Difference between revisions of "Kathar"
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==Physical & Mental Characteristics==
==Physical & Mental Characteristics==
There are three distinct breeds of main Kathar which are referred to as Disciples. The Disciples refer to three somewhat differing groups of Kathar that converged during the [[Cataclysm]], and were essentially all the same kinds of Elf during the infancy of the Dread Empire. However, with time, the three sets of Disciples diverged with unique characterizations, while the afflicted variants formed after this distinction through magical mutation. These three groups of Disciples are as follows: the Disciples of Shenath, who inhabit the Shadow Isles and Kathar Steppes; the Disciples of Saivale, who reside on the landmass of Saivale; and the Disciples of Wolond, whose territories cover the Wolond Walds, forests in Daen’s main landmass near the Allorn Empire’s old heartlands. In addition to the Disciples, there are two key afflictions found among the Kathar population: the Crimson Witches who are Kathar [[Vampire]] crossbreeds and the Wyldwarped, Disciples of all kinds who have their bodies twisted by the dark powers lurking within the depths of the Woland Walds. In spite of the Disciples each having their own distinct habitats, migration between the Dread Empire’s territories is frequent, and interbreeding between Shenath and Wolond even more so. Kathar age similarly to Altalar over the span of their years, though due to their relatively recent origins none of them are any older than around 300 unless they were older Altalar who turned at the time of the Cataclysm. Portraying a Kathar older than 150 requires a Special Character Application. See [https://forums.massivecraft.com/threads/special-character-application-thread.82020/|Special Permissions] for more information.
There are three distinct breeds of main Kathar which are referred to as Disciples. The Disciples refer to three somewhat differing groups of Kathar that converged during the [[Cataclysm]], and were essentially all the same kinds of Elf during the infancy of the Dread Empire. However, with time, the three sets of Disciples diverged with unique characterizations, while the afflicted variants formed after this distinction through magical mutation. These three groups of Disciples are as follows: the Disciples of Shenath, who inhabit the Shadow Isles and Kathar Steppes; the Disciples of Saivale, who reside on the landmass of Saivale; and the Disciples of Wolond, whose territories cover the Wolond Walds, forests in Daen’s main landmass near the Allorn Empire’s old heartlands. In addition to the Disciples, there are two key afflictions found among the Kathar population: the Crimson Witches who are Kathar [[Vampire]] crossbreeds and the Wyldwarped, Disciples of all kinds who have their bodies twisted by the dark powers lurking within the depths of the Woland Walds. In spite of the Disciples each having their own distinct habitats, migration between the Dread Empire’s territories is frequent, and interbreeding between Shenath and Wolond even more so. Kathar age similarly to Altalar over the span of their years , though due to their relatively recent origins none of them are any older than around 300 unless they were older Altalar who turned at the time of the Cataclysm. Portraying a Kathar older than 150 requires a Special Character Application. See [https://forums.massivecraft.com/threads/special-character-application-thread.82020/|Special Permissions] for more information.
===Disciples of Shenath===
===Disciples of Shenath===
[[File:Shendarsplash.png|260px|thumb|right|The Shenath represent the wilder more passionate parts of Kathar society.]]
[[File:Shendarsplash.png|260px|thumb|right|The Shenath represent the wilder more passionate parts of Kathar society.]]
Latest revision as of 01:13, 25 March 2020
|Common Nicknames||Shadow Elf, Dark Elf (Confused sometimes with Sihndar), Void Elf, Ashskin|
|Languages||Kathar Elven Dialect|
|Naming Customs||Fantasy Elven with Harsh Consonants, but not Tolkien Elven|
|Distinctions||Void-worshipping Nelfin with a dark, magic-inclined culture and a penchant for wickedness|
|Maximum Age||500 years|
|Height||Varied by Disciple|
|Weight||Varied by Disciple|
|Eye Colors||Varied by Disciple|
|Hair Colors||Varied by Disciple|
|Skin Tones||Varied by Disciple|
To the Kathar, there is no cost too great to pay in the pursuit of absolute power. Seen by outsiders as an inherently malevolent people thanks to their radically different cultural views on things most Races would consider morally reprehensible or outright evil, the Kathar keep the spirit of the old Allorn Empire alive in a new and changed state. Descending directly from the Altalar, the Kathar began their lives as the scholarly and magic-obsessed elves before a selection of them sought to dig deeper into the magic there was to be had in the world and found their answer within the Void. Changed drastically by the Void Essences they brought into the world, the Kathar have managed to master the Void that once controlled them in order to forge a new Empire in the ashes of the Allorn: the Dread Empire, their new home and position to spread their influence across Aloria and cement their place as the new heralds of magical supremacy in the modern world. The Kathar, or Dread Empire Elves, are the westernmost Nelfin species that occupy the Shadow Isles, the Kathar Steppes, the landmass of Saivale, and the Wolond Walds that altogether make up the Dread Empire. Their Empire is at war with nearly every other state in the world (though not necessarily by their own aggressions), constantly butting heads with the other Elven states, the Pōlorcs of Daen and the Regalian Empire first and foremost. The Kathar themselves, often also referred to as Shadow Elves, are less a singular Nelfin species and more so a cultural collective of subspecies all referred to together as Kathar that share common ideals about vice and the power inherent in Magic. Furthermore, they have vastly differing cultural groups and societies that make them seem otherworldly in comparison to other Elves.
- 1 Physical & Mental Characteristics
- 1.1 Disciples of Shenath
- 1.2 Disciples of Saivale
- 1.3 Disciples of Wolond
- 1.4 Wyldwarped
- 1.5 Crimson Witches
- 1.6 Dread Rebirth
- 1.7 Dread Binding
- 1.8 Mageblooded
- 1.9 Void Sires
- 1.10 Dread Ascendance
- 1.11 Summary of Racial Abilities
- 1.12 Sire of Rage
- 1.13 Sire of Want
- 1.14 Sire of Secrets
- 2 History
- 3 Society
- 4 Politics
- 5 Culture
- 5.1 Fashion
- 5.2 Romance and Family Life
- 5.3 Holidays and Festivals
- 6 Religion
- 7 Combat and Warfare
- 8 Economy and Technology
- 9 Trivia
Physical & Mental Characteristics
There are three distinct breeds of main Kathar which are referred to as Disciples. The Disciples refer to three somewhat differing groups of Kathar that converged during the Cataclysm, and were essentially all the same kinds of Elf during the infancy of the Dread Empire. However, with time, the three sets of Disciples diverged with unique characterizations, while the afflicted variants formed after this distinction through magical mutation. These three groups of Disciples are as follows: the Disciples of Shenath, who inhabit the Shadow Isles and Kathar Steppes; the Disciples of Saivale, who reside on the landmass of Saivale; and the Disciples of Wolond, whose territories cover the Wolond Walds, forests in Daen’s main landmass near the Allorn Empire’s old heartlands. In addition to the Disciples, there are two key afflictions found among the Kathar population: the Crimson Witches who are Kathar Vampire crossbreeds and the Wyldwarped, Disciples of all kinds who have their bodies twisted by the dark powers lurking within the depths of the Woland Walds. In spite of the Disciples each having their own distinct habitats, migration between the Dread Empire’s territories is frequent, and interbreeding between Shenath and Wolond even more so. Kathar age similarly to Altalar over the span of their years (and similarly to them can change their physical appearance age-wise through meditation), though due to their relatively recent origins none of them are any older than around 300 unless they were older Altalar who turned at the time of the Cataclysm. Portraying a Kathar older than 150 requires a Special Character Application. See Permissions for more information.
Disciples of Shenath
The Disciples of Shenath are the most frequently seen outside of the Dread Empire, either as the foot soldiers of the Saivale with nefarious plans, or as lone-wolf acting rogue Kathar that either seek to tear down the establishments of the enemies of the Kathar across the world, or otherwise seek a better future for themselves away from the horrors that exist in their homeland. The Disciples of Shenath resemble in many ways the Altalar that live on the main continent, yet can be distinguished by their gray skin. Their bodily proportions are identical to the Altalar, and thanks to their somewhat-stocker builds than the Saivale they are more inclined toward physical pursuits. They grow up to six feet and ten inches tall and typically have a fair appearance. Their ears tend to be much longer than that of an average Elf and certainly in comparison to the other Disciples of Kathar, often by a third. The Shenath can have white or black hair, and green, blue or brown eyes.
Disciples of Saivale
The Disciples of Saivale are the ruling class elite of the Dread Empire and in many ways also descend from the classical heroes of the Allorn Empire of old. Their ancestors were the ruling classes of the Empire that either fled or marauded their way westwards, and were seduced by the power of the Void. The Disciples of Saivale are arcane masters and keen intellectuals, with practically no chance of demonstrating any physical prowess or brawn. This reflects in their physiology; they are frequently the tallest of the Kathar, standing up to 6'10 feet in height. However, their physical limitations never allow them to become more than Slim body build. By far, however, the most striking asset of the Disciples of Saivale is their universal beauty; their features are greatly appealing, and are paired with a fair complexion, having a skin tone so pale it borders on white or light grey, with only the slightest hint of pinkness remaining while their hair is pure white. All Saivale have black sclera and their irises vary between blue and green. Their hair is either snow-white or jet black, with no variety in between.
