On Cytheran history and politics



  • As described in the hintbook

    As most people here are aware, BreadWorldMercy453 recently obtained a couple of copies of the Cythera hintbook, one of which she kindly sent to Wizard. I read over this book and found its discussions on Cythera's early history and on the politics of its house system to be interesting enough to warrant their own topic, which, after a busy couple of months, I'm finally getting around to posting. This post might be somewhat disjointed since it is mostly a summary of some details in the hintbook with some commentary on them.

    There are a number of interesting facts contained in the brief history in the hintbook. First, as 453 has already stated, the first Cytherans were ruled by the Theran priests, and the First Tyrant was originally a priest of Thera. It had been my personal impression from the game that he had been the most powerful and ruthless of the three, but the hintbook describes him as a benevolent and beloved ruler. He seems to have risen to power around 5 AT and to have reigned for about 74 years before dying around the age of 100.

    It is worth noting that the hintbook says the First Tyrant died in 79 AT and that the Second Tyrant exiled the mages in 152 AT. This is directly contrary to Anisa's statement in the game that the First Tyrant exiled the mages. I think that the game must be regarded as canon over the hintbook, but that the dates in the hintbook make more sense.

    It is also stated that each Tyrant was succeeded by his regent. Although this could be read as leaving open the possibility that the Tyrants were not a hereditary monarchy, I'm inclined to suspect that it actually indicates that each Tyrant's son co-ruled for a time alongside his father. In this respect, it is worth noting that, when Alaric overthrew the Tyrants, he killed not just the Third Tyrant but also his supporters and family. This further indicates that succession was based upon relation to the Tyrant. (As an aside, it is also stated that Alaric passed the guards without being seen by them.) Each Tyrant is said to have been more ruthless than his predecessor.

    Following the overthrow of the Tyrants, Alaric disappeared, simply saying he would be back when an appropriate form of government was created. There followed three years of chaos during which there were "conflicts with remaining troops loyal to those minor warlords that tried to takeover in the power vacuum." Eventually, the six leaders of the future six Cytheran houses rose to power and worked out the current House system. Alaric returned, bringing with him the mages, and guaranteed to uphold the fairness of the system.

    There is also additional information on the early history of the mages. Magic is described as once being the realm of the Theran priests and that, once mages began to appear, acts of magic began to be performed among commoners. These statements may suggest that the ancient Theran priests once wielded magical powers while still on Earth, although it is hard to say whether or not this is merely legend. Mages are described as beginning to organize into groups to further develop their powers around 113 AT.

    The hintbook also indicates that the existence of Pnyx was learned about soon after its foundation. I had previously assumed that it was largely unknown until Alaric brought them back as Judges, since I didn't think the Tyrants would allow such a threat if they had known of its existence (as evidenced by their swift destruction of the Cult of Scylla). I can only assume that they felt safe due to its distance and also feared to directly attack the mages.

    There is also a minor additional detail regarding the destruction of Abydos that I don't recall being mentioned in the game. It stated that the expedition found that the town had been destroyed "as if a giant wave had swept in from the Sea, destroying the town and erasing all traces of life."

    The hintbook describes the functioning of Cythera's political system in additional detail. The game states that each House maintains position based on popular support; the hintbook elaborates somewhat on this and explains that this support is actually based on the yearly votes of each citizen, although I don't recall the game mentioning anything about the citizenry voting or yearly elections. The mages ensure that each election result is valid. A simple 51% support is required to pass a law, although each law is examined by the mages. The Magesterium has the power to eliminate any laws deemed unfair.

    Major political plots are practically nonexistent since Alaric is able to detect them: "the penalty for abuse of political power is usually death (and since Alaric has the power to determine truthfulness, there is no trial)."

    So, any thoughts or comments? Did anyone else have their opinions on some aspects of early Cytheran history changed by their reading of the hintbook?



  • Since the dates given in the hintbook do correspond more with the other dates we're given, I tend to think it's a typo in the game when Anisa says that the First Tyrant exiled the mages.

    One of the most interesting tidbits I thought was the account of Alaric overthrowing the Tyrants. I know that in the game he says something like, "I perceived that the Tyrant's reign should be ended, so I ended it." I wonder just how powerful Alaric is supposed to be. He can apparently control whether or not people see him, in the same manner that he can hide the entrance to LandKing Hall from those he does not want to find it. Furthermore, if Alaric is supposed to be this much more powerful than the humans, how powerful are the elementals supposed to be? They are very powerful, no doubt, given that the Undine easily destroyed the town of Abydos.

