A History of Thaea: The Osyraen Period

750 B.E. – 500 B.E.

I’ll admit I’ve decided a few new things in writing this up, and reserve the right to correct any problems I find later. It is all written intentionally vaguely, but this is in part because there is a lot of lost, or confusing history and disagreement intended. Meant to echo subtle things such as the unlikely ages of some biblical figures, or the doubtful authenticity of any aspect of arthurian legend, but all are more likely true(r) in this context.

I intend this to be something of a living document as I track down little things I have (somewhere,) but also part of a series tackling different epochs of world history.

This is none the less, largely codifying my operating understanding of the history of the world, with a few flourishes along the way.

Though exact dates for anything much before 200 B.E. are hotly debated by scholarly circles, most are willing to oblige approximate decades of various significant historical events as far back as the commonly given 750 B.E. for the founding of Osyrae, and the declaration of Osir as King (Koning.)

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A Game by Many Names

This weeks chapter gets a pre-commentary about the title. Which while entirely prosaic and uninteresting in origin, did inspire me down a familiar (if somewhat different) rabbit hole.† I also admit I may have read this name somewhere as a one off joke I interpreted to mean roughly where I’ve gone (possibly a webcomic.) Though I cannot identify a source. There is a further key bit of inspiration in the following gaming joke: d4s are basically caltrops.

† Now mind you, unless I thought of a proper origin for it, rabbit hole is an expression that should never appear in context of the world of Thaea (origin Alice in Wonderland.) Oh well, this is commentary. Also in the very unlikely event anyone didn’t get where this is going Degresses, Digresses, Snakes, & the Occasional Climbing Implement, may be involved. Strangely this is not a caving expedition, any allusions to the burrows of adorable fluffy mammals aside.


Pilgrims & Paths generally speaking is a children’s game. Though this is the most common name by a small margin Travelers (rarely Wanderers,) and Jacks (Caltrops, or more rarely Stars) may fill in the blanks depending on who you ask. Some (very rarely) refer to the game simply as Ascension, but that can cause confusion with other games. In all irony this final name is most common when it is played illicitly by youth in a cloister, or Palentian soldiers in a barracks, as a form of gambling.

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Broken Hill: The Keep and Upper Court

I’ve long had a pretty strong understanding of the layout and structure of broken hill, and have decided I need to start sharing more of these works in progress. I’ll probably get the regular commentary up later in the week.

I started back in 2015-2016 building out a version of this that is a little farther along, but had issues that made it hard to finish (and solve) than start over using the tools in Sketch Up a bit better.

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Gifted Senses

What do gifted senses feel like?  Variable.  That’s the overly short description.  Though most people share a significant overlap. As described elsewhere the brains of gifted have adapted to interpret what they feel.  Nerve signals, and sensations from external sources, moving along existing pathways, and through evolved structures.  Yet given the variability, I will focus on the average, common experience.

People, and animals.  They feel warm, not just when in contact with them, but up to several feet away depending on the gifts of both parties.  Anything more complex, or nuanced than this sense of warmth implies more than life, but rather gift.  Some argue gift and life are effectively the same thing, and there is plenty of evidence to support the claim.  An excess then in this hypothesis begins to open doors, possibilities, an ability to reach out with that gift and touch forces outside of the self.

One of the problems however with satisfying this common hypothesis into a theory is testability.  Ambient variations in the energies found in gift, and living things are variable.  Gifted people like living on ley lines, and nexuses, not simply because it benefits them in practice, but more subtly because it subdues everything else.

Magic feels either hot, or cold.  Depending on the balance of aether uptake, or entropic backlash present in the spell.  Most spells feel cold, because they work with ambient energy, and avoid significant aether uptake.  A pure aether spell does not simply feel hot, but unnerving, unstable, with a strong entropic aura around it as energy levels try to normalize.

Plants feel delicate.  Like webs of warmth around inert mater.  Dryads and shaped plant life tend to have thicker tendrils of warmth running through them, often deep into the heart of even a mighty tree that would normally be entirely inert feeling on the inside.

