Land of the Gods (E6)
This is a group for the Setting of Land of the Gods, a Pathfinder E6 setting which makes use of Occult Adventures, Pathfinder Unchained and Mythic Adventures.
There are four Elements which mingled to create the world, Air, Earth, Fire and Water. When sufficiently concentrated the Elements can manifest in the world and interact with the living but while the Elements have displayed intelligence and intent they are driven by a powerful and overwhelming nature and are not truly sentient, displaying no free will, making them unreliable subjects of worship. Air sustains and feeds the other Elements, seeking always to be free. Earth is stable and contains and supports, it is slow but inevitable. Fire consumes and spreads, transforming through destruction. Water flows sustaining as Air does in most cases but smothering Fire wherever it can.
The Elements are in all things in the world to some extent, and when one or other of the Elements grows stronger it changes the world around it, an overabundance of Water for instance results in bogs, wetlands and of course oceans and lakes. It also tends smother the Fire in an area, resulting in colder temperatures and causing snow, ice and even icebergs where the water grows especially pure. Fire meanwhile produces lands of hot barren rock or volcanic activity and if Fire rages out of control it can render the land uninhabitable, turning the land into fine sandy desert or ash chocked wasteland.
Fire stands out from the other three as the most dangerous of Elements. It seeks to consume all things and spread rapidly and aggressively, burns spreading like infection to anything or anyone who touches them. Lighting a fire is incredibly dangerous as only the efforts of a sentient and ensouled being can start a fire, and any such fire rapidly becomes a manifestation of Fire which will not only spread and destroy all around it but will actively seek out the one who starts the blaze to consume them. The only way to utilise Fire safely is to bind it and constrain it with Earth and Water, a simple ritual that even most children know but which can easily be performed incorrectly if not done with care. This danger of any use of Fire means that some technology has either developed or adapted differently to other worlds and minor magical alternatives are common, such as the Blood Crystals gifted to the children of many lands as they come of age which can be used to summon light by the one to whom they belong.
These minor magical tools are generally created by the Attuned. The Attuned are men and women who have performed between one and three levels of Attunement, generally taking the form of meditation in a place where that Element is strongly present in the world, such as a geode rich cave, a mighty waterfall or deep lake, the edge of a windswept peak or pretty much any large fire. The first Attunement grants them the ability to manipulate and call up their Element for attack, defence, healing or general utility, and allows the infusing of their Element that allows for ritual purposes such as creating Crystals. The second Attunement is harder to perform, requiring a greater purity of Elemental energy, but results in much more drastic changes, obvious physical changes to hair, eye and skin colour as well as greater powers and a growing fear and respect from more normal people. The third Attunement involves the Attuned surrendering themselves entirely to their Element, casting aside their mortal body to become permanently a part of the greater power they have bonded to. Normally the third Attunement results in their leaving the world behind, but occasionally a thrice Attuned will linger for a time, wielding their vast power to the benefit of some mortal concern. Any sort of Attunement changes a person, affecting their thoughts with the nature of the Element, usually this has a minor effect with only the first Attunement, but growing in strength over time, though Fire has a tendency to warp the mind faster, only accepting Attunement from those who are willing to work towards its goal of consuming the world and rendering all down to ash.
As the world formed, some of the left over power of the Elements congealed into the form of smooth perfect spheres covered in rippling opalescent colours, usually found underground, they are sometimes also in icebergs or just hanging suspended in clouds. These Stones grant wishes, generally they any wish from the smallest act of healing to the most land shattering acts of destruction. There are some limitations to these wishes but, due to the rarity of Wishing Stones, they are not well understood, with only a few realising things such as that you cannot uses wishes to affect other Wishing Stones or that they can have odd side-effects when used to affect human souls.
Each Stone has a unique method of activation, such as exposure to a certain sound, immersion in a particular river or being held by someone experiencing a particular powerful emotion. Discovering these activation rituals is very hard and most people who have managed to acquire a Wishing Stone do not know how to use them. Despite this, the threat of their use is a major deterrent from starting wars with powerful nations or organisations since they often have one or more Wishing Stones and, if they have the means to activate them, can sweep aside armies or level cities in a moment.
The effects of Wishing Stones are usually permanent and have produced many strange phenomena in the world, including winds that blow constantly from a single direction, a massive bonfire which never goes out but never seeks to leave its starting place or a castle which is completely invisible from the outside. Only another Stone or the efforts of a few of the most potent of gods can change something that a Wishing Stone has wrought.
The only sentient race native to the world are humans, pretty much the same creatures you would expect, arms and legs and faces and emotions and strengths and failings and all else. Though there are creatures which appear sentient, such as Primal Beasts and the most powerful of Elemental manifestations, they are generally merely very cunning or possessed of an alien sort of intelligence that does not really include an awareness of themselves or thoughts beyond some driving purpose. Where sentient creatures are to be found they are either human, or were born of humanity.
