Rivendom Primer in Rivendom | World Anvil

Rivendom Primer

Rivendom is, in many ways, similar to most high fantasy settings in that it presents a cosmos populated with gods, magic, and heroes that come from a multitude of fantastical races. It does, however, have several unique features that a newcomer to the setting must understand to properly enjoy what it has to offer.  

Rivendom is a Multiverse

Within Rivendom exists an infinite multitude of worlds all ensconced in a larger cosmos. Each of these worlds encapsulates the familiar fantasy set-up of a central material plane "surrounded" by a number of external "planes" such as the elemental planes or the plane of the fae.  

Rivendom Cosmology

Main Article: Rivendom Cosmology
The cosmology of Rivendom resembles a sphere divided into distinct layers. Most relevant is the third layer: the Material Realm. It is here where all the infinite universes, that make up the multiverse of Rivendom, exist. These universes were separated from one another by unimaginable distances, making travel from one to the other difficult to the point of being practically impossible.   When the Material Realm broke apart in the aftermath of the birth of the Shardscape, it did so along the spaces between the universes. For some time, travel between the universes became outright impossible. However, once the Shardscape filled in the cracks in the Material Realm, it served as a bridge between the universes. Even though travel between isolated universes still takes vast amounts of time and effort, the Shardscape has made it far easier than was the case when the Material Realm was yet whole.  

The Shardscape

Main Article: Shardscape
The Shardscape is a "cognitive" realm of sorts. The closest comparison in other media would be the Warp from the Warhammer franchise. That is to say, the Shardscape is heavily influenced by the power of the mind. Here, imagination, faith, and belief rule.   Myths and legends take on physical form in the Shardscape. Even rumors and urban legends can be made manifest if enough people believe them to be the truth. Gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, artifacts of immense power, and even entire realms can come into existence in the Shardscape as a direct result of the collective belief of people in their myths, legends, and religions. To use real-world examples, it would be as if the collective beliefs of modern worshippers somehow created a version of Olympus where all the Greek Gods (Zeus, Hera, Ares, Athena, etc.) exist.  


Main Article: Begotten
The power of the Shardscape to turn imagination into reality is not limited to places and things. It can birth all sorts of creatures, as well, from tiny bugs and critters to massive, lumbering beasts, and even thinking, feeling people. These entities, collectively, are known as the begotten.   Most begotten are born as a by-product of the formation of Shardscape realms. To use a real-world example, consider the Christian conception of Heaven. Were the beliefs of devotees to manifest Heaven in the Shardscape, all the angels and saints said to populate it would be brought into being as well and they would be considered begotten. Alternatively, they are born of collective imagination and fear, such as the monsters that crawl out of the tar river in Shuddergully.   Other begotten are born as reflections. Whenever a person looks into a mirror in the Material Realm, there is a small chance that somewhere in the Shardscape, a reflection of them would step out of one of the many mirror shards strewn across the landscape. This reflection wouldn't be perfect, by any means. It would have no connection to the original and would have no memories or knowledge other than basic social skills and language. It would be physically different, as well, depending on local conditions when it was formed. Areas suffused with elemental energies, for instance, would birth Eambri (known as Genasi in most settings). Areas suffused with negative emotional energies would create Khend (Tieflings), while positive emotional energies would bring forth Velherem (Aasimar).   A tiny fraction of the begotten population arises spontaneously from the confluence of the Shardscape's wild energies. Creatures such as blademanes, giant equine beings made entirely of metal with manes made of innumerable blades, as the name suggests, do not exist in mythology or popular consciousness but nevertheless exist in the Shardscape and thus, the argument goes, they must have arisen spontaneously.  


As with any world, Rivendom is filled with a variety of gods, from the established pantheons of large religions to the small regional deities and spirits worshipped by small groups of people in far-flung regions. Thanks to the Shardscape, all gods in Rivendom exist, though the strength of their existence varies wildly depending on how large and widespread their base of worship is.   The gods of Rivendom are broadly divided into two categories:  

