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Entropic Spheres

by Joe Not Charles

I really like these, but I think the Sphere of Life should be an informal name (like "Sphere of Death" for Entropy). The main positive sphere should have a more grandiose sounding name - I like Vitality.

Also, I can't really picture a universe ruled by these Spheres (maybe that's inherent, though) - they're too much focussed on a single characteristic. "Discord" seems to be only a small part of Thought in general, for instance - it's not like it could exist in the absence of Thought.

On the other hand, it's interesting that the four original Spheres are mostly things - Matter, Energy, Thought - except for Entropy, which is a process. (Time is ambiguous, but you could see it as a thing too.) The Entropic Spheres you propose are all processes, like Entropy itself.

I find that intriguing, but nonetheless, I'm gonna provide my own version of the four Entropic Spheres:

The opposite of Matter is Void. The Void is the space which supports and surrounds Matter. Without Void there could be no Matter, because there is no place for it to exist. It is the primeval darkness from which all else springs, and to which all else will return. The Void has no dominant alignment, but is associated with the element of Air (which has a similar role as an invisible and intangible which permeates the world) and the Thief class (which has an affinity for darkness and shadow). Void opposes Decay's attempts to fill it with debris, provides perspective to Madness, and is the purest expression of Stasis.

The opposite of Energy is Stasis. Stasis is the tendency of base matter to form rigid, unyielding patterns which persist until the end of time. It prevents both growth and death. It prevents both life and hope. Stasis is the cold and inexorable end of a universe whose Energy has run out. Stasis is associated with the alignment Law, the element of Earth (particularly crystals and other highly regular structures) and the Fighter class. Stasis opposes Madness's anarchy, forms the natural state of the Void at rest, and creates fertile patterns for Decay.

The opposite of Time is Decay. Decay is disorder, rust and ruin. It is the slow destruction of all that exists, not by negation but by conversion to a mockery of its former self. It is slow death, by age, disease and the wearing down of mountains, but it is also the most chaotic aspects of growth - tangled vines, roots which pull down castle walls, briars and thorns which rip and cut. Decay is associated with the alignment Chaos, the element of Fire (which converts fuel to ash and smoke) and the Magic-User class (whose spells often convert matter to more disordered energy). Decay opposes Void (the only sphere it cannot wear down) and disrupts Stasis.

The opposite of Thought is Madness. Madness is the inevitable result of thought which prizes emptiness, paralysis and degeneracy over matter, energy and growth. It is mind governed by emotion rather than reason, or it is cold logic leading to inhuman conclusions, or vast and potent intellect brought to bear only on trivialities. There are as many shades of madness as there are of sanity, so Madness is associated with the Neutral alignment, the element Water (which encompasses both violent storms and still pools with hidden depths), and the Cleric class (whose members give allegiance to many different faiths and philosophies). Madness opposes the sterility of Stasis and imposes its will on the process of Decay, but the limitless expanse of the Void provides a perspective that is hard to distort.

In an Entropy-dominated universe, Matter is seen as an inert tool - it's needed to give you a body and a place to stand, but compared to the limitless, majestic vastness of the Void, it is considered unworthy of attention. (A suggestion that such raw stuff as Matter could be beautiful or useful for its own sake would be regarded similarly to a slave revolt - base materials getting uppity.) The most necessary qualities of Matter - in resisting decay and providing a foundation for life - are provided instead by Stasis. Similarly, Energy certainly exists and is even useful for doing the work of other spheres, but it is regarded as an ugly excess which is to be methodically extinguished. The vital task of thwarting stasis and providing a spark for life are provided by Decay (which, like Energy, has both creative and destructive aspects). Time is seen as a mere progression of events, lacking both the purity of Stasis and the interesting forms which Decay can take. And the concept of ordered, rational Thought is incomprehensible - just as we see Madness as nothing but disordered Thought, an inhabitant of an Entropy-dominated Universe would see Thought as merely Madness which confines itself to a restricted domain which calls itself "sanity".

