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Aotran Cosmology

The people of Aotra are superstitious and spiritual by nature, and as much as they are superstitious they are devoted to knowledge, truth, and understanding. As such, understanding their world's cosmos is of great importance to Aotrans. Every Aotran knows the source of magic as the Myth, and every Aotran harbors at least a little fear of the distant Otherworld deep inside.
 

The Otherworld

A single plane of existence mirrors Aotra's Material Plane: the Otherworld. Known for its turbulence, chaos, and unpredictability, the Otherworld is the antithesis of some of the most universal Aotran values, consistency and security. But the Otherworld itself is less a threat to Aotra than its inhabitants. Diverse creatures that might be called fey, fiends, celestials, aberrations, or simply monsters on any other world are referred to simply as the Other. Aotrans believe that the thing that divides them from the Other are souls; the mortals that walk the world possess souls, while the Others are soulless.
  To Aotrans, the Otherworld and the Other are a terrible threat to mortal peace. Incursions of the Otherworld into the Material Plane are violent and strange; the power of the Otherworld warps the Material Plane, molding it into its chaotic shape. In places touched by the Otherworld, unnatural patterns emerge: livestock may be born stillborn or deformed, worked wood in buildings or furniture may rot over the course of hours, magic may be unstable, overactive, or suppressed, or any number of other strange effects. And the Other themselves exert dark influence on the minds of all those unlucky enough to come into contact with them, seeking to feed on mortal souls.
  In the face of the hostility Aotrans know from the Otherworld, races who trace their origins to its influence are often treated with suspicion. Races of Aotra like elves and orcs, for whom the mark of the Otherworld is much older, are more likely to see acceptance from humans, but those for whom the influence of the Otherworld is more recent may find outright hostility within society.
 

The Myth

Like an invisible shell, a network of arcane power blankets Aotra. Called the Myth by Aotrans, the network's energy permeates and surrounds every person and everything on the planet. They see the Myth as a vital part of humanity's life cycle. According to Aotran beliefs, every soul is a fragment of the Myth, embodied; at death, a soul rejoins the Myth once again.
  In its most pure form, the Myth drives every unseen process of nature; it guides plant growth, stirs up storms and calms them down again, and places souls within bodies. But the Myth is not only a distant, unseen force. It can be manipulated: the ability to use magic is, at its core, the ability to channel and shape the Myth to one's own will. No magic exists separately from the Myth, though ways of channeling its power vary. Some mages spend lifetimes learning to harness the power of the Myth, documenting their studies in scrolls, books, libraries. Others are granted a measure of control over it through their faith in a deity, oath, or other great power. And yet others, the rarest of all, are born with an intuitive sense for the Myth and its workings.
  For much of Aotra's history, the Myth powered nearly every aspect of Aotran civilization across nations and cultures. Cities depended on it to craft grand architecture, create fantastical works of art, and, most importantly, grow food in the harsh Aotran deserts. Smaller towns and villages competed fiercely with each other for the honor of employing mages in service of the town. Vast networks of railcar systems depended on the Myth for the energy that kept them shuttling people across the globe.
  But the effects of the Myth were not limited to these tangible effects, either. For the ever-present shell of energy that made up the Myth served another purpose: to protect Aotra against the Otherworld. Though not a perfect barrier, the Myth served as a moderating force: preventing a free flow of mortals into the Otherworld and Others into Aotra, guarding against the Otherworld's wild power, and empowering Aotrans to stand against the rare incursions from the Otherworld. For many Aotrans, their faith in the Myth bolsters them against the fear of the Otherworld; as much as the Otherworld is a sign that parts of their world are fundamentally hostile, the Myth demonstrates equally that there are parts that serve to protect mortal life.
  When the Severing struck, most of the functions that the Myth had once served for Aotra halted abruptly. While some ceased quietly--railcars ground to a halt, gardens slowly withered, and streetlights went dark--others ceased disastrously. Cities raised by the Myth and held up by it crumbled to the ground. The minds of mages shattered. And the tenuous peace between Aotra and the Otherworld began to fray.
  Some believe that after the Severing, the Myth has dissipated or been drawn into the Otherworld; they believe that the Myth itself is weakened. Others believe that it has never left Aotra, but rather lies dormant for reasons incomprehensible to mortal minds. Regardless what any individual believes about the changing relationship between Aotra and the Myth, one fact remains uncontested by all: the damage has been done.

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