Saturday, January 15, 2022

Elemental Honorifics

The Olyosh Dras Chamri (“Principles of Hidden Power”) asserts that there are five primordial elements out of which everything in the Four Worlds is constituted: energy, matter, mind, time, and void. The sages of the Light of Kulvu incorporated this idea into their metaphysics, thereby ensuring it became widespread. In doing so, they also popularized the custom of granting special honorific prefixes to people, places, or objects demonstrating exemplary qualities thought to spring from an element. These honorifics all derive from Hejeksayaka, the so-called “Exalted Speech” of the Makers in which many magical texts are written.

Energy: ja– (“mighty”)

The element of energy denotes power, motion, and heat. Energy feeds the element of mind, making sorcery possible. It also accelerates the element of time, thereby playing a role in the end of all things.

The archons of the final cycles of the Empire of the Light of Kulvu routinely added this honorific to their regnal names. Meanwhile, Men acknowledge the deeds of the Ga’andrin hero Hejneka by declaring him ja-Hejneka (though the Ga’andrin themselves do not do so).

Matter: ba– (“invulnerable”)

The element of matter refers specifically to inorganic substances, such as clay, glass, or metal. Matter feeds energy, which is why sorcerers typically avoid carrying items associated with this element. Matter also impedes the element of mind.

The fortress of Kuruma, which withstood continuous siege for eight years without yielding to the forces of Nektekash, is often referred to as ba-Kuruma in recognition of its impregnability. Likewise, the warrior-king Meshakur is lauded as ba-Meshakur for his single-handed defense of Suritanesh Pass during the legendary battle of that name.

Mind: sha– (“true”)

The element of mind includes all immaterial substances, including both spiritual entities and concepts. Mind perceives the element of time and comprehends the element of void.

The world of mortal beings is dubbed sha-Arthan in the belief that it is the True World, in contrast to the False or Mirror World. Similarly, devotees sometimes dub the Light of Kulvu sha-Takun – “the true teaching” – as a sign of respect.

Time: da– (“eternal”)

The element of time encompasses past, present, and future, which places it in the paradoxical role of simultaneously upholding fixity, transience, and change. Time is generally held to weaken the element of matter and to generate the element of void, though this interpretation is not universally accepted.

The ancient capital of the king-emperors of Inba Iro, da-Imer, bears the honorific of time, owing to its great antiquity. Also, the people of Allakun-Tenu regularly invoke their god as da-Ten, because they believe him to be everlasting, unlike the lesser gods of other lands.

Void: cha– (“barren”)

The element of void describes cold, emptiness, and entropy. Void is held to dissipate energy but also to coalesce into matter, suggesting that, despite its generally negative qualities, it plays a role in creation and the generation of new things.

There is an island located in the Sea of Shejai all of whose inhabitants, both human and animal, disappeared more than a millennium ago in a magical cataclysm. Now called cha-Siritana, the island is home only to ruins.


  1. Intriguing. If Matter is solely inorganic material, where do organic substances (live or dead) fall? Feels like mortal life should be a mix of all five elements, while corporeal undead might be lacking in Time, or perhaps represent a flawed version of it somehow - assuming an element can be twisted into imperfection.

    1. Organic substances are a combination of matter and energy, with sentient beings also including mind in the mix.

  2. Replies
    1. Me too. But fwiw, I didn't know this was for Sha-Arthan until I got to the bottom. :)

  3. This reminds me a lot of the "behind-the-scenes" cosmology outlined in the old D&D Immortals set (BECMI, gold box).
    Is there any conneciton?

    1. No, not consciously. I did own the Immortals set when I was a teenager and it could have influenced me without my realizing it, but, if so, it wasn't intentional.

    2. Wow, really? I also assumed this was an adaptation of the Immortals spheres of Matter, Energy, Thought, Time, and Entropy.