Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spotlight On: Vital Philosophy

Hey guys.  Here's a new thing I'll be doing once or twice a week.  I'll take an idea glossed over in the text and show you in-depth how it works in the world of Cthun.  Today I'll talk about Vital Philosophy, or Necromancy.

Vital Philosophy, the science of animating dead life-forms, is rooted in the invention (by Maturi sage Pierre de Rayal in the year 1118, four centuries before our story begins) of the hematological battery.  While de Rayal's first batteries were made of fired clay and incorporated iron conductors, modern batteries are almost always made of glass while the most common conduction agent has become copper.  Any given battery contains between two ounces and a gallon of human blood aged for one week and then impregnated alchemically with petroleum.  The batteries, when installed in a corpse, restore to it some semblance of life.  Different laws bind the creation of dead for various purposes in the differing locales of Cthun.  In Machen, creation of the dead is permissible only if their intended use is servitude.  All Machi dead are lobotomized, select regions of their brains transmuted into gold to prevent their use as weapons or spies.

The dead, once prepared and implanted with a battery, no longer rot or take action of their own volition.  Instead, for reasons unknown, they wait patiently to be ordered about by the living.


The coven of alchemists, philosophers and mystics known as the Children of the Sun use blood batteries not just in the creation of dead servants but in the elevation of its novices to full initiates, or philosophers.  The battery, implanted beneath a novice's sternum, functions as a second heart and etheric link to the ritual's other participants: the totemic idol(s).  The idols, animals chosen and raised by the novice in question, are killed with copper knives (transmuting their hearts into spiritual energy) and bonded to the novice.  The novice then adopts certain of their characteristics and can, with alchemical exertion, transform into any of his or her idols.  The battery's function in this instance is as a channel for the high levels of energy required for the ritual.  Without it, the novice would combust and die.


The lower-class dead (especially in Machen) are often bought, treated by paid philosophers, and resurrected to serve as slaves to the wealthy and powerful.  Dead slaves also maintain the sewers of Machen's great cities, operate its morgues and serve as attendants to scholars, physicians and mystics.  With their forebrains transmuted into gold they offer little besides brute strength and total obedience.

In Maturin the dead are not lobotomized or enslaved.  Through the power of the Carnelian Throne, all citizens of Maturin are resurrected.  They work and live in their own secluded communes, venerating their strange god.  They may choose to die true deaths at any time.

Aligher does not permit the use or creation of dead.


The Machi Civil War (1218-1221) saw the first large-scale implementation of the dead as military assets when Field Marshal Salla Bakkar turned his legions against Thulhus IX, Padishah of the Thulhun Empire.  Two million died in the long, bloody war, with the dead turned against their slayers as more and more fell.  Eventually Bakkar was captured by mercenaries while riding with his field staff, brought before the Padishah in Leng and beheaded on the spot.  All militarized dead were repurposed as slaves or destroyed by the Padishah's command.

Bands of freed dead still terrorize Maturi's outlying provinces, relics of wars fought long before the ascent of the other great powers.  Now the dead cannot fight in the royal armies on pain of burial.


Maturi is ruled by a conclave of the noble dead, groomed throughout life to lead after their eventual ascent to lichdom.  None die natural deaths but participate in elaborate ritual suicides before taking their thrones in the Undying Senate.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the idea of a senate of liches. I hope we get to see this in the story!

    I also appreciate that you've thought the world out enough to have a history that stretches back so far.