Taboos and Superstitions of the Rings
“Who is the King you ask? Well, you had better go to his Keep in the center of the City and ask him yourself….”
While it is generally acknowledged that the City is ruled by an ultimate sovereign known as the King, he is a distant ruler and the extent to which he is respected, feared, or hated varies considerably within the City of Rings. According to myth, it is he who (along with the Daring Swords, heroes of legend) defeated the Sibilant Empire and caused the Ring Walls to rise. It is also commonly believed that he dwells within the center of the City, and will grant a wish to those who visit him there.
There are many tales about the King, and much disagreement about who he is and what he wants.
The King himself is never heard from, but he does seem to have various servants. Perhaps most famously there is the voice of the Royal Herald, who regularly announces Dispensaries in which a mixture of treasure, remains of the Royal Feasts, and other curios magically appear in certain key areas after a steady countdown. According to tradition, these “gifts” are normally fought over in a display of non-lethal combat.
Positions such as the Royal Archivist, Royal Inquisitor, Royal Court Wizard and others also exist… although some wonder if these appointments are genuinely legitimate, as these servants do not seem to have any method to directly communicate with their sovereign.
Interpretations of “King’s Will” or “King’s Laws” varies considerably according to different communities and perspectives. Generally, his will seems to manifest itself most directly through the application of bad luck. Indeed, while the King seems to have few servants who directly enforce his will, there can be no denying the terrible misfortune that appears to fall upon those who are insistent in violating his most important strictures.
Superstition & PvP Cheat-Sheet:
- Don’t spoil information about the setting or deeper Rings without consulting with a DM
- People are frequently superstitious about keeping precise time
- Royal Dispensary events should be subdual-only and not an opportunity for stealing unless you consult with a DM
- Changelings (both druids & and other character that changes its form somehow) is very dangerous and might get you killed
- Animating the dead (zombies, skeletons, spirits….) conjuring devils & demons might get you killed
- To a lesser extent, researching or consistently conjuring shadows / aberrations / slaadi might get you killed
- Being any kind of application sub-race might get you killed just for being what you are
The Royal Dispensary
"Little folk of Ring 99, raise your ears to the wisdom of I, Royal Herald of the King…”
While battles during the Royal Dispensary are ferocious, it is generally considered very bad luck and against Royal Will to rob or murder during the course of these contests.
Note: While this restriction is an IC one, please consult with a DM beforehand if you intend on violating this custom as there may be IC manifestations of Kingly Wrath. This is an example of an IC belief that the DM team also believes contributes positively OOC when adhered to, although there may be some exceptions depending on concept & execution.
“It’s a Changeling! Kill it, burn it… drive it away!”
The superstition and hatred against those who change their shape (“Changelings”) is quite severe. “Changelings” is a local term that is used to describe a wide range of phenomenon: everything from Druids who know how to transform into Animals, to Arcanists who use magic to do the same, or even monstrous lycanthropes and mongrel-beasts.
Common folk fear them and the bad luck that falls upon those who are near them. The residents of the Peerage do not hesitate to hunt them down and chase them away from their lands.
Note: Engaging in abilities such as Wild Shape & Polymorph Self may result in PvP and permanent consequences up to and including permanent death for your character! Beware!
“Tick… tick… tick…”
The question of timekeeping is one of the most nebulous superstitions in the City of Rings with a considerable range of opinion and application. Many common folk consider it forbidden according to Royal Will, while others simply observe that clocks tend to break and ill fortune falls upon those who pry too deeply into the recording of time.
While it is true that there is no universally accepted system of dates and calendars, a complete ban on all forms of timekeeping does not exist aside from the most fanatic few. Many keep a count of the seasons of their life, or hold to memories of dates from before they arrived to the City (generally the year 1374 according to the FR Calendar). Hours and days are estimated by those whose livelihood depends upon it. Astrologists study the stars and secretly mark the passing of years, and some families keep to their own customs and superstitions. Loremasters carefully attempt to make an accounting of seasons. Even House Sunpurse, one of the most staid and traditional houses of the Peerage, marks the passing of years through a life by the lighting of special candles that burn (so they say) for exactly one year.
Nevertheless, the question of overly detailed timekeeping and record-keeping is popularly considered to be unwise and perhaps even villainous. Indeed, within the City of Rings there is overall a certain aversion to asking too many questions in general as it is a frequently a disreputable and dangerous inclination.
Ringrunning & Ring Knowledge
“The King awaits you, Ringrunner….”
