The Let's Play Archive

King of Dragon Pass

by Haifisch

Part 21: Sorcerers

OK, let's talk lore for a few minutes. In particular, let's talk about the West and western sorcerers.
I Hate Western Sorcerers:
(No, really, I'm not very fond of them...)

The West is more technologically advanced than, say, our Orlanthi clan, being almost at the medieval stage of advancement. The people there are (mostly) monotheistic, insisting that all the other deities are false gods, fakes and frauds. Western society has always been fairly stratified and legalistic, with some significant exceptions.

Malkion was the Lawgiver and first prophet of the Invisible God. He dwelt among the atheistic Brithini for a while, but when the Invisible God revealed himself, Malkion and his followers were eventually expelled. The Brithini do not believe in life after death, but Malkion preached that those who lived properly (ie. strictly by the Law) in this life would go on to a paradise he called "Solace." For reasons which will become clear when I discuss the Brithini, Malkion's followers prospered and came to dominate the region. Malkion preached that the Invisible God was a god of Law, and that He placed each person into the life He wanted them to live, which produced a society with almost no social mobility. Peasants worked, knights fought, wizards do magic and lords ruled (note that lords are also typically sorcerers). (Malkion has elements of Moses and Mohammed to his story.)

Prince Hrestol, unlike Malkion, was not just a prophet but also a knight. He had a vision of Malkion, in which he was told that the old Law could now be broken in time of need, and that even those who could not live strictly by the Law (ie. almost everyone) could still receive mercy and attain Solace. He traveled around the West preaching, including to the lands of the Brithini. They proceeded to try, torture and execute him, whereupon his spirit was seen ascending to Solace as Malkion's once had. Hrestol is generally considered to be second prophet of the Invisible God, although the extent to which his teachings are observed vary from place to place. (Jesus, obviously, but his death represents proof and vindication, not sacrifice for others.)

In particular, Hrestol preached that the Law which ordains the proper place of each person in western society could be broken. That means social mobility, at least in theory. For understandable reasons, not all of the kingdoms of the west follow that particular practice.

Generally, sorcerers in the west are divided into six specific major sects (although others exist and some sorcerers are heretics). One of the major distinguishing characteristics of the sects is their attitude towards a specific sorcery, called Tap. Tapping allows a sorcerer to permanently drain attribute points from a creature into magical power. That includes sapping bodily strength, intelligence, personality, and even physical size. Obviously this magic is extremely abusable.

The Brithini: This atheistic sect includes among its members Zzabur, the First Sorcerer. Brithini culture is incredibly legalistic and regimented, but so long as its members observe the Law, they are immortal. Leaving the community or violating the Law ends that immortality. The Brithini sorcerers Tap at will. The Brithini are amazingly arrogant, but very few in number, and their ambitions are sharply limited by their Law.

The Borists: This sect has mostly died out. They're followers of Malkion's ways who believe that chaotic beings can be safely Tapped but that other creatures should not be. (That may partly account for the death of the sect...)

The Galvosti: Another small Malkioni sect, Galvosti permit Tapping of any non-believers.

The Hrestoli: The dominant sect in the West. The followers of Hrestol permit changes of social class. They generally forbid the use of Tap entirely.

The Rokari: Another major sect, they deny the Hrestoli insistence on social mobility and they permit the Tapping of animals.

The Stygian Heresy: Contact with theist barbarians from the east has corrupted these poor souls, many of whom venerate the Invisible God along with other deities and all of whom admit to the divinity of beings like Orlanth and Humakt. They may as well not follow the Law at all...

How do the Orlanthi feel about sorcerers? Well, they're worse than strangers, they're strangers who violate basic tenants of freedom and insist that doing so is right and proper. What's worse, they have strange and powerful magics. All righteous Orlanthi remember what the Lhankor Mhy teach, that western sorcerers sell their souls for their power. That's why, when they die, they simply fade away: because they are soulless.