ATHANATOS: Main Page
This is the basic idea for a fantasy world I came up with some time ago. I don't really have the time to develop it to a full-fledged setting on my own, but I figured that this idea was too good to waste. Feel free to contribute.
More than a thousand years ago, a new religion swept the land. Its adherents, called the "Church of the Celestial Star", worshiped a celestial being depicted as a many-pointed star that would allegedly soon arrive and take the souls of the faithful to a paradise. Its priests gained strange powers, only comparable to the druids who draw their strength from nature, and many people did not know what to make of them at first. But they gained large numbers of followers all over the world, and their numbers grew larger still when the world's most powerful observatories detected a distant object that looked like a many-pointed star - and this object was coming closer to this world.
As most of the world prepared to greet the coming of the Celestial Star, a lone wizard who had used his spells to travel from world to world returned from a long voyage. He had visited numerous planets - and some of them had been visited by the so-called "Celestial Star" before, and had been littered with the bones of thinking beings. He found the descendants of a few survivors who had magically shielded themselves from this entity, and from them learned the horrible truth: Apparently, the "Celestial Star" - which they called the "Ravager of Worlds" - sucked up the souls of all sapient beings on the worlds it passed by, leaving behind only corpses. He then learned of the techniques needed to protect locales from this entity, and returned home.
His announcement sent shock waves through society. Some regions took his advice to heart and made moves to magically protect themselves, but the more militant followers of the Celestial Star saw this as an affront to their religion and started a crusade against these heretics. For the few, final years before the passing of the Celestia Star, a war raged, and the embers were still burning when the Celestial Star - a massive being of the size of a small moon - came close to the world's orbit.
And as it turned out, everything happened as the wizard had predicted. The souls of all humans outside of a protected area left their bodies, leaving behind only empty shells that soon perished. Then the Ravager left, leaving a world mostly empty of humans behind. Only seven cities had managed to withstand the onslaught of the Crusade, and now the survivors had to spread out again and rebuild civilization.
Centuries passed. The magical arts flowered. Finallly, certain wizards learned how to separate the human soul from the human body - and how to reattach the soul to a different body. With this, an immortality of sorts was possible - upon the death of the body, the soul, instead of slowly evaporating in the Astral Plane could simply be attached to a new one, such as an alchemically created human or near-human one, a magical construct, an existing animal or plant, or some other, alchemically created hybrid or monster. Over time, many people learned how to "bond" to more than one body, switching between different ones as needed.
Later on, wizards also managed to create daimons - artificial souls that had never inhabited a human body in the first place. The weakest ones were used as servants, and more or less permanently bonded to a single body. The more powerful ones have wills of their own, and are in some places accepted as the equals of humans.
Nations and city-states rose and fell. Wars occurred - many of them doing little more than massive "property damage" in the form of destroyed bodies, but in some, forbidden soul-destroying weapons were used that were able to slay someone permanently. But all in all, human civilization flourished again.
But in recent years, there have been disturbing reports about the resurgence of the Church of the Celestial Star - and now it seems that the Ravager is indeed passing through this region of space again, though it will not come close to this world if it maintains its current course. Its followers believe that if their numbers are great enough, it will hear their prayers and come to take them, too, to Paradise - but since most people are frightened of another encounter with this entity that almost left this world empty of humans, this religion has been harshly suppressed in most regions. And others still have decided to deal with this entity once and for all - they plan to release massive magics on the Ravager in the hopes of destroying it.
Truly, these are uncertain times - but there are plenty of opportunities for bold adventurers as well...
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Page: Host Bodies
I will try to add game stats now and then, and usually I will present them in GURPS, since Athanatos was inspired by the GURPS setting Transhuman Space and its Fourth Edition handles characters with multiple bodies and weird powers fairly well. However, feel free to add game stats in whatever system you are comfortable with!
- Jürgen Hubert