Iconography and Alignment: associative setting creation (ft. Scrap's faction generation)

What Is
i've been fucking around with this process of generating axial values and associations for those values  and then using those values / associations to create the significant factions and gameplay elements of a setting in order to create campaign worlds that feel like they have solid through lines of repeated themes supported by consistent motifs.  

"values" here are analogous to alignment but i've made them more granular in an effort to try and get weirder results

this post is both tools and a cross section of the entire process 

plus if you scroll down far enough there's guys who cut off the tops of their head and make magic soups in their skulls

Value and Association Tables


  1. freedom
  2. hierarchy
  3. kindness
  4. cruelty
  5. indulgence
  6. ascetism
  7. knowledge
  8. ignorance
  9. entropy
  10. permanence
  11. beauty
  12. ugliness
  13. joy
  14. sorrow
  15. pleasure
  16. pain
  17. civilization
  18. nature
  19. love
  20. hate
  1. elements
    1. fire
    2. light
    3. darkness
    4. water
    5. sky
    6. earth
      1. metals
        1. iron
        2. gold
        3. silver
      2. stone
        1. basalt
        2. obsidian
        3. granite
        4. quartz
        5. limestone
        6. coal
        7. sandstone
        8. chalk
        9. marble
        10. slate
      3. precious stone
        1. opal
        2. ruby
        3. emerald
        4. sapphire
  2. celestial
    1. sun
    2. moon
    3. stars
  3. seasons
    1. winter
    2. spring
    3. summer
    4. autumn
  4. life
    1. humans
    2. monsters
      1. giants
      2. dragons
      3. sphinxes
      4. undead
      5. unicorns
      6. beast-men
        1. roll again on the life table, ignoring "human" or "monster" results to determine what kind of beast-man this is
    3. reptiles
      1. lizards
      2. snakes
      3. tortoises
      4. alligators 
    4. mammals
      1. cattle
      2. dogs
      3. cats
      4. bears
      5. horses
      6. whales
    5. birds
      1. hawks
      2. songbirds
      3. ravens
      4. vultures
      5. storks
      6. peacocks
    6. insects
      1. flies
      2. spiders (yeah i know shut up)
      3. locusts
      4. ants
      5. beetles
      6. centipedes
    7. mollusks
      1. snail (shh)
      2. slug
      3. octopus
      4. oysters
      5. scallops
      6. squid
    8. amphibians
      1. bull frogs
      2. poison frog
      3. toads
      4. newts
      5. worms (i said HUSH)
      6. axolotls
    9. fish
      1. sharks
      2. salmon
      3. trout
      4. rays
      5. eels
      6. catfish
    10. herbaceous plants
      1. poppies
      2. daises
      3. grass
      4. ferns
      5. rose
      6. vines
    11. woody plants
      1. oak
      2. pine
      3. juniper
      4. birch
      5. willow
      6. fruit tree
        1. orange
        2. apple
        3. pear
        4. peach
    12. fungus
      1. mold
      2. lichen
      3. poisonous mushrooms
      4. edible mushrooms
  5. stages of life
    1. pre-utero
    2. birth
    3. youth
    4. coming of age
    5. adulthood
    6. old age
    7. death
    8. afterlife
  6. concepts
    1. sickness
    2. addiction
    3. poverty
    4. wealth
    5. fame
    6. shame
    7. pride
    8. greed
    9. filth
    10. cleanliness
    11. the past
    12. the future
  7. actions
    1. praying
    2. murdering
    3. studying
    4. healing
    5. traveling
    6. trading
    7. having sex
    8. raising children
    9. going to war
    10. swearing oaths
    11. breaking promises
    12. cannibalizing 
    13. sleeping
    14. eating
    15. weeping
    16. consoling
    17. dueling
    18. cursing
    19. professions
      1. metalworking
      2. woodworking
      3. sewing
      4. weaving
      5. cooking
      6. brewing
      7. executing
      8. torturing 
      9. preaching
      10. imprisoning
      11. guarding
      12. gardening
    20. making art
      1. singing
      2. dancing
      3. painting
      4. sculpting
      5. writing poetry
      6. storytelling
  8. objects
    1. weapons
      1. knives
      2. guns
      3. swords
      4. axes
      5. spears
      6. bows
    2. vehicles
      1. ships
      2. cars
    3. texts
      1. maps
      2. books
    4. buildings
      1. homes
      2. palaces
      3. government buildings
      4. offices
      5. restaurants
      6. bars 
    5. crowns
    6. rings
    7. masks
    8. poison
    9. alcohol
    10. narcotics

i said what i said

How Do
there's a couple ways of doing this; one is to simply roll for a pair (or more) of opposing values that dominate your setting: i've paired intuitive opposites on the value table, but you could just as easily create a world where all things are caught in a battle between ignorance and sorrow. 

Then roll for various associations, giving each value around 6, and justify those associations as you see it. 

As an example, I think I'm going to stick with ignorance and sorrow on one axis, but I'm going to give myself another random pair of opposed forces for proper alignment quadrants. 

so as of now we are using

Sorrow / Ignorance
Freedom / Cruelty

Sorrow is associated with:
  1. Sky
  2. Sun
  3. Undead
  4. Summer
  5. Cannibalism
  6. Death
Ignorance is associated with:
  1. Winter
  2. Water
  3. Lizards
  4. Darkness
  5. Giants
  6. Cooking
Freedom is associated with:
  1. Autumn
  2. Trade
  3. Stars
  4. Fire
  5. Adulthood
  6. Light
Cruelty is associated with:
  1. Travel
  2. Moon
  3. Youth
  4. Poverty
  5. Spring
  6. Hatred*
* I switched Love and Hate with Sickness and Health on the values table; I think that makes more sense

already there's a ton of unexpected shit to work with here. I'm just going to vomit process all over this page, talking through this as they occur to me. 

the zebra ties this one together imo

Process: Justifying Associations
this is the broad sketches of setting generation; you're just throwing out ideas, riffing, making notes of things to come back to

Sorrow strikes me the most immediately; a sky that reanimates the dead who die under its sun? ritual cannibalism for cultures that could not feasibly dispose of their dead through burial? 

meanwhile, cooking being associated with ignorance to me speaks of a deep (possibly entirely rational) animistic belief, the living intelligence in all things destroyed and converted to food through cooking. 

hmm. mingling these things; intelligence in everything, the sun as a malignant intelligence that seeks to fill hosts with itself

what happens to dead animals? does everything that dies fill with sunlit intelligence? 

i'll come back to it.

