From Breaking Worlds
One of the most fundamental facts of the world of Arginet is the existence of spirits which inhabit a parallel spirit world. Ranging from tiny, near-mindless sprites to unknowable beings of godlike power, they have shaped the lives of mortals and the history of the world throughout its existence. Priests and witches throughout the ages have sought their aid and counsel, but the spirits are quarrelsome and alien in nature, and have only become more so since the Breaking…
Spirits reside in a parallel realm of pure magic, separated from Arginet by an intangible Veil. It is a strange and dreamlike place shaped by the will of its inhabitants which nonetheless reflects the form and nature of the mortal world.
Each of the five elements is represented by a huge number of spirits. Spirits of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water each embody the principles of their element in their temperament and motivation, while five shadowy and powerful totem spirits - one for each element - stand above and beyond these lesser entities.
The spirits within each element tend to be broadly aligned with each other, but internal disputes and schemes are frequent. The form this takes varies - spirits of Fire constantly argue and compete, while those of Metal seek to dominate and order their weaker fellows. Relations between elements largely mirror their fundamental alliances and oppositions.
Most spirits will, given the chance, try to influence mortals to act in line with their element’s principles. They may have specific goals in mind - often tied to a specific person, place, or object - or a code of conduct which they want mortals to follow. They also welcome sacrifice, which might take many forms: most often silver and gold, but sometimes magical items, exotic luxuries, or even human souls.
It is generally agreed by mortal scholars that elementals are sexless; if they do reproduce, it is not in the same way as humans. However they often show signs of gender according to their preference.
Degrees of power
The witches and priests of Arginet tend to classify elemental spirits not only by element but by the degree of power they have. The commonly accepted degrees of power are Least, Common, and Greater; spirits of higher degrees of power are known to exist, but they are not lightly evoked.
- A spirit of the least degree is almost mindless. It possesses a weak will and a small amount of elemental power. These spirits are easily dominated and bound. The sort of powers these spirits can grant when bound are well known, and can be found here.
- A spirit of common degree has a measure of intelligence and a stronger will. It has significant (though often narrow) abilities and may be a challenge for a mortal evoker.
- A spirit of greater degree is an entity with substantial influence in the spirit world, impressive elemental powers, and a potent will. These spirits are difficult to bind and often demand a heavy cost for their services; on the rare occasions that they have manifested, they have been formidable allies and fearsome opponents.
Spirits of the least degree rarely have names of their own, but more powerful elemental spirits usually have descriptive names. Interestingly these tend to be shorter for more powerful spirits - and the five totem spirits, considered mythical by some and worshipped as gods by many, have simple animal names.
Common spirits: First Bloom of the Snowdrops, Fury of Crimson Chaos Fire, New Clay on the Potter’s Wheel, Glint of Moonlight on Cold Iron, Shifting Pattern in the Waves
Greater spirits: Creeping Bramble, Lover’s Blush, Steadfast Foundation, Chain of Authority, Clear Reflection
Totem spirits: Dragon, Phoenix, Bear, Tiger, Serpent
When a mortal (human or fay) dies, their soul departs from their body and enters the spirit world. In this way they become an ancestor spirit. Though they lack the raw power of the elements, they are understandably interested in the affairs of the living and can often be called on for advice or aid.
Since the Breaking, a small number of ancestor spirits have returned to their bodies as revenants. The response of living mortals has been mixed.
Both the power of the elements and the fact that human souls become ancestor spirits on death mean that most mortals are animists. They look to the elements and ancestors for guidance and aid in life and for power in death, and many worship the elements or their totem spirits as gods.
Through ritual and sacrifice, mortals can bring spirits through the Veil and seek their aid. Some call upon them for guidance and enlightenment while others are interested more in power and domination. Whatever its goal, evocation is an ancient and complex art and serves as the foundation of contact between mortals and the spirits.