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Ketopsians

Nomads of the Astral Sea


Ismael has been travelling for days on end. He cannot get enough of the scenery around him, he never will. There is always a new wonder to see, a new formation of the chaos to observe. His surroundings are ever changing, an ever-moving unorganised dance of stars, that he will eternally contemplate. He lays back on his whale, and gazes into the glimmering abyss up above him.

The Ketopsians are a group of solitary semi-nomadic travellers, who live among the stars of the Astral Plane. Each Ketopsian has the particularity of being bonded with a Star Whale, the pair forming a single individual in Ketopsian society called a Two-One. The Two-One lives the most of their life drifting among the stars, marvelling at the beauty of the chaos.

Culture

Remember your place- you are but a star among the endless, drifting as they are in the endless chaos. You have been given the gift of sight, so watch carefully.
— Wisdom of an Elder

To be a Ketopsian is to want nothing of the world but to watch it dance. It moves and flows endlessly, never twice the same- for many this would be a curse, but for Ketopsians it is a gift. They are alive only to witness the marvels of their world, as they have been since the dawn of time.

Astehram Tribes

Despite their lonely lifestyles, Ketopsians highly value their families, or tribes. These tribes are each connected to an Astehram from which Two-Ones are born. Thus, the tribe's Astehram is viewed as a common ancestor to all of its members, and all view one another as part of the same family. Together the community will guide newly Two-Ones, teach them the ways of their people and the tribe's sacred knowledge.

I will never forget my Emerging. I woke up in the pitch black ink of the Astehram, my bodies shivering from the cold- and just like that, I emerged. The first thing I saw was stars.
— Journal of Ismael al Najma

As with all things in the Astral Sea, Astehrams are never motionless. They drift with the rest of the stars among the endless void, twisting slowly across the darkness. Tribes will usually travel with their Astehram, each Two-One sensing its call in their hearts as it moves through the Astral Sea, and they follow from a distance, alone as always.

Social Organisation

Once a Ketopsian has gone through the Great Plunge, the only distinction among different members rest in age. The eldest are respected for having more knowledge, and seen more of the world, and while usually be given the spotlight to tell their tales during Ketopsian celebrations.

Because they have no need to do anything beyond observing the Astral Sea, there are no other distinction within their society. Gender, wealth, privelege, power- these concepts are foreign to Ketopsians, who know only curiosity and acceptance.

Outside of important traditional events however, Ketopsians exclusively travel alone with their Star Whale. There is a single exception to this rule, however- a blind Ketopsians, who is always accompanied by someone who describes the world around them as they travel.

Song of the Mind

Ketopsians communicate telepathically, with a language called Ketopsi. When a Ketopsian speaks it is always with two voices, that of their humanoid and Star Whale bodies.

When a Ketopsian speaks, their words echo through the minds of those close enough to hear their call, a low hum accompanied by singing bells. It travels through the dark, reaching into the minds of those who welcome its song.

Psuke

Ketopsians are able to shape the world around them by entering a state of deep meditation called Psuke. This power finds its origins in the ties that unite a Ketopsian to their Astehram, and allows them to build the Dignastariums in which the dead are layed to rest.

Appearance

Ketopsians are born with their Star Whales from Astehram in a body that will never change. The passage of time does not affect them, and they are simply vessels through which the Ketopsians may move through the world.

Ketopsian bodies are hairless, and devoid of any sexual characteristics. Their skin may range from light grey to deep purple hues, sprinkled with specks of light shining like stars. Their eyes are a deep milky grey, galaxies swirling within.

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Living Among the Stars

Lightning - 30 ft(1).png
Astehram by Ross
The birth of a Ketopsians is a fantastic event, happening only once in a millennia within a tribe. Every Two-One near an Astehram will feel its call at the dawn of an Emerging, the melodic hum vibratting in their minds.

I remember it clearly. I was gazing at Carion's Dignistarium when I heard its voice. It felt like light beaming through crystals in the back of my mind, as strange as it might sound. We quickly moved back to the Astehrams. In the distance I saw Two-Ones I did not recognise- no doubt members from other tribes who came to witness the emergence.

Flying to the river, I could barely contain my joy. Finally I would witness an Emerging- maybe I would even be able to get some answers as to our origins... How I miss those peaceful days, how I miss feeling whole.
— Journal of Ismael al Najma

The tribe will gather at the source of the Astehram to witness the birth of the Two-One. They emerge from the inky darkness of the river, their bodies fully grown, and will be welcomed with a celebration by their tribe, who will raise their new sibling. Once the young Two-One is considered ready, they are to take the Great Plunge and prove themselves ready to embark on their solitary life.

As they drift among the Astral Sea Ketopsians will not age. Throughout their life their bodies will remain more or less unaffected by the passage of time, not accounting for accidents of any sort. And just as Emergings are celebrated, so are the death of tribe members mourned.

Dying Among the Stars

Few Ketopsians ever die, and even fewer are mourned. The solitary lifestyle of Ketopsians means it is not unusual to die alone, and whatever may kill them will rarely leave a trace. When a Ketopsian happens upon the bodies of a fellow Two-One, they will call for their tribe, so that they may unite to remember the deceased.

A Dignastarium will be built in honour of the departed using Psuke, a deep meditational trance from which Ketopsians are capable of modling the Dignastarium from the heart of a dead star or passing asteroid into an unsettling geometrical construct. Each construction is unique, and it is built by those who knew the deceased best.

