Friday, August 08, 2014

On the Elthos Elkron-Alignment System

The Elthos Tarot
The Elkron-Alignment Concept

  • The Elthos Metaverse has 4 Cardinal Alignments. Good, Evil, Law and Chaos.
  • The 4 Cardinal Alignments form the four points of a compass. North (Good), Evil (South), Law (East), Chaos (West).
  • As you go around the Compass it is divided into 12 Sections. Each one represents some combination of the 4 Cardinals.
  • For example in the upper right Quadrant you will find Good-Law, Neutral-Good, and Lawful-Good.
  • The Compass is then divided into two circles. An inner Circle, and an Outer Circle.
  • The Inner Circle Represents the Planets (in relation to Greek myth the Olympians - in Elthos 'The Young Elkron').
  • The Outer Circle Represents the Constellations of the Zodiac (the Titans - in Elthos 'The Elder Elkron').
  • There are 12 of each. And Each of these Represents a Celestial Elkron. So there are in total 24 Celestials.
  • The Compass Disk is also divided by Upper and Lower Regions.
  • The Upper Region are the Celestials.
  • The Lower Region are the Archetypes (ala Carl Jung) which are represented by the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

Thus each Tarot Card represents both the Archetype AND the Celestial Elkron associated with that Alignment. When you look at any Major Arcana Card in the Elthos Tarot Deck you will see both the Celestial and the Archetype in the images.

Every Elkron is associated with a set of Correspondences (gleaned mostly from ancient tables of correspondences, and some modern). Trees, Animals, Monsters, Gems, Colors, etc. are given for each Elkron.

Story Map showing Elkron References
What this aspect of the system is used for is Symbolic Inner-Story Guidance, and allows the GM to use symbolism in their World, should they so choose, that remains constant, and has the virtue of being linked into a unified system of the Elkron. This allows for mystical game play that is a little bit more than simply making up stuff like "The Oracle says that you must go to the Temple of the Moon", but instead allows you to add symbols that have actual meaning within the context of the Elkron. I have used it for this in the past and it's worked out very well. However, that said, I have not made extensive use of this aspect of the system, and there are a number of options on the table as to how to best use it.

That said, I asked Jason Moser to create a Tarot Deck for me, and he's done a spectacular job embedding the Symbols from the Correspondences table into the imagery of the cards.

Also note... in ancient times and modern there is a disparity between the number of planets and the number of Constellations. There is also a disparity between the number of Major Arcana Tarot Cards and the Constellations. For the purpose of Elthos I resolved this by adding two Tarot Cards (The Unicorn and the Dragon), and one Planet (Planet X, aka Elkor - the Planet of the Elkron). This allows the system to mathematically balance, and produces a coherent system. Without it the system would not be feasible. Therefore the Tarot Deck is 'The Elthos Tarot', and is probably useless to any modern astrologer (unless they happen to be open to the idea of Planet X (Nirabu), and two new Tarot Cards (highly unlikely, though I have had some reactions from Astrology lovers who thought it a remarkable innovation and wanted to use the deck - so it's hard to say).

Game Mechanics of the Alignment System

The Alignment Grid is set up with the 4 Cardinal Points of Good, Evil, Law and Chaos as a Cartesian Grid. The Grid is 100 x 100 points. Alignments are written as (1, 1) which would be read as (1 Law, 1 Good). Since the number are equal it would be in the Neutral Good segment. (-4, 3) would be (-4 Chaos, 3 Good) or Chaotic Good. (3, -4) would be Evil Chaotic (because the Evil is the larger number it predominates). All sentient Beings in the World have an Alignment.

Actions in the game are defined by their Alignment effect.

There are two Axises of Alignment: The Moral Axis (Good - Evil) and the Metaphysical Axis (Law - Chaos).   All Actions have a Moral and Metaphysical value.

For example. Robinhood steals from the rich to give to the poor. His action on the Metaphysical axis is Chaotic (theft), while on the Moral Axis it is Good (charity).

