Monolith

To be a Monolith is to be Enlightened. Enlightenment is the transcendant state of grace achieved through mastery of an art. It grants insight into the nature of our world, and some power over it.

The faithful believe that Enlightenment is a blessing from a higher power—as evidenced by the often poetic (and thus intelligently designed) nature of its manifestations. Atheists believe that it is an emergent phenomena of the meta—as evidenced by the increasing frequency of Monoliths as science and metascience advance.

Once a rare phenomena of one-per-one-hundred million people, Monoliths are now one-in-ten-thousand. The resultant emergence of an elite enlightened class is one of the great societal existential crises of the time.

Enlightened does not mean benevolent.

In a time where gods are made, you sculpted yourself.

You are the weight of the world that lays on our minds,

You are the giant whose shoulders we stand upon.

Changing the world was the only option you ever had.

You are a wheel, and you must turn.

— Canticle of the Monolith

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Summary

Type
Magical, Honorific
Related Organizations
Related Professions

Alternative Titles

BannerTitle
HaimarchyEmeri/Emerus
PactAmujhn Akjheishi (Amunshi)
SomnacyAngel
SyndicateDeity
FederationElite

A State of Grace

Every culture has a word for Monoliths. They are the graceful and the enlightened, the worshipped and the maligned. The titles put upon them speaks volumes about a culture’s view of them, whether as saviors or tyrants, but there is one title to unify them all: Monolith.

The word “monolith” describes, in whatever language this text is ultimately translated into, an ancient slab of stone which has been erected or carved as a memorial or testament to something or someone. The stone did not ask for this, but their scale invited it.

To be monolithic is to be standalone, even if you do not stand alone. It is to be internally indivisible, to have a certainty of self so strong that your roots draw their nutrients from the fabric of the universe.

You are a Monolith.

Hierus Nomen
From 'Path of Transcendence: A Guide for New Monoliths'

Life is divided into two periods: every moment before Enlightenment, and every moment after.

Enlightenment is a look into the machinations of the universe. Each time you peer through that veil, you transcend again. Life is divided anew.

You transcend through understanding of some aspect of the universe—an art—so deeply that it offers you a window into the deeper truth and a door into your higher self.

Enlightenment brings with it Grace, a Domain, a Power, and an Affectation. Each grows or sprouts anew with each transcendance.

Grace

Clarity of Will

Your mind does not war from within. It lives in perpetual equanimity. You are not omniscient, but you are certain of your strengths.

Domain

Mastery of Art

The Art by which you shape the world and yourself is your Domain. You may develop multiple Domains by mastering many Arts.

Power

A Demonstration of Strength

Your Power sprouts from your Domain and is a poetic complement to it. As that Domain strengthens, so too does the Power.

Affectations

Manifestations of the Soul

Enlightenment makes for a grand soul, which manifests through sensate illusions matching your nature. These radiate raw meta.

Transcendance

As a species evolves, it also becomes more emotionally complex and needful. The scale of needs and complexity is known as Sophonce.

On this scale, canines, ancient homonids, and ancient verin all rate somewhere around Sapient, which is to say that they seek social comfort and can entertain a basic concept of morality. Humans, Verin, and Sazashi are all Sophont—entities which can have an existential crises of morality.

Monoliths are Sophilects. They have such a high capacity for self-evaluation that it is said by many that a Monolith cannot surprise themself—the wording is a bit misleading, but it is not far from the truth. A Monolith does not conflict with themselves, it can process extreme existential quandaries.

Mastery of the self is not mastery over the world, as much as it may feel like it. You may now see the guiding algorithm, but you cannot control it.

Many new monoliths mistake this internal certainty for external certainty, and get themselves into grave peril as a result.

— Path of Transcendence

Domain

Monoliths transcends through an art—a word here used very liberally to encompass whatever skill the Monolith has honed to a point of intuitive flow. This may be a literal art, such as with a weapon or a canvas, or it can be from enduring physical and emotional extremes.

