Lore

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A Spread of Rampant Green

A Spread of Rampant Green is an ancient and enthusiastic spirit of growth and renewal that is extraordinarily difficult to keep down. It can play up to 3 Presence a turn under the right circumstances, and may return its destroyed Presence to play. It assaults the Invaders directly and bodily: clogging water supplies, tearing down buildings with creepers, and overgrowing the land so badly that it brings everything to a standstill: anywhere it has a Sacred Site, it can destroy one of its Presence to flatly prevent a Ravage or Build.

A Spread of Rampant Green is a force of continual renewal and regeneration, a jungle so thick and verdant you can barely see five feet ahead with plants overgrowing your path behind as you walk. Wherever it goes, creepers and greenery twine their way across the land, and the leaves rustle with sounds of laughter; for all that it's ancient and primal, it loves life with the same wholehearted exuberance as a toddler, and shows up at human villages with all the enthusiasm of a kid doing a flying belly-flop atop an unsuspecting parent.

Thankfully, it's powerful enough that its acts of reckless enthusiasm happen at a timescale humans can react to: a village may be overgrown in a night or three, but not in minutes.

From the Playmat

One of the older spirits on the island, though it's even more wild and exuberant these days than when it was young. Contrary to some stories, it does think things through - it's just far more concerned with the process of life than with things like 'consequences".

It's not unfriendly to the Dahan, but its idea of a good time is to smother their buildings in all manner of inconvenient greenery, and its notion of "help" transforms careful cultivated areas into overgrown thickets. Entire villages have been known to move to fresh planting-sites y ears early if a spirit-speaker suspects that Rampant Green is going to stay in the area for too long.

Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares

Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares draws a distinction only between dreams it carries to slumbering minds and those which arise independent of its touch. It may bear visions of wonder or terror, of prophecy or muddled echoes of past experience; they may illuminate or deceive or simply confuse. It has existed since long before the Dahan arrived, bearing dreams to those few Spirits which receive them from without, but there is little question that its nature changed - and enlarged - once humanity began living on Spirit Island. Some speculate that it is related to those which prey upon the not-yet-departed souls of the dead, though others counter that it does not seem to feed off dreams, merely carry them.

Even amongst other Spirits, it communicates almost entirely through the touch of dreams, either by manifesting in some form suitable to the dreamscape, or by taking a few moments of its mind-to-mind contact for more direct - if often no less cryptic - communication. Spirits are generally better able than humans to retain these fleeting memories, though humans sometimes help interpret a vexing conversation for some Spirit poorly suited to nuanced interpretation.


Bringer of Dreams & Nightmares is a spirit of nighttime mindscapes for humans, beasts, and those Spirits which dream. It has both kindly and fearsome aspects, but since the Invaders arrived has worn only the latter. Its powers are fundamentally over the mind and perception - it has extreme difficulty doing any direct, real harm; its Powers instead cause the Invaders to believe that they have been harmed. These mass hallucinations breed more fear than if they had been real. (High complexity.)

From the Playmat

When the moon is bright, and the leaves overhead are thin enough to let stray beams fall to earth, the Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares may sometimes be spied, an apparition of pale light and deep shadow. Seen this way, it will neither stop nor acknowledge attempts to communicate with it, whether by Dahan or Spirit. It might not even be there at all: perhaps it's a reflection of a self somewhere else entirely; the realm of the The Pathmaker, or some strange road that borders it.

But beings which dream hear from the Bringer frequently, even if they rarely remember it. Certain patterns may even call its attention, if drawn with sand and scatters with breath before sleep. Since the Invaders came, it has tended towards more terrifying forms, even well before the current conflict arose.

Heart of the Wildfire

Burning, blazing, rising, consuming - Heart of the Wildfire is quite fond of humans, in a general sense: they keep hearths and use fire as a tool all the time, and those sparks give birth to so many lovely conflagrations! It is the nature of Spirits to be true to what they are, so even though Wildfire knows on some level that too much fire is bad for the land, it just doesn't think about that aspect of things very much. It is also, after all, a spirit of renewal after the blaze, so it implicitly assumes that everything will regrow eventually. (Its strong ties to A Spread of Rampant Green probably contribute to this point of view.)