Cruelty now. I asked my lover; to them, youth, poverty, moon and travel spoke of children sent out to sea in boats, naked and chained to one another under the white light of the moon. Hatred too; do they hate their children? this ritual? both?

still learning the shape of this thing. children are born filled with some of the soul of their parents; this dwindles as they grow up, leaving them empty, vulnerable to the sun. they're sent out to sea before the parent soul vanishes in its entirety, looking for souls somewhere. amid the stars maybe, lights small enough to be swallowed and digested by the body. 

the few children who return do so as adults, lit with the fire of stars, bearing with them goods from the lands they travel through on their visit home. 

back to the sun; it has grown swollen, reversing the process its siblings suffer.

what of beasts then? where do their souls stem from? fallen stars? the horse star and the dog star and the bird star, slowly dwindling with each new life??? pilgrimages to these places

an empty people, swallowing the freedom of the stars to be free from the sun's intelligence
and the sun is sad; longs to be embodied in its entirety, must settle for mere motes, short-burning physicality

now Ignorance
Reptiles and giants and water. To me, it's giving Book of the New Sun Megatherians, it's giving huge creatures empty of star-intelligence, hidden from the hungry sun by the water which cradles and allows their bulk, which fills their minds with something beyond knowledge, slow moving superpowerful idiot liquid-brains. The oldest of these creatures could house the sun in its entirety. Lizards are their land-envoys; no soul, no star-mind, basking defiantly in the sun, shielded from solar possession by reflective scales or waterlogged flesh or both

this is good. this is good. the sparks flying from this generator thing are real and hot with potential. Already a bit more; you die of old age as the star-soul dwindles within you, eventually smothered by your flesh. maybe this is why children are hated; their birth literally steals life from their parents. is birth involuntary? your flesh drawn forth by the moon, budding into new life? making soldiers to swallow stars and war against the sun?

 kill someone before their soul has weakened and take it for yourself before it escapes from their mouth and struggles to return to the sky. 

the sky above battlefields full of racing light, reverse meteors fleeing their corpse prisons

Flesh, empty of soul, grows on its own, unchecked, monstrous; a thing killed at night, whose soul has fled its corpse prison can grow into fearsome thing before the sun 

PUPARIA lives in you now

wait hang on also there's Damage Types and Worldbuilding which a seminal (to me) piece of worldbuilding tech by Scrap Princess that basically takes the Dark Souls formula of tying elemental factions to damage types (lightning damage is used by the gods to kill dragons n whatnot) and contains several tables I am more or less lifting directly and posting below because I think creating factions from these values is going to hit. 

let's say each factions should be 2 values combined, with like 4-6 total associations drawn equally from each value. go with your heart though. 

then, hit the button to further flesh out each faction and establish their presence in the setting. 

Faction Tables

this faction is organized as a...
  1. Church
  2. School
  3. Family
  4. Army
  5. Bureaucracy
  6. Prison
  7. Clan
  8. Lone Individuals
this faction status is  (roll twice)...
  1. Worshipped
  2. Settling
  3. Pariah
  4. Secret
  5. Invading
  6. Ruling
  7. Rebelling
  8. Exploited
  9. Recently Usurped
  10. Recent Usurpers
  11. Ancestors
  12. Psychopomps
this faction's presence in the setting is tied to (roll 2-3 times)... 
  1. Healing
  2. Weapons
  3. Artifacts
  4. Spells
  5. Architecture
  6. Landscape
  7. Wandering Monsters
  8. Boss Monsters
  9. Rituals
  10. Greetings/Partings
  11. New Characters
  12. Currency
  13. Merchants
  14. Remote Locations
  15. Funeral Customs/Death
  16. Advancement
  17. Food and Drink
  18. Games
  19. Curses
  20. Agriculture

i'd probably set up these up with like 3 factions in a rock-paper-scissors standoff and a 4th that's sort of orthogonal to that dynamic; if you want to juggle more/introduce more depth into the setting, the 5 Point Star Faction System, which suggests using the mtg color wheel to create a network of five factions, each one with two allies and one degree of separation from their two enemies. 

note that depending on how many values you're working with you'll likely have to have a value combination repeat or have a faction that embodies a value and its opposition; I think both of those idiosyncrasies are a good thing. 

okay let's try this out.

FUCK he's indomitable

Process: Creating Factions
as before; rough sketches, rambling

Values: Ignorance + Freedom
Associations: Winter, Water, Stars, Light
Organization as: Family
Status: Recently Usurped, Exploited
Presence: New Characters, Rituals

former custodians of the stars? those who performed ritual feeding of the stars to the travel-sick almost-children that trudge their way from the arctic sea, across the ice flows, to where the stars dance at the top of the world.

 source of new characters as each wakes, unwilling stars hot in their bellies. who is this family subservient to?

 perhaps from the giants they learned to fill their skulls with water like kappas to insulate themselves from the sun. we'll work things out more specifically as we figure out relationships. maybe some weird lizard sex blood relation to the giants? 

Values: Sorrow + Cruelty
Associations: Sky, Cannibalism, Youth, Spring
Organized as: Church
Status: Recent Usurpers, Psychopomps
Presence: Artifacts, Currency

wandering cannibal clergymen, eating the dead so the sun does not take them. follow the traveling children, devouring those who die before reaching the north. recent usurpers ties them directly to our previous faction: a church divided between the wandering faithful and the corrupt and hungry who have taken over the north and devour the children who come seeking stars? 

associated with currency and artifacts; maybe they craft items from the gnawed bones of the dead? maybe fingerbones as a universal currency, seeing as everyone has access to them? blue tooth'd priests that leave cobalt marks on the bones they chew

are bones significant because they are of flesh but separate from it? ooh bones blossom flesh around them; bones kept from important things/people eaten by the church, bones then kept ritually gnawed by sacred masticators. 

chewed bones used as currency since you need to hit up a priest to chew them down and they use a special blue mouth die to mark them as chewed by priests

Values: Ignorance + Cruelty
Associations: Giants, Cooking, Poverty, Travel
Organized as: Army
Status: Rebelling, Settling
Presence: Advancement, Food and Drink

okay i'm saying this is a militant offshoot of the Ignorance + Freedom family who rebelled and split after the family was taken over by the corrupt members of the cannibal priesthood; impoverished, ragtag band of survivors pressing down from the north to settle down, gather forces, warn people of the power change in the north, potentially return with allies to overthrow the priesthood? 

they use the hollowed out-kappa heads thing and cook stuff in their still-living empty skulls. Advancement in this game is done through dining with a huge, giant-blooded cauldron-head cook; maybe bringing stuff to add to the soup to get the kind of improvement you're looking for. 

Values: Sorrow + Freedom
Associations: Sun, Summer, Fire, Trade
Organized as: Bureaucracy
Status: Pariah, Ancestors
Presence: Greetings/Partings, Boss Monsters

this one is FUNKY let's see what I can do. We know the sun is viewed as like mostly bad, so lets tie this factions pariah status to sun good actually. and it's an ancestral belief, so maybe there's some kind of lost practice that allows you to still function while full of sun-soul?

 also this kinda calls attention to the fact that idk wtf the sun does with all the bodies it fills. builds stuff, maybe? breeds? ooo... let's not go to assault, but what about fuckinn... sun drenched breeding pits?? though what about all the corpses.... we'll come back to this.

bureaucracy + trade to me says commerce and merchantry... okay okay okay so. these people date to back before the practice of eating stars, and they have more direct dealings with the sun; certain people are offered as sun-vessels while the others gain safety from sunlight in return. some marking of this covenant? a ritual burning of those who are sun-safe so the sun knows who's who by their blackened burns? mirror-speakers carry out this bargaining?

maybe some necromantic industry type shit too; using sun-filled corpses to their own ends. selling them? selling sun-powered machines? slaves? raiding the children caravans to get more sun-slaves

greetings and partings is easy enough; some ancestral phrase that's been clung to and passed down. boss monsters less so, especially with their like whole merchantry thing. maybe ancient, powerful war-bodies prepared for the sun? yeah, yeah!