Disciples of Wolond
The Disciples of Wolond are the most downtrodden of the Kathar Race, although they could be considered the freest of the three groups; living in the border realms of the Dread Empire, the Disciples of Wolond barely feel the choking grasp of Saivale on Kathar politics. The Wolond could be considered a bastardization of the Avanthar and Cielothar, having the desire to return to their old roots and live close with nature; however, what Wolond see as a connection to the natural world could be seen as disgrace by their agricultural cousins. To the Wolond, nature is something to be dominated and subjugated entirely. They see themselves as the rightful masters of all things animal, hunting down and capturing all manner of beasts in order to fight them or break them for sport. This disposition carries over to plantlife, too, as the Wolond see the perversion and corruption of nature as a thing of beauty and encourage Void-warping of trees and other plans in order to stimulate the growth of what they call Death Gardens: ritualistic places of concentrated Void corruption where the plantlife becomes sickly and twisted, decorated by the Wolond with bones and hides and other similar trophies. This can also be seen in how the Wolond themselves appear, as theirs is the only Kathar skin tone that remains anywhere near the tones of their Nelfin predecessors even if it has considerably dulled. Their skin is a dulled desaturated tan, much like the Qadir skin tone. They are the shortest of the Kathar, reaching only 6 feet and 3 inches and have the capacity for far more aggressively and faster growing facial hair than their other Kathar cousins. Wolond often have small horns and spikes sticking out of their skull, and cranial ridges on their forehead. They have green or brown eyes, while their nails are sometimes sharp and blackened and their canines are oft more pronounced than is normal.
The Wyldwarped are a curious sort of aberration within Kathar society, being the result of Kathar who spend too much time within the deepest, most tainted parts of the Wolond Walds: a forest also known to outsiders as the Warpwood. There, the taint of the Void is so prevalent that all plant and animal life is twisted to an unrecognizable degree to the point where just about every single flower there is ready to eat living things that stray too close. Kathar (and other Nelfin, for any unfortunate reason they may find themselves there) who linger for too long in the Warpwood find themselves entranced and unwilling to leave, all while the taint works its sinister magic upon them. The Wyldwarped mutate to a near-unrecognizable degree, though still somewhat resemble the Kathar they originated as in their general skin color. Most prevalent of the mutations they undergo is the addition of abnormal animal anatomy. Random features develop on them in patchwork ways, mixing and matching erratically. They can have batlike ears, a nose, vestigial ‘wings’ of flesh between their arms and torsos; beetle-like pieces of carapace, mandibles, horn-like growths and non-functional gossamer wings; twisted reptilian features like splotchy scales, a prehensile tongue and a curled tail; or dark, crow or vulture-esque bird-like traits such as feathers, a vicious beak or talon-like hands or feet. The traits vary and overlap, with some having a few of the bat-like features and some of the bird-like, and so on, resulting in pastiches of twisted aberrations composed of a multitude of patchwork animal features and nothing like the graceful and composed animal-like denizens of Aloria among the Varran and Sihai. These animalistic developments are accompanied by portions of flesh twisted with red or black Void marks and warping and an overall shrinking of the physique to a smaller stature, with no single Wyldwarped ever being larger than 5’8” and possessing more than a Slim body build.
While those in the Dread Empire continue to, on the diplomatic stage, deny the existence of the variant of Crimson Witches, their mutual collaboration and proliferation throughout the Archipelago has caused their existence to become an undeniable reality to any informed individual. Common modern tales and stories told to frighten children often involve referencing the large “Crimson Witch Cabal,” a centuries-old collection of Witches helmed by the first generation that some believe manipulate the Dread Empire and politics of the Regalian Archipelago from the shadows. While most information on the inception of the Witches remains shrouded in mystery, what little information scholars have gleaned states that early in the history of the Kathar, but after the inception of Vampirism, a small collection of Kathar came into contact with the Lust Arken through a prolonged and bloody ritual. These Kathar made some nebulous deal with the Arken in exchange for their current transformation and capabilities. Known among the Dread Empire as Abyssals, their initial power and influence allowed them to quickly integrate themselves into the government and ruling class, spreading throughout the Empire’s territories and further beyond. It is not uncommon for Witches to, rather than settle down in any long term relationship, utilize brief trysts to expand their numbers, keeping their status as a Witch hidden until the baby is born, and then stealing away into the night to return to their Sect or Coven with new blood.
Even as children, the Crimson Witches always stand out from their fellow Kathar. They can be born from any sub-sect of Kathar. Most commonly, however, Crimson Witches appear as Shenath, with particularly striking eyes: solid black with small flecks of red light peeking through. Regardless of their sub-race, their hair will always appear white or black at the top, fading at any length into different shades of red at the bottom. The shade of red can often differentiate Witches between groups and Sects, and those Saivale in the Cabal are most proud of their deeper shades. Their fangs allow them to feed on blood, but their pact with the Arken allows them to sustain themselves by draining from others. It is considered an insult to drain from another Crimson Witch, however, as it implies that you consider the other “food.” Though they are most common in the Dread Empire, Crimson Witches can be found throughout Regalia and Nelfin territories, and it is not uncommon for these Sects to be pursuing their own goals that align secretly with the greater Cabal’s, but not with the Dread Empire’s. This can create the rare oddities found where a Crimson Witch may work in the service of a corrupt Altalar or Ailor, even in opposition to the Dread Empire itself. Kathar who depart from the Empire might consider them a fanciful fable, or a grim reality if they worked close enough with one during their time there. Crimson Witches are most often contracted under Vampire Lords or Saivale as various guards, infiltrators, or informants. This does not seem to dissuade the Cabal, however, and most Sects tend to privately work amicably, even if they often “publicly” denounce the other.
- For more information about Crimson Witches, refer to the Vampirism page.
Kathar, despite covering numerous Disciples, all share the same defining mental characteristics. Many outsiders would call the Kathar evil and depraved, subject to centuries of degeneracy and vile conduct that would make even the worst and cruelest of Ailor shirk away. While there is plenty of truth to that idea, the personalities of the contemporary Kathar and their mental capacity are far more varied than what is initially assumed by many. While Kathar certainly have vile and callous members in their society whose sole purpose is to oppress and destroy what others have, there is room also for kindness and camaraderie among them. Kathar families are large and (as long as they have no reason to compete with one another over politics) usually very tight-knit, with cousins even being more alike to siblings in their relations. In fact, Kathar (especially Saivale) have something of a drive to amass as large of a family and social following as possible, typically reveling in the attention and control this gives them. As a result, they can even be at times welcoming to outsiders into their circles though this is almost always for the purpose of indoctrinating and eventually transforming them into proper Kathar by the means of their Dread Rebirth rituals.
The Kathar wield a level of cruel pragmatism that sees them survive calamity against their people time and time again. While a sense of superiority from one race to another isn’t new in the world of Aloria, the Kathar take it to an extreme level. To them, they are the only race that truly evolved with the Void, meaning any and all races that exist are below them. This would normally result in universal disdain by Kathar towards races, but in practice, the Kathar are often so busy with self-contained politics and dealing with the Altalar that they don’t formally recognize the less-united other races as existing in the reality that they do. Their usual dismissal and denigration of other species does not mean that they are unredeemable in the Kathar’s eyes, though: Nelfin of all kinds can be reborn through the Void and shown the much-superior way of the Kathar, so long as they are willing to seek change.
To one another, Kathar are as mentioned before rather welcoming, though only after it is entirely established that they are not an outright enemy. They are quick to gain the trust of, since Kathar are typically always very honest and open about their disdain and dislike of a person. Kathar have a very close relationship with death and the Void, exemplified by how within the Dread Empire 90% of deaths are murders that are the results of political maneuvers, violent outbursts, or simply another day of pit-fighting within an extremist group like The Slaughter Games. Death is not unwelcome, for to them the Void is the place where all the dead go. Kathar soldiers are typically unafraid of dying for this reason, and see it as something of an ultimate ascendance to finally join their ancestors in the Void. Many a traditional army has been overwhelmed by irrational offensives from Kathar warriors that are entirely suicidal, but the Kathar are unafraid to pay such a price.
Kathar are naturally inclined toward making modifications to their body in any way they see fit. Piercings of all kinds are commonly found among them, and tattoos of Void and Mage Script along with the tattoos of their chosen Sire almost always line the skin of Kathar. Some take this desire to perfect their forms even further and delve into magical methods of doing so, using various sorceries, alchemical experiments and even the abilities granted by the Sire of Want in order to come closer and closer to realizing their own ideal of physical perfection.
