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@Cyclone

I do agree that, if fraying is indeed a negligible factor most of the time, complexity would not be much of a problem, and many of my concerns about it are alleviated. However, it still seems to me (do correct me if I'm mistaken) that it would have a fairly significant negative impact on a number of the setting's features.

Take, for example, undead. Even if it only manifests after a very extended timespan soul decay would inevitably affect all of them, as there is no apparent limit to their permanence in that state. The length of that timespan is ultimately immaterial, given the roleplay revolves around immortal characters who operate over entire epochs of the world; sooner or later, we would reach its end. This could only be avoided if were truly extremely great, but, if taken too far, the whole notion would at length be rendered entirely irrelevant to all purposes. Having all undead be condemned to degrade into mindless husks would heavily impair the relevance of undeath as a divine aspect, or at least greatly limit the possible ways in which it could be explored and developed.

Another concept that has been mentioned various times is the possibility of competing afterlives. Beyond having plenty of plot potential in itself, something like this could give a whole new dimension to an eventual soul crisis arc, making it a much more personal matter for any gods who engaged in it. However, once again this would be stymied if all souls were destined to crumble regardless of what happened to them. A variety of afterlives is meaningless if all their inhabitants are featureless shells without thought or memory. Remedying this by making them impermanent would somewhat defeat the concept of an afterlife proper.

Overall, I believe the case remains that soul decay could inhibit several interesting plot opportunities while - I feel the need to restate this - contributing very little in return (its usefulness for demons is ambiguous at best if it is such a small factor, although I admit I did not entirely follow the deliberations on that, and even the ethical aspect it adds to Katharsos' work appears very minor compared to the otherwise cosmic significance of his duties). If I am inflating things out of their real proportion or if there are solutions to these issues, though, do disregard my ramblings.
On the topic of souls, I have no issues with souls being finite and any crisis plots that might entail, and I agree with it being more practical for divines to have essences distinct from regular souls. However, I have to object to the notion of soul fraying. As I have said in the Discord, I find that it makes things needlessly more complex without contributing anything interesting or useful to the setting that could not be achieved by much simpler means. Consider the following:

On soul decay, I propose this: An intact and healthy body inhibits the decay of the resident soul. Stuff like divine essence and the MP invested to make Heroes heroic further reinforces souls against decay to the extent of stopping decay entirely while they are alive. Part of making an immortal species is spending MP on their ability to keep their souls together indefinitely. Ad hoc solutions, such as those available to mortals, do not prevent this fraying, and self-made immortals will need to work to maintain their immortality (e.g. a lich needs to keep consuming souls so as to replenish the part of their soul which frays).

On the death of powerful beings, typically their death is brought about by something which weakens the being to the extent that the being is too weak to not die. At this stage, stripped of power, the being (e.g. god, hero) is likely (although not certainly) too weak to resist the Sky of Pyres.

On what counts as a body, it is whatever you have spent Might on to make as a body for your species.


In essence, this amounts to emulating a natural process (aging and bodily damage leading to death) which normally occurs on its own. In such a system, a being would be weakened by having a compromised body, which leads to a decaying soul. But a compromised body results in weakness regardless of the state of the soul within; indeed, even in a cosmology where souls were absent altogether, physical harm would bring one closer to death, regardless of any ulterior circumstances. In addition, a soul's health being dependant on the body's condition could lead to some strange quandaries: would someone who has lost a limb have their soul decay at an accelerated rate? Would someone who has suffered from a severe disease, and then recovered, nevertheless die prematurely because the period of illness resulted in pieces of their soul sloughing away faster than normal?

As concerns immortal beings, divinely blessed and not, soul decay once again adds a layer of intricacy that does not appear strictly necessary. The additional effort (MP) spent in reinforcing the souls of such entities could just as easily be explained by the difficulty of creating physical forms for them that better withstand the advance of time, something that would need to be done anyway if the creator does not wish for them to grow decrepit under the immense age they would eventually reach. Those mortals that would attain immortality by their own means would be in a similar predicament. They might be able to extend their lifespan by some means, but they would have to keep themselves from rotting away in order to enjoy it, and no amount of consuming souls would help them with that. The lich in the example would need to, for instance, drain its victims' life force to strengthen its crumbling bones; that is not to say that it shouldn't be able to strip them of their souls for some purpose, but, as mentioned, fuelling its unlife with them alone would be a futile endeavour by the system's very rules.

Furthermore, soul fraying seems to me all the more dubious since there is no definite description of how it occurs. It was said that:

I imagine a fully decayed soul would just be a bunch of crumbles, effectively a lump of soul ash with a few chunks big enough to retain some memories etc.
Cyclone in the chat yesterday


It's not very clear how this would fit into the workings of the soul as determined by the Sky of Pyres. If the decay is manifested in the soul falling apart, how would it be purified at Katharsos' hands? And, if souls crumble back into ash as they reach the end of their course, why would he need to redistribute their material by artificial means? Far from providing a justification for his work, soul decay might in fact place its usefulness into question.