Values: Sorrow + Ignorance 
Associations: Undead, Death, Lizards, Darkness
Organized: Lone Individuals
Status: Secret, Invading
Presence: Landscape, Wandering Monsters

enemies of the sun, creeping lizard necromancers. that's the obvious path of least resistance, so let's take it. but they're tied to the sun as well through sorrow; death. okay maybe this is where we deal with that idea of flesh growing out of control when not possessed by the sun; death = malignant growth is an interesting concept to me. 

hmmm. okay what if death and like hollowness is an intelligence opposite to the sun. and the giants actually retreated to the sea/filled their heads with water to block out both the sun and the emptiness. 

the sun-filled "undead" aren't actually considered such because they are filled with a soul; same for the giants of the water. undead are truly just what happens when something dies at night and the hollowness inside it drives it to hide itself from the sun and continue to grow; emptiness drives growth because it seeks always to hide/armor itself from the things that would fill it. its growth is reptilian; all other life stems from the fallen star fragments that filled empty beings and shaped their growth. 

maybe reproduction really is inadvertent; even soul-filled flesh grows, but slowly, and budding off, houses a portion of the parents soul rather than the mass being added to the being itself

onto alliances and enemies
obviously the family is allied to the army, and it makes sense that they'd be at least allied with the lizard necromancers, and enemies to the church and the sun merchants. i think it'd be interesting if the army was in the process of brooking deals with the merchants; they're undersupplied and looking for access to souls for their children; maybe they'll start using the sun-speaker method???? drama already. which then by default groups the church and the lizards... hmmmmm maybe they're studying emptiness up there in that arctic. gives this all a pullman His Dark Materials kinda tone to it, which could be neat, or nothing.

Jesse Balmer is the myth of the moment

Now let's clean this up. I'm gonna lay out everything MUCH fancier than i'd ever do for myself, because you fucks make me nervous <3

there is soul, that intelligence which fills and repurposes matter to its own ends, and there is emptiness, that which soul seeks to fill, that which surrounds itself in ever-thicker sheathes of flesh to better protect its own ignorance. 

the stars are creatures of pure soul, and the largest is the sun, which above all things longs for a body that could house it in its entirety. on the earth, empty creatures crawl and grow huge and hideous as they age, the hollow inside them spurring their flesh to ever-more monstrous forms as it seeks to shield itself from the sun's invasive intelligence, crawling in the dark, growing huge and reptilian.

some bodies seek souls to slow this process, to give new mind to their matter. the sun has slain its kin who rivaled it in size, and the fallen corpses of stars litter the earth: the star of hounds, of horses, birds and fish, more and more, their fragments granting souls, shapes of memory, reason and intelligence to the creatures who swallow them. 

with souls, their growing flesh now buds into a new being rather than mutating the old, taking a portion of the parents soul as it is birthed. the process is slowed, not halted; flesh smothers souls, and with time, ignorance quenches intelligence. children are looked upon as a curse of flesh; inadvertent soul thieves who hasten the descent to monstrosity. 

men seek souls too; in the far north, where the sky slopes closest to the earth, children are sent before their partial souls are extinguished to swallow stars and return as adults with new, bright souls caged inside them. 

a soul cannot linger in flesh forever; its nature is anathema to it, and it will flee if the flesh is ever damaged enough to present it the opportunity. if never given that change, with time it will shrivel and die. the soul leaving the body is a shock. with it goes all memory, and the flesh lies still for a time (no more than a day) as the emptiness gathers itself, relearns what it is to move under its own blind power.

not all fill their hollow with a soul: giants, grown so huge around their emptiness that the land could no longer bear their weight, long ago sliding into the depths. there, in that darkness, safe from the sun, they finally filled themselves not with starlit souls, but with water, deep liquid idiot-intelligence apart from all other things. 

the sun fills all others bodies it can find: those whose souls have fled, and those who never had souls at all. Through the sun-filled, the star works towards one day being incarnated completely, preparing massive monuments and palaces to house its future flesh, seeking or making more soulless vessels for the sun to fill. It longs for the bodies of the giants; works to one day boil the sea to steam. 

Sorrow -- the sorrow of the sun, the misery of life beneath the always-hungry star, the gut sadness of death and undeath alike
  1. Sky
  2. Sun
  3. Undead
  4. Summer
  5. Cannibalism
  6. Death
Ignorance -- the dark, smotheringly free from the sun's questing glare, things that shroud, grow huge and slow, the reduction of life to food and fuel
  1. Winter
  2. Water
  3. Lizards
  4. Darkness
  5. Giants
  6. Cooking
Freedom -- the freedom of soul and fire and starlight, the freedom a captured thing can lend to its master, the promise of far-roaming adulthood
  1. Autumn
  2. Trade
  3. Stars
  4. Fire
  5. Adulthood
  6. Light
Cruelty -- the hatred of life that springs from you unbidden, the cries of children driven from their homes into the cutting cold, the spite fortune holds for the the poor and the young and the weak
  1. Travel
  2. Moon
  3. Youth
  4. Poverty
  5. Spring
  6. Hatred
House Ouroonos
Values: Ignorance + Freedom
Associations: Winter, Water, Stars, Light
Organization as: Family
Status: Recently Usurped, Exploited
Presence: New Characters, Rituals
Allies: the Cauldronhead Army, the Empty
Enemies: Church of the Eaters, the Sunspeaker Republic
The first to settle the north in search of souls for men, who before this had been forced to hide from the sun and succumb to monstrosity or swallow fragments of the animal stars and live harsh lives, spirit at odds with their flesh. At the top of the world, they found their answer in the low-hanging stars that sleep where the sky meets the earth. 

In this harsh place, House Ouroonos only survived by the grace of the giants locked beneath the frozen seas of the arctic, and giant blood from that first mingling still flows in the families veins.  Their role as custodians and shepherds of the stars is seen as sacred, and all who carry a star within them remember the warm welcome of the Ouroonos halls and bathhouses fondly. 

Their presence in game is felt in the creation of new characters, who begin their lives in game as they wake in bodies shaped by the new star placed in their flesh. Gameplay could begin in the north, with the players having the option to linger and investigate the shifting balance of power before heading south (if wanted), but once the players aren't in the north, I'd suggest scattering House Ouroonos outposts around the map (mostly in very high places where they can hook stars down), and using those as respawn points. 

Additionally, their knowledge of souls and the heavens has lead to the creation of a number of other mystic rituals; tempering weaponry in the quivering hearts of captured stars, using stars as guides and messengers, and any other magical effect that the GM wants in game and can spin to be star-based. 

Unknown to much of the world, House Ouroonos now writhes under the weight of the corrupt and bloated leadership of the Eater-Bishops, who extend their grip on humanity with gluts of swallowed stars, allowing only enough children to receive souls and return south to stave off suspicion, and dining on the rest, or selling them to the Sunspeaker Republic (whose agents have now been sighted time and time again crossing the snow-fields) in secret auctions for use as sun-slaves. 

They have allies in the Cauldronhead Army, the old standing militia of House Ouroonos, which, in response to the hostile takeover by the Church of the Eaters, split from their familial masters and left the north, promising to return with enough might to confront the Eaters directly. More recently, heads of the House have become aware of the Empty, and are attempting to leverage their giantish heritage to earn the respect and aid of these secret crawling masters.   