    I also was surprised to learn that Alaric appeared just long enough to get rid of the Tyrant and then disappeared again. In some ways, I would think that he opened the land up to as much chaos as could ever be experienced while the Tyrants were in charge; he effectively plunged the land into anarchy with a wave of his hand. Furthermore, it seems to me that he wouldn't care what legal system the people had established in that time, since his plan was apparently to reappear and take over ruling whenever they came up with any form of a working government. Alaric is the next Tyrant! :o

    One last note, Seldane mentioned in the hintbook topic that all the history available in the hintbook was on the old Delver site. For those of you who would like to read the history yourselves, here's a link to the history page on Gandreas' old site. Since the material is already freely available online, I'll also post a quote of it here for convenience sake:

    From the old Delver site. Glenn Andreas said:

    Warning : Some of the facts in this historical account may divulge details about Cythera that you may want to discover on your own. This record of history is general knowledge among many educated citizens of Cythera. While a newcomer would not know all of this from the beginning, it is still an interesting read.

    A Brief History Of Cythera
    by Master Anisa
    910 AT

    Introduction

    This work serves as both a brief history of Cythera as well as a guidepost to future generations to my greater collections of works on Cythera and its history. May it serve both the student and the casual reader well.

    Pre-Cytheric Times

    Before the arrival of our peoples on these shores, we lived on an island called Thera in the Inner Seas. Much of this part of history is better suited to myth and legend than historical account, but I shall try to detail what is known.

    Of the night of the Exodus and destruction of Thera there can be no doubt, but the legend of the White Bull appearing before the Priests is certainly no more than that - a legend. Nonetheless, our people fled from the island, escaping its destruction. What exactly happened that night, during the storms that followed the destruction, we can never know for sure. Cast ashore on an unknown land, we soon discovered that we were somewhere else (for a lack of a better term). None of the stars we knew appeared in the night sky, and even the Moon had changed, smaller, and was joined by a second, even smaller body in the sky. (As it would turn out, even the length of a year was changed, though how much shorter we have never been able to work out exactly)

    Even worse, however, was the loss of our gods. Our priests soon discovered that they, like the rest of us, were cut off from the world we knew. Still, life must go on, and so it went with us, and we began exploring and building a small village at the spot of our landing.

    5 A.T. - Founding of Cademia
    In our fifth year of exile, we finally had built enough of a city to give it a name - Cademia. Though the world was alien, we were still able to flourish, still lead, by tradition alone, by the former priests. This also begins our first great age, the Age of Tyrants

    Age of Tyrants

    With a new land and no divine basis for leadership, a young member of the small priest class rose to power, rallying and inspiring our people. Thus, upon the founding of Cademia, the first Tyrant was granted absolute power. In the next years, peace ruled and people continued on living, a new life, but one still much like our original.

    79 A.T. - Death of First Tyrant
    Between the shorter year, and something in the land that caused greater longevity, in 79 AT the First Tyrant, at and age of approximately 100 years, finally passed away. This much beloved leader was replaced by his regent, who became the Second Tyrant of Cademia.

    113 A.T. - Founding of Catamarca
    Our second city started as a vacation palace for the Second Tyrant, but soon became a fortified stronghold. It was in this timeframe that the Castle of the Tyrant was built in Cademia, for the Second Tyrant was not quite the benevolent leader that the First Tyrant was, for suspicion and paranoia soon grew.

    Some have postulated that this was not entirely unexpected, for it was in this time frame that Magic as we now know it was being discovered. What was once the realm of priests (long since forgotten), soon the ability to perform acts of power were being discovered among commoners. None knew exactly why some had the ability and others were passed over, but stories of miracles became more common, and some of the gifted began to meet and explore their powers in an organized fashion.

    134 A.T. - Fortification of Odemia
    Odemia was originally a small hunting colony, founded at the edge of the northern forests, around the time of the founding of Cademia. In the years that followed, it became a major source of supplies for Cademia, so in 134 A.T., the Second Tyrant built walls around the city, the fortified it against possible enemies.

    152 A.T. - Exile of Mages
    It was this attempt to organize the gifted power workers that became the final straw for the Second Tyrant, and in 152, fearing being overthrown by these people (and feeding on the insecurities of the common person), the Second Tyrant exiled all possessing magical powers. If any such persons were found east of the Titan's Spine Mountains, they would be put to death. Though some sought hiding in Odemia or Catamarca, most fled over the mountains, beyond the powers of the Tyrant.

    153 A.T. - Founding of Pnyx
    The exiles passed beyond the mountains, eventually settling where the River Tirynth met the Sea in the west, and formed the town of Pnyx. Pynx would soon be the location of the Magesterium, a place of learning and study of the powers of Magic. It's existance soon became know in the East, and any remaining people with the powers of Magic soon joined their fellows in exile in Pnyx.

    160 A.T. - Death of Second Tyrant
    In 160, the Second Tyrant passed away, and was immediately replaced by his regent, who was even more rutheless than his predecessor, and the reign of terror continued.

    184 A.T. - Founding of Abydos
    While the Second Tyrant oppressed peoples east of the Mountains, in the West, settlers from Pnyx formed an ill-fated second colony, south along the coast from Pnyx. This town was to be know as Abydos.