Paramount among the goals of the Kathar people is the conversion of as many Nelfin as possible to their superior, Void-influenced way of life. With this desire in mind, the Kathar are able to harness the latent power within their blood and a few other simple reagents and transform a Nelfin into a Kathar of a particular Disciple through the use of a ritual. The Ritual of Dread Rebirth (called Kall’arahk among themselves) is a very sacred act, requiring the participation of 3 collaborative Kathar in order to conduct it properly. What must first be acquired is a special sort of ritual bath carved from the black stone found plentiful in the Shadow Isles and Saivale. This bath must be large enough to lay a person up to 7 feet tall within, and is inscribed on every inch of its surface with intricate Void Script that sings the praises of the Void and of being Kathar. Once this bath is built or located, all 3 Kathar must donate a cup’s worth of their blood into a basin together and add to it a pinch of bone, a bottle of red wine (always unfiltered, as the natural minerals within are necessary for the concoction) and a bottle of ink in the chosen color they want their subject’s Sire sigil to manifest in. Once these things are mixed together until homogenous, it is poured into the bath until it covers the very bottom of it. Together, the Kathar link their hands around the bath and recite a particular prayer that calls out to the Void and its powers, beseeching it to come bless the wayward Nelfin that they intend to rebirth. This activates the latent Void Essence stored within their blood and the concoction inside the bath rapidly expands in volume until it fills it entirely. There, the Nelfin is submerged within the blackish-red liquid entirely and steeped within it for five minutes, after which they will emerge fully transformed into a Kathar. Altalar can become Shenath or Saivale, depending on their personality; Avanthar become Wolond or Shenath similarly; Isldar become Saivale; Sihndar become Shenath and Cielothar become Wolond through the ritual. Additionally, Half-Elves can be Reborn, and will emerge as a Disciple most closely fitting their personality. All subjects of the Rebirth emerge from the bath with a tattoo somewhere on their body of the Sire that most closely matches their personality, and this tattoo will grow web-like lines outward progressively over the duration of 3 days from the rebirth until a breaking point is reached. At the end of these 3 days, if the subject has not embraced their new life as a Kathar and their spirit does not desire it, the transformation will be suddenly and painfully reverted, leaving them unable to ever be affected by the ritual again. If they do accept the change, though, they are left as Kathar for the rest of their life. It is not possible to perform this ritual if the person in question was already race changed through some other Ritual, such as for example the Manathar Ritual.
In addition to Nelfin of both full and half-blood, non-Nelfin can be affected through a similar process, though not as intensive nor entirely permanent as Dread Rebirth. Any Kathar is capable of mixing their blood with a portion of ink, wine and powdered bone and then bathing an accessory or worn object in it. After an incantation is spoken above the receptacle, the object is infused and can be withdrawn, now inscribed with She’llaq. If a non-Nelfin wears the object, it binds itself to them with a flash of Void energy all around them, and begins to subtly change them in a number of ways over the course of 3 days. Most prominent are the physical changes: depending on the Kathar who created the binding, the person will gradually take on features of their Disciple like skin color, hair color, eye irregularities, body shape and fat becoming similar to a Kathar, though none of these changes are as full or dramatic as a complete Dread Rebirth would be. Additionally, their mentality changes to become more similar to a Kathar’s in their psyche, and they grow a sort of embedded loyalty to the Kathar who created their binding that manifests in different ways depending on the person: spiritual dedication, a sort of authoritative or military-like respect, or even romantic fondness are all possible and depend entirely on the person who is Bound. Dread Binding can be ended through use of an exorcism or other possession removal spell or ability. Another person must then physically remove the enchanted object from the Bound person afterward.
Due to their history’s intertwining with the Void and extraplanar magic in Aloria, Kathar bloodlines inherently carry a semblance of magic within them, allowing them to freely practice sorcery without any hindrance to their other abilities. Kathar gain a selection of 3 Sorcery Spells at no proficiency cost, or 2 Whimsy Spells per each single Sorcery Spell. These 3 spells exceed the Sorcery Cap, permanently raising it by 3 for all Kathar. All Kathar are capable of ‘marking’ what spells they have, Sorcery or Magespark, onto their bodies in distinct groupings of runes or sigils assigned to the spells they know. When the spell is being cast, the tattoo comes to life with Void Essence, lifting off of the Kathar like a floating glyph that shifts and is manipulated in the air as part of the visual casting of the spell. In addition, just like Altalar, Kathar are more inclined to having Magesparks upon birth than other races.
Separate from their faith in the Prefects is the Kathar’s dedication to the Sires, three metaphysical and philosophical conceptual figures that are known through myth and muddy, lost history. These Sires are said to have all been incomprehensibly strong wielders of magic in Aloria’s past and are something of proto-Kathar in their Void-focused mindsets, having held their ideals about magical arts, power and vice millenia before the Kathar came to be. Each of the Sires represents a collection of recognized vices and malices that a Kathar following their path chooses to embrace and dedicate themselves to, and in turn receives unique gifts by utilizing the Void Essence within their blood. Through this, they gain access to two key abilities: a Scion of the Void spell, and a Void transformation called Dread Ascendance. When a Kathar of any kind reaches maturity, they undergo a simple ritual where they choose one of the Sires and have a family member mix their blood with ink and tattoo them with their chosen Sire’s sigil that will grow and spread outward with a web of tattoo markings over the course of their life. This also goes for Dread Reborn: the marking placed upon them as a result of their rebirth will transform into the mark of the Sire they choose when they willingly submit to the change. This choice is singular however, and cannot be re-made or undone. All 3 Sires’ values overlap with one another in key places. Vaalek and Lumeria both embody passion and compulsion, Lumeria and Ytthanhos both encourage manipulation to achieve what one wants, and Ytthanhos and Vaalek both seek to establish and maintain order through their own methods. As a result, there is not a bevy of internal conflict among Kathar depending on what Sire they model their philosophy from, though at times there can be found some snobbish senses of superiority.
Vaalek, Sire of Rage
Vaalek, Sire of Rage, embodies fury, pride, violence, war, pain, conquest, competition, bloodshed, victory, passion, and order established through force. Vaalek is depicted as a towering figure with a multitude of weapons run through him, constantly set ablaze and bleeding. Vaalek’s sigil is a burning head with a sword or other weapon stabbed through it. Adherents of Vaalek typically believe in a ‘right by might’ style of leadership and enjoy combative pursuits above others, valuing violence and physical domination as exemplary tools in the quest for power and victory. Many of the Empire’s warlords owe their lifestyles to Vaalek and employ these teachings among their soldiers. The Scion of Rage Ability is called Self-Immolate. The Kathar erupts with tainted Void fire, becoming entirely cloaked in it and enduring searing pain. They become functionally immune to pain for the next five minutes (but not immune to harm or damage, leading to possible dangerous situations where they are unconscious of their own well-being) and painfully sear anything or anyone that comes too close or makes physical contact with them. After the ability has expired, the Kathar cannot use it again for 24 hours. Aesthetically, they are capable of igniting their head, limbs or torso in black or red Void fire, though not their entire body at once. When using this Ability aesthetically, it does not count as granting the pain immunity, or going on cooldown until it is functionally used properly.
Lumeria, Sire of Want
Lumeria, Sire of Want, embodies hunger, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, desire, indulgence, debauchery, hedonism, love and ecstasy. Lumeria is depicted as a great, horned figure, garbed in luscious fabrics and jewelry and always eating or drinking something. Lumeria’s sigil is an open mouth with rows of teeth and a prominent, monstrous tongue. Adherents of Lumeria see sheer wealth, physical size and raw, material possession as signs of power. Most of her adherents are found among the mercantile and wealthy in the Empire, and the pleasure-seeking are drawn into the circles where dedication to lives of hedonism are sought after. In fact, it is typically through promises of such bliss and wealth that many Nelfin who become Kathar are tempted to do so. The Scion of Want Ability is called Maw of the Void. This Ability causes the Kathar to rend a hole in reality from which emerges an abyssal mouth. The Kathar can store an entire closet’s worth of physical things inside of it, and anything placed inside is ‘preserved’-- food will not rot, nothing will oxidize or decay, etc. A single person can be trapped (or hidden) inside of it for up to ten minutes before they are forcefully ejected and cannot be ‘swallowed’ by the maw again for a day. Aesthetically, they are capable of changing the length and color of their hair and their Body Shape and Body Fat at will.
Ytthanhos, Sire of Secrets
Ytthanhos, Sire of Secrets, embodies deceit, subtlety, betrayal, knowledge, cunning, shadows, manipulation, law, ingenuity and discovery. Ytthanhos is depicted as a masked, cloaked figure of many limbs, wrapped in darkness. Ytthanhos’ sigil is a blank, masked face encircled by tendrils of the Void. Adherents of Ytthanhos value political intrigue and cutthroat cunning and other displays of intellect in terms of power, and politicians usually base their lifestyles off of their teachings. Knowledge is power, and words can be bent to one’s advantage instead of always needing to draw steel. The Scion of Secrets Ability is called Liar’s Mask. The Kathar conjures a ‘mask’ which they place onto their face, transforming them into a Nelfin ‘alter ego’ of theirs. It can be of any Nelfin race or subrace, sex, and appearance otherwise, but retains their original Physical Stat. Detection mechanics of any kind can only perceive anything past the guise if the detector has at least 10 Perception. Aesthetically, they can ‘speak’ aloud even if their mouth is closed. The Liar’s Mask however is not a true shapeshifting Ability beyond simple visual changes: the Kathar does not truly ‘become’ the Nelfin race, only physically emulating them and the appearance of the ‘alter ego’ is always the same and can only be changed once per week.
The most dedicated of Kathar can surrender themselves entirely to their Sire and temporarily become a pure, unadulterated embodiment of Void Essence that embodies the Sire’s malices. To do so, they must have first completely accepted their teachings in mind and body which is visually marked by the growth of their sigil’s tattoo having covered their skin entirely in patterns related to their Sire and in their corresponding color: Red for Rage, Black for Want, and Violet for Secrets. These tattoos cannot be covered up by makeup or removed by any means except for Special Permission mutations or if they stop being a Kathar entirely. Once they are considered Devout enough, once per day, they can trigger Dread Ascendance. They are infused with overwhelming Void essence and temporarily transformed into a horrific, demonic figure representing their Sire and their traits. During this transformation, they can still use their Scion of the Void ability and also gain passive effects. Each Shift ends automatically after four hours.