Church of the Eaters
Values: Sorrow + Cruelty
Associations: Sky, Cannibalism, Youth, Spring
Organized as: Church
Status: Recent Usurpers, Psychopomps
Presence: Artifacts, Currency
Allies: the Empty, the Sunspeaker Republic
Enemies: House Ouroonos, the Cauldronhead Army

A roaming (at first) priesthood dedicated (at least originally) to curbing the Sun's appetites by indulging their own, and eating the flesh of both man and beast who lost their souls far from those who could destroy their body completely. 

Flesh will blossom around bone, so the Eaters collect skeletons: the bones of the famous and infamous are kept as relics, chewed clean daily by sacred masticators, and clean-bone relics are potent tools and weapons. More common bones are chewed by the the blue-mouthed bankers, who swill a blue dye that stains the bones that the Church circulates as a common currency. The bones, like any others, must routinely re-gnawed and dyed, creating a continued economic reliance on the Church.

Unsurprisingly, religious power bred corruption, and the upper echelons of the historically ascetic and charitable order forsook their wandering, choosing instead to covertly usurp the power of the House Ouroonos family with a combination of economic warfare and clean-bone fueled assassination and terrorism. 

Unknown to the rest of the world. and even to most of their wandering clergymen, who continue to cross the earth and shelter flesh in their stomachs, the Eater-Bishops now dwell in luxury in the halls of Ouroonos, whose family heads still smolder under the thumbs of the Bishops. Ouroonos star-art staves off the dwindling of the Bishop's souls even within flesh grown monstrous with age, and many of the child pilgrims find themselves not with stars in their stomachs, but in the bellies of the Bishops. 

Only the Cauldronhead Army poses a clear military threat to the Church, and they have retreated south while the Bishops in the north continue to cement their power, selling soulless children to the Sunpeaker Republic in return for solar war-bodies, and secretly researching the secrets emptiness, aided by those Empty who have chosen to deal with the Church.

The Cauldronhead Army
Values: Ignorance + Cruelty
Associations: Giants, Cooking, Poverty, Travel
Organized as: Army
Status: Rebelling, Settling
Presence: Advancement, Food and Drink
Allies: House Ouroonos, the Sunspeaker Republic
Enemies: the Empty, Church of the Eaters

A giant-blooded militant offshoot of House Ouroonos, the Cauldron Army served as the House's standing militia up until the coup executed by the Church of the Eaters. Unable to realistically contend with the force of the Churches clean-bone weaponry in addition to the war-bodies and hollow monstrosities of their new allies, the Cauldronheads retreated south, a miles long caravan that transforms into a tent-city wherever they make camp. 

Their distinctive name and renowned combat prowess stem both from the practice of skullturning, inherited from the giants, who used it to hollow their skulls and fill them with the obscuring waters of the ocean, the largest members of the Cauldronheads, who, thanks to giantish heritage, can grow to five or six times the size of man while their soul still burns fiercely, and can resist both possession by the sun and the paranoid ignorance of emptiness so long as their bowl-heads are full of water. 

Those bowls, heated by the soul of the Cauldronhead, act as perpetual stock-pots into which the army pours the bodies and, more rarely, souls, of captured enemies along with potent herbs and intoxicating earths, creating the battle-brews, healing liquors, and strange stews that gave rise to the army's renown. 

Advancement in game is handled through these brews; characters can collect corpses and ingredients and bring them to the nearest skullturned Cauldronhead along with payment to receive Whitehack-Strong-esque abilities based on the creatures and materials used in the broth. Souls, if players manage to trap them, can be stewed into more overtly magical effects. 

Additionally, most settlements, even small villages, will likely have a resident Cauldronhead who earns their keep by feeding and protecting the community, so food and drink generally have come to be synonymous with the Cauldronhead warrior-cooks. 

The Cauldronheads maintain a fierce loyalty to their House Ouroonos family; their whole mission in the south has the long term aim of mustering sufficient force to free Ouroonos from the Eater-Bishops, though as time passes, this goal seems increasingly distant. It has made for strange bedfellows as well; the army has increasingly frequent dealings with the Sunspeaker Republic, who offer military might in return for coveted giantish bodies. 

While they share the hatred of the Church of the Eaters with House Ouroonos, the Cauldronheads diverge from their progenitors in their enmity towards the Empty; their heritage and practices mean they are intimately familiar with the horrors of soulless flesh.

The Sunspeaker Republic
Values: Sorrow + Freedom
Associations: Sun, Summer, Fire, Trade
Organized as: Bureaucracy
Status: Pariah, Ancestors
Presence: Greetings/Partings, Boss Monsters
Allies: The Cauldronhead Army, Church of the Eaters
Enemies: House Ouroonos, the Empty


The Empty
Values: Sorrow + Ignorance 
Associations: Undead, Death, Lizards, Darkness
Organized: Lone Individuals
Status: Secret, Invading
Presence: Landscape, Wandering Monsters
Allies: House Ouroonos, Church of the Eaters
Enemies: the Sunspeaker Republic, the Cauldronhead Army

^^^ you'll just have to wait i'll get to you ^^^

SillDA is sicc
okay so that went to shit but
Here's how i'd actually write this up for myself to use at the table (cluttered desk, pc no webcam)

