair are portrayed as a mated pair of Tyasmü. Their stories are often parables involving encounters with other animals. As expected, cleverness and good moral behaviour wins the day.

Mala E Pala (Mother and Father) – Sildara

The Sildaryn people tell stories of Mala E Pala. This pair varies from the norm in that the couple are quiet young, and new to being parents. Stories told about the fires by Sildaryn storytellers almost always include Mala E Pala whenever family values, or clan traditions are part of the story.

Tanpi and Emel – Krolar

In Krolar they are Tanpi and Emel a young woman and man whom encounter all sorts of people while travelling. The stories include some moral about how to interact with strangers, or are simply humorous anecdotes with no strict moral message.

Dolf and Ardra – Iskander

In iskander the couple are seen as a fisherman named Dolf and his shape-shifting lover Ardra. The stories almost always involve Ardra getting into trouble, and Dolf coming to her rescue in some clever manner. Depending on the audience, these stories can be quite bawdy, or highly moral.

Bron and Sisa (Brother and Sister) – Malys

The Malys tells stories of brother and sister who are precocious and explore the forests around their home. Often finding themselves captured, or threatened by some beast. Working together, they cleverly trick the monsters, or animals, so they can escape and get home in time for dinner.

Qola and Sargus – Tabrani

To the Tabrani, these stories involve a man named Sargus, who is beset repeatedly by a trickster spirit Qola. Being wise and resourceful, Sargus always manages to escape the traps, or see through the trick, much to the dismay of the spirit Qola.

Ködda and Sännö – Kronaryn

The Kronaryn people portray them as the moons personified as a pair of young lovers who alternate rescuing each other from various predicaments, and troubles. The stories often carry a message of loyalty, love, truth, and consequence for ones choices.

The Tree of Faces

The Tree of Faces

There is a network of sacred groves in the Sildaryn forest; central to each grove is a great many branched tree from which are hung masks constructed from a variety of materials. When a hinta of Sildaryn passes through the grove during their annual migrations they add additional masks. These represent the Sildaryn from that hinta whom were lost during the previous year. Damaging the masks, or injuring the tree is a terrible crime to the Sildaryn.

With the annual pattern of migration there are always a few Sildaryn who are unable to travel. Such individuals will be left at this grove in the care of a few permenant resident dalfyn, whom tend to the grove year round. They provide palliative care for ailing Sildaryn whom remain in the grove in addition to their regular duties.

“I am old for any Sildaryn. Many do not see more than seventy summers. Most Dalfyn that are unable to continue the cycles will chose to remain at the groves to pass on their wisdom in their final years. The primary reason for my considering remaining at the grove at all is my health. I am getting old, and may not do well for another circuit of migration. Better to stay at the grove where I may be of service, and less of a burden. It is not retirement, I will remain a Dalfyn.” – Talir Sinto, Dalfyn of the Sun Piper Hinta.

Redditor /u/jsgunn shared this inspired comment (which still gives me shivers to read):

I can imagine a family traveling though, perhaps hanging a new mask and the father taking one of the older children to see the masks of the ancestors. “This is your great grandfather, who watches from the trees. He was a Bowyer, and loved the ash trees. This is his father, who watches from the trees. He was a proud warrior and fell in battle against a mighty foe. This is his father, who watches from the trees. He picked flowers for his wife every day and was known to be fiercely loyal. This is his mother, who watches from the trees. She was a medicine woman and loved peace, it was her words that stilled the anger between our tribe and the Thanna. There are others for you to meet, my son, but their faces are at another tree.”

“Bet Onei Stib Aiko Onei” – Grapes and Cheese


Aralian Sun Wine – a honey coloured wine which has unique refractory properties that amplify incident light causing the liquid to floresce. Specifically shaped glassware is used to further boost the visual. This wine is otherwise typical of white wines with a fruity bouquet pairing well with light meats and soft textured cheeses.