A Monolith's Domain is over that art. Due to the nature of society, this has often been a domain over some art of war, and so reinforced a notion that the military was a path to certain divinity. War is not the only industry responsible for Monoliths, however. Much can be gleaned of the nature of each Banner by their most common types of Monolith.

Examples: Spears • Handguns • Divination • Piloting • Cooking

On the instant you descend, you will know the broadest name of your Domain, but it will take you longer to know its true name.

Let's say, for example, that your Domain is "swords". With time you will come to realize that it's less the encompassing totality of blades, and more that there's a minute particular aspect by which you conduct your blade and self. That's your true Domain.

— Path of Transcendence

Powers

Powers are what Monoliths are most famed for. They capture the imagination and terror of the mundanes, who become easily controlled to bear strong opinions about Monoliths are good and which are bad.

Some Monolithic powers are more easily identified, while some are very difficult. Each is poetic, and while there are some repeats between Monoliths, the list of known Powers is ever growing.

Examples: Avatar of PowerShake ConvictionsFace in a CrowdAngels on a Pinhead

Just as you innately understood your Domain, you will know your Power. It will feel like the most natural extension to everything you've already been doing, and so the temptation will be to experiment with the power outright and often. Be careful, and remember the Toll.

— Path of Transcendence

Affectations

An Affectation is a cosmetic manifestation of a Monolithic soul. A Monolith may make it active or inactive at will, but it is always active whenever they use their Power.

While some affectations have effects, their presence is mostly illusory. Monoliths get one Affectation per Power, and the Affectation grows in scale and theatrics in tandem with the Power. Affectations generate meta and are the only source of meta in Ethnis.

Examples: Unnerving Aura, Glowing Halo, Distant Melody, Celestial Chains, Ear-splitting Laughter

Your Affectations are a deep glimpse of your soul. Bear them with pride, but also with caution—they have an implicit responsibility from anyone who sees them—you are the cause or solution to all their ills.

The habit of worshipping Monoliths continues.

— Path of Transcendence

Rules of Grace

Enlightenment is not without rules. The first rule is a formality, the second a law, the third a caution. I would suggest to a new Monolith that you make them your new religion.

One: Silence is a Wise Statement

There is no need to advertise that you are a Monolith unless it serves you to do so. It's going to get out anyway. Experienced Psiolics are going to pick you out, anyway—your aura is a burning beacon and you're radiating raw Meta at all times. They'll pass along the news of your presence to those who care; the government, the businesses, and the gangs make sure that reporting Monoliths is well-paying work.

Sometimes, this will benefit you. Often, it will not. Most see us as either the source of all their woes, or as their only hope. You never know which it will be. Decide for yourself who you will help, and know why. Many will claim to owe you their lives, but it's yours that will be risked more often.

Even when you are among other Monoliths, keep your guard. It is customary to avoid sharing your Domains or Powers, and you should not trust those who would ask you yours. Our lives tend to be long, and that length breeds a complexity. The person who is your friend in this era may be your foe in the next. There is no need to tip your hand.

Two: There is a price

Each time you invoke your Powers, there is a cost. It is a small cost, and if you are powerful you can afford to pay it over and over. Temptation or circumstance will someday force you to spend until there is nothing left, and then there will be nothing left of you. Nothing but a statue.

The cost is a transformation. Each time you Invoke a Feat, a small part of your body turns to Schaeus flesh. Where this begins is up to fate or chance, but it grows outwards from wherever it is. Your body will operate quite well, for a while, but once it kills you, your whole body transforms at once.

This process does not reverse, but if you have regeneration and healing you can snap it off or dig it out, with great pain, and much blood and heal it like a normal injury.

Three: The Price is Tempting

The price is paid each time you invoke your powers, but you can also push yourself, and indebt a deeper cost to strengthen a single invocation of your powers. In whatever way your power can be measured, it becomes stronger, but more of yourself is lost in the process.

