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The new RPG from Monte Cook. A game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table--and away from it.
A roleplaying game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table—and away from it.
A roleplaying game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table—and away from it.
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The Red Sun

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We thought that the Pale Sun was unnerving, but the next stage in our journey is arguably worse—today we reach the Red Sun. Destruction and annihilation are the twin children of the Red Sun. But for many, this sun is simply change. In many ways the realm of the Red Sun is the most dangerous and the most alien. In fact, the Red Sun also embodies the strange, the alien, and the other (but not the unknown—that is domain of the Dark). It is a sun of the present moment, focusing on the now, the absolute instant of which pain and destruction make us so aware. Its number is 7.

The landscape beneath the Red Sun is jagged, like shattered glass. Most everything is brittle and covered in a fine layer of dust—the remnants of annihilated matter from earlier times. Volcanoes roar, the ground quakes, and storms rage, all destroying and reshaping the landscape over and over again.

In some ways, the world of the Red Sun might seem akin to the common conception of Hell, at least in the Christian sense. Fire, brimstone, jagged rocks, and toxic vapors. Of course, there are no souls being punished here, in Hieronymus Bosch (or any other) fashion. No hideous tortures being conducted. But it is the realm of demons. The inhabitants of the Red Sun are demons, which are called red shadows by many. This is because, like the shadows of the Grey, they lack qualia. They are not mindless, but spiritless. They can understand a thing, and interact with a thing, but they won’t experience a thing. That’s what qualia is: the subjective component of perception. It’s the difference between how your eyes perceive the color red and how your mind interprets “red.”

Demons, then, won’t get a feeling or emotion from a thing (although like shadows, they can lie believably and claim that they do). And because qualia is central to using magic, this means that demons of the Red who want to cast spells need to obtain souls from outside themselves.

The Sodality of Vryn is a cabal of sorcerers that dwells in a series of towers beneath the dangerous rays of the Red Sun. The geometry of the placement of the towers creates symbols that are sacred to dead gods and lost belief systems. The Vryn seek utter dissolution, not just death or destruction, but as yet have not proven that such is possible.

The warden of the Red Sun is Daumi, a creature with an ever-changing form. Daumi is revered by warriors for her ability to wield and control the forces of annihilation. But that’s mainly because she is utterly mad. The Nightside of the Red Sun is better left for another time.

RH, Molly Anderson, and 25 more people like this update.

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    1. Missing avatar

      Justin Robinson on August 27, 2016

      I'm understanding qualia as subjective experience. One definition of "intelligence" is anything that can be used to remove limitations from an entity. The entity can therefore be intelligent without being sapient.

      "Blindsight" postulates a horrifying possibility: if consciousness is an accident that mostly makes humans feel anxious, evolution might select to make us less conscious over time. Eventually meat robots that look, talk, and act like us could conquer the stars for no good reason other than to keep making meat robots.

      Demons, if qualia works the way I'm supposing, could very well be vislae that cast a spell like "I'll never know pain again." Careful what you wish for...

    2. MidnightBlue
      Superbacker
      on August 27, 2016

      @Saajan 9000:

      Maybe it is that desire to feel something that prompts soul deals...like an addiction or, to further the depression metaphor, the desire to feel something other than the depressed condition that they are stuck in.

      That could be a pretty good motivator for our devil/demon soul-pact making myths/stories.

    3. Saajan 9000
      Superbacker
      on August 27, 2016

      @MidnightBlue - That kind of makes sense...but demons surely experience *something*...right?

      Maybe this is just too philosophical for me to grasp :-)

    4. MidnightBlue
      Superbacker
      on August 27, 2016

      @Saajan 9000:

      I get it to be similar to, say, depression.

      A person suffering from depression knows what happiness and joy are. She can interact with someone or a situation that is happy and joyful. She can smile and act like she is having a good time. But she can't herself experience happiness and joy in those moments.

    5. Saajan 9000
      Superbacker
      on August 27, 2016

      I'm intrigued by the idea of Demons not having experience of qualia but not sure I get it?

      Does a demon experience things only in the sense of getting information about the external world like the sheet of 1s & 0s in the Matrix?

      Like they know they are in a room, the number of people in that room, etc but they can't actually see the people's faces, any details of the room, etc?

      So if I smile does the demon know intuitively I'm smiling but they don't really know what that looks like, just the knowledge of "smiling" as a kind of fact they can exploit?

    6. Samouil Ignatov Vassilev on August 27, 2016

      You know, I've always thought about that experiment. A being unable to "experience" or "emote" can still emulate those feelings by acting. And may have preferences for how to "act" with certain situations. When does it stop being "acting" and become what it seeks to emulate? In the Shadow (IRL) there is no distinction, but in IS, we know things without qualia cannot do magic. But at the same time, if they borrow a soul, or use its power, and are good actors, don't they just functionally *have* souls at that point?

    7. Missing avatar

      Justin Robinson on August 27, 2016

      For those who might be interested in what it would be like to interact with something intelligent, but without qualia, I recommend "Blindsight" by Peter Watts. It's cosmic horror masquerading as science fiction.

    8. MidnightBlue
      Superbacker
      on August 27, 2016

      Even before I got to the paragraph about Hell and demons, I was already imagining the Hell sequences of the Constantine movie with the ash flying about and covering everything...a landscape of destruction.

      Interesting.