“Artolian? You mean Aralian… of course you do. How could you not? The famous amber liquid is renowned throughout the lands, not just for the sweet notes reminiscent of frost peach, or the euphoric rhapsody of flavours which tickle ones palette just so. No… you probably know it by its more common moniker, ‘Sun Wine’. The wine is renowned for the florescent glow when held in the bright light of a candle or the rays of the sun. It glows as if the sun itself dipped down and left some of its essence behind for you to enjoy in liquid form, all the golden flavour with none of the flame.” – Ca’nep Ronth, Aralian wine merchant

Nevtek – Mead fermeted from a jungle growing fruit similar to a papaya in size and flavour. Both the juice pressed from the fleshy fruit and nectar directly from the tree’s flowers are collected and blended with speciefic spices to give the drink a unique musky warm note. Nevtek keeps well, and it is generally considered better after five or more years of age.

“I am offended that you would accuse me of selling substandard goods my friend. We both know that the guild would have my thumbs and close my shop for such unfair practice. That jar contains nothing but the best nevtak nectar, hand squeezed, and fermented with only the finest kel spice. I dare say if you claim it to be inferior, that it is your palette that lacks substance, and certainly not my product. You will not find a purer produce than Raeos sells, anywhere in all of Waejiradur.” – Raeos, Waejiran wine merchant

Zei-pah – The Ru-Pani sea nomads ferment a drink called zei-pah. Every vu s’vin has a unique recipe or take on the beverage, but the common ingredient is sea water, fermented sea-plants, and plums/peaches, combined with special herbs known only to the Ru-Pani brewmasters. Most report it to have a bitter salty flavour with hints of honey and cherry. The turquoise liquid has fairly high alcohol content, and does seem to improve one’s night vision capabilities. The Ru-Pani purport that the drink grants good luck to the consumer, and as such is often used to toast new ventures, partnerships, and marriages.

“It’s not a trade, it is a cultural practice which all Ru-Pani participate in; either the brewing, or consuption thereof. As to pointers, I recommend getting a decent brewer, like myself, to guide you through your first few batches to ensure you are making it right, and understand the subtle cues given by the batch during the fermenting process. I don’t claim to be best, but I certainly am better than most. Experience and quality ingredients make a big difference. Even so, something as seemingly unrelated as the weather can affect the finished product.” – Z’al Kylee, a brewer of the Ru-Pani

Cheese – Throughout the nations of Entorais there are some many varieties of cheese that it is hard to categorize them fully. They vary in firmness, from spreadable soft curds to hard nearly moistureless bricks. The source, production methods, added ingredients, and methods of preservation further compound the efforts to catologue all cheeses.

“There is much debate between members of the Cheesepressers guild on which is better: Teica cheese, or Rabbuc Cheese. It tends to revolve around one’s personal palette. The former has a softer texture, and creamy sweet note, accented by various herbs. It is a excellent pairing with light breads, fruits, and summer wines. The latter makes much firmer cheese, generally smoked, and waxed to make suitable for travel. This type ages nicely, travels well, and is more often exported. It sharper flavours are generally paired with roasted meats and ales.” – Tiso, Tabrani cheesemonger

Waejiran Festival of the Moons

Savannah Moons 2
Savannah Moons – © June Shepherd, 2017

As there are two moons in the sky of Entorais, they feature prominently in the folklore and the religions of the peoples.

The Red Moon

The red moon has a lunar month of 37 days. only a few calandars are based on its cycles, usually composed of an eleven month (407 day) year, which doesn’t match to the seasons.

Named Kodah, and associated with the goddess aspect Ryla in the Twin Goddess Religion. Mass is celebrated on the new moon (first of the month) and full moon (18th of the month). Every 3 months, the celebration on the new moon is considered a high mass (every 111 days).

Named after and associated with the mythological being Rae (one of Balfagor’s Stei) in Waejir. Rae is believed to deliver nightmares to sleepers, his power being strongest when Rae is full, and dreams had during these nights are deemed most prophetic.

The Silver Moon

The silver moon has a 30 day lunar month and most calandars are based on its twelve month (360 day) year which matches the seasons. This moon rotates once on it’s axis every ten days, which gives rise to the ten-day (week) timespan common throughout Entorais.

Named Say-noh and associated with the goddess aspect Peolu in the Twin Goddess Religion. A mass is celebrated on the new moon (first of the month) and full moon (15th of the month).

