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Points of Radiance

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A Short Introduction

This introductory series features three short articles that will allow you to explore the different parts of this sunless world.   For a more expansive description of how the Divinities function and the world in general, read the below.  

The Long Dark

There is only darkness.
Though the people do not know it, they live inside a torus-shaped (or toroid) world. Not on it, but in it. This has numerous implications. The shape itself means weather conditions tend to extremes, and the climate zones are strongly banded. The inner areas are hot, while the rim-side is much colder and prone to strong, sweeping winds. The large differences in climate, ecosystems and even gravity lead to stunningly different zones being quite close to each other. People would know this well, if they knew the land better. But as it stands, with the sun on the outside and the people inside the planet, they live in the dark, with only myths of the land of light they originated from. Some of the plant-life has developed bio-luminescence to attract herbivores, but this light is faint at best, leaving the world mostly dark. And the dark is full of terrors. Most of the wilderness has not been explored, or at least no one has lived to tell tales of it. The only light within these dark lands is that of the scant torches and campfires...and the Points of Radiance.

A Divine Light

But where there is dark, a light will soon shine.
The sources of most light, the beacons to which people find themselves drawn. Supreme Spirits, Primordials, Divinities...Gods. They have been called many things, and no one truly knows where they come from or how they are formed. But one thing is for certain: they are powerful, and they are humanity's hope. These Gods all represent certain aspects and metaphysical domains, and they can take on more over time. But they are always bound to one particular site, their hallowed site. From here they expand their territory and grow their power. With each other Divinity consumed, with each monument built and each totem placed, they grow in influence. But they rarely stray from their hallow, because it is both their anchor into the physical world and their weakness. If their hallowed site is corrupted or destroyed, then so are they. They are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, so they prefer to stay close to it, rather than risk losing everything in one fell swoop. That is why they rely on mortals to expand their territory, and to fight off distant threats.

These divine cities are what people refer to as the Points of Radiance, for this is the light by which they are guided. Not only do the Divinities themselves often radiate a faint glow, but usually a village, town or city has been built around them, and their fires can be seen all over. Due to the shape of the land, any source of light can be seen from nearly a hundred kilometers away (those on the opposite side in fact appear almost as stars to people). A campfire in the wild can be seen all over, let alone a settlement. And so anywhere else is simply too dangerous to settle without the protection of a Divinity, unless you wish to invite disaster from the numerous horrors that roam the land. But these beasts, undead, fey and fiends are all wary of the Divine. Knowing that the Gods could swat all but the strongest of them like flies if noticed, they skirt around the edges of the cities and rely on stealth and subterfuge to sneak in.

Something Stirs in the Dark

Yet even the Divine cannot hope to stand against all.
But the Gods are still young, they still have plenty of room to grow. To live and to learn. And they do change. As they grow their portfolio expands and they change along with the wishes of their people. They are also extremely polarizing forces that shape the customs and values in their respective territories to an abnormal degree. Absurd, unfair or broken systems will remain as long as they are backed by divine will, and the pettiness of divinities can doom entire generations to be outcasts. But they also provide much for their people. Without them people could surely not exist here. They try their best in their own way, even if they do not always understand the mortal perspective on things.

Sometimes they even anoint a Saint by imbuing part of their domain in them. Thus these people enter the realm of the divine, exchanging part of their humanity for divine essence that allows them to embody one or more interpretations of their God's domain. As carriers of their God's divine will, they are often the spearhead for any conflict between divine cities. Because the Gods do indeed war and fight, form alliances and break them, all to grow and grow further. To both protect their people and solidify their power.

Yet things lurk at the edges. The vast majority of the world is still monster-haunted wilderness, and the Points are few and far between. Roads that link cities and towns together are rare, and often difficult and fraught with danger. The horrors may skirt around the light of the Divinities, but they are simply waiting for a sign of weakness. A sign to pounce. And in the meantime any of the God's agents who venture out of the cities to fulfill their divine mission are at peril, for they will be hunted down and devoured if they are not careful.

The dark hides not only predators of all kinds, but also powerful supernatural forces. Demons that corrupt the area and wildlife around them by their sheer presence. Fey that abide only by the laws of nature and drag others in their twisted games. And then there are other esoteric forces that cannot be properly categorized or explained. Many of these also have worshipers, but they are capricious at best and have seemingly no interest in building any civilization. They simply follow their instincts, reveling in their all-devouring nature. It is these forces in particular that keep people confined to the Points, and force the divinities to spend much of their time guarding their home territory. Any sign of weakness, any lapse of concentration, and these dark forces will come rolling in, wiping anything in their path.

Do not make a sound. Do not start a fire. Just. Survive.

Addendum: The Land of Light

It wasn't always like this. According to the myths, the people came here from somewhere else, somewhere beyond the Long Dark. The stories are vague, and most of the details have been forgotten over time, but the core of the story remains the same: humanity came from the Land of Light.
In a few cases people have consulted their Divinities about the Land of Light, and in even fewer cases they have gotten an answer. Most of the Gods remember a place filled with light appearing in their dreams before they were woken up by the arrival of humans in their hallow, but their memories are vague and fractured, as if they are not their own.
So it is theorized that people and the Divinities come from the same place, and that is why they have such an affinity for each other, while other creatures shun or try to destroy the both of them.
But how much of this is true? And where is this mythical land?