Stone, and other dense mater.  Feels like a pressure near by.  Gifted can sense the outline of their environment, even the inert parts of it, if they are dense enough.  Being blind, or a lack of light would only marginally impact a gifted individuals ability to navigate.

Wood and cloth.  Dead organic mater has a lingering texture, not generally unpleasant, but more noticeable even than stone.  Pure synthetic fabrics that have not been created through a magical process can be felt more by how they disrupt the air.  Almost noisy, and rough.  Synthetic fabrics formed by magic tend to feel smooth, cool, and oddly enticing.  Enchanted clothing is actually a sensual satin like feeling.  This pleasantness is in part why Clarions do not like to wear enchanted clothing near the skin.  Direct exposure to entropic effects is however the most commonly expressed reason.

Auras are not seen.  This may seem contrary, and most gifted when first told this may be bewildered, but it is easily demonstrated to them.  Just have them close their eyes.  A strong gift still sees their world even through closed eyes.  This is due to the synesthesia applying to multiple parts of their cognition at the same time.  While they feel in an extension of their skin the presence, the fine, and complex detail of the world also hijacks the visual centers of the brain.

To a gifted their sight extends beyond the peripheries of physical vision.  They catch things “out of the corner of their eye,” that are actually behind them, and to the side.  That being said gifted have a blind spot directly at the back, and any more than a foot away.  This is literally a shadow cast by their skeletal structure.  At best they can get a sense of there, or not there, but it is very hard to say more.  This flaw however is countered quite effectively by defensive spells extending their perceptions, but it is still at best, their worst area of perception.  Reduced to an abstract collection of lumps.

Casting a spell comes with a lot more sensations than simply being in the presence of it, and varies by the method used.  Most new spell work is done by hand.  Repetitive motions forming the basis for mnemonic association, physical skill helping to build structure.  When casting in this way one feels sensations flowing along the skin in the direction of applied energy, often a cool sensation like a breeze.

The more gestural a spell becomes, the more of a rush is typically felt through the hand, or limb casting it.  Some times electric sensations, particularly when working with electric charges, or rushes of tingling, cold, warmth, all depending on what is being cast.

Runes, and traditional patterns of magic are not strictly required.  There are physical laws governing the underlying behavior of spells, traditional magic is just a single, highly robust set of patterns that work.  There are others.  Battle mages work to obscure their patterns, and change the structures they use to protect themselves from other mages dismantling their work.  They retrain the meaning of runes, and do other things to effectively encrypt their protections.

Well practiced spells, particularly ones centered on the caster give the same sensation as hand work, but distributed over the body.  One can feel a web of spell lines forming off of the skin, and in some cases even a vague abstraction of self.  As though the caster is becoming the magic.  While maintaining a spell, particularly a defensive array of spells, a caster has extended, and exaggerated senses through their work.  If they release the spell however it will begin to decay, and they will lose most or all awareness of it.  It may even feel less present than the work of other casters, since it still has a harmony derived from their own presence.

“Living Magic,” aka living energy is warm.  Different living things require different frequencies of applied energy to heal, enhance, or shape.  Healing your own kind is easiest, animals, and plants are harder, as you must attuned to them.  Generally speaking all living energy is compatible, but the wrong type will feel odd, even unpleasant, and most often be less effective.  Clarion healing practices tend to be “close” but the healer is extolled to remain in their own personal frequency, and not attune to the one they are healing.  This makes the process much less pleasant for the healed, and even if the healer tries, makes them far less able to subdue pain in the patient.  Clarion healing can actually even feel cold and hot at the same time.

Lycian healers practice attunement with the healed, this creates feedback loops between the nervous systems of the two parties.  They go beyond merely trying to subdue any pain, or discomfort, but to impart pleasant sensations that they will feel mirrored in the point of contact.  With deep enough attunement full Mirroring may begin to occur.  In which they feel phantom sensations of what they are doing in the same part of their own body.  Such mirroring is rare except among lovers, who when using such practices to impart pleasure may begin to feel a sense of the other persons physical sensations.