Named after and associated with the mythological being Nae (One of Balfagor’s Stei) in Waejir. Nae is believed to deliver pleasant dreams to sleepers. Her power being strongest when Nae is full, and dreams had during these nights are deemed most prophetic.

Festival of the Moons [Festival of Stei, Balfagor’s Night]

In Waejir, the nights when both Rae and Nae are full are considered unique times when the veil between the lands of the living, and the lands of the unclaimed dead are thinnest. Allowing ghosts of persons not given a proper funeral to visit people in the their dreams, or even possibly waking moments. During the three nights closest matching a double full moon festival, Waejirans will traipse about in elaborate masks depicting either Rae or Nae, sometimes a dual mask, or even full costumes are worn. A true conjuction of the full moons only occurs every 9 & 1/4 years (3330 days), and is cause for greater celebrations.

Devotees of Neithur, the Waejiran god of the dead, take these times to perform ceremonies intended to guide these wayward souls to the afterlife. It is considered a sacred duty to help all souls find redemption through Neithur and eventual rebirth through Silat. Their sombre bronze death masks and ashen robes provide a stark contrast finery of the other celebrants. Lesser Temple members may often dress ghosts, skeletons, and corpses following the preist about to encourage lost souls to join the parade and find salvation.

Sources of Inspiration

* Día de Muertos

* Samhain

* Carnevale di Venezia

* Walking the Dead

/u/Nevermore0714 Asks:

Q1: What if someone has not been given a proper funeral, will they only be able to partially have an influence on the world?

A1: This is a matter of debate amongst arcanists. Some believe that the manner of death, or the lack of resolved life issues can cause such a spirit to linger, and possibly impact the world more readily when circumstances mirror the time, or conditions of their death.

Q2: Is there any significance to the choice between ghost, skeleton, and corpse for how a Lesser Temple Member dresses?

A2: They are the three basic forms of undead believed to be lost in the world. And presumeably the three forms the dead can take; a person’s corpse, or bones, or ghostly spirit may be all that remains of their original body. So all three are depicted, to be inclusive, it wouldn’t do to round up the bones, and leave the fresher corpses to decay for longer.

Q3: Could I take out someone’s bones, leave the rest of their corpse somewhere else, and then have all three come from one person? A Ghost-Sally, a Skele-Sally, and a Corpse-Sally?

A3: Probably only Ghost-Sally would sally forth, as there is only one soul to gather. Actual walking corpses, or animated skeletons in this case are symbolic of the body states, but no one expects a real corpse to join the parade; at least that’s what they admit in public.

Q4: For the ghosts of those who have been properly buried, how do they interact with their families? How “earthly” are they during this time?

A4: Waejirans do not bury their dead, as they believe that leads to them being trapped in the material world. Those who have passed on are given a proper funeral pyre, so their spirit may make the journey back to Silat. As to the power of the properly mourned to interact with the living, they have moved on and have no concern for or with the living; it is only the dead who are stuck at some point on that journey that can interact.

Q5: What all could Ghost-Sally do?

A5: Well, assuming Ghost Sally is not too upset with you for the horrible manner in which you killed her, and defiled her remains, she might just move on. Assuming those who cared about her perform the appropriate funery rites in absentia she should pass from this realm into the next.

Now, if she wasn’t properly grieved, and/or bears a grudge towards her killer, there is no real way of knowing what she might do. Waejirans do believe that the restless dead can possess the living, or affect them in ways which bring about self-harm directly or indirectly.

Gods of the Waejiran Pantheon

Waejiran goddess of true love, sexuality, and marriage. The lover and twin sister of Baithur, Aesat is a known shape-shifter, as true love can take any form. Aesat was born directly of Silat.

Waejiran goddess of travelers, roads, and paths. She was born of Vorsha and fathered by Kaithur. It is Baileia who tricked Qeisar into stealing the secret of the wheel from Vorsha, which she then shared with the treahni.

Waejiran god of true love, sexuality, and marriage, a role he shares with Aesat. He is the shape-shifting twin brother and lover of Aesat. Baithur was born directly of Silat.