Trueborn Gods

Main Article: Trueborn God
As the name suggests, Trueborn Gods are the true gods of the cosmos. They were born at the beginning of time and came into existence with all the rest of reality. Each one represents an aspect of the multiverse and governs and enforces the laws of their particular domain.   The power of the Trueborn Gods defies mortal comprehension. With the blink of an eye, they can change the laws that govern their domain, in the process changing the very fabric of reality. For instance, the Trueborn God known as the Stranger, who governs souls and the divide between life and death, could simply, on a whim, put an abrupt end to all life.   Despite the power of the Trueborn Gods, most mortals are unaware of their existence. They have no need for mortal worship and are primarily concerned with keeping order and maintaining the cosmos. There are mortals that worship the Trueborn but often, these mortals do so purely by accident. That is to say, these mortals worship deities so similar to the Trueborn as to be essentially indistinguishable but are unaware they are worshipping the primordial deities that govern reality.   Part of the reason so few are aware of the existence of the Trueborn is the fact they don't interfere in mortal affairs. Indeed, they are such extraordinary existences, the petty concerns of mortals do not even enter their awareness. They pay attention to the mortal world only when some contravene their laws and, even then, they rely on mortal champions to enact their will and restore order. Only the Stranger, by virtue of his domain, pays any close heed to the lives and deaths of mortals.  

Begotten Gods

Main Article: Begotten God
As their name suggests, begotten gods are intrinsically tied to the Shardscape. The vast majority of gods in Rivendom are begotten gods, born in the Shardscape from the collective faith, belief, and reverence of their followers.   While begotten gods are powerful entities in their own right, they are very similar to most other begotten folk. The only thing that sets them apart from their more mundane begotten brethren is their "domain," that is to say, the set of ideals, emotions, or concepts that they are believed to have control over. Unlike most begotten, whose essence would scatter to rejoin the wild energies of the Shardscape upon death, begotten gods will eventually be resurrected, reforming around their domain bar special circumstances.   Unlike Trueborn Gods, begotten gods depend on the worship of their followers for sustenance. While they won't outright perish if people were to stop revering them, they will gradually fade and diminish until they are all but indistinguishable from their more mundane begotten brethren.  

The Stranger

Main Article: The Stranger
As mentioned above, the Stranger is a Trueborn God and one of the few that pay close attention to mortal affairs. This is due to the nature of his domain as the god of souls and the veil between life and death. It is his power that creates the souls that inhabit living creatures and it is to him that the souls of the deceased return.   Because of the Stranger's intrinsic relation with life and death, it is not uncommon for a religion to crop up in a world that coincidentally worships him, with values that align with his purposes. As mortals are more likely to attempt to break his laws than any other Trueborn God, the presence of a body of faithful worshippers is of great convenience as he can use them to enforce the laws of life and death on his behalf.  


As the Stranger commands the domain of souls and watches over the veil between life and death, it stands to reason that necromancy, which attempts to subvert or violate the natural order, is considered a grave sin throughout the multiverse. Indeed, practitioners of this dark art are marked by the Stranger for their transgressions and hunted down by his faithful devotees.   Often, however, there exists a common disconnect between what the Stranger finds offensive and what his mortal worshippers consider profane. The Stranger himself isn't much concerned about people artificially extending their lives as all lives end, eventually, and all souls will return to him. Neither is the Stranger particularly offended by the reanimation of corpses by using magic or other means to move their limbs.   Only those necromancers who violate the ultimate taboo, by meddling with souls in an act known as animancy, are marked by the Stranger. However, in most worlds where there is a powerful religion or organization that preserves the laws of life and death on the Stranger's behalf, necromancy of any sort is considered a criminal act.  


As with most fantasy settings, magic exists in Rivendom. While the specifics may vary from one universe to the next, there are certain commonalities. This section of the primer serves to give the reader a broad overview of magic in the context of Rivendom.   Generally speaking, there are five types of magic:

Arcane Magic

Main Article: Arcane Magic
Arcane Magic derives its potency from arcane energy, which is, in essence, cosmic energy lightly altered by interactions with the substance of the Material Realm. It is a form of energy bound by and acting in accordance with the laws of physics, albeit with certain metaphysical properties that allow it to be manipulated directly by living beings. If, for instance, it would take 10 joules of energy to lift a 1kg rock 1m into the air, an arcanist would need to expend 10 joules' worth of arcane energy to accomplish the same feat with arcane magic.   It is due to this adherence to the laws of physics that arcane magic in Rivendom is somewhat limited compared to magic in other settings. One of the foremost consequences of this fact is that conjuration and transmutation, which are classical hallmarks of magic, are considered largely impractical among arcanists in Rivendom. As arcane magic is but another form of energy, to create matter out of thin air, or to change one substance into another, would require absurd amounts of energy. To create 1mg of matter out of thin air, for instance, would take the arcane energy equivalent of the detonation of over 200 tons of TNT.  