Jhoutai is peppered in Monoliths who put their all their strength into a final swan song act of power, and so became subsumed by the price and became a statue. These statues, which still radiate meta even in "death", house the soul of the Monolith—those who attempt to communicate with them report that the Monolith can no longer communicate in any way that has meaning.

These statues are called Divinoriums.

Hierus Nomen
From 'Path of Transcendence: A Guide for New Monoliths'
Cover-Law-Monolith-1
Monolithic Transcendance by Ademal

History

  • Sovereign Kyzan

    6580

    Kyzan, killed by the Amiri, returns from the dead as the Sovereign.

    More

    Kyzan, the Emeri of a Faeo tribe, is captured by an Amiriverin tribe during a raid. He and the rest are ritualistically sacrificed via Raptor Feast.

    Sometime after following his death, Kyzan resurrects, claiming to have met The Wheel. His claim is reinforced by his ability to do magic unprecedented outside of myth. He creates and claims the title of Azukenda—Sovereign, and unites the Faeo, Chea, and Sauthei tribes.

  • The First Monolith

    6840

    While warring the Amiri, Azker-Nadall, spearmaster, rises as first Monolith.

    More

    Kyzan, still enraged by his death at the hands of a Amiriverin tribe, declares war on their Confederation. Azker-Nadall, a spearman from his main infantry, becomes the champion of his forces.

    Azker-Nadall becomes the first Monolith. Though at first threatened by Azker-Nadall, Kyzan embraced the dutiful warrior and celebrated his transcendance by erecting a massive stone Monolith in the battlefield where Azker-Nadall became a Monolith. From this moment on, Monolith became Azker-Nadall's title.

  • The Prime Family

    7123

    Azker-Nadall's lineage continues the tradition of becoming Monoliths.

    More

    Years after his transcendance, Azker's sons, Lassu and Orimgue, also become spear Monoliths. This begin a long dynasty of Monolithic spearmen, reinforcing the image of the spear was a holy weapon. Verin came from all over the Verra Region to train under the clan, which was very selective about its students.

  • The Scattered Monoliths

    7193

    People outside of Azker-Nadall's lineage begin to transcend.

    More

    For several generations, Azker's family believed that they bore the blessing of Kyzan, and so were the only ones capable of becoming Monoliths. This changed, however, when their pupils began to transcend as well, and not only for spears. New families arose, though those who thought themselves capable of toppling the Kyzanate were quickly killed.

  • Monolithic Feudalism

    7253

    Kyzan establishes the Monolithic Order and divides the lands to them.

    More

    Rather than fight the growing number of Monolithic families, which now ordered in the dozens, Kyzan appointed them kingdoms to look over in his stead. This collection of Monoliths came to be known as the Monolithic Order.

  • Death of Kyzan

    7412

    Kyzan is betrayed and slain by the Monolithic Order, lead by Lun-Kheren.

    More

    Members of the Monolithic Order, including Lun-Kheren, coordinate an attack on Kyzan during a moot. Many of them die in the attempt, but Kyzan is ultimately struck down, killed, and exorcised to prevent his resurrection.

    Lun-Kheren takes Kyzan's power and embeds it into his circlet, creating a crown which imparts the power and office of the Sovereign.

  • The Procession Begins

    7618

    Lun-Kheren establishes Nepotocratic Sovereignty: the Procession.

    More

    Lun-Kheren establishes the Vadakendanic Procession, a government which respects the Blood Edict but which holds that the power of Sovereignty must be removed from a family's control every 1000 years and given, by election of the Monolithic Order, to the head of another family.

  • The Sovereign Tyrant

    9000-9452

    The Luchraedes family conducts a reign of greed and terror.

    More

    The Luchraedes family is elected into government, and Osahn Luchraedes is granted the crown. Osahn begins a hunt for members of the Monolithic order who he believes to be attempting to usuerp the Sovereignty, causing many to abandon the Procession in response. The result is that the world fractures into clusters of city-states lead by Monoliths.