  •  soul and emptiness, that which fills and that which is filled. each has their own intelligence; soul seeks to fill a vessel and thus be embodied, emptiness builds flesh bodies of perpetually increasing size and grotesquery, seeking to protect the sanctity of its hollowness
    • flesh is a third, subordinate intelligence; it instinctually grows to protect emptiness but that same emptiness also pains it and it's pretty easy for powerful souls to persuade flesh that filling itself with a soul would be dope
  • stars are pure soul
  • the sun is the biggest star (it killed and ate all the other stars its size and the smaller stars got the gist)
  • the earth is maybe the body built around the first emptiness? and anyway has hollow creatures of flesh-around-emptiness crawling on it and growing bigger and grosser over time
    • flesh grows into a body inevitably and instinctively; a single bone will, if left to its own devices, sprout more bones and muscle connecting them until it's a body again
      • food helps to fuel this process and so flesh seeks it out, but it's not strictly necessary
        • flesh fuels flesh the best
      • the shape that the body takes is entirely based on whatever the emptiness inside it thinks gives it the best odds of surviving / living and growing BUT over time it becomes bigger and bigger and more and more reptilian / fishlike
        • think like weird tumorous dinosaurs and snakes, less dragons (unless you want dragons)
      • the giants are the oldest and biggest flesh-bodies on the earth; colossal scaled things that can't move outside of the water they crawled into to grow safe and away from the sun
        • there's two reasons every empty body doesn't crawl into the water (and a lot of them do)
          • emptiness doesn't want to cede control of the earth to the sun
          • water has an intelligence of its own and the flesh of the giants actually escaped the control of both emptiness and soul by emptying their skulls and filling their flesh with water
  • some of the larger stars that the sun killed fled and fell to earth and died there, or pieces of them did
    • these larger souls called out to curious flesh with enough force that, despite the smothered protests of their emptiness, a lot of bodies went and swallowed pieces of these souls 
    • no longer soulless, the flesh of those creatures took on shapes informed by those stars and became less monstrous and more recognizable as real-world animals
      • each animal type stems from a different star-corpse; dog star, bird star, etc. the areas around those stars are ruled entirely by huge, beautiful animals with massive souls beaming through their flesh
    • so that's the origin of beasts and shit
    • humanity is said to originate from the beasts who, not content to swallow pieces of dead stars, traveled north, to where the sky kisses the earth, and devour the little stars that seek shelter there from the tyrant of day
    • when flesh has a soul filling it, its shape and temperament and growth are now subordinate (mostly) to the soul's intelligence
      • flesh's growth is slowed and rather than getting as large as possible as fast as possible, creatures now get pregnant with young, who receive a portion of the parent's soul
        • so reproduction is asexual and everyone can / will do it
        • and the more kids you have the smaller your soul is and the more emptiness creeps back in and the faster your flesh grows and the more monster-y you become 
        • and children are born with small souls so their flesh grows rapidly and starts to smother the soul really quickly
          • since a child's birth-soul is just a piece of their parent's, a child is born lost and confused, mind clouded with inherited half-memory
        • for this reason, especially among humans, children are considered a curse; unwanted things that hasten the descent of their parents into monstrosity and a threat to their communities as they quickly grow into their own empty monster-hood
          • so children are, as soon as they can walk, sent north in search of souls
          • long, ragtag pilgrimages, preyed upon by slavers and beasts and each other as their birth-souls diminish
            • those who can't make it just try to crawl somewhere dark so that the sun can't fill their body when it empties completely
      • flesh is still anathema to soul (it was created as a protection against it, after all), and given time, flesh will eventually smother any soul inside of it and the emptiness will be restored
        • so old age looks like losing your soul and your body starting to grow unchecked again
        • soul houses memory; if a body has a soul, loses it, and gains a new one, it may have a vague memory of the past soul that inhabited that flesh, but nothing more. 
        • if you have a soul and consume another one, the two souls will essentially fight with one another and one will absorb the other; so you'll get any memory/skills that were held in that new soul, but you'll risk a total personality shift and potentially loss of your old memories/skill
  • like all souls the sun wants, more than anything, to fill a body and be incarnated in its entirety. it's too big to do that though, so it settles for filling up any empty body it can find
    • if a soulless body lies in the sun for more than a few minutes, the sun will fill it up and take control of it
      • the larger the body, the more time in the sun it needs to be filled
      • that's a LOT of bodies. much of the world is inhabited only by the fragments of the sun shrouded in flesh
      • unlike the star corpses that became the souls of beasts, the sun is still living, and its bodies all share its intelligence
    • these sun-bodies single-mindedly pursue three goals 
      • making or finding new empty bodies for the sun to fill
        • like all other soul-filled flesh, sun-bodies reproduce; huge breeding pits exist where other sun-bodies just feed the breeding ones so they can spawn as many new bodies as possible 
        • if a soul-filled body is brutalized enough, the soul will leak out of its torn flesh and the sun can take its place
        • soulless creatures can be dragged out from the night-drenched caverns they hide in and be exposed to the sun's glorious intelligence 
      • making or finding a body big enough for the entire sun
        • this looks like seeking out huge empty monstrosities (the giants in the ocean are the biggest and the sun has a lot of different plans for emptying the ocean; huge arrays of amplifying lenses and mirrors are being built, staggeringly huge canyons and trenches being dug to drain the oceans into)
        •  pits into the heart of the earth are being drilled in order to see if the planet is itself a body with an empty heart
        • sun-soaked bodies are fed flesh, growing ever larger
      • preparing the earth for the sun's eventual incarnation
        • massive palaces and temples are being prepared for the sun and its inevitable children. 
        • miles and miles of farmland prepared to feed the sun's host
Values. yeah these can stay the same. these are good
Sorrow -- the sorrow of the sun, the misery of life beneath the always-hungry star, the gut sadness of death and undeath alike
  1. Sky
  2. Sun
  3. Undead
  4. Summer
  5. Cannibalism
  6. Death
Ignorance -- the dark, smotheringly free from the sun's questing glare, things that shroud, grow huge and slow, the reduction of life to food and fuel
  1. Winter
  2. Water
  3. Lizards
  4. Darkness
  5. Giants
  6. Cooking
Freedom -- the freedom of soul and fire and starlight, the freedom a captured thing can lend to its master, the promise of far-roaming adulthood
  1. Autumn
  2. Trade
  3. Stars
  4. Fire
  5. Adulthood
  6. Light
Cruelty -- the hatred of life that springs from you unbidden, the cries of children driven from their homes into the cutting cold, the spite fortune holds for the the poor and the young and the weak
  1. Travel
  2. Moon
  3. Youth
  4. Poverty
  5. Spring
  6. Hatred
House Ouroonos
Values: Ignorance + Freedom
Associations: Winter, Water, Stars, Light
Organization as: Family
Status: Recently Usurped, Exploited
Presence: New Characters, Rituals
Allies: the Cauldronhead Army, the Empty (stupid ass boring ass name) the Empty Thrones (bc like... they don't want a body on a throne they want emptiness to rule... but  they're like the symbols of the authority of emptiness.. her mind...)
Enemies: Church of the Eaters, the Sunspeaker  Republic  Merchants (it's better)
  • mythic family at the top of the world, descended from the first beasts to swallow living stars and thus ascend into humanity
    • survived in the north thanks to the aid of the giants; perhaps it was those creatures that broke the ice enough to allow their ships to pass
  • act as the custodians of the stars and the caretakers of the poor children that stagger over the snowfields to them
  • oversee the rituals giving new souls to empty bodies, and have some mastery of stars beyond this; certainly the most explicit knowledge of soul and its workings of any other group
  • i'm definitely feeling a fromsoft magic academy type beat (especially the Carians and Raya Lucaria), but with more hotsprings and esotericism and Polaris influence 
    • having a scholar faction with Ignorance as a value is kinda dope
    •  knowing through the total lack of all knowledge
  • Ouroonos scholars and hermits do exist elsewhere; they travel with caged stars, seeking to deny the sun footholds wherever they can, but they have to return to the north to get more stars
    • wandering warriors who seek out hollow beasts beneath the earth and give them souls by force?
  • probably some factional division between people who empathize and talk with the stars and feel shitty about harvesting them and those who see them as part of humanities manifest destiny or whatever
    • probably also some evil guys who accumulate stars and star rituals for power
  • Status
    • recently they've suffered a coup!!
      • the Eater Bishops now occupy their halls and eat most of the stars themselves in order to keep their souls fat and happy and their flesh under control
      • also eat some of the child pilgrims
      • only allow enough children to return south to stave off suspicion
  • Presence
    • in game i'm thinking new characters are essentially created by bringing a body (of an old dead character, of a cool monster you found, whatever, though figuring out how to transport a body while keeping it out of the sun and under control while the emptiness wakes up would be a Task) to an Ouroonos scholar and buying a new soul off of them. 
      • probably need to streamline this to avoid issues of a player sitting around waiting to get a soul
      • scholar seeks them out/just happens to find them whenever someone dies? a lil gimicky but could be the case
      • maybe every new character is just newly made and shows up nearby to the party, having just come from an Ouroonos scholar and having some trait indicating that scholar's particular expertise/eccentricity
    • Additionally, Ouroonos are the source of ritual magic; communing with the stars to accomplish some crazy shit
  • Allies/Enemies
    • allies of the Cauldronhead Army, who used to be the military branch of the family and separated after the coup
    • also allied, surprisingly, with the Empty Thrones
      • this is a bit of a complex relationship, and it's not something that the House really wants known. 
      • both parties really hate the sun, and also kind of believe they're exploiting the other one
        • the House thinks that as long as they keep things under control, the Thrones are just a great source of star-lore considering that they've been around for as long as anything has existed
