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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    So my world, Dawn of Hope, has spontaneously-produced nature spirits. They're not really sentient as we know them (or mortal), and they're everywhere in everything. When they get "obsessed" (to use human words) with a mortal social, emotional, or intellectual concept, they band together and form the fey. They're all associated with nature, with life, and with growth. I've been calling these spirits kami (using the Japanese term for spirits/gods/etc) even though it's not a 100% fit.

    But now I've also got the concept of anti-kami. Spirits of (otherworldly) corruption and dissolution of nature, originating in the Abyss. Not death, which is part of nature, but of oblivion and annihilation of existence. These parasitic "beings" (for lack of a better term) find corpses/weak spirits of the dead and animate/empower them, becoming the undead. Their nature is to drain energy out of everything, eventually reducing matter and energy to nothingness. They're basically spirits of entropy, with a "grudge" against all living things. They can't live in the "material" world without a host, as the world sees them as corruption and banishes them pretty fast. Their presence corrupts the area around them, making it more like the Abyss and more hospitable to anti-kami--thus an infestation is contagious.

    Now I've already used the term "demon" for those (former) mortals who gain their power from devouring the souls of the living, who also live in the Abyss. In fact, the demons have to expend (stolen) energy to build and maintain themselves in the Abyss against the pull of these <anti-kami>, but also manipulate them. So I can't re-use that term.

    I need a good term for the pair of what I'm calling kami currently and their entropic counterparts. Ideally these terms would have inflections of "little god-like creatures" and "little evil things" respectively. My placeholder (reaching for Japanese again) is akuma, but I'm not sure that really fits.

    Any ideas what I could call them?
    Dream of Hope: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    Can't think of any naturalistic terms that have as much punch as "demon", at least not in English. Lot more options if we go for invented fantasy compounds and such though. Your description reminds me of a similar being from the "Divinity: Original Sin" computer game series called "Voidwoken", creatures summoned from the void when a magical power called "Source" is used. There's also a similar creature in the default setting of the indie OSR game "Godbound" called "The Uncreated", referring to creatures not created by God, but existing before His creation in the "Uncreated Night."

    You could always go with something simple and accurate like "Abyss Dwellers" but I get the feeling you want something more poetic than that. "Dark Spirits", "Black Creatures", or "Antikami" is simple but could work. You could also name them based on their function, in that sense you could call them "Eaters", "Devourers", or "Destroyers" which is basically what the Old Norse word "Jotunn" translates to (NOT, "giant", as is commonly thought). In fact I'm actually getting a very strong Jotunn vibe from your "Akuma", the Jotunn essentially represented out-of-check entropic and destructive forces trying to return the world to the state of primordial chaos (called "Ginunngagap", or "Mighty Void") fueled by their grudge against Odin and his Aesir for killing their ancestor and creating the world from his corpse.
    Last edited by Trask; 2020-08-29 at 04:12 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trask View Post
    In fact I'm actually getting a very strong Jotunn vibe from your "Akuma", the Jotunn essentially represented out-of-check entropic and destructive forces trying to return the world to the state of primordial chaos (called "Ginunngagap", or "Mighty Void") fueled by their grudge against Odin and his Aesir for killing their ancestor and creating the world from his corpse.
    That's actually a good idea (and something I hadn't really remembered about Norse myth). I think I'll call them jotnar (singular jot, pronounced YOT-nar). It's short, it's similar to a real word without actually being one, easy to pronounce, and fits with a pattern of plurals in other pieces of the setting (ending in -nar or -ar).

    I've actually started to re-think my (hazy) origin myth. Basically, the original Creator created 9 Primordials (each embodying a particular macro-scale concept) and a host of smaller
    conceptual creatures. Then there was a war/rebellion (why? hadn't answered that one), and one Primordial (embodying Change/Adaptation) drew away a bunch of the followers of the others. He lost, and was imprisoned in the Abyss. The rest of the world was created out of the "bodies" of the other Primordials, with the "body" of the Creator as the operating force/Great Mechanism that keeps everything running.

    Since an underlying metaphysical fact of the setting is that belief has power to alter reality, my new idea is that yes, Change (later Chaos) rebelled for much the same reason Morgoth did in Tolkien's Legendarium. But his warped belief, his pride, etc. tore a hole in reality, creating the Oblivion Gate (the source of these Yotnar from outside creation) and the Abyss around it. What ensued was a three-sided war--Order vs Chaos vs Void. Eventually, Order won and shoved Chaos into the Abyss to plug the hole, at the cost of having to structure the rest of reality in a particular way and costing the Primordials (and the Creator) their independent existences. In latter years, Chaos (now bereft of his name and known as the Nameless) got free; a massive mess ensued, in the which the structure of the planes got slightly warped and the gods gave up their lives to bind Chaos (now back to Change/Freedom) into the warp and weft of the universe (giving everyone free will among other things). Of course, that means that the Oblivion Gate is now not sealed, and jotnar are leaking through in more numbers. The current demons (who took up residence in the Abyss long after the initial war) are both infested with these yotnar (like lice) and using the souls they steal to keep the Oblivion gate from leaking through and destroying everything. Of course, their presence destroys the world too, so it's a precarious, although powerful, existence.
    Dream of Hope: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    If you don't mind borrowing a term from another setting, in Legend of the Five Rings, they have tainted anti-kami called Kansen.