It fights the Invaders partly due to the exhortations of other Spirits, but more for the sake of the Dahan, as it's become clear that the Invaders have no compunctions about putting them to the sword. (The Dahan and it have a long and storied history together, beginning with the very first Dahan settlements.) It is also, it should be said, somewhat gleeful over the chance to really cut loose without the other Spirits getting all riled up and putting out its firestorms.

From the Playmat

A spirit of natural destruction... and renewal after destruction, though those whose lands have been scoured by flame don't usually much appreciate the latter. Thrives near human habitations, glorying in their fires and sparks, but has existed on the island since long before the Dahan arrived, a child of the Volcano and the Green.

The Wildfire is a long-standing friend of the Dahan: the early slash-and-burn agriculture which turned most Spirits against them gave it the best decades it had had in centuries. It later supported the Dahan during the Second Reckoning, backing their threats of reprisal. It doesn't interact with the Dahan often these years, but spares their villages as best it can, and fights the Invaders in large part for them.


Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds

Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds is a guardian-spirit, charged with maintaining the sanctity of the deepest wilds of Spirit Island. It serves spirits of deep root and ancient branch which foresaw the need for a more energetic guardian, being immensely slow in their age and great power. It takes its charge with unnerving seriousness, and the Dahan have learned that no matter how carefully they respect the land, raising their roof-poles too close to its domains will result in retribution: its charge is to prevent trespass, even if well-intentioned or scrupulously polite.

From the Playmat

Spread throughout Spirit Island are pockets of deep wilderness, untouched by human hands. A few have a spirit of sanctity about them. The leaves there whisper words of forbiddance, of warnings, of wrath for those who trespass. The Dahan know how to listen, and stay well away.

A few spirit-seekers claim that these wild-spirits (powerful as they are) are merely custodians and wardens for other more powerful, spirits of ancient trees and deep roots who wake neither frequently nor easily. Nobody much cares to test the truth of the matter.

Lightning's Swift Strike

Most spirits of storm travel the sky, never touching down or staying in any one place for too long, but a few find a place they’re sufficiently drawn to to stay - often a site with high winds or violent weather. Spirits of lightning are especially prone to this, finding the earth below more interesting than their cloud-formed bretheren.

Lightning’s Swift Strike was born long ago, of a storm-spirit off the shores of Spirit Island. It decided to stay in the instant it first struck ground, and has remained ever since. Lightning destroys with a fierce and glorious joy, not for the sake of destruction itself, but for the exultation of swiftness-in-power.

From the Playmat

The child of a passing storm-spirit, Lightning's Swift Strike danced off the shores of the island many ages ago, and liked it enough to stay. It spends much of its time resting and quiet, waking up to dance through the sky when the winds blow strong.

It only concerns itself occasionally with the Dahan, usually appearing out of nowhere to send them off on some obscure errand. The Dahan cooperate - partly out of wary respect for Lightning's power, but as much for the sake of the Thunderspeaker - Lightning's child - who is a patron and ally of their people.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp

The seas around Spirit Island were not always so dangerous as they now are; when the Dahan's ancestors first arrived, the journey was no more (or less) perilous than any other voyage between islands. Several centuries ago, between the Second Reckoning and the rise of the Spirit-speakers, Ocean's Hungry Grasp arrived in the nearby waters. It has severely curtailed the Dahan's trade with other islands, though not extinguished it: expeditions are careful to propitiate the Ocean before setting out and upon their return. Some smaller ocean spirits still exist - some playful, some indifferent, some moody - but all are overshadowed by the hungry, waiting presence lurking deep offshore, and many have fled. Thus far, the tall-shipped Invaders have mostly escaped its attention, but that is sure to shift soon.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp is by turns tempestuous and patient; it may slowly eat away a rocky shore over centuries or devour half an island in a hurricane. It has an awful fascination to it, luring sailors to founder and people to hurl themselves into its embrace. The one constant is that it is always willing to consume more, until all things lie beneath the waves.

From the Playmat

The hunger of the ocean runs deep and powerful, sometimes patient, sometimes tempestuous and angry. It slowly wears away at rocky shores, or devours half an island during a hurricane. It lures humans out onto the wtaer with its sire call, then consumes ship and crew alike unless the proper offerings are made.