- Rage, The Kathar’s skin turns a deep, blood red, and gains in visible muscle mass and definition along with bestial traits like horns, extra hair growth, a spiked or smooth tail and aesthetic Void fire burning all over their body. They have a single, blazing cyclopean eye that glows with searing, angry light. Functionally, they gain vicious mauling claws that are sharp and strong enough to rend through metal with enough force or repeated attacks and a +10 Physical Stat boost that does exceed Racial Cap for the duration of the transformation.
- Want, The Kathar becomes a mass of black, liquideous, inky ichor. Their appearance is fully malleable and sculptable this way, though any adjustment must respect 1.5 times their original body mass and they cannot change their color or retain any specific features. During the transformation, they can turn into a slippery, oil-like puddle on the ground at-will and grasp at things from this state, though they cannot utilize any other Abilities. If they manage to grasp a hold of both of a person’s ankles, they may cause their liquideous form to rapidly travel up their legs and encase them from the waist-downward, functionally ensnaring them until they are forcefully peeled off or their ability is cancelled either voluntarily or involuntarily. While in this puddle state, they are technically invulnerable, and cannot escape under doors or small cracks, there is a moment of vulnerability while shifting in and out of the puddle that allows attackers a chance if they are opportunistic enough. The Kathar can only remain in the puddle for up to 10 minutes at a time before they are forced out of it, and must wait 10 minutes to return to puddle form after exiting it (willingly or unwillingly).
- Secrets, The Kathar’s body turns into a rich purple-violet cosmic silhouette that appears like the dark and near-empty night sky. Their physical form grows more lithe, additionally gaining two extra arms to use as they will. They can conjure up to four Void tendrils to physically do things (these inherit their Physical Stat and any relevant proficiencies) and they can also seamlessly meld with another’s shadow, becoming functionally invisible so long as the owner is standing in place. If the shadow moves, they are revealed, and must move afterward to re-meld.
Summary of Racial Abilities
|Dread Rebirth||Racial Spell||
|Dread Binding||Racial Spell||
|Chosen Sire||Racial Passive||
Sire of Rage
|Scion Spell:Rage||Racial Spell||
|Dread Ascendance:Rage||Racial Shift||
Sire of Want
|Scion Spell: Want||Racial Spell||
|Dread Ascendance: Want||Racial Shift||
Sire of Secrets
|Scion Spell:Secrets||Racial Spell||
|Dread Ascendance:Secrets||Racial Shift||
Void Worship, the cornerstone of both Kathar society and history, has existed throughout the millennia of Aloria’s existence, dating all the way back to the zenith of the Seraph. Void Worship, no matter how many states attempt to extinguish it, has always wormed its way back into the world through the most unexpected ways. The first true origin of Void Worship among the Elves of the Allorn Empire is hard to accurately pin down because of how most of the early worship was done in secret. With their numbers swelling over the centuries, however, the so-called Vlae’lonä, or Void Cult, grew in number and boldness. Around 90 BC, many positions in the Allorn Empire’s high ranking government were filled with worshippers of the Void Cult. Void Worship was very innocent early on in recorded Elven History, promising everlasting pleasure and joy for a basic sacrifice, often that of blood. Indeed, the effects of Void Worship and the extended influence it had over the Elven population through its leaders, started demanding more and more, but was very effective in providing exactly that elation that the Elves sought, while also empowering their magic usage.
The concentration of the Void Cult was especially strong on the western isles which would later become the Shadow Isles. This early Princedom had a flourishing elite that publicly relished in Void Worship, using Varran as blood sacrifices. Many of the Shenath cultural heritage actually descends from this specific state, giving birth to wild traditions like The Dance of Llöv and The Carnage of Thräl’laniir. Around 50 BC or so, some unknown interaction with what was later presumed to be some Arken, led to the creation of the first Shadow Council, though it is more commonly known as the Princes of Osc’ïrd to the Kathar. The Princes of Osc’ïrd were the noble rulers of this western isle princedom within the Allorn Empire, as well as the lands further stretching towards Saivale, that were transformed into the first Kathar beings (notably Shenath and Saivale). With their gift, they learned of the first Kathar forming rituals, which did exactly as Void Worship had always promised. In exchange for servitude, the ritual would grant the Elf extreme ecstasy. Within a period of ten years, most of the island principality converted. The remainder of the Allorn Empire was either oblivious to it, or partook in it as well as droves of Elves converted to the gray skins (early on, there was very little difference physically between the Shenath and Saivale, the Saivale changed later), the infiltration of Void Cultists in the Imperial government making the Elven Emperor and purists blind to the changes that were overtaking the Empire.
When the first generation of the Kathar had reached critical mass, the Shadow Council enacted its first great act that would shape the future of Aloria, the Great Fire Dance, which is commonly known as the Night of the Fallen Star elsewhere in Aloria. The Kathar used vile magics and fire to tear down the Nenya, first servants and emissaries of Estel, slaughtering the fading loyalists to the Faith of Estel in the thousands. With one massive event all across the Allorn Empire, the Kathar shattered the Faith of Estel and tore down the foundations of the Allorn Empire, weakening it and making the Void Cult the true force in the religious vacuum left behind. The Kathar were poised to absorb the Allorn Empire in its entirety over the following years, had it not been for the Cataclysm. The rampant destruction and magic usage by the Kathar had thusly saturated the world with Magic so much that the Veil tore open once more, laying bare all the demonic forces that now poured into the world of Aloria intent on destroying all. The remnants of the Allorn Empire fought to resist the Fifth Void Invasion, while the Kathar continued to usurp more and more land and power from the true Altalar. An event that shattered their momentum, however, was the destruction of the Veil and the collapse of the Demonic Invasion. The death of the Allorn Emperor created a power vacuum that exposed the true downside of the Kathar collective, their unquenching desire to be at the top. The empty throne became a hot contention item and even the Shadow Council turned in on itself as they all vied to become the strongest Kathar. What eventually halted their rise to power and diminished their numbers greatly was the unexpected arrival of the Orcs that occurred shortly after the Cataclysm, which in itself already caused massive casualties besides the Kathar. Successive slave revolts by Humans and the Varran brought the Kathar to their knees, their shattered remnants retreating to the Shadow Isles, a last final haven where none followed them. All the land they had gained on the continents of Daendroc and Teled Methen was absorbed by the Orcs and later reconquered by the Avanthar and the petty kingdoms of the Altalar.
It was on the Shadow Isles however that the Kathar found new allies in the same Arken that had originally interacted with them to form the Shadow Council. The Shadow Council was all but abandoned, and the Arken aided in the rise of the Empress of the Dread Empire, giving shape to the new state. The Arken then went out into the remnants of the Allorn Empire, using a mixture of false promises, bribery and trickery to draw more and more Elves who were fleeing the destruction of the Orcs or simply chasing power westwards into the hands of the Kathar. Over the decades that followed, the Kathar were taught the principles that would eventually form their psyche, culture, and statehood by the Arken. The Arken would disappear, but the Kathar continued to develop, eventually creating the Wolond Disciple and the Saivale who became more genetically distinct from the Shenath. With much of the Dread Empire having formed its modern-day borders around 150 AC, the following decades were spent simply consolidating into the terrifyingly powerful Empire they went on to become. They began to insidiously spread their influence and roots throughout the outside world, dispatching small clusters of loyalists to begin undermining the other powers that stood opposed to them.
Around 306 AC, tensions between the Dread Empire and the Regalian Empire came to a violent apex, and war broke out. The Kathar sought to reclaim the remaining territories of the fallen Allorn Empire in order to expand their successor state and bring the remaining Nelfin there into their newfound and rebuilt glory, and Regalia intervened. Hard-fought and bloody on both sides, the Regalian Empire and its allies eventually pushed an offensive into border territories of the Dread Empire and began applying enough pressure that the Dragon Rikkira eventually made herself seen in a climactic battle and fled. The war came to an end there, with the Kathar efforts blocked entirely, and a tribunal was called by the Great Kaahls to speak to the Empress Volessa and her Champion. In the midst of a speech that aimed to excuse their loss, the Empress’ younger sister Melanxes immolated her in a burst of infernal Void flame, killing her before the entirety of the gathered Warlords. She was proclaimed the new Empress then and there and even earned the respect of some of the Warlords, though others still remain dissatisfied with their loss in the war and rumors of insurrection continue to spread. Nowadays, more and more Kathar leave the Empire’s borders, seeking brighter prospects in the world at large, and even begin to create their own Kaahls outside of the Empire with the hopes of amassing their own groups of power.
Kathar Society is extremely diverse, and to many could be considered a world within the world of Aloria. The principal split between the three Disciples is mostly geographical, though many Shenath tribes move between the lands or settle in Saivale lands simply because they can, or because they are forced to. As much as the three distinct Disciples could be considered subraces of a subrace of Nelfin, they are inherently so similar that many urbanized mixed societies also exist beyond the fairly homogenous tribes. Kathar society has it all, from naval settlements, coastal towns, fortresses, vast urban metropolises, small tribelands, forest camps and temple cities for grand worship. Mounting tensions post-war, however, have resulted in these border territories becoming more and more restless and resentful of the Empire’s grasp. The vast majority of the Kathar population lives in a massive sprawling city with even larger slum towns and shanties around it called Paärthalaär. This city is in fact so large that many have claimed that it is larger and more populous than Regalia: twice as large in fact, which explains the extreme death rate the city supposedly has not only from living sacrifices but also from the towering crime rate isolated in the poorer areas that are being controlled by military might. Kathar society does at times extend outside of the Empire’s borders intactly. It is sometimes encouraged of Warlords’ family or others with the potential for leadership to strike out into the world at large and try to plant a seed of control in the Empire’s name elsewhere, so that they might grow their strength and power and one day return with their influence to the homeland, or perhaps even challenge their forerunners. While there are also some success stories of Shenath or Saivale born outside of the homeland, clean of their cultural depravities and living successful lives in Regalia for example, the Kathar are generally reviled across the world for their supposedly evil nature and usually driven back to the Empire where they eventually radicalize.