One last note, not necessarily related to fraying but still linked with matters of death and the soul. I notice the OP still has this point, written before Katharsos was conceived:

3 Might: Resurrect a mortal or a hero. Reaching into the depths of death and plucking back a mortal soul is no easy task, even for a god, and will likely involve a quest to whatever Sphere the soul has gone for its afterlife. The cost for healing or building a new body for said mortal is included in this act. This cost does not cover any sundry expenses incurred during a quest to the afterlife and back.
Rules on Might spending


Since in the new system death involves one's mind and memories being destroyed and scattered, eventually going to form new living beings, the feasibility of this might need to be revised.
So what are people gunning for in terms of second portfolios?


Likely Murder, Predation or something similarly adaptable, with an aim for a cluster of Violence or Strife (more vague, but doesn't it sound that much better?).
Good gods, is this fast. Calling dibs on a war god before it gets plundered; a sheet should be coming sometime today.
I'm considering a god of strife and upheaval of various kinds. War, sure, but possibly also things like eruptions, earthquakes, disease or others in this vein. Still, the idea's pretty flexible at the moment. It could easily become something more elemental instead.
Well, I haven't been able to contribute much to the discussion so far - I don't have anywhere as extensive an experience with the cogs and pieces of Divinus as most people here, and whenever I thought of a point someone had already made it by the time I logged in. But I did say I'd stick with this no matter what shape it took, so, if you'll have me, I'd be more than happy to tag along for Mk3. With this group, I know it'll be well worth it, whatever it ends up being.
Nanperga’s Tower, Southern Lampertei


”This place smells.”

Idelchis grunted at his companion’s truthful, but less than acute observation. ”Of course it does. Do you forget who lives here?”

“It’s not that.”
Gambar lifted a fistful of dry soil from among the tall yellow grass at their feet and held it out to the other Farigai’s nose. ”Feel this? Stinks of old ash. Now, I don’t know how wide the last fire was, but it can’t have reached here.” He pointed to a small, but clearly old and gnarled tree aways from where they were crouching. It was as strange as any of the vegetation here by the coast, with its twisted trunk and fir-like needles instead of leaves, but clearly untouched by flame. ”And it’s been a good spell since. It shouldn’t smell suchlike.”

“It’s what I told you.”
Idelchis shrugged as Gambar let the earth run through his fingers and fall back to the ground. ”This is the domain of witch. Nothing is astonishing. Be glad the smell is all there is to it, rather than some swamp of filth and leeches. I have had my fill of abominations in that valley.”

Indeed, the land around them was, in spite of its bleakness and unnaturally lingering stench, far more welcoming than the gloom they had been creeping through as they followed their quarry. Forested vales and mountains had given way to tall, though mildly sloping hills sparsely dotted with patches of short bushy trees among old withered stumps, which had themselves thinned out when they approached the sea. Between the harsh sun-bleached grass that covered the soil in stretches and the light that streamed down from the jarringly clear sky, the southern landscapes were so bright that the Farigai, accustomed to the perpetual darkness of the Rudines and their dungeons, had been squinting and flinching for days on end as they moved from crag to gulch, often taking more care than needed not to be spotted in this glare. If not else, the shrubs and arid thistle brush around the tower made it much simpler to observe and remain unseen.

The edifice itself, overlooking the sea from the edge of a deceptively sloping cliff, looked as though it had been taken by a divine hand and dipped in a lake of pitch. Its lower side had been charred by numberless fires, so deeply that not even the sea-spray could wash it away. Cracks and dents in the stone marked where the sturdy walls had been struck by stones and rams, not great enough to threaten their integrity, but visible from afar in their grim reminder that many had fallen at the foot of the hold.

Still, had they even been larger, they would have been dwarfed by the yet more obvious traces of battle the travellers had been encountering over the last few days. It was small wonder that the only trees they saw were small and stunted, for axe and flame had left their mark on what had once been wooded hillsides. Nothing was left there but scorched ground dotted with a few stumps and younger growths creeping back over lost earth, like ghouls and graverobbers across a battlefield in the night after the slaughter. Not even flies buzzed over the ashen
desolation, nor rats scurried in the sickly undergrowth.

Nor were the blackened walls as eerie as those forsaken places where villages or small towns had been razed to the foundations by marauding armies. Many of them had been abandoned ever since, lying upon the ground as hollow, broken corpses of giants. The Farigai had not seen much of them; they had made wide detours even when Antonia’s party passed near the accursed spots, because they brought bad luck. Only those with a charm from the Soothsayer could approach them safely. Of course, they cared little what would happen to the Queen’s daughter and her retinue beyond ensuring that they reached the tower.

