Spolitism for Bogmoth
This is background information for Spol, Spolites, and Spolitism for the game Scarlet_Reeds, and specifically for the character Dapyx Bogmoth.
- 1 General Information
- 2 A Personal View of Spolite Life: What my Maskmaker Told me
- 2.1 Who are You?
- 2.2 Who Are We?
- 2.3 What Makes us Great?
- 2.4 Where do we Live?
- 2.5 How do we Live?
- 2.6 What is important in life?
- 2.7 Who Rules Us?
- 2.8 What Makes a Man Great?
- 2.9 What is my Lot in Life?
- 2.10 How do We Deal With Others?
- 2.11 Who are our enemies?
- 2.12 What is Evil?
- 2.13 Do We Worship Evil, As Others Claim?
- 2.14 Can You Tell Me More on Those We Worship?
Geography & Politics
Spol is a cloudy land full of large ruins and small villages. The modern-day Satrapy is within the Western Reaches of the Lunar Empire, being the stretch of land bordered by the Poralistor River in the North, the Oronin River to the east, the Brass Mountains to the south, and the Sweet Sea to the west. The cultural region is larger than the Satrapy, continuing to the east to include the cities of Petela and Hariij, the Darsen Hills, and the haunted bog known as Natha’s Well. Consequently, there are a substantial number of Spolites within the Satrapies of Karasal and Oronin, in addition to Spol itself.
As a group, the Spolites are a relatively loyal to the Lunar Empire for three reasons. First, they view the Lunars as liberating them from their Carmanian persecutors. Additionally, Lunar religion and philosophy has a deep connecting to both Natha and Gerra, two central goddesses for the Spolites. Finally, the Spolites are somewhat tolerant of the Lunar use of Chaos, since their own traditions are about dealing with inhuman monsters.
Spolitism is an animist and theist religion found in that focuses on the underworld and the propitiation of often hostile spirits. While Spolitism has some similarities to the Jernotian Way, there is a greater role for shamanic practices, as well as the cults of Vogestes the Spearman, Derdromus the Hungry One, Natha the Balancer, and Gerra the Moon of Sorrow. Spolitism also speaks less of a unified group of “High Gods” who rule from the mountain top.
Human sacrifice has a constantly changing role in Pelanda before The Dawn. It was promoted by YarGan, banned by Gartimirus and Idomon, defended by Natha, and relied upon during the Bleak Times (Greater Darkness). Lenshi then banned it again in the Gray Age just before the Dawn. One of the core beliefs of Spolitism is that the Old Gods do, in fact, demand human blood, and it therefore supports Natha and rejects Idomon, Jernotia, and Gartemirus on a key issue of workship.
The Spolites deny the the Bleak Times every truly ended. We still live in a world defined by death and suffering and confusion, even if it now happens under the sun half the time. The Spolites learned to negotiate and appease dark powers and forces other people attacked or escaped. As a result, their crops grew, they remembered oral histories that differed from those found in the great cities of the Upper Oronin, and they were able to remain in their homeland.
Spolitism is based on a reading of the Velortinian Principles where if a people accepts that a god helps the people, then the people must accept the god’s price for help. If gods require human blood – and the Spolites believe many of them do – then one must give them blood as long as the Gods maintain the covenant. For the Spolite, true mystical union will involve an integration of the living world and the underworld. This eschatological moment is called DerMaElsor, or “The Return to the Mother Greater than Self.” Everyone and everything dies, including the world, which is the fullest moment of this return. Separation before union (life before death), however, has become useful and important as it creates an opportunity to reflect and understand that is not possible if everything merely stayed unified.
Additionally, many (but not all) of the sacrificial acts involve willing participants. Indeed, the magic is infinitely more powerful this way, and Spolites are quick to point out that murder was only created because the Old Gods were denied their blood. Spolite myths of the Red King and Gerra’s dismemberment highlight the importance of the holy victim choosing what occurs.
Spolitism Through History
At the Dawn, Spolitism did not fully exist, as Lendarsh had achieved hegemony throughout Pelanda during the Gray Age, partly by reestablising the Jernotian High Gods.