Structurally, Kathar society is different from the more straightforward class hierarchies of their political contemporaries. Where the Regalian Empire is composed of feudal-esque levels of peasantry, citizenry, gentry, nobility and royalty, Kathar are not so strict: status and authority are all things earned and taken through displays of power and potential. A Warlord’s commanders are not promoted from simple nepotism or obligation, they earn their rank by clawing their way there and sometimes killing their superiors. The mercantile elite rip and tear at their competitors for any advantage they can find, greedily consuming material wealth wherever they see it and constantly expanding their trade. In truth, there are no real peasants or true poverty among the Kathar: the weak do not survive for long, and those strong enough to have anything at all will find a way to take it and hold onto it. And those who become fearful of it all tend to flee to proportionally less brutal societies, like the Regalian Empire.
The presence of the Void and specifically magic play a key role in the functions of Kathar society. To be a child born with a Magespark is something seen as a blessing from beyond the veil, and children who exhibit signs of having Sparks are treated preferentially among their Kaahl, something that is reflected in Altalar society for Exist Mages. Most end up becoming battlemages in a Warlord’s army, though the most powerful are groomed for leadership in politics or warfare and go on to amass great power and influence by virtue of being born with a Spark. These particularly talented Mages make up a great deal of the Great Kaahls’ leadership and inner circles. Those born without a Magespark who still see magic as a calling pursuit resort to Sorcery and one of the many broadly-accessible schools among the Empire’s territories, learning from well-established Mages and sorcerers. To take up this path earns less respect than the fortune of a Sparked birth, but is still an avenue into channeling the Void’s blessings nonetheless. Sorcerers on the battlefield are unfortunately used as fodder often and eventually replaced by a new batch of fresh students.
Structurally speaking, the Dread Empire is a fairly decentralized state unlike the Regalian Empire or even the more modern Altalar-ruled Inheritor States of Rie. The Dread Empire is, however, the largest political entity that Elves control in Aloria, and also boasts the largest number of inhabitants even if the Kathar are not in the majority. Many coastal cities are controlled by the Dread Empire through mutually beneficial vassalage but also through annexation and military conquest, thus bringing vast numbers of Altalar into their empire as slaves or resources. At the very head of the Dread Empire are the Voidborne, the Pathar Dynasty. The members of this Saivale and Shenath mixed lineage claim descent from the Void Prefects of Pride and Pleasure themselves making them the so-called Perfect Silven. While this cannot be ascertained as a complete and absolute truth, there does seem to be some validity to it as all their members are born as Void Silven even without the direct conception of an Arken, and they all seem to possess otherworldly skills in magic and manipulation and are sometimes compared to the Archmages of the Allorn Empire old.
They Voidborne rule the Dread Empire officially through two seats: that of the Empress, which is usually the matriarch of the family, and the seat of the Champion, which is usually not the Empress’s husband but one of her lovers who happens to be an imposing and skilled warrior. The Empress uses a variety of magics and Void Essence to enhance her Champion through mutation and enchantment and uses him to both profess and enforce her will to the people. The Empress, however, has only limited directional power for the Dread Empire at large and usually acts as a neutral party between the warring Warlords. She can still declare war and outlaw individual Warlords, but must tread with caution as the Warlords could at any time rise up and dethrone her in favor of one of her sisters. The Imperial seat is also not inherited, but taken. Any woman from the Pathar family that kills the previous Empress takes her place, and any male that kills the previous Champion becomes the new one. This has on occasion led to brothers or sons or fathers becoming lovers and Champions of the Empress, which is considered natural and normal among the Kathar, as strength supersedes family ties. While the Empress possesses the societal power to take as many lovers as she wishes, she typically constricts her carnal affairs in fear of bearing so many daughters that her successors’ lives become nonstop bloodbaths in the pursuit of the throne. The current Empress, Melanxes the Weaver, slew her older sister in the middle of a post-war meeting with the Warlords after their defeat at the hands of the Regalian Empire, a ploy that earned her their due respect.
The real, practical power is vested in the Warlords which are the 14 Great Kaahls (Kathar term for families, though not all are necessarily related by blood) who are divided across the 3 disciples of the Kathar, mostly concentrated among the Saivale while only one is held by the Wolond. The Warlords enforce their reign each with their own hereditary artifacts called the Sceptres of Power, terrifying magical weapons that are said to have been made by the Void Prefect of Power long ago. They each command vast armies and it is not unheard of for Kaahls to engage in feuds with one another, which the Empress will then attempt to solve. That being said, they will for the most part work together to expand the Dread Empire and are content fighting the Altalar on the mainland or slaving across the coasts of various western kingdoms and states to provide the Dread Empire with labor. On a more local level, the military controls the population, which makes the Dread Empire very similar to the Regalian Empire. Officers in the armies of the Warlords often double as magistrates and important officials of towns and cities, and their soldiers under them control neighborhoods or businesses. The Dread Empire’s military structure is far more advanced and mature than that of the Regalian Empire, putting the simplistic Levy system of Regalia to shame. In practice, the Dread Empire’s army is constituted entirely of professional soldiers, which makes their army so terrifyingly strong.
The Empress regularly holds a sort of collected court where the Warlords are called to meet in Paärthalaär, where the symbolic seat of her power is located in the grand palace. These gatherings are almost never without their own melodrama and inevitably fall to squabbling, threats, or entirely off-topic distractions like revelry and spontaneous Henate Duels. The purpose of these gatherings is to provide the Warlords with an opportunity to profess their displeasures with the state of the Empire or make their case to rally other Warlords and even the Empress’ influence in a declaration of war on another Great Kaahl or an exterior foe. As of the Empire’s staggering loss to Regalia, 3 Warlords and their Kaahls have pushed themselves to the forefront of the Empire’s politics, consolidating power beneath them and taking stances on the state of the Kathar.
The Slaughter Games
The Slaughter Games are less of a single unified hierarchy beneath their Warlord and more a collection of similarly-minded warbands who function as a collective army. The Slaughter Games are all run by former slaves, rebellious soldiers and other dissatisfied Kathar who operate their armies independently but all share in their respect and loyalty to their Warlord, Kur’ozz the Inferno. At the Slaughter Games, violence and bloodshed are the zeitgeist, their society being a series of almost nonstop battles: every single argument or decision is made through combat, and local leaders are regularly challenged and overthrown for their positions of power. The right to rule is earned by might and might alone and must always be proven. Though mostly composed of Shenath and Wolond, the Games are particularly inclusive even toward non-Kathar, allowing anyone to join their ranks and try to prove themselves strong enough. As of the present, the Slaughter Games pay next to no respect to the seat of the Empress, though do not presently push upon the other Warlords and Kathar settlements, seemingly content to fight and bolster for the time being. Paramount among them all, though, is their Warlord Kur’ozz the Inferno. A violent psychopath who relishes in bloodshed, Kur’ozz is said to pierce his own skin with burning stakes before charging into battle. Many other Warlords and even leaders of external states come to him with propositions to buy him and the Games’ loyalty, and very few survive the ensuing negotiations.
The Court of Mortal Delights
The Court of Mortal Delights are the materially wealthy and self-titled upper crust of the Empire’s society, all gathered together with the singular goal of endlessly expanding their wealth and reach at the direction of their Warlord, Illana. Life among the Court is like a never-ending revel: indulgence is encouraged and almost demanded, with feasts and parties being held at every possible occasion and social status being mostly determined by how well one reigns at the celebrations they attend. Revelry is seen as a form of worship: to the Court, endlessly consuming and satiating one’s desires is how one pays homage to their chosen Prefects and the Void, and so they happily indulge in whatever hedonisms they wish. The Court is happy to accept non-Kathar among them, so long as they can provide, but they will take any opportunity to seduce Nelfin into the embrace of the Void and transform them into Kathar. The Court is overseen by Lady Illana. By and large, Illana is a kind ruler, but her goals are altogether sinister: she has her sights set on the other Nelfin populations in the world and hopes to one day convert them all to Kathar and extend the Court’s reach as far as possible.
The Duskeye Syndicate
The Duskeye Syndicate are staunch Imperial Loyalists who firmly support the ruling blood even after the Empire’s recent failures. Their leader, Viceroy Ekk’thellis, operates mostly in quiet, doing everything he can to support the Empress in her goals and keep her protected from the machinations of the other Warlords. The Syndicate mostly keeps to itself, with their standing army almost never venturing outside of their city, operating from an as-of-yet unknown place within the Empire’s borders. Rumors say they dwell underground. Societally they are quiet and reserved, and mostly focused on research, plotting, and the acquisition of knowledge. There is supposedly a great and grand library they all contribute to in their possession, filled to the brim with knowledge, no matter how dark or taboo. The Syndicate also has a subtle presence in lands distant, though how far their reach is cannot be accurately stated, as it is kept under wraps. Hardly any of the Syndicate’s members themselves have seen the Viceroy, but his presence is known nonetheless: pulling strings where they need be.
