The Mana (5e Deity)
Rate this article |
Discuss this article
|The Mana / Sei'koh|
The most incorruptible of Her race, gifted with all their strength and elevated to divinity.
For Her physical manifestation, see The_Mana_(5e_NPC)
The Mana, known in life as Sei'koh, is the representation of the energy of the world. She is the individual Her race chose before they committed their souls to a cycle of rebirth, as mortals. As their chosen, She was one of the two left behind, to remain immortal, as a conduit for the mortal races to access The Mana for energy used in casting magic. She was deemed to be the most incorruptible of them all, and therefore gifted with this great responsibility and power. When this conduit became abused, She entered a pact with a mortal, Musa'bo Shin'toku, who decided to signify this pact with a tattoo on Her chest of all the vices, virtues, and their associated Paths.
The Mana's home is in a place known as Shii, The Undercroft of Death, a temple on an island continent. Constructed last, Her temple was made by Her request, before its geographic location was moved to a more precise destination - in preparation for the creation of The Seal of Existence, marking the beginning of The Age of Agony.
The Mana is depicted in two ways. First, the burning of sage incense, which replicates the smell of powerful magic. Second, Her appearance for those who have seen Her: a tall, full-figured woman with pure white skin in a ruined black robe. The robe covers Her form to Her wrists and ankles, but has been clawed open in the front to reveal the tattoo on Her chest. What may be the remnants of that damage, She wears as a veil atop her head. If painted in color, Her eyes are also a pure white, without eyelashes, and give off a cyan mist. Her eyebrows and long straight hair are white. Her tattoo is spread across Her chest in black ink, with the top point just under Her throat, and the bottom point just above Her groin.
The Mana is often worshiped by those who believe, rightly, that it has a will. During The Age of Agony, She was unable to directly interact with other races beyond more than a few words at a time. As a result, little was known about Her by the common people. Only Her Aspect of Death, essentially Her Warlock (in regards to 5e), could call upon a vague avatar of Her. When called upon in this manner, She only ever appeared as a female humanoid in a cyan mist. Only those who visited The Undercroft of Death, and successfully demonstrated Her virtue of determination over the vice of loss, could see Her in living color. As a result of this loss of knowledge, and the subsequent hands-off approach She has taken to Her duties, only small sects throughout the world worship Her in modern times. Clerics study Her virtues, and often recreate Her tattoo somewhere on their bodies in varying degrees of detail. Temples to mirror those on the island continent were constructed, and some are still inhabited by worshipers of The Mana, but churches and the like do not exist beyond their walls - so threadbare are Her followers.
The Mana is considered the highest form of existence among the other "Paths" as taught by Her race. The others are, from highest to lowest, Ascended, Celestial, Mortal, Hollow, Animal, Wraith, and Demon. Each is or was a race of people, with the exception of The Mana itself as an energy. Sei'koh was crafted to be the soul through which all other races would interact with said energy - She interprets the will of the caster and helps to better form the spell they wish to cast.
Vices, Virtues, and Paths
According to the teachings of The Ascended, the Paths are as follows, including their associated vices, virtues, and position on the body.
- Path of The Mana, Aspect of Death, Virtue of Determination, Vice of Loss
Contained in the chest, this Aspect of magic tells the tale of the world itself. With each change, cataclysm, miracle, and passing instant, something new is lost. This loss is part of existing in balance, and must be overcome. This Aspect becomes clouded when one holds on to things they are attached to, and becomes unable to move forward. The vice is depicted as a figure hugging its hands to its chest, weeping. The virtue is depicted as a figure with chest out, a foot forward, and a face upturned in defiance or hope.
- Path of The Ascended, Aspect of Water, Virtue of Discovery, Vice of Ignorance
Contained in the left hand, this Aspect is the remains of The Ascended race. As original users of magic, The Ascended were the pilgrims of power and balance. Their discoveries were more than simple curiosity; they truly believed themselves to be the universe beginning to understand itself. They practically feared lack of knowledge, and especially hated the rare individual who would shut their eyes to the truth. This Aspect is clouded in the same manner - refusing to learn and grow, believing there is nothing left to learn. The vice is depicted as a figure covering its eyes with its left hand, blinded. The virtue is depicted as a figure with its left hand shielding its eyes from the bright sun, forging ahead.
- Path of The Celestial, Aspect of Wind, Virtue of Equality, Vice of Arrogance
Contained in the right hand, the Aspect of Wind and its associated Tower evoke The Celestial race. Some of the original descendants, indeed the only ones that remain besides Mortals, of the Hollows who believed themselves above all others. Theirs is a story of learning one's place in the world. The vice is depicted as a figure shaking the right fist at head level, asserting superiority. The virtue is depicted by a figure with the right hand over the heart, understanding and conceding one's lot in life and the universe.
