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Author Topic: Midnight in a Perfect World: Cosmology  (Read 5944 times)
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Avatar of the Witch Queen

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« on: August 10, 2006, 04:03:23 AM »

I always liked this thread, and it'd be a shame if it won't see the light of day some more...
Started by: librarian_dirge
librarian_dirge - May 01, 2004 - 11:27 AM
Post subject: Midnight in a Perfect World: Cosmology

Good evening all, this is my first post on this board.

I originally bought midnight shortly after it was released, and Iíve been doing quite a bit of thinking about the world's cosmology.

In particular, Iím quite interested in the idea that Izrador's fall to Aryth and his deception of the Gods is not and has never been what it appears to be. Rather, I see it as the old fey gods cutting their losses and casting out the black sheep of the family. Aryth is Izrador's prison, and while the veil is his own work and his own idea, it is not for his benefit (and it is not for his gain).

Having just re-read the divine comedy, i find this idea incredibly appealing. The players really are on their own, since the gods have no intention of ever returning to Aryth. At an extreme, the fey gods are in fact the player's enemy, since they are ultimately responsible for the war.

I also wanted to address why Izrador has not pursued the genocide of mankind: Mankind is not Izrador's enemy, the fey are. As a nod to Grial's back story, he really does intend to eradicate the fey by taking advantage of the Orcs hatred of their distant cousins to perpetuate genocide. Izrador believes that the fey are the only thing sustaining the power of the old gods, so if he can destroy the fey races he will cripple them more completely than he believes he already has. Once he breaches the veil, the elder gods will be easy prey.

But this isn't his ends, merely a means. More than anything else, Izrador wants to return to heaven (again, back to the divine comedy); to do this, he needs an army that the fey gods do not control. The humans are the only non-fey sentient race on Aryth. This is why the church of the shadow is dominated by humans, and why he has not sought to eradicate mankind ... it is also likely to be why he has not waged war on the rest of Aryth.

Izrador needs mankind to storm heaven.

So this is the quandary I intend to throw my players: Izrador doesn't want to rule Aryth, he doesn't even want to be there. In fact, Izrador wants to elevate the entire human race. Izrador might also not have begun evil (at least he doesn't think so), just arrogant and powerful, but it's been a long and subtle trip downhill. He wants out, and he will leave once the fey are destroyed. If the players want an ultimate end to the war, they have the option to help Izrador discover a way to pierce the veil.

Really, once you think about it, it might not be such a hard sell. The fey were toast to begin with. Human expansion and aggression, combined with a low birth rate would seal their fate. Even without the war, the fey wouldn't have had much time left. They are (in Izrador's opinion) the fractured and degenerate remains of the final creation of the gods that abandoned Aryth to shadow and flame. Remember, we're not just talking elves and dwarves here, but also the Orcs. No matter what their birth rate is, the Orcs cannot sustain the kind of losses the elves and dwarves are inflicting.

Humans are, by contrast, the natural product of Aryth. Humans evolved on the planet and it is their birthright. Once Izrador retakes heaven, he will leave Aryth to its proper owners. No more gods, no more elder races keeping secrets from you like condescending parents, and no more war.

It's the classic deal with the devil: everything you want, but in return you must turn against [the] God. This of course, assumes that the party is entirely human.

Let me know what you guys, think. Sorry if something like this has already been posted.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 04:06:12 AM by arnon » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 04:03:57 AM »

Dirigible - May 01, 2004 - 12:15 PM


The idea of the entire human race becoming willing pawns of the dark god... too, too delicious.

I also wanted to address why Izrador has not pursued a genocide of mankind

My understanding is that he is. Just very slowly; start grinding them down now, and finish the job once the elves and dwarves are expunged. Of course, the final annihilation of all sentient life would be one of the last steps in his plan.
smeagol - May 01, 2004 - 12:39 PM


First, welcome to the boards!

I like very much your take on Aryth cosmology. I'm not as sure as Dirigible that Izrador is seeking the total annihilation of all races, humans included. I'd rather see him coercing them to submission through cruelty and strength of arms, but they are too useful tools to be disdained. Being a god of evil, however, means that once he is ascended with his chosen human followers to "finish the old gods", he won't care very much for mankind. He's not even a neutral god by now, but the incarnation of evil. IMC, Izrador will only gain enough magical energy once he has sucked up the life force of all sentient beings and of Aryth itself, thus withering the world (just like a huge nuclear conflict would). Just my opinion though. What do you think if this other theory?

Nifelhein - May 01, 2004 - 03:49 PM

First of all, be welcome to the boards, may the Shadow darken your ways and adventures. I think your take, which is original in the gods have left, do not want to return and are, in fact, the ones that wanted Izrador to be left at Aryth, is an interesting one.