Other Great Kaahls
Beside the most prominent, 11 other reign their own pieces of the Empire, all at varying states of loyalty or dissatisfaction with the current ruling family thanks to their loss in the recent war. These Warlords are typically incredibly skilled warriors who earned their rank through strength and merciless ambition or particularly powerful mages that control and exert their influence with tact and precision. The least strong of them at times die out and are replaced by particularly ambitious lesser families, with their Sceptre of Power changing hands then.
Kathar culture is extremely diverse and can range, much like Ailor culture, from savage and bestial men drenched in blood and wearing warmasks to the haute-couture fashionable Saivale who can give murderous looks for wearing the wrong garment in the pristine capital. Two constant aspects of Kathar culture, however, are death and the Void. Death is a concept that is worshiped, and in many ways normalized by Kathar society. The dead are repurposed in vast necropolises as conduits for Void Essence, while in the north of the Empire, they are used to grow Dulofall roots, and in the south, the Saivale have even raised a form of art centered around the taxidermy of leather dried corpses. Tattoo art remains popular both among the living and the dead, with the Kathar having developed techniques to utilize the blood of their fallen people to bolster their artwork and give it a spiritual quality. Death remains important in their memories, as all of their ancestors are said to depart to fully join the Void when they pass, so the utilization of Void Essence and magic and other similar rituals is seen as a sign of respect and even a gift from their dearly departed. This honoring of death, however, does not entice suicide of any sort among the Kathar: to do so is a great disrespect to the passions and efforts of one’s family that resulted in their birth and upbringing, and it is believed that the Void will reject any souls who attempt to join with it through self-harm in this fashion. As a result, suicide is considered completely abhorrent, bar the act of charging into battle headlong: dying at another’s hand, so long as one fought their way to that death, is still bound to have one be brought into the Void’s all-consuming darkness in the end.
The Void is the other major aspect of their culture and stands central as some sort of primordial power source that each Kathar seeks to acquire and make use of. From the lowest ranks of the slum dwellers that murder for sacrificial power, to the more tribal free clans that engage in violent and lavish feasts and communal worship for the blessings of the Void, to the supposed Arken that walk freely among their people like living gods, the Void is always constant. Kathar art, particularly paintings, but also Arkth dë Morkh, or Death art being the taxidermy corpses, describe and showcase lavish displays of Void powers in battles past and in struggles to come. Kathar Cuisine is almost entirely carnivorous for various reasons though especially on the Shadow Isles, as Dulofall is prolific to the point of poisoning any attempt to even engage in agriculture. The Kathar developed (mutated is perhaps the better word) a breed of cow called the Shadow Bovine that naturally only lives within the borders of the Dread Empire. Through careful Void Essence mutations, the Shadow Bovine went from a stupid herd animal into an aggressive strong animal with a staggering virility and growth speed. With this species practically almost always reproducing and also having been mutated to be much larger and contain more meat, the Dread Empire is one of the only nations not dependent on Regalian food exports and practically the only nation in which famines never occur.
Kathar fashion differs wildly from Disciple to Disciple and even from Kaahl to Kaahl. The more simplistic Kaahls and their people, typically comprised of Shenath and Wolond (and their Wyldwarped subordinates) enjoy leather and light tunics or cloth wrappings. Armor is typically integrated into their ensembles, with decorative bracers and greaves often adorning wrists or legs. This factors into the typically war-like cultural leaning of these two Disciples, and displaying one’s readiness for battle is seen as socially impressive among them. They do not much concern themselves with color choice, and typically opt for the natural colors of their materials: leather, wool, iron and blacker metals, though at times blood red dyes are incorporated for the sake of intimidation. The most brutal of them, especially those found among the Slaughter Games, don pieces of crude metal; these are typically salvaged from the armor of those they slay and painted roughly, often fashioned into freakish masks in the shape of monsters. The higher and wealthier Kathar prefer fine silks; their clothing is of a very fine and skillful weave, usually even outcompeting the silks found in the more eastern parts of Aloria creating a truly sensational demand for Kathar weave in other parts of the world: Regalia, for example, where the fabrics are typically smuggled in and seen as a sort of daring and avant-garde fashion choice. Tassels are a frequent decoration, as well as swirling wave-like patterns that represent the washing of the ocean and the strong waves crashing onto a shoreline from powerful gusts of wind. Among the Saivale, elegant facemasks are a common accessory: intricately crafted things that stretch up from the neck and all the way to the nose, particularly noteworthy or wealthy Saivale have theirs engraved and designed with patterns and symbols they find a particular closeness with: sometimes engraving designs related to their Sire or their Prefect or even their Kaahl. Many of the Kathar primary colors are white, black, red and purple, though others are not unusual colors and to say that the Kathar are devoid of color in their life is not accurate. In fact, the Kathar have a very lively Ruby and Emerald industry and intricate and expertly crafted jewelry sets that glimmer in the sunlight. Most universal among Kathar fashion, though, is their willingness to expose far more skin than their Altalar predecessors did by and large. Because of the time spent on their intricate tattoos and the predominant vanity among them, baring one’s body to show off their personal artwork and physical beauty is commonplace and even used as a mark of power and status among some circles of society.
Romance and Family Life
In terms of family unions, the Kathar are a predominantly polyamorous and polygamous race, though not preferential to one gender over the other. This results in rather large but closely-knit Kaahls that may not even be blood-related to one another at their fringes, but are moreso collections of lovers, their children, and dedicated servants of the household. That being said, Kaahls are inherently matriarchies when it comes to their familial structure: female Kathar at the head of a Kaahl can have an unlimited stock of lovers of all sexes, but male Kathar and lower-ranked females can only be married to two partners: one of which must be the matriarch of the Kaahl and the other of which is taken typically for the sake of spreading the family’s roots. This leads to large clusters of personal lovers at the top of a familial tree, and a small but steady branching outward from there until a new daughter forms her own Kaahl and sprouts the tree further. Marriage is seen much more liberally than other societies and is less of a binding contract and more an oath of loyalty to a ruling female. Marriage proposals always come from the lesser Kathar, and when they ask for the hand of the higher-ranked female, the female then provides the suitor with a task of great difficulty that they must accomplish in order to win their hand. These range from slaying monstrous beasts to conquering a town or retrieving a magical artifact of great importance. Once accomplished, as promised, the marriage occurs and the suitor is adopted into the female’s Kaahl. Proposals sometimes come from near-strangers: it is uncommon but not unheard of for a travelling warrior to spontaneously proposition the Warlord mage of a Great Kaahl and accomplish her given task and be inducted into her circle of lovers.
First removed husbands and wives are considered part of a family unit from the perspective of the most important member. For example, a Kathar named Heÿlath has two wives: Isol and Felmë. Isol also has another husband named Üthwel and Felmë has two more: Y’thäal and Mëlaakish. All these named individuals are considered part of Heÿlath’s family, even if the men married to Heÿlath’s wives also have an additional wife. Those additional wives would be considered second-rate family and are barely interacted with. This marriage principle often results in seriously confusing family trees, especially when two or one generation down the line the marriages cause inbreeding in cousins. Still, despite being so large and prone to jealousy from the perspective of outsiders, the Kathar are surprisingly open, transparent and kind to each other in family units. There exists, in fact, next to no jealousy between husbands and wives, and in many cases, these people can go years without seeing each other and still feel strongly for one another. One-on-one romance is also not as frequent (though not unheard of). In matters of lovemaking, three or more partners are involved, with a standard duty of household servants being the ability to provide for these engagements. As mentioned, a family unit is declared by the most important female member (usually a Saivale, though it can also be one of the other Disciples). This importance is usually weighed by either strength in Magic, political position or military position. Children are strongly cared for and usually groomed to become heirs to their parents. Within the family unit of first rate wives and husbands, husbands sometimes raise the children sired by other husbands of their wives, and they consider this very normal. Within families, children acknowledge their mothers as their singular mother parent but consider all fathers their father. Other mothers are care mothers, which might take care of a child, but children always acknowledge their biological mother as superior. Female children often try to inherit the work of their mothers, while male children inherit their father’s work. This doesn’t underline some form of gender inequality, however. Kathar society is strictly gender neutral and does not favor one over the other, with the sole exception of the Empress of the Kathar being female, and the Champion of the Kathar being male as a sole acknowledgement to the physical differences between Kathar genders.
Such large families tend to dwell together in large, sprawling domestic complexes that vary in size and quality with the family’s wealth and social status. The most powerful of Kaahls dwell in swaths of land surrounding a fortress or great manor, where the main branch of the family lives. All the off-shoot family members, soldiers, and other servants of the Kaahl live on the surrounding land in their own dwellings in a remarkably feudal fashion, similar to Ailor fiefs and their lords, though the relationships are much more intimate and collective. There is a sort of communal pride in the land and Kaahl one lives in and the leader of the family is much more concerned with keeping the loyalty and contentitude of their subjects and often hosts celebrations and imparts surplus resources as gifts to ensure their ongoing dedication. The exception to this happiness is the crop of slaves that serve a Kaahl, who also dwell on their land but not in a content fashion at all: they are restricted to the designated resource points, and spend all of their time at work in the many vineyards, mines, mills and pastures before returning to their cramped domiciles.