- Path of The Mortal, Aspect of Light, Virtue of Cooperation, Vice of Pride
Contained in the right foot, the Aspect of Light exemplifies the greatest strengths and weaknesses of humans and their variants. Almost all the souls that were once Hollows have settled at this level, where control and impulse can find balance. A soul who insists that they alone can rule or change the world is the weakest of all. The vice is depicted as a figure with hands on its hips, feet apart, to stand stubbornly alone. The virtue is depicted as a figure with hands outstretched at hip level, heels together to humbly request aid.
- Path of The Hollow, Aspect of Earth, Virtue of Selflessness, Vice of Selfishness
Contained at the hips, this Aspect is deeply rooted in the language of The Hollows, six-armed humanoids who created the system of writing many subsequent civilizations used, until the knowledge was lost to the world when Mortals created theirs. In their language, "lust" and "selfishness" and even "vice" could be the same word. While the other Paths were translated accurately, The Hollows and their wild emotions often ascribed complex metaphysical denotations to their ideographs, which made it difficult on future generations. Under The Mana's teachings, after all, intense emotions, even anger, are not a vice. This vice is depicted as a figure with its hands on its hips, thrust forward, prioritizing self-satisfaction. The virtue depicts a figure with palms forward at hip level, offering service.
- Path of The Animal, Aspect of Life, Virtue of Bravery, Vice of Fear
Contained in the head, the Aspect of Life speaks to the primal, base instinct mortals have inherited from their bestial brethren. As one descends further from The Mana, creatures become more beholden to their impulses and emotions. Animals are the progenitors of all higher races via Hollows, who distinguished themselves as true souls by their passions and agency. Some believe them to be made of shards of souls too small or weak to form personality, others believe they are how souls are punished. Regardless of the truth, a frightened animal cares little for virtue, while bravery and valor must be a conscious choice. The vice of Fear is depicted as a figure shrinking in fear, shielding its head with its arms. The virtue of Bravery is depicted as one with balled fists and bare teeth, facing danger. Some carvings also depict a defiant wolf for the virtue.
- Path of The Wraith, Aspect of Darkness, Virtue of Generosity, Vice of Greed
Another difficult translation, this aspect is contained in the stomach, and has more to do with want for physical objects than metaphysical concepts such as in Selfishness and Lust. If a Hollow struggles to think of others and their feelings or wants more than its own, a Wraith believes that each object it desires is already under its ownership, with difficulty seeing value in aiding others by giving. Wraiths are listless, unfulfilled spirits, seeking to fill the void in their souls with possessions and status. Hoarding in this way creates scarcity without need, slows the growth and progress of societies, and stunts the heart. The vice of Gluttony is depicted with a figure holding something to its stomach, protective, while the virtue of Generosity shows a figure with hands upturned in offering.
- Path of The Demon, Aspect of Fire, Virtue of Righteousness, Vice of Persecution
Contained in the left foot, this Aspect tells the strangest tale of all. History remembers Demons as vile creatures, bent on oppression of all other creatures, enslaving even their own kind, and the severance of The Mana from her bond with Mortals. In reality, Demons have also been some of the greatest allies to the other races, and have warred with their own kind to uphold balance and root out evil. The most kind of their number were healers and lawbringers, fair judges and understanding rulers. These examples, however, are lost in the numerous atrocities committed by the Demons, including the brief periods when they did rule the world, until their oppression bred the very power needed to resist them. The vice of Persecution is depicted as a figure with the left foot on a stone, or a curled statue of another. The virtue is depicted as a figure on its left knee, level with those downtrodden and powerless.
Clergy and Temples
There are two sets of nine temples, one on each continent, across the planet from one another. The temples, matching the Paths, are Death, Water, Wind, Light, Earth, Life, Darkness, and Fire. Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind are in cardinal directions, with the others being the combinations of them; Death is between Fire and Earth, Darkness between Earth and Water, Life between Water and Wind, Light between Wind and Fire.
Each temple on the island continent, where the other set was copied from, was once the home of a race of its own. Demons resided in the Sanctum of Fire, inside a volcano. Wraiths took a ruined mortal City of Darkness as their home. Animals thrived in and around the Grove of Life. Hollows, origin of all sentient life, burrowed deep to protect their Gallery of Earth. Mortals created a Palace of Light in honor of an ancient queen, descended from Hollows who abandoned Pride to work together. Celestials presided over the others in a Tower of Wind, tightly gripping Pride until it turned to Arrogance. The Ascended resided in the oceans and skies, leaving behind the Plaza of Water when they committed themselves to a cycle of rebirth, leaving behind Sei'koh and a single guardian for the temple. The Mana's temple was created last: an Undercroft of Death made by worshipers as a place to visit the recently departed and confront the many faces of a mortal end.