Contrary to popular belief, Spolitism did not develop in response to Nysalor. Rather, Spolitism's practices of propitiation and human sacrifice were rediscovered when the Aldryami reforested Pelanda. By propitiating resurgent nature, Northern communities were able to survive while surrounded by Elven forests.
Spolitism became useful against Nysalor, as its darkness magic was both powerful and not easily assimilated by Nysalor's Bright Empire. Spol and its Elven allies resisted both Dara Happa and Nysalor for generations. In part, this was due to powerful magics that enshrouded Pelanda is Shadow, weakening the magics of Light and Sky and Fire. The Aldryami continued an alliance of sorts with the Empire of Gloom, and they were reveared, especially in the Gardens of Karresh.
Spolite Empire Era
When the Bright Empire collapsed, Spolitism grew in both power and sophistication as it developed contact with the new Uz kingdom of the Yolp Mountains created by Arkat. Spolitism before this was a religion focused on Darkness and the Underworld without a strong connection to the Uz.
The new version of Spolitism sought to quicken cosmic reunion, DerMaElsor, which it understood as the Underworld absorbing the material world. Gradually, a religion based on negotiating with the Dark became ruled by agents seeking to promote Darkness. The Uz never truly united with the Spolites, but encouraged Spol's war against the Sun in the name of the Underworld.
Carmanian Empire Era
The second half of the Imperial Age is marked by the fall of the Spolite Empire at the hands of the Carmanians. This was a more dramatic political upheaval than a social upheaval, since Carmanianism accepted that in the end Ganesaturus was redeemed by Idovanus. "Old Spolites" survives in the mountains and near the bogs, however, where they told very different myths about Idovanus and GanEstoro, and where they still practices human sacrifice to appease many things that did not wish humanity well. At the same time, the Carmanians feared a resurgence of the Spolites, and depleted Spol of any resources that could be used against the Shahs.
The Third Age
In the Third Age, Spolitism has experienced complex transformations. The Lunar religion has borrowed heavily from Spolitism, claiming Gerra and Natha as their own. There is therefore a spectrum of Spolitism. On the one end, there is a sophisticated, urban, and fully Lunarized version. This is the version that rebuilt Dezarpovo. On the other end, there is a rural, illiterate, traditionalist form that relies on oral tradition, In its extreme forms, this version of Spolitism rejects that Gerra and Natha are manifestations of Sedenya, deny Gerra is a moon at all, and see the Lunars as just another group of people who worship something in the sky in pursuit of the delusion to create a world without suffering.
A Personal View of Spolite Life: What my Maskmaker Told me
Who are You?
I am the Rahl the Maskmaker, caretaker for our ceremonies. I help our village understand the gods’ masks and desires. I am answering your questions, but please be brief: I must be ready to serve the Red King tonight, as Sacred Time comes to an end.
Who Are We?
We are known as the Spolites, those who remember the Spiral Path of Pain. In the Bleak Times, the Bulls called our lands the “Hold and Starve Cities,” and Lendarsh the Liberator called us “the Hungry Ones” before the Dawn. We were hungry because we kept the old ways. Our obligations to the Old Gods did not end when our bellies were empty.
In the time of Bright Empire, we were not seduced by the philosophies of the New God and the splendor of Dara Happa, for Velortina taught us one cannot simply make any God one wants. We hid, we waited, and when the Dead Sky helped block the sun in our land, we fought and won.
Of course, with power comes a poor memory, and we forgot our debts. So Natha sent Logicians from the West to bring us low. First Syranthir, then Karmanos, and then the rest of their arrogant line. They took our kingdom, and they kept us low for generations. Then Natha brought them low, after the truths of Gerra allowed for the Red Moon to rise.
What Makes us Great?
We know our debts, we accept that death is, and we know Natha will eventually all back to balance, even herself. We know the time of DerMaElsor will come, when all is reunified and life and death embrace in Hagu. We value survival and scoff at false virtue. We have no time for fanciful tales of a world without pain, for we know such stories cause trouble. Most importantly, however, we know the Bleak Truths:
- Night always returns, Shadow Never Leaves,
- Death Is,
- If we are not Light we are Dark,
- All life is suffering but not all suffering is life, and
- The Old Gods demand payment in blood.