As for the Champions of the Kaahls, they still serve a rather important role outside of the Empress’ own and the Champions of the Great Kaahls: each and every family that is ruled by a distinct matriarch is expected to have a Champion that rules alongside of her. This male is not necessarily the most intimate or emotionally favored among the matriarch’s lovers, but they are undoubtedly the strongest, and chosen by her for this reason. They typically command the Kaahl’s forces unless the matriarch happens to be a warrior herself, and see to it that the family’s land and members are kept protected. The practice of selecting one is traditionally done through the hosting of a small, private tournament for any and all males in the Kaahl (bar any relations with the matriarch that would be seen as taboo, like sons) to participate in and compete for the role of Champion. These tournaments are held whenever a Kaahl is established or when the prior Champion dies, though if they are killed in single combat as a result of a challenge for their position there is no need to host yet another.
Holidays and Festivals
The Dance of Llöv
The Dance of Llöv is a blood sacrifice hosted on different days in the first four months of the year which involves the sacrifice of large numbers of slaves and sometimes even weak relatives of Kathar families. Neighborhoods in Kathar cities are often built in such a way that their streets all pool down to a central area with a large pit. This feast asks for the ritualistic slaughter of sufficient pre-selected slaves and relatives at the top of these streets, causing their blood to seep down to the central square and the pit. The feast effectively continues until the pit has filled to the edge in blood, after which the Kathar that are still alive come together in the pit which is often filled with blood to knee-high level, to dance, sing and revel for the rest of the night. This feast is attributed to the Cult of Dread, as it often inspires intense fear in the weak and the slaves.
The Carnage of Thräl’laniir
The Carnage of Thräl’laniir is a tournament consisting of fights to the death which is often hosted somewhere in the middle eight months of the year. During this tourney, the fighters are challenged to kill each other in the ring, after which the victor must consume the heart of the loser and bathe in the blood of the arena. With each fight, this arena becomes saturated with blood more and more until the sand is so drenched in blood that it turns almost muddy. The winner of such a tournament is declared Mi’trais, avatar of Az’shaq, the Void Cult of Fury. After the tournament is over, the spectators revel in three days of excessive drinking until the entire city or town is in such a drunken stupor that it simply ceases to function for three days more.
The Brawl of Ultharanc
The Brawl of Ultharanc is the less deadly cousin of Thräl’laniir, a tournament in which the contestants fight for the honor of strongest of the Brawl. While Thräl’laniir is more chaotic, Ultharanc is structured and organized. It is called for when an Arken or Perfect Silven visits a Dread Empire or Kathar Society gathering, and announced the Ulthar to those present. This essentially means that the Arken or Perfect Silven demands a show of strength in their honor and for the Kathar to engage in a tournament of which the victor will be chosen to perform in a night of passion that could lead to the birth of another Perfect child.
Birthing of the Faï’llir
The Birthing of the Faï’llir ritual is an especially strange ritual in which female Kathar desperately seek out Arken or otherwise notably powerful entities of the Void across the world. The objective is to use copulation to produce a blessed child of great Voidal power. The Kathar believe that any child conceived from such a bonded state is an avatar of Faï’llir, or the Void Cult of Destruction. Faï’llir are often given special Magical or combat-related training to become the champions of Kathar military. While birthed out of wedlock, these Faï’llir are not considered children of their mothers (even if they gave birth to them) and more like blessings from the Void to the Kathar people, therefore belonging to everyone and not just the biological mother. The Birthing of Faï’llir is rare among the Kathar because only a handful of Arken and extremely powerful Void entities exist in the world of Aloria, and not every one of them is willing to copulate with a mortal Kathar. Those that do succeed however become the Bride of Üthewer, or the Bride of the Prefects. This offers them a specific honorary position in Kathar society that makes it a religious offense to murder them, and religious worship to provide for them, thus safeguarding them from death and destitution in Kathar society. There is a male variety of this ritual as well, but it is far less known, and scoped to a smaller group. A number of males in their prime might challenge each other to a Faï'llir Thoq, in which they make a bet which of them will be able to convince or seduce one to let them copulate with them. The winner becomes the Champion of Üthewer, which much like the brides, have an honorary position in society, but because female Arken and others are notoriously difficult to accept such a proposal, are rarely seen in many centuries.
Fenestrations of Melir
The Fenestrations of Melir are a less deadly and more cultural feast that Kathar engage in, during which they approach strangers and outsiders (even other races) and hand them black ribbons. Those who discard the ribbons on the spot are labeled as enemies of the Kathar, while those who wrap the ribbon around their right wrist are welcomed to move among the Kathar for the period of three days, as long as they show interest in learning and discussing the Kathar ideologies in a peaceful setting. While those Melir ribbbons are on their wrists, it is a heresy to the Kathar to attack them, unless they themselves break the vow to the Void by uttering insults on the Kathar and their beliefs.
Henate's Duel is the penultimate Kathar battle ritual between two individuals for honor. If one Kathar feels dishonored by another (or tries to prove a point about how they are stronger), they may challenge the other to the Henate Duel. The Henate Duel is held in a Kathar pit or duel ring, which is glyphed and enchanted with Void Ritualism She'llaq writing from a ritualist. While Henate's blessing is intact (which will remain for an hour after casting, or break after the duel is over). The two duellists enter the ring, after which the ring is magically closed, it becomes impossible to enter on account of an invisible wall that pains to the touch. The fight between the two is to the death, but not final. That is to say, if either duellist should die inside the ring, they die, but then are immediately revived and their wounds are completely removed. This resurrection is perfect, but only works for the duration of the Duel, and cannot heal wounds gained before the duel. The winner is then declared the stronger and more honorable, and the loser is often tasked or demanded to nurse or serve the winner for a period of time while they recover from their wounds, as the winner does not have their wounds restored after the fight. When the fight is over, the ring becomes inert.
Feasting of Kolthar
The Feasting of Kolthar is a strangely peaceful feast for the Kathar, which is mostly aimed at food. Every participant Kathar must bring their own made dish (no matter how terrible it is) and present it to all the others at the table. Then, when the feast begins (usually after a speech from the highest ranking Kathar), the Kathar have to present their food in bite-size chunks and with no cutlery, and feed the others present. For example, a Kathar who produced a plate of friend squid curls, will have to take several in their hands (or in a bowl) and proceed to present them to the others present, and if they accept, hand-feed them with the food they produced. Every participant Kathar continues to do this until all of them signal that they feel satisfied, and then the Kathar say a collective praise to the peace and stability of the food table. Why this feast is so peaceful is not known to even Kathar scholars because of how old it is, but it is speculated that this feast was appreciated as one of the few times when the Kathar did not need to fear being poisoned by anyone, since the participants have to hand feed everyone else, and if they had poisoned the food, this would immediately be seen, and they would be slain on the spot.
Dawn of the Golden Hour
The Dawn of the Golden Hour is a Kathar revel in which each group of Void God and Prefect worshippers gathers together to choose a single representative among their own. Generally, this should result in a representative of Pride, Trickery, Power, Pleasure and War, which are the largest groups. Then, all these representatives challenge at least 3 of the other representatives to a tactical game of Thonq (which is very similar to Chess). Those with the highest amount of wins is declared the Golden Hour Lord, and thus announce to all the others present that their chosen deity is declared the most favorable and most charitable in blessings to the Kathar. This is generally seen as a means to try and convert followers of other Prefects to one's own Prefect. (For the feast, it is recommended to make use of a free online chess program to actually play out the games fairly).
The Blackheart Union
The Blackheart Union is a more commonly-occurring celebration and is simply the name for a Kathar wedding ceremony. The Kaahl of the female gathers and selects a single champion to represent them, where the suitor must then decide upon a challenge to face the champion with. If the suitor is victorious, they are allowed to wed, a ritual in which the Kaahl’s name is tattooed onto the new suitor and then the pair are ushered off to seal their binding in a bed of their choice. The rest of the Kaahl eat, drink, dance, sing and make love in a grueling 24-hour celebration, after which the ceremony ends.
The Kathar follow a syncretic faith that combines aspects of traditional Arken worship as well as Void Worship. As such, a Kathar can both be a Katharist (a follower of the Kathar faith) and a Void Worshiper at the same time. The way this works is that the clans each have a patron Prefect of the Void. This Void Prefect is seen as their great patron, but not specifically their god. In many ways, the Prefects could be seen as the prophets that proclaim their own specific version of a Void God’s central theme. This means that even though the Shenath of clan Käyth, for example, follow the Void Prefect of Pride, this Prefect can represent very different views of life depending on what Void God they are applied to. The Void Prefects are also based on real-life individuals that were most likely Arken, though the actual connection between modern Arken and what the Shenath call Prefects has not been established with complete certainty. Below follows a list of all Void Prefects, and how they are seen as Prophets of the Void Gods.
- The Void Prefect of Pride (also called the Pride Host) is generally considered to have been a very powerful Elven Arken during the waning days of the Allorn Empire. The Void Prefect of Pride has always been described as an extremely powerful mage with an arbitrary temperament, and also the creature that taught the Kathar how to read and write Void-Script. The Prefect of Pride assisted the rise of the Dread Empire by collapsing numerous strong Elven Principalities that tried to smother the Empire in its early creation. The Void Prefect supposedly took the shape of beastly terrors, assaulting city walls with armies of beast men and murdering every living being in sight. The Void Prefect of Pride is worshiped through a small shrine which includes a stone or granite statuette of a wolf-like beastman with long claws and limbs, half wolf half man. Beastmen are very frequent in Shenath folklore and legends.