    192 A.T. - Destruction of Abydos
    After a number of years, Abydos began to flourish, but suddenly one day communication was lost with the town. After a few weeks, an expidition sent from Pnyx arrived at Abydos, only to discover the town destroyed, as if a giant wave had swept in from the Sea, destroying the town, and erasing all traces of life. What exactly happened to the town lead by the Mage Tavara is still a mystery to this day, and none willing seek out the acursed town.

    194-204 A.T. - Cult of Scylla
    Meanwhile, back in Cademia, oppressed people turned to any source of hope, and in 194, found one. A mysterious priest began to preach about the powers of Scylla, those hideous sea monsters that plague the coast, preventing any forms of maritime travel. However, the Cult was destroyed by the Tyrant in 204, fearing any form of insurrection (though rumors of its continued existance for some years after that have been heard, but we can place no truth on these).

    Age of the LandKing

    216 A.T. - Alaric Appears
    It was in 216 that everything changed in Cythera, with the appearance of the mysterious Alaric. His origins are still unknown (though this author is beginning an indepth search into this, and one day hopes to write a discourse on this matter). Alaric walked into the court of the Third Tyrant, though none of the guards remembered seeing him come in. The Tyrant immediately called for his guards, but none were forthcoming. The stranger simply said "The rule of Tyrants is over" and in a blinding flash of light, the Tyrant and all his family and supporters collapsed dead. He then called all the pages in the palace to spread the word through out the city and dispatched runner to spread the word that a new age of freedom and democracy would begin. He told them that his job was done and that they must choose a form of government that was fair to rich and poor alike, and once that it was determined, he would return.

    219 A.T. - Return of the Mages
    The next three years brought chaos, suddenly being bereft of government. There were conflicts with remaining troops loyal to those minor warlords that tried to take over in the power vaccuum, but eventually six individuals would arrise and gain the support of people and work out the form of government that exists to this date. These six became the founders of the six major house (Nicander, Strymon, Comana, Attis, Dodona, and Atussa).

    Alaric reappeared before these six, and agreed that their solution was fair and workable, and furthermore he would ensure it would not be subverted. To make sure that this government would survive and flourish, Alaric brought the Mages from Pnyx back, charging them with the duty to ensure it would survive.

    303 A.T. - Founding of Kosha
    In 303, members of House Comana established a new colony south of Cademia called Kosha. This colony was unique in that it was established solely by supporters of House Comana, and the position of Judge of Kosha was one more of tradition only.

    Afterward

    While it may seem to the reader that there are gaps missing between 303 and 910 (the date of this writing), in fact, as much as a historian would hate to admit, not much has happened. Life under Alaric has been peaceful and rich. The system of govenerment based on popular support of Houses, with magical support to enforce the will of the people and solve disputes has worked amazingly well. However, were something to happen to Alaric, one can only speculate on the chaos that would ensue. Though few have ever seen Alaric, ruling mysteriously from LandKing Hall (it is said that if one seeks out LandKing Hall, one will be unable to find it unless Alaric wishes), just his continued existance keeps the populace happy and content. Many believe him to be more than man, for surely no mortal man can live for over 700 years!

    Hopefully this state can continue for long into the future - while it makes the job of a historian boring, we will gladly accept that to avoid the chaos of our early years.

    This post has been edited by The Wizard : 22 March 2011 - 11:31 PM



  • I'm not sure the Undine are all that strong. Stronger than a typical human, sure. But I'm just not sure how strong.

    Abydos was destroyed by both Tavara and the Undine. Given that the ghosts react to the word demon, I assume that the demon (possibly more than one?) was involved in the destruction, and yet Anisa says there was no sign of violence. Perhaps the demon only confused/paralyzed them all, and the Undine drowned them?

    The Undine did destroy Jinrai, and there's nothing saying they used the Crolna to do so.

    Then when Bellerophon purifies the Crolna, Omen seems powerless to do anything about it but whine. He's scared of the Crolna maybe?



  • I always thought the skeletons/undead in the strongholds were the former Abydos citizens, and the ghosts were their souls or something weird like that. But now I think about it I guess there's no evidence to support that. :p



  • Hmm, I'm not sure that the fact the material can be found in archive.org means it is considered to be freely available online...

    The elementals all seem to wield fairly great power relative to Cythera's mages. For instance, Tavara states that Alaric "is as far beyond us as we are beyond the mages," if memory serves. In addition, Omen seems to claim that Ur-Sylph might well wield more power than Alaric himself. It is also worth noting that the Seldane can create force walls and teleporters. In the case of the Undine specifically, they not only possess the power to shapeshift—a power which I suspect the other elements probably share—but also claim to be able to control time. It is also likely that Tavara learned his ability to raise skeletons, undead, and daemons from his association with the Undine.