Healed, or otherwise imbued tissue is more sensitive, and aware.  This can significantly exaggerate sensation.  Sore tired muscles can be restored to a less tired state.  Strained tendons mended.  Bone fractures repaired.  This does not just apply to soldiers, and lovers, but also to pack animals.  Druids, who are more practiced in attuning to non-human energies will often tend to pack animals on long, arduous caravan trips.  The best caravans travel with at least one mage, one druid, and one conventional healer.  Though some times generalists will do, occupying two or more of these roles.  Some caravan masters swear by two generalists instead, particularly when traveling through safer lands.  Most however prefer the reliability of a full compliment on retainer.

Healing an animal is different than healing a person.  Animals will panic if the healer does not attune, and attuning makes the healer (usually druid) feel a bit more animal like.  Often hungry, and absent minded, wanting a nap, or detached.  Clarions generally will not perform such services under any circumstances.

The Ribbon Dance

RibbonDance

The burlesque practice of the ribbon, or cloth dance is of unknown origin.  Some try to trace the practice to Laset the Living Wave, and an emulation of the forms she would weave through the air with water, by using scarves or ribbons.

Other proposed origins range from; A spring ceremony from pre-ascension lands, brought back to Osyrae by retreating conquers. A corruption of ancient southern Anderhale shamanistic wind practices.  Then there is the implication it was always what it appears to be, and that the modern form of the art is a convergent evolution of many cultural influences around the shifting roll of women in post shamanistic ages.

The practice itself is indeed strange on a mechanical level.  Baring aspects of elemental channeling, and magical spell craft.  The cloth is typically worn on to stage, and stripped away in fluttering displays that end with the sheer fabric wound in spells that each have the same basic spiraling imperative, and that these are caught further in curls of air, and tugs on the spell filaments by the dancer.

From the perspective of an audience the result can seem quite chaotic, twisting, and spiraling with the music, though from high above a skilled dancer’s arrangements may resemble flowers, or pinwheels rolling through each other.  The most capable dancers will at the end of their performance be restored to their clothed state, weaving the swirling fabric back together onto their bodies.

What is most contrary about the art form is that while it its roots can be found most often in historic subjugation, it moved up through pre-imperial courts, placing talented women at the sides of kings, and lords.  Then fell out of favor through the imperial era.  Modernly the practice is maintained primarily by ancient lines of practitioners, or ladies of high born houses, who have embraced the art as a form of rebellion.  Even an escape from the shackles of polite society, where their great gifts let them live like queens among the fringes of wealthy underworld society.

The infamous Red Cloister of western Lycia contain the only known school where the art form is taught formally, and not handed down as tradition practitioner to practitioner.  This particular derivation of the practice is amongst the most elaborate.  The presence of multiple practitioners in close quarters has lead to new traditions of dance involving two, three, and even five dancers.  Lycia is one of the few lands where men who perform the dance are not uncommon, and the royal court of the land will invite the cloisters best dancers to perform a ceremony marking the eve of the spring equinox.  As of 638 E.R. the young King Consort of Lycia has danced in seven of the past ten spring ceremonies.

One of the most limiting factors in the spread of the practice is that it requires a not insubstantial amount of gift.  In most post imperial societies, women with enough gift to perform also have other lucrative avenues of success, and so the practice has endured only out of love of the art form, or tradition.

Arcana: Overview

The Arcana are a topic of much debate in learned circles.  Rational minds tell us that a deck of 49 painted, named, and numbered cards, shuffled and drawn, cannot reasonably predict our future or present.  Indeed there is a great degree of verifiable randomness in the process.  Yet extensive studies with known criteria have historically shown a probability defying frequency of literal interpretation alignment between knowable future events, and cards, both in their conventional, and inverted positions.

From this several interesting things derive:

Arcanists.  These are practitioners devoted first to a mystical practice, and secondly to rational exploration of this ideology.  The Arcana are chief amongst these, and lends its name more broadly to a class of functional but poorly understood practices.  Particularly those of an expressly religious nature.  Commonly used to describe a devoted Clarion or Lycian healer who also practices magic.

Arcana Cult.  A broader term for a collection of actions taken, without understanding why or what parts of the process work.  Areas of fraught analytical endeavor.  Druidic and Shamanistic practices are categorized as such by scholars.