Other ‘Races’ include the twice Attuned who have become only debatably human, the Brutes who form of those who live away from civilisation for too long and the Soulless who were created by a Wishing Stone that was used to try and resurrect the population of a city which was put to the sword. All clearly show signs of their heritage in a humanoid form, but can usually be told apart from humanity with little effort.
Recently there has been an unexpected development in the form of non-human invaders, insectile but upright creatures with a hive mind of some sort. Only a few nations have yet had dealings with them thus far but they seem to be invading the world from somewhere beyond it, arriving through strange tunnels deep underground.
Like nearly all sentient creatures the gods where once humans who gained divine power from some source. The process of becoming a god varies with some resulting from Wishing Stones, a very unreliable method, to exposure to concentrations of all four Elements. The most common method in modern times is to gain divine power from one who is already a god, either killing them to take their power or being gifted it willingly, either because the god no longer wishes to carry the power of because the god has mastered the means to gift only a portion of their power to another, quickening divinity in a mortal without surrendering their own power. Gods range in power from those who are little more than mortals who have been enhanced to superhuman levels to beings with the power to plunge a nation into permanent darkness with impenetrable cloud cover or raise land masses from the ocean depths. Most gods are immortal or at least ageless and rarely does a god need to sleep or even eat or drink to remain alive and healthy, some are immune to diseases or poisons and all but the weakest can call upon their divine power via the medium of Domains to perform miracles of varying power which can massively exceed anything a mortal can achieve without grand and complex rituals. Possibly the greatest gift that comes with divinity is the ability to bend certain rules, such as the effects of Attuning to Fire or Alighting with the Ideals of Chaos or Order.
Gods may also empower their mortal worshippers, forming a bond between their own divine might and the soul of the mortal. This bond allows the mortal to call upon the power of the god to perform miracles, though it strains their soul to do so and so they can only cast so many before resting unless their god works directly through them and pushes extra power into their souls to empower them at risk of permanently harming them. This bond also gives the god influence over the bound mortal, starting with the ability to sever the bond at any time wherever the mortal is at the time, and to sense the location of the mortal, though that sense grows fuzzy with great distance with more potent gods able to sense further afield. The god can also focus on their bound follower and gain an awareness of their mental state, even communicating with them mentally, though as with the sense of their location the connection becomes fuzzier and harder to establish as distance increases. The mortal and encourage this by meditation and focus, attracting their god’s attention and possibly interesting them enough to trigger that contact. The bond between god and mortal can only be formed when both are present in the same space and for some gods requires physical contact, meaning that every priest who is able to perform miracles in their god’s name has physically met their deity and been chosen by them to carry this power.
Some gods also form God Realms, spaces outside the world formed from the god’s Domains. Not all gods form these Realms, and the size and strangeness of the realm varies with the god’s power and mentality. Attunement and Alignment will both also have an effect on the form of the place. Smaller and weaker realms can only be reached in particular places or under rare and specific circumstances, while more powerful realms can be reached easily from common locations such as the surface of lakes or any doorway opened by a divinely empowered key gifted by the divine owner.
Chaos and Order
Beyond the world, beyond the Elements there are two powers or forces or Ideals which are in constant conflict. Order forces things into predictable patterns, not unchanging but only changing in ways which match the ordered pattern of what has come before, while Chaos destroys order and undermines that which endures.
Both Chaos and Order have a presence in the world, but neither holds the upper hand at this time, Order being present in many small ways but bound by ancient compacts to not interfere with sentient beings unless Chaos is already doing so while Chaos struggles to invade a realm so stable and alien to its ever fluid nature. Within the world the presence of Order can be felt in the passage of time and the movements of heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon and stars, such that many who Align with Order seek guidance from the heavens regarding the path of the future.
As humans can Attune themselves to the Elements so can the Align themselves with the Ideals of Chaos or Order, gaining power but gradually being overwhelmed by the nature of the Ideals, first mentally and then physically, eventually becoming inhuman creatures of crystal or warped mater.
The effect of civilisation on the world and its creatures is assumed, but has never been proven, to be connected to Order in some fashion. Those creatures, human or otherwise, who live in or near centres of civilisation tend to be short and, relatively speaking, calm and socialised. Creatures who dwell far from civilised lands grow larger and larger as generations go by, and at the same time lose clarity of thought and capacity for restraint, until, after several generations, humans are rendered to Brutes, huge creatures of clearly human stock but incapable of empathy or kindness, casually killing, torturing and devouring those humans they meet. Animals out in the wilds are known as Primals, larger, more aggressive and more cunning than common beasts.