    Regarding Abydos specifically, I don't think the daemon necessarily had anything to do with the town's destruction: I think the ghosts are merely aware of its presence under them.

    453, in the ending where you give the Crolna to the Undine, I think that Pelagon actually states that they can't harm you while you have it.



  • @selax_bot, on 26 March 2011 - 11:44 PM, said in On Cytheran history and politics:

    The elementals all seem to wield fairly great power relative to Cythera's mages. For instance, Tavara states that Alaric "is as far beyond us as we are beyond the mages," if memory serves. In addition, Omen seems to claim that Ur-Sylph might well wield more power than Alaric himself. It is also worth noting that the Seldane can create force walls and teleporters. In the case of the Undine specifically, they not only possess the power to shapeshift—a power which I suspect the other elements probably share—but also claim to be able to control time. It is also likely that Tavara learned his ability to raise skeletons, undead, and daemons from his association with the Undine.

    I never considered this before, but the book on creatures seemed to suggest that the magic used to create skeletons/undead/liches is known to some mages, which would imply that it isn't connected to the undine, but it makes more sense if it was. It also strikes me as interesting that the seldane can manipulate space (teleporters, force fields) and the undine can apparently manipulate time, whereas Ignae and UrSylph don't seem to have any such powers.



  • @buzzzzy_bot, on 27 March 2011 - 12:03 AM, said in On Cytheran history and politics:

    I never considered this before, but the book on creatures seemed to suggest that the magic used to create skeletons/undead/liches is known to some mages, which would imply that it isn't connected to the undine, but it makes more sense if it was. It also strikes me as interesting that the seldane can manipulate space (teleporters, force fields) and the undine can apparently manipulate time, whereas Ignae and UrSylph don't seem to have any such powers.

    I think we were supposed to learn more about their special powers in the sequel :/



  • I agree with Shorty, but for now my theory is that Undine are the only elementals with the shapeshifting ability. There's nothing to imply to me otherwise. And since Undine use water-based magic and Seldane use earth-based magic (I can only assume sylphs use air-based and Ignae uses fire-based), I don't see why they'd have common abilities. They're two entirely different bases of magic, as far as I can tell.



  • I always assumed the undine could shapeshift because they were water elementals, water having no defined shape and whatnot, which wouldn't apply to the other elementals.



  • The man entered the underground chamber, unfazed by the humid and foreboding environment below.

    Pelagon stood ready for his unexpected guest. "You were a fool to come here, and now you shall never leave!"

    Pelagon began his advance on the man but then stopped in his tracks when he saw the man produce a long cylindrical object. "What.. What's that?! No!"

    The man began to approach Pelagon (now stumbling backwards). The man lifted a giant straw and jammed it into Pelagons gelatinous head. sluuuuuuurrrrrp

    "Nooooooooooooooo...!" Screamed Pelagon as he was sucked away into oblivion.

    The man let out a burp of satisfaction. "Mmm, tasty." Said the man.

    The man coninued his travels, eating his favorite brand of extra salty kelp snacks (product of Catamarca) when a vision appeared. "You've killed my master-Hey, wait what are you?! Gah!"

    Before Omen had time to react he was being drawn into a large straw just like his master. "This sucks!" cried omen with his last breath.

    The man burped again. His chips were gone, but what was this? On the ground there appeared to be a strange, green glowing... piece of candy!

    The man brushed the dirt off the hard candy and began to suck on it's sweet exterior. "Oohh, tingly." He said as he continued northward towards Land Kind Hall to sample some of their famous Black Void Frosting.

    This post has been edited by Two Jacks : 29 March 2011 - 10:22 PM



  • LOL!! :laugh:

    But you really need to rewrite it with lines from Harry the Handsome Executive! :D

    ...it just feels that way...

    This post has been edited by Jehezekel : 30 March 2011 - 08:43 AM



  • Haha, that's awesome. You should add it to GM. :p



  • I'm inclined to suspect that the shapeshifting is related to magical abilities, not necessarily to physical ones. Thus, it seems likely to me that all the elementals are capable of it, if only by altering how humans perceive them.



  • While it could very well be magical abilities, there's nothing in the game to suggest that all the elementals have the same magical powers, nor that any of the others shapeshift. It seems a little odd to me that all the elementals would take weird, but consistent forms while the undine would always be taking some other form in the game, but I don't really know.

    Actually, it occurred to me that all the elementals are essentially their element in appearance—the seldane are earthy, Ignae is made of fire, UrSylph is a floating orb of light and probably gas, it would make sense if the undine's form was a water-related one, so I don't think anything we see in-game is their "natural" form, if they indeed have one.



  • The Bestiary of Asilops does mention that fishermen have reported seeing Undine as human-like creatures, but that doesn't necessary prove that that is the Undine's default form.


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