The carved stone floated gracefully in the abyss. Its forms curved and twisted, a perfect geometrical marvel- looking at it I almost felt it was moving, dancing even. It sang to my soul, telling the tales of what they had seen, it pulled at my heart and I could feel so much love and pain, the thousands voices of the past echoing in a chorus of memories..
— Journal of Ismael al Najma

Every aspect of the Dignastarium informs on the life of the one it honours, every curve and angle hides a memory. The ways in which Dignastariums are made are proper to each tribe, though all understand the story it tells. In some way, Dignastariums are the closest thing Ketopsians have to a written language.

Once a Dignastarium is completed, the bodies (if there are any) are locked within its core, and the final construction is simply left to drift among the Astral Sea, as they once did in life. It will float in the empty space until another Ketopsian finds it, where they will then learn the story of the one it honours.

Comments

Author's Notes

Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you enjoyed the article, and a huge thanks to Rikia (as always) for the amazing feedback!!


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6 May, 2021 06:01

Design and Structure
  Once again, there is something to your article's design which makes reading them a very pleasant experience. The sleek texture of the page and the nice and round fonts are probably a big part of it. Now, add to it the astonishing space-themed cover and background pictures, and I feel like I'm floating as I go through the passages. The black river and Dignastarium art are also a very good addition to the article. The only thing I didn't fully connect with is the choice of music, but to each their own.  
Content
  Opening Quote: This is how you bring a concept of inter-galactic beings into terms we can understand. The choice to choose a specific Ketopsian's point of view is the perfect way to convey what they are, and more importantly, why they are.
Introduction: You basically capture all I need to know about the article in a short paragraph. Points!
Culture (Astehram Tribes): Again, you explain the concept very clearly. I like how you tie the tribe to the Asterhram, and this way making them semi-nomadic (I think that was the idea, anyway). The way they follow their river from afar gives feelings of melancholy. One thing I found weird is the 'millions' in the first quote. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a rather small number for space. Oh, and when you point out that they know nothing, but talk about 'sacred knowledge'. How do those two things fit together?
Living Among the Stars: The fact that they are born so rarely (millennia!) makes them seem as eternal entities far beyond our comprehension. I like that! The quote is very nice, but I'm not sure as to the mystery it presents with 'I know better now'. It's not explained any further in the article so I'm left to assume it's not supposed to be answered here.
Dying Among the Stars: I wonder how a Dignastarium is built. Not a lot is mentioned about the Ketospians, so I'm not sure with what tools and material they construct them. Also, if a Ketospian only 'happens upon' another's body, how is the Dignastarium is built by 'those who knew the deceased best'? Does the finder know who to call? I do love the quote and how it describe the intricacy of the Dignastarium and its meaning. And of course I love the concept of it being a written language.
Sidebar: Telepathy makes sense for beings such as the these, and the fact the whale is a part of it in every way is very intriguing. I just wonder how the language sounds (or is it just passing information/knowledge). Their 'travling to observe the universe' is touched on again here, yet it doesn't really add any new information, so I wonder what it accomplishes. You claim they don't worship anything, but I would assume that their whole purpose of being is to worship the Astral Sea.  
Final Thoughts
  Oooh how I like abstract concepts like this one! This whole zen existence is wonderful. They are almost too complete as being, with no apparent flaws. I say almost, since it is clear from reading between the lines that they are very lonely. The article does a great job in conveying the feeling of loneliness and being lost in eternal darkness, the light always a distant mirage. I'm curious as to what a Ketospian look like. They are born from the black river 'fully grown', yet I don't know what that means. What are their distinctive features? Both the whales and the not-whales that the Ketospian is consisted of. There is a lot more that can be explored with them, but I think you choose minimalism and only focus on the aspects that interest you. I can respect that. All in all, Awesome article!


Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
6 May, 2021 14:43

Thank you so much for your feedback!! I added a few sections to clear some things up, the questions really helped! As for the quotes by Ismael, he's a pretty important character in my campaign and I am currently working on an article of him (which hopefully will clear some things up!)   All in all I loved reading your view of them ;-; you saw a dimension to them I hadn't particularly thought of (how lonely they are) and you're 100% right. Thank you for the awesome comment!

Author of Interarcanum.
Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
13 May, 2021 23:12

Very fascinating article! I loved the tribute to Moby Dick, unless I have only imagined it. Sometimes having to descrive a culture "alien" to us can make it boring or hard to understand, but you have managed to escaped both troubles.

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14 May, 2021 14:15

Thank you very much!! You’re quite right about the tribute too ;). I’m glad I’ve hit the nail on the « alien » front!

Author of Interarcanum.
17 May, 2021 21:14

I love this culture - I remember reading about the Great Plunge before, so I'm glad you've expanded on these. They are such an interesting culture. The bond with the star whales is fascinating. Also, great nod to Moby Dick in there. :D

18 May, 2021 08:24

The Great Plunge should have its rewrite some time soon too to make it more coherent! I'm really glad to hear you like them, it means a lot <3 !

Author of Interarcanum.
29 Jun, 2021 10:20

This is such a beautiful species concept! Their lives sound so peaceful, and I love the way you describe their telepathic communication!

creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source   SummerCamp 2021 Pledge Document
30 Jun, 2021 12:03

Thank you so much <33 they do have very peaceful and relaxed lives, except for one unlucky dude..

Author of Interarcanum.