        • the Thrones, while the filling of emptiness with soul is anathema to them, also see value in a group that's dedicated to taking stars out of the sky and putting them in more easily controlled flesh
    • obviously the enemies of the Eater Bishops, who usurped and now exploit them
    • also the enemies of the Sunspeaker Merchants, who not only are aligned with the hated sun and allies of the Bishops, but also speak to a time and way of life that had no need of the House and its star-tending
Church of the Eaters
Values: Sorrow + Cruelty
Associations: Sky, Cannibalism, Youth, Spring
Organized as: Church
Status: Recent Usurpers, Psychopomps
Presence: Artifacts, Currency
Allies: the Empty Thrones, the Sunspeaker Merchants
Enemies: House Ouroonos, the Cauldronhead Army
  • wandering priesthood who eat the flesh of the soulless, particularly of those human bodies whose souls have recently been smothered or fled, and would otherwise host the intelligences of sun or emptiness
  •  wandering psychopomps/living funeral rites/euthanasia artists/occasional monster hunters
  • Status
    • the power and respect amassed by their order obviously went to the heads of its founders, the Eater Bishops, whose proximity to souless flesh bred a deep fucking horror of ever suffering that sate
      • said Bishops recently usurped House Ouroonos as I detailed in that entry
        • they sustain themselves by eating stars; ofc since souls house memories and eating new souls kind of dilutes your original being with the knowledge of whoever's soul you're consuming, these priests have gained a fuckload of stellar knowledge and power but have pretty much lost track entirely of their selfhood
          • they mostly roam the halls of Ouroonos while their clergy and the newly subjugated Ouroonos members do their best to appease them and not get eaten 
        • this is all very hush-hush; the Bishops themselves obviously want to continue to be able to devour all the stars they'd like, and the clergy who know about it don't want to disgrace their order and breed fear of the wandering priests who continue to do their duties in the south oblivious to the crisis in their leadership
  • Presence
    • since bones are part of flesh and will in time reconstitute a body, Eater Priests collect and ritually gnaw on bones
      • the bones of honored flesh are maintained as relics, flesh kept at bay by sacred masticators
        • particularly potent bones are occasionally transformed into Clean-Bone Relics, a process that involves the swallowing of the bone whole and letting a combination of uniquely sanctified stomach acid and soul energies burn the life from flesh 
          • Clean-Bone is uniquely feared: having the power to deaden flesh and extinguish souls wounded by it, it's one of the only ways that someone can suffer a total death
        • the process of making Clean-Bone snuffs the soul of the priest who performs it; the flesh of said priest is then killed with the bone they cleaned
      • inversely, the bones of particularly loathed people are destroyed by a unique class of Bone Eaters
      • most bones end up as currency though. the Eater Priests, in addition to their other roles, most commonly function as bankers and moneychangers and also mints
        • this kind of priest is called a Bluemouth Eater or a Bank Priest or a Blue Biter
        • they drink and coat their mouths with a thick, incredibly clingy and staining blue dye
        • they then chew on more common bones, cleaning them of whatever flesh has started to form and staining them a really dark blue
        • blue bones are pretty much a universal currency since the Eater Priests can be found at least semi-consistently in pretty much any settled area 
          • more or less, the bigger the bone and the longer it takes to chew and dye, the more it's worth; knucklebones aren't worth a ton, skulls are the most valuable by far
        • plus, the dye does eventually fade and the flesh begins to regrow, so bones must consistently be brought to Bluemouth Eaters for re-gnawing and dying, which means everyone is pretty economically reliant on the Eaters
  • Allies/Enemies
    • the allies and enemies of the Eaters have been kind of inverted since the coup, as both the Empty Thrones and the Sunspeaker Republic have historically been entirely at odds with the Eaters goal of disposing of soulless flesh.
      • to be fair, most of the wandering clergy still likely holds those opinions, but for the Bishops, things have changed
    • the Sunspeaker Merchants have developed a very close trade relationship with the Bishops, since having control over a stream of near-soulless children means that the Bishops are an excellent source of sun-slaves and war-bodies for the Merchants and in return, the Bishops have augmented the not insignificant military might that Clean-Bone weapons provide with Sunspeaker war-bodies
    • also, in the cold eyes of a few Thrones, the star-gluttony of the Bishops is actually kind of a good thing, since they ultimately long to snuff out soul entirely, and having a group that seems like they might literally eat all the stars in the sky and thus reduce the unassailable firmament into a few bloated souls seems like a pretty solid asset
    • the Bishop's hatred and abuse of House Ouroonos and their anxieties surrounding the military prowess of the Cauldronhead Army are a given following the successful coup
The Cauldronhead Army
Values: Ignorance + Cruelty
Associations: Giants, Cooking, Poverty, Travel
Organized as: Army
Status: Rebelling, Settling
Presence: Advancement, Food and Drink
Allies: House Ouroonos, the Sunspeaker Merchants
Enemies: the Empty, Church of the Eaters
  • these guys might be my favorite conceptually. the former standing military of House Ouroonos and the branch of the family with the closest blood relations and dealings with the giants, the Cauldronheads earned their name and SIGNIFICANT reputation as an indomitable military force through the giant-taught process of skullturning
    • skullturning is a trepanation type process where the top of the skull is removed and the brain is then stewed with water in the skull, utilizing only the heat of the newly turned soldier's soul as it blends and mingles with the broth
    • the giantish blood of the Cauldronheads already predisposes their flesh towards rapid growth even with an intact soul, so their turned skulls become veritable fuckin uhh cauldrons
      • skullturning is adapted from the process that the giants used to fill themselves with water so they could stop worrying about the fate of their souls inside of so much flesh, so once a Cauldronhead solider's skull has been turned, they can keep growing and still retain their sentience as long as their soul-infused broth stays inside their skull-pots
    • shit doesn't stop there though because in addition to letting the Cauldronheads get really fuckin huge while retaining memory and sentience and learned fighting skill, by stewing the flesh of powerful creatures, fallen comrades, potent herbs and earths, or even entire souls, the Cauldronheads can create battle-broths which can retore broken flesh, infuse drinkers with the battle-skill of a fallen souls or the strength and abilities of beast-flesh
    • so their heads become perpetual stock-pots that are periodically altered and infused with new materials; the longer the a skullturned Cauldronhead's soup has been simmering, the more potent all of its broths will be
      • some definite opportunities to use Whitehack the Strong type mechanics here, which reminds me that I still want to check out 4e when I get paid
  • Status
    • so after House Ouroonos caved to the Bishop's Clean-Bone and economic pressures, the Cauldronheads rebelled and left en masse for the south with a combination of disappointment, disgust, and resolve to return with allies and weaponry to liberate those faithful to the family and execute any collaborators along with the Bishops themselves. 
      • they are pretty cagey about this mission though, since they don't want to dishonor their House, and speak more about like. a great war that's upcoming in pretty broad and borderline spiritual terms.
      • in fact, a lot of the rank and file members of the army only know about this much as well; the higher ups have done their best to keep things vague and zealous
      •  people know something's up because the Cauldronheads are wandering around now, but most people assume the imminent conflict is going to be with the sun-bodies or the Sunspeakers or something
    • in the process, they've gone from a pretty regimented and well-supplied army to an increasingly spread-out and destitute caravan 
      • since most of them don't even really know what they're doing in the south anyway, quite a few have functionally defected, though few will admit it, and have found roles protecting and providing for various communities and settlements or have started their own perpetual camps
      • they outright refuse to use blue bone currency, but they'll offer their services readily in return for recruits, weaponry, shelter, or battle-broth ingrediants
  • Presence
    • at this point, maybe the majority of settlements will have a resident skullturned Cauldronhead who functions as a kind of communal hub for shared meals and drinks
      • remember, eating and drinking aren't necessary in this setting, but they're pleasant, and in the case of Cauldronhead broths, often medicinal or empowering 
        • more settled Cauldronheads have increasingly turned their hands towards creating particularly delicious or intoxicating broths for daily consumption
        • some go further and don't so much make broths as they do brews or liqueurs or pickles or anything else that can be reasonably prepared in a big fuckin skull full of liquid soul and brain
    • additionally, the primary method of advancing or leveling or whatever in game revolves around either purchasing broths from Cauldronheads through service or goods or whatever, or bringing a Cauldronhead valuable and powerful ingredients and recieving a portion of the created broth in return 
  • Allies/Enemies
    • obviously allied with House Ouroonos; there's definitely some tension and hatred for the family members who capitulated to or actively serve the Bishops, but the Cauldronhead leaders still cling to the idea of returning to the north and liberating the rest of the family, and the bulk of them don't even know that they've technically split from the main house at all
    • they've also had some underhand dealings with the Sunspeaker Merchants who are profiting like fuck by funding the arms race between the Church and the Army. The Sunspeakers particularly covet the giantish flesh of the Army for war-bodies, and the Army in turn can see the value in hordes of sun-slaves. 
    • the enmity between the Army and the Church (the Bishops, at least) doesn't really need more time dedicated to it but yeah those guys hate each other
    • the Cauldronheads also consider the Empty Thrones to be incredibly dangerous; the Thrones view Cauldronheads as potentially swayable to their cause, given their unorthodox treatment of souls, but there's a deep instinctual fear of the hollow in the Army, as many of them are familiar with the horror that can result from a giantish body emptied of soul and broth alike. 
The Sunspeaker Merchants
Values: Sorrow + Freedom
Associations: Sun, Summer, Fire, Trade
Organized as: Bureaucracy
Status: Pariah, Ancestors
Presence: Greetings/Partings, Boss Monsters
Allies: The Cauldronhead Army, Church of the Eaters
Enemies: House Ouroonos, the Empty Thrones
  • the mercantile remains of the oldest human civilization, an empire whose existence challenges the teachings and legitimacy of House Ouroonos and the star-swallowing origins of humanity
  • the ruins of the Sunspeaker Republic can be found across the earth, though many have been occupied or repurposed by sun-bodies