Primal Magic

Main Article: Primal Magic
Whereas arcane magic relies on the use of arcane energy, primal magic relies on primal energy which is a form of energy that radiates out of all living beings. Primal energy is produced when organisms absorb arcane energy and release it back into the environment after using it for one biological process or another. As this is the case, primal energy is subject to the same limitations as arcane energy.   The difference between arcane energy and primal energy comes down to their relative concentrations and their ease of use. Arcane energy is more or less evenly distributed, though it can grow thin in areas with high concentrations of iron in the environment, whereas primal energy is concentrated around areas teeming with life. As arcane energy is lightly processed cosmic energy, it is rather wild and unruly by nature. Primal magic, on the other hand, is comparably easier to manipulate and thus, requires less study and rigorous practice to wield. For this reason, most arcanists can rather easily use primal magic when necessary, but primalists can have some trouble attempting to utilize arcane energy in turn.  

Eldritch Magic

Main Article: Eldritch Magic
Eldritch magic is a form of magic that derives from eldritch energy, which was so named because it was mysterious and defied comprehension when first discovered. In reality, eldritch energy is but a name for the wild energy that suffuses the Shardscape, the power of faith, belief, and imagination, which could make manifest in reality that which has hitherto only existed in the landscape of the mind.   Eldritch energy, and consequentially, eldritch magic, do not follow the laws of physics. Instead, it is able to manifest objects and phenomena limited only by the magus' imagination and strength of will. In this manner, it is able to circumvent the limitations of arcane and primal magic, allowing for the conjuration of matter out of nothing, and the transmutation of one substance to another.   Eldritch magic, however, comes with pitfalls of its own. As it is, in its most distilled essence, a magic of the mind, more than any other form of magic, it is subject to the often-mercurial nature of thought. A practitioner of eldritch magic must be of iron will and indefatigable focus as the slightest distraction or intrusive thought during the use of eldritch magic can, at best, warp a spell, and at worst, cause devastating harm not just to the caster but also their surroundings.  

Divine Magic

Main Article: Divine Magic
As the name might suggest, divine magic is understood by mortals to be a magic that derives from the gods. It is said to be the power to enact miracles borrowed from the gods or otherwise bestowed by them upon their favored servants. Divine magic, however, is also the form of magic most misunderstood by mortals in the post-Shardscape era.  
False Divine Magic
Given that most gods in Rivendom are begotten gods, who are essentially glorified begotten folk, the powers they grant are little more than a form of eldritch magic. The only difference is that the often-formulaic approach of the faithful, when it comes to calling upon these powers, helps to focus the mind and thus mitigate the risks otherwise inherent to the magic. Indeed, fanatical devotion and adherence to dogma and scripture lend themselves well to the kind of focus necessary to minimize the risks of using eldritch magic.  
True Divine Magic
True divine magic, on the other hand, is granted only by the Trueborn Gods. As their attitude toward the mortal world is one of non-intervention, examples of this kind of magic are few and far in between. This gift is only bestowed when a Trueborn God wishes to enforce order against someone trying to contravene their laws and, even then, only when absolutely necessary.   As true divine magic is bestowed by the primordial gods of the cosmos, it isn't subject to the limitations of primal, arcane, or eldritch magic. True divine magic can accomplish anything, such as conjuring a sumptuous feast out of thin air. That is not to say the use of true divine magic has no consequences. As it is a power beyond the means of mortals, it tends to have a corrosive effect on its users, shortening their lifespans or otherwise exacting a terrible toll on their bodies if used long enough.   And even if a recipient of true divine magic manages its use wisely, they are still subject to the will of the Trueborn God that gave them the gift in the first place. If they fail to achieve their objectives or otherwise displease the Trueborn God, the boon given them can just as easily be taken away.  