    I did some google searches and "Kansen" doesn't seem to be the name of any actual folk lore creature, but means "infection" in Japanese.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    Kami vs Oni?

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Edea's Avatar

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    Kami are of two minds. They can nurture and love when respected, or they can cause destruction and disharmony when disregarded. Kami must be appeased in order to gain their favor and avoid their wrath. Traditionally, kami possess two souls, one gentle (nigi-mitama) and the other assertive (ara-mitama); additionally, in Yamakage Shinto, kami have two additional souls that are hidden: one happy (saki-mitama) and one mysterious (kushi-mitama).
    Maybe the benevolent/benign spirits could be called 'nigimi' and the destructive/entropic spirits 'arami'?
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    First thing I try to remember when making up names for in game concepts.
    Your players are not likely to care as much as you do and if an easier word come up in the explanation or represents it well the players may well resort to that.

    So you need something pretty easy to remember and say. And you need to be able to quickly and easily learn and say why they are not some easy-to-substitute word that the players already know.

    so something short and punchy works best but by no means is that a hard limit...
    preferably with relatively easy pronunciation...which I consider a stronger bar....so I'd recommend only using phonemes used in the language you are conducting the game in.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2020-09-12 at 03:39 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    There's already some great suggestions here.
    I'll throw in "mara" which are beings in opposition to enlightenment and often translated as demons in English.
    There's also "preta" or "hungry ghosts" which are beings who experience great suffering and are driven by animalistic desires.
    Last edited by GaelofDarkness; 2020-09-13 at 04:46 PM.
    According to easydamus, I'm a 4th level CG elf wizard. Str 9 - Dex 11 - Con 9 - Int 18 - Wis 14 - Cha 16.

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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    In-universe, who came up with these names? Are the names that you use reflective of the words that academics and mages use when discussing these entities, or the words used by laypeople? Assuming that you only want one word in common usage for each - for the sake of avoiding confusing your players - it's worth considering where this name comes from in-universe and choosing a name with a length, ease or difficulty of pronunciation, and general syllabic feel that works with that origin.

    You might also more easily construct names that feel right by aping the process by which these names would have been derived in-universe.

    Names could derive from in-universe mythology or older names for related concepts, for example, in a similar way to how the modern scientific concept of the atom took its name from the ancient philosophical concept. Just because a fictional world's reality is based on our mythology, that doesn't mean that that world can't have mythology of its own. Does the word "sprite" refer to a type of real creature in your campaign? If not, there's a name that you could use.

    You could also pull words out of any language that your player's don't use that are thematically appropriate and sound right - for example, "malum" means harm/calamity or apple in Latin and it feels appropriate for the second type of spirits that you described - and then backfill an explanation for how these words were derived. Maybe in-universe "malum" is also an archaic Elvish term for dangerous vermin.

    Names could also have been made up out of whole cloth, in much the same way as terminology is sometimes deliberately constructed in real scientific fiends. The first type of spirits that you described are small constituent units ("speck") of life and growth ("vitality"), which suggests the name "vitek."
    Last edited by Herbert_W; 2020-09-13 at 07:47 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Seeking better names for nature spirits and entropic, "anti-nature" spirits.

    That is a good point; who uses what terms.

    Assuming a dominant mortal culture, there could be 1 name for "outsider", 1 name for "benevolent outsider" and 1 name for "malevolent outsider" or magical being.

    Kami: Common name for "Positive" outsider.
    Oni: Common name for "Negative" outsider.

    They have a linguistic connection, and very roughly match what they mean in Japanese.

    Oni form 3 kinds:
    Jotar: Void-spirits
    Vanir: Demons
    AEsir: Chaos-spirits, remnants of the ancient war

    Kami form 3 kinds:
    Fey: Mortal-curious Kami, take pseudo-mortal form
    Celestials: Order-spirits, remnants of the ancient war
    Protean: Mortal-agnostic Kami

    The AEsir and Celestials are the rough equivalent of "Warforged built a thousand years ago for a war that is long over". They where built for the war, and out lasted it. Their motivations have since diverged. That provides you with a way to have slightly more traditional devils/angel type beings in your setting. When a PC casts a spell like "contact other plane", these might be the beings you'd try to ask questions of. They are alien, born of a reality before there was free will, ancient, and often quite mad.

    Jotar are the "far realm" infiltrating beings. Vanir are the mortals who have become demons.

    I used nordic mythology for the 3 kinds of Oni. The idea is that these "technical" terms come from a different language than the "common" term "oni". Whichever scholar worked it out, gave them names from a language she preferred.

    Their names are actually a bit of a hint. The good guys in Norse mythology are the AEsir and the Vanir, while the bad are the Jotun. It implies that even though all 3 are Oni, maybe the AEsir and Vanir aren't as bad as they seem (ie, they are opposed to the void swallowing reality, and sometimes fight it).


    For the Kami, we divide into 3, not just for symmetry.

    You have the Fey. Maybe not everyone considers Fey to be Kami, but experts say they are.

    We have the Kami who aren't Fey -- the Protean Spirits. Beings who aren't curious about mortals. Some mortals might still be able to make deals with them.

    Admittedly, the Celestials/AEsir are not in your mythology. So you can cut them out.
    Last edited by Yakk; 2020-09-17 at 03:25 PM.

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