The ocean's voraciousness keeps the Dahan from frequent sea travel, though they still manage a trading expedition every decade or so. These trading-trips take the cooperation of several families, and always involve at least two spirit-speakers. That way, even if one perishes abroad, the expedition will still be able to get home.

River Surges in Sunlight

River Surges in Sunlight is one of the greater river-spirits of the island, at least among those moderate enough in their locus of power to still interact readily with humans. (Joining of Three Rivers, for instance, is much larger and more powerful, but sluggish even by spirit standards, and very difficult to contact in any but a few very particular, well-worn ways.) River Surges has a well-established symbiotic relationship with the Dahan, who gain fertile ground from its controlled flooding and gifts of health from its magic; in turn, they tend to the river's needs during times of drought and darkness.

Like the river it embodies, it is a spirit of many moods: exuberant or subdued, curious or focused, playful in its power or grim under gray skies. For the Invaders, it brings its more destructive aspects: the force of rushing water, the destructive power of a flash flood, the inexorable rise of waters in a flooded land.

From the Playmat

On most of SPirit Island, the rivers run high during the rainy season, as one would expect. There is one exception: the lingering remains of an ancient curse keep a high ridge shourded in ice, and when the sun beats down, it feeds a single river with abundant meltwater.

River Surges in Sunlight is a spirit of rushing water, inundation, and bounty out of season.

It gets along well with the Dahan who farm along its banks; they reap the benefit of good harvests, and tend to the health of the river in its drier times. Both gain.


Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island

Let's shift our sight so we see only spirits. There are throngs of them visible across the surface of the island: spirits of tree and glade, of rushing river and entangling vines, of beast and butterfly and mists floating eerily over the marshes.

Turning our vision downward, we see nearly as many within the land itself: spirits of hard unyielding stone and of drifted sand dunes, of sinkhole and high peak. Vital Strength of the Earth is here.

As we look deeper, fewer spirits greet our eyes - some of volcano, some of dark and ancient caves, a handful of others. But like the earth itself, most of those we see are large, powerful, and slow.

Deeper and larger than all of those lies the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island. It could be argued that it is the Island, or at least its roots. Like all spirits of such size and power, it is slow beyond human reckoning. Unlike many of them, it is also asleep.

Or, now, mostly asleep. The distant sting of the Invaders' blight has begun to rouse portions of its consciousness towards waking, those fragments aware of the land's surface far above. Even that small aspect of the Serpent is slow to act, slow to awaken... but contains the potential for power greater than most spirits could ever muster.

From the Playmat

Long ago in an earlier age, there was only water where islands now lie. One day - for there were day and night by then, though humans did not yet exist - a great serpent grew tired of swimming and decided to rest. It drew the earth up around itself, and so the island was born.

Other stories say different things - in particular, Volcano Looming High has its own account - but stories do not need to agree for them to be true.

Regardless, many spirits can sense the immense serpent deep below. It is mostly asleep, and its influence on the land above is limited, but the Invaders' Blight already begins to sting it towards greater wakefulness.

Shadows Flicker Like Flame


A spirit of darkness and fire, of the alien and unnatural just out of vision around the corner. Its mindset is even more non-human than most Spirits', and it's somewhat dangerous just to be around; the only reason the Dahan have anything to do with it is out of a sense of reciprocity for a great favor it did them some generations ago. Its darkness works in ways not intuitive to humans; it may engulf a single person or an entire city, and it can act at great distance by reaching through the shadows of the Dahan. While not a spirit of fear, all of its Powers cause some amount of Fear due to their unnerving effects.

Spirits corresponding directly to natural features make instinctive sense to human minds: "the spirit of this river here", or "a spirit of stormy wind" are straightforward and easy to grasp. Some spirits are more inscrutiable, such as the Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds, or harder to perceive, such as the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island. And then there are others still whose nature simply does not mesh well with humanity's view of the universe, such as Shadows Flicker Like Flame.

It is the shadow of a candleflame; a fire that withers what it touches rather than igniting it; the dark silhouette of a tree cast across the ground which, when you step on it, turns out to be a pit of ink-black otherspace. Its form is as fluid as as smoke, rising up from any shadow lying on the ground.