Main Article: Ur-Magic
The fifth, final, and most mysterious type of magic in Rivendom is called Ur-Magic by those aware of its existence. It is the magic that underpins all of reality, the magic that brought the multiverse to existence, that carved the ancient laws that bind the Trueborn Gods into the fabric of the cosmos. Indeed, it is not magic at all, but rather the pure, distilled power of creation and destruction. It is the power to shape the very substance of reality.   Objects and phenomena created with Ur-Magic become integral parts of reality. For instance, if one were to rip a mountain from the earth and set it afloat in the sky with Ur-Magic, no mage would be able to detect even the slightest hint of magic. The mountain would not be floating in the sky because of magic at all, but because the fabric of reality dictates that this particular mountain floats in the sky.   Despite the world-changing power of Ur-Magic, it is largely unknown because the laws of the cosmos prevent the dissemination of any knowledge related to it. For instance, it is impossible to make more than vague allusions to the nature of Ur-Magic, much less teach someone how to use it.   The journey to discovering Ur-Magic is intensely personal and requires a level of introspection and self-mastery that few mortals ever achieve. Indeed, the most basic prerequisite to using Ur-Magic is the discovery of one's True Name, and even then, it is not guaranteed that someone who knows their True Name can even glimpse the secrets of Ur-Magic. And of those who do discover Ur-Magic, very few survive the process of learning to use it as the slightest hint of self-doubt and uncertainty can unravel not just the Ur-Magic, but the very existence of the one using it.  


Main Article: Sekhar
Sekhar, the planet, and the universe that contains it, is as close to a primary setting as Rivendom has. The majority of the stories and RPG campaigns that take place in Rivendom are set in Sekhar and Shardscape realms that immediately surround it.   Sekhar is an older planet that has already seen the rise and fall of an advanced civilization many thousands of years before the modern day. This progenitor civilization left very little in the way of evidence of its existence. Only a handful of relics have survived to the modern day and are largely perceived as magical artifacts instead of technological ones.  

Blood Magic

Main Article: Blood Magic
Blood magic is a form of magic unique to Sekhar and the surrounding Shardscape realms. As the name suggests, it is enacted using blood as a medium. It focuses on manipulating the body—by strengthening it or weakening it—and enforcing contracts and oaths. The denizens of the world believe blood magic to be the gift of the gods, granted only to their most devoted followers and their chosen few but the truth is that blood magic is the legacy of the progenitor civilization.   Blood magic is conveyed not through blood but through countless microscopic machines. These machines are present not just in the blood of living creatures, but in the soil, in the rocks, in the very air that people breathe. The machines are omnipresent in Sekhar and a few people, born with an innate affinity, can command them. Blood is simply a convenient medium.   It is only because the technology is so far beyond the comprehension of Sekhar's current denizens, and indeed, so far beyond their capacity to understand, that it is considered magic at all.  

The Dominion

Main Article: Dominion
One of the most important features of Sekhar is the empire known as the Dominion. Founded and governed by the tretâllë, the Dominion has come to hold sway over much of the known world over the course of its long and storied history.   Unlike most empires, the Dominion is largely popular with its subjects. Its mandate is to unite the world under a single banner, a mission they believe was given to them by their gods, of whom the Stranger is the foremost. To that end, they have worked hard to ensure the stability and prosperity of every land they have conquered, establishing valuable infrastructure and institutions to better the lives of the citizens.   The Dominion's policies prohibit discrimination and prejudice and place emphasis on equity. While they allow their subordinate states to largely govern themselves, the Dominion does not tolerate corruption in government. Government officials swear oaths to uphold the integrity of their offices and to act in the best interests of the public, oaths that leave no wiggle room and are enforced with blood magic in such a way that violators suffer the consequences of their actions and do so in a very visible, very public way.   The Dominion further looks disfavorably upon greed and profiteering, especially the kinds of businesses that chase profit to the detriment of customers and employees. Every economic transaction is tracked and recorded, leaving no space for bad actors to hide wealth and the laws place an effective limit on the amount of wealth that individuals, families, and organizations can have by taxing it above a certain threshold.   Businesses that attempt to contravene or circumvent Dominion laws are treated harshly. If the offense is grave enough, their license to operate will be revoked, no matter how big the business or corporation might be. Executives and decision-makers are also rarely spared punishment and are held liable for any unlawful or exploitative acts their businesses undertake under their supervision if they are found to have had a hand in such acts.   As far as the Dominion is concerned, destructive greed is one of the most heinous crimes, second only to necromancy.  


Races of Sekhar
Generic article | May 31, 2022

A simplified and generalized overview of the many different races that reside in and around the world of Sekhar.


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