Thursday, May 9, 2013

Factions of Source, part III: The Fold

The Fold:

            The subject of whispered myth and rumor, the Fold is a loose confederation of zealots, sages, diviners, cultists, and madmen, loosely allied in pursuit of forbidden lore.  Paranoid and insular at the best of times, the Fold is a dangerous and unpredictable force.
            Followers of the Fold are often preoccupied with prophecies and great doom.  Many of them are talented diviners, but mortal minds were not meant to understand the frayed and contradictory threads of fate.  Frequently, members of the Fold are mentally unstable, but they view this as little more than a minor inconvenience.  They know that their sanity is a small price to pay to receive even a small measure of knowledge of the dark truths that they relentlessly pursue.
            Dark and dangerous beings of alien intent frequently find the Fold to be loyal followers.  The Scrounge know that they are not alone in the walls between reality, and they tell tales of cosmic predators that leave fear and madness in their wake, and devour the bodies and souls of men.  The Fold is one of the few universal organizations that welcomes Scrounge without prejudice, knowing that the manners and appearance of the mad rodent-men is irrelevant compared to the secrets they know.  Some members of the Fold have learned dark methods to call upon these transdimensional beings and court their favor.  It seems that only a fractured mind can contain the bizarre, alien majesty of the Ones From Beyond, and some accounts hold that entire worlds have been bargained away by Fold cults.
            The Fold is extremely opaque in its organizational hierarchy.  Cells of cultists and scholars work together in darkness toward questionable ends, and rarely have any reliable knowledge of the rest of the organization.  Only the Fold’s Inquisitors seem to have any real knowledge of the size, scope, and true goals of the organization. 
            Naturally, the Fold strongly venerates Taelyst as their Source of choice.  Ansetal is difficult for them to effectively draw upon, as the requirements of law and consistency are inimical to the Fold’s twisted minds.  The chaos and power of Voroc and the howling waste of Nysroth are frequently used by more aggressive Fold: many times, prophecies of doom seem to need some help in coming to pass.  Additionally, Umuon’s depths often conceal dark secrets that have been lost for centuries.  The Fold finds the prospect of such forbidden knowledge to be irresistible.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Factions of Source, Part II: The Order of Mercy and Severity

The Order of Mercy and Severity: 

            Recognized (if not necessarily respected) in many realms throughout the universe, the Order is shrouded in pomp, ritual, and mystery.  Their approach to magic tends to be baroque and formulaic, utilizing many highly elaborate systems to understand and manipulate the Sources. 
            The Order believes that the universe is a place of many layers and spheres of influence, conforming to hierarchical laws.  They believe themselves, and all sentient beings, to be naturally imperfect and unrefined.  Fundamental to that belief, however, is the notion that the spark of the divine rests within all living things, and that spark can catalyze into the brilliant white fire of perfect understanding.  The Order teaches that separation between the self and the universe is an illusion.  Only by becoming perfectly balanced and purified can one truly begin to become a vessel flawless enough to receive the Quintessence.
            Magi of the Order of Mercy and Severity are fascinated with forces in opposition and reconciliation.  They typically favor garments of black and white, representing their willingness to deal with contrasting forces of light and dark, sacred and profane, material and ephemeral.  They tend to view concepts such morality and religion as pedestrian and antiquated, believing that they represent a limited view of the universe.  Many of the Adepts of the Order believe that gods are simply a higher order of sentience than mortals, and possessed of a state that is not out of their own potential reach. 
            The Order teaches its magi to draw upon all of the Sources, but they strongly favor Ansetal.  They believe that Ansetal is closest to the true Quintessence, and thus the purest expression of raw universal power.  Ansetal’s light, if the Order is to be believed, dictates the laws of the universe, and even the other Sources are beholden to it.  By strongly aligning themselves with the Light, the Order has a powerfully protective metaphysical structure to explore and manipulate the other Sources.  The first teachings of an Apprentice of the Order focus heavily on forming a powerful bond with the Light, but Masters of Mercy and Severity wield the other Sources without hesitation.  Even the tainted might of Nysroth can be bent by the fortress-like mind of an Adept of the Order.