Izrador's aim and means could easily be like you said and it would make sense in his revenge, he could even see the Orcs as dwarves still, although long corrupted... Ah, never ask forgiveness or mercy here, we d not have any, especially when one posts something that debated as his first post...†

Be welcome, we will see more from you, I hope.


Wolf - May 01, 2004 - 04:07 PM

This is interesting. Here is my take on Izrador, the Lord of Darkness's piercing of the veil:

Once he has gathered all possible energy from Aryth, he will gather his strength in his room right below the roof of Theros Obsidia. Then, he will have the "master" Corith on the roof pointed at the heavens and release a focused beam of energy through the veil and into heaven, of which some of the energy particles released in the "cannon" will be his being or life force.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 04:06:41 AM by arnon » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2006, 04:04:28 AM »

librarian_dirge - May 01, 2004 - 09:32 PM
Post subject: human souls

The main problem with all of this, however, is the fact that humans still return as fell. If they are the natural product of Aryth, then why would they be in possession of something as tied to the divine as a soul?

One possible answer is it was just something that happened. once you hit a certain sentience critical mass, you generate a soul, or such a decent copy of one that it essentially functions the same. So imagine you're one of the elder fey gods, kicking back, relaxing, when all of a sudden all these filthy monkeys start materializing on your plane of existence.

double you

Imagine this offends you to such a degree that you decide to take it out on the people responsible for such a gross oversight: namely the patron gods of the people for whom this world was intended, and the gods responsible for managing the world's ecosystem. This would of course, be only the beginning. In Christian mythology, Lucifer began as the brightest of all angels, so could the same be true for Izrador? I've never really liked the whole domain - portfolio thing in D&D, seems to be very limiting.

Izrador now is unmistakably evil, but he's quite through with the material plane, thank you. He might even be finished with heaven. He is now the embodiment of the celestial equivalent of misanthropy. He despises absolutely everything, but he is still a creature of order and reason and nothing can change that; so outright slaughter is right out. Itís similar to how Milton and Dante and all those other great middle age / renaissance poets viewed Satan: "no matter what it is you think you're doing, you're still just an instrument of the divine ... sorry."

So why was Izrador cast down to Aryth in this context? He believes he's there because he wants to be there. He believes he tricked the other gods and that is why their hosts haven't come screaming from heaven, all fiery swords and halos. But maybe he was cast down not only because he was a temperamental and whiny little snot, but also to purge Aryth of its wildly successful and out of control life? And what if he has now tasted true rebellion and sees in this life his chance to regain the celestial kingdom? What if Izrador is in fact your best friend by default, because everyone else wants you dead?

But to regain heaven, Izrador isn't going to mass teleport human worshippers bedecked with wings and tails and fiery swords of their own. No, humans are unique because they possess a soul beyond the control of the fey. The soul's the thing, and since Izrador is lawful evil, he's going to prize efficiency above all else; that means the fastest way to exploit that perfect soul is through sacrifice.

But what if life on Aryth is so out of control, it has completely transcended the need for extraplanar deities? Where are all those souls going if they aren't ghosts or wraiths or fell? What if they're making something new that can oppose not only Izrador but his callous cousins directly? The Dorns worship ancestors you say? Maybe they're on to something, I say.

BTW, thanks for all the kind words. Itís nice to feel welcome.
librarian_dirge - May 01, 2004 - 09:40 PM
Post subject: d'oh

Just one more quick thought.

Izrador is the shadow, he is not the darkness. He is not the antithesis of light; instead he represents something interrupting it.

Izrador stands between the light of divinity and the world of Aryth.

Is it possible that he views himself not as the adversary of mankind, but instead its intercessionist?

I really want to challenge my PCs, I want to show just how tempting an offer like this is, just how slippery a slope the whole process of falling from grace can be. Is it still falling from grace if you're already at the bottom?

Oh, wait, where do the heroic paths come from, then? Are they actually divine, or is it Aryth rebelling against an divine onslaught? Maybe Izrador wants to actively seek out those who are marked with a heroic path for his 'army.' maybe they're all he needs?
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 04:07:04 AM by arnon » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2006, 04:05:18 AM »

Dirigible - May 01, 2004 - 10:53 PM

If they are the natural product of Aryth, then why would they be in possession of something as tied to the divine as a soul?

Um. Fey have souls, too. Fey return as fell.
Leviathan - May 02, 2004 - 01:07 AM

This thread is very interesting. Anything that adds to our understanding of this setting's cosmology is to be commended for the simple fact that it should help us add dimension to the overall direction we want our campaigns to take (and why).

