Charlatans will claim that for silver they can predict your fortune in love; wizards claim to see the future in their shewstones and scrying pools; the votaries of the gods and demon lords claim that their patrons alone shape the destinies of men. Beyond predictions so vague as to be truisms, so specific as to be useless, or so contrived as to be nonsensical, all are liars.
In the Five Worlds there is no destiny other than what people make for themselves. Of course, as the wise say:
"There is an exception to every rule (including this one)."
"You know how a sundial or waterclock tells you what time it is? Well, them Deus Tines, they tell time what it is. No? Well can you tell me what time is?"
-- Dammaki Half-a-Man, village idiot or visionary seer (opinion is divided) of Adburg
Alone in the desolation of the Nagai Plains stand the Deus Tines: five gigantic metallic spikes furlongs high set in a straight line, but curving at a slight angle from the vertical like upraised tusks. Massive, starkly undecorated and seemingly unaffected by mortal or godly power, these ranked monoliths act as the gnomon of a vastly complex collection of interlocking solar calendars erected around their base.
Several of the shadows cast by the Deus Tines do not appear to conform to the movement of the sun of Nagoh. Crypto-astrologers of the Wilds theorize (endlessly, and with soporific detail) that these shadows are the echoes or conjoined twins of shadows cast by the solar luminaries of Nagoh's sister worlds. None have yet offered a plausible explanation for what exactly is casting the shadow which (supposedly) represents the sunless realm of Ghoan.
The solar intersections of the shadows on the multifarious sigils and symbols carved and erected across the Field of Calendars are supposedly the entire plan for the Five Worlds and all that is attached to them. Popular legend has it that anyone who can interpret the sigils correctly, and modify the shadows cast (even by an expedient as simple as standing on the dial, or placing a stone in the correct place) a means of predicting or modifying the future, or even of subverting that which has already past.
The skuzzy, improvised settlement which has grown up beyond the northern (shadowed) side of the Deus Tines is home to numerous religious sects and ideocults which fight ongoing ideological skirmishes over the right to place markers at - or stand in - certain shadows during crypto-astrologically significant times; over the interpretation of the sigils; over whether knowledge of the future by other than the gods is hubristic and dangerous; and over whether the shadows cast by the Deus Tines actively shape, or merely express in symbolic fashion, the current state and intended future of the Five Worlds. As is so often the case, the more esoteric and abstruse the conjecture; the more vicious the fighting.
Ideocults and Idiot Sects of Shadowside
(representative sample only. Subject to schism, revolt, doctrinal change and/or self-immolation without warning ...or apparent logic)
- Chronominceurs - badly-dressed wannabe time wizards who just won't shut up. Talk a good fight, but that's it. The vast majority of their 'time relics' have drearily mundane origins.
- The Brethren of the Unbeheld - cult who believe their god has been imprisoned/unmade in a fold in time; seek to liberate/recreate him. Obvious lunatics, but their leaders get spells from somewhere. Rivals of #6.
- Retrogressivists - Seek to travel back to a mythical Golden Age; either of the past, or of their own devising; they seem unsure which. Hate #4 like poison.
- Blessed Enactors of the Restoration - Seek to turn time back to the mythical Golden Age. Vague over how this will affect the passage of time or causality in the past/present/future. Get very angry if you point out that there's no historical record of them succeeding in their endeavour... Hate #3 like poison.
- Redeemers of the Lost - seek to return dead loved ones (carried like relics in urns, coffins, shrouds, etc) to life. A little too bright-eyed and keen for most people.
- The Preceptors of Fate - Seek to prevent all interference with the Deus Tines in favour of study and measurement. Especially hate #5, have surprisingly good relations with #10...
- The Tinebenders - believe their curious rites gradually reshape the Deus Tines, thus restructuring the fate of the world in their favour. Hate #6.
- The Bentines - People apparently adrift from their 'proper' time and place. Communicate in gnomic non-sequiturs. Sometimes display uncanny predictive abilities, at other times just seem helpless goons. Dislike #2 ...sometimes.
- Rhonastokers - Acolytes of their living prophet Rhonastok, an orange-faced Hobgoblin who they claim invented time when he came to Nagoh from a distant world. Prone to stoning heretics, dissenters, unbelievers, passing animals, and so on. Seem casually unaffected by the intermittent presence of ghostly conjurings from their addled imaginations... #1 put them on edge.
- Horologeisten - Apostate monks who consider the Deus Tines nothing but a dangerous distraction from the contemplation of True Time. Appear to mimic the abilities of phase tigers. Hate #9, sundials and waterclocks with a cold passion.
- Eschatists - Nihilists who want it over with. All of it. Forever. Study the Deus Tines to find the secret of bringing about the eschaton as soon as possible. Surprisingly cheerful when off the clock. Hate #12.
- Covey of the Jade Hag - Seek to bring about the triumph of Law by establishing the Primacy of Universal Time (yeah, they pronounce the caps) over the Five Worlds. Really mean, with a nasty habit of immolating captured heretics to death under large solar lenses. Really annoyed by #8.
Treat the ideocults and sectaries as nomads or berserks led by all sorts of unusual leaders. Use the NPC Reaction Table and the Castle Encounter Tables individually for each group to see how they react to any intrusion by nosey PCs into 'their' patch.
JOESKY'S LAW Compliance Content:
Liquid Time [Magic Item - Potion/Artefact]
A transparent glutinous fluid with a slight rainbow tinge at its edges. Very difficult to sever into pieces (some speculate that all samples of liquid time are just aspects or temporal 'shapshots' of a unity). Very, very difficult to store; it tends to flow to a when that the container wasn't there. Nearly priceless to people who know what they're doing with it. Insanely dangerous to those who don't.
[Want a truly universal alkahest? Want a material component for a resurrection effect, or a time machine, or a truly unbreakable prison? Want an "I wish none of this had happened" undo button? Want to make the DM cry by putting it in the Universal Combiner? You get the idea.]