    Osahn's reign ends in a bloody coup, and Alephus Ashiman becomes the new Sovereign.

  • Enlightenment Boom

    9480

    Tech and culture advancements raise the Enlightenment rate to 1:10mil.

    More

    Travel between the Procession city-states becomes easier due to improvements in airship travel, including the establishment of safe routes, travel standars, and a greater understanding of Jhoutaioan meteorology.

    Families move to the cities ruled by the Monoliths whose Domains they aspire to, resulting in even more Monoliths being trained.

  • The Great Fracture

    9500-9825

    Monolith-led city-states worldwide vie for control of their land, and lose.

    More

    The Procession slowly replaces their cities with Homes which can be controlled from Tower Palace. This causes many cities to turn against the Procession, ushering in a war.

  • Order of Aspirants

    10,132

    The Order of Aspirants is founded to keep the Monolithic Order in line.

    More

    In the wake of the Fracture, the Order of Aspirants if formed and the Monolithic Order is reformed. Now, there are a limited number of Monolithic Leaders, known as Pillars, who create and enforce laws. They also who train Aspirants—non-Monoliths who are Aspiring to acheive enlightenment.

  • Enlightenment Boom

    12,000 - 19455

    Tech and culture advancements raise the Enlightenment rate to 1:100k.

    More

    Thousands of years of medical, educational, and systemic advancement promote longer lives and deeper understanding of topics, allowing more and more people to become Monoliths through Aspirant education.

    Monoliths now account for 1 in 100,000 members of the living global population.

  • The Harrowing

    19838-19857

    Guerilla attacks against Monolithic institutions undermine their rule.

    More

    The Harrowing organizes a global geurilla assault on the various monuments and pantheons of Monoliths worldwide in an attempt to topple the global stranglehold of monoliths over the government.

  • Modern Day

    21150

    Monoliths account for 1 in 10,000 members of the universal population.

  • Honoring the Divine

    The tradition of building Monolithic monuments has continued since Kyzan first erected a monolith for Azker-Nadall. Over the course of millenia, Jhoutai's surface has become peppered with Monolithic monuments. They are a common method of navigation, and sometimes form country borders.

    The construction of a monument was once exclusive to the Monolithic Order. After the Kyzanate, this ritual has changed many times, to a point where every single Monolith had a statue made—some a mere figurine, others towering columns.

    Abandoned Monolithic Monument
    Abandoned Monolithic Monument by Ademal / Artbreeder / Unsplash

    The Title

    Inline-Rank-Monolith
    Monolith Seal by Ademal

    Aspirants who became Monoliths were ceremoniously gifted the above seal.

    The seal is the Azukenda headdress: a complement of Aeolamen tail feathers over the Circlet of Lun-Kheren, itself bearing the iconic Sacred Seal of Sovereignty.

    The back of the seal represents Jhoutai's two moons and asteroid belts.

    Want More?

    Throughout this article, you've seen quote after quote from "Path of Transcendence". Want more? Well, we're writing a Zine version of it about how to add Monoliths to your setting or game. It's setting-agnostic, to make it very accomodating to different games! Pick it up over on Kickstarter!

    We are adding limiting examples of Domains, Miracles, and Affectations soon, with full examples on our Monolith Zine (below) or to Patreon supporters.

    Ethnis Kickstarter Now Live!
    Generic article | Feb 8, 2021

    Monoliths

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    Character | Feb 11, 2021

    Akshaya Mahima is the Queen of Distra. She rules the Undaunted and heads the infantry of The Federation of Free Planets, as much an inspiration to it as a leader.

    Ashiris Khandea
    Character | Oct 10, 2020

    Ashiris Khandea is the Aempian representative of the ValuSelu Pact. She stands for Aempis and the rights of the Aen living within the Pact.

    Brak
    Character | Aug 18, 2020

    Vigor's Hunter and Ex. "I am Trash."