Waejiran god called “the Master of Dreams”, Balfagor is the god of night, shadows and darkness. He is believed to send out his stei, Rae and Nae, to deliver dreams to sleepers. Balfagor was fathered by Qeinor and born of Silat.

Waejiran god of storms, precipitation, and weather. Cothur was fathered by Dailor, and born of Saedeia

Waejiran elemental god of air, wind, and flight. He is said to have sprung directly from Silat.

Waejiran god and collector of all treahni lore, also called “the Thief of Time”. Son of Dailor and Vorsha. Haesur is believed to steal the knowledge of the treahni, and bring these secrets to his mother’s library. When someone dies with secrets, it is Haesur who spirits these away.
Haesur is attributed with knowing every story ever told, as well as the truth behind these stories.

Waejiran god of commerce and trade, the master of all caravans, merchants and shopkeepers. Kaithur is known to be a gambler, and is attributed with making wagers and undertaking risky endeavors; as such he is considered “the lucky god”.

Waejiran goddess of platonic love, friendship, and courtesans. She was fathered by Baithur and born to Aesat.

Waejiran mythic figure believed to deliver benign dreams to sleeping people. One of Balfagor’s stei, Nae is associated with the silver moon.

Waejiran god of death, the dead. Neithur is most often depicted as a figure robed in ash grey funeral shrouds wearing an expressionless full face mask of bronze. Neithur is said to escort the souls of the dead back to Silat. Born of Silat and fathered by Shaelar.

Waejiran goddess, and the patroness of thieves and conspirators. Called the “Daughter of Dusk”, Qaela was fathered by Balfagor and born of Saedeia.

Waejiran elemental god of earth. Qeinor is said to have sprung directly from Silat. He is attributed with teaching agriculture, and farming to the treahni.

Waejiran god of the seasons. Called “The Slave at the Wheel”, Qeisar is responsible for advancing the seasons. He was tricked by Baileia into stealing the secret of the wheel from Vorsha, and in punishment is forced to turn the seasons for the rest of eternity.
Qeisar is born of Kaithur and Sidaelia.

Waejiran mythic figure believed to deliver nightmares to sleeping people. One of Balfagor’s stei, associated with the Red moon.

Waejiran goddess of the beasts, instinct, and the purity of wild nature. She was born of Silat and fathered by Qeinor. Raitha is attributed with teaching treahni how to domesticate animals by working with their natures.

Waejiran elemental goddess of water, the sea, and all things aquatic. She is said to have sprung directly from Silat.
She is attributed with teaching the treahni the arts of brewing, distilling, and winemaking.

Waejiran elemental god of fire. He sprung forth from Silat directly.
Shaelar is responsible for war, strife, and general destruction.

Waejiran goddess of light, and daytime. Sidaelia was born of Silat and fathered by Shaelar.

The Goddess Silat, is rumoured to exist on the earthly plane in a Siladun, a timeless fortress surrounded by the vast salt flats in the Northern Waejiran Desert. She is the all mother, birther of the world, the embodiment of chaos and creation. She is said to be both forever formless and capable of taking any form. From her all life was born, first as the principle elements, and later her incestuous coupling with her own children produced the lesser gods, and so on. She is the great creator spirit whom existed before all else. All things are born of her flesh, and return to her flesh after death. No one who has braved to cross the seemingly endless salt in an attempt to discover her home has ever returned. Some say the great faceted dome of indestructible glass which caps the central chamber of the her temple in Waejiradur was brought forth from her fabled home at the conclusion of the God Wars millenia ago.

Nameless Waejiran god/dess, whose name was removed from history, for a great offense. Some believe this nameless one to still have some powers, but exactly what is left unsaid.

Waejiran god of forges, metal working, and smelting. The “Son of Dawn” was fathered by Shaelar and born of Sidaelia. Thanor is said to stoke the sun every morning, and the dawn’s glow is the heat of his forge.

Waejiran goddess of female strength. She was fathered by Qeinor and born to Raitha. Theila is most often portrayed as the virginal huntress. She is attributed with giving names to the stars, and teaching the secrets of navigation and astrology to the treahni.

Waejiran goddess of knowledge, invention, puzzles, secrets, and mystery. Vorsha was fathered by Shaelar and born of Silat.