Where do we Live?
We live in the villages of Cardo Valley in Spol. I suppose it is a poor valley in many ways, for it is almost hidden in the foothills of the Brass Mountains, and Cardo Creek is a modest tributary for the Poralistor River. Still, this gives us a clear benefit: The Strangers who claim to fear us do not bother us here. We keep our old ways, unmolested.
And remember: we live in the villages of the valley. We journey to the forests or quarries, when we prepare correctly, but that is not our home. Other things live in the woods and hills. Do not disturb them.
How do we Live?
We grow our grain, we tend our animals, and we save our hearts for the moments they should beat. We thank the Marzi Kanara, the spirits of nature, for their help, and give them the tribute they are due. Our hunters put their despair in their javelins, and they bring us game. Our farmers dedicate their harvests to Hallo. During Sacred Time, we crown our Red King, who we celebrate and care for, before we enact the Rite of One Beauty, sending his spirit to Mount Jernalf to renew the land.
What is important in life?
Survival and responsibility are of utmost importance. Do not be reckless, do not be frivolous. Be somber, be aware, act accordingly.
Who Rules Us?
The village’s Elders ensure we do as we should. The Satrap of Spol is a man with many swords but only one arm named Alehandro. His mother is a powerful Spolite who knows her debts. Beyond the land of Spol, we are ruled by the Red Goddess and her Emperor. They freed us from the Carmanians, and they learned from us. We respect their power and give them what they are due.
What Makes a Man Great?
You are too fascinated with Greatness… It will End you, child. But if you insist, “greatness” is achieved through sacrifice, repayment, and suffering. The truly great are rare because few truly balance their scales. They a freedom you and I can barely imagine.
Many fools strive for that greatness and ruin much. Listen to me now, child: to desire greatness is to invite the Balancer to bring you low. There are better things to desire the greatness. The great die just as much as the weak, afterall. Sometimes, they even die more. And if you truly wish it, Gerra calls.
More generally, know and pay your debts, as your place in the Final Kingdom is determined by your remaining debts. You have a debt to DenegEria to make the most with the gift of life. You have a debt to your clan. You have a debt to the Gods. If you are lucky, you will pay them off enough to avoid angering others. If you are unlucky, you will fall so far into debt that your blood is the only worth you have.
What is my Lot in Life?
You will likely struggle and bleed for your family and your valley. Perhaps you will simply live a long time and then join the Final Kingdom. Perhaps, if the Forces attend to you, we will crown you a Red King, and then you will have as lovely a year as we can give you, I promise. Or perhaps, if you desire “greatness” or your debts go strange, you will leave our valley and see the world. I pray the latter does not happen to you. It is harder to know and pay your debts in the world than in the valley.
How do We Deal With Others?
If they can be recognized as Spolites, we will give them their due. If they are strangers, we will guard what is ours, and assume they do the same. We will, of course, be prepared if they try to take what is ours. Perhaps they are starving, perhaps they are greedy. Either way, theft has been around as long as different beings. I have heard the Storm Tribe talk of “Hospitality”, and it is a horrible idea that invites Daak in. Never trust Daak.
Who are our enemies?
Our Red Emperor tells us the Storm Worshippers to the South are our enemy, but it would be more accurate to say that they are his enemy, and we fight them out of our debt to Him. The Carmanians are often our foe, as they hate us and spew nonsense about truth only coming from light.
What is Evil?
Evil is denying your debts, forcing others to pay them for you, and theft. Evil is the refusing of one’s obligations. Daak is evil because he had no right to the treasures in the House of Virtue. The Incompletes are evil for they wish to break and ruin out of spite. The Blue Men were evil for taking the land, as the Dara Happans more recently. Evil denies there are other beings in the world beyond one’s own happiness.
Do We Worship Evil, As Others Claim?
