Praxian elements

From: Neil Smith (neil.smith@rmcs.cranfield.ac.uk)
Date: Thu 09 Sep 1999 - 16:01:03 EEST


In my continuing attempts to create a version of the Everway rules
for use in a Praxian context, I re-examining the Praxian metaphysics
and cultural background. I have two main objectives in doing this:
firstly, I want to create a playable version of Everway tailored for
Praxians; secondly, I want to explore the Praxian culture from the
Praxian point of view, hopefully making them psychologically more
distinct. These are my thoughts so far. I hope you find them
interesting.

In Everway, characters are described in terms of the four hermetic
elements: Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Different scores in these
areas represent different abilities. However, these elements have
different meanings and associations from the traditional
Gloranthan/God Learner ones. In addition, the Praxians don't have the
same God Learner influenced heritage of the Orlanthi, so there is no
reason for the Praxians to pay any real attention to the "standard"
Gloranthan five elements.

Instead, I decided to start from the basics of their world view and
asked what the Praxians thought important. These things are
represented by their gods. This gave the following basic
descriptions:

God Element General Meaning
- --- ------- ---------------
Waha Authority Authority, Intellect, Coldness
Eiritha Beast Resilience, Nurturing, Stubborness
Storm Bull Storm Activity, Energy, Uncontrollability
Daka Fal Spirit Magic, Intuition, Whimsicality

* Eiritha is the source of all bounty and wealth. She survived the
  God's War by staying.
* Storm Bull came and changed things, just because he could.
* Daka Fal understands the mysteries of the other world.
* Waha shows us how to control this world, and shows us what is
  right.

The elements are normally portrayed in a circle (representing the
cycle of Rebirth and Death), divided into four parts:

       Authority
  Spirit Storm
         Beast

Beast is at the bottom, as all things rest on the herds. Spirit is on
the left, betraying a draconic influence from the EWF. Storm is on
the right, as it is the right hand that performs actions. Authority
is on top, as a man rides atop a beast.

Each of these elements governs a particular type of ability and is
associated with a particular personality type:

Element Actions Personality
- ------- ------- -----------
Authority Perception, Deduction, Analytical, Calm, Taciturn,
           Willpower, Martial Arts Intellectual, Distant,
                                    Perceptive, Dispassionate

Beast Resistance, Endurance, Honest, Dependable, Trustworthy,
           Physical robustness Stubborn, Frank, Reliable,
                                    Comforting, Tough

Storm Physical activity, Active, Violent, Energetic,
           Gumption, Passions Impatient, Erratic, Impetuous,
                                    (Over-)confident

Spirit Intuition, Magical Sensitive, Intuitive, Emotional,
           perception, Empathy Diplomatic, Whimsical,
                                    Sentimental, Maudlin, Idealistic

While these qualities for the elements are close to the standard
Everway hermetic version, there are a couple of things to note.

The first of these is to do with combat, which betrays a Kralori
influence on the Praxian mindset. Waha imposes his will, his
intellect, on the world. Killing, whether of beasts or men, should be
an unemotional activity, merely part of the cycle of Life and Rebirth.
 Mental discipline is required to demonstrate the skills of the
butcher. This attitude has lead to the development of formalised
weapon techniques, almost becoming martial arts. This is most
obviously recognised in the Morokanth, who have greatly developed
their unarmed combat techniques in this way. This also acts as
another reason why Storm Bullies are despied: they give in to their
passions during combat, and cannot achieve the inner calm that is
required by the Wahahim.

Charisma, communication, and diplomacy rely on the Spirit. High
Authority makes Khans capable but taciturn leaders. Khans would make
good generals if they organised themselves in anything bigger than a
clan.

Combinations of the elements also have meanings for a character,
showing how different parts of the psyche act together.

* Storm and Beast together represent Power, the ability to make
  changes in the world. Storm makes the changes while Beast ensures
  they stay.
* Authority and Spirit represent Wisdom, the ability to judge which
  changes should be made. Authority shows the way of Waha, while
  Spirit shows intuition.

* Beast and Spirit show the Passive side, how changes are dealt with.
  Beast resists change, while Spirit adapts.
* Authority and Storm are the Active elements. Authority is the
  imposition of one's will on the world, while Storm does new things.

* Authority and Beast, the vertical axis, represent conservatism,
  stability, and peace. This is generally considered Good.
* Storm and Spirit, the horizontal axis, represent innovation,
  eccentricity, and change. This is generally considered Bad.

The association of elements can also be taken further, and each of the
Great Tribes can be associated with an element:

Element Tribe
- ------- -----
Authority High Llama
Beast Bison
Storm Impala
Spirit Morokanth

The tribe associated with each element emphasises that element more
than the others. For instance, the Impala tribe (particularly the
bachelors) embody the Storm qualities of violent, uncontrolled
activity. The Sable tribe does not emphasise an element, as clans try
to maintain a balance between each of the elements.

This has some implications as to how the differences between the
tribes come about.

Morokanth are labelled by the God Learners as darkness related, as
they focus on the spiritual aspects of the world. Through this, they
fell foul of the God Learners' equivalence between spirits and
darkness. However, they are astute enough to exploit this supposed
correspondence, and tend to have an increased facility with Darkness
spirits and magic in God Learner influenced areas.

The High Llamas take pride in their intellect and perceptivness, which
is why they are also haughty. In combat, they rely on superior
tactics to make up for their lack on numbers.

The Bison tribe, not Sable, is matriarchal. Sables rule with
committee, with Eiritha queens generally dominating the discussions,
as herd welfare is normally paramount. It also explains why Bison
riders are so tenacious in combat.

The Impala tribe will have a greater proportion of Storm Bullies than
listed, particularly among the bachelor males.

The Sable tribe emphasises balance and harmony between elements, and
hence were more susceptible to Lunar advances than other Praxians (of
course, the chance of being on the winning side at Moonbroth also
helped).

The correspondence can also be extended to the Three Feathered Rivals
(though less convincingly):
   Sun Hawk Authority
   Thunderbird Storm
   Raven Spirit
   Condor Beast (though not so much since Eiritha was buried:
                       being buried makes life difficult for a bird).

and perhaps also parts of the body:
    Authority Head, eyes
    Spirit Left arm (side)
    Storm Right arm (side)
    Beast Body (liver?), genitals

So, what do people think?

Neil.
- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dr Neil Smith email: neil.smith@rmcs.cranfield.ac.uk
CISMG, Cranfield University, phone: +44 1793 785900
RMCS, Shrivenham, Swindon, SN6 8LA, UK fax: +44 1793 782753

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