I was reading the Chapter 10 of the core book this morning and was struck by a similar notion that perhaps the Lost Gods really placed the Veil across Aryth themselves to imprison Izrador there for all time? Wouldn't that suck for the players if you directed your campaign towards the ultimate goal of piercing the Veil (somehow) from the inside out in order to let the Lost Gods back in to hopefully cast Izrador into a greater Void (kind of like what happened to Morgath in the Silmarillion) only to find out that the Lost Gods aren't down with that plan? A round of crestfallen faces...please...(evil laughter)

As far as the idea about the inherent magic of Eredane slowly and subtly resisting the will of Izrador, I've considered the possibility that the Land itself carries within it the will and spirit of one of the original Lost Gods, i.e. the earthbound member of the portfolio's 'nature deity'. Perhaps the longer Izrador's forces corrupt/degrade the natural order of things, the more this elemental force/being will resist?

I've always wondered why Izrador hasn't already completed the task he started with the Last Battle. 100 years is a very long time for a mopping up operation. I really doubt it would've taken sauron that long had the Ring been captured and Gondor crushed. On Aryth, it seems as though the fey races and forces like the druids and other 'Land' -aligned factors have been the main obstacle to his ultimate victory. Kinda bring to mind the Thomas Covenant books...Lord Foul vs The Land and sealed off from heaven and such. I guess that puts my players in the role of divorced lepers. Now THATS depressing...

Anyway, I'm just musing...good post.

Derulbaskul - May 02, 2004 - 03:16 AM


I'll echo the earlier welcomes and also add that I hope the rest of your threads/posts are as interesting as this one! Fascinating stuff, that's for sure; I look forward to seeing more.
Nifelhein - May 02, 2004 - 04:15 AM

Guys, this is turning out toward some of my early thoughts when i heard of the Darkness & Dread book to be published by FFG soon.

I have thought that Izrador could be the defeated good side of the divine war that has fallen not only in reality, but in the metaphorical sense, thus he is now evil. Now consider that the characters find that out... will they want to redeem him? Most probably yes.

I also think that the Heroic Paths can be two things, although i do not loose time explaining it to players, if they want an explanation they must tell me why they were born from their parents, in the deep and philosophical way...†

1. Heroic Paths are gifts from the world itself that resists the darkness spreading, how that works depend on you, I think the world could have a semi-sentience or you could say that the world itself was once a god, now it is a more slumbering god, which dreams affect the world, thus changing common people into giants, prophets, nature attuned characters and so on.

2. The Sorshef are what ahs been never thought, pierces on the veil, the Sorshef would then be a neutral group of gods who have been given power, by both the evil and good gods, to guard the passage from the divine realms to the mortal realm, this used to have an impact on the soul of the decease, with the Sudnering it is the only contact with the planes...†
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 04:07:53 AM by arnon » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2006, 04:05:40 AM »

ruleslawyer - Aug 18, 2004 - 04:52 AM
Post subject: Re: Midnight in a Perfect World: Cosmology

Quote from: librarian_dirge
So this is the quandry i intend to throw my players: Izrador doesn't want to rule Aryth, he doesn't even want to be there. In fact, Izrador wants to elevate the entire human race. Izrador might also not have begun evil (at least he doesn't think so), just arrogant and powerful, but it's been a long and subtle trip downhill. He wants out, and he will leave once the fey are destroyed. If the players want an ultimate end to the war, they have the option to help izrador discover a way to pierce the veil.

It's the classic deal with the devil: everything you want, but in return you must turn against [the] God. This of course, assumes that the party is entirely human.

Let me know what you guys, think. Sorry if something like this has already been posted.

This is great (!), and I will probably use it... although really only as a way to mess with my players' heads. In fact, this line of discourse may be Izrador's most potent logical tool for enslaving humans to his will as Legates for their entire lives. If the goal of the dark god is to breach the Veil and regain the heavens, who wouldn't support him? Doesnít the world suffer so in its isolation? Wouldn't it be better to support an attempt to regain the heavens for the world, even if that attempt is being led by a being of evil?

I'd certainly agree that Izrador has no real interest in ruling Aryth, and that all his energies are focused on breaching the Veil and gaining freedom. I'd also agree that the Sundering was a form of damage control, and as such arguably an act of extreme callousness by Aryth's deities, who certainly would NOT want to see the PCs breach the Veil, even to beg intervention and redemption for Aryth. In fact, destroying the Grand Mirror or otherwise delaying the Shadow's plans for a century or so is about all the PCs can do in such a scenario, since the only beings capable of freeing Midnight from the Shadow are likely the gods, who have a strong interest against doing so.