- The Void Prefect of Trickery (also called the Trickster Lord) is generally considered to have been a relatively low-publicity Arken during the waning days of the Allorn Empire that trapped thousands of Elves with trickery into joining the Dread Empire, some to become rulers, others to become slaves by the many. The Prefect of Trickery is said to thus have assisted the Dread Empire by providing necessary early resources. The Void Prefect of Trickery is rarely actually worshiped through a shrine, but more passively praised by deeds of betrayal and subterfuge. Each time an act of betrayal is performed or a clever plan is hatched, the Trickery worshipers bring a small food offering to wandering black cats. There is a single massive temple to the Trickery Prefect in Saivale that houses over 900 black cats.
- The Void Prefect of Misery (also called the Bottomless Misery) is considered to have had a pivotal role in the induction of the Shenath into the Saivale aristocracy, by teaching them the vessels of power and ambition through the opportunities presented by the Saivale. That being said, his message became corrupted over time as he also caused a lot of misery by forcing the Shenath into service under the Saivale, and in many ways also brutalized the people he championed by consuming them through cannibalistic rituals, a harrowing metaphor for the ever damning cycle of life and death that exists inside the Dread Empire where the strong survive and the weak die. Offerings to the Misery Prefect are brought through feeding wild animals, which seems rather mundane but is actually quite violent. Shenath that worship the Misery Prefect seek out a hungry pack of wolves and tie down slaves or captives where they either starve to death and have their carcasses eaten by the wolves or are eaten alive by them.
- The Void Prefect of Power (also called the Sceptre Lord) is considered to have had an important role in the creation of the fourteen warlords that control the lands of the Kathar and lead their armies. The Void Prefect of Power supposedly created fourteen sceptres or staves of great magical power, items which by today’s terms are considered artefacts of great dark magic. These were supposedly able to incinerate a person by will or mutate a person by mere touch into a horrible monster. The holders of these sceptres continue to be the warlords that control most of the Dread Empire on a local level to this day. The Void Prefect of Power is worshiped by crafting ceremonial staves with intricate carvings, and then burning them on a once monthly Prefect Festival where these staves are planted in a circle and then set aflame.
- The Void Prefect of Pleasure (also called the Bride of the Void) is considered to have had a crucial role in the rise of the Dread Empire Voidborne, which is a lineage of Shenath and Saivale which are considered the truly ruling classes of the Dread Empire. They are a single lineage of strongly inbred Elves that claim their lineage from a passionate encounter between the Void Prefect of Pride and the Void Prefect of Pleasure, two of some of the strongest Void Prefects, giving birth to a permanent lineage of Silven, or the “Perfect Silven” as the Kathar call them. These Perfect Silven or the Pathar Dynasty, have ruled the Dread Empire ever since its creation, enforcing their rule with their extremely exceptional control of magic, and abilities that seem to thread into the realm of the Arken themselves. The Void Prefect of Pleasure is worshiped in acts which are understandably related to the concept of pleasure, usually in groups of at least four or more.
- The Void Prefect of Control (also called the Void Chains) is considered to have had a pivotal role in the allowing of Void domination by the Kathar. The Void Prefect of Control appears like a sickly old man, and is often also worshiped through small statuettes resembling that, but was always immensely powerful. The Void Prefect of Control supposedly performed the ritual on the entire Kathar race that made them immune to the Dulofall and Dulo infestations and disease. The Void Prefect of Control also taught the Kathar how to shield themselves from unintentional Void Mutations and Void control, allowing them to retain their sanity in the face of the corruption of the Void, at the cost of their humanity.
- The Void Prefect of War (also called the War Beast) did not have any particular role in the rising of Kathar culture or the Dread Empire, but is worshiped nonetheless by the Wolond as the prime form of what it means to be strong, to defeat the strongest, and to become more powerful through martial force. Curiously, the Void Prefect of War resembles the Void Prefect of Pride through beastmen folklore among the Wolond, though there are some differences. As opposed to the Void Prefect of Pride, the beastman form was the Void Prefect of War’s natural form instead of a shapeshifting form, and the Void Prefect of War was supposedly also much larger than a house, a monstrous beast that could wipe out entire regiments with a single slash of its claws. The Void Prefect of War is worshiped through the hunt of dangerous beasts.
- The Void Prefects of Nothingness & Beastliness are barely known, surprisingly even to the Kathar themselves because of the relative secrecy among the Wolond and their isolation. Supposedly they are actually the same Arken in representation, but nothing more is known than the fact that this Arken supposedly had no face or hair, and had long limbs with sharp nails.
- Smaller Cults exist outside of the boundaries of the Prefects with a variety of Arken based worship. These are including but not limited to Betrayal, Dread, Avarice, Destruction, Gluttony and Sloth. There is no centralized rules or traditions for these Cults, however because they only take up a miniscule part of the population and in general are only just acknowledged through public festivities without any real worship rituals, once a year.
It is finally not uncommon for clansmen of various clans to move between clans or marry with others inside other clans to convert to a different Void Prefect, even outside of their own Disciple that set apart the various categories of the Kathar race. While the Kathar have some temples with venerable priests and oracles spread across their Empire, there is no official centralized structure for priesthood or worship, and religion is in many ways a very private matter that rarely if ever results in conflict between Kathar, save for those who follow Misery, and are treated as Pariah’s. Only the Saivale can be very secluded and selective towards those wishing to join their clans or Disciple on the grounds that they demand a certain standard of class and civilization that many of the more un-civilized and barbarian Wolond and Shenath tribes lack.
Combat and Warfare
Kathar Combat and Warfare is very two-fold, the Dread Empire having both a strong army and a strong navy. While the Navy itself is largely based on slave labor, both in construction and rowing, it largely focuses around naval boarding. The Kathar do not possess any artillery and use only limited skirmishing capabilities, thus focusing entirely on reaching their foe as quickly as possible and then to board their vessels. Once boarded, the Kathar proficiency for combat combined with magic really shines through like it does on the battlefield also. Regalian vessels often fare well when outnumbering Kathar vessels, but when overrun, no naval foe can outspeed or outrun Kathar ships.
On land, the Kathar boast massive armies filled with mostly Shenath and Wolond soldiers and Saivale officers. Throughout nearly every level of rankings within the army, combat oriented Magic is frequently practiced and Mages are a staple warrior in any combat unit. Kathar themselves prefer fast and light combat styles, mostly related to daggers, short swords and unconventional weapons like javelins and whips, though their relatively lightweight battalions are bolstered by massive Void-warped beasts of war called Uul’thaak, the strongest of Shadow Bovine who endure magical mutation to become frightening monsters covered in layers of crude armor, their horns set ablaze and strung up with barbs and bladed chains, charging through enemy formations and scattering them out of fear. With these, Kathar tactics are typically to overwhelm their opponents and optimally force retreats from them, exerting their sheer power and bullying their enemies into submission. Kathar soldiers have a particular dedication to their weapons of choice and oftentimes name them, treasuring them and keeping them close at all times. It is not uncommon for them to spend most of their wages on the most finely-crafted weapons available and decorating them with personalized engravings and trinkets. Additionally, Saivale officers have something of a standard of fashion among them: found in heraldic, ornate armor even on the battlefield, they display their familial, Prefect and Sire ties proudly.
Kathar have something of an obsession with single combat, though unlike other proud races like the Orcs, honor is almost a non-factor in these engagements. Any advantage one can gain when crossing blades with another is an advantage one should take, because to dispatch an enemy is an honor itself, no matter the method. Slaying another in single combat is seen as something of a religious sacrifice, as all dead depart to the Void: to send a soul to the Void yourself is a contribution to the Essences and power that all Kathar share in, and the greatest of combatants tally their lifetime of kills in order to prove their swath of donations to the Void.
Economy and Technology
The Dread Empire has a self-contained economy that does not interact with the outside at all, which also covers its technological progress (of which there is surprisingly little). Most if not all of the economy is fueled by slavery, notably Altalar slaves but slaves range from Ailor to Varran to even Orcs. Above the production engine of slavery (which usually takes care of all basic resource gathering and crafting), Magic controls a large sector of the economy too. Magic is primarily also used as a substitute for Technology, and magical trinkets and resources are bartered. The more mercantile-inclined Warlords all contribute personally to the industry of the Empire, with the Court of Mortal Delights specializing in winemaking and spirit distilling and others spending their time mass-producing armaments or even making clothing. The Dread Empire Elves and thus the Kathar by extension are the only people in the world not familiar with the Regal Coin, and maintain the use of their own currency, the Shard Tablets which are small rectangular tablets made of Void Stone.
- Recent instability between the Empress and the Great Kaahls and doubts in the future of the Empire has supposedly led some Warlords to consider total secession.
- There are no recorded instances of Exist mages being born out of Kathar. Whether this is because it is impossible due to their blood’s influence by Void Essence or simply because these children are quietly dispatched is entirely unknown.
- The Kathar are remarkably competent smiths and have perfected the creation of lightweight metalcraft armaments to aid them in their wars.
- Despite their brutal culture, the Kathar are actually rather fond of artistic pursuits, though their idea of art differs vastly from the rest of the world’s. In fact, some Kathar became so enthralled by the Ithanian and Dressollini styles of music and theater that they adopted them and began to create operas to tell the stories of their own people.