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    Character | Feb 25, 2021

    The mother of the House of Sorrows, the martyr of its being, the queen whose throne is a grave. Her ghost haunts the stars.

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    Character | Feb 25, 2021

    Father of Ashiris Khandea

    Dartesian Sesir’ri Tel Ionel
    Character | Feb 25, 2021

    Eat, I Insist

    Glistering Gabriel
    Character | Apr 6, 2021

    The Sommelier of Sorrow. The Angel of Angst. The answer to all your joys. | Gabriel was an Angel stationed at The Crucible before he was excommunicated from Somnacy for consorting with Sorrows to obtain Glisterwax for use in torture.

    Hierus Nomen
    Character | Oct 22, 2020
    Jauk Shalades
    Character | Dec 22, 2020
    Johnny Durange
    Character | Mar 28, 2021

    Johnny Durange was a FirstHeart Jhoutigari marksman during the Blood Snow Offensive. He was born to a poor family in the slums of Calgary on Earth. At the age of twenty, he enlisted for the Aempian Military.

    Kor-Tar, The Thunderstorm
    Character | Dec 12, 2020
    Kvarlo the Weird
    Character | Jul 25, 2020
    L⋆D⋆V⋆N⋆O
    Character | Feb 25, 2021

    Five capital letters, written in gold... L⋆D⋆V⋆N⋆O is the Monolith of Partying, a larger-than-life figure whose highest drive is to dance.

    Marae du Nort
    Character | Dec 31, 2020
    Sarko
    Character | Feb 25, 2021

    Sarko is a sensationalist, a journalist, and a war-fighter. His endeavors bring him to every corner of the galaxy, and no battlefield or situation is to hairy or gruesome for him to cover.

    Togue Jadey
    Character | Feb 25, 2021
    Twain
    Character | Mar 9, 2021
    Vigor Mortis
    Character | Feb 9, 2019

    Leader of the Killjoy Misfortune Party, compulsive rhymer

    Vinhibrani
    Character | Jan 18, 2021


    Cover image: Monolith Cover by Lorsynth and TJ Trewin

    Comments

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    Sage Serukis
    Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
    26 Feb, 2021 01:28

    There's a whole lot of information here, but it didn't feel like that whilst I was reading. I really liked the 'Rules of Grace' section. :)

    Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
    Eternal Deity Ademal
    Ademal Jacklyn
    26 Feb, 2021 06:09

    Thank you! I wanted to capture this feeling that this is a bit of a guide for newbie Monoliths!

    explore-ethnis.png

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    Sage eccbooks
    E. Christopher Clark
    1 Mar, 2021 21:22

    What an excellent tease of a concept I can't wait to explore further as a backer of your Kickstarter.   One thing I find myself wondering about, and maybe you get into this in the forthcoming zine, but when you mention "add[ing] Monoliths to your setting or game" does that mean we'll be able to use Monoliths in our own work? If so, will we be advised to use a different name for them (so as not to infringe upon the great work y'all are doing)?   I feel weird asking, especially since I just wanted to use this space to celebrate the great work of this article, but I figured I'd throw the question out there before I forgot it again.

    Eternal Deity Ademal
    Ademal Jacklyn
    2 Mar, 2021 03:18

    Hey Christopher!   We generally expect folks to adapt them into non-commercial projects, but the concept itself is as old as time and not one we'll try to lay claim on. Depending on how you tweak them, they could as easily be greek heroes, superheroes, angels, and demons, we're just providing a fun route to explore and adapt them.   The title of Monolith, however, we intend to keep for ourselves.   Great question! I'll make sure that the zine answers this very question

    explore-ethnis.png

    Admin of the WA Codex & Discord

    Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

    Sage eccbooks
    E. Christopher Clark
    2 Mar, 2021 12:30

    Thanks! That's what I was thinking. I'm glad to hear you're keeping the title of Monolith for yourselves. It's a great name/title that goes along really well with the concept you've laid out.

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