Today the review of Gods of the Fall continues as we pass beyond the mortal world and enter the afterlife of the Afterworld, Soulrest. I’m expecting something halfway between Heroic Fantasy Fallen Paradise and the Greek Underworld; let’s see how close (or off) I am in that guess.
Okay, right from the start it’s a bit different than I expected; Soulrest apparently formed at the same time as the world itself, a twisted echo in the Aether that shifts and mimics the living world. While it mostly mirrors the living world in dark and unsettling ways, it also retains echoes of the long-forgotten past, and the whole place is full of whispering fluttering edge-of-vision effects trying to coax anyone here to just lie down and let go.
While the easiest route of access is, of course, to die (and perhaps you could build an entire campaign off of perfectly normal characters with no Divine Spark having died and then finding their way back to the living world, becoming strange and divine in the process) but other routes do exist. There are doors to Soulrest, here and there, and some spells that allow entrance under specific conditions. The most popular one merely sends the spirit to visit, and permits the user to be recalled by those in the living world by waking the sleeper.
We then get a side digression on the Aether, which reads like it’s quite similar to a mixture of the Astral and Ethereal Planes from the D20 cosmology; this is a nice enough thing, particularly since it ever so faintly hints that new godlings might perhaps be able to seed a new Heaven in the Aether and create their own divine realms as a result. I can accept this concept this way – and it looks like we might have other settings someday, as this part also calls out specific other realms by name, if not with any detail.
The Three Judges were apparently the gods of the dead, settling souls where they best belonged; they died in the Fall and now things have gone straight to Hell. As a soul in Soulrest can’t be killed without consuming the remains of it in full, the poor bastards dwelling here ever after can be tormented by the former servitors of the Three Judges, now styling themselves the Lords of Hell. It’s something of an open question if leaping into the Hellmaw’s mouth to end it permanently is going to get more popular over time as a way of handling the afterlife, at least until a new god of the dead turns up and fixes things up.
There are also other creatures serving in the role of rulers in the wake of the Fall; a rakshasa queen, a raver (dead god’s husk) derived from one of the fallen gods of the dead, a squidgy mass of protoplasmic goo that keeps eating anything that gets too close to it while it keeps growing, and a pair of would-be godlings fighting over the fate of the souls between them are just some of the strange beings looking to rule over Soulrest.
That sums up the chapter, but I can already see an excellent campaign built on the foundation of Soulrest; begin with the characters not having any divine spark at all, just awakening from a 42-year slumber after they died in the Fall. From there, seeing that Soulrest has become Hell while they slept, they escape back to the Afterworld, becoming mysteriously imbued with divine power while doing so, and they set out to find out what happened during the Fall. In so doing, they augment themselves and become new gods – or perhaps discover that they’re the souls of the dead gods, cast free from their physical husks. In order to truly reclaim their power, they need to find their raver husk, defeat it, and reclaim the portion of their divine essence still imbued in their old forms.
Come back tomorrow for the finish of the Setting section and a move on into the mechanical portion of the book!