Of course not. You have been told that we worship the Evil God of the Lie. But I say to you that we worship Vogestes the Spearman, the Inspired One. He taught us that Death Is, and he taught us how to make proper sacrifices. His truth is that sacrifice makes the world. And his sacrifices are made in honor of GanEstoro the Shadow Mountain. Other Pelandans call him Turos, but we know him by this name, and we know he never stopped desiring human sacrifice.
You have heard human sacrifice is evil, but I say to you that the Old Gods demand human sacrifice, as is their right. Thus, it is not evil. To claim otherwise is not enlightened, it is foolish.
You have heard that Derdromus is the evil Monster Man. But I tell you ViSaruDaran stole what was not his, and he chased Derdromus home to wander the surface as a monster.
We do not worship evil, but accept the world and the gods within it. It may be dark, but it is true, and good can only come from what is true.
Can You Tell Me More on Those We Worship?
Who do you wish to know?
Vogestes, the Red King, and Yargan?
One of the secrets we know in Spol is that these three are all one man. Vogestes stayed apart from the tribe, and in doing so realized that death exists. He taught us how to to make and sustain the world by making sacrifices. Just as Idomon is the Prophet of Idovanus the Creator, Vogestes is the the Agent of GanEstoros.
Later, Vogestes became the Red King in Naveria. He was a good ruler, a loving husband to Naveria, and tragically, he was also her father. He proved his nobility by accepting his fate when Natha sacrificed him. In doing so, he ensured his land would be renewed as he had been.
Gerra is the black moon, and she is known as Sorrow, for she understood better than most how suffering and injustice work in the world. She constantly spoke truth, which made her unpopular. She sacrificed herself to create hope in darkness.
Turos and GanEstoro?
Turos is the God of Power, and we know him as GanEstoro, Turos of Gan, the God who Gives and Takes. His Kingship is based on might, relationships, and choice. We worship him at the Black Mountain Throne, and he makes his proclamations through the cracks in the caves. Responsible only to himself, we offer him tribute so that he may aid us when we need it. His capriciousness is dangerous, but it also has created the world we know and it was he who stole the secrets of iron from the Mostali.
Eventually, his actions brought him into conflict with Idovanus and the Law. After a great struggle, GanEstoro admitted the Law must exist to allow the world to exist, and Idovanus admitted the Law has limits to allow the world to exist.
YarGan was a powerful worshipper of GanEstoro who ruled a realm far to the West. The Blue People aided his travel to Wendaria, and his father gave him a spear made by the Bluesmiths of the Brass Mountains. Under his rule, he promoted the ways of proper sacrifice like Vogestes, and his rule used the Logicians and their sorcery to create stability beneath a broken sky. He created the first city in Wendaria. He was eventually overthrown by the warlord Daxdarius, and the Angry Bull Bisos. He was too powerful to truly defeat, however, and he took another name to become the God of Plenty and Victory.
Derdromus is the Final Winner, the once and future king of the Underworld. Turos invaded the underworld to find a wife, and while there he also took the underworld and all its treasures. Derdromus thus became the Monster Man, wandering the surface and causing strife as he seeks what he lost. Derdromus is a terrifying force that must be appeased. Upon his throne, he is divine right, for good and for ill.
Azerlo is the wife of Derdromus, she is compassion, for good and for ill. Supposedly, others call her Xiola Umbar, but that is not the name she told us. Derdromus and she are estranged since she was tricked into helping Turos.
Natha is the Balancer, the daughter and synthesis of the Oath Avengers Nansha and Naquasha. She brings low those who have become great by ignoring obligations to the Old Gods, and enforces the rights of the ones who made the world. The Lunars believe they follow Natha. We will see.
Idovanus is the god of order. He wants everything to be clean and organized, which is sometimes good and sometimes not. He eventually came to blows against GanEstoro, whose sacrifices and survival were not clean and tidy. Their fight, and truce afterwards, defines our world. Unfortunately, Carmanos and his followers both exalt and misunderstand, thinking he is a perfect deity. This has caused misery.
Gartemirus was a good and wise ruler, but he believed he could create a society free of suffering or sacrifice. Natha constantly pointed out the error of this. After a millennium of trying to perfect society, he gave up, and his kingdom promptly collapsed.