Shadows Flicker Like Flame does not seem to represent any natural phenomenon known outside of itself, but is associated with shade, transformation, shadows given life, unnatural spaces, and engulfing dark. While it is not a spirit of terror per se, it evokes a primal fear in humans, both due to its associations and the alienness of its nature. It seems to honor its bargains, but it thinks along strange lines... and when it's near, you're never entirely sure that you won't just vanish.

Other Spirits do not seem to find Shadows Flicker Like Flame the least bit unnatural, however; perhaps humanity's view of nature is not perfectly complete.

From the Playmat

The Dahan say, "If the long shadows of sunset stretching beside you being to shift and flicker like tongues of hungry fire, do not run. That will only feed your fear, and whet the shadows' appetite."

This spirit invokes an instinctive fear in humans, perhaps because it doesn't think at all like humans do - it's more alien-minded than most. Until a few generations ago, the Dahan careful propitiated it only at a distance, steering as clear as they could. But during the Years of The Relentless Sun, it shaded large swaths of the Island, averting catastrophe; since th en, many Dahan have been willing to carefully - and cautiously - heed its words, feeling they have a debt they out to try to replay.

Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves

Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves is a predator-spirit, half-seen stalker in the jungles, hunter of prey large and small. This most emphatically includes humans - though a pair of heroes long ago won the Dahan the status of "not entirely prey", and with it an uneasy semi-reprieve from its more active predations. Still, the Dahan know better than to stick around too long when it moves into an area to stay.

Where it lairs for any length of time, the jungle becomes a hunting-grounds, and not just for its own hunts - Sharp Fangs can bring the aggressive and predatory instincts of other animals to the fore. Creatures that ordinarily might be dangerous only when provoked become actively marauding threats, or even driven into a berserker frenzy if it suits Sharp Fangs' purposes. It's not that it lives for the hunt and the fight: it is the hunt and the fight, the way that Lightning is lightning and Earth is earth.

From the Playmat

A predator-spirit of the jungles, a stalker and hunter of animal and human alike. Wherever it lives, savage beasts emerge to hunt, and the jungle grows dark and ominous.

Sharp Fangs doesn't bother talking to the Dahan. Sometimes it will hunt them, or run them off, but for the most part it ignores them. The Dahan's legends tell of a time when Sharp Fangs hunted them more actively, until a pair of warriors - twins, sister and brother - drove it off with traps and guile, then turned the tables and hunted it down. Since then, it has seen the Dahan as not-entirely-prey, which, for it, is something akin to respect.

Thunderspeaker


Thunderspeaker is a child of Lightning's Swift Strike, metamorphosed through a binding-oath to the Dahan that saved it from imprisonment. It wears human form, now, and is sometimes called upon by the Dahan to act as a leader against larger threats which must be confronted by many clans: partly because of the powers and knowledge it can bring to bear, and partly because following Thunderspeaker's lead helps circumvent the delicate question of who should be in charge of such a large coalition. Thunderspeaker primarily acts via the Dahan, organizing them to fight in ways they have not had to fight for many generations, but is capable of direct Power use - and must decide when choosing new Powers whether to double-down on its allegiance to the Dahan, or to complement that with more direct effects.

Thunderspeaker is a spirit of sound and of power, of words on the wind and bright bursts of destruction. It is tied strongly to the Dahan by a long-standing vow, and most often appears in human form as a result, but no one would mistake it for an ordinary person: its form crackles with energy and its voice carries a storm-born strength.

It serves the Dahan mostly in times of great need - it fought fiercely alongside them during the Second Reckoning - but has also been known to turn up from time to time offering aid unasked-for, calling messages to distant families or guarding against a hitherto-unknown threat. It has occasionally agreed to serve as a commander of sorts, when multiple Dahan clans wish to make common cause but cannot agree on which of them should lead the effort.

Thunderspeaker has not been much seen since the destruction of the Servant Cults. Some speculate that fighting against Dahan - even on behalf of other Dahan - must have taken a heavy spiritual toll, given the oath that binds it.

From the Playmat

Child of the Lightning, once known as Bright Thunder Roars in the days when it tore across the land as an avalanche of sound and chaos. It lost that form when the Stalker of Hidden Secrets imprisoned it in a canyon, binding it to echo perpetually back and forth until its thunder died out or the stones of the island wore away.