Adherents to The Mana's teachings are, in truth, following the wisdom of The Ascended race. Virtues naturally benefit oneself and others, while vices invariably make things worse overall. Each vice and virtue pair tells the story of each Path, and offers a way for any sentient being to gain strength within themselves and through social and worldly connections. Those who truly follow these teachings, however, are few and far between. During The Age of Agony, She was greatly limited, but even before and after, She rarely took matters in Her own hands. Followers of The Mana know this, and so seek their own strength and virtue rather than rely on Her intervention. "Worship," then, is too strong a word for their practice, and there are no priests of The Mana. Instead, martial artists who seek enlightenment, who have lived a thousand months or more, act as the height of any sort of hierarchy within the temples. These "Thousand Moons" then choose a "Grand Moon" from among them to lead the temple.
In order to interact with The Mana, several things must be considered: Do you have a connection to magic? Are you notably more virtuous or, inversely, indulgent than most others? Are you attempting to change the world for the better, or have you drastically changed the world for the worse? Even one without the ability to cast spells may interact with Her and journey to Her temple, as all temples are designed to be completed by anyone with a measure of intellect. She recognizes those who display her virtue of "determination," who can overcome the vice of extended grieving associated with "loss."
The Mana is the originator of the Aspect of Death, the name given to a single person gifted with abilities that tie directly to Her. This person can commune with the recently dead as well as the energy contained in all things. If a person has died within the last year, Her Aspect can call its soul into view. No control is exerted over the soul beyond forcing it to appear. Her Aspect can also draw energy out of inert things, such as a road to ask who traveled on it, or blood to ask to whom it belongs. Because of this ability, creatures akin to elementals will rise to defend the Aspect of Death if they are in danger. Dirt will stand up as a golem, bricks from a road will band together with arms and legs, fire will take flight against their foe; the energy of the world will protect them.
There are three artifacts of The Mana, two of which are considered cursed.
The Sealer's Edge
A sword made of obsidian, right down to the grip and quillons. Through magical infusion, a power of the Aspect of Darkness, it is infused with several effects. First, as long as its wielder is alive or it is not in a vacuum, the sword draws Mana from its surroundings to power itself. Second, as long as it is powered, it is unbreakable by any force, even The Mana Herself. Third, it is capable of permanently removing one's ability to use magic, unless the person struck by it is of a race created by or altered by magic. More mundane races will not only lose their connection to magic, but they aren't so much cut as erased by touching the sword. Thick cured leather, stone, and other inert materials can be used to handle the sword by such a mortal, but touching the Sealer's Edge at all will result in irreversible injury.
Skull of Betrayal
The skull of an ancient mortal. This person is said to have demonstrated great virtue early in life, and reached The Mana in Her temple. For those who have cleared every temple, She had previously offered a great decision: leave as you are, or sacrifice your immortal soul to gain unimaginable magic power. By accepting the offer of power, upon death, your soul would be destroyed upon its return to The Mana, and crafted into an entirely new soul with new potential. This ancient mortal took the offer, but was corrupted by the power they received. When The Mana entered Her pact and received Her tattoo, this mortal used the new, stronger connection to magic to make himself into an overlord of indomitable might. Musa'bo Shin'toku rose in opposition, but was killed by the overlord... Until Musa'bo was raised as a revenant and returned from the dead for vengeance. The Mana kept the skull of this slain overlord, the first to accept Her offer of such incredible power, as an example to any in the future who would accept it.
Skull of Apathy
Yet another skull, the second person to demonstrate virtue and accept Her offer of power. This skull is black, as if made of obsidian, and has horns. Like the overlord before, this mortal received incredible power. Unlike the overlord, this mortal watched as disaster befell the world and did not act. They fell short of being truly virtuous, and allowed for great suffering to come over the world. As a result, when they finally died of old age, The Mana destroyed their soul and kept their skull as another example for posterity.
If used in Dungeons And Dragons, 5th edition, She should be considered Lawful Good. Subclasses relating to Her are in progress, such as a Patron for Warlocks, a Domain for Clerics, a Monk Tradition, and a Paladin Oath.
To be an Aspect, there is a chain of feats, detailed here.
For events later in the history of Her world, see the Soulbringer class and Her mortal form (pending).
|Alignment||Lawful Good +|
|Deific Type||Deity +|
|Domain||Life +, Death + and Virtue +|
|Identifier||5e Deity +|
|Portfolio||Death +, Magic +, Enlightenment + and Virtue +|
|Summary||The most incorruptible of Her race, gifted with all their strength and elevated to divinity. +|
|Symbol||An intricate tattoo +|
|Title||The Mana +|