The Karanduun (Karanduun Setting)
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You’ve all heard it before. Perhaps in the twilight of night, when your mother or father would regale the tales of mythic heroes or fairy tales. Or perhaps around a campfire, talking about the exploits of a great culture hero. Or even perhaps as told by the teachers during class time, talking about the great heroes that exhibit greatness of humanity.
In the dark glimmer of the night, they are born. From the songs of the singers and the chants of the poets, they are remembered. These are the Heroes of time now long gone.
But they have returned. Your Inheritance is their power, their legendary power, that was enough to beat back the tides of monsters and darkness and demons and tyrannical gods. The Karanduun return to a time that has reduced them to mere stories. And you are one of them.
Where They Arose
In the time after the Gods, but before this Time of Malice, the Most Powerful of the Gods, Maykapal, the Actor of Power, poured his power into a number of mortal humans, and only humans, for they were the Children of Bamboo, and therefore inherited bamboo’s traits: hollow, pliable, ever strong. The Actor of Power did this because he saw the tyrannical reign of Maykaptan, the Mad Sky. He let halimaw and maligno to roam free in the world, as well as allowing corrupt gods to inflict terrible diseases.
Now the humans given with his Power fought back the primeval, abhorrently malevolent nature and world and carved out a place for themselves. The gods taught them war, agriculture, and technology, and they were led by these men and women of considerable charisma and power, with their Bala (their spiritual power) burning and overflowing and manifesting upon their skin in usbongs of majesty.
These people were known as Karanduun.
Why They Disappeared
The Karanduun were valiant warriors and eventually sought to end the Mad Sky’s tyrannical reign. This was not a victory. It ended in the Thousand Tears and Lightnings Apocalypse, which split the world in twain, into Natural and Spiritual, killed off half of the world, buried ancient cities of grandeur and splendor…
...and killed every Karanduun in existence.
The Karanduun Bala was dispersed into nature, never to be seen again. And the world was plunged into Darkness.
That is, of course, until heroes resurfaced.
The Karanduun Bala permeates all things, invisible and gone. For one thousand years, the Karanduun did not exist, scrubbed from common knowledge and history. That is, until the Karanduun returned.
The Karanduun Bala infuses the Bala of those that are worthy of song. Some of them are born with the Inheritance, having the innate blood of the Karanduun, descendants of the power. Others collect Karanduun Bala, as the permeating Inheritance are attracted to their acts of heroism and gallantry and bravery. The love of god and mortal can also naturally attract the Bala of the Karanduun, granting them the Inheritance as well.
There are darker and more morbid ways to accrue Karanduun Bala. Killing other Karanduun is a sure way of collecting Karanduun Bala, as is the rules of Bala transference. This is not yet common knowledge, but if it does become so…
Now They Return
But now the Karanduun return, with more potential than before. Now not only humans can become Karanduun, but other mortalfolk and the engkanto races. The Saga of the Karanduun expands, chosen by the Actor of Power. They face new threats, the world of darkness mired in maligno and halimaw, as well as the false, blinding light of the Al-Kaigians and their Saint-Kings. They return to a diminished and subjugated world.
And they shall conclude the story of Sanlibutan according to their actions. The fate of Sanlibutan is in their hands. They will dictate whether Sanlibutan returns to former glory, or descends into its inevitable demise.
The Karanduun return. They are heroes of times now long gone, product of Maykapal granting exceptional humans exceptional abilities. However, now in the Time of Malice, the Karanduun have disappeared. With none to reckon to, the Corpse World of Sanlibutan slowly crumbles away, giving in to its dark desires.
But not for long.
The Karanduun return, heralded by the cry of a tigmamanukan bird. The cry that resounds across the fabric of space and time. The Karanduun return. All hear it.
The Karanduun bear the Inheritance, something that elevates humans to more than just fodder for the other races. The Inheritance to power fuels their Bala, their spiritual force, and grants them the capability exceed the constraints of their fragile human bodies.
In a Time of Malice, the Karanduun return.
You are Karanduun, worthy of song. Tadhana bows before you. Tell your epic by your own hands.
The Karanduun are heroes, first and foremost. But most people know that this is not always so. Indeed, the Karanduun when they are at first still growing into their power, look no more like mortals who are the top of the line. The most intelligent scholar in the school. The most skilled swordsman in a particular barangay.
But they are more than that. Let me tell you why: they are Worthy.
They have the potential for greatness, in truth. Sure the Karanduun begin their second breath as beings no better than mortals, but Tadhana has seen down the skeins of fate and has divined that the Karanduun blessed with the Inheritance will prove their Worth.
It is well known that the Karanduun are also long-lasting. The burning Inheritance that now runs in their veins grants them the ability to live for centuries. Sickness and diseases that would normally be the end of mortals are things that the Karanduun do not even care about. A passing sickness or a disease will not fell the Worthy, mighty as they are, unless they are the ire of disease diwata, or worse, Bulalakaw, the Crow God of Illnesses.