In fact, I may allow the PCs to discover this on the verge of implementing a potentially successful scheme to breach the Veil and look for help in the heavens. The solar Anuviel may track them down and tell them why the Veil is really there, and why it, as a truly selfless servant of good, has accepted its imprisonment as a small price to pay for keeping the Dark God chained. The PCs will then have to face a new level of despair. (Of course, I'll be letting them off the hook in a different way, but they'll have to destroy the world to do it!)
arnon - Aug 18, 2004 - 10:57 AM

This is a great thread that i'm sorry I missed till now.

lots of information with great ideas for a truly epic campaign.

mac1504 - Aug 19, 2004 - 03:33 AM

Yes- definitely one of the best posts I've read in awhile. Very thought provoking.

I have been working on an encounter the heroes will come upon later in the campaign where they will engage (and hopefully not slaughter!) a Legate who will try to convince them to turn. This material gives me some great points to make in that persuasive encounter.

I can already see one of them turning to the Shadow already!
MrCharm - Aug 19, 2004 - 03:51 AM

How did I miss this the first time? This is outstanding.
Bleak_Knight - Aug 20, 2004 - 12:33 AM

Great. Long, elaborate post, and everything frags...

Anyway: Great thread. I really like all the speculation around the souls.

But, considering fell: Anything with intelligence above 5 (or 3?) can become fell. Most of these are not fey, nor are they human, so how do you explain them coming back from the dead? More godly creations?
Semah_G_Noj - Aug 26, 2004 - 06:18 PM

Just to chime in:

I recently ran COS for my group and it was rather well received. Our next endeavor is a (So they think) complete change of pace where we're doing a High Fantasy Pulpish version of a Planescape Campaign. Of course, since I am, evil, they get this twist:

The Cleric is worshipping a Lawful Good god from an obscure Pantheon. Turns out that pantheon once had the domain of a certain world called Aryth. They will gradually learn this through contact with these gods' proxies and will learn of "The Fallen One" (Or If I'm feeling particularly prosaic, "The Fell") but he is never spoken of. Eventually on their own, they'll discover the story of the fall and the veil, but something will seem a bit...off about the story. A few inconsistencies. This will lead them further along the lines of learning that the recounting has a few holes in it. Like how would casting out a god cut them off from their faithful? It seems like it would make more sense if they'd actually created it themselves. But that would mean...horrors...that they willingly cut themselves off from their followers? Well, that doesn't sound very noble.

They will hate me. But in a good way.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 04:09:29 AM by arnon » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2006, 05:11:56 PM »

I think this is a wonderful idea. Perhaps not as you intend it, but wonderful nonetheless. It seems to me a great spin from the Shadow. It pits the humans against the fey. It justifies the means for a questionable end. It's exactly the kind of thing the voices of shadow will be shouting in the streets of Baden's Bluff and every where else they go. Perfect!


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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 04:25:02 AM »

Whoa! I am just thinking of a way to deal with the world of Midnight myself, but I would never have tried THIS approach. I will have to rethink my ideas, because this sounds very, very interesting.
It also undos one of the great problems I see with Midnight: Changing things for the worse can easily mean, that the world quickly becomes unplayable. But what if the whole world turns "evil"?

Yet, at the moment it seems, that Izradur can storm the heavens well without any help. He destroys the world in the process as he drains all magic. There would need to be an understanding, that it cannot be done this way. Then this kind of "alliance" would work and could result in a truly epic approach again.

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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2006, 05:52:31 PM »

Great Topic. It gave some useful ideas to use in my campaign and send my thoughts spinning:

What if Aryth is completely different from the other dnd worlds?? I mean, in the regular dnd worlds the gods are antropomorphic beings with a very understandable personality who took care over an aspect of reality: There was a god of elves before there were elves (technically, the god created them) and so on.

But Aryth seemed different: To begin with, human cultures in other continents had the same religious sistem as in our world (a mystic aproach to reality and a source of moral and ethics od a given society). What if there were no "true gods" in Aryth?? No beings of incomprehensible power before the war and the sundering?? What if the fey gods (and the fey) came from somewhere else (in a methaphorical sense). I might be getting a bit too lovecraft with this but a plausible theory is that "the gods" (the light ones and Izrador) are beings from other planes who arrived in the magicaly fertile land of Aryth with all their minions (fey races included). The gods sealed Izrador in Aryth and sealed the world from other planes. The divine intervention caused phenomena as the Fell. As the years passed by the land itself adopted the "good" fey races and gave them (and the humans and the dire animal who are the only "native" sentinent beings) the ability to overcome The Shadow (represented in the heroic paths) because, as we all now, the price for Izrador freedom is the life force of Aryth. Let me know what you think.
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2006, 08:27:14 PM »

Perfectly plausible, Lanus.

If you're interested in this avenue, you should look in the articles section for anything on the Shorshef or the Horsha. There was a project some years ago (headed by Shadowfane, Smeagol and Gredavin, I believe) in which the Sarcosans' star gods were actually a spinoff of some demon worship, and the badruas were originally intended as a network of locations holding back some evil in the sky.
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