The Dahan freed it from that imprisonment. Weakened but grateful, Bright Thunder Roars bound itself to aid the Dahan untlil a generation had passed for every year of its imprisonment, and in so binding changed its nature, becoming both less and more than it had been. It often takes human form, now, and with centuries' practice wears it with ease.

Chiefs call on the Thunderpseaker only in times of great need; it has not been much seen since the destruction of the Servant Cults.

Elsewhere

>G Forum post on Gender and Spirits: Thunderspeaker appears as female or male or neither or who-knows because it chooses to, but that choice may not have deep import. Some days you pick clothes to make a particular impression, but some days you just throw something on because it's comfortable. Given its nature, it's much more likely to be forming its guise based loosely on Dahan it once knew who had exceptional voices than as any sort of social message! :-) (Particularly since gender among the Dahan is mostly relevant in matters of family - marriage, households, having kids, kin relations, family status, etc - and Thunderspeaker isn't really hooked into that part of Dahan society.)


Vital Strength of the Earth

Vital Strength of the Earth is a spirit of the support and sustenance that growing life gains from the ground below. It finds animals (including humans) quite interesting, but they fall outside of its bailiwick. While it is not a Spirit born of sunlight, its cycle of life is ultimately nourished by the sun, and the sun's constancy and power align well with its nature.

It is old, and its strength runs deep; while most Spirits have heard tell of the Serpent Slumbering Beneath the Island, Vital Strength is one of a few which can sense its uneasy sleep. It is patient and unhurried, though it understands the need to act with more alacrity when dealing with humans. (If you take too long, they forget what you were working on together and pack up to move elsewhere, which is such a shame.) It has good ongoing relations with multiple Dahan clans, treading carefully around their attitudes towards debt and favors; it does not see the world from the same angle of reciprocity, status, and obligation that the Dahan do.

From the Playmat

A spirit of great and unhurried power. The life that earth yields up to roots, the ground supporting the life that lives upon it. The patience of seasons and of stone.

It is not usually a direct benefactor of the Dahan - rather than giving blessings it prefers to work in concert with them, lending power to joint undertakings.

Currently it is trying to rouse itself to fight against the Invaders, but this swift and direct action runs somewhat counter to its nature.


Brandenburg-Prussia

In the alternate history of Spirit Island, Brandenburg-Prussia became a much more significant power than it was in our own world, maintaining some crucial alliances which greatly increased its size, population, and (significantly) port access.

From the Rulebook

Fredric William inherited the Duchy of Prussia and Electorate of Brandenburg upon the death of his father George William in December 1640. Eschewing the ineffective and vacillatory foreign policy of his father, Fredrick William abandoned the Polish Vasa dynasty and allied with King Gustavus Adophus of Sweden against Catholic Poland. The triple alliance of Sweden, Russia, and Brandenburg-Prussia resulted in the resounding defeat of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1644, and its subsequent partition more than doubled the size of Prussian lands.

As a result of this victory Fredrick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg, declared himself Frederick I, King in Prussia, and set about the process of building infrastructure and extending Prussian control throughout his newly acquired territory. Upon his death in 1701, his sun Frederick II inherited a thoroughly Prussian kingdom and one of the premier European armies.

Frederick II sought to further expand Prussian territory without upsetting the continental balance of power between Sweden Russia, France and the Habsburgs. Building up the Prussian navy, the new king strove to catch up to other European colonial powers and quickly integrate new colonies into the Prussian economy.


England

The alternate-history of the British Isles has taken a different course from our own: Scotland remains independent, for one thing, and while England is certainly powerful, neither it nor the other Great Powers of our own history are quite so dominant in this one.

From the Rulebook

Queen Elizabeth I of England married Robert Dudley, son of the Duke of Northerumberland, in 1562. The marriage was initially a scandal due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Dudley's first wife, and inspired a revolt in several noble houses. However, the co-monarchs Robert I and Elizabeth I grew in popularity after the suppression of the revolt in 1564 and the birth of their son Edward in 1566. With the defeat of an attempted invasion from Spain and Scotland in 1587, the Kingdom of England became one of the premier naval powers in the North Atlantic. After the death of Robert in 1588, and Elizabeth in 1603, their son Edward VII became King of England

England was only briefly involved in the religious wars on the continent in the 17th centurly. Following a disastrous invasion attempt in France in 1633, and a clash with Scotland in 1651, the Kingdom of England focused on fortifying the Scottish frontier and building up its naval power.