Arcane† Magic.  Is sometimes applied to the whole of Mage practices.  As so much convention and tradition weight the practice under almost mystical dogmatic patterns, when there is little evidence that these are entirely beneficial.  Save to avoid mistakes already made.

Card List:

I II III IV V VI VII
House of Suns TheSun_Single.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png FallenStar_Single NoCard.png Void_Single.png
House of Nobles NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png Lovers NoCard.png
House of Peasants HandSingle.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png
House of Works TheSword_Single.png NoCard.png Tower_Single NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png
House of Beasts NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png
House of Paths NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png TheCrown_Single.png SevenRivers_Single.png
House of Seasons NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png NoCard.png
Try clicking on a card for more information.  Work in progress.

† In the original Palentian sense ‘Arcune’ would literally be a deep inward, or concave shape.  The etymology appears to be convergent with arc, cave, and cove, as well others.  It appears to have distantly referred to a pouch or box, but by the time of the Maji arrival had come also imply a hidden place.  Aen on the other hand in some Pre-Ascension dialects appears to have meant to close, or shut.  As such the modern Arcane has a likely transitional sense of, “a very closed box.”

Functional Investigation:

One of the more studied aspects of the Arcana is that each card in enchanted, not simply for durability, but through a ritual process producing identifiable differences in each card.  Examination of the process, enchantment, and ritual shows sequential patterns, than align well with traditional groupings of cards into sets of seven.  This also means that a seer practiced enough with their cards can easily identify what a card is, before it is revealed.  Many advanced seers hold that one places the cards not as they are drawn, but as they belong.  That in sorting the random, one finds the pattern.  That when the noise is filtered out, the words spoken are clear.

Even as this stands, the literal order shows statistical significance.  Here it is presumed that something poorly understood in the enchantment variations is interacting with an unknown force.  That some form of probable connection can be drawn between this force, and how the cards shuffle.  Some have even tried to imply that the patterns are closely related to the structure of Storm Monk practices.  That perhaps the cards do not shuffle as they are drawn at all, but that until they are seen, exist in an indeterminate state.  The right stack finding the seer’s hand from their interpretation of what they have already subconsciously seen.  Pulling meaning from their own gift.  This is often promoted along side the mnemonic device theory of prophetic verse.  That it is a tool to interpret what the seer has already seen, to draw forth precognitive memory.

One of the stranger theories put forth (with scarce evidence) is that highly skilled seers can some how manipulate what card is atop the stack.  Slight of hand, even has been suggested to explain some seer’s knack for delivering the card they want.  Though statistical aberrations remain prevalent even in controlled circumstances.

Playing Fates:

Older than the Arcana was The Game of Fates, originally a three suit betting game.  Legend would place the game as having come from the City of the Sun, modernly the High City, and capitol of the Clarion Ascension.  In its earliest forms it was played with etched stones, but they were both inconvenient, and too identifiable.

The game had been a popular vice in many impoverished areas of the city, and even spread to some wealthy circles, skipping over most of the middle classes.  It was after the game was brought before the Principality of the city that the game was highly popularized with a commission to produce painted cards for play, and to add four to the original three sets for larger games.

What is most interesting is the singular record of the introduction of the game at court.  Found only in the Osyraen Royal Library, in the original hand of the court herald of the City of the Sun, 563 B.E.  This account implies that the predictive practice extended back to the Three Fates version of twenty one cards, and a beggar who was a seer in disguise had placed himself before the Principality through clever manipulation of the guard.

In gaming this history gives us The Three Fates, and The Seven Rivers groupings of the game.  Depending on the houses used.

Each share a common core of desirable hands, and scoring rules.

The Ace or Pinnacle is the highest value card in each house, unless Dooms are High is set as a condition of play.  Precise hands vary by given numbers of cards in the game.

Pairs, Sets, Runs, and Houses

Most of these are obvious, but there are some quirks  A set in the number it shows, trumps a same sized set of higher value.  This means that a pair of twos trumps a pair of aces, and a trio of threes can beat four fives in a Seven Rivers game.  A House to be specific is a hand comprised only of one House of cards, and any house is then sorted by its content, and runs.  The top run however is not in a four card hand 4 5 6 7, but 5 6 7 1.  A High House, or Royal House.  This is the Ace, Monarch, Consort, and Knight.