While the vast majority of the inhabitants are content to dwell in their Ward & Ring, or perhaps travel only a few Rings distant, many of the City’s most bold and indeed an entire profession of residents dedicate themselves to traveling the Rings, proceeding from one to the next, in arduous travel to the King’s Keep. Ringrunners each have their own reasons for running the rings (everything from a desire to return to their home or proving themselves by besting the trials), but all have learned to respect the superstitions and customs of the trade.
Chief among these is an aversion to discussing specifics about what can be found within the deeper Rings. Furthermore, most Ringrunners found it wiser to band together into Ringrunning companies of trusted friends who they can cooperate with to solve the trials of the Rings and safely share information with. Outside of these companies, it is generally believed that it is highly dangerous to discuss specific solutions for passing through Rings or describe in too great a detail of what can be found in the deepest ones
Ringrunners do believe it safe to brag about how deep they’ve gone, but revealing solutions or knowledge in too great detail seems to bring down terrible ill fortune or even the horror of the Royal Hound.
Note: This is another example of where the IC restriction matches an OOC expectation. From an OOC level, we fully encourage IC attempts to gather information and learn more about the setting and for this information to be shared IC with trusted companions. That said, such efforts are best reserved IG and it is important to be careful about what is discussed or revealed OOC’ly as the DM team wishes very much for the experience of new players exploring the world to not be spoiled. Please restrict what is discussed OOC’ly and be judicious and careful about the IG spreading of sensitive knowledge. Feel free to consult with a DM if you are uncertain about something.
“It’s not the horrible monsters that bothers me…. It’s puking-pink from Seamsickness for days after that really gets me down…”
It is a characteristic of the City of Rings that planar portals (called Seams) regularly open and close throughout the City, most frequently in certain disrupted areas but potentially nearly anywhere. These Seams are frequently filled with dangerous monsters, but may also link to or other resources (indeed, the City is in some ways dependent upon the resources brought in through the Seams). It is an unfortunate consequence of entering the Seams that residents of the prime will inevitably catch the disease known as Seamsickness (understood to be a result of planar radiation) which, if left untreated, leads to madness and death. Thankfully, the cure to Seamsickness is simply to wait it out within the City itself and it seems to eventually go away.
While common folk may look down upon those who make a living by entering into the Seams, there is no denying it is a common practice among the bold. Nevertheless, those who become too Seamsick tend to be ostracized and are not welcome in polite society.
Wizards & the Planes
“You’re a Wizard? Keep your magic away from me…. Go to the Wizard Warrens where your kind belongs!”
It is a common belief in the City of Rings that Wizards are not generally respectable, and that their form of Arcane Magic is dangerous and disreputable. Whereas a Sorcerer’s unusual and innate gifts might be admired, a Wizard’s studied art is dangerous and even sickening. Indeed, Wizardly magic (if left unfocused) seems to cause seam sickness in the same way as traveling from the City and into a Planar Fragment does. Wizards are thus frequently looked down upon, although they are not persecuted in the same manner as Changelings are unless they delve too deeply into strictly forbidden magic.
“Get you and your foul magic away from my granny’s tomb, you necromancer! Die!”
There are some forms of magic that, even in the absence of a solidified code of laws, is considered by almost all as far too depraved or dangerous to tolerate. Practices such as animating the dead (necromancy) and the conjuration of devils & demons (infernalism) is something that most view as a crime worthy of death. Those who wish to engage in such practices tend to keep such secret and hidden from sight from those who are not trusted fellows in the grim arts.
Delving too deep into familiarity with such dreadful monsters as aberrations, beholders, or slaadi, while perhaps less notoriously dangerous, may also result in similar consequences.
The practice of “shadebinding” (shadow-magic and the binding of shadows) is also similarly dangerous as it bears an association with both evil cults and most fearfully the mysterious and terrifying phenomenon of The Nothing. The Nothing, although poorly understood, is rumored to be a kind of storm of shadows that is gradually dissolving and eating away at the outermost rings and occasionally blows over the City itself, leaving horrors and terrors in its wake. Those who seek to bind its power for their own purposes are sure to suffer swift consequence from those who rightfully fear it.
Note: Even tolerating the presence of others who engage in such forbidden magic (i.e. questing with a necromancer with undead) may result in consequences, including alignment changes, for other characters.
“Men are men. Monsters are monsters.”
The City of Rings in all its vastness is full of monsters, but the majority of civilized Wards do not tolerate their presence. Monster-hunters are a respected profession, and few civilized Wards tolerate monstrous visitors unless they are kept in chains.
Note: Monstrous PCs such as goblins and kobolds exist to be hunted and to die. Application sub-race characters such as lizardfolk, lycanthropes, mongrel folk, or even outsiders such as tieflings, aasimar, and genasi (even if tolerated in hubs) can likewise be legitimately killed and slain just for being what they are.]