Unable to project power on the continent and constrained to southern Britain, the Kingdom of England was one of the first to seek colonies in the New World, using its oversas possessioins to provide citizens with opportunities that were increasingly hard to come by at home.


France

The French Plantation Colony is really a twofold Adversary: some of its effects are derived from historical France, while others are based off of the Caribbean plantation colonies founded by multiple European powers. Note that this is 1700s France - the policies and practices of later French colonization (such as homeland representation and strong public-health/infrastructure investment) are absent.

From the Rule Book

King Louis XIV, the longest ruling monard in Europe, rules France with an iron fist but requires a constant stream of revenue to finance his wars on the continent. Recently involved in a war against Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire to place his grandson Philip on the Spanish throne, Louis relies on the strength of the French Army to hold together a tenuous alliance with Span and Scotland against the Swedish, Habsburg, and Prussian Kingdoms.

Prevented from raising money from the aristocracy, and with a peasant population already suffering under some of the highest tax rates in Europe, he has begun setting up plantation colonies and extracting the resources of distant lands for the benefit of the Kingdom of France.


Sweden


From the Rulebook

Ruler: King Erik XV

Following his triumph at the Battle of Lützen in 1632, King Gustavus Adolphus led the Kingdom of Sweden to further victories over Catholic armies, defeating and partitioning the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with Brandenburg and Russia in 1644. Following his death in 1651, Gustavus Adolphus was succeeded by his son, King Gustav III, who went on to defeat Kingdom of Denmark in a series of campaigns between 1657 and 1668 and secure total Swedish dominion over the Baltic Sea.

Gustav III was succeeded by his son Erik in 1683, who became the eight Vasa ruler of Sweden. Under his rule, constrained from further growth on the continent by Russia to their East and the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia to their south, Sweden begun leveraging their powerful navy to set up colonies throughout the world.

The absorption of former Polish lands in the eastern Baltic has given Sweden a significant influx of Slavs and other non-Scandanavian people. While a tremendous boon to their economic and military power, this demographic shift has also been a source of internal turmoil as the Kingdom of Sweden attempts the historically difficult task of integrating a multi-ethnic society. Along with a desire for more natural resources, Sweden's desire for a "safety valve" outlet for discontents and political agitators has driven their desire to establish themselves as a colonial power.


History

From the Rulebook

The Dahan are the first human inhabitants of Spirit Island, who have resided there long enough to develop their own language and culture. They immigrated many centuries ago, in a time when Ocean's Hungry Gasp prowled nearby waters less frequently, and travel between islands was easier. Their lore spoke of Spirits, and they expected their new home would have some, but were greatly surprised by the Spirits' numbers, vitality, and intensity of manifestation. Some mistook the greater Spirits for gods.

The Dahan's agriculture and animals brought Blight to the land and conflict with the Spirits, triggering the First Reckoning. The Dahan capitulated quickly, and an accord was reached: the Spirits would transform crops and animals to be more compatible with the ecosystem. The Dahan would change their methods of farming and seek counsel from friendlier Spirits. The two became neighbors, though unequal: the Dahan were reliant on and obligated to the Spirits.

Many generations later came the Second Reckoning, when the Dahan discovered their advisors and protectors had not been entirely candid with them, and the power balance between Dahan and Spirits evened out - but that is another story. Suffice it to say that the Dahan no longer view the Spirits as gods.

At the game’s start, the Dahan are just recovering from the foreign diseases which swept across the Island in the wake of the first major Invader settlements. They will work with the Spirits if requested, and fight back against the Invaders if attacked, but otherwise tend to their own affairs.

Society and Culture

BGG review: ...the Dahan don't have graveyards. Rather, they set up a spiral-carved post of wood as a mourning-place, far away from where anyone - most especially the deceased - has recently died or been buried. This distance is to help protect the essence / soul of the dead, by drawing away the attention of any malefic Spirits that would destroy or consume them before they depart.