The ordering of the houses otherwise determine between otherwise equal houses, and is bellow.  Giving the final quirk that a set in both the number and the house trumps any run.

  1. (1) House of Suns
  2. House of Nobles
  3. House of Peasants
  4. (2) House of Works
  5. House of Beasts
  6. House of Paths
  7. (3) House of Seasons (Elements)

Here we see a traditional ordering associated with the mysticism of The Three Fates.  The houses are arranged by volatility and permanence.  The stability, and long arc of the cosmos, through the energetic forces of the elements.  Though when looks closely enough, the stars do change, and the elements obey laws.

It is notable that iconography varies between many Three Fates and Seven Rivers card sets.  Drawing variable amounts of inspiration from seer decks.  Notably the iconography of  the Paths and Seasons gets blended into the House of Elements.

The playing cards are never enchanted for anything but durability, but the enchantments may decay over time in recognizable ways.  For competitive play un-enchanted cards are used to insure fair play.

It would technically be possible to play the game with a seer deck that had not been enchanted, though some of the terms might be confusing.  Seers do in fact play a version of this game, but given they can identify the cards from the back, the actual gambles are stranger.  Any hand can win, if they can spin the right tale.  This does mean that the game requires three extra judges (who do not have to be gifted.)  This particular game is considered the most crass by many seers.

Common Rule Variants:

Three Fates:

Standard Betting: Ante, then Call or Raise until two players remain, then either may Call.

Peasant: – Start with two cards, discard as you please, with each draw up to two or three.
Royal: – Four Card Hands, standard bets
Imperial: Five Card Hands, standard bets
Three Card River: Three card hands, with each round a card is turned from the deck, until three are revealed.  Then all remaining players must Call or Fold.
Storms Wild: The Monarch of Elements represents any card of the holders choosing.

Seven Rivers:

Royal: Four Card Hands, standard bets
Imperial: Five Card Hands, standard bets
Veil: Four Card Hands, after round of bets each player reveals a card
Four Card River: Four card hands, with each round a card is turned from the deck, until seven are revealed, or all fold.  On the seventh card all must be revealed.
Four Card  Thief: On the final Call the Jack of Peasants may be exchanged for any card revealed.  This means that the Noble House of Peasants is the top hand.
Called Coin: The holder of the Pinnacle of Paths my toss a coin rather than Call, and defer any bet for the round.  If it is tails the coin goes to the pot as a bet, if it’s heads they give the coin to an opponent, and take one of their cards blind.

Ascension Counts:

Little is known of the practice of Ascension counts as so many old documents were burned or destroyed during the Ascension purges.  It is for this exact reason they are known as Ascension Counts, as several other terms can be found in surviving documents, but none are considered clearly authoritative.  They are also sometimes called Clarion Counts.

The Numbers:

  1. I
  2. II
  3. III
  4. IV
  5. V
  6. VI
  7. VII
  8. S
  9. SI
  10. SII
  11. SII
  12. SIII
  13. SIV
  14. SV
  15. SVI

The introduction of the S at 8 is interesting, and there is some surviving evidence in Clarion writings that were not purged that the 8th, that in excess of the 7th, is the boundless, and the origin of the Rune ∞, used by convention for aether uptake, while the Rune S is used signify entropic focus.

The S is almost ignored in all relation to Arcana or Playing Fates, except a modern tradition out of Mordove manufacture that marks the Ace as $ signifying a union of 1 and 8.  Some argue this makes the card 9, which is supported by some clarion writings that indicate:

The SI should be written $.  It is III of III.  Boundless be the numbers beyond VII.

Otherwise uninformative in a modern context this rare line indicates a marking tradition that would conflict with the modern use.  Further Ascension counts do not contain a Zero, as found in the more prevalent Osyraen number system.  The crossed ϴ is magical notation typically represents equilibrium, balance, and cancelation (sometimes instead written ø for distinction.)  In ancient Osyraen notation this was used also for equality, with the parallel line notation being derived some time after the Maji passed through Napir.