The Empress
The Moral Axis is composed of Motives. What the Character's motive for doing something is determined, and this motive determines if it is Good or Evil.  Good motives are things like Friendship, Generosity, Justice, etc.   Evil motives are things like Greed, Cowardice, Glutton, etc.

The Metaphysical Axis is composed of items pertaining to Legality, either Socio-Political, Natural, or at the highest level Metaphysical (or Cosmic Law). Chaotic Actions are things like Theft and Murder. Actions that are Lawful are things like Joining the Military and Obeying the Governor's Command. Building a Library, or founding a Kingdom are Lawful. Destroying such institutions would be Chaotic. Each of these are given a point value in a list that is on the website, but not published anywhere else at this time. The point values range for 1 for minor actions and motives to 4 for Major ones. The scale is between 1 and 100.

Thus during the course of the game the Player Character will do things that may have Alignment
implications. For example, John the Cleric gives alms to the poor. That is Charity, and is Neutral in terms of Law and Chaos. So he goes up 1 point on the Good Axis, and if he started out at (0, 0) he is now (0, 1). As Characters do things in the world their Alignment changes according to the nature of their deeds. I have found that MOST characters wind up hovering around the middle of the grid near Neutral because most people happen to play chaotically, sometimes doing good deeds, sometimes doing bad deeds, sometimes lawful sometimes chaotic. However, some Players choose to focus on getting their Character to hoof it along one alignment path and so their actions remain consistent and so over the course of the game they make Alignment progress. John the Cleric for example, often give alms to the poor, and helps the needy, helps to fight evil monsters and provides the temple with money for new construction. After a while of doing this, and NOT doing things that would undermine his Alignment path, he achieves distinction as a Good Lawful Cleric.

As Characters move along the Alignment path they gain the notice of the Elkron. At 10 points in any direction they become "Observed". At 15 points they may be "touched" or contacted in a dream or otherwise. At 20 points they may get a Power of the Elkron. Etc. It is also to be noted that as the Character moves in one direction, they are simultaneously gaining the notice of Oppositional Elkron on the other side of the Alignment Spectrum.

Current Status of the Alignment System

The system itself is setup in the Web Application. Alignment Changes are tracked and calculated as part of Experience Gains. So the Experience Gains may be "John the Cleric gave 10 dollars to a beggar", for which a record is made that he is at -10 Dollars, his motive was Charity and the Metaphysical aspect was "neutral". He went up 1 Good Point. This all works very nicely in the website and is easy to work with, or ignore if the GM is not interested in this feature.

The Elthos Tarot Deck is completed and printable. I had 10 Decks printed. They came out beautifully.

Work that needs to be done on it:

1. I do not have any formal rules on Powers that Elkron may Distribute, but Powers are those that work like Miracles but can use either Mystic Points OR Life Points to cast (optionally).

2. Powers may be unique to the Elkron, but I do not have a List of Unique Powers at this point. I will at some point, however.

3. I do not have any formal rules on how Elkron will respond to the migration of Characters on the Alignment Grid. It is GM Fiat.

4.  Ironing out the numeric values of the various aspects mechanically.

I have the intention to write an Elthos World Weaver's Guide that helps to explain the Alignment System, the Elkron, and how to World Weave the Tarot Deck into the Symbolism of the GM's World (if they so choose).

My intention to date has been to have a separation between the World Weaving Guide and the Core Rules Book (though you are right to point out that I do have a thread of overlap, which I agree can and should be removed from the Core Rules). My thinking is that some people may want to use the Elthos RPG as a whole. Some may want to use the Mechanics alone, and not use the Tarot or World Weaving materials. Some may want to use only that, and not the mechanics. As such the Web Application is divided into "The World Weaver's Studio" and "The Gamesmaster's Toolbox".

I hope that all is clear enough.

Here is a link to the Elthos Tarot Deck - Major Arcana
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