The Spirits are pretty clear about what usually happens to humans directly after death - a non-physical portion of them lingers, for a varying amount of time - but vague about what follows afterwards, expressing variations on "they become absent". Most Dahan interpret this as "leaving for somewhere else". Stories speak of heroes seeking to discover whether the souls of the dead travel Pathmaker's ways. None of them got a straight answer - or at least, none of those who returned.

>G Forum post on Gender and Spirits: "Somewhat matriarchal" is a pretty good descriptor for the Dahan. Their families / households are formed around (and headed by) women. Formal clan/village leadership is not gender-associated, though the chief is a semi-proxy for their family, so it's a little muddy there. War-leader(*) is also not gender-associated, but is often drawn from those-who-travel, who statistically lean slightly male due to some women not wanting to take on far-ranging roles during late pregnancy / early motherhood and heads-of-household (who are always women) nearly always being among those-who-stay. Other roles of leadership and/or prestige that I can think of offhand aren't gender-associated and don't skew either direction across the Dahan as a whole. Gender among the Dahan is mostly relevant in matters of family - marriage, households, having kids, kin relations, family status, etc.

(*) = The normal Dahan version of "war" is a far cry from the modern usage, and what Thunderspeaker leads the Dahan in is not considered "war"; "raiding" would likely be the closest translation. This is why "Call to Bloodshed" isn't named "Call to War"... and "The Trees and Stones Speak of War" is the Spirits/land advising the Dahan not just on tactically useful information, but on the different way in which the Invaders are approaching this conflict.

Spirit Interactions

BGG thread: How the Dahan interact with sacred sites depends very much on the Spirit and on the Dahan who come across it. Here are some examples, off the top of my head, if a small traveling group of Dahan were to happen upon a previously-unknown but obvious sacred site (with clear indication of what Spirit it was):

  • River Surges in Sunlight: Discuss maybe moving into the area next time they migrate their village. Tend the river's banks for a day or two, greeting the spirit (with dance, perhaps?) if they see it.
  • Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves: Detour around / leave the area if reasonably possible. Keep a wary eye out with weapons at the ready, regardless.
  • Keeper of the Forbidden Wilds: Immediate purposeful flight at top speed.
  • Vital Strength of the Earth: Chisel marks into nearby stone, both as a marking-of-place and as a friendly greeting/offering[1]. Don't bother hanging around - it might be months before it notices the stone marks - but trust that that space will probably be a safer one in the coming years.
  • Ocean's Hungry Grasp: If there's a spirit-speaker with the group, make some appropriate propitiatory offerings to the ocean then move carefully on. If not, stay away from the shore and camp well away from water.

[1] = It's both of these things, similar to, eg, housewarming gifts. "Offering" does not mean "a gift to a worshipped being", but something more like "something freely given that might not be accepted, and is outside of gift convention". (Gifts between Dahan usually have social implications - the giver's family gains status - that offerings to Spirits do not, at least not in the same way.)


These were mentioned in the Rulebook, but only in passing and have not yet been elaborated on (Thanks Chaosmancer!)

Spirits

  • Stalker of Hidden Secrets (imprisoned Bright Thunder Roars, leading to Thunderspeaker)
  • Volcano Looming High (Probably also “The Volcano” mentioned as one of the parents of Heart of the Wildfire and as a creator of the Island, similar to the Serpent)
  • The Green (Possibly Spread of Rampant Green, partially gave birth to Heart of the Wildfire)
  • The Pathmaker (has a Realm, was also mentioned in regards to the spirits of Dead Dahan if memory serves)
  • Voice of the Deepest Gorge (no longer around?)
  • Watcher Acts Not
  • And implied but not named there is the Storm Spirit which birthed Lightning’s Swift Strike

Events

Next some events, named or not

  • The Years of the Relentless Sun which Shadows Flicker Like Flame helped “combat”
  • The Ice Curse which feeds River Surges in Sunlight
  • First Reckoning
  • Second Reckoning (This is implied to be super important, but no details are given)

Other

Other Names of Potential Interest

  • Servant Cults (these seem like they could be important, perhaps related to the Second Reckoning)