  • the Republic dealt directly with the sun, and struck an accord known as the Burned Covenant; in return for supplying the sun with consistent bodies for its own use, the members of the Republic, marked by a ritually charred hand, were taught to line their insides with mirrors that caged the sun's soul inside of them and separated it from that star's intelligence
    • it's likely that the Sunspeakers were significantly involved in the sun's massacre of the stars, and this is what truly cemented the alliance between the Republic and the sun
    • this also means that the Republic predates beasts with souls, since connection between the corpses of fallen stars and the souls of animals is entirely founded and evident
      • this could mean that humanity is the chosen form of the sun-in-flesh and that humanity only separated from the sun and became the Republic after some sun-bodies attained separate sentience and invented mirrors 
      • sun-bodies that got trapped underground and thus severed their souls from the sun, invented or discovered mirrors while they were down there and then returned with that knowledge to found the Republic? 
        • those mirrors are not glass, they're mercury! that solves the issue of what lining flesh with mirrors really looks like which i was having trouble conceptualizing. but now the Sunspeaker Republic can also be referred to as the Mercury Drinkers, which is cool
  • their technique of creating sun-cages using mercury to mirror line stuff was also used for power sources, agriculture, weaponry, medicine, whatever. classic advanced fallen empire shit.
    • primarily it enabled sun-slaves; bodies filled with special mirrors that forced the trapped sunlight into certain programmable behaviors
    •  gotta figure out an aesthetic for these bitches tho bc otherwise i just KNOW its going to slide into power crystal laser bullshit
    • rn i'm thinking like. hanging gardens and more like organic type tech.
  • Status
    • despite being acknowledged as the forebears of modern humanity (though almost nobody knows they predate House Ouroonos, most assume they were concurrent or that the House was first and the Sunspeaker Republic oppressed them), in the present day the average person does NOT fuck with the Sunspeakers. 
      • the will of the sun is present and dominant everywhere and everyone is really anxious about this all the time; it's not a great feeling to see the mountain next to you carved into a throne by an insane death ray array of mirrors held by pyramids made of hundreds of thousands of hive-mind bodies
      • it's not really known (as in i don't really be knowing) what lead to the collapse of the Republic, but i think it's safe and cool to say that it probably fell along the lines of the sun learning a bunch of cool tech from the Sunspeakers, realizing that these ambitious fucks were never going to willingly allow it to be fully embodied, and jacking all of the Republic's innovations to overthrow them and start making real headway on the whole finding a body endeavor. 
        • so all the crazy shit that the sun-bodies have been doing is all like. directly enabled by sun-speaker techniques and technologies so i think that solidly cements their pariah status 
    • however, powerful technology is still powerful technology, and the Sunspeakers who are still around are primarily merchants, and, most recently and specifically, arms merchants who are funding the arms race between the Cauldronheads and the Bishops
      • the Sunspeakers who are still around have honestly probably been around since the height of the Republic; with flesh working the way it does and the ability to essentially continually refresh and preserve soul thanks to their mirror-caging of the sun, there's no natural way that their souls are going to be smothered. besides, weirdo immortal merchants are cool. 
        • ooooh also the Bishops DEFINITELY covet that mirror caging tech; becoming immortal without continually sacrificing your selfhood and replacing it with a fugue of star-memories would be ideal for them
  • Presence
    • existing outside of society as the Sunspeaker Merchants do, the influence of the fallen Republic is most commonly felt in the greeting/parting coined by them and used across all of the Sun's Lands (is this what the setting is called? the Lands of the Tyrant Sun? the Sun-drenched Lands? idk whatever)
      • "born in sun" / "walk in shade
      • this phrase is call and response, and can be used to communicate additional information
        • "born in sun" / "walk in shade" is the common, courteous, but not overly familiar exchange
        • "born in sun" / "born in sun" is a cold shrug of a response; you do not want to have a conversation and you are only acknowledging this person to let them know how little you actually feel like acknowledging them
          • if you're talking to a friend, this phrase can be used in good faith to signal that you're fuckin goin THROUGH it, especially if the first phrase is said in an exaggeratedly dejected tone
        •  "walk in shade" / "walk in shade" is a cute exchange between good friends or family; y'all know that you're both born in sun, so let's cut to the nicer parts of life
        • "walk in shade" / "born in sun" is a not rude exactly, though it has the chance to be if you say it to someone expecting a hearty "walk in shade" in return; it's like a little self deprecating joke, a sarcastic "living the dream" 
        • the priginal phrases can and are often shortened to just "sun" and "shade," to basically the same effect of "'sup"; sometimes a friendly casualness, sometimes a noncommittal way to signal low engagement
      • initially the phrase was also a way to signal that you were a part of the Sunspeaker Republic or its vassals, and the Sunspeaker Merchants will still only ever use the first, full version of the phrase unless you're like. blood brothers
    • in game, the most common version of "A Wizard Did It," especially for hideous creatures guarding caches of valuables is "The Sunspeakers Did It"
      • the military might of the Republic reached its zenith with the war-bodies: flesh grown and and coaxed to its horrifically powerful potential, filled with enough trapped sunlight to power cities and lined with specially engineered mercurial mirrors that guided their intelligence into carefully designed channels. 
        • if there's something really, really fucked up and it's not hiding in a cavern afraid to be filled full of sunlight, it's probably an abandoned or rogue war-body, and if it's not, it's a different kind of sun-slave gone rogue
  • Allies/Enemies
    • as we've been covering earlier, the Sunspeakers are essentially only tolerated by the two factions that they've been selling arms to (the Bishops of the Church and the leadership of the Army) and even then both parties take care to keep their dealings out of the public eye
    • the Merchants have feel a deep disgust, condescension, and jealousy towards House Ouroonos, who only came to power due to the vacuum created by the fall of the Republic and the subsequent need for non-solar souls 
    • the Empty Thrones scare the Sunspeakers. known to them as Crawling Hollows or the Lords Vacuous, they're ancestral enemies. they were the boogeymen of the Republic; a secret conspiracy of monsters working to extinguish the sun and ruin the empire. 
The Empty Thrones
Values: Sorrow + Ignorance 
Associations: Undead, Death, Lizards, Darkness
Organized: Lone Individuals
Status: Secret, Invading
Presence: Landscape, Wandering Monsters
Allies: House Ouroonos, Church of the Eaters
Enemies: the Sunspeaker Republic, the Cauldronhead Army
  • also called the Primordials, the Prehistorian Conspiracy, the Crawling Hollows or Lords Vacuous (see above) the Empty Thrones are not really a conspiracy or even an organization of any kind; they don't have meetings, they don't know each others names because they don't have names
  • they're the oldest creatures alive; their cold flesh oozes and seeps and permeates the earth, wrapped around a hollow core; the planet's matter is simply a shield from the searching sunlight
    • we're talking really fucking big here these guys are pretty much exactly the BotNS megatherians, so like the scale of mountains, maybe bigger
      • unlike the megatherians though, the Empty Thrones are all in theory on the same page; they are all simply the physical vessels of emptiness, that ancient intelligence separated from itself only by the necessity of flesh
        • because if emptiness and soul exist without flesh, then soul is just. in emptiness, and emptiness does NOT fuck with that
        • thus, flesh, to separate pockets of emptiness from soul
        • unfortunately, since what soul (or the sun, at least) wants most is to be embodied, the desires of emptiness also enable the desires of its antithesis
        • and so flesh must be used temporarily, as a means to extinguish all souls forever, and then forsaken for the joy of all encompassing vacuum
          • flesh, however, carries its own intelligence, and emptiness contained in flesh cannot help but be changed by this
          •  as such, the Empty Thrones often hinder one another inadvertently; individuals who believe they are part of a hive mind, each mistakenly thinking that their own thoughts are the thoughts of the many
  • Status
    • the Thrones are acknowledged by pretty much everyone, but the concrete reality of their existence, particularly the extent to which they saturate the earth, is highly speculative, and even the people who have really good reason to believe in their existence don't understand their agenda or intelligence
    • despite this, they're a pretty active force; calling them invaders is a bit of a stretch since they are, by and large, in and under the land they would be invading, but they're nearly always pushing to exert more power or influence in one way or another 
  • Presence
    • Maybe it's lazy but frankly I'm just going to implement these guys almost identically to Patrick Stuart's Silent Titans; the players are always on top of one Throne or another, and that essentially determines both features of the landscape as well as what triggers random encounters, and why
      • said encounters can range from like unconscious physical dream figments of these huge flesh forms, to deliberate probes and agents, to literal landscape shifts (those should probably be rare
      • landscape features can cover like. landmarks and resources but also potentially dungeons (again, Silent Titans rip) if you figure out how to delve into the bodies of these things. 
        • fuck if i'm lazy enough which i definitely am I'll just use the titans and make them all more biological 
  • Allies/Enemies
    • the Empty Thrones are actually pretty down for both the House and the Bishops as i noted in their respective sections
      • in fact, it's definitely possible that the Bishops overthrowing the House was directly aided by / enabled by / originated with the Thrones as a bit of accelerationism to the more controlled/sustainable rate of star consumption the House prefers
    • the Sunspeakers and the Cauldronheads are troubling to them, primarily because they each represent a capacity for intelligence outside of the soul/emptiness binary
      • the Sunspeakers are concerning both because of their ability to perpetuate soul-in-flesh indefinitely, but primarily because of the degree to which they aided the sun's incarnation efforts
      • the Cauldronheads (and their giantish forbears) are not as immediately opposed but potentially even more deeply threatening because the intelligence of water-soaked flesh and its capacity to dissolve soul into a new hybrid substance and thus sustain  (and surprises emptiness) it indefinitely. if someone managed to fill up the void of space with water after the stars go out, that would likely be the end of emptiness as a force and intelligence