Note that it would be a much better parallel if the Sphere of Time were the Sphere of Growth, and maybe there are some nice scholarly tomes in Alphatia which argue that point. ("Time is in fact beyond the realm of the Immortals - it simply exists, and neither mortal nor Immortal magic can effect it. What we term the Immortals of Time are merely Immortals who have dedicated themselves to the process of change and growth, the closest concepts to Time which can still be affected by beings which must live in the multiverse.") There's a similar argument to be made with Thought/Madness, but I like the idea that the Spheres of Thought and Madness are both equally workable, but simply can't comprehend each other. I especially like the association of Clerics and Water with Madness - it's highly Cthulhoid.

Also, I got the elemental correspondences and such by shifting each sphere around the dominance wheel - Matter's opposite is Void, which has the same characteristics as Thought, the sphere that Matter dominates in the standard scheme, and so forth. This suggests that Life was able to take over from Death because its spheres evolved into a configuration where each was able to dominate its opposite from Entropy. This in turn suggests that the current Immortals of Entropy may not be arranged in the same way, and if they are to defeat the current ruling spheres they will have to arrange themselves into a new organisation, such that Matter's opposite has the characteristics of the Sphere of Energy (Chaos, Fire, favours Mages); Energy's analogue has the characteristics of the Sphere of Time (Neutral, Water, favours Clerics); etc.

A list of Entropic Immortals by sub-sphere:

Hel (36, NE) - Stasis (IIRC, she rules an icy land of the dead) / Ravening (returns souls to the world to perform evil)
Thanatos (35, CE) - Decay (death, destruction, chaos) / Negation (ultimate death)
Nyx (33, NE) - Void (night) / Stasis (undead)
Atzanteotl (31, NE) - Madness (spiritual corruption) / Discord (ditto)

Demogorgon (30, CE) - Decay (diseases, destruction, corruption) / Ravening (ditto)
Loki (30, CE) - Madness (trickster) / Discord (ditto)
Masauwu (28, NE) - Madness (deceit, illusion, politics) / Discord (ditto)
Orcus (25, CE) - Decay (violence, mass destruction) / Negation (ditto)
Talitha (25, CE) - Madness (revenge) / Discord (ditto)

Bachraeus (23, CE) - ?
Alphaks (20, CE) - Decay (magic-users, fire, destruction) / Ravening (ditto)

Arik (18, CE) - Madness (madness, nightmares) / Discord (ditto)
Skuld (17, N) - Decay (a former giant who likes to smash things) / Negation (ditto)
Saasskas (17, CE) - Void (patron of vampires and devil-fish) / Stasis (undead patron)
Ranivorus (16, CE) - Madness (madness, devouring) / Ravening (ditto)
Idris (15, NE) - Stasis (creating the perfect race, destroying elves/forests; ok, I only put her here because Decay and Madness were over-represented) / Stasis (ditto)
Danel (14, NE) - Madness (sponsored by Atzanteotl) / Discord (inter-tribe warfare)
Leptar (13, CE) - Void (demon-lord) / Negation (ditto)
Bagni Gullymaw (13, CE) - Decay (digestion) / Ravening (ditto)

Yagrai (12, NE) - Stasis (resurrection) / Stasis (ditto)
Brissard (10, NE) - Madness (negotiator) / Negation (ditto)

Aracne Prime (6, LE) - Void (planar spiders) / Negation (ditto)
Jammudaru (5, CE) - Madness (nightmares - man, there are a lot of patrons of madness and nightmares) / Discord (ditto)
Gylgarid (3, CE) - Madness (cruelty, berserkers) / Ravening (ditto)

That gives us 3 Immortals of Stasis, 6 Immortals of Decay, 4 Immortal of Void, 10 Immortals of Madness, and 1 unassigned. That's way more Madness than I expected - and Decay and Madness have a complete lock on Eternals. Hopefully Bachraeus can be made Stasis, at least.

Or in Rodger's system, 7 Discord, 7 Negation, 4 Stasis, 6 Ravening - that's a lot more balanced, which is a good argument that his system is better overall.