The Karanduun are also possessed of a great, natural charisma. The Diwata and the Anito hold them to a high regard, if not with a small portion of uncertainty and doubt. The Apo herald their return, and now they tremble and toil in heaven, wondering what to do with the return of the heroes that have been gone for a thousand years.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that the Karanduun are bolstered by the Fire of Creation, the active aspect of the fundamental force of the cosmos known as Diwa: Bala. Diwa flows and permeates all things in different facets. Agos Diwa flows in all things, Tagos Diwa binds all things together in fate, Tigas Diwa is raw Diwa calcified into a form bound together by metaphysical perversion. Bala Diwa composes the Soul of the Souled Races, rippling in their every action, affecting other Diwa. But rarely is it commanded.
The Karanduun commands their Bala and enacts miracles as a normal person uses their muscles and enacts action. With their Bala, they can bound across great chasms, leap mountains, sway the hearts and minds of their men.
But of course, the Karanduun's overwhelming Bala threatens to destroy a mortal vessel should they call upon it too much, and thus, Karanduun must grow, physically and spiritually.
They begin as Heroes, grow as powerful Paragons, and finally claim their Epic Destinies.
The Inheritance or Pamana
In the world of Karanduun, every one of the Souled Races are granted just that: a Soul. In the tongue of Lakungdulan Parawali, the soul is known as Kaluluwa. Things that have spirits do not necessarily have Souls, you see. A bear might have a spirit, and so does a wolf-demon, a monstrous chimera, a printing press, or a tree. In fact, they may have several Spirits within them, but these do not constitute a Kaluluwa. And it is within the Kaluluwa the Bala flows like lava.
To possess the Inheritance, one must have a Kaluluwa. A matrix whereupon the Bala burns. The Pamana empowers the Kaluluwa. No longer is the Soulbearer a Mortal. They are now Worthy of Song. Karanduun.
With the return of the Karanduun, sages and scholars alike have taken to both theorizing and observing just what the prequisites are to possess the Karanduun. One of it is definitely a Soul, of course. But who does it come to specifically? When? How?
No matter what the sages, scholars, savants, and magi do and experiment, they find that the Inheritance is fickle in its choosing. At first they thought it to be only stuck to the tawo, or humanity, but that is not the case as a kapre has been shown to have been chosen. Then they thought that the Pamana is simply passed down by blood, but they cannot see any metaphysical nor physical anomalies within a person. Only after the act of inheriting and becoming a Karanduun, can they notice differences within their metaphysical makeup. Another thing they have noticed is that diwa similar to the spirit of the Pamana can be seen drifting across divine winds.
There are only two things to be sure about the Karanduun:
One is that some people are born Karanduun. These people tend to age quicker, or are prone to greater acts of heroism or glory, although that is definitely a hasty generalization. Prodigies and child commanders are usually thought to be those Karanduun Born.
The other is that some folk become Karanduun. They notice that if a person accomplishes things of note and glory--things that are worthy of song, such as defending their barangay alone aganist a horde of murderous maligno, or expertly conning a living earthly diwata that has taken charge of a nearby municipality--that person has the chance to suddenly erupt into a fount of power and light, and they are transformed and become Karanduun.
The Worthy are known for bearing their mark on their skin, which glows whenever they tap into their hidden divine reserves. The sages and magi have deemed to call this "Usbong", which means to "radiate" or "flourish". Each of the Worthy has a unique usbong that they possess, although they have differing levels.
When spending one action point or one Daily power in one encounter, their Usbong grows from Invisible to Glowing. Their skin begins glowing in a color of their choosing, but that which is usually related to the source of their power. Martial Karanduun tend to glow ember red, Divine glow a light green or gold, Arcane tend to glow indigo, blue, or white, Primal tend to glow dark green or brown, and Psionic tend to glow pink or purple. At this level, the Karanduun can control their Glow, and can force the burning of their skin to cease with a thought.
If they have spent two action points or two Daily powers in one encounter, their Usbong grows from Glowing to Fulminating. At this point, the burning lifts from their skin, enveloping them in a sacred, heroic aura of legend. This level is a bit harder to control, and usually requires a Karanduun at Level 5 to control with a thought. Karanduun at lower levels can, of course, control their glowing by making a save. If they do not desire to control their glowing, or if they fail their saving throw, they Glow for 1d100 minutes.
If they have spent three action points or three Daily powers in one encounter, the Worthy's Usbong grows from Fulminating to Halo, and the glow that has enveloped them burns away and then condenses into a Halo of pure power behind their head, the appearance of which is closely tied to the Karanduun's character or their destiny.
The Tools of the Worthy
The inherent Bala of the Karanduun allows them to wield great items and equipment of renown. Stones that summon hurricanes, bags filled with cyclone winds, swords that sunder mountains, spears that float when commanded. These magical items are like an extra set of limbs to a Karanduun. Their might and power is only emphasized and seen when they wield their great weapons and armor and items of renown and legend. They are miraculous arms and trinkets forged of divine materials and rarities, with secret techniques that even the gods have forgotten, but which the Karanduun might remember.
It is important to note that all the wondrous miracles and items of the World Before still exist in the Time of Malice. The great Golden Age of Heroes was privy to a great number of wondrous items, such as imperishable armor, great ancient 'Sandata', boots that allow one to fly, and even great mekanikal armors that stand at least thirty feet tall, that stride into battle without fear.