  1. Oh, this is rich ... this is really rich!
    Got to read that a couple of times to unpack everything. But you definitely made your point on that there is a lot to create with that method.

    Got to try that out! Maybe i’ll bend some of the Taboos from the “Law”-Series too as an addition for this process. Like “this faction can’t breathe the unfiltered air” or “this faction can’t ever stop moving”. I’m assuming that the faction creation might take a lot more brain energy and the taboos always were a nice tool to keep my amoeba-brain focused.

    I have no words for the Cauldronheads ... awesome! Friggin awesome!

    Also highly appreciated that you left the CAPSLOCK bit in there. Creative work sometimes feels like war to me, and it is really reassuring and motivating to see that others struggle too from time to time.

    Thanks for pushing through!!

    1. honestly once i gave up on the shitty prose it only took me an afternoon give or take to knock the factions out. i'm workin on another setting with the method just to see if the first was a fluke and it's going really fuckin fast.

      using the Laws for factions is really dope! I'm using Laws of the Monstrous to create some faction specific monsters but Laws of the Land for the factions itself is kinda genius! maybe i'll make some Laws of Groups or factions or something

    2. Woah! I would be so down with Faction-laws! The Laws of the Gang!

    3. Update on this:
      The whole thing works actually amazinly good!
      You were right the values and their associations are an easy way to get a hold of the settings broad cosmology. My first draft of values ended up a bit too abstract and it was a bit tricky to get to the "people"-level of the factions. That's where the Laws of the land came in handy, by giving me a place/region and some defining taboos for every faction. Though i have to admit that there were almost to much prompts per faction with the laws. But it works.

      For my second draft i'll take some more values and start deciphering some exodus like myth out of them. A bit like the origin story for the Dunmer in Morrowind ... but more fucked up.

      I can't describe how much fun this is! This might be some of your finest creations so far. It really combines the sprawling imagination of the color prompts in your Bannerlord game with the precision of you laws series.

      This is the big stuff! Thank you very much for that!

  2. Came for some simple faction creation tools, left fully hooked and mesmerized in a sun-scathing, flesh imprisoned world imprinted on my brain-cauldron. 10/10


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