And that they had done to perfection.

From their hiding-place, Gambar and Idelchis could ill make out the features of the people that now moved towards the scarred bastion across the nigh-barren approach, but it could have been none else. The group stopped before the imposing doors that had withstood many a charge, evidently calling for the watchers within to open them, and soon vanished from sight behind the tower’s corner.

Gambar let himself fall backwards from his crouch, landing in a sitting posture upon the hem of his cloak. ”Now we wait?” he asked with a half-heartedly stifled yawn.

Idelchis nodded. ”The Old Man must know what’s to be done. I doubt they will be coming out again soon.”

“Good time to rest, then.”
His fellow settled on the cinder-smelling ground in the fashion of a soldier lying down after a march. ”You take the first shift.”

***

Dungeons of Skadan Castle


No sound stirred the heavy dark air of the subterraneum, neither filtering down from the surface nor drifting through the chambers themselves. Not even the single brazier at the far end of the room crackled or whistled with its unliving breath, for the unnatural flames of the Lampert King’s domain are voiceless. The silence that smothered the sunken hall could have almost been called sacred, were it not that it lay in the heart that burned brightest with the hatred of what was holy, and that among all the figures that stood assembled there not a single shred of piety could be scraped together.

They were a dozen, perhaps more, dim and indistinct as shadows passing in the night. The scented vapours rising from the flames, though thin, cast a blur over them, hiding their numbers and faces, as did the effluviations of the basin of steaming water they stood around. The one that stood in the centre lifted a bowl over the pristine surface, and the unholy trophies on his person rang out softly as he raised his arms. Thick, dark fluid dripped, then streamed down in a thin sluggish pillar. In the green light of the brazier, it looked like the blood of something not human. And perhaps it was not only the light that made it seem so, but also the concoction that was mingled with it. The same that had been in the skull the king’s youngest Gastald had quaffed from.

The bowl was emptied, and the leader passed it to the man to his right, who caught it in his only hand. Then, the elder’s fingers descended into the basin. They did not dip into the marred liquid, but gently lit upon the surface, touching down upon their tips and sinking no further. With slow, precise motions, he began to trace bloody patterns, never lifting his hands from their work. Round they went, again and again, and as their motions grew more regular, settling into an unbroken cycle, his eyes rose up and stared into the darkness ahead. Though none could glimpse them, they were blank and empty, as those of one who is dreaming.

”I see them,” he spoke. His voice sounded hoary and ancient, yet there was a power in it that held those present in its spell. ”I see the tower and the sea, in her eyes. She walks over ashes. The others are shades around her.

The doors. They open, and she is inside.”


The circle of wraithlike forms stood immobile, barely daring to breathe as they drank in each of his words.

”A courtyard. Stairs. I see decay under their surfaces. She rises. I see it by the windows. A corridor, a door.”

The voice suddenly grew harsh with seething scorn, and sparse teeth grit together.

”I see a woman - it must be her. The witch. She speaks. I do not hear.”

Minutes passed without a word being uttered. The fingers continued to run over the water uninterrupted, their pace hastening and slowing in steady alternations.

”I cannot see her mouth, but I can imagine her words. They will speak of Udos. What will be done there.”

His motions hastened for a few moments, without losing their deftness, then subsided again.

”Now. Now I see better. Much of what they say is useless-”

The fingers slowed perceptibly.

”-but this. As I thought, she urges- Advises. To surrender to the Enemy. Join them in earnest.

Pigskull fool!”


Giselart abruptly tore his hands from the basin, sending blood and water up in small sprays from each finger.

”As if that would change anything.” His voice, no longer suffused with that strange antiquity, had resumed its usual tone. ”But now we know we can count on that. Well, the Enemy Above won’t find us unprepared. Is Dauraulf back yet?”

Ratechi shook his head. ”Not now. He must have a good catch up there to keep us waiting this long.”

”All the better. Although I’d rather not have him take needless risks this one time.” The Soothsayer wiped his hands against his clothing. Behind him, one of the Farigai took a step towards the flame and tossed a handful of something over it. The strange-smelling vapours began to thin and fade, shaking the assembled men from the dreamlike atmosphere that had pervaded the room until then. The gazes of most were still fixed and glassy, though Giselart seemed to have fully awoken from his trance and was as inflamed as ever.

”It wouldn’t do ill to have the witch herself immolated with all that rot she has inside. Not right away, but once the war begins, no one will notice. Make sure we keep her under good watch.” He gestured to one of the figures at his left, who nodded and hurriedly walked out of the chamber. ”Ratechi, I’ll trust that to you. Would I rather be both there and in Udos at once, but we aren’t gods, our fathers be thanked.”

Between a jest and a curse, the final scheme to end all days in flame was afoot.
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